The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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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.

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, MedicalMissions.org.

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:

Medicalmissions.org 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 MedicalMissions.org 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 MedicalMissions.org 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

Requirements:
  • 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 MedicalMissions.org 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)

Experience

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 (www.darraconsulting.com). He can be reached at johnottinger@darraconsulting.com or (404) 775-9224.

Share The Love With Tweetmeme


Perhaps you have noticed this green tweet button at the top of each of my blog posts. This has been a new addition to Ministry Best Practices.

A company out of England called Tweetmeme created a service that tallies all the times people have tweeted and retweeted a link. If you are a blogger or have a website, Tweetmeme is a great way to get the word out about your website or blog.

You can read this interview with the founder of Tweetmeme to learn more about how it works.

The Most Valuable Commodity For Volunteers

Time!

For someone to volunteer they must have time. And most of your church volunteers are going to have a limited supply of that commodity.

On average, people have about 3-5 hours to give to the church a week (and those hours include Sunday morning worship). Having that as my rule of thumb means that every hour that a volunteer gives is valuable and it reminds me that their time isn't an inexhaustible resource.
  • With this in mind I want to make sure that I am asking my volunteers to do work that fits with their gifts and passions.
  • I want to make sure I am prepared and organized as a staff person when the volunteers are ready to serve.
  • I want to make sure I am constantly thankful for their time and effort, never to take them for granted.
  • And lastly, I want to make sure that I always looking and challenging new people to step up and volunteer, not always going to the same people all the time...because if I do that, I risk stretching people beyond their capacity and burning them out.


How To Stay Connected For LIFE


I was having a Saturday morning breakfast discussion with another ministry leader and the issue of staying connected with people (particularly the issue of having current contact information) came up during our discussion.

The problem for ministries that rely on a membership base that stretches over a city, state or even nationally is that...

Over time, people change their email - and unless they tell you to update your records, you have no way of discovering their new email address.

Over time, people move and unless you do frequent mailings and ask for a change of addresses from the post office - it is difficult to know where they are now living.

Over time, phone numbers change, and unless the number is forwarded you may be out of luck (although with people's cell phones, people are keeping their same number no matter if they move - so this is becoming less of a problem).

So is there any way of consistently staying connected with those in your ministry? Is there any way of keeping connected with people in a manner that most likely will not change?

I think Facebook is the answer. I have noticed that no matter what phone numbers, emails or addresses that change for people - one thing stays consistent - their Facebook.

Now with personalized Facebook urls - people are owning their Facebook page as their own little piece of internet real estate. As people get their accounts at younger ages...I believe those accounts will stay with them for their lifetime.

Facebook becomes a person's lifestream...it reflects what they've done, the people they've known and reflects their own personality.

Some of you may ask..but what if Facebook is just a fad?..what happens if it goes away?...I say that is unlikely. With over 200 million active users and the 3rd most trafficked website...Facebook is most likely here to stay (in some form or another).

Therefore I think the key to keeping consistent and uninterrupted communication with ministry partners and members is to build a Facebook Page, and be active in recruiting your members to join (and it wouldn't hurt to add them as your friend as well).

Facebook may just be the key to staying connected for LIFE.

Related Posts:
Facebook Primer
Vanity Plates for Facebook
Facebook comes of Age

Is Your Church Calling "Visitors" By The Wrong Name?


This is an excerpt from a great post over at Godvertiser

Throughout the post, Kenny addresses the problems and pitfalls of identifying our guests as "first time" and discusses the real issue on why guests (if in fact they do) come back for another visit.

Here is an excerpt:

Certain questions were asked to those who made "first time visits to church". Some of the answers give you a clue as to how they want to be treated. . .
  • 11 percent said they would be willing to identify themselves as a visitor when visiting a church for the first time
  • 63 percent said they would prefer to wait until at least the second visit to let anyone know they are visiting
  • 26 percent of formerly churched adults said they desire to slip in and casually introduce themselves after the service.
The fact is that for most churches, 90% of first timers that don’t return.

"So aren’t we calling this group by the wrong name? Aren’t these First-Time ONE-TIME Guests, not first-time guests?"

With all of the assimilation strategy attempts (ie. free gifts/visits/thank you notes) to try to get those guests to come back for a second visit, what really in the end prompts a person to return?

If you look at 15 reasons why people won’t return a second time to your church, none of these are solved by giving stuff away or claiming rewards for showing up:
  1. No welcome from the parking lot to the pews.
  2. Finding the right door to sanctuary appeared difficult.
  3. People in the pews held on to their “good seats.”
  4. Too many “churchy insider words” like doxology and introit throughout the worship experience.
  5. No safe, clean nursery for the babies and toddlers.
  6. No sincere greeting extended by pastors or members.
  7. No warmth or hospitality extended.
  8. Missing joy and a spiritual atmosphere.
  9. No sense of family in the church community.
  10. Very limited reaching out to outsiders or strangers.
  11. Very few ministries or activities for youth or children.
  12. Public recognition of guests that left them feeling uncomfortable.
  13. Appears to be no vision or purpose for the congregation.
  14. On Sunday morning, members and ushers seem focused on “member only” conversations.
  15. No one invited them back.
According to Kenny, the key isn't the strategy or gimmicks, rather it is the culture that is created on Sunday morning and whether or not the church is "outward" focused. And this responsibility goes well beyond the pastor and staff - but it becomes the responsibility of the entire congregation.

Make sure you read the entire post HERE


(ht: Godvertiser.com)

Tithing ATMs - Good Idea?


Paying your tithes may never be the same again, according to an article from Ministry Today magazine. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Although churches have long accepted credit and debit cards as part of the tithing process (particularly from their websites), one pastor is pioneering a new way of supporting the storehouse beyond the traditional offering plate.

In 2005, Marty Baker, lead pastor of Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Ga., created the Secure Give system for his local church. Based around an ATM-like machine called a "giving kiosk," Secure Give allows users to give tithes, offerings or other donations with a single swipe of a credit or debit card. Each kiosk can be freestanding, complete with a black pedestal topped with a computer touch screen, numeric keypad and magnetic-strip reader, or it can be a tabletop unit. When a user completes a "transaction," data is immediately sent to a church's central computer system and the donor can receive both an e-mail confirmation and a printed receipt......

Three years later, Baker, along with his wife, Patty, have introduced Secure Give to more than 30 churches, hospital foundations, universities, museums, ballet theatres and other organizations. Their products can be found in church lobbies of all denominations and locations, from Rochester, N.Y., to San Jose, Calif., to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

"People in general have been very receptive to the kiosks," Baker says. "Some were a little intimidated at first, but the system is very user-friendly. They are excited to have different options in which they can donate to their church.""

Read the rest of the article HERE

What do you think, good idea or bad idea? Are there any ethical concerns with using this? (ie. encouraging people to give by possibly incurring indebtedness)