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.

Ministers Don't Explode - They Implode!


from Thom Rainer:

We've all been there. A friend calls with news of another pastor who has been caught in an ethical or moral situation and forced to resign. Or worse, we read the news in the morning paper. We sigh and wonder what happened, but honestly, every one of us knows what happened. The demands of ministry don't let up. 

The pressure is relentless and constant. There is always one more phone call to make, one more hospital visit to make and the sermon always needs more work. Running on empty, a pastor makes the fatal decision that he's so tired…just this once…fill in blank here (have an affair, take a little money from the church to make it to payday, pick a drug of choice—pornography, alcohol—to ease the pain a little)…and a ministry is lost.

Ministers don't explode. You never hear of a pastor grabbing an Uzi and shooting up a congregation. Ministers implode. That is, the pressure on the outside becomes greater than the pressure on the inside and we're crushed like an empty soda can. Ministry, however you express it, is giving yourself away. Unless we are intentional to refill our souls, we'll soon get to the place where we have nothing to give.

So, what do we do? Perhaps the ministry of Jesus would offer some helpful lessons. What kind of patterns do we see in the life of Jesus?

Several come to mind. First, Jesus made a habit of prayer. Several times we're told Jesus disappeared to pray all night. Jesus knew the Scriptures. How many times do we see Jesus quoting Scripture from memory? For the minister, a disciplined life or prayer and Bible study is absolutely non-negotiable. This is NOT studying for the sermon, but studying out of our pure love for God's Word. When we become overcommitted, we think we can skip pray and study, and run off to do our ministry. But remember this: the one thing our people count us to bring to them is the evidence that we have been with Jesus — recently!

Second, Jesus kept Sabbath. Jesus reminded us God created the Sabbath for us. Sabbath speaks to our need for rest. There are obvious implications. First, make sure you're getting enough sleep. Most of us are sleep deprived. No one works well when they're fatigued. Second, take a day off. No, Sunday is not a day off. Find one day where you can focus on yourself and your primary relationships. And one more thing, take your vacations. Our ministry deserves our best energy. That means we have to be intentional about recharging our souls.

Third, Jesus had friends. 

read the rest HERE

Removing "Church" From The Property


Of course it's been a trend for years to have churches remove denominational labels from their identity and church signs. But now Granger Community Church has chosen to remove the word "church" from their property. There building will  now be called the Granger Commons. This decision comes as a result of a vision and strategy to help their people see their building as merely a "tool" for ministry rather than being the actual "church" itself.  They want people to know and live out being a people on mission together, and not have their identity as the church be tied to simply a building.

Watch one of Granger’s pastors talk about this change:




What are your thoughts?  Will this move help Granger's people see themselves as a missional people?  Or do you think Granger's decision misses the point and will cause confusion?

(ht: Tony)

Free Zondervan Small Group Bible Study Sessions


Check out the Free Zondervan Small Group Bible Study Sessions on YouTube. Become spiritually interactive. Over 100 free Bible study sessions now on YouTube.

Discover, experience, and participate with John Ortberg, Lysa TerKeurst, Mark Batterson, Timothy Keller, Max Lucado, Andy Stanley, Rick Warren, and many more. There are videos relevant to everyone - women's ministry, men's studies, marriage studies, children's curriculum, teen studies, general small group studies, and much more.

   

 Go HERE to check them out!

5 Ways To Lead Like Jesus


1. Jesus prayed and fasted all night asking God who He should bring on His team.

2. Jesus chose the “uneducated and untrained.” He didn’t choose leaders, He built His own.

3. Jesus trained His followers by example, and then empowered them to do the same.

4. Jesus expected those that were with Him, would do greater things than He did.

5. Jesus gave His life to and for those that were with Him.

(ht: Artie)

How To Invite To Church


via Shawn:

ONE of the mistakes I think we Pastors make as much as any other is telling people WHAT to do on the weekends without showing them HOW to do it. For instance, so many pastors every weekend tell the members of their congregations to "go share Jesus with the lost". However, I am convinced that most of the time, people don't know HOW to share Jesus with the lost! That's so broad! As Pastors, we've got to do a better job, not just telling people WHAT to do, but showing them HOW to do it. IN honor of this truth, I wanted to share THE TOP 10 WAYS TO INVITE SOMEONE TO CHURCH WITHOUT GETTING PUMMELED:

1. Send a co-worker an e-invite from our church website, with a note that says: "Just thought you might connect with what our church is going to be talking about this weekend."

2. Send a link to one of our church's online sermons with a note that says: "When I heard this message, I thought about what you've been going through..."

3. Take a worship guide in to work with the message series title on it and say: "When I heard this message title, I thought of you."

4. Have a BBQ and invite some co-workers or friends over to eat. Here's the only criteria for the INVITATION list: They can't be going to church anywhere.

5. Invite someone to lunch on Sunday (or dinner on Saturday) and then say: "Hey, would you guys be interested at all in meeting us at our church beforehand, and THEN going to eat?

6. Think of someone who had a tough year this past year, drop them an enail or a phone call and simply say: "when I was listening to my pastor;s message this past week, I thought about you and prayed for you (IF you actually prayed for them)."

7. Invite a family friend's child over to spend the night with our children on Saturday Night and then ask the family's permission to take their child on to church with you and drop them off afterward. If our Children's Ministry rocks, this child will be one of Jesus' biggest advertisers afterward!

8. Just say: "Hey, man, what would I have to do to talk you into giving God and the church one more shot this week?"

9. Just say: "Hey, are you going to church anywhere right now? Why don't you come hang out with me this weekend at our church?"

10. Say: "You would not believe what my church is going to be doing this next weekend..."

Not just WHAT, but HOW...DOES THIS HELP AT ALL??? 



 (ht: shawnlovejoy)

How To Stay Fresh And Creative


via LifeHack

Keep Topping my Tank. "Creativity needs raw material: it needs continual exposure to more knowledge and other peoples’ thinking to allow it to appear."

Seek Out As Many New Experiences As I Can. "The more you cling to your comfort-zones, the less likely you are to be able to see beyond them, let alone stimulate your mind to produce new ideas."

Keep Challenging Myself. "Creative people are constantly putting themselves into situations that challenge them in some significant way: intellectually, practically, or in terms of understanding. They take risks that less creative people shy away from."

Ignore Automatic Criticism-especially My Own. "Many peoples’ creativity is stifled at birth by self-judgmental impulses. Indeed, that’s likely the greatest reason why the majority of people fail to use the creativity they have: any new idea is squashed instantly by negative thoughts in their own minds. They never risk being rated a fool by others because they dismiss themselves as foolish first."

Humor Can Spark Creativity


The is an interview with John Morreall from FastCompany.com and from the Ministry Best Practices archives:

Ministry can be hard work. But the best teams are those that can laugh with one another. We just finished our staff meeting this morning and we never laughed so hard during our time together. Did we get stuff done? Of course. But I think John's opinions are right on the money. Humor increases productivity as well as enjoyment within the task.

Why You Should Include a Joker in Every Brainstorming Session

You say that humor increases productivity, reduces conflict, and fosters change. Is this a joke?
Humor is healthy, especially the way it reduces stress. Humor is the opposite of fight-or-flight emotions -- especially fear and anger. I can't be laughing with you and angry or afraid of you at the same time.

How does it encourage creativity?
Humor makes us think more flexibly. People who think funny do better on creativity studies. To put it really simply, humor loosens up your brain to think of more possibilities and be more open to the wild and wacky ones. There is a guy at the State University of New York at Buffalo named Roger Firestien who has a center for the study of creativity. When he teaches brainstorming, he says you should put a joker in the group -- somebody who will come up with preposterous ideas. Very often that will stimulate people to come up with ideas that will work. Let me give you an example. A bunch of paint engineers were moaning and bitching about how hard it is to get paint off a house. One guy says, "Why don't we just put gunpowder in the paint and blow it off the house?" That led people to think, "What could we do that would be the equivalent of gunpowder?" They came up with a chemical they added to the paint and when you wanted to remove the paint you did a light wash with a second chemical over the first one. That didn't blow it off the house, but it allowed it to drop off.

Social Media The Distraction Monster - Infographic


Technology such as smartphones, tablets and social media are tremendous tools and assets for ministry leaders - but just like many good things - they can have a significant downside if left unchecked or not used in moderation.  For instance, on the positive side: Social Media has the potential to help us connect, collaborate and communicate with people all around the world.  Yet on the negative side: It can be a awful time suck!  Filled with distraction, reducing productivity and encouraging procrastination.  Use Social Media with caution, it can be a MONSTER!

It
by NowSourcing. Browse more infographics.

When Ministry Is A Mistress



from Dave Kraft:


Ministry idolatry is becoming increasingly widespread, reaching epidemic proportions. It is showcased at network and denominational gatherings, where the focus and conversation is often not about Jesus, but about us and what we are accomplishing and achieving. Leaders discuss the latest poster children for ministry success and their methods so we can all emulate them, buy their books, and attend their “how we did it” seminars and conferences.

“Idolatry creep” sneaks up on you because you can easily and quickly justify it by saying that everything you do is for the Lord, believing your motives are pure. We recognize this in businessmen who work obscene hours while insisting they do it all to benefit the family, when in reality it’s all about them.

Leaders must guard against ministry becoming a mistress.


(ht: Vitamin Z)

It's NOT All About You!



Too often many of us approach church like we're a consumer or a guest - that our purpose is simply there to have a good experience, we think that church is all about US!  But rather than behaving like a guest perhaps we should consider the posture of being a host, there to provide that experience for other people - especially those who may be visiting our church for the first time.

In his book The Welcoming Congregation,  author Rev. Brinton writes:
Whether congregations build coffee shops or offer ESL classes, it is critical that church members begin to think of themselves as hosts. This is an enormous step for any of us, but it is the key to making good decisions about creating appropriate sites for hospitality. Unfortunately, we often go to church with the attitude of a guest, not a host—we are concerned more about ourselves than about those who visit with us. Consider this mindset: as guests, we are focused primarily on having a good time. We enter the church, and look for our friends. We pass personal judgment on the furniture, decor, and feel of the place. We sit where we want to sit, with little regard to making room for others. We listen to the church’s music, and decide whether we enjoy it or not. As guests, we are basically consumers, concerned about our personal comfort. The experience is all about us. 
How different it is to be a host. In this role, we are focused primarily on serving others. We greet our guests at the door, and look to connect them with people they would enjoy. We make sure that the church is set up in a welcoming way—decorated appropriately, well-lighted, and conducive to people getting to know one another. We sit in places that will leave room for others, and help them to feel comfortable. We pick church music that our guests would like, even if it is not our favorite. As hosts, we are concerned about the comfort of others. The experience is all about them.
How would this perspective not only positively alter our own experience Sunday morning, but also that of those who visit our church for the first time?

Study: Most Churchgoers Don't Read Bible Daily


from the Baptist Press

While the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ with their lives and even profess to think on biblical truths, a recent study found few actually engage in personal reading and study of the Scriptures.

"Bible engagement" is one of the eight attributes of discipleship identified in the Transformational Discipleship study conducted by LifeWay Research. The study produced the Transformational Discipleship Assessment, which measures an individual's spiritual growth in each of these areas of development.

The survey found 90 percent of churchgoers agree that "I desire to please and honor Jesus in all I do," and 59 percent agree with the statement: "Throughout the day I find myself thinking about biblical truths." While the majority agree with both statements, there is a significant difference in the strength of agreement. Nearly two-thirds of churchgoers (64 percent) strongly agree with the first statement, but only 20 percent strongly agree with the second.

However, when asked how often they personally (not as part of a church worship service) read the Bible:

-- 19 percent respond "every day."

-- 26 percent say a few times a week.

-- 14 percent say they read the Bible "once a week."

-- 22 percent say "once a month" or "a few times a month."

-- 18 percent say "rarely/never."

(read whole study HERE)

Multisite Church Movement Continues To Build Momentum - Infographic


The new official statistic is that there are more than 5,000 multisite churches in North America. That’s more than 5,000 different churches, each of which has two or more different geographic campuses – one church in two or more locations. This finding was extrapolated from a national survey of churches of all sizes, and validated by Leadership Network’s constantly growing database of multisite churches....(more HERE)

Data from that Leadership Network report are captured in this infographic below, created by KillerChurch.


(ht: KillerChurch)

True Confidentiality Is Rare


For many of us our lives are out there, to be seen and examined by everyone.  We tweet and update our Facebook statuses, knowing that others will see them (yet I am always still surprised the foolish things people say and post forgetting that people are going to read it!). Yet even though we are aware of the public nature of social media, we can't forget that even our 'private' email communication with a single person can be exposed to others.

From the book Onward: How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul. The author, Howard Schultz, writes about a confidential email that was forwarded to a Starbucks gossip site. He writes:
Staring at the screen, I was speechless. Not because my criticisms were now public. What upset me, what felt like a blow to my gut, was the leak. I could not imagine who would do such a thing. It was nothing less than a betrayal.
One of the lessons: Never assume that something you write in an email will stay confidential. Assume it will get out there, and write accordingly. As the book says, 'Nothing is confidential.'

As ministry leaders, we must always be aware and prayerful when writing and sending out sensitive communication   We should ask ourselves these questions when writing potentially sensitive and difficult emails.
  • Should what I am communicating be better said in a conversation and/or face to face? (sometimes emails aren't the right medium to communicate difficult issues)
  • Have I thought through, prayed and re-read this email before I hit the send button? (never be quick to write and send a sensitive or difficult email)
  • What emotional state am I in upon writing this email? Am I angry, tired or frustrated? (if so wait before writing - make sure your thoughts are clear and lucid)
  • Would what I have to say in an email be the same thing that I would feel comfortable saying publicly? (in other words you wouldn't be ashamed or embarrassed if your email was made public)

Why It's Important To Pay Attention


via Inside North Point

“First impressions can greatly impact the emotion consumers feel for a brand. What are first impressions like for your customers?” - The Disney Institute via Twitter

First impressions of your church and Sunday worship are important to guests. Therefore it is so important that you get your head out of the clouds and pay attention to the right things. You want to be able to look at them with fresh eyes. Here are some things to consider that will help you answer the question: What are first impressions like for your guests?

1. Pay attention to your physical environments:
  • architectural design
  • landscaping
  • lighting
  • color
  • signage
  • design on carpet
  • texture of surfaces
  • focal points and directional signs
  • music/ambient noise
  • smells
  • furniture
  • floor plan
2. Pay attention to your volunteers:
  • Where are they?
  • How easily identifiable are they?
  • What do they have permission to do and say?
  • Are they sensitive to guests?
  • Do they know how to spot a first-time guest?
  • What are they wearing?
3. Pay attention to your systems.

Systems are how you do things or how you ask people to do things. In churches, systems are things like . . . how someone registers for camp, how a new volunteer signs up to serve, how someone signs up for online-giving, how parents enroll their children into a class, how someone joins a small group, etc. 

Make sure your systems are…
  • clear – This is what I do.
  • easy – This is simple to do.
  • results – This gets me where I want to go.
(ht: Inside North Point)

5 Reasons To Quit Your Small Group


Small groups can have value and may provide a loving, growing and caring missional community.  But too often small groups just become another "program" that merely fills our time and takes our energy.

There may be reasons that you may want to consider quitting your small group...

1. If your group isn't serving together

2. If you don't connect with others in the group when you're not "officially" meeting

3. If the small group isn't developing growing disciples

4. If the group merely stays superficial

5. If it seems more like a chore rather than a delight.


How Teens View Their Digital Lives - Infographic


For those of you doing youth ministry, these stastistics may not come as a big surprise - or on the other hand, perhaps they will.  Some of these facts and information were new to me.

Exactly how linked up and connected are today's teens to their technology?  Have they become victims of information overload? Here are a couple of stats from the infographic below
  • Over half of teens feel that social media helps their relationships with friends and a third with family while less than 5% see it hurting those relationships.
  • Their favorite medium of communication is in person (49%) and texting (33%)
  • Girls are more apt to using digital forms of communication (though it is for sure that boys use gaming systems much more than girls)
(ht:  CommonSense Media)