The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

Welcome to our site. Our mission and dedication is to equip leaders for innovative ministry. Explore. Read. Share.

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.

Failure: An Opportunity For Grace

from Joe Thorn:
If you haven’t figured it out yet let me encourage you to see something that will greatly help you. Not all of your ideas are good. Some of them are bad. And God will often let you flail and fail out there for very good purposes. And when you fail do not lose the opportunity to find grace in the midst of it. 
I believe this is especially important for pastors to understand. It’s one of the most important lessons I have learned in 16 years of pastoral ministry: failure is to be expected and learned from. I have misspoke, misstepped, and missed the mark in more ways than I can explain here. And failing hurts. Most of us of are afraid of it. Leaders in particular are afraid of failure since it’s always a bit more of a public spectacle.
Read the rest.

(ht: Vitamin Z)

Not All Repentance Is The Same



This will preach!

“In fear-based repentance, we don’t learn to hate the sin for itself, and it doesn’t lose its attractive power. We learn only to refrain from it for our own sake.

But when we rejoice over God’s sacrificial, suffering love for us — seeing what it cost him to save us from sin — we learn to hate the sin for what it is. We see what the sin cost God.

What most assures us of God’s unconditional love (Jesus’s costly death) is what most convicts us of the evil of sin. Fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves. Joy-based repentance makes us hate the sin.”


— Tim Keller, Counterfeit Gods


Why You Must Say YES To NO


Get used to saying NO. Let it become your favorite word as a leader. For many leaders, saying NO, is the hardest word to utter. Yet it is the most important vocabulary word you can learn to say. And learn to say it often. Here's why....Saying NO...

Protects Your Family - When you say yes to other people (friends/people in your church/ministry) you are likely making a choice to say NO to other relationships, particularly your family. If you are a people pleaser, you will think that you have to say YES to everyone that asks for your time and attention, but doing so will likely displease and disappoint the most important people in your life, your spouse & children.

Guards You from Burnout - We are finite beings. We can't do everything. Therefore saying NO puts limits on your life, and will guard you from burning out in ministry.

Gives You Margin to Hear and Respond to God's Prompting - Always saying YES keeps us busy. And when we are continually busy and lack margin in our schedule, we give ourselves little capacity to be spontaneous to the Lord's promptings. Our busyness keeps us moving throughout our day with our head down, moving from the next appointment to the next appointment, always on the move, never allowing us to be present in the moment nor conscience of those divine appointments or opportunities that God may send our way. 

Creates Boundaries - Saying NO allows us to create appropriate boundaries and expectations with others. If others always think that they have unfettered access to our time and schedule - they will act accordingly by always demanding access. Saying NO trains people otherwise. By setting a pattern and precedent of not always saying YES, people then won't be too surprised or disappointed when we have to say NO.

5 Leadership Roadblocks That Will Stop You In Your Tracks




Want to stop growing and developing in your leadership, impact and influence of others? Then be certain to do these five things:

Don't delegate - do it all yourself. Don't rely on others. Don't equip and develop others on your team and in your church by giving them meaningful responsibilities and ownership. You just do it all.

Be reactive - put out fires. Only respond to problems. Don't create any boundaries. Allow people to pile their problems on your plate. Don't worry about planning and being intentional, just allow the tyranny of the urgent to dictate your time and attention.

Don't listen to God - don't keep a devotional life. Get input from your elders, deacons, leadership team and staff, but don't spend time cultivating a intimate and abiding relationship with the very one person that really matters - Jesus.

Please people - try to please everyone. Try to make them happy. What you will soon discover is that this is impossible and in the end some people will always be mad or disappointed with you and you will have exhausted yourself trying to please them.

Avoid a balanced life - you don't have time for a life outside of ministry. Too many people and programs demand your  time and attention. Hobbies and outside interests are frivolous. And don't worry about your family, they will understand why you spend all your time at the church.

3 Tech Apps That Will Make You A Ministry MacGyver

You know MacGyver? The guy who could disarm a bomb with a safety pin, duct tape and chewing gum. He could save the free world with stuff found in his couch. For many ministry leaders, we are asked to be like MacGyver. We are tasked and commissioned to do important and essential work but are often operating with very few financial resources needed to accomplish them. Yet you don't need a lot of financial resources. need to hire a lot of people or need to buy expensive software. I believe that there are 3 very affordable and accessible apps that will help increase and advance your ministry effectiveness.

From this presentation that I gave at a ministry staff conference, I reviewed and recommended 3 Tech Apps that will help you become a "Ministry MacGyver".

Evernote - Organization and Project Management

Google Drive - Content Creation and Collaboration

Doodle - Schedule Management

Take a look at the presentation below and try out these apps.

Remembering Memorial Day






Here are some Memorial Day related quotes:

"Courage is contagious. When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened."

Billy Graham [tweet this]

"A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself."
Joseph Campbell

"It doesn’t take a hero to order men into battle. It takes a hero to be one of those men who goes into battle."
Norman Schwarzkopf

5 Lies Pastors Tell Themselves

Although you may not consciously tell yourself these lies, you may be believing them and therefore acting on them nevertheless.

1. I can please everyone - truth is you can't. You may please some people yet at the same time, you'll disappoint a completely different group. You may please one person but in doing so you'll probably disappoint another. You may be able to please those in your church all the time but in doing so you may forfeit your family's happiness and continually disappoint them.

2. I am in the Word enough as I prepare for my sermon, bible studies, etc...  - yes you are in the Word. But sermon prep is no substitution for a devotional life. As a pastor you need to be spending time with God in relationship, cultivating intimacy- and that is completely different than going to the Bible to complete the task of sermon preparation. Yet that being said, I do believe that you can and should link your devotional life with your sermon prep - but don't be fooled to think that one is merely a substitute for the other.

3. I must be perfect - hate to tell you this, but you aren't and you can't. What your congregation needs from you isn't a fake veneer of holiness but rather they need to see a "repenting repenter". Someone who understands and applies the gospel to their life every day. Obviously I am not suggesting, without discernment, that you merely lay out and reveal all your junk and stuff. But it is important for them to know that you are can identify with their failures, foibles and frailties and that they see the power of the gospel applied.

4. I must always be available - no you must not. You can't physically be every where all the time. You have to say be able to say no and be able to create healthy boundaries. Will people in your church get mad at you for doing this? Probably so. But you need to decide who do you want more mad at you - your wife and children or the people in your church that you don't go home to every night.

5. I can meet everyone's needs - you don't have the capacity to meet everyone's needs nor should you if you could do so. You are simply playing God and trying to be their savior if you think you can and should meet everyone's needs - because truly what people need from you is not to meet their needs, but rather for you to point them to the one that truly can - Jesus.


4 Ways To Improve Your Leadership




As leaders we always want to improve and develop. Yet many of those improvements don't necessarily come from the latest book or ministry conference...they come from other people. People and relationships in our life are "important" but not always "urgent" and therefore they to often get neglected. Here are 4 ways to improve your leadership through the help of others: 

Create a Feedback Culture - are you giving people around you within your organization permission to give you feedback? If not, you are losing out on the value of different perspectives and experience. Your staff, leaders or elders in your ministry need mechanisms and ways to be able to get that feedback before you, without you always needing to ask for it.

Be a Part of a Learning Community  - are you "sharpening your saw" and learning from others? Certainly you can learn by reading or going to conferences, but I am suggesting that you find a community of people that encourage you, challenge you and give you the freedom to test your thinking and ideas. This could be a group of other ministry leaders or better yet - get outside your own tribe and get around other thought and business leaders within your community. This can be in-person or even done virtually. The benefit of technologies, such as Google Hangouts, is that it makes it possible to now connect with other leaders from around the world.

Create a Balanced Life - Balance. You need it. Life requires it. You are no good as a leader if you don't cultivate hobbies, fitness, activities, interests and time with your family in order to "fill the tank". As a leader you are constantly giving yourself away to others. How then are you giving to yourself? Creating balance will not only improve you as a leader, but it will keep you going in ministry over the long haul.

Find People Who Truly Know You and Who are Safe - Who do you have in your life that truly knows you (beside your family)? The biggest trap of many leaders is isolation and loneliness. Isolation and loneliness often leads ministry leaders down a path of moral failures. Although it is difficult for many leaders to find people with whom they trust to share their junk and to be real and honest with - it is vitally important. If you can't find that person or people near you, then there must be someone with whom you can call. The key is to find that person no matter what. Make the effort. Invest in the relationship.

New Weekend Ebook Deals For Your Library

The Single Most Important Productivity Tip


Just Do It - NOW!

Just do it now, even if it is messy and crappy...you can always go back and edit or change. Just simply getting started, pushes you through the inertia and helps you achieve more energy, more creativity and become more productive.

Here is an example of how that worked for Vincent van Gogh from 99U:

On Think Jar Collective, creativity author Michael Michalko examines the work ethic of artist Vincent van Gogh. He persistently labored on his craft every single day; creating over 2000 sketches and paintings within a decade. He understood that improving your skills through hard work furthered your ability more than having talent and not employing it. Here are the key lessons Michalko learned from van Gogh:
  1. Get started: Don’t wait for everything to be perfect. “Just slap anything on when you see a blank canvas staring you in the face like some imbecile,” said van Gogh. 
  2. Do the work: Commit to your goals and go through the motions to achieve it – whether the outcome is good or bad. Vincent van Gogh believed if you do nothing, you are nothing. 
  3. Work for yourself: The longer you work and figure things out for yourself, the more active your brain becomes. An active brain is a more creative brain. 
Vincent van Gogh did not resolve to become an artist until his late twenties. His cousin, a successful artist, even suggested van Gogh choose a different profession because he possessed no natural talent. It was through sheer work and perseverance that he became the artist that we know him as today.

(ht: 99U)

How To Care For Someone Suffering

Too often in our churches we don't know how to appropriately minister and care for people going through difficulty and suffering. The video below contains a moving 12 minute testimony explaining how to care for someone suffering. Amber shares her experience of suffering, and the things others said that were both helpful and unhelpful. Amber provides relevant and helpful advice as we minister to those suffering around us.

 

(ht: Communicate Jesus)

The 3 Biggest Excuses You Are Tempted To Make

As a leader you are going to face many challenges and be asked to lead your organization in new directions. Yet it will be easy for you to ignore those challenges right from the start by perceiving unmovable obstacles and by making excuses. These excuses may appear valid and justified, but in truth they are often used to conceal our lack of faith. Here are the 3 biggest excuses that you may be tempted to make:

I don't have time - true you may feel that you are stretched beyond your limits. We are all crazy busy. Yet nevertheless we all seem to make time for those things we find important or essential. If you believe the challenge before you is important, you will find time. Plus remember it's not just about you doing it, most likely God wants you to bring around you a team of people to help and assist you.

I don't have money - it is easy to simply operate with scarcity mindset, believing that the resources you have are static and no other will ever be made available. You can't allow your vision to be lead and dictated by your resources. Rather your resources will be led by your vision. Resources will be freed up or given when people are compelled by the vision, goals, direction and ambitions that you are pursuing.

I don't know how - yes perhaps you don't have all the skills and experience in place to accomplish what's being asked. But leadership always demands us to step outside of our comfort zone and do things that we have never done before. There is just no avoiding it. If you are unfamiliar with the task before you...learn, read and ask a lot of questions. No one expects you to have 100% competency in 100% of everything.

3 Key Imperatives For Today's Ministry Leader





Ministry leaders certainly have a lot of expectations on their plate these days. While not trying to pile on that plate of things more "to-dos", I think there are several key things that aren't necessarily "urgent" but are "important" that a pastor shouldn't avoid. Here are those key imperatives:

Be on Social Media - if you are not on social media you are missing an important and strategic opportunity. I don't often life to use hyperbole, but I believe every ministry leader and pastor needs to be on social media. As a leader you are a person of influence, and social medial provides a context to influence people in your ministry scope and congregation as well as other leaders - within or outside - your particular tribe. If you are not already on social media, I would encourage you to start with a simple Facebook or Twitter account. Don't give up quickly. Try to be faithful and consistent. And engage others with conversation though it - because, don't forget, it is in fact "social" media.  (to see an example of how to engage and use social media, you can follow me on Twitter - twitter.com/billreichart)

Be a Reader -  leaders are readers. You can't afford not to constantly be reading. Reading cultivates creativity, energy, it develops and reading "sharpens the saw". Of course read good Christian devotional and theological books, but also read books and magazines that aren't simply ministry or Christian related. Right now, in addition to several great theology books,  I regularly read Fast Company magazine and am reading the book, Talk Like Ted.

Be Able to Delegate - leaders have lids. You only have a certain capacity as a leader. You can't do it all. But in addition to simply helping yourself, you are called as a leader to also develop others - and delegation does just that. That is why it is critical that you delegate to others. You must bring around you people with gifts, abilities, perspectives that are different and perhaps even more experienced than you may be. Great leaders aren't threatened by surrounding themselves with people better than them. 

The 3 Most Dangerous Thoughts For A Pastor



We all know that one's behavior and actions start and begin with faulty thoughts and beliefs. And although we may never actually verbalize these thoughts to others, nevertheless these deep rooted beliefs become dangerous to us and to the ministry that we lead. Here are the 3 most dangerous thoughts to think and believe:

Thinking....

It all depends on me - believing that we can and should do it all is dangerous, because in reality - we CAN'T! Having this false belief,  leads us to not trust and involve others in the ministry as well as to neglect delegating to others. The truth is, no matter how much we may believe otherwise, we are not indispensable. Yet when we do believe that, we end up creating an environment for burn out and as a result we won't be in the ministry much longer.  

It can't happen to me - believing that we are so spiritually mature that somehow we are above moral failure, puts us right in the middle of the danger zone.  1 Corinthians 10:12 - "So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall!" We must as leaders be constantly vigilant. What this means is that even the smallest thought or fantasy moves the dial just a little bit further in the direction of a full blown moral compromise, i.e. porn...adultery. 

Nobody understands me - at the moment we think that no one can or will understand our struggles and challenges, we become isolated and closed off to others. We cut ourselves off from life giving relationships and as a result we become even more vulnerable to moral failures and compromise.

The challenge is for us as ministry leaders to not let these thoughts take root and life in your heart and mind.

Can you think of any other dangerous thoughts that I may have missed?

Poll: Americans Lie On Attending Church


from RNS:

Nearly one in seven of you fibbed about attending church, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released Saturday (May 17).

You skipped church. And then nearly one in seven of you fibbed about attending.

That’s according to a new survey by thePublic Religion Research Institute released Saturday (May 17). The study, to be presented at the national meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, was designed to measure the “social desirability bias in self-reported religious behavior.”

The survey finds that many Christians — and unbelievers, too — will exaggerate about attending worship in live phone interviews. However, when asked in an anonymous online questionnaire, people will answer more realistically.

On the phone, 36 percent of Americans report attending religious services weekly or more, while 30 percent say they seldom or never go.

But online, a smaller share (31 percent) of people surveyed said they attended church at least weekly, while a larger portion (43 percent) admitted they seldom or never go.

People who don’t attend worship — but say they did — may not mean to lie, said PRRI CEO Robert Jones.

People respond to phone surveys as they think “a good Christian” would or should answer, he said. “There’s an aspirational quality here,” he said. “People see themselves as the kind of person who would go.”

Once you remove the social pressure of speaking on the phone, “you see people willing to give answers that are probably closer to reality,” he said. “People feel less pressure to conform.”

Three groups were most likely to inflate attendance:

Read the rest HERE

Getting Clear On Evangelism

from Desiring God:

When evangelism is often discussed, it tends to focus on how churches mobilize their people to get out and connect with unbelievers. But when we think in these terms, the definition of evangelism can be mistaken as a maneuver, rather than proclamation.

To evangelize, explains pastor Jeff Vanderstelt, simply means to herald the good news of Jesus. The evangelist, or messenger, is the one who says,
Jesus has come and preached good news. Jesus has given his life, died for your sins, in your place, risen from the dead to overcome all of sin and brokenness, and put death to death, and bring new life to all who put their trust in him.


(ht: Desiring God)

Weekend Ebook Deals




Here are some great Christian books at great deals that you can get for your kindle.

Pleasing God by R.C. Sproul - $2.99
God’s Love by R.C. Sproul - $2.99
Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung—$3.99
Augustus Toplady by Douglas Bond—$3.99
Dr. D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones by Eryl Davies—$3.99
Matthew Henry by Philip Eveson—$3.99
John Knox by John J. Murray—$3.99
Thomas Cranmer by John J. Murray—$3.99

12 Stages Of Burnout



Here at Ministry Best Practices, we talk a lot about the dangers of pastoral and ministry burnout. Yet what are the identifiable signs and stages along the way to full blown burnout? The burnout process has been divided into 12 phases by psychologists Herbert Freudenberger and Gail North. In a Scientific American Mind article, the stages are outlined as such:

  1. The Compulsion to Prove Oneself; demonstrating worth obsessively; tends to hit the best employees, those with enthusiasm who accept responsibility readily.
  2. Working Harder; an inability to switch off.
  3. Neglecting Their Needs; erratic sleeping, eating disrupted, lack of social interaction.
  4. Displacement of Conflicts; problems are dismissed, we may feel threatened, panicky and jittery.
  5. Revision of Values; values are skewed, friends and family dismissed, hobbies seen as irrelevant, work is only focus.
  6. Denial of Emerging Problems; intolerance, perceiving collaborators as stupid, lazy, demanding, or undisciplined, social contacts harder; cynicism, aggression; problems are viewed as caused by time pressure and work, not because of life changes.
  7. Withdrawal; social life small or non-existent, need to feel relief from stress, alcohol/drugs/porn.
  8. Odd Behavioral Changes; changes in behavior obvious, friends and family concerned.
  9. Depersonalization; seeing neither self nor others as valuable, and no longer perceive own needs.
  10. Inner Emptiness; feeling empty inside and to overcome this, look for activity such as overeating, sex, alcohol, porn or drugs; activities are often exaggerated.
  11. Depression; feeling lost and unsure, exhausted, future feels bleak and dark.
  12. Burnout Syndrome; can include total mental and physical collapse; time for full medical attention.
Where stage are you or someone you know in today?

(ht: 99U)

How Do You Reach Out To Lapsed Members?

Ok, we know you don't keep strict attendance records, but perhaps you've noticed that a person or family has stopped coming to church. No notification has been given or announcement has been declared.

Therefore here is a question to our Ministry Best Practices community: How do you reach out to members in your church that you've perceived as having lapsed? (leave your tips and suggestions in the comments)

Also enjoy these classic (and somewhat creepy) flyers that reach out to those who have lapsed in their attendance.



The 25 Best Christian Books Ever Published - Classics

Recently I published the article, The Best 50 Christian Books Ever Written. And although the list included some books older than the 20th century, most of the mentions on the list were recent in their publication. Therefore, I want to compliment that list with this one below that includes older contributions that have lasted through the test of time.

Anything you would add? Please include your suggestions in the comments below.

Confessions, Augustine
The Rule of St. Benedict, Benedict Of Nursia
The Imitation of Christ, Thomas à Kempis
Institutes of the Christian Religion, John Calvin
Dark Night of the Soul, John of the Cross

Pensées, Blaise Pascal
The Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan
The Practice of the Presence of God, Brother Lawrence
Orthodoxy, GK Chesterton
The Cost of DiscipleshipDietrich Bonhoeffer

Religious Affections Jonathan Edwards
Screwtape Letters C.S. Lewis
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer C.S. Lewis
The Great Divorce C.S. Lewis
The Book of Common PrayerThomas Cranmer, et al.

Paradise LostJohn Milton
On Consideration, Bernard of Clairvaux
Lectures on Romans, Martin Luther
Something Beautiful for God, Malcolm Muggeridge
A Little Exercise for Young Theologians, Helmut Thielicke

Here I Stand: A Life of Martin Luther Roland Bainton
The Pursuit of God, A.W. Tozer
Knowledge of the HolyA.W. Tozer
The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life, Hannah Whitall Smith
The Idea of the Holy, Rudolph Otto

The Anatomy Of A Great Message

from Michael Lukaszewski and the Rocket Company:
Any great sermon or message is going to be first and foremost founded in the scriptures and God-honoring. But great sermons and messages share the same “anatomy” of great stories. Today, I wanted to share with you an infographic that highlights how to “build” these different sections of your message. After you’ve prayed, meditated on God’s word, and have a burden for what you’re going to preach, this outline will help you build a great sermon.

29 Ways To Stay Creative

Are you stuck!? Do you need to stir the creative juices? Here in this infographic below are some helpful tips to staying creative. The suggestions that really resonated with me were:

  • Listen to new music
  • Drink coffee
  • Surround yourself with creative people

One Of The Biggest Mistakes You Can Make As A Pastor









Not being online!

I am not saying that you have to be some power user always posting and tweeting, nor do you need to allow social media to take over you life. But I am suggesting that you should have a active, consistent online presence. Pastors can't afford to be absent from the "Areopagus" of our culture (Acts 17).

Social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin provide incredible opportunities to:

Connect with those in your church -  these social media channels are the places where conversation and sharing among those within your church are already taking place. Therefore a place, such as Facebook, can provide an opportunity to know and discover the spiritual/emotional pulse of those to whom you minister to. Also, you can encourage and inspire those you shepherd by posting inspirational quotes, articles and verses through your social media.

Learn from other pastors and thought leaders - being online allows you access to an incredible learning community. Being online allows you opportunities to read, to be inspired and to learn from other pastors and ministry leaders from around the globe - and it's easy to do. For instance, you can read from other ministry leaders' blogs using RSS readers such as Feedly and you can follow and read from various pastors and leaders on Twitter.

Manage your professional reputation - being online allow you to define and manage who you are, what you believe, and what you do. There is a lot of trash and misinformation online. Therefore rather than simply allowing other's to talk about you online, being online allows you to be proactive and allows you to define yourself.

Funny Video - Church Signs Tribute

You gotta love church signs. So often trying too hard to be funny or clever...but in the end they just end up either being cliche', offensive or terrible groaner puns. Enjoy this video parody below that is an appropriate tribute to the church signs that we all know and love.
 

Quotable Friday

For "Quotable Friday" here are some classic and inspirational quotes highlighted from Ministry Best Practices on Twitter and Facebook this past week.







Called To Be A Pastor?

How does someone know whether they is called to being a pastor or not? Here are some interesting diagnostics from several giants of the faith.

from Charles Spurgeon:

  • An intense, all-absorbing desire for the work
  • There must be aptness to teach and some measure of the other qualities needed
  • He must see a measure of conversion work going on under his efforts
  • It should be made known to them by the prayerful judgment of his church

from John Newton:

  • A warm and earnest desire to be employed in this service
  • Some competent sufficiency as to gifts, knowledge and utterance
  • A correspondent opening in Providence, by a gradual train of circumstances pointing out the means, the time, and the place — of actually entering upon the work

For further study on how to discern God's calling for ministry, check out:

This study by Resurgence - Preparing to Lead

The Call: Finding and Fulfilling the Central Purpose of Your Life by Os Guinness

The Power Of Community


from Robert Webber

". . . the church is the primary presence of God’s activity in the world. As we pay attention to what it means to be the church we create an alternative community to the society of the world. This new community, the embodied experience of God’s kingdom, will draw people into itself and nurture them in the faith. In this sense the church and its life in the world will become the new apologetic. People come to the faith not because they see the logic of the argument but because they have experienced a welcoming God in a hospitable and loving community.

- Ancient-Future Faith, pp. 70-72

The TOP 20 Books On Preaching




Here are some of the best books (currently available for purchase) on helping with sermon preparation and on the art of preaching.
 
Alistair Begg, Preaching for God’s Glory
Bryan Chapell, Christ-Centered Preaching
H.B. Charles Jr, On Preaching
Bryan Chapell, Gospel-Centered Sermons
Edmund Clowney, Preaching Christ in all of Scripture


Mark Dever and Greg Gilbert, Preach: Theology Meets Practice
Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture
Sidney Greidanus, The Modern Preacher and the Ancient Text
David Murray, How Sermons Work
Bryan Chapell, The Hardest Sermons You'll Ever Have To Preach


Steve Lawson, The Kind of Preaching God Blesses
Ligonier Ministries, Feed My Sheep: A Passionate Plea for Preaching
Martyn Lloyd Jones, Preaching and Preachers
John MacArthur, Rediscovering Expository Preaching
Alec Motyer, Preaching?


John Piper, The Supremacy of God in Preaching
Haddon Robinson, Expository Preaching
John Stott, Between Two Worlds
Jerry Vines, A Practical Guide to Sermon Preparation
Warren Wiersbe, Preaching and Teaching with Imagination

Would you add any books to this list? Which of these is your favorite? 

Top 8 Volunteer Interview Questions






As you consider volunteers to fulfill certain responsibilities and positions in your church -  you aren't just simply looking for warm-bodies. You want people who are have a heart for God, qualifying skills and a passion for the ministry area they seek to serve within. Therefore, what are the must ask questions when considering high-level volunteers for your ministry scope and area? 

from  Elle Campbell (some of these are examples surrounding children's ministry, but can be adapted easily to any ministry area.)

1. TELL ME YOUR STORY. Listen, and then share your own.


2. WHAT YOUR INTERESTS, GIFTS, AND PASSIONS? Aside from the role they’ve signed up for, are there any hidden gifts or talents they might want to use for ministry?


3. WHY DO YOU WANT TO WORK WITH THIS AGE GROUP? Find out why working with kids that age appeals to them. Do they have realistic expectations of what it will be like?


4. WHY DO YOU WANT TO SERVE IN THIS CAPACITY? Have they caught the vision of the role they’re signing up for? Do they understand why it matters?


5. DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE TALKING A KID THROUGH MAKING A DECISION FOR JESUS? You might be surprised how many people don’t feel prepared or comfortable with this. Coach them through it.


6. HOW DO YOU TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN SPIRITUAL HEALTH? Are they practicing community? Is spiritual growth a priority? Are they living the kind of life you’d want kids to emulate?


7. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE EXPECTATIONS OF THIS ROLE? Walk through the details of the role: like when to show up, how to prepare, and what exactly it means to succeed in their role.


8. DO YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS? Is anything still unclear? Do they disagree with any part of your ministry philosophy or strategy? Any major concerns they want to voice? Give them permission and the space to be honest.

Seven Warning Signs Of A Leader’s Fall


from Chuck Lawless

Simon Peter is one of my favorite Bible characters. He is so real . . . so human. He was the leader of the apostles, named first in the lists of the disciples in the New Testament. Still, though, he fell in a dramatic way (Luke 22:31-62).

The story of Peter’s fall is filled with warning signs for today’s leaders. Though these signs don’t always happen in a linear fashion, each one should cause us to slow down and evaluate our lives.

Being overconfident – Jesus told Peter the Enemy would sift him, but Peter strongly affirmed his commitment to go to prison or to death for Jesus. Surely Peter meant those words, as evidenced by his later willingness to defend Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Within hours, though, he would deny knowing Jesus. Peter was overconfident and didn’t know it – and that’s the danger of overconfidence. Believing “it won’t happen to me” is a huge warning sign. 

Suffering emotional and physical fatigue – The disciples were to watch and pray in the garden, but instead they slept. The emotional fatigue of mounting opposition to Jesus had taken a toll. Exhaustion increased their vulnerability to the Enemy’s arrows. Under the wearying strain of a leader’s responsibilities, we, too, sometimes let our guard down. Carrying too many burdens and getting too little rest can lead to serious consequences. 

Failing to pray – “Pray,” Jesus commanded the disciples in the garden. Even if they wanted to, still sleep came easier than prayer. The problem here is simple: prayerlessness reflects self-dependence rather than dependence on God. Anytime we’re not praying, we are susceptible to a fall. In fact, prayerlessness usually correlates to acting first and following God second – as Peter did when he first defended Jesus with a sword. 

Growing distanced from Jesus – Peter followed Jesus after His arrest from a distance. That distance was obviously geographical, but his heart would quickly grow distant from Jesus, too. His actions soon to come would make that point. He who had stood with Jesus and said he would die for Him wouldn’t stand for Him when challenged. Our distance from Jesus may be marked more by less Bible reading and fewer prayers than public denials, but any distance can set us up for a fall. 

Trying to hide in public – 

Lying – 

Escalating denials –

Read the whole post HERE

Great Ebook Deals You Don't Want To Miss

Amazon and Kindle have some great deals today that you don't want to miss, before they disappear....so check them out below:

The Final Days of Jesus by Justin Taylor and Andreas Kostenberger—99¢
What’s Your Worldview? by James Anderson—99¢
Finishing Our Course with Joy by J.I. Packer—99¢


Transformational Discipleship by Eric Geiger—$2.99
Showing the Spirit by D.A. Carson—$3.99
From Heaven He Came and Sought Her edited by David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson—$3.99
The Insanity of God by Nik Ripkin—$2.99
The Insanity of Obedience by Nik Ripken—$4.99
Truth Matters by Andreas Kostenberger—$4.99
Engaging with the Holy Spirit by Graham Cole—$2.99
Our Triune God by Philip Ryken—$3.99


Sunsets by Deborah Howard—$3.99
The Call to Joy and Pain by Ajith Fernando—$3.99
The Hidden Life of Prayer by David McIntyre—$3.99


Exploring Grace Together by Jessica Thompson—99¢
Surprised by Grace by Tullian Tchividjian—99¢
Helps for Counselors by Jay Adams—$1.99
Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart by J.D. Greear—$2.99
Brothers, We Are Not Professionals by John Piper—$2.99
Subversive Kingdom by Ed Stetzer—$2.99

Also Amazon also has 110 books on sale for $3.99 or less from a variety of genres.

Are We Brainstorming The Wrong Way?

When you get into a group and you want to create ideas, how do you do it? Typically you attempt to brainstorm. But too often our brainstorming is actually counterproductive, it hinders creativity and doesn't enable us to create new ideas. This infographic below describes how the way we brainstorm is actually short circuiting creativity and new ideas.

Are We Brainstorming the Wrong Way?
by Column Five Media.
Explore more visuals like this one on the web's largest information design community - Visually.

How To Fight The Fear Of That Next Software Purchase



Here is some great advice about buying Church Management Software (ChMS) from Leah Merrill

You may be feeling alone while you sort through the copious number of church management systems (ChMS) out there—maybe it would be better to get a ChMS later…or maybe you don’t really need a ChMS.

Don’t worry, you’re not the first person who has felt discouraged during this process—and you have the benefit of the advice of people who have gone before you!

We spoke with tons of church administrators and managers who have already had to select a church management software product for their congregation. Here are the golden nuggets of wisdom we gleaned from your peers:

1. If you are considering buying church management software, don’t wait! Start researching sooner rather than later.
It’s not smart to wait until the very last minute to make this purchase decision. It’s a big decision, and you don’t want to already be in panic-mode when you’re making it. When you’re under that much stress and pressure, you’re bound to deprive yourself of enough time to properly examine each option and make a good decision—the lack of time and energy is only going to lead you to bad choices and a rushed installation and setup process as well. So if you think you need church software, start now!

2. Buy a system with room to grow.
The point of having church software is to help you grow your ministry. If you purchase a system that draws the line at a certain number of members, you’re crippling yourself. You want to have a system that allows you to start small if you only have a small number of members at first, and then, as your congregation grows, the software will grow with you. So, when looking at solutions, look at the different packages offered and their prices and make sure that the system can hold the number of members you anticipate having, and also that it offers other features that you can add on as you grow if you need them.

3. Think twice about building your own system.
If you’re a large church with a big IT budget, it may seem tempting to build something to save a little money, but in the long run, building your own system will end up costing you more, as you will have to foot the bill for all of the development costs, and after that you will be responsible for the maintenance, updates, and so on. Here is some good information on true software development costs. Leave the software to the experts and focus on what you do best…building your ministry.

4. Beware of “free” solutions.
Typically these systems are just intro systems to get you started, and you’ll get what you pay for. Normally as you grow and need to add more users and features, those “free” systems will no longer be free and you will have to pay for whatever you add on. For example, some systems offer a free version, but once you get over a certain number of members (typically about 50) you will have to pay.

5. Decide if you’re willing to fit your internal processes to the ChMS or if you need a ChMS that fits your processes.
This means that you’ll have to know your processes first! Know what your current processes are (e.g. paying bills, contacting members, soliciting donations) and either make sure that you find a system that fits those processes exactly (e.g. accounting management, member database, donation management) or you find one that has more or different processes that you are willing to adjust your church to. Here is a great chart for you to look at to get an idea of what features are typically involved and what systems have those features. 

Have any more pieces of advice? Add them in the comments below!

Leah Merrill is a Software Analyst for Capterra, where she specializes in helping church administrators find church management software. When she’s not helping churches and non-profit organizations find the right software on the Capterra Church Management Blog, you’ll find her reading, writing, and spending time with her family and friends. Follow Capterra for church management news on Twitter @CapterraChMS.

(this post provided as a courtesy of Ministry Best Practices, no renumeration was offered or paid)

How To Best Get Your Message Across


It’s about clarity of message

How do you as a church, ministry or nonprofit leader best get your message across to your audience. Here are a couple of pointers that might help:

  • Speak to your audience – remember you are an insider...don't assume your audience knows and understands what you know.
  • Tell them what you want them to do – be specific, don’t just ask for “help” or “support” 
  • Focus on benefits and outcomes – demonstrate how their support or efforts have made a difference
  • Engage – don’t broadcast – communications messaging should encourage two-way communication 
  • Messages should be real time, relevant and remain flexible
  • Show and tell – incorporate visuals to capture attention, help make an emotional connection and cut through the clutter