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.

10 Guaranteed Ways To Fail As A Team Leader

Too often the leader spends all of their effort and time recruiting their team, without putting the same amount of effort and skill into leading it. Leading a team doesn't come easily and if you are not careful you can make critical mistakes that will quickly and easily sabotage your team and it's effectiveness.

Here are the 10 guaranteed ways you can fail as a team leader. Just like the character George Costanza from the show Seinfeld, read this list and then make sure to do exactly the opposite.

1. Control. Remember exercise control, you are the team leader, what you says goes!

2. Don't affirm or praise. You don't want your team members to get soft, therefore it is important to motivate with fear and intimidation.

3. Delegate and then do it yourself. This will drive your team crazy, but at least you will be able to sleep well at night knowing that the work got done right.

4. Make sure the team members are there to make you look good. Because isn't that what building and working with a team is all about?

5. Take the credit and pass on the blame to others.

6. Fill your team with people less talented than you. You don't want people to outshine you. Besides, who are you really going to find more intelligent and with more experience than you?

7. Fill you team with people just like you. Could there be a more ideal team than one comprised of multiple versions of the same you?

8. Make sure you micro-manage people's work. Get in their business and second guess all their decisions. Don't give them the freedom to be creative or innovate.

9. Don't welcome honest feedback.

10. Make sure the team is just there to implement your own ideas. Don't let the team come up with any original ideas. You are the one where all ideas, especially the good ones, are to originate.

Positive Affirmations

Need a little encouragement with your speaking or preaching? Hecklers on Sunday morning got you down? Are you lacking that healthy dose of "attaboys"? Then this product is just for you!

The scary part is that this video/product is real (as far as I can tell from their website).

Free Starbucks Coffee

From tomorrow, 1/21, through Sunday 1/25, participating Starbucks locations across the U.S. are offering a free cup of coffee to people who pledge five hours of volunteer time to their community.

They have even set up a web site at that will have a list of community service opportunities.

Ultimately people don't volunteer simply because of a cup of $2 coffee, they volunteer because they want to help others and do something significant with their life.

Volunteers are motivated by purpose in what they are doing and a compelling vision. (see previous post that talks about Vision Being Their Paycheck)

But it always a good idea to provide a simple gift of thanks to those volunteering.

What are you doing to thank and recognize your Volunteers? Here are a couple of ideas:

Bring your volunteers, from a particular ministry, forward on Sunday morning to thank them.

Give a volunteer an opportunity to share a story of service on a Sunday morning.

Make a Thank You video about your volunteers and show it on Sunday morning. Show pictures of them in action serving.

Write them a thank you note. - And put a Starbucks gift card in it! :-)

Take them out for coffee, especially a volunteer leader, and personally thank them and encourage them.

Give them a gift around the holidays as a token of appreciation.

When you see a volunteer serving on Sunday morning (especially in the nursery), walk in and thank them for serving.

Do a Volunteer breakfast on Sunday morning before worship. Feeding volunteers is always a good thing. At these breakfasts, not only will you have an opportunity to encourage volunteers, but you can also re-fire the vision.

Encourage your volunteers by sending them a birthday card (or e-card) when their special day rolls around.

What do you do to encourage and thank your Volunteers? Comment below.

Drive-in For A Free Webinar With Andy Stanley

DRIVE-IN is a series of live Web events created for international church leaders featuring Andy Stanley. DRIVE-IN explores the foundational philosophy and principles that guided the leadership of North Point Community Church in creating irresistible, relevant environments that continue to attract people who don't like church.

What can you expect?

DRIVE-IN includes a teaching session....

....a two-hour chat time with content experts after each session, an interactive blog, and fieldwork assignments, all designed to help you grasp the core principles Andy will present and begin applying them in your church community.

The DRIVE-IN premiere is on January 21, 2009 at 9am EST, followed by additional sessions on February 4, February 18, March 4, and March 18.

Go HERE to register!

4 Reasons Why You Must Be A Theologian

Often times in ministry it is tempting to get caught up in merely the "practice" of doing ministry. We want to produce results. We want certain outcomes. We want to know the latest trends. We want learn the newest practices. We want access to the best tools. And although learning and being equipped with the best ministry practices is a good thing (a big part of what this blog is about!), at it's foundation must be a ministry leader that is a theologian.

Theology? Just the word makes many people's eyes cross. When people speak of theology, the words dry, irrelevant or boring come to mind. Unfortunately those words represent the way that theology is sometimes taught.

But theology need not be defined in such ways. Rather, theology is exciting, provoking, engaging, practical and transformational. That is what theology is and should be to those engaged with it.

Let me list 4 reasons below why good theology is vital to not only your ministry but to your spiritual health and life.

Good theology helps us truly know and enjoy God. The word theology comes from two Greek words that mean "the study of God." Theology helps us know God. But this kind of knowing is more than just knowing God in a rational and intellectual manner. Good theology leads us to experiencing and enjoying God and having Him shape our life. Theology therefore shapes and informs our attitudes, desires, decisions and motivations.

Good theology helps us see ourselves accurately. When we rightly think about God we begin to understand what it truly means to be human (John Calvin). When we rightly understand God we then can understand fully our dignity as human beings, but also at the same time, our falleness because of sin. When we lose sight of those truths, our view of ourselves and others becomes distorted.

Good theology practically assists us in every day life and ministry. You are a theologian even if you don't know it. Your theology informs has a direct impact on your ministry practice, even if you are not fully aware of it. Your theology will guide you on how you are going to practice ministry. It is therefore going to instruct you how you are, for example, going to comfort the parent in your church that has just lost their child. Or your theology will coach you on how you are going to follow up that new believer in Christ. Theology is practical.

Good theology provides the only lasting motivation for ministry. Ministry successes and failures will come and go. New paradigms for ministry will be embraced while old one will be relegated to the trash heaps. Ministry practices are ever changing and fluid, but good theology is grounding and becomes the necessary anchor in the midst of change.

Therefore don't neglect theology...good theology is ministry's best practice.

(thanks to my friend Keith Johnson for his contribution and thoughts on this subject)

My Lifestream

I am having a little fun with the social networking thing these days. I have been able to mash together my blog posts, bookmarked websites, twitter tweets, music I'm listening to and all kinds of information about my online world.

Best And Worst Communicators Of 2008

Bert Decker has just published his best and worst communicators list of 2008. What do you think of the list? Who would you add or subtract?

Personally, I would add one person to the best and one person to the worst, both with a tech angle to it. Here are my additions below:

Best: Steve Jobs - still a master at creating buzz and excitement about the next new product - always making it the must have next thing.

Worst: Bill Gates
- his commercials with Jerry Seinfeld, need I say more!

FREE Resource On Retirement

You are never too young to think biblically about retirement. As a ministry leader, how do you view retirement? What do you teach your congregation about it?

Thank you John for this helpful and free resource:

Click here for the free PDF.

Click here for a hard copy.

(ht: Take Your Vitamin Z)

How To Leave Your Church - And Do It Well!

If you are a pastor, then you understand the feelings when someone or a family leaves your church. Even though you may do everything you can to close the "backdoor", it is inevitable that people are going to leave your church.

So how do you encourage people to leave "well", if they are already determined to leave?

Below are a couple of great thoughts on how to leave well. (I have posted Jolley's thoughts in full)

Putting Asunder: Some Thoughts on How to Quit Your Church by Reed Jolley

After ten great years, it’s time for our family to leave this church. She said this over a cup of coffee and with a hint of tears in her eyes. She wanted me to know that their family’s sojourn with Santa Barbara Community Church had been a pleasant one, that they had grown in their faith, and that they would miss the people. She wanted to express her gratitude and let me know why they needed to leave….

It’s fairly easy to find a book or an article that tells you how to choose and join a church. Eugene Peterson, for example, writes in one of his books that it’s a good idea to choose the church that is the smallest and closest to your home. On the other hand, Ted Haggard says somewhere that we should ask where God seems to be moving and then get as near to that place as possible. Fair enough. But what about leaving a church? American evangelicals shuffle all too often from church to church, following the movements and fancies of the moment, but that’s not what I’m addressing here. I’m talking about when there are legitimate reasons for leaving a local body of believers.

First, however, let me say that our loyalty to our church should be stronger than our attraction to the better praise band down the street or to the in-depth preacher who just took a job at the church on the corner. Leaving a church should feel like leaving a marriage. It should hurt because we have lived our lives with a group of people, and now we are leaving. But, again, there are legitimate reasons to leave. Doctrinal considerations or the specific needs of our children are, for instance, two valid reasons for leaving a church. When a church is moving in a direction that an individual or a family feels is contrary to God’s Word, that is another prudent reason for making a change.

But how should one leave? The usual method is to slither out the back door with the hope that no one notices. Over the years I’ve had numerous conversations with people who have left Santa Barbara Community Church, conversations that are sometimes embarrassing and sometimes hurtful. Haven’t seen you in a while, I say as we pass on State Street. Is everything okay? Then I learn that this person has moved to another church for whatever reason. I’m quick to try to relieve the embarrassment. Assuming this person has moved to a good church, I say something like Well, may God bless you and keep you. . . That’s a great church, and I’m sure it will be better with you in it. We’re all on the same team in the Body of Christ. We’ll miss you.

But these conversations—while cordial and sincere—are hurtful because they happen accidentally. A serendipitous encounter at the grocery store should not be the moment to announce that three months ago you left your church. When I have these encounters, I find myself thinking as a pastor, I’ve prayed for this person and invested my life in this family. I performed his wedding and dedicated his baby. Besides, aren’t we members of the same church universal? How could he and his family leave without so much as a good-bye?

So how do we leave a church? I offer the following suggestions: 

First, leave deliberately. Don’t slither or slide. Don’t wander hither and yonder. When it’s time to go, go—and then go become an integral part of another good, Bible-believing, Christ-saturated church. The New Testament knows nothing of individual believers taking a little from here and sampling a little from over there. The biblical doctrine of the church describes a body of believers deeply committed to Christ and to one another.

Second, go graciously. Has your theology changed to the extent that you need to join a different church? Have the needs of your family or your work schedule compelled you to make a move? Fine. Move, but move graciously. Resist the temptation to concentrate on the warts and blemishes of the church you are leaving. (You’ll find, soon enough, that your new church has a few of these too!) It is important that you leave your church graciously and join your new church graciously. Eugene Peterson writes:

Every time I move to a new community, I find a church close by and join it—committing myself to worship and work with that company of God's people. I've never been anything other than disappointed. Everyone turns out to be biblical, through and through: murmurers, complainers, the faithless, the inconstant, those plagued with doubt and riddled with sin, boring moralizers, glamorous secularizers. Every once in a while a shaft of blazing beauty seems to break out of nowhere and illuminate these companies, and then I see what my sin-dulled eyes had missed: Word of God-shaped, Holy Spirit-created lives of sacrificial humility, incredible courage, heroic virtue, holy praise, joyful suffering, constant prayer, persevering obedience.

Third, go thankfully. I write as a man who has been a pastor of the same church for almost three decades. During these years many people have left our church (some of them because of me). To be honest, some of the people who have left I don’t miss much. And others I miss sorely. But I always appreciate the one who takes the trouble to say good-bye.

Embarrassing or awkward as it may be, have an exit interview with one of the leaders, elders, or pastors of the church you are leaving. Explain the reasons for your departure, express your gratitude for their hard work, and commit yourself to praying for the church with which you will no longer be associated. These exit interviews are rare, but they are sweet. Pastors care about people. So when someone comes to me, shares where God seems to be leading her, and gives thanks for her season of involvement at SBCC, I beam with joy. Pastors are not running a business and trying to get more customers. Pastors are shepherds of a flock. On our good days we are not jealous of our sheep; we have their best interests at heart. Still, it is rarely easy to hear someone say, I gotta go. . . In fact, it always hurts. But the pain is softened when we learn that he or she is going to settle in a godly congregation of Christ-exalting believers. After all, we’re on the same team working for the same purposes.

Church membership and church involvement are serious undertakings. When we meet Christ, we are saved into the church. The Bible speaks of our being members of one another (Romans 12:4-5). We are joined together in Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16). We eat from one loaf and drink from one cup (Ephesians 4:4-5). We are to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). We might even find ourselves selling our property in order to meet another’s needs (Acts 4:32ff.). We are to be a forgiving community (Colossians 3:13) that is deeply in love with one another (John 13:34). The church is a precious gift to God’s people. Christ died to bring the church into being (Ephesians 5:25)! The church is the mantelpiece of God, the display of God’s splendor before the angels (Ephesians 3:10)! So let us take care that we cherish the organism that Christ suffered to create—and may God bless his church!