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.

Finding Success In Failure

Love this infographic demonstrating how people found success even in the face of continual failure. The key was that they persevered and choose to learn from the failures and to not let their failures define them.

Porn Damaging The Church

Porn has not only become a tragic epidemic in our culture but it has infiltrated the church. The result has been damage and devastation to people, families, congregations and the cause of Christ.

(click on infographic to view larger image)

 (ht: Porn Freedom Now)

The Scary Numbers On Youth Depression And Suicide

As you work with youth and young adults in your church and ministry, it is important to be aware of the growing epidemic of depression/suicide and to be able to recognize their warning signs.

A Pastor's Pulpit - Supercharged

This cartoon is taken from the Dave Walker Guide to the Church, published by Canterbury Press. It originally appeared in the Church Times


Overcoming The “Us” - “Them” Mentality In Leadership

by Ken Quick

When we were in the darker periods of my ministry in Toronto, Canada, one of the most common manifestations of our corporate dysfunction was the “group divisions” we experienced. For instance, the seniors often appeared hostile towards the youth, complaining about their music and how the church Board seemed to let the youth program “get by” with a lot of inappropriate behavior. The youth returned the favor and complained that the seniors were always “down on them”. They passed glares back and forth.

The dysfunction went deeper. As a staff, we often felt that the Board resisted us and our ideas. We would sit in our staff meetings and talk about “us” (the staff) and our problems with “them” (the Board). Then I would go to Board meetings we often talked about how it was “us against the congregation” as the congregation seemed to resist all leadership initiatives atv our business meetings. We spent a lot of time strategizing, not how to reach our community, but how to “get something by” a congregational vote!

Working now with many churches in pain, I have deepened my understanding of how perfect the metaphor of “Body” is for the local church. I am convinced that many medical maladies get mirrored in the behaviors and attitudes of people within the Body of Christ. One of the most intriguing of these is the category called the “auto-immune diseases.”

Wikipedia defines “auto-immune diseases” this way: Autoimmune diseases arise from an overactive immune response of the body against substances and tissues normally present in the body. In other words, the body actually attacks its own cells. The immune system mistakes some part of the body as a pathogen and attacks it. I know about auto-immunes intimately as I have Type II diabetes and my wife has Graves’ disease.

Stated another way, an auto-immune disease is when the body starts attacking itself, starts treating its own healthy body parts (such as joints in rheumatoid arthritis, the skin in eczema and psoriasis, the colon in Crohns) as if they were “diseased” and sends an “immune response” (the body’s way of dealing with dangers) to eliminate them. In other words, the body assumes an “us-them” mentality and it expends its energy to deal with “them”, but actually ends up making itself much sicker.

This is the exact opposite of what the Apostle Paul said we should experience as the Body of Christ at a local church level: But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Eph. 4:15-16)

Therefore, if your church struggles with an “us-them” mentality between various groups and expends its energies trying to work around whoever is perceived as “them”, you need to take seriously finding out from the Lord of your church what the issues are. You need to discover where these attitudes came from and when they started, then as leaders you should take responsibility for these attitudes and repent for the way your church has worked against Christ’s plan for a healthy church body that Paul describes.

When we held a repentance service in our Toronto church, this was one of the major things we saw Christ do for us. He restored unity, respect and love between the very different “body parts” which had been so divided in our church. The impact on the whole amazed us. May you see the same in your church.

Dr. Ken Quick serves as Director of Consulting for Blessing Point Ministries and is the author of Healing the Heart of Your Church (ChurchSmart 2003) and Body Aches (ChurchSmart 2009). Ken also serves as Chair of the Practical Theology Department at Capital Bible Seminary.

Top Digital Tools For Churches - Infographic

Click image to see larger view
from Tim Nations serves as Director of InnovationLabs:

As part of our work on the Beyond Digital Initiative, we surveyed church leaders around the country to learn about the most common and most effective digital tools to 'amplify' ministry in their churches and outside their walls. We also asked about areas of ministry they're dreaming about that could be enhanced through technology. We heard from leaders from San Antonio, TX to Shrewsbury, MA, from Menlo Park, CA to Oak Park, IL, with congregations ranging from 50 to almost 15,000. The following infographic provides a visual representation of the responses we received.

Teens Becoming Bored With Facebook

Below is a helpful infographic illustrating some of the latest trends with youth and social media, particularly Facebook.  For those of you who work with youth (uth) at your church, it is important to keep informed on how young people are using and relating to the technology and devices around them.

(ht: SocialMedia Today)

When Churches Lie - REAL Church Postcards

Do you ever find your mailbox stuffed with those slick and well produced "church postcards" inviting you to their awesome church?!  What would those postcard invitations look like if we stripped away the hype and actually told the truth?  EchoHub has done just that and they have posted some hilarious examples.  Here are a select few below:

(ht: EchoHub)

The Illusion That Small Groups Project

from Brian Jones:

A few years ago I brought in a nationally recognized pastor to do some consulting for our church. One of the things I remember the most about my time with him was a side conversation we had about small groups.

“I haven’t really figured out the small group thing,” I confessed to him.

“Well, Brian, that’s because they don’t work.

Small groups are things that trick us into believing we’re serious about making disciples.

The problem is 90% of small groups never produce one single disciple, ever. They help Christians make shallow friendships for sure. They’re great at helping Christians feel a tenuous connection to their local church. And they do a bang-up job of teaching Christians how to act like other Christians in the evangelical Christian subculture. But when it comes to creating the kind of holistic disciples Jesus envisioned, the jury’s decision came back a long time ago – small groups just aren't working.”

What do you think? Are small groups creating merely the illusion of making disciples? Have small groups worked in making disciples in your church? If so, please share in the comments section.

Study: Doctrine And Beliefs Impacts Spiritual Maturity

from Ed Stetzer:

A new LifeWay Research study on "Doctrinal Views" shows that among Protestant church attendees 81 percent say "When you die, you will go to heaven because you have confessed your sins and accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior," 26 percent agree "If a person is sincerely seeking God, he/she can obtain eternal life through religions other than Christianity." Fifty-seven percent disagree. These are people who actually attend church, not just those who claim to be Christians who attend Protestant churches.

Churchgoers strongly hold to the accuracy of the Scriptures, the survey reveals. Eighty-two percent agree with the statement: "The Bible is the written word of God and is totally accurate in all that it teaches." Ten percent disagree and 8 percent neither agree nor disagree.

While the majority of churchgoers (75 percent) strongly hold the God of the Bible is not the same god worshiped in other world religions, 13 percent say the God of the Bible is no different from the gods or spiritual beings depicted by world religions such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. Another 12 percent neither agree nor disagree with the uniqueness of the God of the Bible.

The study also shows nearly two-thirds (71 percent) agree with the statement: "God is just and sin has to be punished." However, 13 percent of churchgoers disagree and 16 percent neither agree nor disagree with the statement.

(ht: Ed Stetzer)

The Digital World Of Teens - Infographic

Youth and ministry workers, do you know just how entrenched your youth are within technology and the digital world? Here are a few things that stand out from the infographic below:

from Youth Ministry Media:

1. 90% of america’s teens have used social media. Trust me, your youth ministry needs to be online. If you are working with youth, you need to have a understanding of how to leverage technology for your youth ministry.

2. 88% of teens keep in touch with friends they can’t see regularly. I love seeing teens connect all over the world. It really doesn't matter today where you live. I think technology helps teens stay connect at places like camp, and retreats. It is a easy way to keep a connection open.

Are 75% Of Churches Experiencing Conflict?

According to a study by FaithCommunities, 75% of churches report that they are experiencing some kind of conflict in the past five year’s time.  And 25% report their current conflict as ‘serious’.

Here are the sources of conflict:

Has your church experienced ‘serious’ conflict in the past five years?  If so, how did you handle it and come through it?


What Does A Healthy Church Look Like?

by Lee Eclov

In the second and third chapters of John's Revelation, we find the letters dictated to the seven churches. Here, in a uniquely direct way, we have the Lord's assessment of health indicators for local congregations.

What strikes me is that some of the usual indicators—evangelism, stewardship, church planting, attendance are not evident. In a quick scan of these two chapters, the indicators that stand out are:

  • holiness and dealing with sin.
  • endurance—being "overcomers." The Lord praises churches that face corporate challenges with vital faith. That's an idea I hadn't thought much about, but churches do face difficult times—a rash of deaths or unemployment or natural disaster.
  • confronting evil and heresy in the church.
  • exclusive love for Christ.
  • corporate growth in ministry—"you are doing more now than before."
  • love for one another. This is evident in the specifics of how the Christians are called to relate to each other dealing with sin, earnestness of purpose, etc.

God Is Calling His Church To Pray

“There is a growing conviction among God’s people that God is calling His Church to pray and that He has great blessings in store if only we will heed his call” (Warren W. Wiersbe, Something Happens When Churches Pray, 5).

(ht: Pray for Revival)

Eight Diagnostic Questions To Measure Your Church’s Health

from Chuck Lawless

I am a church consultant who loves helping God’s church. The churches I consult, though, aren't always as excited, as a church consultation is sometimes like a medical physical—we know we need it, but we don’t like being poked and prodded by an outsider. Nevertheless, a good consultation prods with some important questions. Perhaps these questions will help you analyze your own church.

  1. Is the church’s teaching based on the Bible? Ultimately, a local church is a group of believers who proclaim, teach, and live out the gospel of Jesus Christ. Where that gospel is not taught, something less than the New Testament church exists. An inherent danger in church consulting is that the consultant will give ideas and suggestions that will, in fact, lead to “church growth”—but the final product will focus more on growing than on being church. We must guard against that possibility by reminding churches of the importance of a biblical foundation, even while we also emphasize evangelism. 
  2. Is the church a praying church? Legitimate church growth is a gift of God, who empowers His followers and draws others unto Himself. Another danger in church consulting is that we will offer solutions that are based on our ingenuity rather than God’s power. For that reason, I want to know that the church is focusing on prayer before, during, and after a consultation. In fact, I expect the church to enlist a prayer team that prays together during the length on the consult. Is your church a praying church? 
  3. Is the church driven by a Great Commission focus? Five times in the New Testament, Jesus expressed some form of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20, Mark 16:15, Luke 24:45-47, John 20:21, Acts 1:8). Apparently, preaching the gospel and making disciples mattered to Jesus—and so these tasks must concern churches today. Many churches have become so inwardly focused that church is more about protecting the status quo than about reaching out beyond themselves. 
  4. Is the church reaching non-believers? Here, the possibility of overemphasizing numbers is apparent, but the question must be asked: are non-believers coming to know the Lord through the church’s ministry? If the church is growing, is the growth conversion growth (nonbelievers meeting Christ) or transfer growth (“swapping sheep”)? Transfer growth is sometimes necessary, but it seldom results in Great Commission growth. 
  5. Is the church keeping and discipling new believers who join? Suppose a church reached twenty non-believers for Christ in the last year. Did the church see a corresponding increase in attendance? If not, why not? Is the congregation an aging one, and several died within the year? Are longer term members leaving the church as the church changes? Does the church have a poor strategy for discipling new members? Or, more positively, did the church send out a team to begin a church plant? Whatever the cause for the discrepancy between additions and attendance, the church must respond appropriately. 
  6. Is the church both locally and globally minded? 
  7. Does the church have a strategic plan for future growth? 
  8. Are the leaders committed to the ministry of the church? 
Read entire post HERE

(ht: Thom Rainer)

The Number ONE Problem With Meetings & How To Solve IT!

Bosses need to run meetings because they need to exercise authority and control. That attitude hinders free, honest involvement by participants. Worse yet, controlling-bosses obstruct ownership. Others won’t own what you own.

The problem with meetings is bosses run them.
No one can effectively manage a meeting and participate at the same time. Transform meetings by training new employees to – facilitate – manage meeting. Facilitators don’t participate with content they manage the process.

Meeting facilitators:
Martin Murphy, author of, “No More Pointless Meetings said, “The boss or highest ranking person in the room should not run workflow management sessions.” Martin prefers calling meetings “workflow management sessions.”

Assign junior team members to run – facilitate – meetings. They don’t give input they manage the meeting, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.

Power and control:
Murphy’s suggestion freaks out leaders who need to sit at the head of the table exercising control. The whole dynamic stinks of inappropriate command and control leadership.

Sit at the foot of the table not the head.

Stop pretending you’re collaborating when you’re manipulating.

If you know the outcome of the meeting before the meeting, DON’T call a meeting. Meetings with pre-determined outcomes are manipulations. Have the integrity and courage to say, “This is what I want.” Say it and save everyone time.

Keep control if you must. If you need to set the agenda, do it. If not, work with the team to set agendas, for example.

Real collaboration:
If you’re genuinely interested in collaborative processes that produce collaborative results, stop running meetings. Train junior team members to facilitate meetings, instead. They manage processes while everyone else, including you, participates.

Being "Burned" By The Church

from Barnabas Piper:

To be truly burned is to be sinned against by the church. It might be a fault in the leadership, hidden or systemic sin that leads them to care poorly for the members. It might be unresolved disputes leading to rivalries and factions. I have left a church for those reasons, too. Unlike the situation I described above, this one hurt: The church was unwilling or unable to resolve sins at the corporate and leadership level. I felt burned.

Of course, every church has its faults—the result of what happens when a group of sinners tries to come together to do … well … most anything. Disappointment with a church is inevitable. People will disappoint. Processes will disappoint. Leadership will disappoint. And often we are disappointed because of our unrealistic expectations.

When we falsely claim—either out of misunderstanding or sin—a church has burned us, we are demeaning the body of Christ. Moving from one church to another is a decision not to be taken lightly, and we should be careful in making accusations of wrongdoing in the process. Our goal is to represent Christ well, and to honor His bride. So we must be cautious in our claims and gracious in our interpretations.

Read the rest

(ht: Vitamin Z)

America's Most & Least Religious Metro Areas

Provo, Utah, tops the list of America's most religious metros, according to survey results recently released by the Gallup Organization. More than three-quarters of residents in this metro reported that they are "very religious." Three of the top five most religious metros are in Alabama — Montgomery, Birmingham, and Huntsville. Jackson, Mississippi, also ranks among the top five.

Burlington, Vermont, and Boulder, Colorado, tie for the title of the nation's least religious metro area. In these two metros, fewer than one in five residents claim to be "very religious." San Francisco and Boston also rank among the least religious metros in America, as only about one in four of their residents say they are "very religious."

The data are based on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey of nearly 250,000 Americans across 189 metros conducted over the course of 2012.

(Read about the whole study HERE)

Are You Missing Out On The Conversation?

There is so much more to Ministry Best Practices beyond the many informative posts offered up here on our main website

On our Twitter and Facebook accounts we offer many more compelling links to articles, research, trends, infographics and valuable information from all around the internet.  We share the kind of information that church and ministry leaders will benefit from.  Also much of the information shared on our social networks are often things that never get posted on this main site.

Therefore, you don't want to miss out - subscribe to:

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Alarming Statistics Concerning Bible Reading

This infographic by Kenny Jahng of Liquid Church tells us that:
  • 700 people stop reading God’s Word every day
  • 25% less people in one generation are occasional readers
  • And 40% of those reading God’s Word feel confused, overwhelmed, doubtful, bored and discouraged.
Here is the rest:


When I Forget To Tell My Wife That She Is In The Sermon

"When I forget to tell my wife that there is a sermon illustration about her until she hears it in the service."

"Me when anyone asks me anything about anything the week after Holy Week."

"What I say when a parishioner comes up to me after a Spirit-filled worship service and complains about a bulletin typo."

Check out this any many other funny ministry memes at On Staff At A Church

State Of The Bible - Infographic

Americans overwhelming (77%) believe morals and values are declining in the U.S. The most-cited cause for the decline is a lack of Bible reading. As in previous years, the survey found that the Bible remains a highly valued, influential force in America. But beliefs about the Bible and its role in society are becoming increasingly polarized—particularly when the data is examined by age group.

The research also uncovered a significant disconnect in belief versus behavior. While 66% of those surveyed agreed that the Bible contains everything a person needs to know to live a meaningful life, 58% say they don’t personally want wisdom and advice from the Bible and about the same amount (57%) read it fewer than five times per year.  Key findings:

  • 1 in 6 people reported buying a copy of the Bible in the last year
  • 80% of Americans identify the Bible as sacred
  • Americans have plenty of copies at their fingertips—with an average of 4.4 Bibles per household
  • 56% of adults believe the Bible should have a greater role in U.S. society
  • But actual Bible reading and perceptions about the Bible have become increasingly polarized, with 6 million new Bible Antagonists in the last year alone
  • More than half (57%) of those ages 18-28 report reading the Bible less than three times a year or never

(ht: American Bible Society)

Your Ministry's Website Must Be Mobile Moving Forward

In the last quarter of the year 2012, almost as much as 11% of the internet users were using mobile devices, more than 6% of which came from smartphones whereas less than 5% came from tablet devices. And although tablet devices nowadays have a computational power comparable to desktop devices (well, so do smartphones, but screen size matters a lot here), users still want the content optimized and rendered specifically for tablet devices. Hence, in a way, smartphones and tablets can be treated in a similar way.

But what about now? According to a study, from the first quarter of 2012 to now, mobile internet usage has gone up by a staggering 26%, whereas tablet usage has grown by 19%, both very impressive figures in themselves, yet desktop figures, however have taken a beating, with a decline of 6%.  (info from Blogger Tricks)

So what about your church and ministry site?  Is it optimized for a users experience over their mobile phone or tablet?  You might think that in order to develop a mobile presence that you'll be obligated to invest piles of money as well as have to deal endlessly with web developers - NOT SO!

Ministry Best Practices', partner Clover Sites, not only provides attractive, affordable and easy to use sites for churches & ministries - but every site adjusts and adapts whether the user is using a laptop, smartphone or tablet.

If your site is UGLY, outdated or not mobile friendly...then check out Clover Sites - recommended by Ministry Best Practices as well as churches and ministries everywhere.

Three Facets Of A Leader

"A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way" - John C. Maxwell

Who Is Your Competition?

from Teddy Ray:

A popular book on church stewardship came out a few years ago with a new definition of “competition.” The first paragraph of the book tells how the number of non-profits in America doubled in the last ten years. Then it says, “What these numbers show is that in ten years the competition has nearly doubled.” The rest of the book is about how to get people to give your church more money when competition for charitable dollars is so stiff. (My conference actually encouraged all of its pastors to read that book.)

According to those who asked me about the mega-church, the local church’s competition is other churches.

According to that popular book on stewardship, the local church’s competition is all other non-profits – church and non-church alike.

Friends and colleagues, let’s please not miss this:
The church’s competition is sin, injustice, and heresy!

So long as other local churches aren’t teaching heresy or condoning sin, they’re our allies. That mega-church people have asked me about has made some great strides in the battle against injustice, both in Lexington and around the world. Years ago, one of my closest friends began taking his faith seriously as a result of their ministry. They’re allies, not competition.

(Read the rest HERE)

How To Wreck Your Ministry

from Ben Reed:

Everybody wants to be a part of a church (or non-profit) that is flourishing. Everybody that steps into ministry wants to be a part of an organization that helps others grow, and take courageous steps of faith. I've never met someone who said, “Gee, I’d sure like to ruin some innocent people’s lives today at my church. Let’s get after it!”

But the truth is that wrecking your ministry, and the ministry of others, is easier than you think. Typically, through a series of poor decisions (or a lack of intentionality), a slippery slope leads you quickly to a rocky, muddy ditch.

The good news, though, is that with intentionality, flourishing in ministry is possible.

How to wreck your ministry (derived from Ben with our contributions/additions)

  • Have an affair 
  • Kill someone 
  • Quit praying 
  • Develop an illegal addiction
  • Steal money from the church/ministry 
Not so obvious:
  • Spend your “best” time serving others, not your family. 
  • Seek no counsel. 
  • Stop developing personally. 
  • Always think you’re right. 
  • Never support your team mates publicly.
  • Neglect your daily leadership duties.
  • Never ask for help. 
  • Read only the Bible.
  • Only study the Bible for sermon prep. 
  • Always follow every rule to a ‘t,’ and never offer grace.
  • Quit dreaming. 
  • Don’t join a small group where you can be open and honest.
  • Spend 98% of your time in your office. 
  • Always work with a closed door. 
  • Never build relationships with people outside of the faith. 
  • Never go to conferences. 
  • Go to 25+ conference/year. 
  • Don’t become friends with any staff member.
  • Don't develop leaders in your church.
  • Don't delegate.
(ht: Ben Reed)

How To Tell Your Story

Having just returned from leading a team on a medical missions trip to Honduras, I know that one of the biggest challenges short-term mission teams face is "re-entry".  And one of the more difficult parts of the process of re-entry is sharing about and putting into words an team member's experiences while on the mission.

Often, while on the mission, we have been profoundly changed by seeing the Holy Spirit at work - in our lives, the lives of our teammates and the lives of the nationals we serve.  Here are some tips from The Next Mile Goer Guide by Brian Heerwagen on how to tell your story. (these tips work for telling your story to individuals, as well as small and large groups)

The Two-Minute Rule:
  • Think and plan in short, two-minute "modules" that quickly capture your story.
  • Stop when your story ends 
  • Know your opening and closing sentence 
  • Learn, but do not memorize your modules 
  • Don't write out or read your modules. 
Module categories to consider:
  • Opening and closing modules 
  • Cultural and action modules 
  • Nuts and Bolts module - details about work 
  • "Is it worth it all?" module - How God brought you through one of the times where you questioned if your work was worth the difficulties 
  • Claim/Fulfillment module - a benefit the audience will gain if they listen carefully 
Heerwagen, in his book, provides a great process for organizing and presenting your story for various audiences, a short or a longer presentation.

Share your story! And as you do, the Lord will use it to be an encouragement to others as well as a testimony to the work of the Lord, in and through, your life and the team.