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.

Waving Goodbye To 2009

Using the Google Wave interface...we take a look at the highlights and lowlights of 2009

A Christmas Gift Worth Getting

I've used Logos throughout my years of seminary and believe it is one of the best programs out there for Bible study and research. Logos is one of the most comprehensive and powerful software packages on the market - now having recently added a iPhone/iPod app.

Although this software is top does come with a hefty price tag.

But during Christmas they are running a 25% discount code: DECKTHEHALLS

If you were thinking of purchasing Logos Bible Software, make sure to take advantage of this discount!

A Job Interview That Will Make You Think (And Sweat)

At The Business Insider, Alyson Shontell wrote about her unsuccessful job interview with Google, which has gained a reputation for asking hard and bizarre questions that test a candidate’s creativity, priorities, and critical thinking skills. She provided 15 examples from other people who’ve interviewed with Google:
How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
Why are manhole covers round?

Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.

You have eight balls all of the same size 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?
You can read more questions and the preferred answers at the link.

Granted, I not sure that I would want to be on the receiving end of those most challenging questions - but what is cool about these Google interview questions, is that they challenge the person to critically think and be creative.  Too often it is those skills that are most needed in a job - particularly in ministry. 

Facebook vs. Twitter

I think posting infographics like this one, remind us all of the scope and impact these social networks have.  The next issue is the question of how the church is going to effectively leverage and participate within them? Or will the church simply ignore them, hoping that they'll go away?

(click image to enlarge)

(ht: Metrobest)

"The Best Book I’ve Read On The Nature Of Church Ministry"

Best is a strong word - yet listen to Pastor Mark Dever explain why he thinks this is the BEST book on the nature of church ministry.

This book is 50% off for the next 48 hours at Westminster books (here)

Don't miss this opportunity to get this book.

It's Not Just For Kids!

Based on the most recent Pew Internet report, the median ages of some of the most popular social networks are:
Social networks are not for just for kids.

Given that fact, how is your church using social media for ministry throughout the church (kids and adults alike)?

Being The Church - Online

"When we [first started this], we were blown away at how people could actually worship along and have genuine community and connect in a very spiritual and very real way with an online church. … We've got people who may be exploring Christianity for the first time and who may not set foot in a physical church building, and we would like to clearly communicate the truth of the Bible in a way that people would understand. That's the top priority for us. Beyond that, we find that people will worship. Often a whole family will gather around the computer, and they'll sing and they'll worship together. Or if someone's travelling, they can stay connected to the church that way. They can invite a friend who might not come to church otherwise. … So it's a tool to help. Instead of trying to get people to come to a church, we feel like we can take a church to them." Senior Pastor Craig Groeschel, explaining the vision behind his church pioneering the way for online churches—and how these virtual communities are anything but merely virtual.


"They Don't Pay Me Enough For This Job"

Have you ever said that about your job?

Here is a list of the top stressful jobs that pay poorly.  Number 5 on the list is "Music ministry director"

5. Music Ministry Director
Median pay: $40,800
% who say their job is stressful: 67%
You may not think of people who plan, direct and conduct performances for religious services as being under a particularly high amount of stress. But they also choose the appropriate psalm or hymn for every wedding and funeral -- only some of the most important events in a family's life. And those stressful situations can create some demanding clients.

"Every now and then you'll get a strange request," said Dan Fenn, Music Ministry Director at St. John's Lutheran Church in Northfield, Minn. "A couple of years ago I got a request to play the Beer Barrel Polka at a funeral. You have to ask yourself, is this appropriate for a worship service?"

If I was making this list, I would put Youth Minister at the top.  No pay, no glory, all the grief!

Top Web Apps

Working in ministry often means working on a shoestring budget..that is why I appreciate many of the Web2.0 apps that not only make my life easier, but are also free.  Here are a couple of my "go-to" apps that a use consistently.

31 Refutable Irrefutable Laws Of Lame Leadership

31 Refutably Irrefutable Laws of Lame Leadership
Chances are you either worked under one of these leadership styles or in fact you have one of these leadership styles.

(ht: Johnny Leckie)

5 Objectives Of Using Social Media

You may be working or volunteering at a church thinking about finally taking the plunge into social media.  Now what?

The first thing you should do as you begin this new venture is to be very clear about your objectives, If you don't the "gee-whiz" factor will quickly wear off and your venture into social media will be short lived.

In my experience, I think that there are five general objectives that can be pursued in the use of any social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc...)

1. Listening.  Social Media is a conversation.  As people participate you will have the opportunity to learn and benefit from those takeaways. 

2. Talking. Use Social Media as an opportunity to double down on your communication regarding your church's vision or communicate opportunities to serve.  There is so much noise in our culture, so it doesn't hurt to have another conduit to communicate.

3. Energizing.  This is similar to talking, but the objective here is to mobilize and empower the champions and connectors in the church to be the fuel of the ministry. 

4. Supporting.  Through Social Media, your church can provide others the tools and  resources they need for spiritual growth.

5. Connecting.  The objective of Social Media is to connect people together, to have them talk to one another.  So your role is to act as a facilitator to help those in your church engage and come together toward a common mission and objectives.

How To Care For Those Who Do The Caring

We are at the end of the month of October which has been designated as Clergy Appreciation Month.  And although we set aside a month to focus on appreciating and caring for those called to shepherd the church, care for the pastor needs to go well beyond one month out of the year.

Pastors are at high risk - depression, addictions and divorce.

An estimated 18% to 25% of all ministers are depressed at any one time.

The pain and suffering that pastors silently suffer through can turn tragic.

From an article at USAToday,
What kind of personal pain would cause a 42-year-old pastor to abandon his family, his calling and even life itself? Members of a Baptist church here are asking that question after their pastor committed suicide in his parked car in September.
Those who counsel pastors say Christian culture, especially Southern evangelicalism, creates the perfect environment for depression. Pastors suffer in silence, unwilling or unable to seek help or even talk about it. Sometimes they leave the ministry. Occasionally the result is the unthinkable.

Experts say clergy suicide is a rare outcome to a common problem.

But Baptists in the Carolinas are soul searching after a spate of suicides and suicide attempts by pastors. In addition to the September suicide of David Treadway, two others in North Carolina attempted suicide, and three in South Carolina succeeded, all in the last four years.

Being a pastor — a high-profile, high-stress job with nearly impossible expectations for success — can send one down the road to depression, according to pastoral counselors.
Read the whole article HERE

If you are a pastor or a ministry leader, how do cope with the stresses, struggles and strains from ministry? 

5 Warning Signs That Your Church Is Sinking

Thom Rainer shares five warning signs that the health of your church may be deteriorating. Do any of the below signs apply to your church?

1. The church has few outwardly focused ministries. Most of the budget dollars in the church are spent on the desires and comforts of church members. The ministry staff spends most of its time taking care of members, with little time to reach out and minister to the community the church is supposed to serve.

2. The dropout rate is increasing. Members are leaving for other churches in the community, or they are leaving the local church completely. A common exit interview theme we heard was a lack of deep biblical teaching and preaching in the church.

3. The church is experiencing conflict over issues of budgets and building. When the focus of church members becomes how the facilities and money can meet their preferences, church health is clearly on the wane.

4. Corporate prayer is minimized. If the church makes prayer a low priority, it makes God a low priority.

5. The pastor has become a chaplain. The church members view the pastor as their personal chaplain, expecting him to be on call for their needs and preferences. When he doesn't make a visit at the expected time, or when he doesn't show up for the Bible class fellowship, he receives criticism. In not a few cases, the pastor has lost his job at that church because he was not omnipresent for the church members.

You can read the rest of Thom's thoughts HERE.

One of the best books that I've read that would serve as an antidote against a church "going under" is Jack Miller's book, "Outgrowing the Ingrown Church" - this book is a must read.

Ministry Metrics

My friend and ministry collegue, Tony Stiff has given me permission to repost a big portion of his incredible post on ministry metrics.

If you click here you can download a PDF entitled “Ministry Metrics” it will explain how to measure ministry flow in metric terms.

From Tony- "This PDF is the outcome of a conversation that begin with another pastor friend of mine regarding how we could become better stewards of our ministries. Ministry metrics are becoming more popular among larger churches that are budget and staff heavy and are trying to be good stewards of their resources.

Smaller churches aren’t as quick to get on board with metrics because the need to use metrics is not as pressing but nevertheless is important. As long as pastors chasten how they use metrics to measure ministry growth by having a philosophy of ministry that is Spirit-dependent and always mindful of the grace of God in the gospel; using metrics can be of great value.

You should notice trends in each area of metrics: they’re all aimed at small, large, and directional growth; they’re done in community with one another; and they’re inclusive to every leader in the body no matter how great or small their responsibility loads are"

Read the rest HERE on Tony's website.

Church Sign Fail

(ht: Failblog)

New Facebook Button

Take a look up above, there is a new button.  

Inspired by the popular Retweet buttons, this new sharing button for Facebook displays the number of times the current page has been shared on Facebook and allows you, visitors to Ministry Best Practices, to share it yourself.  It's features include:

  • Displays the number of shares and on hover the total number of clicks for those shares (displays Facebook logo when 0 shares)
  • A choice between a large or small button

To get yours for your blog or website go HERE

Twitter In The Funnies

Dilbert has just found out an ingenious way to use Twitter at work:

click to view a larger image

Even though Twitter can be misused and is often misunderstood, I believe that can hold value for ministries who understand how to leverage it properly.

I have said many times that Twitter can provide an excellent opportunity for pastors to connect with their congregation.  This is particularly true for large churches, where the congregants don't have easy access to their pastor.  A pastor can use twitter to share thoughts about a sermon, share details about ministry and highlight opportunities as well as be able to create conversations with people in the church.

If you are a pastor, do you use Twitter?  Why or why not?

Related Posts:
Twitter Tracker
How Twitter Hits the Sweet Spot
Should We Twitter in Church?

(ht: Mashable)

YouVersion Live Has Gone LIVE!

You can view this video to get a brief overview.

Introducing YouVersion Live from YouVersion on Vimeo.

There are creative ways in which your church, ministrty or organization might be able to use YouVersion Live to bring interactivity to weekend services, conferences, Bible studies, and more. Once a group is set up, a live event can take place any time.

Best of all, it's free and it’s easy to use.

Go to for more info.

Brevity Communicates Essence

It has been said that brevity is the soul of wit.  

Since 1996, the Webby Awards have been given by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences for achievement on the Internet. Winners are limited to five-word acceptance speeches.  That's right - JUST FIVE WORDS.

(The video below is a compilation of some of those concise and occasionally funny speeches.)

Often times good and effective communication is the result of saying what needs to be said in it's simplest form.  When you do so, not only will you have greater impact because your audience was able to remember what you've said, but it also guarantees you being the clearest you can be.

If you had only five words to say to the world, what would they be?

My Personal Recommendation Of Tony Stiff

In this post, I want to toot someone's horn and bring them to your attention.

In my years of working alongside many ministry leaders, Tony Stiff is one of the most gifted pastors I know. Tony is not only a pastor, he is a friend and a ministry colleague.

Tony is currently in a season of transition and seeking the Lord for the next ministry opportunity

If you are part of a church that is going through a pastoral transition, whether it be a lead pastor or a pastoral staff position, I would encourage you to take a look at Tony's material - his resume website and video!

 I wouldn't hesitate to work with Tony on the same team if the opportunity provided itself.

To see Tony's resume website with this video in its intended context click here.
To download a copy of Tony's Pastoral Resume in PDF form with references, recommendations, and more click here.

In 20 Years, One Quarter Of Americans Could Claim "No Religion"

According to a post at U.S. News and World Report, if current trends continue, a quarter of Americans are likely to claim "no religion" in 20 years, according to a survey out today by Trinity College.

Americans who identify with no religious tradition currently comprise 15 percent of the country, representing the fastest growing segment of the national religious landscape.

While the numbers portend a dramatic change for the American religious scene—"religious nones" accounted for just 8 percent of the population in 1990—the United States is not poised to adopt the anti-religious posture of much of secularized Europe.

That's because American religious nones tend to be religious skeptics as opposed to outright atheists. Fewer than 10 percent of those identifying with no religious tradition call themselves atheists or hold atheistic beliefs, according to the new study.

Read the rest HERE

Now You Know...

You got to watch this latest "Did You Know?.." video below.

The video includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology.

Watching the video reminds me again and again of the importance for the church not to ignore the important trends such as social media, the ubiquitous use of cell phones and the future of marketing.

Of course it is important to always view trends and technology with discernment and through a theological grid..but that doesn't mean that our ministries and churches have permission to ignore the shifting landscape and ignore genuine opportunities to connect people to their faith and to proclaim the gospel.

I believe that we are in a paradigm shift today as big as the day when the world was opened up by the invention of the Gutenberg printing press.

Rotten On The Inside

"I've come to see institutional decline like a disease: harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages; easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside, dangerously on the cusp of a precipitous fall." – Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs,


The One Secret To Become More Productive

Matt Cutts, Google software engineer shares one of his best productivity secrets. This secret can literally CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!! Are you ready?

Step 1. Buy a productivity book.

Any productivity book will do. It doesn’t matter what book you order though, because you probably won’t read it. You can use any random “increase your productivity” book.

Step 2. Look at the productivity book and tell yourself, “If I don’t get X done, I’m going to have to read that productivity book.”

That’s it. Staring at the cover of a productivity book gives you almost as much of a motivational boost as actually reading the book. And if staring at the cover doesn’t work, then tell yourself the punishment for not getting your work done is that you’ll have to read that dang productivity book. Pretty soon you’ll be off and working. :-)

Thanx Matt!

Rethinking Vision

In Gary Collins' recent newsletter, he submits that casting vision isn't what it used to be:
Recent years have seen a seismic shift in our perspectives on vision, especially as it relates to leadership. A new book by Jimmy Long calls this The Leadership Jump. Top-down, controlling leadership is fading. No longer can people with titles and power set the agenda and expect everyone else to follow. A new form of leadership has emerged where the leader stimulates ideas and plans but where teams combine their creative ideas to set vision and shape directions together.
It is all about collaboration and coroperation.  Is it no wonder that we get this kind of response from those we lead particularly since we now live in a world of "social media", such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  Social Media empowers people to particapate not only in the medium, but also crafting the conversation and message.  People want to be empowered to participate.

Gary goes on to say:
In an issue of Leadership Journal (Summer 2009) devoted to "iGens" (the contemporary "isolated generation"), one writer urges ministry leaders to "forget about implementing the church's vision." Instead, leaders need to release control and share influence with others, including those who are younger. This can be one of the most difficult changes for a traditional leader to make.
Visions and vision casting are still relevant and motivating. Leaders, coaches, mentors, and teachers will continue to instill and stimulate visions. What's changing is the shift of control, creativity and ownership from an influential individual to teams. This change in vision and visionary leadership is too far along to reverse. Maybe that's not so bad.
You can read the newsletter in it entirety HERE.

Passion - Atlanta 2010

Where? - Atlanta. January 2-5.

Louie Giglio. Hillsong. Chris Tomlin. John Piper. Francis Chan. Beth Moore. Matt Redman. Andy Stanley. Steve Fee. David Crowder. Christy Nockels. Charlie Hall. Kristian Stanfill.

Worst Meeting Ever!

Have you ever cried that out loud? I know I have.

Meetings can be bad enough as they are - but a bad book about meetings, such as the one pictured, All About Meetings,  is Uberboring!

You won't find this book at your local Barnes and Noble.  Rather you will most likely find this dusty old find someone in the dark recesses of your public library.

The table of contents of this book include:
1. Why Meetings? ...
2. What Is a Meeting?…..
12. Was It A Good Meeting?

Memorable quotes:
Page 81, “Probably you too have been present at affairs where the hostesses acted as though they hated everyone and wished that they were anywhere but there…”   And, “The guest who arrives too early sometimes presents a problem which may be solved simply by not opening the doors until a certain set time…” - no kidding?!

Meetings are unavoidable in ministry and in the marketplace.  Since you are going to have meetings - you might as well do them right.   When you hold your meetings it is important that you include several things:

An agenda that people receive at least 24 hrs before the schedule meeting - that way people aren't going in cold with no thought or preparation.

Clear start and end times.

Everyone walks away with a clear action plan - answering the three questions.  What is the task?.. Who specifically has responsibility for it?...And when is it's deadline?

Related Posts:
Death by Meetings
How to Become a Scheduling Wizard

(ht: Awful Library Books)

Facebook Gets More Social

Facebook is rolling out “@ mentions” similar to those found in Twitter. According to the Facebook blog:
Now, when you are writing a status update and want to add a friend’s name to something you are posting, just include the “@” symbol beforehand. As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections, including groups, events, applications and Pages. Soon, you’ll be able to tag friends from applications as well. The “@” symbol will not be displayed in the published status update or post after you’ve added your tags.
This feature isn’t working universally yet, you may need to wait awhile until it get fully rolled out.

In addition, Facebook has added a feature allowing users to browse and filter friends by city. To access this feature, go to Friends, then click on Browse. You’ll be given an option to browse by City; a dropdown menu will appear showing the cities in which you have friends.

It is exciting to see Facebook adding new features.  Facebook is one of my must-have ministry tools.  It helps me to communicate and stay connected with those in my ministry unlike many other tools out there.

And don't forget...if you aren't a part of Ministry Best Practices' Facebook Fan Page - become a FAN!

Related Posts:

Biblical Worldview Training

Starting today, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview will begin to equip a true movement of believers — men and women who want to defend and live out a thoroughly biblical worldview in this postmodern age, an age that is growing increasingly hostile to the beliefs and values that have made Western civilization possible.
 The Colson Center is a unique interactive Website — a vast virtual library that pulls together not only my work and teachings, but those of many of the great Christian thinkers, ancient and modern. When you come to the Website, you'll have full, free access to articles, videos, online courses — all designed to help believers see the world through the eyes of Christ. You'll also find links to a wide variety of Christian ministries and organizations that share my passion for seeing a renewed, vibrant Church impacting the society in which we live.

To learn more about the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and explore all it has to offer, visit the Colson Center at....

They have created a brief video that captures the heart of what they're trying to accomplish through the Colson Center.

Top 10 Biggest Megachurches - In Pictures

Here are some interesting facts about the list:

Four of the ten are in Texas.

Seven of the ten are in the south.

One is just down the street from where I live.

There’s a father and son whose churches are on the list- can you guess who that is?
Click Here to view all 10 Churches

(ht: BagofNothing)

Make Your Communication Come Alive

Do you find it challenging to find that right graphic or photo for the next church newsletter, website, or blog post?

Are you looking for free, quality stock photography for your church or ministry?

That’s where the free meta-search engine Everystockphoto can help you make your communication pieces come alive.  Everystockphoto searches millions of free stock photos from many different sources, including Flickr, stock.xchng, morgueFile and FreeRange.

All you do is enter a search term - like I did for "stained glass", and Everystockphoto returns the results in a series of easy-to-navigate thumbnails.  Clicking on a thumbnail reveals a larger image, together with more information about the photo, including license, image size, the name of the photographer and more. Also, the highest-resolution version of the image is available through the “Full Size” link.

For this blog post, I pulled one of the images of "stained glass" from the search and found this beautiful spiraled "Glory Window". You will definitely want to bookmark Everystockphoto, because chances are you are going to get a lot of use out of it.

Bible Bestsellers

1. Outreach New Testament – ESV
2. Text Bible – NKJV
3 . NIV Adventure Bible
4 . Operation Worship Bible – NLT
5 . True Images – NIV
6 . Thinline Bible – NIV
7 . Abundant Life Bible NT – NLT
8 . Adventure Bible – NIV
9 . Thinline Bible – NIV
10. NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers
Compiled and distributed by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA)

Link - to see the whole list

Be A Better Leader?...Be A Humble Follower!

This quote is from Jack Miller and his book The Heart of a Servant Leader:
How blessed it is just to be a follower of Jesus! Really, isn’t being a good follower the very heart of being a leader? And isn’t our leadership often lacking just because we have weakened in followership? I know that is my experience repeatedly. I get overly concerned over how to be a better leader, but Jesus is concerned about making me a better, more humble follower. (p.218)

The Nines

Catalyst is partnering with Leadership Network on a brand new event they have created called The Nines. I'm participating, and you should too. Here are the details:

Wednesday, September 9, begins at 9:00 am CST.
The event is free, but you have to pre-register.

Over 60 presenters, including Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Mark Batterson, Ed Stetzer, Reggie McNeal, John Ortberg, Steven Furtick, Greg Surratt, Reggie Joiner and many, many more.  Each presenter has nine minutes or less to present based on this thought: “If you could sit down one-on-one with a handful of church leaders, what is the one thing you would want to tell them?”

Over 6,000 leaders have already pre-registered for this one day online event, so make sure you register today.

(ht: Brad)

Ministry Best Practices Goes Mobile

Take Ministry Best Practices with you where ever you go!

Ministry Best Practices is especially designed for your iPhone, Blackberry (or any other web enabled mobile phone).

On the sidebar is a widget that will send your cell phone a text message with the link to the Ministry Best Practices mobile url.

House Churches By The Numbers

According to research from George Barna, 33 percent of people responding to a dozen national surveys indicated they have experienced God or shared their faith in the last month with a group meeting in a home environment.

But take pause before you assume the simple church movement is spreading like wildfire in the United States as it has in other countries.

Barna's latest report shows that the actual number of people involved in house churches varies wildly, depending upon how the question of participation is posed. For example, when house church is defined in the strictest sense—as a group that meets regularly in a non-church building, is independent of a typical church and considers itself a church—only 3 to 6 percent of respondents said they are involved. When asked if they have "attended a worship service in someone's home, known as a house church," about 10 percent of the adult population has done so in the past month. (Interestingly enough, simply using the words religious service instead of worship service prompted a full 22 to 24 percent of people to agree.)

So where did the one-third figure come from? That's the results from the broadest question asking if respondents had "experienced God or expressed (their) faith in God in a house church or simple church meeting in the past month." Overall, Barna believes the most consistent and reliable assessment is that 5 percent of the population is involved in a house church on a regular basis.
"With growing numbers of conventional churches attempting to incorporate both the house church concept and language into their ministries, it becomes increasingly difficult to get an accurate reading," Barna said. "All research is simply an estimate of reality, but our preference has always been to use conservative measures rather than questionable or exaggerated figures. … Each question is measuring something different; in its own way, each question is accurate and useful. The study shows that it depends on what you want to find out—and how important it is to have a well-defined sense of the element to be measured, and how questions can be crafted to distort our understanding of reality."
(ht: Barna & MinistryTodayMag )

Coming Soon - YouVersion Live!

Beginning in October, you'll be able to interact with live events on your mobile device using YouVersion Live.
During church services, conferences, Bible studies, small groups, and more, you can:
  • Follow along with message outlines and take notes
  • Read related Bible verses and click through to the expanded passage
  • Vote on a poll and see the results live
  • Respond to questions anonymously
  • Request prayer
  • Take it all home with you on your phone
Anyone with a web-enabled mobile phone will be able to take part, along with iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android users. And if you’ve got a laptop or computer with an internet connection nearby, you’ll be able to join in too.

YouVersion Live gives you a simple, free way to participate, contribute, and get involved in the conversation.
Check out and sign up for email updates to stay in the loop!

How Excellence Goes Viral

Do what you do so well that when other people see what it is that you do, they will want to see you do it again and they will bring others with them to show them what it is that you do.
– Walt Disney

10 Deadly Sins Of A Dying Church

1. Doctrinal Drift

In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down doctrinal truths believing that they are creating a more inviting environment for seekers. The Word of God may not be very sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make no mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of the mush.

2. Evangelism Atrophy

Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.

3. Failure To Be Relevant

The Gospel was not written in a cultural vacuum. The words we read today were written thousands of years ago. They still apply today, but we must learn to understand them in their cultural context and then find ways to help 21st century people understand.

Church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.

4. Inwardly Focused

The new unspoken mantra of the modern American church is; “It’s all about me.” While no one will readily admit it, all one has to do is look at the ministries and programs. What can be quickly discovered is that most churches build ministries to satisfy the already fed. These programs are good to keep the flock happy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.

5. Personal Conflict

Church people have found a way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power struggles rule the day.

6. A Priority Of Comfort

Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.

7. Biblical Illiteracy

The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says. Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly quoted as scripture.

8. Hording

It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we, like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.

9. Failure to Follow

Too often pastors are treated like hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job.

10. Idolatry

You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive. Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church and forgotten the main thing.

[from Essential Church by Thom and Sam Rainer]

Social Media Is A Fad...

...NOT! If you think so, think again - and watch this video!

And if you think that pastors and ministry leaders don't resist social media...think again and read Bruce's post - Top 10 Reasons Why Church and Pastors Resist Social Media.

As church leaders we need to stop the excuses on why we don't use these social media tools but rather we need to faithfully move into these social networks as they've become strategic places of kingdom impact.

(ht: Zak)

Related Posts:

Social Media by the Numbers
Social Media and Loss of Control
Why Should Your Church Invest in Social Media

Prodigal God - Now On DVD!

I was just talking today about Keller's book, The Prodigal God- and recommending how great it is.
Now Tim Keller’s book, The Prodigal God, has now been produced in six DVD video sessions, which covers the following material:
  • The Parable
  • The People Around Jesus
  • The Two Lost Sons
  • The Elder Brother
  • The True Elder Brother
  • The Feast of the Father
You can get the DVD and the Discussion Guide at a discount through WTS Books. You can also view some sample pages of the discussion guide here.
These DVDs will be great for small groups - or even for one's own study.

(ht: JHG)

Bring The Whole Gospel To The World

"Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary." - St. Francis of Assisi

Get this book! I am listing "The Hole in Our Gospel" by Richard Stearns as one of the best books I've read in 2009!

In 1998 God met Richard Stearns in a unique way as he sat in a mud hut and listened to the story of an orphaned child in Rakai, Uganda. Stearns found himself having answered God's call on his life, a call that hurtled him out of his presidential corner office at Lenox-America's finest tableware company-to this humble corner of Uganda working with World Vision.

This is a very personal book of one man's journey, story and struggle to obey God whatever the cost, and his passionate call for all Christians to change the world by actively living out their faith. According to Stearns, to which I wholeheartedly agree, we have relegated the gospel as merely a set of propositions to believe - but it is more than that. That understanding of the gospel as left us with an anemic faith and a "hole in our Gospel". Rather the gospel isn't just about the head, but must be accompanied by the heart and the hands and feet as well.

The gospel of Jesus Christ calls us to serve and help the least, the last and the lost. We are not to be just concerned about a person's soul (although their eternal destiny is very important) but also with the "whole" person.

Stearns' chapter on the systemic issues of injustice that keep people trapped in poverty - was one of the most helpful chapters to me in understanding that helping people goes way beyond giving someone some food and clothes, but rather it is going to require that we change systems and institutions that are keeping people in poverty prisons.

Again, I can't recommend this book more highly. As you read Stearns' personal journey and the stories throughout, your heart will come away - broken, convicted and committed to bringing the "Whole" gospel to those in need.

"Don't fail to do something just because you can't do everything" - Bob Pierce

Four Weddings...But Not Many Funerals

Don't call it official yet, but many pastors may have one less thing on their plate in the coming years: officiating funerals. In the last decade, the American public has increasingly opted for funerals and memorial services that aren't led by ministers. According to William McQueen, president of the Cremation Association of North America, there's been a growing demand for secular "celebrants" who can deliver eulogies just as a pastor would—but without the religious or church rituals.

"What we've found in the past decade is that when you ask people whether they want a minister, people say, 'Not interested,'" McQueen says. "Today, of all the ceremonies we deal with, I'd say 50 percent are religious or clergy-led, 20 percent celebrant-led and 30 percent are having no ceremony or one led by family."

A 2008 survey of more than 6,000 people found that only one in four adults expects to have a religious service when they die. And with more than half of all Americans saying they don't belong to a church, many funeral directors believe Americans no longer see a value in religious funerals.

These people " don't see the need to be ushered into another world. There's no 'personal God' they expect to meet," says Ariela Keysar, who co-authored the 2008 survey at Trinity College's Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture in Hartford, Conn. "It's revelatory about where current social attitudes are heading."

Read the rest HERE

FundRaising Success

The latest edition of FundRaising Success magazine is now online!

Get Top Quality HTML Email Signatures

Since email is one of the primary means of communication - it is important that with every email you send out you are able to to mark it with an email signature that says WOW as well as promotes your ministry, business or organization.

Here is the email signature that I created with WiseStamp

With WiseStamp, you can fully customize your HTLM signature and integrated social media and RSS in order to promote your blog or website. It is so simple to use, as it seamlessly works with my gmail, but it also works with yahoo mail, hotmail and aol as well.

Follow this video to get more information. By the way, you will need the Firefox browser to use WiseStamp...but shouldn't you be using Firefox anyway? :-)

The Top 4 Benefits Of Volunteering

It doesn't take long, once you've stepped inside a church or community organization to be presented with numerous opportunities to use your gifts and to give of your time.

Churches, nonprofits and community organizations depend almost entirely of volunteers to function. Except for a couple of staff - they are entirely volunteer organizations. And although you may have many different reasons and motivations why you volunteer or how you volunteer - there are 4 overarching benefits that you receive when you volunteer:
  • You're able to draw closer to God: When you spend time volunteering to help people, you actually draw closer to him. You feel more connected to Jesus, and his teachings and the way of life that he practiced and advocated.
  • You'll know you are making a difference in other people’s lives: By volunteering, you are giving people your time, a valuable asset that does not come back once you spend it. By giving freely of your time, you know that you are making a positive difference in the lives of people, often those who have no family or means of sustenance.
  • You are setting a good example for your kids: When you volunteer on a regular basis, your children grow up understanding the value and importance of helping those who are not as blessed as you are. They in turn become good adults who practice Christian values and enrich the lives of those they live and interact with on a regular basis.
  • You grow personally: When you volunteer, you not only enrich the lives of others but also grow personally, both spiritually and socially. You learn more about the world and its ways and you also develop self-confidence and self-esteem, characteristics that stand you in good stead no matter where you are.
It’s not hard to find places to volunteer; you don’t need any kind of training other than being willing to do anything that the job calls for; and if you think you don’t have the time, setting aside an hour or so a week is enough to get into the habit and make a huge difference in other people’s life and also feel personally enriched and satisfied.

This guest post was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of online bible college

You Know Your Children's Ministry Is Bad When...

... a 7-year-old steals the family car and drives himself home. The boy told his father he didn't want to go to church. There's even YouTube video of the police chase. Even though this is a silly example and reflects more on the child's bad behavior than the merits of the children's ministry - it still prompts a couple of important questions:
  • Is your children's ministry a place where kids not only want to come to - but also a place people and parents want to volunteer?
  • Is the time on Sunday morning, not only engaging and fun, but does it also build the necessary biblical foundations and cultivate in the children's hearts a love for Jesus?
  • What kind of first impression does you children's ministry give to visitors? Will they want to come back?
  • Does your children's ministry have clear outcomes? What does it want to accomplish in the lives of the children?

Related Posts:

Children are our Future!

Top Uth Sites

(ht: Church Marketing Sucks and Tony Morgan)

Job Opportunity

I just had a conversation with Jackson Healthcare about their new Charity initiative,

It is a new venture for them, the Jackson family are people of faith - and they have a strong desire to not only provide medical care, but also do it for the under-resourced and needy throughout the U.S and the world.

They are hiring a Business Development Associate for this new initiative, and I thought the readers of Ministry Best Practices might benefit in knowing about this opportunity.

Below is a description of the job, responsibilities and qualifications: connects volunteers with organizations sponsoring medical missions. Our goal is to match motivated healthcare professionals with health-related volunteer opportunities and medical mission opportunities. Organizations can post short or long-term volunteer opportunities, as well as medical mission work that span the globe. Our services are 100% free for both volunteers and organizations.

The Business Development Associate is primarily responsible for the identification and recruitment of mission partners, as well as to expand relationships with existing mission partners. This role is responsible for increasing the number and quality of mission partners.

Primary Responsibilities:
  • Identify, attract, and gain opportunity postings for mission partners
  • Prospect for new partners using cold calling techniques, lead sources and developing creative ways to target and contact potential partners
  • Maintain and renew existing partners by creating long lasting relationships and initiating regular contact by phone and email
  • Assist in the implementation of partners as they post open opportunities on our site
  • Assist providers in using the site and finding an opportunity match
  • Able to work independently, use company reporting tools, and manage status update process

  • Entrepreneurial approach to business development
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, able to present and “close” on prospects
  • Experience working in healthcare or faith based missions a plus
  • 1-2 years professional B2B sales experience
  • Superior communication skills
  • Self starter with strong initiative
  • Excellent interpersonal skills
  • A four year degree

Exceptional Benefits Package
  • Comprehensive health and dental insurance within 30 days
  • Health and Dependent Care Personal Spending Accounts
  • Company Paid Life, Long Term, and Short Term Disability Insurance
  • Company sponsored 401K plan
  • Paid vacation
  • Paid holidays
  • Outstanding company culture!

Jackson Healthcare Charities is thrilled to offer our free assistance with your efforts to recruit qualified clinicians for your medical missions and health-related volunteer work.

We're eager to invite our extensive database of healthcare professionals to create a profile on and start searching for the right opportunity. However, before we officially launch the site, we want to ensure we have a wide range of opportunities posted. So, we encourage you to post your need on our site and help us build a database of health-related volunteer opportunities and medical mission work.

Here is a link to their press release about this new initiative

Here is a link
to their job posting.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Two Reasons To Consider Hiring A Church Financing Consultant

Today is a guest post by John Ottinger, a friend of mine and a proven ministry leader. I invited him to contribute a post that would allow him to discuss the merits of hiring a church financing consultant and to share with you more about Darra Consulting.

“Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22 ESV)


While you may have been through the construction process before, none of the things that were true of the markets for the last ten years are true anymore, and churches, especially, are bearing the brunt of it. For instance, my own firm, Darra Consulting, has weathered tough credit markets before and has designed unique solutions and programs that can help solve or avoid the problems almost every church will encounter. And it's a no risk proposition. We offer initial consultations at no cost, and even if you don’t engage us, we are more than willing to provide advice and get you started on the road to your new building construction, refinance, renovation, or expansion.

Creative Solutions

Because traditional bank lending has closed ranks so tightly, it is imperative that churches be open to unusual and creative sources of financing and find consultants that can think outside the box. This goes beyond even the idea of bond financing to things like Sale/Leaseback options selling off a portion of your property, or including the construction of a senior housing facility or school on the property as part of the financing. New ideas come from Wall Street all the time, and as long as we do not violate Scripture in doing so, it is a good idea for churches to be open to creative options. Darra Consulting keeps tracks of the trends and new ideas coming out of these touch economic times and applies Scriptural values to assessing and modifying them for use in promoting the Kingdom of God.

Pastors, you are the head and voice of God in the church, and Christians, you are its body, seeking God’s perfect will and telling the world of His coming. Let Darra Consulting or others take the burden of financing from your shoulders so that you can focus what you are called to do – “make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19).

John Ottinger III is the president of Darra Consulting, a church finance consulting firm ( He can be reached at or (404) 775-9224.