The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

Welcome to our site. Our mission and dedication is to equip leaders for innovative ministry. Explore. Read. Share.

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.

Helpful Blogs

I don't know if you have taken look at my sidebar on the right hand side of the website.

If you click on "Helpful Blogs" a list will drop down of some of the best websites out there on ministry, creativity, productivity and small groups. It is an excellent resource! In fact, I feel as if I have been able to compile one of the most comprehensive lists available.

Here is a highlight of several of the blogs that I have linked to:

  • Church Marketing Sucks
  • - Don't let the name throw you off! The writers of CMS are always provocative and cutting edge in regards to church and ministry.

  • Mark Waltz
  • - Mark Waltz, writer of the book "First Impressions", always has excellent insights and thoughtful comments. Mark is a proven ministry practitioner.

  • Monday Morning Insight
  • - Todd Rhoades part of the Leadership Network always has an interesting collection of the goings-on within the church and the blogosphere. MMI is always a worthwhile, informative and entertaining read.

  • PastorHacks
  • - Bob Hyatt, pastor of Evergreen Church, is always exploring how to hone one's productivity ninja skills. Bob, a pastor, always wants to do things smarter, not merely harder.

  • Seth's Blog
  • - Seth Godin should be required reading for anyone who "blogs". His posts are short and pithy, but always filled with stuff that keeps percolating in my mind days later.

  • The Public Speaking Blog
  • - This blog is an excellent collection of posts related to communication and public speaking. I always find helpful stuff on how to become an even better communicator.

Make sure you go to the sidebar and check out all the helpful blogs and resources.

Is Your Time Getting Sucked Into the Internet Black Hole?

Here is article published by the Scripps News Service entitled, "Ministers Find Online World Time Consuming"

First the good news. It is exciting that ambitious ministry leaders can do 24/7, online, multi-media, interactive ministry at the local, national and even global levels.

Now the bad news. Users will expect them to build and maintain these 24/7, online, multi-media, interactive ministries at the local, national and even global levels.

Ministry is about people. The internet should be a tool that helps us "serve" and "minister" to people. The internet though should never take us away and overwhelm us from "being" with people.

How are you doing managing the opportunities for online ministry? Are you overwhelmed by reading and writing email, blogs, newsletters, forums, and participating in social networks? Or have you found effective ways to manage the digital world? If the latter, what insight do you have to share with others who may feel overwhelmed?

The Laptop Dilemma

As a pastor I meet people and do a lot of work in coffee shops. While there, I work on my laptop and use the free WiFi. Also, I love coffee and drink as much of it as I can. All of these elements leads to a combustible situation. Here is a funny article from Lore Sjöberg in Wired Magazine concerning the dilemma when all those things collide.

"I love internet cafes. Given that my job requires hours of sitting and typing, sitting and drawing, or sitting and procrastinating, a change of scenery is welcome, allowing me to be around people without actually having to interact with them, listen to them or acknowledge their existence beyond sharing a power outlet. To me, a cafe is like a large desktop image that dispenses caffeinated beverages and scones.

However, as any science-fiction writer can tell you, with any new technology come new problems. What do I do with my laptop when I have to use the bathroom?

Solution 1: Leave it there on the table Yeah, great idea. I'll just throw my credit cards and loose change on the table, too, maybe carve my Social Security number and bank password into the wood to maximize the convenience of anyone who wants to ruin my life. 

Solution 2: Ask the person next to me to keep an eye itIt's not that I think the guy next to me is going to steal my laptop -- he's already got one, and his is generally nicer -- it's just that I don't think he's going to do a damn thing if a desperate-looking hood and/or thug walks right up and grabs my iBook. Hell, if he's like me, he won't even notice. If I were the sort of person who paid attention to his surroundings, I wouldn't be bringing a laptop into public spaces.

Solution 3: Bring it in with meThe easiest thing would be just to tuck it under my arm and head to the head. And yet ... I feel like that raises questions. "Why is he bringing a laptop into the bathroom? Has he been overwhelmed by the erotic power of superheroine porn? Is this some sort of sick YouTube stunt? Who said he could do that? Why won't somebody stop him?" I don't trust people to say one word if a pod of roving computer thieves leaps from a running van and grabs my laptop, but I'm sure someone will tackle me at the knees to prevent me from carrying it into the john. 

Solution 4: Bring everything in with meOK, this doesn't even make sense to me, but here's what I often do: I put my laptop back into my satchel, put my iPod back into my coat and bring my entire life with me into the bathroom. I don't know why I feel this is more socially acceptable. What do I want them to think is in there? A makeup case? A wide selection of hygiene products? Maybe I'm trying to fool them into thinking I'm just stopping by the men's room on the way out. If so, it works, because I generally come back to find my coffee cup in the bus bin and my seat taken. 

Solution 5: Lock the thing up
I haven't tried this, but it would be the very avatar of simplicity to get one of those laptop locks and attach my laptop to the table or chair. I'm reluctant, though, because I don't want to come across as one of those twitchy people who obsess about extremely unlikely crimes and devise elaborate schemes to foil largely fictional criminals. However, looking back over this, I guess I am one of those people. I should probably just blog from an underground bunker in rural Montana, pausing every three paragraphs to re-oil my shotgun. I'd probably get more work done.

Leading Without Knowing All the Answers

Are you a small group leader? Do you find yourself leading Bible study discussions? Do you ever get those questions from the group that just leave you scratching your head and stroking your chin? Of course, no one expects you to have all the answers - you are not expected to be the Bible-Answer person. You don't have to know everything. And yet, it is always important to know where to go to find answers (and also help with preparation).

The cool thing about the internet is that there are so many useful and accessible tools to make the Scriptures come alive. The next time you are digging in the scriptures, either for your personal devotion or in preparation to teach others, check out these on-line resources.

Bookmark them and come back to them often.

Church Communications Pro - Check it out!

My recent post, How to become a Scheduling Wizard just got a mention over at Church Communications Pro. If you haven't checked out CCP, you need to do so right away. And when you do, make sure you subscribe to their material, they always have good , thoughtful and helpful information.

Occasionally, you may even see me post over there, as I have been invited to be Guest Contributor to their site.

Life on Life Discipleship

I wanted to share with you some thoughts that we have been pulling together on discipleship at our church. Matt Brinkley, our Next Generation Pastor, and I pulled this together. Most of the wording was pulled from one of his published books (so if you don't mind giving Matt Brinkley attribution to anything you might quote).

We are trying to jump-start and press through the fabric of our church, life on life discipleship. We don't want it to be a program that is contrived and rigid. We want it to bubble up from the grassroots and grow and flourish throughout the body of the church. And yet, even though we want it to be organic, we still have to lay down some intentional pathways. Needless to say, we are trying to strike a balance between both the "intentional" and the "organic". This PowerPoint presentation is not something we would lay out for the entire church, but rather a collection of some of our thoughts, understandings, assumptions and values concerning discipleship.

I would love to get your comments on the content (not the aesthetic look of the presentation :-) )

Creating An Over the Top Experience

Check out this audio-blog by Larry Brey, the Assimilation Pastor at Elevation Church, and his team. They talk about creating an over the top experience for their guests and how it isn’t just a talking point, but rather it’s a driving force behind their Sunday mornings.

Go HERE to listen.

When A System is Broke

I used an online flowchart program called to illustrate how information moves and flows through the organization.

What it illustrates is a broken system. PowerChurch is our database and hardly anyone makes a touch point with it. Also, there are tons of information silos. Ministry team keep their own data and information because PowerChurch has no easy or accessible interface (many of our staff work remotely and are part-time). Also there are information dead ends, where information doesn't loop back into the database. And lastly, there are bottlenecks in the system.

Our Office Manager serves as a primary gatekeeper between the information and the user. Our system doesn't empower our staff, ministry leaders, volunteers and/or church members to access or update relevant and needed information.

This is why we are looking at new systems!

You can click HERE to see a larger image

Oh, if people could say this about the church...

These are testimonials from former Google employees. They all had different reasons why they felt as if they needed to move on. And yet, one doesn't typically hear this kind of praise from employees that have "left" a company. As you read these testimonials, think about what it would be like if staff and ministry leaders could and would say this about your church after they left.

"The decision to leave was a tough one. Google clearly is an amazing company to work for. After consulting with many companies during my time at Adaptive Path, it's clear that Google is like no other: they move fast, think clearly, and push strategic decisions out to the people closest to their users. But in my career, I've always swung between the big and the small and it's time for another shift."
(Jeff Veen, Design Manager - May 2, 2008)
"What makes Google unique is its culture of respect. The tough interview process means that engineers are treated with respect from their first day. In such a supportive environment, even the most timid person works with self-confidence, which is marvelous to witness. This element of the company's culture was the biggest difference between Google and every other place I've worked in the past. I hope to take it with me throughout the rest of my career."
(Mike Tsao, Google Gears - April 23, 2008)
"...Then, there’s the pioneering spirit, which is extremely energizing and contagious. These days, it seems like a lot of the true innovations are made at small startups, which have the benefit of being orders of magnitude times more agile and efficient than a large company will ever be."
(DigitalHobbit - April 13, 2008)
"Working at Google has been an amazing, life-changing experience. It's an incredible company with a unique, quirky culture and tons of passionate, talented people. I feel very lucky to have been able to work with so many brilliant engineers on such fascinating products used by millions of people."
(Jess Lee, Google Maps Project Manager - March 15, 2008)

Could the staff and ministry leaders of your church say that the church and leadership are "supportive", "passionate", or "pioneering"? What would it take to see your church, ministry or even business become that kind of group?

(ht: GoogleSystem)

How To Become A Scheduling Wizard

When you need to schedule a meeting with one or, even worse, multiple people, don't you spend tons of time exchanging emails back and forth just to find one time that fits in everyone's schedule? It often becomes a headache and a big time waster. But just when you thought you would remain relegated to an email only solution, then comes along TimeBridge.

It's a simple, free service that helps people set up meetings. It acts like a personal scheduling assistant (something I don't have in my church budget to pay for!) Basically, when you want to set up a meeting with a lot of people, instead of emailing back and forth, you set up a TimeBridge request which only requires a couple of quick and easy steps.

The process is super easy and usually only takes me a minute or two. First you log into your account. Then, just like writing a email, you write a subject line and choose the recipients to email (I've important my gmail contacts into TimeBridge. TimeBridge is nicely integrated with both Google and Outlook). Then you propose a "series" of times when the meeting would work best for you. What is so cool about TimeBridge is that it is linked to my Google Calendar (it works with Outlook Calendar as well). TimeBridge allows me to view my calendar and see my availability. I then simply mark on my calendar the slots that I would like to meet. I then set up a meeting location. And lastly I send it. TimeBridge does the rest of the work. You just set it and forget it!

Immediately my recipients get an email which gives them an opportunity to indicate which of my available options would work for them. What I like is that until the meeting is finalized, all of my selected meeting times remain in my Google Calendar as "Tentative" - this is so I don't accidentally book another appointment. But once everyone has responded, the meeting is set, the meeting is put in my Google Calendar and the other tentative times blocked out are released from my calendar.

One extra bell and whistle that I like is that TimeBridge also sends automatic email reminders to all the meeting participants the day before the upcoming meeting.

I have been using TimeBridge for over a month, and it has proven to be a tremendous time saver and one of the more useful apps that I use. Also, the people who get the TimeBridge requests have told me that when they got the email request to schedule a time - it was easy to use and intuitive - people weren't confused with what they had received.

If you want to communicate more effectively with the people with whom you schedule meetings with, TimeBridge is must.

Children Are Our Future!

Perhaps you don't need any convincing of the benefits of children ministry, but perhaps your volunteers who are in the trenches week after week need to be reminded of just how important their investment of time and energy is. Here is a great list of reasons by Tony Kummer.

As you'll tell, this is something that Tony's passionate about. Here are Tony's 68 reasons why children’s ministry matters. They're split into categories to make them easier to read.

Top 68 Benefits of Children’s Ministry for the Children:

Here is a sampling from some of the ways children's ministry benefits the children:

  1. It promotes their eternal happiness. I want my kids to find indestructible joy in Christ.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip
    : Constantly work to introduce them to Jesus. Make the good news plain in everything you do. We have a mural in our children’s worship room that summarizes the story of Jesus.
  2. It helps them make sense out of life. Only understanding who made the world, what went wrong and God’s plan to fix it can explain this world we all experience.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip
    : Teach a Gospel-centered worldview with specific applications that will help them interpret life.
  3. It’s their best change to accept Christ. Research has proven that kids tend to be more receptive to the Gospel than any other age group. I want my children to have every opportunity to believe in Jesus.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Present the good news in age-appropriate ways all throughout childhood. I have different booklets that I give to different age groups to better target their comprehension level.
  4. It helps avoid some negative outcomes of sin. Only God’s grace can change our hearts, but knowing the consequences of disobeying God is often a wake up call. When children understand the great price that Jesus paid for their salvation, they are more likely to stay on the way of the righteous.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Be careful to teach both God’s law and God’s love, one doesn’t make sense without the other.
  5. It can help counter balance worldly influences. Everyone knows the harmful influences present in our society. Kids need positive influences to tip the scale.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip
    : Help them see where God’s values conflict with worldly values. For example, God say love other people and the world says “look out for yourself.”
  6. It can help them learn to love others. The 2nd greatest commandment is to love your neighbor. We must teach this as a way of life, because it doesn’t comes naturally.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Provide real life experiences for them to love other people. Some examples are mission trips, prayer partners, and ministry projects.
  7. It is something fun to do. Do you know who invented fun? God did. Do you know why? For his own glory. While entertainment and fun seeking can become an idol, we should not thing God is against fun.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: As a leader, your should be having fun too. Let the children know that you love ministering to them.
  8. It helps kids want to come to church. There is nothing wrong with having a program that appeals to the interests of children, especially when it brings more children to hear the Gospel.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Make a list of the needs, interests and motivations of kids. Use these to inform (not dictate) how you will present God’s truth.
  9. It helps them make new friends. Some of the best ones children will ever make is in the church.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Allow time for group activities and relationship building in your programs.
  10. It helps discover and intervene in abusive home situations. This is something we rarely address. But the church is often one of the few safe places on Earth for abused children.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Pay attention to what kids are saying about their home life. Try to get to know every family. If you suspect abuse, you are legally (and morally) obligated to report it.
  11. It helps children get to know their pastors. One of the best ways for ministers to connect with younger families is by working in the children’s programs.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip: Draft pastors and staff ministers to serve VBS or other ministry programs.
  12. It gives kids meaningful keepsakes. Those VBS and Sunday school crafts often become prized possessions. The Bible verses on their keepsakes will remind them of what they have learned for years to come.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip Plan high value crafts that are worthy of keeping.
  13. It gives children special memories. Think back to when you were a child in Sunday school. Can you remember a special teacher or event?
    – Children’s Ministry Tip Take photos, make videos, or encourage kids to journal their memories.
  14. It allows them to make friends with adult volunteers in safe context. In our culture child safety is a constant concern, and rightly so. But there is still great value in kids finding adult mentors in the church.
    – Children’s Ministry Tip Design adult led small groups into our ministry times.

Also, if you were interested in this post, you may be interested in the Top Uth Sites on the Web.

Need Your Help and Opinions!

Attention Readers of Ministry Best Practices!

We are currently looking to overhauling our Church Information Managment System at Big Creek Church. We currently use PowerChurch and we have been displeased with it for many reasons. We are looking at and examining two alternative systems that we want to put into place within the year.

Fellowship One

ACS Technologies

Have you and your church used either one? Thoughts, opinions, concerns? Are there issues with these that I need to be aware of.

Up to now, we have received demos of both programs. Now we want to visit several "end-users" and will be scheduling visits to local churches that use these programs.

Thanks for your help!

A Church Of Small Groups Or Just Community

In the past couple of days, several websites and blogs had been pointing me to this article on Christianity Today. And so certainly I took notice to read it!

The article mapped out several myths that the church has bought into in attempting to reach out to people. Myth #3 on the list was -Everyone needs small groups. That statement certainly surprised me. Perhaps you are surprised too as you read that statement. But listen below as the author unpacks our understanding of that myth.
Okay, let’s all say it together: “We don’t want to be a church with small groups, but a church of small groups.” Everybody says it. Well, everybody but Mecklenburg (their church).

We have found that small groups are very much needed by those who need small groups. Read that sentence again slowly. The truth is that many do not need them, and may not be best served by them.

We initially rebuffed this idea. Somehow it was sacrilegious to even verbalize the thought. In fact, small groups can become just as much a sacred cow to the contemporary church as Sunday school was to earlier generations.

We discovered instead that it is community that is taught in the Scriptures, not a programmatic methodology for achieving it. Yes, there were house churches in the New Testament, but this is a narrative insight, not a didactic teaching from Scripture. Early cell groups have more to do with the nature of the growth and culture of the early church than they do a methodological mandate.

We are not anti-small group. But small groups are not the answer for everything for everyone. We have had to learn to think beyond (read “in addition to”) small groups for assimilation, community, and pastoral care. Specifically, we’re rediscovering the lost art of one-on-one mentoring. We also encourage a team mentality and community spirit built around ministry activities.
Todd Hiestand, a blogger commented on this small group statement as well. In writing the copy for small groups on his new church website he wrote this:
We think small groups are great. We encourage everyone to be in Christian community where you are being encouraged and prayed with and prayed for. If that means an official small group, here are a few options. If you one of these options doesn’t work for you we encourage two ways forward. Either let us know and we’ll see if there is a need for a new group or gather some of your friends together and start your own. Just let us know how we can help.

What do you think? Does everyone "need" a small group? Are we missing the point when we push small groups at the expense of helping people develop community?

You Don't Create A Culture

From the 37signals blog:

From time to time during conference Q&A sessions I’m asked “How did you create the culture at 37signals?” or “What do you recommend we do to set up an open, sharing company culture like yours?”

My answer: You don’t create a culture. Culture happens. It’s the by-product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, and you give them the freedom to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust then trust will be built into your culture.


Artificial cultures are instant. They’re big bangs made of mission statements, declarations, and rules. They are obvious, ugly, and plastic. Artificial culture is paint.


Real cultures are built over time. They’re the result of action, reaction, and truth. They are nuanced, beautiful, and authentic. Real culture is patina.

Don’t think about how to create a culture, just do the right things for you, your customers, and your team and it’ll happen.
(ht: 37signals)

I hear what 37signals (an internet company) is saying. You can't will or proclaim "culture". Rather you have to cultivate culture by living it out, day in and day out. And this is especially true for the leaders within the church. The culture of a church will follow the behavior and model of it's leaders.

For instance, Big Creek Church has a culture that lives out in an environment of grace. The big reason this is true is because the leaders live it out in their own lives and among others.

The Importance of the RSS feed for the Ministry Leader

Have you ever seen this icon while surfing the web? Do you scratch your head and wonder, What does that mean?

It is the icon for an RSS feed. RSS feeds are a wonderful thing. In simple terms you subscribe to a website's RSS feed and in return you receive delivered fresh and instantly new and updated content and information. Instead of going, visiting and checking your favorite websites and blogs for new information and content - THE CONTENT comes DIRECTLY to YOU.

Here is a post from Web Worker Daily and Aliza Sherman on the author's first impressions about the impact reading feeds is having on her life and work. Here are some of her main points:

1. They make me look smarter.

2. They give me interesting fodder for conversation with my husband.

3. I read more blog posts in one week by Seth Godin than I had in the last several years. I don’t mean to neglect Seth. He’s smart. I like him. I learn from him. But I stray from reading blogs in general because I can’t seem to find the time. Reading feeds over eggs and coffee carves out time to learn from the masters.

4. I learned about new paths to productivity.

5. What I read in feeds last week had either a direct connection or impact on what I do every day for work. It remains to be seen if I can keep up with my feed reading over time. In the meanwhile, I’ll absorb as much knowledge as I can to expand my understanding of this ever-changing industry and to improve what I do and how I do it.

Need a gentle introduction to RSS see her other post- Needing a Gentle Intro to RSS Feeds.

Let me springboard off of some of Aliza's thoughts.

Here are the benefits that I have received receiving and reading RSS feeds as a Pastor.

1. I stay more informed - I get through the RSS feeds some of the best and most helpful information for ministry, the church, and even devotionally. What I read provokes my creativity and enhances my ministry.

2. It saves me time - Some people say to me, How do you have the time to READ all those websites!? I say, I don't. But having the information come directly to me and then being able to skim the Headlines, multiplies my time and saves me from wasting it. I get the information that I want, and ignore the information the I don't want.

3. It gets me out of my ghetto - I get to learn from so many talented and gifted pastors, ministry leaders and people throughout the world. I learn from people outside of my denominational traditions and with different theological persuasions. Reading my RSS feeds expands my thinking and imagination.

4. I am building a "forever" library of resources - Because I use Google Reader to receive and read my RSS feeds, I can search for information easily if I need it at a later time. Searching my feeds for relevant information is much easier and effective than doing a general Web search. I am more likely with a RSS search to get the information relevant to my interests and needs.

How to get Started:

Sign up for Feed Reader - I would recommend Google Reader

Start signing up and subscribing to feeds - start with this site - Ministry Best Practices and my other site Provocative Church, then go to HELPFUL BLOGS on my side menu and visit those sites add their feeds (that is a good place to start)

And then sit back and enjoy having relevant, helpful and interesting information delivered right to you.

(ht: WebWorker)

The Small Group Icebreaker that didn't quite make it

Looking for a new small group 'icebreaker'? Well, this game never really made it to market; but certainly don't you think it's a great idea for a small group icebreaker? Take a look and let me know what you think...

(ht: MMI)

When Humor Fails!

Have you experienced the weird atmosphere which comes after a funny story you’ve cracked fell flat on your audience?

Or, do you have the belief that you are, simply, not funny at all?

Even the most confident speakers may falter when it comes to the skill of injecting humor adequately in their speeches. Not to worry,though, as this entry aims to offer several tips which, I hope, will guide you in adding just the right dosage of humor in the right moment so as to make your stories or punchlines work.

As the cliché saying goes, laughter is the best medicine and people today are drawn towards humor like bees to honey simply because cynicism has been ingrained in today’s culture. Thus the value-add of humor in public speaking. While, this may be the case, a lot of people out there find themselves lacking the skill sets to pull off punch lines effectively and effortlessly.

Though humor is commonly believed to be an elusive art to master, I think otherwise.

How can I avoid a humor debacle?

The great comic Jim Mendrinos once shared,

“In order to be funny, you got to first know what makes you laugh as this will give you obvious clues to what makes other people laugh.”
This means that you have to know what form of humor works for you, and what does not! Different people find different things funny and these are all common elements in your everyday life, be it in everyday conversations, quotes, books etc. Humor is ubiquitous in life!

There are many forms of humor, ranging from normal banter to exaggeration techniques.

Hence, make an effort to build a humor bank!

It will be great to start off by observing yourself and the people around you. Jot down the comical instances which occur – there has to be noteworthy ones each day! You will never know when these instances will come in handy as ammunition for your speeches. Also, be willing to watch stand up comics. Not because you are trying to be a stand up comedian when you speak - that would be inappropriate. Rather, you can see how their use timing, intonation and facial expressions to deliver humor.

On the day of your speech, get to know the audience!

As Scott Friedman of Advanced Public Speaking Institute suggests,

the more you know about the audience, the more opportunities you will have to play with them.

Understand the dynamics of the audience, as this will make it easier for you to relate to them through your language, tone and the framework of your speech. As mentioned above, different people find different things funny. So, knowing your audience allows you to cater your humor
to the intended group in mind properly – chances are that knock-knock jokes are unlikely to work for adults as opposed to primary school children!

Also, be sure to know the intention of the speech and what you intend for the audience to get out of listening to you. Time is a precious commodity these days, and implanting suggestive and timely, yet relevant humor, will be a very effective way to make your speech more memorable without having to drone on and on with examples.

Establish and maneuver your speech around this purpose, bearing in mind what works for you, as well as the target audience, in creating your stories or punch lines.

There are also potholes to avoid, so do not step into them!

1. Don’t use recycled jokes and stories, the faux pas of public speaking. As you have probably experienced this yourself while listening to speeches before, hearing familiar stories countless times before are bound to elicit groans instead of laughs.

2. Don’t laugh at your own jokes while reciting it — self-control is important! The best way to pull off a punch line is always with a straight face. This will catch the audience off guard and intensify the humorous effect.

3. Don’t give the audience too little time to savor your punch line. Let them digest and laugh before you move on! This will allow the audience to catch the subsequent stories after that.

4. Don’t ever explain your jokes or punch lines! If the audience fail to get the joke, move on. Explaining the joke will not help matters, especially when the funny moment did not, have not, and will not come. To lighten the tense mood at this instant, though, some self-effacing humor may work. (read the rest HERE)

(ht: Public Speaking Blog)

Is It Time To Give Up On Your Small Group?

When do you call it quits? What do you do when your small group appears to be merely on life support? Sam Neal has posted a great article called “When Is a Small Group ‘Just Another Meeting’?” on

Sam asks some excellent and provoking questions in this article and lists five ways to decide if it’s time to move on. Well worth reading. Here is a excerpt:

When does a small group become just another meeting? When does a small group cross the line between supportive community and draining obligation? How do you know when it’s time to go?

There’s no straight answer, of course. But there are some common symptoms I’ve observed in my own life, and in the lives of others. Here are a few of the main ones-

· You bring a negative attitude to the group. I knew things had gotten out of hand when my wife began to scold me after meetings for being “morose.”

· You continually “misfire” in your responsibilities within the group. Things like forgetting to answer homework questions, not following through on promises and forgetting to pray for people are all signs that you are mentally and emotionally detached from the group, if not physically.

· You regularly fail to attend group meetings. If the group has become low enough on your priority list that you are unable to consistently attend, it’s probably time to move on.

· You've identified a clear alternative. I’m not talking about a television show you’d like to watch, or more time spent at work. I’m talking about a different way to slake your inborn need for community.

· You just know. Small groups have a pattern of birth, life, growth, decline, and death. The same thing is true for individual involvement in a small group, and sometimes you just know that the time has come to try something else.

Taste of Big Creek

This past Sunday we had our monthly event called Taste of Big Creek. Taste of Big Creek (TOBC) is a luncheon that we have every second of the month (May was an exception because of Mother's Day). During this time, guests who have been attending Big Creek can learn and investigate our church. The pastors and the staff of Big Creek are there to showcase their ministry scope and to answer questions.

Our Connecting Ministry Team owns this event and they have done an excellent job of putting together a process of invitation, implementation and follow-up.

Here are a couple of bullet points that give you an overview of the ways we communicate to our guests leading up to the TOBC event:
  • EVERY week, we strategically showcase TOBC during the worship services/bulletin reminders
  • 2 weeks out from the event invitation postcards go out (we send invitations to those who visited in the last 90 days and who haven't been to a TOBC)
  • 1 week out email reminder/invitation via Google calendar
  • 5 days out we make calls to those we haven't heard from and extend a personal invitation.

Since there is food preparation and childcare provided, we try to get an clear indication of who is going to attend. Even though we are intentional, we nevertheless anticipate a percentage of walk-ins that Sunday morning.

Here is an overview of our assimilation process and how the TOBC fits in. It is a great doorway for a guest who has typically visited about 3 times (although some people will walk in during their first visit). Our desired measurable outcomes from this event are to see people move toward membership (which we call Inquirers) and/or connect in a small group and/or find an opportunity to serve and get involved at Big Creek.

This event overall has been a big win for us. We are constantly trying to improve and refine it, but it is a significant piece of our assimilation process. How do you help your guests to connect? Please share your ideas and what you do in the comments section.

Are you lonely?

This is a funny satire ad, and it dovetails nicely with my post: Death by Meetings.

(ht: Seth Godin)

Graphic Toolbox

Great custom graphic design is ideal. But sometimes time, money, or skill limitations make it necessary to use premade graphics. And even when you have the time, money, and skills, there are still occasions when it is more efficient to not reinvent the wheel and to instead use and build upon a premade resource.

In either case, here are 15 of the best sites offering free church graphics and resources. And if you want to spend some cash, I have also included 6 sites that cost money but are worth considering for premade resources.

Free Church Graphics and Resources

    Offers free church graphics including logos, photos, vector art, projector slides, bulletins, sermon graphics, projector slides, templates, and more. The site also includes a social network for Christian artists.
  • Open
    Offers free sermon series resources that include message outlines, sermon graphics, videos, and more creative materials created by (Edmond, OK).
  • Muddy River Media
    Offers free illustrative videos, motion backgrounds, countdown timers, stock photographs, illustrations, small group resources, and more.
  • NewSpring Ministries
    Offers free sermon series resources (e.g., sermon graphics, audio, message outline, & service outline) as well as administrative forms and manuals created by NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC).
  • Northside Christian Church Creative Resources
    Offers free logos, posters, and other artwork designed by Northside Christian Church (New Albany, IN).
  • Nside Admin
    Offers free administrative documents from North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA) on church government, human resources, accounting, facilities, IT, and Web.
  • Seacoast All Access
    Offers free sermon series resources that include sermon graphics, motion graphics, audio, video, message notes, and small group questions created by Seacoast Church (Mt. Pleasant, SC).
  • Vine Resources
    Offers free sermon series graphics, postcards, countdown videos, and message bumpers created by the college ministry of Southeast Christian Church (Louisville, KY).

Free General Graphics and Resources

  • Adobe Exchange
    Offers free downloads to use with Adobe software including brushes, styles, gradients, custom shapes, and patterns for Photoshop.
  • BittBox
    A blog that regularly highlights free Photoshop brushes, Flash components, vector graphics, and more.
  • Brusheezy
    Offers free Photoshop brushes.
  • Flasheezy
    Offers free Flash elements.
  • PS Brushes
    Offers free Photoshop brushes.
  • Smashing Magazine
    A blog that regularly highlights free graphics, fonts, and more.
  • Vecteezy
    Offers free vector graphics.

Church Resources that Cost Money

  • Creative Pastors
    Sells sermon series resources that include sermon graphics, video, mind maps, outlines, audio, and more created by Fellowship Church (Grapevine, TX).
  • North Point Resources
    Sells logos, DVDs, sermon messages, conference messages, and more created by North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, GA).
  • Outreach
    Sells church graphics that include postcards, banners, bulletins, door hangers, invitations, brochures, logos, signage, and more.
  • The Church Box
    Sells sermon series resources that include sermon graphics, PowerPoint slides, and audio created by Four Corners Community Church (West Chester, OH).
    Sells sermon series resources (e.g., outlines, graphics, videos, audio, & scripts) and administrative resources (e.g., forms, documents, & manuals) created by Granger Community Church (Granger, IN).
  • WorshipHouse Media
    Sells mini-movies, motions, stills, software, and editables for churches.
Free Graphic Design Ideas
  • Check out the Flickr Church Marketing Lab. Designers post different types of postcards, posters, slides, etc. for peer review. There’s some pretty good designers and some pretty good ideas in there.
  • Also check out Colour Lovers to get ideas of color schemes and pallets.

(ht: churchrelevance)

Don't GAG!!!!

Don't get involved in a Small Group! What you say??!! How can you say that? You are a small group director. That's because I don't want people to get in a small group, rather I want them to connect into relationships!

It is important to communicate the priority of creating relationships- certainly groups are a great place to do that -but the point isn't a group, it is a relationship.

We used to have a saying in college ministry - G.A.G. This stood for Get A Group. GAG was not a good thing. When a person was GAGging it meant that they were more interested in getting a small group put together rather than the bigger picture of the relationships that needed to be developed.

When a person was only interested in getting a group -a small group merely became a task. It became an end in itself. When that happens people merely feel as if they are cogs in the wheel of a program or project.

Small groups rather are a means to an end. They are a venue in which people connect and can build relationships. That is what we are really desiring, relationships. Real, authentic and caring relationships.

When you think of starting your next small group, make sure you don't GAG!

Leading Worship In A Small Group Setting

Experiencing life changing and authentic worship in a small group setting can be a revolutionary way to take your small group to a deeper level. Moreover, leading worship in a small group is greatly aided with the tools now available. (Some are listed at the end of this article)

Providing an atmosphere of worship enables group members to demonstrate their faith in a tangible way and also experience worshiping the Lord together. Worshiping together in a small group setting can be an excellent facilitator for moving people towards true transparency where they begin by focusing not on themselves but on the power of our Lord.

Remember that since Worship is more than singing, you don’t have to be a singer to lead it. Jesus demonstrated many ways to worship: He prayed, He taught, He was baptized, He fasted, He quoted scripture, and He sang (Matt 26:30). Today singing is a very popular form of worship.

Of Course, all the small groups I have been in would much rather sing than fast. As Music is a language that speaks very well to the thirsty soul and creates a genuine sense of community within the Group, incorporating music into the small group worship experience has great benefits.

Today the general model for contemporary worship in most congregational worship services is 4 people in a band with one lead singer. This model can be easily adapted or changed to fit worship in a small group setting. You can easily use the songs from today’s contemporary worship artists in a small group context as well as the Hymns of our faith.

Here are some of my tips for small group worship. Sing fewer songs using less time than in a larger worship service. My experience in a small group is that I can sing a song for them to listen to and ask them to join in when they know it.

Everyone singing is not the goal (it’s nice). The goal is that the group connects with God and each other.

Music is a great part of small group participation but that participation involves more reflection and introspection. Don’t stop between songs. Avoid trying to manipulate the small group into a pep rally is if everyone singing at the top their voice is what makes a quality worship experience. Small group members do a lot of listening, and that’s just fine.

Pick songs that are easy to sing. Using only the choruses of well known songs encourages participation. Choose songs that have very singable words, a simple melody and limited musical range, let’s say a one octave range. Songs like “Here I Am to Worship,” “Lord I Life Your Name on High,” “More Love More Power,” many of the Passion songs, and most of the CCLI (Christian Copyright Licensing Incorporated) Top 100 songs are easy to sing.

Most of all, remember that worship is more than music. It’s a lifestyle.

(taken directly from Rick Muchow)