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.

The 10 Commandments Of Steve Jobs

(click image to enlarge/read)

(ht: Vitamin Z)

Google Fail!


I am a big fan of all things Google.  I love the Google Apps, and have helped several non-profit organizations in the past integrate and use Google Apps for their staff and ministry.  Up until now, Google Apps provided, for non-profits and churches, the opportunity to use their highly productive and collaborative cloud-based apps at no cost. So I was surprised when I read this article about Google shutting out churches from the opportunity to use the apps at no charge based on new restrictive criteria.  Here is an excerpt:

Brian Young had big plans for his church’s IT strategy. But his vision suffered a serious setback this summer after Google Inc. altered its nonprofit program to prohibit all churches and religious organizations from participating.

For years, the search and software giant individually offered some of its products—including its office software and popular Gmail—for free or discounted use to qualifying nonprofits. Eligibility requirements varied by product, but churches and faith-based groups were welcome to use some. 

All of that changed in mid-March when the company launched “Google for Nonprofits.” The new initiative united a robust set of Google’s tools into one program, but it also came with new guidelines that excluded numerous entities, including schools, political thinktanks, churches, proselytizing groups, and any organization that considers religion or sexual orientation in hiring decisions.

The shift caught church leaders like Young by surprise. As the IT director for Living Hope Baptist Church in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Young spent two months researching Google for Nonprofits before applying on July 12. A rejection e-mail arrived the next day.

Young had originally planned to unify 50 paid staff members and 270 volunteers with customized Gmail and office software; distribute video of Sunday services through a premium YouTube channel; beam live feeds of faraway missionaries using Google Video; and map locations of service projects and missionaries with Google Earth. He expected the 3,000-member church would also use Google AdWords (up to $10,000 worth) included in the program.

“There were so many things for nonprofits that were going to benefit us,” said Young. “We just wanted to use them.”

Disappointed by the rejection, Living Hope scaled back its plans and paid $2,500 ($50 per user) to use Google’s office software and Gmail for one year. Young is happy with the products, but also unhappy that he’ll have fewer capabilities—and fewer remaining budget dollars to aid his church’s social ministries.

Does The Bible Quote Captain America?


Many Americans are confusing Captain America's messages of triumph with quotes from the Bible.


According to an American Bible Society Survey, 63 percent of U.S. adults incorrectly attributed a 2 Corinthians 4:8—"We often suffer, but we are never crushed. Even when we don't know what to do, we never give up"—to civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., former President George W. Bush or comic book hero Captain America rather than the Bible.

The survey, which coincides with the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and the release of The Freedom Bible also reveals several other spiritual trends:
  • Despite significant security measures taken since Sept. 11, only 9 percent of Americans feel safer today than they did prior to Sept. 11. Thirty-six percent felt safer prior to the attacks of Sept. 11 than they do today.
  • Only 4 percent of Americans rely most on professional counseling to help deal with trauma. Four times as many (16 percent) rely most on the Bible.
  • Despite living in a predominantly Christian nation, 82 percent of Americans who have dealt with trauma rely most on sources other than the Bible to cope, including 6 percent of whom say they do not rely on anything.

The Rule Of 1440


Here is how the rule of 1440 works: Each and every day of your life consists of 24 hours, with every precious hour containing no more than 60 minutes. And at the end of the day 1440 minutes have past. Those minutes are gone. Whether you have spent them wisely or wasted them they are gone.

So when it comes to managing your time you have to realize that time is extremely precious. (James 4:14)  As followers of Christ, we are called to be stewards of our time and do use our time, talents and energy to His glory. (Col 3:17)

Here is the breakdown of your life.  If you live to a healthy 75 years of age you will have spent some:27,394 days
657,450 hours
39,447,000 minutes on this earth

That may look like a lot of time, but don’t forget that you will have literally been sleeping for around 25 years or well over 13 million minutes. And then what about time spent on eating, commuting, exercise, office work, running errands etc.? By the time you take all that off that wonderfully large total that makes your life, you’ll be surprised how little time is left for you to use for the other things.  So then the question remands, how will you use the rest of that time in nurturing your relationship with God, being with your family, serving others etc...?

And that is what The Rule of 1440 is all about – realize every day that time is precious, every day is a gift to you from God. Use it wisely, be a good steward and get rid of as many time wasters in your life as you can.


Humorous Church Names




“What’s in a name? A rose is a rose by any other name.”
—William Shakespeare


A couple years ago, as a pastor, my church went through a renaming period alongside of a re-branding.  And during that time we struggled with settling on a new name...but it ain't nothing like the names that these churches are stuck with.

Here is a list posted by Neil Cole on actual church names with some of his commentary:
  • Accident Baptist Church is obviously not Calvinist.
  • First Church of the Last Chance World on Fire Revival and Military Academy (in Dade City FL). These folks have the first and last word on just about any subject. I don’t even want to ask what sort of military they are training.
  • Greater Second Baptist Church in Chattanooga, TN, stands in contrast, I guess, to the not so great second Baptist church around the corner?
  • For those who do not want to commit all the way, you can go to the Halfway Baptist Church. On the other hand, Hell Hole Swamp Baptist Church in South Carolina is not a seeker sensitive church by any stretch of the imagination. You have to be really committed to attend this church; none of those “Halfway Baptists” will be found here. Of course everyone is welcome at Faith Free Lutheran. Like “sugar free” this is a church that contains no calories, convictions…or miracles.
  • Little Hope Baptist Church sounds a tad better than another church called No Hope United Methodist Church. Kind of makes you sad just saying it.
  • My personal favorite church name: Original Church of God, Number 2. I really can’t think of anything to add that could possibly be funnier than the name itself…except for perhaps number 3.
  • Boring Seventh Day Adventist Church is another one of those “truth in advertising” names, but this church goes the extra mile because the name of their pastor is Elder Dull. Perhaps there are more exciting ways to spend your Saturday?
  • Harmony Baptist Church in East Texas is a name that doesn't sound so bad. The funny thing is that it is only a half-mile away from Harmony Baptist Church #2. I guess they are not so harmonious after all.
  • Battle Ground Baptist Church… aren't they all?
  • Waterproof Baptist Church in Louisiana begs the question: does the baptism count if you’re water repellent?
  • Country Club Christian Church is in Kansas City, but you’re actually likely to find some of these in every city. This may be the fastest growing model of church in America.
  • James Bond United Community Church in Toronto, is of course “shaken, not stirred.” St. Martini Lutheran Church in Milwaukee, WI, is also shaken, and not stirred and comes with an olive or a twist of lemon if you prefer. Of course the Lutherans can actually drink a Martini so I guess it isn't such a stretch to name your church after one, or is it.
  • When Paul spoke of being all things to all people I doubt that he had this in mind: First United Separated Baptist Church. This church in Indiana needs to decide which it is, united or separated?
  • Hell For Certain is a church in Kentucky but for some reason they do not have too many visitors, no one wants to go there. Does their advertisement in the yellow pages read: Go to Hell For Certain, Sunday at 10 AM? There is also Hell Seventh Day Adventist Church, which is in Hell, MI. You could say: people are dying to go there!
  • Lover's Lane Episcopal Church is a very open church, but watch out if someone wants to show you the submarine races in the baptismal pool…their Episcopal, they sprinkle.

How To Make A Ministry Transition


An excerpt from Jay Thomas:
Seven months ago I turned the page on associate ministry and began a new chapter as a lead pastor. This was a transition my wife and I had been praying about for a few years, and anticipated with both fear and resolve. In a season of testing and sanctification the Lord made us wait, learn, grow, and trust him. Then, in a way only the Lord could manufacture, he led us clearly to Chapel Hill Bible Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I feel as if I have learned not only a seminary course, but also a whole degree’s worth of knowledge and experience. Brothers, may it help you in some small way as I share a slice.
Be prepared to shepherd your fellow ministry staff first.

Be prepared that not everyone will like you.

Be prepared that a lot of people will love you.

Be prepared to make more money.

Be prepared to eat crow for all the critical, quickly arrived at, ungracious feelings and words you had toward the upper leadership in your previous church.

Be prepared that your transition may entail some unusual moments of spiritual attack and suffering.

Be prepared to experience loneliness.

Finally, prepare your family.


(read the whole post HERE)

How Does The Gospel Speak To The Hard Issues In Life?



I am looking forward to ordering and reading this new book edited by Bryan Chapell, The Hardest Sermons You’ll Ever Have to Preach: Help from Trusted Preachers for Tragic Times. 

This book has to be put on the must reading list for pastors, and I trust it will also make it's way into homiletic classes within seminaries.

Here is the product description from Amazon:

Cancer. Suicide. The death of a child. As much as we wish we could avoid tragedies like these, eventually they will strike your church community. When they do, pastors must be ready to offer help by communicating the life-changing message of the gospel in a way that offers hope, truth, and encouragement during these difficult circumstances. Those asked to preach in the midst of tragedy know the anxiety of trying to say appropriate things from God’s Word that will comfort and strengthen God’s people when emotions and faith are stretched thin. This indispensable resource helps pastors prepare sermons in the face of tragedies by providing suggestions for how to approach different kinds of tragedy, as well as insight into how to handle the theological challenges of human suffering. Each topic provides a specific description of the context of the tragedy, the key concerns that need to be addressed in the message, and an outline of the approach taken in the sample sermon that follows.

Topics addressed include:
  • abortion;
  • abuse;
  • responding to national and community tragedies;
  • the death of a child;
  • death due to cancer and prolonged sickness;
  • death due to drunk driving;
  • drug abuse; and
  • suicide. 
Bryan Chapell, author of Christ-Centered Preaching, has gathered together messages from some of today’s most trusted Christian leaders including:
  • John Piper,
  • Tim Keller,
  • Michael Horton,
  • Jack Collins,
  • Dan Doriani,
  • Jerram Barrs,
  • Mike Khandjian,
  • Robert Rayburn,
  • Wilson Benton,
  • Bob Flayhart, and
  • George Robertson. 
Each chapter provides you with the resources you need to communicate the life-giving hope of the gospel in the midst of tragedy. In addition, the appendices provide further suggestions of biblical texts for addressing various subjects as well as guidance for conducting funerals.

Creativity Is Just Connecting Things

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.  [Steve Jobs quoted in Wired, February 1996]
That is one of the key principles to creativity...not producing something ex nihilo (out of nothing), but rather it is about making new associations or connections with what already exists.

(ht: WSJ)

The Three Facets Of Social Media


When I discuss social media with a church or ministry organization, I always ask - "what do you want to accomplish?"  In other words, "why are you doing this?"  Too often churches think that they "must" do social media, but beyond that they don't have any clear goals or purpose.

Therefore I'll outline three major outcomes/objectives that they will want to accomplish with social media:

  • Communicating with their audience
  • Connecting people within their Community
  • Calling people to action -in terms of service and engagement

These three aspects mirror the triad of Knowing/Being/Doing.  This triad has always been a helpful hook that I've used when communicating and applying biblical truth to life.  Here's how they relate:

  • Knowing - Communicating information
  • Being - Becoming a connected and growing community of faith
  • Doing - Launching out into service and engagement

Think about how your social media usage and strategy accomplishes these three objectives of Knowing/Being/Doing within your church and ministry.

Creativity's Deadliest Foe


“You’re going to have to cross swords with innovation’s deadliest foe: the often unarticulated and mostly unexamined beliefs that tether you and your colleagues to the management status quo. All of us are held hostage by our axiomatic beliefs. We are jailbirds incarcerated within the fortress of dogma and precedent. And yet, for the most part, we are oblivious to our own captivity (p. 126, The Future of Management).”

Are You Being Safe With Social Media?

Here are some questions to consider as you venture into the realm of social media:
  1. Do you post pictures of minors anywhere online?
  2. Are you conscientious about obtaining permission before we post any pictures or videos of your church family online?
  3. Are you selective about those you follow on Twitter, or those you Retweet?
  4. Are you careful never to post anything on your website, Facebook page, blog, or Twitter account that could jeopardize the safety or privacy of your members (especially information about minors)?
  5. Do you know how to adjust your privacy settings on Facebook?
  6. Do you have restricted access to photo albums you've shared on Facebook?
  7. Do you know how to block abusive or offensive users/spammers from your social media channels?
  8. Do you understand that Twitter and Facebook allows you to make a first impression with many who have never visited your church, and do you seriously take this into consideration before you share anything online?
  9. Are you careful not to share prayer requests online without consent from those named in the request?
  10. Are you careful to give attribution to material on your website and blog?
  11. Have you entrusted admin rights for your website/social media channels to responsible people within your church?
  12. Does your church have a social media policy (in writing)? Online Tool for creating one HERE
Social media can provide tremendous benefits for your church/ministry - but at the same time if it is used carelessly or with ignorance - it can work against you. (some points gathered from Churchsafety.com)

Lower The Barrier For Visitors To Your Church With Social Media


From Internet Toolbox for Churches: "In this episode of the Internet Toolbox for Churches show, I discuss 4 ways your church can “lower the barrier to entry” for a potential visitor by using social media (why would you not want to make it as easy as possible for someone to walk through your doors?)."

You can GO HERE to listen to the podcast

(ht: Internet Toolbox for Churches)

Creativity Is Work

 “Inspiration and creativity, they ride right next to one another…Not everyday are you going to wake up, the clouds are gonna part and the rays are gonna come down…sometimes you gotta just get in there and force yourself to work and maybe something good will come out of it.”
-Jack White on creativity. From a great documentary called Under Great White Northern Lights.

(ht: Chase)

10 Reasons To Under-Program Your Church


1. You can do a lot of things in a mediocre (or poor) way, or you can do a few things extremely well. Craig Groeschel has some great things to say about this subject. Also check out Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger's Simple Church.

2. Over-programming creates an illusion of fruitfulness that may just be busy-ness. A bustling crowd may not be spiritually changed or engaged in mission at all. And as our flesh cries out for works, many times filling our programs with eager, even servant-minded people is a way to appeal to self-righteousness.

3. Over-programming is a detriment to single-mindedness in a community. If we're all busy engaging our interests in and pursuits of different things, we will have a harder time enjoying the "one accord" prescribed by the New Testament.

4. Over-programming runs the risk of turning a church into a host of extracurricular activities, mirroring the "Type-A family" mode of suburban achievers. The church can become a grocery store or more spiritual YMCA, then, perfect for people who want religious activities on their calendar.

5. Over-programming dilutes actual ministry effectiveness. Because it can overextend leaders, increase administration, tax the time of church members, and sap financial and material resources from churches.

6. Over-programming leads to segmentation among ages, life stages, and affinities, which can create divisions in a church body.

7. Over-programming creates satisfaction in an illusion of success; meanwhile mission suffers.

8. Over-programming reduces margin in the lives of church members.

9. Over-programming gets a church further away from the New Testament vision of the local church.

10. Over-programming is usually the result of lack of reflective "reflex reactions" to perceived needs and and an inability to kill sacred cows that are actually already dead.


(Read the full post over at The Gospel-Driven Church)

Choosing Technology Over Family?


Your family or your gadget? Well, according to a new Intel survey conducted by Kelton Research, the majority of people surveyed would rather spend more time with their tech toys, rather than spend time with their loved ones. Even comfort food doesn’t outweigh the devotion people have given to their gadgets. It appears that almost nothing can come between society and their trusted tech companions.

Check out some of the survey results below:
  • About three in five Americans would not give up a week of using their gadgets in order to spend the holiday season with family.
  • Singles and Non-Parents love their tech and wouldn’t trade it in for seven days to increase spending more time with relatives over those who are married or parents.
  • Two in three Americans ( aged 18 to 44) would rather give up their favorite food than be without their fav tablet, laptop, etc.. for 12 months.
  • Over 27 million Americans have hidden their gadgets so that they would only be used by themselves while about 21 million have said their device was broken, just so that it couldn’t be used.
(ht: ChipChick)

Volunteering FAIL


Mandatory Volunteering - an oxymoron.

(ht: Fail Blog)

The Four Keys To A Fruitful Pastorate


The keys to an effective pastorate (normally):

Preach and Pray, Love and Stay.  -Pastor Mark Dever

(ht: 9Marks)

15 Reasons Why People Use Smartphones


I have been arguing for a while the importance of ministries and churches to be intentional with having a mobile presence (native apps/mobile friendly sites) and communicating in ways that target a person's phone (text messaging/QR codes etc..)

Here are some stats that illustrate how people actually use their smart phones (phone calls not on the list because they are taken as a given.)

  • Send or receive a text – 92%
  • Take a picture – 92%
  • Access the internet – 84%
  • Send a photo or video to someone – 80%
  • Send or receive email – 76%
  • Download an app – 69%
  • Play a game – 64%
  • Play music – 64%
  • Record a video – 59%
  • Access a social networking site – 59%
  • Watch a video – 54%
  • Post a photo or video online – 45%
  • Do online banking – 37%
  • Access Twitter – 15%
  • Participate in a video call – 13%

A person's phone has become their go-to device - are you still ignoring it?

The Microwave Of Web Publishing


I have been playing with a new, invitation only, web app, called CheckThis.  Watch the video above. It gives the user the ability to do something very simple - to create from a blank canvas, a single webpage.  Why would you want to do this?  Perhaps you want to create a quick and easy webpage for an event, conference, announcement or landing page.  You don't want to spend the time creating, editing and integrating another page into your website - you just want to create something simple and fast.

With CheckThis you can publish – videos, text, pictures and more – saved automatically to its own web address, which you can then automatically post on Facebook, Tweet or email.

Here is a page that I made for a ministry event this past weekend.  It was quick and easy to create and I immediately shared it on Facebook with the group.  It didn't demand that I add it to my website, and after a certain date, the page is automatically scheduled to disappear - so every page has a shelf life.

The program comes with some pretty cool widgets that helps you easily and automatically add content, such as YouTube videos, Google Maps, Commenting etc...

The app is still in beta, so I suspect more widgets are yet to come. But if I had a wishlist, I'd like to see a couple of widgets added to the selection.  I'd love to be able to add a sign-up form for my email distribution list with MailChimp.  This would allow me to create cool landing pages and capture information from ministry prospects.  Also, it would be neat to be able to add a twitter hashtag and see a twitter stream on the page - something that would be great for creating pages for conferences and events.

Go to CheckThis and sign up for an invitation and opportunity to use this very cool application.


Are Leaders Born Or Made?

FastCompany's 30second MBA offers videos that give quick answers to essential questions about leadership.  In this video, Conan O'Brien, gives a thoughtful answer mixed in with the wit and humor he's known for.



Wanted: Hipster Youth Worker


From Matthew Paul Turner's blog - an actual job posting for a youth minister:
“[We are a] small, growing, easy going, no problem church. Seeking a young man (no experience, no education is no problem). Piercings, tattoos, hair, etc. is no problem. We are good at reaching the types of young people who are traditionally not welcome in churches. We can pay very very small amount, apartment in church available. The perfect place for a young dude who wants to step out into this kind of ministry, but thought he couldn’t due to experience, age, education, looks, etc. We are no liberal, we are out of the box workers. all of us here at First Church of Christ are long since tired of churchy church, tradition, discriminating of people due to whatever, etc. If you are in doubt…give us a shout…you just may be surprised.”
This is where the real job listing is posted…

Is this the place where the church has gone?  A place where we've relegated and placed ministry to the next generation in the hands of the merely the hip and the cool all the while ignoring experience, spiritual maturity and biblical depth?  Let's just hope this posting is an anomaly and not the norm within the church.

3 Great Reasons For People To Volunteer


Do you ever feel bad asking for church volunteers? In the back of your mind, are you thinking, I know how busy people are! How can I expect them to add one more thing to their busy schedules? I understand that I am supposed to “equip the saints for service”; but how can I do this when they are already maxed out?

Consider the following from a recent survey of people who volunteer…

68% say it makes them feel physically healthier,
73% say it lowers their stress level,
92% say it enriches their sense of purpose in life!

*from Success Magazine, 9/10

This gives us three great reasons people should volunteer; even with its frustrations and challenges, serving is fulfilling! This is what we need to remember. This is what will give us courage when it comes time for recruiting church volunteers… and it’s what gives us endurance when things get stressful.

(ht: Group's Church Volunteer Central)

You Know Your Preaching Is In Trouble When...

Worship Leader Tases Pastor!

From the sad but true file: Simone De Moore, up until last Sunday was the music director at New Welcome Baptist Church in St. Elmo, Alabama. He was fired by Reverend Riley and apparently wasn't too happy.



Obviously there was tension and anger before this incident occurred - because who goes around the church packing a taser!?

How do you handle and address conflict among your church/ministry staff?  How do you prevent conflict getting to the point of having your staff taser each other?

(ht: Worship Ideas)

Innovation Comes From Asking The Right Questions

Innovation often comes from asking the right questions, according to best-selling author and church leader Rick Warren who referred to his list of essential questions as the "Eight Nations of Innovation"


Here is Rick Warren addressing the TEDS conference:

Creative Lens

This video is a senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design.  In this short film it uses post-it notes and stop animation to show the process this student goes through in his mind as he approaches a deadline.  Isn't is amazing how a creative agent can find something spectacular just from a simple post-it note?  What are the simple things around you that can be seen and used through a fresh, creative lens?

(ht: Creativ.co)

Study Underscores How Dependent We Are Becoming To Our Phones


"The latest survey from the Pew Internet & American Life Project underscores how reliant users are becoming on their mobile devices. According to the report, 42% of adults aged 18-29 — a growing number — said that they have had trouble completing a task because they didn’t have their phone nearby. A majority of adults aged 18-49 use their phones as entertainment devices to stave off boredom.

And most surprisingly of all, 30% of adults 18-29 have pretended to be on the phone in order to avoid human interaction, the report says.

But that doesn’t mean we want to stay connected all the time. Nearly 1/3 of adults surveyed also reported that they sometimes turn their phones off for a period of time, just to get a break. This figure was equally true for smartphone and feature phone users."

These statistics are illustrating not only the ubiquitous nature of mobile phones but our ever growing dependency on them (and even addiction to them).

(ht: Mashable)

cross posted to www.ProvocativeChurch.com

Are You Focused On The Right Things?


 For a smart, talented person, it’s easy to work relentlessly and get a lot done, but are you really focusing on the right things? Bestselling author Jim Collins published an incredible piece in USA Today at the end of 2003 about his annual ritual of creating a “Stop Doing List.” Collins describes a transformative assignment given to him by a former professor:
She then gave me what I came to call the 20-10 assignment. It goes like this: Suppose you woke up tomorrow and received two phone calls. The first phone call tells you that you have inherited $20 million, no strings attached. The second tells you that you have an incurable and terminal disease, and you have no more than 10 years to live. What would you do differently, and, in particular, what would you stop doing?

That assignment became a turning point in my life, and the "stop doing" list became an enduring cornerstone of my annual New Year resolutions — a mechanism for disciplined thought about how to allocate the most precious of all resources: time.

Rochelle's challenge forced me to see that I'd been plenty energetic, but on the wrong things. Indeed, I was on entirely the wrong path. After graduate school, I'd taken a job at Hewlett-Packard. I loved the company, but hated the job. Rochelle's assignment helped me to see I was cut out to be a professor, a researcher, a teacher — not a businessman — and I needed to make a right-angle turn. I had to stop doing my career, so that I could find my real work. I quit HP, migrated to the Stanford Business School faculty and eventually became — with some remarkable good luck along the way — a self-employed professor, happily toiling away on my research and writing.
Keep reading HERE

As leaders, we're always talking about creating TO DO lists and getting things done, but have you included in your periodic planning an inventory of the things that you need to STOP DOING?

Will You Get Stuff Done Today?!

Webcomic of the Day

As you start the week off this Monday, will your plans, goals and agenda get derailed by the internet? Has the internet become a big time suck to your productivity?

Check out this infographic for more details on how the internet challenges our productivity.


(ht: TheDailyWh.at)

The Small Group Of One



This funny video, that you can watch over at Mark Howell, illustrates the importance of Christian community.

3 Things That Technology Should Deliver


Technology isn't the silver bullet and can't solve and accomplish all of a church's goals and objectives.  But there are several things that technology delivers and does well.

Technology should do three things for the church:

1. Inspire: Grab our attention with amazing stories
2. Engage: Give us dynamic ways to participate
3. Catalyze: Make it easy and irresistible to act

"Technology makes it possible for a charity of any size to deliver a far better experience at very little cost."


How are you effectively using technology to Inspire/Engage/Catalyze?  Share below!

(ht: Katya's)

10 Theologians Worth Following On Twitter

One of the powerful aspects of Twitter for any ministry leader is the networking and learning from other ministry leaders and preachers.  Twitter serves as an excellent learning community. Although there are a lot of great people to follow on Twitter, I wanted to highlight those individuals who often tweet with a slant toward theology.
  • Ligon Duncan: Ligon Duncan is a presbyterian minister and a theology professor. 
  • Timothy Keller: Pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, and although these tweets aren't directly posted by Tim himself, they are great nuggets of Keller's actual quotes. 
  • Mark Dever: Pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church and President of 9Marks ministry. 
  • Rick Warren: Warren is a megachurch pastor and one of the most well known popular theologians. He is the author of several books, including the bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. 
  • Crawford Loritts: Crawford Loritts is the pastor of a large church within my backyard here in suburban Atlanta. He is also a former theology professor, the author of several books and has a short weekly devotional radio show. Loritts is well known for his books about leading a Christian life and a life with influence. 
  • John Macarthur: Macarthur is the pastor teacher of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. Macarthur is one of the ministry’s most powerful speakers. 
  • Leith Anderson: Anderson leads a church in Eden Prairie MN. He founded the famous “Faith Matters” ministry. 
  • Bethel University: Bethel University is a Christian college and seminary. Their theology professors and other professors sometimes offer insight via Twitter. 
  • John Piper: Piper is the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis. He is one of the most followed theologians on Twitter, with over 90,000 followers. He is also the founder of Desiring God Ministries. He is the author of the books Spectacular Sins, What Jesus Demands from the World, Pierced by the Word, God’s Passion for His Glory, and bestsellers Don’t Waste Your Life and The Passion of Jesus Christ. 
  • John Ortberg: Ortberg is the teaching pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. Ortberg is one of California’s most well known ministers.

    Who would you add to this list?

    Volunteering In America

    Since churches, parachurches and non-profit ministries almost totally rely on volunteers for ministry to function, I thought this infographic on volunteerism provided some interesting fodder for thought.

    via

    Five Tips To Get People To Open Your Emails


    At a time when everyone’s inbox is flooded with messages - it is more important than ever that people within your church and a part of your ministry are opening your emails.  Here are a couple simple tips that will increase the probability that your important emails will get noticed and opened.

    1. What’s the message about? Make sure your subject line accurately reflects the content of the message.

    2. Keep it short! Many mail platforms, especially mobile ones, don’t support more than 50 or 60 characters in the subject line. Think micro-Tweet!

    3. Where’s it coming from? The “from” address tells your recipients a lot, and they’ll more likely open mail from an address they recognize. Keep it consistent, and make sure it’s clear it’s your organization reaching out to them.

    4. Deliverability is key. Make sure your subject passes muster with spam filters – if you are using email marketing software like MailChimp they can help you avoid words and phrases that could trigger them, but use common sense as well.

    5. Put the horse before the cart. Try writing the subject line first, or at least keep it in mind as you craft your message content, rather than leaving it until just before you hit “send.” It’s a great way to focus on what’s important about your message.

    (ht: FrogLoop)

    How Social Media Can Either Help Or Hurt

    This infographic below illustrates how companies are using social media to learn more about potential hires and current employees. And although this graphic isn't specific to the church, I believe the applications are relevant.

    When a church or ministry is looking to hire, don't fool yourself that they won't be looking on how you conduct and present yourself among the various social medial platforms. And of course the reverse is true if you are in the one in the hiring position.


    (ht: Sara)

    5 Powerful Statements For Leaders


    Needed statements from leaders. Hard to say, but very powerful.

    1. I’m sorry.


    2. Thankyou.


    3. That was My fault.


    4. I trust you.


    5. Great job.

    (ht: Brad - a blog worth subscribing too!)

    John Stott's Three Things


    John Stott was one of the most influential evangelical pastors of the second half of the 20th century, having just recently died on July 27, 2011. 

    Stott's thoughts on faith, theology and the church are timeless.  Here is a classic interview with John Stott in Christianity Today from 2006 where he clearly stated what he say to be three things he felt Christians had to offer to the world.  As we consider the ministry in our churches toward the unreached and the world, we would do well to consider Stott's thoughts.  Here are those three things:
    I think we need to say to one another that it[our culture] is not so secular as it looks. I believe that these so-called secular people are engaged in a quest for at least three things. The first is transcendence. It’s interesting in a so-called secular culture how many people are looking for something beyond. I find that a great challenge to the quality of our Christian worship. Does it offer people what they are instinctively looking for, which is transcendence, the reality of God?
    The second is significance. Almost everybody is looking for his or her own personal identity. Who am I, where do I come from, where am I going to, what is it all about? That is a challenge to the quality of our Christian teaching. We need to teach people who they are. They don’t know who they are. We do. They are human beings made in the image of God, although that image has been defaced.
    And third is their quest for community. Everywhere, people are looking for community, for relationships of love. This is a challenge to our fellowship. I’m very fond of 1 John 4:12: “No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us, and his love is perfected in us.” The invisibility of God is a great problem to people. The question is how has God solved the problem of his own invisibility? First, Christ has made the invisible God visible. That’s John’s Gospel 1:18: “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”
    People say that’s wonderful, but it was 2,000 years ago. So in 1 John 4:12, he begins with exactly the same formula, nobody has ever seen God. But here John goes on, “If we love one another, God abides in us.” The same invisible God who once made himself visible in Jesus now makes himself visible in the Christian community, if we love one another. And all the verbal proclamation of the gospel is of little value unless it is made by a community of love.
    These three things about our humanity are on our side in our evangelism, because people are looking for the very things we have to offer them.

    Study: Born-Again Christians Have Become Complacent


    There is a declining depth of commitment among born-again Christians to their faith over the last 20 years, according to a “State of the Church” study by the Barna Research Group released last week.

    In interpreting the study, which shows a drop in church attendance, Bible reading, and priority in faith, research group founder George Barna warned that American Christians have become complacent.

    The study in regards to those identified by Barna Group as born-again Christians showed that:

    Attendance at weekend church services has declined among this group by seven percent since 1991, falling from 66 percent to 59 percent.

    The proportion of born-again adults who read the Bible during the week, not including when they are at a church event, has decreased by nine percent since 1991. The weekly average is now at 62 percent.

    Volunteering at church during the week for those identified as born-again Christians has dropped from 41 percent in 1991 to 29 percent today.

    (read the rest of the report: Christian Post)

    How To Pull Off Your First Small Group Meeting

    How To Leave Your Church


    You have gone through much struggle, agony, prayer and counsel - and you've come to a point where you feel that you need to move on from your church. Ok, but your next steps are the most important - leaving well and in a way that doesn't bring destruction and ruin.

    Here is some good advice rom Tim Stevens: Thinking of leaving your church? Here’s how I would do it…

    • I would write a letter to the pastors and leaders. In this letter, I would talk about the way God had changed my life through the ministry of that church. I would talk about how some of my family members met Christ there, were baptized, went on missions trips and more. I would talk about how my own thoughts and beliefs were formed through my years at the church. I would talk about how I am more like Christ because of my time there. I would tell stories of specific retreats or camps or services where my life (or those of my family) was changed because of the church and its’ leaders.
    • In this letter, I would not gripe or complain. I would not talk about the stuff I don’t like or decisions with which I disagree.
    • In a short paragraph, I would say that “my wife and I have decided to attend and serve in a different church for this next season of our spiritual growth.”
    • I would end the letter by assuring the pastor that he/she will never hear us talk badly about this church. I would encourage the pastor to feel free to share this letter with anyone who questions why we left.
    • THEN, and this is most important, I would not mail this letter. Rather, I would set an appointment with the pastor and I would hand-deliver the letter. I would read it aloud to him–or ask him to read it in my presence. I would re-state my love for him and profound thanks for the ministry he had in my life.
    • Then I would walk away and keep my promise. I would never speak negatively to anyone about that church. In fact, when people asked, I would say, “God changed my life at that church!”
    This is a lot different than just slinking away and disappearing or leaving with bitterness and criticism.  This way brings God honoring closure.

    The Man Without A Facebook



    Here is a parody of Mel Gibson's film, A Man Without A Face.

    But this satire, raises a good question, How do we relate and communicate with those within our churches and ministries that still haven't bought into the social media experience?  Are we willing to accommodate those that still aren't on platforms like Facebook or are we just as satisfied to leave them behind and out of the loop?

    The ABC’s Of Teambuilding


    Building a strong team takes many different things so that the group you are working to unite can be as strong and effective as possible. Here are 26 quick tips to foster the team atmosphere:
    Acknowledge people’s strengths and weaknesses and assign them tasks that keep these in mind.

    Build time into your schedule to get to know the members of your team both personally and professionally.

    Compliment a job well done publicly and privately when team members excel at something.

    Delegate tasks to the members of your team to give them a sense of ownership and to challenge them to develop new skills.

    Encourage discussion among the members of your team when it comes to making choices about vision, goals, and direction to help everyone feel more invested.

    Foster relationships between the members of your team by pairing them up to get to know each other better. This will help strengthen your team as the grow closer together.

    Gather your team together from time to time away from your team responsibilities to laugh, have fun, and enjoy each other.

    Harness the talents and skills of team members that they posses that may lay outside of their job descriptions. This allows them to showcase other abilities and challenge themselves while contributing to the growth of your team.

    Invite your team members to help brainstorm new promotions and projects so that they are able to infuse their passion and creativity into your team’s direction.

    Jot short notes to your team members from time to time to uplift, inspire, and thank them.

    Know the personal and professional goals of your team members and be on the lookout for ways to help them move closer to them.
    READ the read HERE

    Why You Should Be On Google+



    Still have questions about Google+? Watch this entertaining and informative video of why Google+ is worth investing in.

    And you can find ME on Google+

    (ht: Don Miller)

    Sobering Survey Of Evangelical Leaders



    The Pew Forum was on hand at Cape Town 2010 conducting a survey of the participants from around the world.  Since the survey was conducted during the most diverse gathering of Christian leaders in history, the value of the results could not be higher.  You can check out the entire results by clicking HERE.

    From the report are listed below a couple sobering statistics that seem to haven't received must attention in the executive summary that is presented at the above link.

    1. 4% of respondents do not believe that Christianity is the one true faith.
    2. 2% believe that the Bible is NOT the word of God.
    3. 3% believe that life evolved via a process with which God was not involved.
    4. 7% believe that God will grant health and wealth to those who have enough faith.
    5. 3% believe that it is not essential to follow the teachings of Christ in order to be a good Evangelical Christian.
    6. 4% say that believing in reincarnation is compatible with being a follower of Christ.
    7. 5% say that it is okay to believe that Jesus is NOT the only way to salvation."

    Remember these statistics came from not your run of the mill pew sitters, but rather from "evangelical leaders"!  Do these statistics surprise you?

    (ht: Cody)

    Think Before You Post


    The saying may sound pithy and clever, but it's simplistic and sexist.  Who really thinks these kinds of signs are going to draw people into the church?

    (ht: FailBlog)

    Discipline Is The Other Side of Discipleship

     “Discipline is the other side of discipleship. Discipleship without discipline is like waiting to run in the marathon without ever practicing. Discipline without discipleship is like always practicing for the marathon but never participating. It is important, however, to realize that discipline in the spiritual life is not the same as discipline in sports. Discipline in sports is the concentrated effort to master the body so that it can obey the mind better. Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond freely to God’s guidance.
    Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God. Solitude requires discipline, worship requires discipline, caring for others requires discipline. They all ask us to set apart a time and a place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.”
     - Henri Nouwen

    (ht: Dream Awakener)

    6 Things To Do Instead Of PowerPoint


    Within my years of ministry, I can't even begin to count how many really bad (and really boring) powerpoint presentations I've endured.  In an effort to make the world a better place, here are 6 (actually10 things) to do instead of PowerPoint. Ways to make your points without the sleep-apnea-inducing effects of boring slides. Ways to pep up your presentations without much additional effort. (this list comes from a business context - but it's easily transferable into the life of the church and ministry)

    1. Use props. For most workers, in a cubicle world, it’s sensory deprivation from 9 – 5. The whirr of computers and the A/C. The hum of colleagues chattering away. The beige walls of the cube farm. The fluorescent lighting. It’s amazing anyone stays awake. Offer the audience, then, something physical. Instead of describing that new product on a slide, show them a prototype. Pass it around. Let the audience get physical.

    2. Use music. We have an emotional response to music which is much more powerful than we do to most words. Especially words like “3rd Q results” and “product optimization.” So add a soundtrack to your presentation. It will bring it to life. Do obey copyright and licensing laws, please.

    3. Use video. Video –good video — has all the life in it that static slides lack. A good clip can enchant, move, and thrill and audience in 60 seconds. You can create the right emotional atmosphere to begin or end a speech – or to pick it up in the middle.

    4. Use a flip chart. Create any visuals you need right there in front of the audience. No need for technology. Just a magic marker and your arm. The act of creation draws the audience in where a slide doesn’t.

    5. Ask the audience. Of course, the best way to draw the audience in is to draw them in. Ask them to tell you their stories – as they relate to the topic at hand. Ask the whole audience or just selected volunteers.

    5.2. Ask the audience. Break the audience up into small groups and get them to respond to a challenge that you set, a question that you ask, or a problem that you pose. Then have them to report back to the whole group.

    5.3. Ask the audience.  Play a game with the audience – relevant to the topic. Award prizes. Audiences love to compete. Just don’t make the questions too difficult or the prizes too expensive – or too cheap. Only Oprah gets to give away cars.

    5.4. Ask the audience.  Get the audience to design something – new products, plans, or ideas. Give them plenty of paper, sticky notes, ipads, or whatever you have on hand that they can play with.

    5.5. Ask the audience.  Have the audience create video responses to what you’re talking about. Hand out a dozen flip cams and get them in groups. Give them a limited amount of time – 10 minutes, perhaps. Then show some of the video to the whole group on the big IMEG screen.

    6. Combine any 3 of these to create huge audience buzz. Stop thinking of a presentation as a static activity where you show slides to a catatonic group of fellow humans. You passive, them active. Instead, treat them as co-conspirators in something exciting, educational, and fun.

    ( ht: Nick Morgan)

    29 Ways To Stay Creative

    (ht: Ray ) 

    How To Handle 5 Common Church Growth Barriers


    Here is a list of the classic growth barriers every church will or is currently facing.  Under each is a quick summary of Nelson Searcy’s thoughts on each.

    Space

    • When a room reaches 70% of its seating capacity, it’s full.
    • Most churches face growth barriers when attendance reaches 65, 125, 250, 500, and 1,000.
    • It is better to grow to 300 or 400 before starting a second service.

    Self-Development

    • If the church leaders have stopped maturing spiritually and progressing personally, the congregation is not far behind.
    • Warning signs include stale sermons, the congregation’s passion waning, and the halt of staff and church growth.

    Sharing

    • Churches stop growing when they become inwardly (instead of outwardly) focused.
    • Healthy churches should have a 5:100 ratio of first-time guests.

    Weekly Worship Service

    • To keep your service strong, always try to look like a church twice your size.

    Staff

    • Hiring staff is truly a faith issue. Many pastors want to put off staff hires until they have the money in place to support the positions. Sounds like a practical plan, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work. You will never have enough money in advance to hire the staff you need.
    Read the entire article HERE

    Report Of Mixed Economic Signs From Churches


    This is directly from Ed Stetzer:

    A new study from LifeWay Research reports that nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of pastors report 2011 offerings at or in excess of their budget requirements. That includes 25 percent with offerings exceeding budget requirements and 46 percent with offerings approximately at budget level.

    The report, which can be found online here, describes the relationship between the local church and the economy. It says:
    When asked how the current economy is impacting their churches, a majority of pastors (67 percent) report negative impact. That includes 58 percent who say the economy is affecting their church "somewhat negatively" and 9 percent who say it is affecting their church "very negatively."
    The findings are similar to what pastors said in January 2011 but more negative than their opinions in March 2010, when only 62 percent said the economy was affecting their congregations negatively.
    "Just as there are some positive signs in the U.S. economy, we are seeing more churches with some growth in offerings for 2011," said Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research. "However, average gains are small and not all churches will benefit depending on their local economy and the overall health of their church."
    (ht: Ed)

    Moving Donors From "No" To "I Need To Donate"

    Do your donors feel like they NEED to donate to your ministry or nonprofit organization?

    Wouldn't it be great to have donors coming to you saying they want to donate money?
    (click on the image to watch the video on their site)