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.

Facebook Pages - New And Improved

Facebook announced major changes yesterday to the design and functionality of its Pages, bringing them closer to individual user profiles in look and functionality. I'm excited about these updates, as they will improve the ability of churches and ministries to connect and communicate with their audience and with other groups. These changes continue to make Facebook Pages an essential component for a ministry's online presence (see related post HERE) also go to to see what the changes look like.

Here is an overview of these changes.  Many of these changes impact the user experience visually, giving a more compelling look and feel to Pages; functionally, allowing the owners of the Pages to operate more the way individual users do.

The changes go into effect for all Facebook Pages on March 10, which gives you four weeks to preview the new format and switch over at any time before then. The above image is a map of the new features.  The numbers are keyed to the summary below of the changes.  (thank you for this summary and graphic)  

1-Photo strip above the Wall (with most recent photos you posted or tagged)
2-Tabs move over to the left panel, in the form of a list (maximum of 6 above the fold)
3-Profile picture reduced from 200 x 600 pixels to 180 x 540
4-Blurb box that was below the Page picture moved to info tab
5-Pages can Like other Pages, not just favorite them
6-Featured Pages and Admins
7-Page category
8-Choice for Wall posts between “Everyone” and Page posts only
9-Mutual Friends and Interests section
10-Ability to interact on Facebook as your Page
11-Ability for admins to post and comment around the site under their Page’s alias
12-News feed of updates from Liked Pages
13-Pages can now feature iFrame tab applications
14-Email notifications when users post or comment

Note, very important: You can preview the new layout but once you upgrade, there is no way to revert back to the old design.

Also a couple of additional notes:

Photo Strip Instead of Tabs Above the Wall
The replacement of tabs with the photo strip at the top adds a dynamic, colorful element that will significantly improve the look of the average Facebook Page. The photos are drawn from the most recent ones you posted to your Wall and those you tagged, but does not include photos posted by fans. Users can hide undesirable photos. The new left nav placement of tabs also allows for longer tab names.

Expanded Functionality For Fan Page Admins
By enabling Fan Page admins to comment in the name of the page itself and to interact with other Fan pages, Facebook has finally made it possible for brands to truly engage in tremendous interactive engine which powered its growth among individuals. Your power as a page administrator is increased in a number of other ways, including the ability to set filters on your Wall so that visitors see relevant posts first, and to view all the content and get notices whenever someone posts to your wall.

4 Ways To Show Outsiders You Care

(excerpted from a great post over at Missional Challenge)

1. Serve
How can you meet genuine needs? Can you offer to babysit your neighbor's kids? Can you help your neighbor with a home-improvement project? Find out a need in their life right now - and offer to help meet that need. (If you don't know what they might need - Ask them!)

2. Time
How could you give someone the gift of time? People are busy. You probably need more time in your day. Think of ways to give someone more time. Offer to pick up there kids and give them a ride home from practice or school. Offer to let someone go in front of you the next time you are standing in line at Starbucks or the grocery store. That's a gift of time. Give up a close parking spot to someone so that they don't have to walk as far - especially if it's someone that you know.

3. Affirmation
Encourage others. Send an encouraging note, email, or text message. Tell them something you appreciate about them. Acknowledge their efforts. Celebrate their progress. Affirm their kids. These things are always encouraging. Give them the gift of your affirming words.

4. Gifts - read the whole post at MissionalChallenge

The Crowd Is Always Smarter - The Importance Of Collaboration

Charles Lee’s Talk on Collaboration at Q Chicago 2010.

"The crowd will always be smarter than only one person"

"Collaboration leads to creativity, through connections"

How To Love Your Volunteers

Your volunteers are precious.  They give generously of their time and energy.  They are the backbone of the church and it's mission.  Therefore it's important to show your love and appreciation toward those who serve. Here are four practical, yet simple ways to do that:

Visit them: Go to them in their ministry area on Sunday morning or visit them during the time when they are serving, and genuinely thank them for serving.

Call them: Call your volunteers periodically, not to ask them for something, but rather to see how they are doing and to pray for them.  Build relationship with them.

Pray for them: Pray for them and with them. Don't just say you'll pray - do it right then.

Ask them: Ask them what do they need from you to succeed.  Find out from them how to better improve their ministry area - they are in the trenches - your volunteers often know best how things work.

The 4 Most Important Things Your Guest Needs

How do you turn guests from their initial first impressions into lasting connections?   It is important that you keep your eye on these four things your guest is going to need from you - and you are going to need systems in place that will help you accomplish these four things.

  • Push guests toward regular attendance 
  • Make sure they develop deep friendships within the congregation
  • Get them in a small group
  • Find a volunteer opportunity where they can plug in

Where Have All The Presbyterians Gone?

Are we witnessing the death of America's Christian denominations? Studies conducted by secular and Christian organizations indicate that we are. Fewer and fewer American Christians, especially Protestants, strongly identify with a particular religious communion—Methodist, Baptist, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, etc. According to the Baylor Survey on Religion, nondenominational churches now represent the second largest group of Protestant churches in America, and they are also the fastest growing.
(read the rest of the article from the WSJ)

Five Things To Consider Before Leaving Your Church

1. Don’t leave a church out of your personal discontent - can the issues be worked through?  Try to resolve before you run.

2. Don’t leave a church because you transferred your own personal frustrations and baggage there. Maybe the issues aren't the church, perhaps they are you.  And no matter what church you run to, you will always be taking YOU along.

3. Don’t leave a church because your feelings got hurt. We are always going to get hurt and hurt others - especially when we get close to each other.  It takes courage to work through the hurt and pain.  You will grow when you confront asking and receiving forgiveness from others.

4. Don’t leave a church over trivial criticisms and issues.  Is the issue that you are worked up about a secondary issue or merely an opinion or preference?  If you keep leaving churches over trivial issues - the cycle of church hopping will never end.

5. Avoid leaving a church merely over its style.  Church should be a family - a relationship that shouldn't be easily discarded.  Styles come and go and can easily change - it's much harder to replace the relational investments of your church family.

How Do You Talk About Tithing?

Do you have systems in place to address stewardship and giving or do you just hope the issues will just take care of itself?

(ht: Scott)

Three Reasons Your Church Will Fail

1. Launching too many ministries. Most ministries begin with good intentions, trying to meet a legitimate, specialized need. Over time, these ministries become expensive and volunteer intensive. All the while, their effectiveness dwindles. When launching new ministries, you must consider sustainability. What will this ministry look like at five times it’s size. It may not cost much now, but what about later? In my experience, new churches try to be all things to all people, and in offering so many ministries, they ensure that none of them are quality. It’s better to do a few things well than offer a bunch of programs that scratch the surface.

2. Being sidetracked by difficult people. New churches attract some great people, but they are also a breeding ground for difficult people. Talking a good talk, these people often come in with baggage that takes your church off mission. Before long, you’re spending a great deal of time justifying what you do to people who are slightly misaligned. Instead of reaching people, you’re coddling people. I’m talking about the volunteers who just can’t submit to leadership, the finance team member who always seems to have a problem with spending money on outreach, or the former deacon who wants your church to be a little more like his last church. In five years, I’ve learned that I can’t justify what we’re about to some people.

3. Working in it, not on it. In new churches especially, the work comes at a fast a furious pace. You had months to plan your first service, but only six days to plan the next. You’re starting things, launching things, meeting with people, and operating week-to-week. While some of this is necessary, if you never back up to evaluate and create systems, then you’re going to stay stuck in the hamster wheel of ministry.

from Michael Lukaszewski


"You’re a high-risk candidate for career burnout, warns the Mayo Clinic, if you are in a helping profession; identify so strongly with your work that you lack a reasonable balance between your work life and personal life; and try to be everything to everyone. Hmm ... sounds a like lot pastoring."
(ht: Ministry Burnout: The Signs and the Cure)

When Social Media Goes Bad

Bad taste!

When a business is using social media they are representing their brand. When your church or ministry is using social media you are representing more than your church or ministry, you are representing Jesus. Be thoughtful and prayerful before you tweet.

How To Create A Great First Impression

Carlin Flora, writing for Psychology Today, points out that our brains have a tendency to take a little snapshot each time we meet someone and that snapshot colors how we view them going forward. Flora explains:
The answer lies in part in how the brain takes first-impression Polaroids-creating a composite of all the signals given off by a new experience. Psychologists agree that snap judgments are a holistic phenomenon in which clues (mellifluous voice, Rolex watch, soggy handshake, hunched shoulders) hit us all at once and form an impression larger than their sum.
What ends up being most relevant, however, is the presence of a genuine smile. People can pick up on a smile from up to 30 feet away, and tends to make them feel welcome and good.

So the next time you are at church and you are meeting new people and shaking hands, don't forget to smile. Make sure though that smile is genuine, and full of energy.  A smile is a simple yet powerful thing, especially when you consider how snap judgments play a huge role in creating first impressions.

A smile is the most powerful asset you have in helping make people feel warm and welcomed at your church.

(ht: Psychology Today)