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.

Top 5 Ways To Kill Your Bible Study Group


Here are several things you might find yourself doing that will unintentionally shrink or even kill your group:

  1. Prepare your Bible study late in the week. You’re a busy guy, and you’ve learned to put your lesson together on Saturday. You did it once in an emergency, but hey, no one in the group complained about your “Saturday night special,” so you’ve learned to procrastinate and “study” for an hour or two on Saturdays. Your people are starting to recognize the fact that the lessons aren’t as good as they should be, but for now, they’re hanging in there with you. But not for much longer… 
  2. Don’t follow up on the guests who come to your Bible study. After all, don’t those folks know that you’re glad they stopped by for the Bible study? Actually, they may not, so be sure to quickly follow up with each guest, telling them that you are thankful they attended the Bible study. Don’t hesitate to invite them back for the next session, either. 
  3. Arrive late. Arriving late signals that something else is more important than the Bible study group. You wouldn’t arrive late for work, a doctor’s appointment, or dinner with a business client. Remember the general rule: “Early is on time; on time is late.” Arrive early so that you can check the room arrangement, set out any supplies you’ve brought, and mentally prepare for the arrival of your group members. 
  4. Teach whatever you like. You believe in living out the last line of the book of Judges as a Bible study leader: “And they did whatever was right in their own sight.” You just love floating from topic to topic – the ones you pick to teach about. But you’re killing your group members who don’t share the same love for the end times…or spiritual gifts…or the book of Romans. To remedy this, try using a Bible study curriculum from a trusted curriculum provider that balances the topics of study over time. 
  5. Forget about having regular fellowships. It may surprise you to know, Bible study guru, that many people who attend your group aren’t coming because of your command of Scripture. People often attend so they can build relationships and connect with other people, so an almost sure-fire way for you to shrink your group is to not have regular fellowships where people can get to know one another at a deeper level. If you want to shrink your group, just keep on teaching verse-by-verse, parsing sentences, and focusing on the minutia. 

(ht: ken braddy)

10 Things Pastors Wish They Were Told Before They Became A Pastor


from Thom Rainer: (not necessarily in order of importance)
  1. I wish someone had taught me basic leadership skills. “I was well grounded in theology and Bible exegesis, but seminary did not prepare me for the real world of real people. It would have been great to have someone walk alongside me before my first church.” 
  2. I needed to know a lot more about personal financial issues. “No one ever told me about minister’s housing, social security, automobile reimbursement, and the difference between a package and a salary. I got burned in my first church.” 
  3. I wish I had been given advice on how to deal with power groups and power people in the church. “I got it all wrong in my first two churches. I was fired outright from the first one and pressured out in the second one. Someone finally and courageously pointed out how I was messing things up almost from the moment I began in a new church. I am so thankful that I am in the ninth year of a happy pastorate in my third church.” 
  4. Don’t give up your time in prayer and the Word. “I really don’t ever remember anyone pointing me in that direction. The busier I became at the church, the more I neglected my primary calling. It was a subtle process; I wish I had been forewarned.” 
  5. I wish someone had told me I needed some business training. “I felt inadequate and embarrassed in the first budget meetings. And it really hit home when we looked at a building program that involved fund raising and debt. I had no clue what the bankers were saying.” 
  6. Someone should have told me that there are mean people in the church. “Look, I was prepared to deal with critics. That’s the reality of any leadership position. But I never expected a few of the members to be so mean and cruel. One church member wrote something really cruel on my Facebook wall. Both my wife and children cried when they read it.”
  7. - 10 (read the entire post HERE)

(ht: Thom Rainer)

Don't Make Promises You Can't Keep



from Steve Kryger:

I’ve noticed that a lot of church websites promise a ‘warm welcome’ to potential guests.

This may be well intentioned, but I don’t think it’s wise.

Despite your best efforts, the newcomer may not receive a warm welcome:

All of your greeters may get sick or decide to take the week off.

The newcomer may sit next to someone who for whatever reason, isn’t feeling like providing any warmth to anyone that week. The person who is depressed. Whose wife just left them. Who had a terrible morning with their kids. Who is not sure what they believe anymore.

Churches are messy places – full of broken people in the process of being rebuilt into the likeness of their Saviour.

The church isn’t the Apple store. You can’t pay people to ensure a consistent experience.

Promises create expectations that must be met. Therefore, steer clear of making promises about warm welcomes, or anything else that cannot be completely controlled (which is just about everything in a church service!).


What are your thoughts? Can a church, especially on their website, communicate that they are a warm, welcoming church without over promising and setting up potentially unmet expectations?

What Can Google Teach The Church?


Today I opened up my Google Reader in order to read my favorite sites and blogs and immediately I was hit hard by the news - Google Reader would be no more, beginning this summer.  It was going bye-bye!

I was sad and disappointed. Google Reader is one of my "go to" apps. I rely on it to easily get the news and information that I find important.  I use it to curate important articles, blog posts and information.  What was I going to do without Google Reader!?

Todd Rhoades has some very poignant thoughts on how Google's decision could teach the church a valuable lesson, here is an excerpt from his post:

How could they do this?

Why could they do this?

And I was not alone. Do a search on Twitter, and you’ll see the rampage that people went on.

It was not pretty.

People are PLEADING with Google not to do this.

Please don’t take away something we use and love.

Why did Google do it?

“While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined.”
Google evidently saw something that I (or a few million others didn’t). Most people were NOT using Google Reader… in fact, less and less. And to continue putting leadership and resources into this program did not make sense.

Huh.

Sometimes as church leaders we have to make the same determination.
Canning a program that some people absolutely LOVE… yet it’s taking up too many resources, or has dwindled over the years.

People will be upset. They will plead. They will cry.

But you still know it’s the right thing to do.

Maybe you need to pull a Google in your church.

(ht: ToddRhoades.com)

This principle of pruning programs in the church shines clearly through in one of the most important books that every ministry leader should read, Thom Rainer's - Simple Church.

7 Ways To Honor Your Volunteers


from the Ministry Best Practices Archives:

Our volunteers give their time, energy, and talent to help the local church make an impact. As church leaders, we need to ensure that we honor them appropriately:

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” - Romans 12:10

To honor someone is to give respect, courtesy, and even authority. Here are seven different ways that staff and church leaders can honor their volunteers:
  1. Respect Your Volunteers’ Time - considerate of the time they need for family, friends, work, and rest
  2. Provide Creative Expression - allow your team to be creative, even within your process
  3. Target Excellence - honor your volunteers by allowing them to target excellence in what they do
  4. Solve Small Problems First - small things can add up, so honor your volunteers by solving small problems quickly
  5. Keep Things Simple - sometimes simple is better than the most expensive or most complicated solution
  6. Ask Them Questions - your volunteers are valuable, so value their input
  7. Give Them a Vision - remind them of the big picture to make their sacrifice of time meaningful
(ht: Volunteer Centered)

Before You Say Yes To The Church


So you've interviewed for that pastoral position   It's been a long process and you've been vetted inside and out by the church and they are ready to offer you a Call to be their pastor.  Before you say yes - have you done your due diligence in discovering the kind of church and environment that you may be walking into.  It is important that before you accept, you go in with your eyes wide open and you've asked the right type of questions of the church and it's leaders.

Here from Thom S. Rainer are seven questions that are more likely to get to the heart of the matter. He encourages pastors to ask these questions and listen carefully to their responses. It could save a pastor a lot of heartache in the future.
  1. If a big decision needs to be made in the church, to whom do the members look for the blessing or approval? This question is a more subtle approach than asking who the power group is. They may respond with one name or they may point to a group of people. You may hear stories how the power brokers operate. And if you decide to accept the call to the church, you have good insights on how to lead and move forward. Or there could be sufficient horror stories to keep you away.
  2. What is your dream for how the church might look ten years from now? Once you hear the responses to this question, you will likely have a good idea of what the change tolerance is in the church. Any organization should look significantly different in a decade. If their decadal view involves only cosmetic changes, you may have a leadership challenge.
  3. What was the topic of your last contentious business meeting? You will learn a lot by hearing when that meeting took place. If it was just a few weeks ago, the church may be a fighting lot. If it was several years ago, it is likely that the church is a relatively civil group. You will also be able to hear the issue and find out if that issue is still a point of contention today.
  4. What is your fondest memory of the church? It’s always good to find out when the “good old days” were, and if they are still the focus of longing today. On the other hand, the good old days may be a point where the church experienced a period of great spiritual and numerical growth. Their desire to return to those days could be healthy.
  5. What is the number one recommendation you have received in your search for a pastor? Often the congregation will have been surveyed on this issue, and you can hear the direct results of that survey. At the very least, they have had informal conversations on the topic. They should be able to share many insights with you. In some ways, they will be giving you the church’s expectations of you.
  6. What is something I might say from the pulpit that would cause a number of members to cringe?
  7. What is the biggest mistake made by any of your previous pastors? 
Read entire post HERE