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.

Thinking Team


My entire down-line of ministry team leaders are volunteers. But team is so important to me that I have pulled them together as a team. This is important on a couple of levels.

First it breaks my leaders out of their silos - we are all working toward common goals and a common vision.

Second, we work better as a team - collective learning is always better.

Third, teams provides encouragement - it says that you are not alone.

Fourth, we get to celebrate with one another and pray for one another.

Therefore I meet with my team leaders who are volunteers at least once a month for coaching.

Every other month, all my team leaders get together for a meeting all together as a team. On the off months I am meeting individually with each team leader for individual coaching and equipping.

Above and beyond those bare minimums, I meet with my team leaders as the needs dictate.

Let me compliment some of my thoughts with some excellent thoughts on this subject from one of Shawn Lovejoy's recent posts:

"One of the great challenges of a leader is building and leading our teams. Frankly, it's always faster and more efficient to do things by ourselves. It's HARD to do team! That's why one of the things I'm constantly doing is challenging leaders to THINK TEAM as a leader. We must build teams at every level of our churches and organizations! Jesus actually MODELED thinking team. Here's some thoughts on how to build and lead more effective teams based on the life of Jesus:

  • Determine not to do life and ministry ALONE. Jesus had a team of 12. If He had a team, don't you think we need one?
  • Pick the right people for the team. Jesus didn't pick superstars. He picked mean who be moldable, teachable, and loyal.
  • Cultivate our team. Jesus spent A LOT of time with His team. he was constantly pulling away from the crowds to invest in His team.
  • Function as a Team. Jesus taught the disciples HOW to work together to accomplish more than they could accomplish on their own. He introduced them to the Upper Room, where they could come together, huddle, and then go tackle Hell with a water gun."
(HT: Shawn Lovejoy)

Layering





Here is a great post on a subject that Seth Godin has called Layering. I have always been tempted to follow the first scenario that Seth describes. My personality type always compels me to want to work out the process first. I want it all figured out and buttoned down before I launch any new project or new initiative. But Seth is right about how that practice fails. And I have been for the past two years applying the second scenario and principle of moving forward faster, getting out of the gate all the while continuing to edit and tweak along the way.


Here is Seth's post:

Layering

Here's what we used to do:

Create ---> Edit ---> Launch

Here's what happens now:

Create ---> Launch ---> Edit ---> Launch ---> repeat

Someone asked me which post on this blog represented the turning point of its growth. The 'breakthrough' post. It turns out that there wasn't one. Instead, there were 2,500 posts, one after the other, each building (and I was learning from each) as we went.

Wikipedia is built on a bold idea: launch with a few hundred mediocre articles. Challenge people to add a few more. And then, day after day, layer on top of that, improving each one, improving a hundred thousand of them, improving a million of them. One after another, layer after layer.

Squidoo is a bit different. Let each person layer their own page, instead of a crowd. And then, as time goes by and the crowd gets bigger, the new folks are smarter (and building better pages) because they've watched the results that others have layered up.

Organizations that make the same mistakes every day (hidebound ones, rulebook based ones, airlines) rarely get to layer. They don't grow and improve, because they're not organized to do so.

And thus the challenge. We live in a layered world now. Those that plan and plan and then launch are always going to be at a disadvantage to the layerers.


(HT:Seth's Blog: Layering)

Creative As I Want To Be?



LifeHack published an article that discusses ways to polish and extend those innovative and creative powers of ours.

Listed below are some of LifeHacks' suggestions:
Keep Topping my Tank. "Creativity needs raw material: it needs continual exposure to more knowledge and other peoples’ thinking to allow it to appear."

Seek Out As Many New Experiences As I Can. "The more you cling to your comfort-zones, the less likely you are to be able to see beyond them, let alone stimulate your mind to produce new ideas."

Keep Challenging Myself. "Creative people are constantly putting themselves into situations that challenge them in some significant way: intellectually, practically, or in terms of understanding. They take risks that less creative people shy away from."

Ignore Automatic Criticism-especially My Own. "Many peoples’ creativity is stifled at birth by self-judgmental impulses. Indeed, that’s likely the greatest reason why the majority of people fail to use the creativity they have: any new idea is squashed instantly by negative thoughts in their own minds. They never risk being rated a fool by others because they dismiss themselves as foolish first."

5 Bad Habits of Communication



The more you speak and communicate the better you can get at doing it. But on the flip side, the more ingrained bad habits of communication can become. If you speak for a living, which I do (larger crowds, small groups and one to one), you need to always be working on your speaking skills. Maybe you video tape yourself to watch it, or record yourself to listen to, but a good communicator is always looking to improve. Here are 5 of the biggest bad habits that a communicator can have. These aren't the only habits, but these are the most egregious.
Bad Habit #1 - Reading From The Script
This is also one of the top five mistakes that CEOs around the world commit. The main culprit is comfort. A script gives the speaker a false sense of security. They think that with a script, they won’t have to memorize anything. And even better, they won’t have to engage their audience since they are busy listening to him read.

Unfortunately, we all know that that’s not the case. When you read from a script, you are forced to sound monotone. You will scare the audience with your bobbing head and worse, you give people the feeling that you are reading someone else words.

So what’s the solution?
Stop reading your script! But that doesn’t mean you should not have a script. In fact, I strongly recommend you to have one but it should be written like you are speaking. So instead of formal writing like “Scientists from the Harvard University have discovered that when a speaker incorporates emotive words into their speeches, they have a 90% chance of influencing the audience to their way of thinking”, you can make it more conversational like “I was just reading this scientific article and I learnt that if you use emotive words to communicate, you will have a higher chance of influencing your audience to your way of thinking… how cool is that!”

But I don’t have a very good memory, how will I be able to remember everything? Well, you don’t have to. With a clear structure, there isn’t really a need to memorize word for word. All you need to do is to remember your key points and how to flow from one point to another. This will give you room to improvise and engage the audience as well.

And if you really have to read from the script, here’s how you should do it to ensure you still engage your audience.

It’s call the See, Stop, Say approach recommended by James C Hume. author of Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln.

Here’s the rule of thumb - never ever speak when your eyes are on your script.

First, look down and take a snapshot of your script. Memorize a chunk of words. Bring your head up and then pause for a second. When you are ready, say what you have memorized in your own words. It’s a three-step process: see, stop and say. It is very important that you pause. Yes, it may be weird for you but in reality, the pause helps make your speech conversational. It also creates anticipation, which further deepen the impact.

Here are the other bad habits...

Bad Habit #2 - Winging It


Bad Habit #3 - Beating Around The Bush


Bad Habit #4 - Failing To Do Your Research


Bad Habit #5 - Too Many Uhh and Urms

Read the full post here:The Public Speaking Blog


(HT: The Public Speaking Blog )

Free Creative Content


My friend Jason down in TX has a good post about free content from churches via the internet. Many churches are making their creative messages, videos and graphics available for free. There is a real kingdom mentality starting to stir up among the larger churches that says, "If our material can help other churches and be used for His glory...then make it freely available". I know a lot of other church leaders who don't have the kind of resources and staff, as larger churches may have, and they appreciate that these resources are being made available.

Most of the time other church's creative endeavors can provoke and prime the pump for your own creativity. Ultimately, you should adapt materials to your own context and situation. But as a starting place, these resources are a great place to stoke the creative fires.
Here is a list of five churches that are offering free online resources:
(HT: Making Difference Makers)

Simplicity is never simple


For the past year, Big Creek has been working through and applying many of the principles from the book, Simple Church. One of the truths about a simple church is that getting there isn't "simple". I just read this fascinating article in Wired Magazine called, The Untold Story: How the iPhone Blew Up the Wireless Industry.

If you have used the iPhone, you have marveled at the phone's simplicity. The interface is easy to use and intuitive. But what was so fascinating about the untold story of the iPhone was that producing such simplicity, wasn't a simple process. In fact it was complex and there were numerous times for the whole thing to get derailed.

The iPhone is a great metaphor for the church. We want a process at Big Creek that is clear and simple for anyone to navigate through. But in order to get that, the staff and ministry leaders have to wrestle through tons of complexity and do a lot of heavy lifting.

Resource on Creativity






Creativist...

Creativityist is "about finding space and practices to explore creativity."

Check it out!

(Thanks PastorHacks)

How To Deal With Loooooooong Emails




I have posted before on how to get a quicker response from your email, but too many times the emails that you may receive are the length of a novel, that you get so bogged down reading and responding to them. Email is an essential means for you to communicate with your staff and ministry leaders, therefore here are some tips in order to cut through those long and laborious emails.

Step 1: Determine who it’s from

The amount of attention you need to pay an email will depend mainly on who it’s from. A potential client detailing the kind of work they require will need a lot of attention. A long request for advice from someone you’ve never heard of (usually the most common kind) can be processed quickly and painlessly with the following steps.

Step 2: Scan until you can answer one question

“What is this email about?”

Most long emails are questions delivered in an extremely round-about way. They can often be broken down into two segments: 1) key questions and 2) unnecessary detail. If your email appears to fit this bill, you can move to Step 3.

Other types of long email include thanks/positive feedback, constructive criticism (or its evil twin, long angry rants).

Scan the email until you can sum up its purpose in a sentence — for example, “They’re telling me they like my portfolio and found it inspiring,” or “They hate my guts because of that post I wrote.” Then respond to the sentence you’ve defined, rather than the email as a whole.

Step 3: Look for questions

Scan a long email looking for question marks. These are specific points which require action from you. In most cases, you can ignore unnecessary detail and focus on questions. But before you focus only on the words you need, you’ll need to implement the last step.

Step 4: Find keywords

This will allow you to zero in on the issue that you need to address.

(ht:: Anywired)

Remember to Give Thanks


"Good manners start with good intentions. Etiquette experts postulate that writing thank you notes increases the frequency and quality of gifts you receive. But what if you're stuck and don't know what to write? The Thank You Note Samples site covers nearly every imaginable topic to give thanks for, from acknowledging the receipt of charity donations to expressing appreciation for hospitality arrangements to thanking your potential employer for an interview. Multiple letter formats are available to add variety (especially if you're spending the night writing the same monotonous notes due to a recent wedding).......
Thank You Note Samples
(HT: LifeHacker)

Giving thanks and writing thank you notes has been ingrained in me ever since I began working with Campus Crusade for Christ. I was able to do the ministry with CCC because of the kind and generous support of many individuals and churches. And therefore it was crucial and critical to express thanks for their support. These rules and guidelines that I have adopted may seem rigid, but I think that they are important and invaluable when expressing thanks.

1. Write a thank you note within 24 hours. The longer you wait the less impact your expression of thanks will have. Immediacy is important, and if you wait longer than 24 hours, you will probably forget to write a note.

2. Handwritten notes are the best. Try to avoid the form letter type of thank you.

3. Be specific with what you giving thanks and showing your appreciation for, mention it by name. Don't say, "Thank you for your gift", rather say "Thank you for your generous gift of $25".

Getting What You Preach For



“If there is a mist in the pulpit, there will be a fog in the pews?"
Excerpt from Church Marketing Sucks.....

When you preach salvation, people come to know Jesus.
When you preach about loving Jesus, people become better lovers of Jesus.
When you preach prosperity, people want to be prosperous.

When you preach about the second coming, people get ready.
When you preach healing, people will be healed.
When you preach hope, people are more hopeful.
When you preach about tithing, people tithe.

What you talk about is what people are going to respond to. In other words, you get what you preach for.

This is not about communication manipulation. This is about communication transformation.

So, friends, what are you preaching for?
What are you communicating for?
(HT: Church Marketing Sucks)

I think it was Howard Hendricks who said, "If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it." When you communicate you need to define your purpose. You need to be clear about your goal, or goals.
What do you want people to do?
How do you want people to think?
What do you want people to believe?

If you are not clear and defined about what you want to say, you can't expect your audience to be either.

Confused People Don't Laugh

Here is a great post from Todd Henry. We can't assume that others have the privilege of knowing what we know (see previous post on the Curse of Knowledge). Therefore even though it may seem repetitive or even patronizing to repeat the story and narrative, helping people understand the facts, allows people to engage with laughter.
"SherwoodSherwood Schwartz , creator of such nostalgic TV shows as "Gilligan's Island" and "The Brady Bunch " was once asked why his shows began with theme songs that set up the premise of the show. ("Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale..." or "Here's the story of a man named Brady...")

His response was, "Confused people don't laugh."

I think there's much we can learn from uncle Sherwood about context and creativity. When we're creating, our goal is communicate something - even if that something is ineffable. Without context, we're relying on the individual to fill in the vacuum. (Vacuum's always get filled, no?) This complexity can lead to confusion and misinterpretation of our intent. In the world of high art, this isn't necessarily as much of an issue because the goal is to evoke and fade into the cultural fabric, but when we're creating for a client, this can be the key determining factor of success or failure.

Do your "punchlines" have context? Are people wasting their neurons trying to understand why a millionaire, a scientist, a farm girl, a movie star and "the rest" are frolicking around on your island?"

Name Badge Placement



I just read this mildly humorous, yet truly helpful post at Productivity Cafe about Name Badge Placement. The reason that it struck me as funny was the fact that we would even talk about the "science" of name badge placement. But nevertheless, there are some good lessons to learn here. Here is this post:

Name Badge Placement - “You mean there is a guide for that?"

When you're at a conference or meeting with nametags, where do you stick your nametag? The Productivity Café is about sharing those little insider tips that make your days easier and this is a useful little one. Nametag placement is humorously a topic of conversation at the beginning of most conferences I attend because people don't know what the best location is. Should it be on the left chest? Or on the right chest? Down on the pocket so you don't look like a dork or perhaps stuck to your notebook for the event. Should you throw it away immediately so you don't have to bother with it?

Here's the quick insight:
  • First, wear the nametag! You are at this event for a business purpose and that can only be enhanced by the relationships that you develop. Make it easy on the other people to meet you.
  • Place the name tag on your right chest (from the perspective of looking down at yourself). Wear it as if you're right handed, that side. This allows the person you're greeting to glance up your arm of the handshake, at the nametag, and to your eyes naturally. We read left to right and you're helping others by accommodating that pattern. This is especially helpful if the person recognizes your face and wants to be nonchalant about your name that they've forgotten.
  • The bottom of the nametag should line up with top of your arm meeting your side.
  • Use big print on the nametag. If they're not preprinted, put your name in big letters – maybe just your first name. One-half inch is a good starting size.
  • If you network often, do trade shows, etc. buy a permanent nametag. Including your company logo on the nametag will enhance your impression and give conversations a starting point.
  • Use a black or other dark sharpie to write you name if at all possible. Do not use a simple pen as the line is too thin to read unless the person's nose is practically on your nametag.
  • Convert nametags that hang around your neck and therefore the center of your chest to the right lapel. Use a pin, clip or double sided tape after you're sure it won't tarnish the fabric of your garment. (Make a clip by removing it from a used plastic nametag holder and gluing the lanyard pocket to the clip. You need to be prepared to do this!).

(HT: Productivity Cafe)


Poor Communication Skills

7 Poor Communication Skills to Avoid
1. Contacting others only when you need something.
2. Not following up, or closing the loop.
3. Not returning telephone calls or email messages.
4. Foregoing basic courtesy.
5. Not listening.
6. Telling lies.
7. Spewing chronic negativity.

Some of these would seem obvious in a church, i.e. don't tell lies. But many of these aren't for a lot of church staff. Many on this list are good reminders for many of us, particularly number 1 and 2.

I can get very task driven and only contact people when I need something, and that communicates that a person is only valuable to me only if they can do something, and that isn't a good thing to communicate. Also, with number 2, I can start strong, but then I get distracted and don't close the loop effectively, and so I need to keep my eye on that issue as well.