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.

Selling The Church

I just read this off the ThinkChristian website that Rolling Hills Baptist Church in Fayetteville, GA has decided to sell its brand new building and use the money to take care of those in need in the community. Their $1.4 million dollar new facility is nearly paid off, but the congregation overwhelmingly voted to put the church on the market.

This is a quote from the Rolling Hills' website:
…we’ve come to the conclusion that we want to invest more deeply in people rather than property. We’ve grown tired of investing more and more of our budget on mortgage, utilities, insurance, etc… at the expense of ministry and mission.
In an interview, Pastor Frank Mercer said:
People lives area falling apart and we’ve got to make a difference. We want to see roofs over people’s heads. We want to see food in people’s bellies.
The church plans to meet either in spaces donated from other churches or a rented movie theater.

What would you say if your church decided to do the same thing? Or maybe another question is - could your church do the same thing? Are we too attached to our buildings? Or perhaps that isn't a fair question because buildings can provide strategic ministry centers for the Kingdom. So is having a building necessarily a "bad thing?"

What do you think?

Related Posts:
Get Rid of the Building!!
Ancient-Future Church Design

Kick Out The Ladder

The Japanese saying in this short film, “Kick Out The Ladder”, from Honda is “Send them upstairs, take the ladder away, and set fire to it!” Needless to say that word picture definitely provokes motivation to achieve the impossible and unthinkable.

How do you motivate others on your team or in your church? Are the challenges inherent to the task alone enough to motivate, or do you ever feel the need to "kick out the ladder"?

3 Laws Of Fundraising

Jeff Brooks has another great article in Fundraising Success Magazine.

In the article he outlines three important laws of fundraising that ministries and nonprofits must follow if they want to be a success.

Having helped to craft fundraising letters for everything from general ministry asks, church capital campaigns and mission trips - I can tell you from experience these tips are not to be ignored.

The first law
There’s a clear inverse correlation between the complexity of a message and its effectiveness at motivating people. In layman’s terms, the more you say, the less people listen.

The second law
Self-focused communication is an ineffective way to attract people and might make you come across as boring, clueless, creepy — or all three.

The third law
This final law helps us understand how to avoid running afoul of the other two: The more people involved in creating, revising and polishing a fundraising message, the more complex and self-focused it will be. Or as grandma might have said, too many cooks spoil the broth.

-Make sure you click HERE to read the article in FULL

(ht: Fundraising Success Mag)

10 Ways To Create Margin In Your Life

There is no escaping it, pastors and ministry leaders are busy people. And although much of that busyness may be justified - a leader must guard themselves but becoming burned out.

This is a great post from Mark Batterson. He discusses 10 ways for pastors and ministry leaders to create margin in their life. Here is his list:
1) Use all of your vacation days. You owe it to yourself and your family.
2) Protect your day off religiously.
3) Don't schedule meetings on certain days or before certain hours.
4) Delegate more responsibility.
5) Only check email during designated times during the day.
6) Get up earlier in the morning.
7) Schedule meetings with God and yourself.
8) Turn off the TV.
9) Get out of your organizational context and go to a conference.
10) Hit the gym. You don't have enough time or energy NOT to work out.
 What would you add to this?


What Belongs In A Good Story?

To many churches and ministries want to seem smart and on top of things when we communicate, so we load our stories with facts and data. But too much kills the heart of a story - it's emotion.

Mark Rovner of SeaChange discussing storytelling during his talk at the Network for Good said that "too many facts and too much data in your stories are the equivalent of emotional Novocain."

So what belongs in a story? According to Mark, Character, desire and conflict.
The character is the protagonist. Who is the main character? It needs to be a person, not your organization. A good protagonist is human, attractive, funny, good-hearted and up against a serious challenge.

Desire is what the character wants and pursues.

Conflict is the active opposition to the protagonist achieving his/her goals. Conflict is very important: You need high stakes, long odds and maybe even a villain.
Read more about Mark's thoughts from Katya's blog.

How are you doing on storytelling? Here’s a checklist: Try it out!

(ht: Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog)

The Ask

Movie Mondays has created a great little video that is short and to the point. This week's focus is "The Ask."

For many, asking a person to financially contribute to the church/missions trip/capital campaign/cause/ministry is the most stressful part of the fund development process. Sending mail is easy. Going to lunch is easy. Telling a donor and ministry partner how we used their last gift is easy. But asking for the next gift (or even the first gift) - that is often times not so easy.

Once the ask is made, we sometimes have a tendency to immediately start back peddling or we just keep on talking. DON'T. Just sit and be quiet. Certainly those few seconds of silence may seem like an eternity, but that short silence is the most critical point in the conversation.

Make sure you check out this video! (The video will be online for a short period of time from this posting..beyond that time, archived videos can only be accessed through a paid membership)

How To Write Emails That Get Read

I hate to receive those emails that go longer than a novel and that look like one long ongoing sentence. Most often emails should be kept short and sweet.

And yet sometimes your church or ministry can't keep an email short due to some important information that needs to be immediately communicated. So how do you write a long email that will be read by your church?

Make sure the subject line grabs the reader - Make sure you think about the subject line first, it's the most important item in your email. In just 30-50 characters of the subject line you need to get across why they need to open and read your email.

Use Subheads - Getting the attention of your readers using subheads is always a great idea. It breaks up your thoughts and gets to the heart of what you're trying to communicate while letting them do the necessary skimming.

Make sure you Communicate in Small Chunks - It is important to get to your point fast in small succinct paragraphs. Plus writing in small chunks creates more white space and therefore makes your email more readable.

Use Bullets - Bullets break up points or benefits so that your readers can get your information quickly by scanning. This is a very popular copywriting tactic for email and the web in general.

Write Like You Speak - When you are talking to a person at church, you don't speak in long boring sentences. You are probably concise and conversational. The same should be true of your email.

Facebook Comes Of "Age"

Here are some interesting statistics that my friend Steve Cadley posted on his blog concerning the changing demographics of Facebook.

513% growth in membership on Facebook in the 55+ age sector.
142% growth in membership on Facebook in the Atlanta region, where I live.

(click image to enlarge)

(ht: CadleyConsulting)

Social Media Class This Saturday!

& Blogging Workshop

If you are in the Atlanta area, join me for this class that I will be teaching.

The class is this Saturday, July 11, 2009 10-3pm - lunch provided

Learn how to leverage Twitter in your business & work on your blog at any level.

Referral Incentive: Refer a friend or associate who takes this class and you will receive a $10 voucher to be used for a future class.

(No limit to the number of people you refer and vouchers you may receive.)


New Students $99
Graduates $89

Only 5 seats left!

Kathy Drewien, Director of Marketing & Communications, Mt. Zion United Methodist Church.
"Curious about Twitter? Toying with the idea of incorporating Facebook
in your marketing plan? We were. Bill's presentation on social media
was informative, and more importantly, created aha moments which
spurred action. In other words, Bill helped us 'get it.'"
For More Information: CLICK HERE

Optimize Your Website For FREE

Want to make sure your webpage does the best possible job in motivating it's visitors to take your desired actions such as submitting a donation or signing up for membership? Not sure how different web page headlines, graphics and copy compare to each other? Now you don't have to guess. Google has recently released a new product: a FREE testing tool called Website Optimizer.

Website Optimizer measures your conversion ratio. Your conversion ration is the number of people doing your desired action divided by total number of website visitors. Obviously, the higher this number, the better is your website doing its job. Most non-profit websites have very dismal conversion ratios (fractions of 1 percent).

Now any blogger, webmaster, church or ministry who wants to know how the pages on their site perform in terms of conversion, can now do so with the help of Google.

For detailed instructions on how to get started check out Wild Apricot's blog post HERE

Will People ReThink Church?

Perhaps you've seen the ads on television, but The United Methodist Church is taking its Rethink Church advertising campaign to one of the world’s most trafficked locales – New York City’s Times Square. Here is what the UMC had to say concerning their strategy.
“Times Square is an ideal fit for our Rethink Church campaign,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “You’ll find people of all ages, backgrounds, and ethnicities in Times Square, and we want to tell each of them, ‘There’s a place for you in The United Methodist Church.’”

Rethink Church, the next evolution of The United Methodist Church’s “Open hearts” welcoming and advertising campaign, highlights the many opportunities available within United Methodist churches to engage with the world.

July’s spots will focus on literacy and environmental awareness. The first spot asks, “What if church was a literacy program for homeless children? Would you come?” The second asks, “What if church considered ecology part of theology?”

What do you think? Do these kind of marketing campaigns really work? Will UMC's message resonate with the culture?

Personally I believe the message will resonate with the culture. The world needs to hear and understand the connection between our faith and acts of mercy and justice. Our faith isn't merely a private affair transforming our lives - but it is also an active faith that brings transformation to the world around us. I give the UMC a lot of credit and kudos for putting forward this message.

But let me state two important cautions and caveats. Two things must be true for this campaign message to be truly effective. First, words alone aren't enough. If we aren't truly living out what we say about our faith - then the world can rightly judge our words are merely a product of slick marketing and not much else.

Second, the campaign may bring the unchurched, curious and disenfranchised into our churches - but being cultural relevant isn't enough to make a difference in people's life unless we are churches preaching Christ crucified, risen and seated on the throne. Christ must be the center - not the campaign.

Guaranteed Way To Fail At E-Newsletters

Does your church publish a e-newsletter? If they do, perhaps they send out one every month. How much of it do you think gets read?

Jeff Brooks has a good point to make at his blog - "DonorPowerBlog"

How to create a failing e-newsletter
Here's a great way to create an e-newsletter that nobody will read or respond to: Think of it as the July e-newsletter.

The moment you designate an e-newsletter by the time when it's to be sent out, you are off on the wrong foot. Instead, you should designate it by an event or action: Hurricane newsletter, opening night newsletter, food shortage newsletter.

Then, with that set, give your recipients a handful of actions related to the topic. Like find out more. Give to that fund. Buy something. Sign a petition, play a game.

That's a newsletter that will sing -- as in motivate action. - Read the rest HERE
I agree with Jeff on this point. Too often I have seen church newsletters that are just filled with endless stuff, events and ministry announcements. It is so cluttered and overwhelming that I am motivated to do nothing, except throw it in the trash after I've skimmed it.

E-newsletters (and newsletters for that matter) need to have focus. Keep it simple. Make the call to action precise and clear. Think seriously of doing away with your "monthly" newsletter.

Two Free Online Resources

In celebrating John Calvin's 500th Birthday, two ministries are offering free resources to commemorate this event. You can see the video below for more details.

How To Succeed During The Pastoral Interview Process

This economy has hit everybody hard - even putting a lot of pastors (particularly asst. pastors) out on the streets. My friend Tony has a great post on the 3 steps you need to consider when going through the pastoral interview process:
Read the details of these 3 steps at Tony's blog HERE.

Interviewed By The "Old Gray Lady"

Just wanted to share with Ministry Best Practices readers that I was quoted in the Sunday New York Times concerning an article on Social Media and the church. In the print edition, which I bought at Starbucks today, the article was on the front page, below the fold!

You can find the article's online version HERE

How To Lead Your Volunteers Well

Over the years, Ministry Best Practices has posted various articles on working with your church and ministry volunteers, here is a "best of" series around that topic called:  How to Lead Your Volunteers Well - enjoy!

The 7 Deadly Sins of Inviting Volunteers

Top Ten Reasons Why Volunteers Serve 

7 Ways to Honor Your Volunteers

Making sure your Volunteer training hits the mark

The Top 5 Volunteer No-Nos!

Fire Your Volunteers

5 Ways to Get More Volunteers

Motivate Your Volunteers with Purpose

How to Recruit from the Platform

How to Lead Your Volunteers

The A,B,C's Of Ministry

Since I am going to be traveling to Honduras to help lead a medical missions team for the next nine days, I am posting the "best of" Ministry Best Practices relating to certain topics.

Today's topic is The A,B,Cs of Ministry - enjoy!

The Enthusiastic Need Only to Apply

Redefining Failure

What are you Passionate About?

Sometimes it's hard to hide failure

Don't be an Approval Suck!

Sticky Church

? Ten Questions to Ask ?

Momentum - How does it Happen?

Cliff Notes on Vision