The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

Death by Powerpoint

Powerpoint on Sunday morning for many churches is key element of worship. At a minimum, many churches use Powerpoint to project the song lyrics during the music. In addition many preachers use Powerpoint to help illustrate their sermon points in order to help the congregation to cement in their mind what they are communicating.

I use Powerpoint in my sermons. I often use Powerpoint to present additional scriptures in my sermon. This helps the congregation to not be constantly flipping through the Bible and missing what I am saying. Also, I use Powerpoint to project my main outline points in order to give them an additional punch as well as to post quotes (particularly if they are long). But I don’t like too much Powerpoint, because it can be too distracting for me when I preach. I want it to accent my sermon, not take away from it. Powerpoint has some use, but everything in moderation.

There has been a healthy debate within churches on the usefulness and boundaries of Powerpoint and how it either helps or detracts from a preacher's sermon. The key is that Powerpoint can have it's advantages, if it is done right.

Check out this "Powerpoint" called “Death by PowerPoint” by Alexei Kapterev. (Click on the image below to watch it.) He talks about why so many PowerPoint presentations are so bad. More importantly, he teaches you what you can do to make your presentations stand out and worth the investment.




Also,Michael Hyatt has discussed this subject on his blog and recommends two helpful sites on better presentations. The first is Presentation Zen and the other is Beyond Bullets.

For a contrarian view, I came across an interesting article concerning the detriments of Powerpoint. According to some scientists, Powerpoint may not be a very helpful way to communicate.

"Humans just don't like absorbing information verbally and visually at the same time - one or the other is fine but not both simultaneously. Researchers at the University of New South Wales in Australia found the brain is limited in the amount of information it can absorb - and presenting the same information in visual and verbal form - like reading from a typical Powerpoint slide - overloads this part of memory and makes absorbing information more difficult."

In light of all the debate, I do believe that Powerpoint has the potential to be an extremely helpful and powerful tool, if it is used correctly. Slapping together a presentation with Powerpoint doesn't automatically make it more compelling and memorable. Just as it takes time and attention to prepare to speak publicly, it takes the same amount of care and attention to design and prepare Powerpoint.

Make you presentations and sermons count and don't kill your audience using Powerpoint!



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Zappos




Customer service is important. Extraordinary customer service will always be remembered. Here is a story about a woman who received customer service from Zappos (an on-line shoe company) that went well beyond the call of duty.

If a shoe company is this committed to their customers, how much more should a church show people that they matter to God on Sunday mornings.

Here is this woman's customer service testimony:

"I Heart Zappos

I really do.

One bright, extraordinary note in all of the sad stuff of the last few weeks - in May we had ordered several pairs of shoes from Zappos for my mom. She’d lost a lot of weight, and her old shoes were all too big. She had a whole new wardrobe of clothes in pretty colors, that fit, so I wanted her to have some pretty shoes that fit, too, when I took her up to Oregon to stay where her sister is. Out of seven pairs, only two fit. Not bad considering she’d never been this thin, so I was winging it, and the return shipping is free.

The rest were here waiting to be returned. Because of various circumstances - lost label, my mom being hospitalized and me being away, the shoes were never sent back. There’s a time limit on the return of 15 days. Remember this. When you do a return to them, they pay the shipping, but you have to get the shoes to UPS yourself. Remember this, also.

When I came home this last time, I had an email from Zappos asking about the shoes, since they hadn’t received them. I was just back and not ready to deal with that, so I replied that my mom had died but that I’d send the shoes as soon as I could. They emailed back that they had arranged with UPS to pick up the shoes, so I wouldn’t have to take the time to do it myself. I was so touched. That’s going against corporate policy.

Yesterday, when I came home from town, a florist delivery man was just leaving. It was a beautiful arrangement in a basket with white lilies and roses and carnations. Big and lush and fragrant. I opened the card, and it was from Zappos. I burst into tears. I’m a sucker for kindness, and if that isn’t one of the nicest things I’ve ever had happen to me, I don’t know what is. So…

IF YOU BUY SHOES ONLINE, GET THEM FROM ZAPPOS."

With hearts like theirs, you know they’re good to do business with.
(HT: Writing - Cooking - Life )

Lessons from Disney


For two years my family and I lived in Orlando and we got to visit Disney and all their numerous parks, well over 40 times during that two year period (we certainly made good use out of our yearly pass!). Needless to say, we got to know Disney up close and personal. And one thing we noticed throughout our entire time with Disney was the consistency of the experience. It was always top-drawer and it never failed to please. In fact the experience is so excellent that our recent visit last year to Six Flags in Atlanta felt like a big disappointment (not because Six Flags did anything wrong - but rather it seen in light of the high bar set by Disney).

Read below some good observations from Devin Hudson about First Impressions from a Disney perspective.





1. First Impressions are lasting. If you have been to Disney, you know how well trained their "cast members" (employees) are. They are friendly, helpful, and always seeking to make your experience better. Sure you run into a fair share of employees who are not having a great day but the general tone of the park from the moment you arrive is friendliness and helpfulness.

2. First Impressions do not step once you have arrived. There is always help available. On more than one occasion I noticed a Disney employee approach a bewildered couple staring at a park map to ask of they needed help or directions. They are trained to look for opportunities to serve those at the park.

3. Efficiency and effectiveness are essential. The first time I went to Disney I was about 13 and I rode about 3 rides a day because you stood in line for 2 hours waiting for a 30 second ride. I hated it. If you have been to Disney in recent years, you know they have done everything they can to make their park more efficient which makes for a more effective experience. Fast passes and adding parks and rides has helped make the overall experience more positive. It also helps that we went during one of the slowest weeks of the year and rarely waited more than 5 minutes for a ride. Disney was already an enormous attraction without improving itself but it was not content to survive. Disney knew that to thrive they had to constantly improve their efficiency and effectiveness and that is what they did.

4. Excellence is a must. If you have been to Disney, you know how clean it is. You know how detailed it is. You know the high level with which they operate. Everything they do is done with absolute excellence.

Read the rest here: graceisthepoint: Lessons from Disney


Humor Sparks Creativity




The is an interview with John Morreall from FastCompany.com (HT: Accidental Creative)

Ministry can be hard work. But the best teams are those that can laugh with one another. We just finished our staff meeting this morning and we never laughed so hard during our time together. Did we get stuff done? Of course. But I think John's opinions are right on the money. Humor increases productivity as well as enjoyment within the task.

Why You Should Include a Joker in Every Brainstorming Session
You say that humor increases productivity, reduces conflict, and fosters change. Is this a joke?
Humor is healthy, especially the way it reduces stress. Humor is the opposite of fight-or-flight emotions -- especially fear and anger. I can't be laughing with you and angry or afraid of you at the same time.

How does it encourage creativity?
Humor makes us think more flexibly. People who think funny do better on creativity studies. To put it really simply, humor loosens up your brain to think of more possibilities and be more open to the wild and wacky ones. There is a guy at the State University of New York at Buffalo named Roger Firestien who has a center for the study of creativity. When he teaches brainstorming, he says you should put a joker in the group -- somebody who will come up with preposterous ideas. Very often that will stimulate people to come up with ideas that will work. Let me give you an example. A bunch of paint engineers were moaning and bitching about how hard it is to get paint off a house. One guy says, "Why don't we just put gunpowder in the paint and blow it off the house?" That led people to think, "What could we do that would be the equivalent of gunpowder?" They came up with a chemical they added to the paint and when you wanted to remove the paint you did a light wash with a second chemical over the first one. That didn't blow it off the house, but it allowed it to drop off.


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A Honest Sign


I have posted on bad church signs before. At least this sign is honest but yet still misguided.

Very rarely does a sign bring a person to church. Certainly a person may be new to an area and be looking for a particular kind of church (denomination) or maybe slightly provoked and curious by a church sign and therefore may visit that church. But my experience is that people come to a new church because someone invited them. They come because they know someone. And through that person, they have heard and picked up on an excitement and passion for the church.

Signs don't bring people to church. People bring people to church.

(HT: Smart Pastor.com)

Consulting








Ministry Best Practices Consulting




With over 20 years of ministry experience, Ministry Best Practices Consulting is dedicated to helping churches, pastors and ministry leaders become equipped for innovative and effective ministry.

How Can Ministry Best Practices Consulting Assist You and Your Church?


  • Communication Coaching
  • Creative Thinking and Planning
  • Developing Vision and Mission Statements
  • Develop Discipleship culture within Church
  • Elder and Deacon Training
  • Fund Development
  • Leadership Assessment
  • Leadership Training
  • New Christian Assimilation and Follow-up
  • Small Group Ministry Development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Teacher Training
  • Team Building
  • Technology Consulting and Website Design
  • Visitor Assimilation and Follow-up
  • Volunteer Recruitment and Development
You can contact me via email to discuss how I may assist you.

You can find my resume, recommendations and portfolio at Linkedin and VisualCV:







Bill Reichart's VisualCV

Bill Reichart as been featured in...

The New York Times
Facebook for Pastors ebook
The Orlando Sentinel 

Cedar Rapids Gazette 
FaithHighway's Ezine
Beliefnet.com

And on RedRiver Public Radio




What people are saying...


Kathy Drewien, Director of Marketing & Communications, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.

"Curious about Twitter? Toying with the idea of incorporating Facebook
in your marketing plan? We were. Bill's presentation on social media
was informative, and more importantly, created aha moments which
spurred action. In other words, Bill helped us 'get it.'"
Diane Campbell, Team Leader, First Impressions at The Vine Community Church




“Being at the Vine Community Church for just over a year I have worked directly with Bill in the area of First Impressions....Bill did everything to empower me to become the leader of this ministry as we know it today....I found Bill to be a very creative thinker, great listener, technically savvy, and one who was open to new ideas and ways to implement policies and procedures to bring the greatest results.”
Stuart Williams, Director, Payment Services, Fiserv


“Bill is a gifted communicator, whether by written word or in front of people. Not only can he be persuasive he is also a great at encouraging those around him to reach beyond their current horizons. I would expect any organization that would include Bill would see immediate impact and the potential for the future to be much broader.”
Ray Deck III, Staff Writer, MinistryLIVE


"Bill is an exceptional communicator. His two blogs (Provocative Church & Ministry Best Practices) are representative of his ability in written communication. His ministry skills are broad, but he specializes in small group, discipleship-based ministry. Bill understands the nuances of small group ministry in theory and practice."
Nathan Shattuck, Pastoral Counselor, Spiritual Director and Owner, Soul Care Christian Counseling


“Bill is an excellent pastor in the true sense of the title - someone who passionately and personally leads and shepherds God's flock. He has created a welcoming environment at Big Creek Church, a church where God is moving in significant ways in the lives of the pastors, staff and congregation - something I've learned is far more rare than it should be.”

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How To Lead Your Volunteers

I have been thinking a lot about volunteers recently, particularly since everyone in my ministry downline happens to to be volunteer. In churches, the work of ministry happens because of volunteers. Since volunteers make up 95% of the ministry workforce, the question that we need to grapple with is, how do we lead and recruit volunteers? Here are just a couple of my thoughts...feel free to comment and add your own.

1. Vision is their paycheck. A volunteer isn't motivated and driven by a paycheck (hence the label volunteer :-) ), so what gets a volunteer to step up to the plate? Vision. Vision, that is compelling and communicated often, is key for volunteers. They want to know how their service in their corner of the church fits into the overarching mosaic of the church's vision, mission and purpose. Vision not only keeps volunteers motivated but it is the essence of recruiting volunteers. You want people to join your ministry team? Share the vision. People respond more to communicating "vision" rather than just merely sharing "need".

2. You need to give people volunteering on-ramps. How do people connect with volunteering opportunities in your church? What is the process? Is it simple? Is it clear? At CMDA Atlanta we are working on clear and simply on-ramps giving people the opportunity to serve. Very often people want to serve - they just need to know how.

3. Volunteers need to be celebrated. It is true that most people volunteer because they want to use their gifts and make a difference. They are not overtly looking for praise and recognition, but that doesn't mean that they don't deserve it. Whether it be big, huge volunteer appreciation gatherings or simply walking in the nursery and thanking the lady who is holding a crying baby - volunteers did to be celebrated.

4. Volunteers often times will only rise to the level of your expectations. There are some volunteers who will go well beyond the call of duty, but most volunteers will serve up to the bar that you set. So set the bar high. Too often we are afraid to ask a lot from our volunteers - that is a mistake. Ask boldly, ask big! You will be surprised how motivated volunteers are willing to serve.

5. Volunteers will only work under leaders. People that are serving in your church need clear direction. You need to lead them. Make sure that you do your due diligence in planning and preparation as a leader. At the same time, don't worry if your don't have all the answers. As a leader you should concentrate about being clear with your volunteers even if you are not certain about every detail (via Andy Stanley)

6. Volunteers recruit other volunteers. One of the biggest issues for leaders is recruitment. As a leader, you have tapped into our sphere of relationships and may now feel tapped out. As a leader, you don't and shouldn't be the key recruiter. Encourage your volunteers to recruit their friends. People love to serve with their friends and they have a circle of friends and relationships that you probably don't have.

What are some of your thoughts about leading volunteers in your ministry context?