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.

Danger In Loving The Ideas More Than God

Bad things happen when maturity is more defined by knowing than it is by being. Danger is afloat when you come to love the ideas more than the God whom they represent and the people they are meant to free...... 
....The ultimate purpose of the Word of God is not theological information but heart and life transformation.
- Paul Tripp, Dangerous Calling

Why Pastors Need The Body Of Christ


I've been reading recently Paul Tripp's book - Dangerous Calling, and it's been an incredibly challenging and convicting book.  One theme that Paul discusses, is the need for pastors to be connected and ministered to by the body of Christ - the very body that they themselves serve.  Pastors need the church every bit as the congregants...yet too often pastors are disconnected and isolated from the life of the church either in an attempt of self protection or spiritual pride.  Paul discusses this issue in a commentary from the Christian Post:
Pastor, have you ever asked the question, "Who am I, and what do I spiritually need?" Or have you ever thought about your pastor and asked, "Who's my pastor, and what does he need in order to remain spiritually healthy and to grow in grace?" Does it seem right and healthy to you that in many churches no one gets less of the ministry of the body of Christ than the pastor? Does it seem best to you that most pastors live outside of and above the body of Christ? 
If every pastor is in the middle of his own sanctification, shouldn't he receive the normal range of essential ministry from the body of Christ that God has ordained for every member? Is there any indication in the New Testament that the pastor is the exception to the normal rules that God has designed for the health and grow of his people? Is it possible that we've constructed a kind of relationship of the pastor to his congregation that can't work? Could it be that we're asking something of our pastors that they'll be unable to do? Is it biblical to tell pastors that they won't be able to be true friends with anyone, that they must live in isolation that we'd say is unhealthy for anyone else. 
Blind Leading the Blind 
You only need to take seriously what the Bible says about the presence and power of remaining sin to know the great danger in allowing anyone to live separate from the essential ministry of the body of Christ. How much greater is the danger then, for the person who's charged with leading, guiding, and protecting that body as a representative of Christ? If Christ is the head of his body, then everything else is just body. The most influential pastor or ministry leader is a member of the body of Christ; therefore he needs what the other members of the body need. An intentional culture of pastoral separation and isolation is neither biblical nor spiritually healthy. 
Let me suggest one passage, which I've written about before, that powerfully reinforces this point. It's Hebrews 3:12-13. "Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called 'today,' that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." This passage gives a critical warning and an essential call that together reinforce the presence and power of remaining sin and the need for the daily ministry of the body of Christ. 
I don't know if you noticed, but the warning in this passage pictures the progressive steps of the believer's heart hardening. (The greeting, "brothers," tells us this passage is written to believers.) The warning reads like this: "See to it that none of you has an evil – unbelieving – falling away – hardened heart." It's a picture of what sin does if undetected, unexposed, and unforsaken. Pastor, could it be that many of us are progressing toward hard-heartedness and don't even know it? Could it be that we spend so much time warning others that we fail to heed the warnings ourselves? Could it be that there are subtle places where you've already fallen away? Could it be that even in your heart as a pastor there are pockets of unbelief? 
So pastor, here's the critical question: have you taken this warning seriously? Do you properly observe the presence and power of sin that remains in your heart? Does this cause you to live and minister with a personal sense of seriousness and need? Does it drive you to daily seek the forgiving, rescuing, transforming, and delivering grace of Christ? Does it lead you to seek, participate in, and submit to God's instruments of grace readily available in the body of Christ? Or have you attempted to do alone (your walk with God) what was designed to be a community project?

The Power Of Your Church's Web Presence

Here are some highlights from the infographic below:
  • 57% of people that do not attend a place of worship have visited a church’s website.
  • 17% of people read religious orientated blogs one a month or more.
  • Nearly as many people who do not attend church as well as do attend a place of worship have visited a website.
What does this mean for your church? Your church's website can be used as a strategic outreach.  But in order for that to happen....

  • Your content online needs to be geared not only to people who worship with you, but also to those that are seeking a church. 
  • Your content has to be more than times, dates & events - but also it must include an engagement with theological and apologetical issues.  Information that will provoke those who visit your site.

(ht: Churchm.ag)

Perhaps The BIG Reason People Leave Your Church


from Thom Rainer:

Numbers of gifted persons and organizations have studied the phenomenon of the church “back door,” the metaphorical way we describe people leaving the church. And there will always be the anticipated themes of relocation or personal crises. We should recognize those issues, though we can respond to the latter more than the former.

But all the research studies of which I am aware, including my own, return to one major theme to explain the exodus of church members: a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been met.

Certainly we recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations. It can undoubtedly be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders.

But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.


(ht: Vitamin Z)

Photo Credit: innaminnafly via Compfight cc

8 Big Reasons Why Church Growth May Be Stunted


1. THE VISION IS NOT CLEAR
If people don’t know where a church is supposed to be going, then it will attempt to go everywhere and eventually wind up nowhere. Want to run an interesting experiment? Ask people this coming Sunday at your church, “What is our vision?” and see if they give you the same answers or different ones.

2. THE FOCUS IS ON TRYING TO PLEASE EVERYONE
There is no church on the planet that will make everyone happy every single week, and according to the Scriptures that isn’t really supposed to be our obsession. Too many times we become so concerned with offending people that we actually offend Jesus.

3. PASSIONLESS LEADERSHIP
When leaders do what they do for a paycheck and not because it’s their passion, it’s over. I’ve said this over on my site before: I want difference makers, not paycheck takers. Also, it’s hard to be passionate about a place when a person’s average stay at a church is two years or less.

4. MANUFACTURING ENERGY
If a program is dead in a church, then it needs a funeral and the people need to move on. Investing time, energy, and money into something that is dead will not revive it. Celebrate the fact that “that” program had its day and then move on. Also, quit trying to fire people up over events that you would not attend if you were not on staff.

5. LACK OF PRAYER

6. UNWILLINGNESS TO TAKE RISKS

7. DISOBEDIENCE TO THE SCRIPTURES

Read the entire original article on PerryNoble.com

Unchurched In The United States - Infographic

from Leadership Network:

According to the latest research, more than 1 out of every 3 adults (33%) in America is unchurched. This means they haven’t attended a religious service of any type during the past year. This represents some 125 million Americans. That number alone would be the 10th largest country in the world!
That’s more people than live in 230 countries of the world (based on lists that name 242 different countries)


(read entire analysis HERE)

Top 10 Desires On A Pastor's Wish List


Thom Rainer interviewed 23 pastors with a simple and open-ended question, “What do you desire in church member?” The pastors could respond with an unlimited number of desires, but most pastors mentioned fewer than four.

Here are their responses in order of frequency with a follow up with a representative quote.

  1. Vibrant prayer life. “While I do want church members to pray for me specifically, I really want them to pray faithfully in all matters.”
  2. Spirit of unity. “I want our church members to be uncompromising on cardinal issues, but I also want them to be willing to yield to others on minor issues and issues of preference.”
  3. Respect of pastor’s family. “It’s okay if my family is not given preferential treatment by the church. We really want it that way. But I don’t want church members to have unreasonable expectations on my wife and kids just because their husband and dad is the pastor.”
  4. Members who are critical to my face. “Like most people, I don’t like criticism. But I know it goes with the territory. I would just ask that any critics speak to me directly instead of speaking about me behind my back.”
  5. Encouragers. “I don’t have to be applauded for everything I do, but I sure do appreciate those members who are the encouragers in my life. I don’t know what I would do without them.”
  6. Faithful attendees. “I’m really not numbers obsessed, but when people faithfully attend worship services and small groups, I know the church is important to their lives.”
  7. Members who share their faith. “I’ve been in ministry 34 years. The most faithful church members who make a difference in my life and the church are those who are consistent in sharing their faith.”
(read the last three at Thom Rainer's website)

10 Signs Of A Healthy Team


Here is a great checklist for teams and managers.

Want a great list of things to discuss in your next team meeting? Take a look at these.

1. You actually enjoy being around one another instead of trying to find ways to avoid each other.

2. Truth is spoken in love and not in a condescending or condemning way.

3. There is an atmosphere of freedom where differences of opinion can be shared without the immediate perception that the person who is disagreeing is somehow disloyal. (BTW, if you are in a meeting and you disagree mentally then you have an obligation to disagree verbally! If you do not feel that freedom then there is a problem!)

4. People are willing to walk into the room and ask for help rather than put off the perception that they have it all together.

5. No one is trying to prove themselves.

6. Everyone in the room values the opinions of everyone in the room.

7. There can be disagreements without the fear of relationships being destroyed.

8. The entire group is focused on attacking the problems in the room and not the people in the room!

9. People embrace responsibility rather than cast blame.

10. People work through tension honestly rather than saying nothing is wrong and then walking out of the meeting and tearing apart those with whom they disagreed.

(taken from Perry Noble's blog HERE )

The World Of MegaChurches - Infographic

(click to image to see enlarged view)

According to the infographic -  Megachurches are predominantly white, suburban, conservative congregations led by baby-boomer pastors. This infographic is based on research compiled by Forbes, The Christian Post, and Leadership Network.  Some interesting thoughts on it are HERE by Skye Jethani

(ht: RookiePastor)

What Do Pastors Pray For? - Infographic

Barna research says slightly more than four out of five adults in the U.S. (84%) claim they had prayed in the past week. That has been the case since Barna began tracking the frequency of prayer in 1993.

What are the statistics though of pastor's prayer lives?  Here is an infographic that may shed some light on that.


(ht: Church Leaders)

How NOT To Get Ministry Done


Don't USE people.

This is a good word of caution of not seeing the people we minister to as simply a means to our end.

"Far too often, churches treat those serving in the church as a commodity. We adopt a consumeristic approach to our relationships, and we use people to get the ministry done."

The Top Seven Regrets Of Pastors


from Thom Rainer:

  1. Lack of practical training for local church ministry. “I was not prepared for 80 percent of my day-to-day ministry after I graduated from seminary. I wish I had taken time to find some resources or places where I could get practical training. I had to learn in the school of hard knocks, and it was very painful at times.”
  2. Overly concerned about critics. “I had this naïve view that a bunch of Christians in a church would always show love toward each other. Boy was I wrong! There are some mean church members out there. My regret is that I spent way too much time and emotional energy dealing with the critics. I think of the hundreds of hours I lost focusing on critics, and it grieves me to this day.”
  3. Failure to exercise faith. “At some point in my ministry, I started playing defense and let the status quo become my way of doing church. I was fearful of taking steps of faith, and my leadership and churches suffered as a result. Not only was I too cautious in the churches I served, I was too cautious in my own ministry. I really felt God calling me to plant a church at one point, but I was just too fearful to take that step.”
  4. Not enough time with family. “I can’t say that people didn’t warn me. One wise pastor told me I had a mistress. When he saw my anger rising, he told me that my mistress was busyness in my church, and that my family was suffering from neglect. It hurts me to say this, but one of my adult sons is still in rebellion, and I know it is a direct result of my neglect of him when he was young.”
  5. Failure to understand basic business and finance issues. “The first time I saw my church’s budget, I thought I was looking at a foreign language. Greek is a lot easier than finance. They sure don’t teach you basic church finance and business at seminary, and I didn’t take the initiative to educate myself. I really felt stupid in so many of the discussions about the budget or other church business issues.”
  6. Failure to share ministry. “Let me shoot straight. I had two complexes. The first was the Superman complex. I felt like if ministry was going to be done well, I had to do it. I couldn’t ask or equip someone else to do it. My second complex was the conflict avoider complex. I was so afraid that I would get criticized if I didn’t visit Aunt Susie personally when she had an outpatient procedure that I ran myself ragged. In my second church I suffered burnout and ended up resigning.”
  7. Failure to make friends. “I know it’s cliché, but being a pastor can be lonely. I think many pastors get in trouble because we can get so lonely. I wish I had done a better job of seeking out true friends. I know if I had made the effort, there would have been a number of pastors in town that I could have befriended. Sometimes I got so busy doing ‘stuff’ that I didn’t have time to do the things that really matter.”
What would you add?

(ht: Thom)

5 Breakout Practices To Uncage Your Ministry Vision


excerpted from Will Mancini

How do you discover, develop and deliver the unique vision God has for you? How can you know you won’t die a carbon copy when God has made you an original?

#1. Uncaging vision begins with the vision of God. Finding your unique vision starts by worshiping and listening to the Chief Visionary. Remember no “better future” than you can imagine was not already imagined in the heart of God. He started with perfection in Eden, and he will end with perfection in New Jerusalem. But you have your part in the story in between—thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When was the last time you prayed to God as the ultimate source of vision?

#2. Uncaging vision demands ruthless self-examination.One definition of genius is the ability to scrutinize the obvious. Most leaders are so close to their community both inside and outside of the church, they miss the contextual and cultural cues that are essential to guide the vision discovery process. The win is to answer the question, “What can our church do better than 10,000 others?” I call this your Kingdom Concept. How does your church specifically glorify God and make disciples? One key practice for self-examination is to invite a strategic outsider who can bring objectivity and honesty to the process.

#3. Uncaging vision requires robust team dialogue.

#4. Uncaging vision involves meticulous articulation.Words create worlds.

#5. Uncaging vision extracts significant time commitment. 


In the end, if you are trying to lead with someone else’s vision, who is going to fulfill yours? The American dream does not apply to the church: Your church can’t be anything you want it to be. But it can be everything God wants it to be.

(read entire post HERE from Church Leaders)