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 Power Of Visual Storytelling

It is important for ministries to share their story...and one of the most powerful ways to share a story is visually - from pictures to video. From the infographic below you can see how more people are engaged with your ministry and message when you go visual with your story.

(ht: Mashable)

How To Respond When People Leave Your Church

Jennifer LeClaire, news editor at Charisma has some very good reflections and thoughts on how pastors should respond when people leave their church. Here is an excerpt:

Don’t go into attack mode. If you are walking in integrity, treating people with love, providing care to the congregation, and otherwise fulfilling your God-given responsibilities as a pastor, then you have no reason to go on the offense. If you are truly a servant to your members, you don’t have to fear that one influential person leaving will cause a mass exodus.

Pastors, when people leave your church the congregation is watching you. If you attack people who leave—whether it’s directly, through seeded rumors to your leadership, or indirectly through messages from the pulpit, it reflects poorly on your stewardship and your character. It reveals the anger and bitterness in your heart. And you will probably lose more sheep because no one wants an angry, bitter pastor who can’t accept that the Holy Spirit sometimes moves people on.

When someone leaves your church—especially someone who is a leader or in a visible position—it’s time to reflect on your ministry, not attack the person. If possible, speak with the person about why they are leaving. If the exiting member won’t talk to you, it’s likely there is either a problem in their heart or a problem in your church. But you can’t assume it’s the exiting member’s issue alone.

When people start leaving, it’s not time to go on the attack—it’s time to pray and ask God if there’s anything going on in your church that’s causing people to leave. You may be the most loving, caring pastor in the world but you may not see the church cliques or the actions of power-hungry leaders who mistreat the sheep. You may not see the spiritual abuse going on behind the scenes. Again, when people start leaving the church, don’t malign their character—check your own and check your church.

(read the whole post HERE)

Church Visits From Hell

Remember on Sunday mornings you should be preparing for company!  People who are new to your church are bound to find their way into your Sunday worship service and therefore you should always be aware and conscientious on how your church, facilities, and experience looks and is perceived by first time guests.

Thom Rainer shares these worst guest experiences gathered from his years of consulting churches and doing on-site "mystery-shopping" evaluations.  Here are some of the worst of the worst:

I was asked to introduce myself in the worship service. There were probably 150 or so present, so all the members knew I was a guest. I had no choice but to speak up and tell them something about me. I felt so uncomfortable standing up and speaking to everyone present.”

I had to walk fifty yards in the rain. There was no guest parking. No one offered me an umbrella. Apparently the members got there early so they could get the best parking spaces in the inclement weather.”

The preschool area was dirty and not secure. I took my two-year old with me, but I would not leave her in the church’s preschool area. You could tell they didn’t care about the cleanliness and the safety needs of little children. So I took my child to the worship service. That proved to be another headache.”

Everyone talked in code. I had no idea what the preacher and the members were talking about. What in the heck is a WMU? What is a time of intercessory prayer? I figured out the responsive reading thing when I saw people reading from their hymnals.”

Someone told me I was sitting where their family sits. That really ticked me off. I didn’t see a reserved sign there. If I was not getting paid to do this, I would have said a few words to them and walked out of the service before it ever began.”

No one spoke to me. They certainly spoke to people they apparently knew, but I was not a part of their cliques. I felt badly just being there. I wanted to get up and leave on the spot.”

The preacher screamed the whole time. He had one tone and one volume: loud! Why do these preachers think their voices and their decibels have to change when they begin preaching? It seems so inauthentic. To top it off, I had a terrible headache after enduring 45 minutes of his screaming.”

They had a business meeting during the worship service. Now that was awkward. I really got uncomfortable when some of the members began disagreeing. It was tense. I will never, ever, ever go back there again.”

Who Are The "Nones"?

As Protestants decline, people with no religion, "Nones,"are rising in number. Protestants are less than half of Americans, while Nones are one in five.

For decades, if not centuries, America's top religious brand has been "Protestant." No more.

In the 1960s, two in three Americans called themselves Protestant. Now the Protestant group -- both evangelical and mainline -- has slid below the statistical waters, down to 48%, from 53% in 2007

Where did they go? Nowhere, actually. They didn't switch to a new religious brand, they just let go of any faith affiliation or label.

The Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released an analytic study today titled, Nones on the Rise, now that one in five Americans (19.6%) claim no religious identity.

This group, called "Nones," is now the nation's second-largest category only to Catholics, and outnumbers the top Protestant denomination, the Southern Baptists. The shift is a significant cultural, religious and even political change.

- read the rest at USA Today

Teaching Children To Give

by Jeff Anderson, Acceptable

Parents want their children to be generous.

Among the first words we teach them are "momma", "dadda", "yes" and "no."

Somehow they learn "mine." Then we teach them "share."

It pleases us when we see them give. And it pains us when they are selfish with their stuff. As they grow, they will encounter the same challenges we do as adults – generous living does not come naturally to us.

As father to four children ages 5 to 16, below are some ways we strive to pass along biblical generosity in the Anderson home.

Set their giving standard
As soon as our children are old enough to count their own money, we teach them to divide it into thirds: a third for saving, a third for spending and a third for giving. We are currently beginning this process with our five-year old, Autumn.

Whenever our kids receive money - from chores, birthdays, gifts, etc. - they set aside a third and put it in their “giving” envelope. Separating into thirds is easy. And by giving a third of their money to God, they learn that giving is as important as saving and spending. As children, they have no taxes to pay or clothes to buy. There's room in their budgets to give this way. After all, as parents, we provide their needs.

By separating their money into thirds, we give them a bigger vision for their giving. But to them, it won't seem like a "big" giving standard. It will simply be all they know.

They are amazed how quickly their giving envelope will grow. You will be too. If one of my sons is saving for a $50 or $100 purchase, it's not uncommon for them to have an equal amount in their giving envelope. Even at a very young age, our children quickly learn the feeling of giving away an amount that really matters to them.

Provide direction
We don’t teach our children that we must tithe 10% to the church. But we do stress the biblical command to “share financially where we are being fed spiritually.” Because the local church is our family’s most regular and familiar point of contact for worship and learning about God, a healthy share of our giving goes in that direction. For our children, I'm not sure if its 10% or not – my hunch is that it's much more.

Turn them loose
As our children grow older, we relax the structure. We teach our children that 33% is not a biblical standard, and that the Bible teaches that each of us is responsible for setting our own standards. At a certain point, allow your children to determine their gifts amounts. It's healthy for them to wrestle with these decisions.

When Austin was 14, he made quite a haul shoveling driveways during an extraordinary snowstorm. With nearly $200 cash in his hands, he struggled with his giving formula. When he had much less and his purchasing ability was smaller, it was easier for him to give abundantly. But when he had more idle cash, and more things on his mind to buy, he found it more challenging to give increasingly so.

It was a great lesson for him – at a young age he learned about the same healthy tension that we wrestle with as adults. This tension mirrors the giving patterns of the world today. Statistics show that the wealthy give less, as a percentage of income, than the middle and lower class who depend on more limited incomes.

You can experiment with the right age for helping your children explore these financial freedoms. Keep in mind, there are no rules.

Encourage them to read about givers
Cade just turned 12 years old. Next summer I will offer him the book reading deal like I did with Austin several years ago. This is when I pay my children to read an assortment of books about various faith heroes - and legendary givers, too. I make the offer a lucrative one. They like to read, but an incentive helps. A little cash does wonders for their enthusiasm.

Among this list includes books such as The Treasure Principle by Randy Alcorn, Stanley Tam's Incredible Adventures with God by Stanley Tam, and The Autobiography of George Muller. These books can spark good conversation. More importantly, they get the juices flowing in their hearts as they begin to experience giving situations of their own.

I also recommend a classic, The Richest Man in Babylon by George Clason. Although not a faith-based message, it does present some timeless financial truths my children will learn later in life. This book also allows me to discuss with them the difference between the world’s perspective and God’s perspective of money. I explain to them that sometimes we may give at the expense of what the world calls financial security. I explain that when biblical wisdom runs counter to worldly wisdom, faith enters into the equation.

Engage them in your giving
Of course one of the best ways to teach your children to give is for them to see it played out in real life.

The doorbell rang one afternoon and Austin followed me to the door. He was 11 years old at the time. Greeting us at the door was a young lady in a motorized wheelchair, a quadriplegic. Her name was Melissa, and she was raising money for a mission trip to Germany. It was one of those unusual but divine encounters in which I sensed that we would do something.

After listening to her appeal (she needed $900), Austin and I stepped back inside. I shared with him the situation. I explained that we could do nothing… or that we could give all that she needed. I wanted him to understand the full scope of options.

We said a short prayer and then I looked up and asked him, "what if we give $250?"

Austin quickly said, "I was thinking $450 - that would be half."

I was impressed with his thinking. And I trusted his instincts. So that's what we did.

We explained to Melissa that we were in for $450. She was stunned (she had just a few dollars and some change in large tub in her lap). We explained that when she raised the other half, we would give the rest. Sure enough, she raised the money and one week later Austin accompanied me to deliver the check to her trip sponsor.

When you have opportunity, engage your children in your family giving. They will likely draw on these experiences some day in their own giving journeys.

Connect their giving to God's blessings – that's God's smile
One of the reasons I want my children to give generously is because I want them to experience God's blessings. 

One weekend Austin took the time to get caught up on his bookkeeping. After many weeks of just stashing cash in his notebook, Austin finally took the time to organize his money envelopes. After squaring away his “giving” envelope, he asked me if I would drive him downtown to give the money to the homeless shelter. It was Saturday and I did not want to make a downtown trip. But we did anyway.

The next week Austin was given an opportunity to work at a basketball tournament over multiple weekends. I’ll never forget his email to me from school. "Thank you dad for taking me downtown to give my gift - God has blessed me because of it."

Help your children connect their giving to the work of God's hand in their lives. Like Austin, they will likely recognize it themselves first. Remind them that God notices their gifts and is pleased when His children bring gifts to Him. The Christian journey is a faith walk. We don’t see God with our eyes or hear Him with our ears. Instead we believe in something and someone we cannot see. That is why it's called faith.

When children give acceptable gifts and experience the blessings of God, that's God's smile. And when God smiles, His children will smile… and as parents raising children to know and please God, you will smile too.

Jeff Anderson has worked with churches for nearly two decades, as elder in his own church, and as Vice President, Generosity Initiatives with Crown Financial Ministries, and currently as leader of

Jeff continues to consult and speak, and is the author of Plastic Donuts, A Fresh Perspective on Gifts.


10 Simple Things That Good Pastors Say

1. Please forgive me.

Better than "I'm sorry," which can often be followed with an "if" or a "but," these words indicate a humble heart. Bad pastors hide their faults behind the cloak of their authority, practice self-defense against all charges, and basically pretend. Good pastors know they're sinners and admit it.

2. You're right.

Good pastors know they're not always (not usually?) the smartest, most "spiritual" person in the room. They are zealous to give credit and acknowledge achievement and intelligence, not just because it's the right thing to do, but because it encourages and empowers others.

3. You're wrong.

Bad pastors chicken out when it comes to calling people on sin or biblical ignorance. Good pastors brave potential conflict and hurt feelings and say "You're wrong" in gentle but firm ways when necessary.

4. Jesus loves you.

Why did we stop saying this? I think because it became cliche. I'd love to see a recovery of the art of "Jesus loves you." Strategically said at times of others' admissions of failure, sin, or trouble, "Jesus loves you" is a fantastic way to speak the gospel into people's lives.

5. I love you.

I think one reason we stopped saying "Jesus loves you" to people is because we don't really love them ourselves. Might as well save the hypocrisy, eh? But good pastors lay their lives down for the sheep. Telling people you love them is a reminder to them and to you that sacrificial love is your calling.

6. Me too.

7. Any time.

8. Thank you.

9. Grace is true.

10. You're approved.

(read the full post at Jared's blog)