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.

Ministry Best Practices goes mobile!

Here is a mobile url in which you can read this blog

Put this url in your mobile browser and you will view a readable, stripped down version of Ministry Best Practices.

I will be putting a link on my sidebar with this link calling it "Mobile Version"

(thanks to Google Tutor for the instructions to do this)

3 Ways To Cultivate A Culture Of Risk


Most churches say that they risk. Most pastors believe that they are risk takers. But too often risk just becomes a buzz word that is thrown around. Also most often our commitment to risk will only tolerate success - not failure. If we choose to risk and roll the dice and it comes up craps - then we blame, we recoil and we won't risk again.

If, as a leader, that becomes your response and reaction, your staff and ministry leaders will pick up on the message, "Don't RISK!" loud and clear. The staff and leaders may hear from you in the pulpit or within the staff meetings that you desire "risk", but the "ata-boys" really only follow when you play it safe and produce mediocre success. You are sending mixed messages. Cultivating a culture of risk isn't easy and it won't come naturally, so you will need to be intentional.

How to cultivate a culture of risk.

1. As a Leader -You need to Lead by Risking Boldly!

If you really want your church to risk boldly, there is no shortcut than you leading out front.

2. Empower your leaders.

If you are micro-managing your leaders than you are not willing to risk. Cast the vision, define the outcomes and then release and empower your leaders. How do you empower them?
One way is to make sure that they know your budgets. Budgets should give them freedom. They shouldn't have to be apologetic when they spend money - that is what the money is there for. (it is wise to have accountability though - for purchases over $1000 our leaders must have their supervisor's approval). But for most stuff - make sure they have permission to spend it in order to accomplish their objectives.

3. Evaluate! Evaluate! Evaluate!

You should always take the time evaluate. With risk there is going to be failure. Not everything you attempt is going to be a home run. That is why evaluation is important. You can LEARN from failure for the next time you risk.

Do you remember your school experience growing up? I certainly do. In elementary school I spent my time split between two places - my 3rd. grade classroom and the principle's office.

The classroom was the place where I learned.

The principle's office is where I got disciplined.

Failure should be like a classroom and not a principle's office.

Failure should become a classroom to learn within and not the principle's office to be punished.

Allow yourself to learn from your failures.
“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor souls who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”
- Theodore Roosevelt

A Killer of Creativity

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it. He says that, "We are educating people out of their creativity,"

If you have not yet seen Sir Ken Robinson's TED talk, please stop whatever you're doing and watch it now.

Not only should you watch this TED talk, but browse the selection of other talks. TED talks expand your thinking and are one of the best resources on the net in encouraging your creativity and innovation.

Posture Of A Communicator

If you buy my product but don't read the instructions, that's not your fault, it's mine.
If you read a blog post and misinterpret what I said, that's my choice, not your error.
If you attend my presentation and you're bored, that's my failure.
If you are a student in my class and you don't learn what I'm teaching, I've let you down.
It's really easy to insist that people read the friggin manual. It's really easy to blame the user/student/prospect/customer for not trying hard, for being too stupid to get it or for not caring enough to pay attention. Sometimes (often) that might even be a valid complaint. But it's not helpful.
What's helpful is to realize that you have a choice when you communicate. You can design your products to be easy to use. You can write so your audience hears you. You can present in a place and in a way that guarantees that the people you want to listen will hear you. Most of all, you get to choose who will understand (and who won't).
What Seth is touching on is one of the seminal truths from a book that has helped me over the years - The Seven Laws of the Learner: How to Teach Almost Anything to Practically Anyone by Bruce Wilkinson

In the nutshell here are THE SEVEN LAWS OF LEARNER:

LAW 1: The Law of the Learner
The teacher should accept the responsibility of causing students to learn.

LAW 2: The Law of Expectation
The teacher should influence students' learning by adjusting their expectations.

LAW 3: The Law of Application
The teacher should stimulate life change in students by properly applying the scriptures

LAW 4: The Law of Retention
The teacher should enable students to enjoy maximum mastery of the irreducible minimum.

LAW 5: The Law of Need
The teacher should surface the students' real need before teaching the content.

LAW 6: The Law of Equipping
The teacher should train students for a life of service and edification.

LAW 7: The Law of Revival
The teacher should encourage an ongoing personal revival in students' lives.

The thrust of this book is that LEARNING is not ultimately the responsibility of the student but of the TEACHER. If a person isn't learning, don't blame the student - the teacher needs to take responsibility. This book helps a teacher learn how to excite, motivate and help students to learn.

If you are in ministry, you are teaching! Big groups, small groups or 1-to1. It doesn't matter the size - but as a teacher/communicator learn how to help your audience retain what they heard. It is your responsibility. That is the posture of a communicator.

Motivate Your Volunteers With PURPOSE

Watch this short video clip and then read below...

I have used this illustration with my volunteers and leaders many times in the past. That story never gets old because effectively illustrates the Power of Purpose.

For instance, I constantly tell my Sunday morning First Impressions team that they may think that they are greeting drivers when they come into the church parking lot. They may think that they are just handing out bulletins at the door when people come into the church. Or they may think that they are just making coffee for the cafe because people need that jolt of caffeine early in the morning.

To all three opinions, NO, NO and NO. If, being a part of the First Impressions team, you think that that's all you are doing, then you are just laying brick to either make a living or build a wall. But just like the title of this blog, we greet our Sunday morning guests, we make coffee for the cafe, and we greet people in the parking lot, because "People Matter to God".

Andy Stanley, from Northpoint Community Church, says that the sermon starts in the parking lot. He is right. The first 10 minutes of a guests experience on Sunday morning matter most. It is important that the First Impressions team understand that they are, like the video clip suggests, building a beautiful cathedral to the glory of God.

Your volunteer's motivation and their perspective will dramatically change if you will just help them understand their big, hairy, bodacious PURPOSE.

5 Ways To Spark Creativity

I have been reading some discussions recently about originality in the church. The question has been raised, is it cool to take ideas from other churches? I think that people who say NO, they perhaps don't understand what creativity and innovation is all about and where ideas come from.

How does a pastor or ministry leader cultivate creativity?

1. Understand that creativity doesn't come from creating something out of nothing. Only God creates "ex-nihilo" something from nothing! :-) Often creativity comes from making NEW ASSOCIATIONS. It is about connecting two independent things in a new and fresh way. Creativity comes from applying ideas from other contexts and finding new ways to associate them into your context. Creativity comes from borrowing. For example, I am always borrowing ideas from culture, and making new associations within our context here at Big Creek. That's what my sermon series MythBusters was all about, you realize of course I stole the idea from a T.V. show? :-)

2. Fill the well. You got to be pouring fresh stuff in your life. I am a gatherer type person. I am always reading and talking to others. We should be willing to borrow from others. Reading blogs through RSS feeds, exposes me to ideas from people around the world. For instance, we are trying to decode how to be missional in our suburban context, and there are men and women who are thinking through the same stuff, and I am learning from their learnings, and being provoked by the questions that they are asking.

3. Cross-training. Learn and read and study other disciplines. Often the best ideas come from adapting ideas from other places and professions. You got to get out of the church ghetto! You need to find ways that ideas in the marketplace translate into the church context. That is why books like Good to Great by Jim Collins have been so highly thought of within the church. I often expand my reading to history, business, biography and current affair books. I also try to tap into the wealth of expertise that our professionals have here at Big Creek. Their professional experience makes them one of the best resources to help us innovate.

4. Don't ask limiting questions. Too often we are asking questions that by the very nature of the question puts parameters around the kind of answer we are going to get. For instance, the question might be, "How can we help students grow deeper in their walk with God at our mid-week Wednesday high school large group"? Within that question is the assumption that we should have a large group of students meeting weekly. And within the question we are assuming that only within the large group can effective growth and life change happen.
Are large youth groups the right avenue to help teenagers to grow in their faith? Should we even have them at all? Listen, I am not here to draw any conclusions. But if you are going to be creative, you have go to be WILLING to ask those questions. Don't let the kind of question you ask, box in your answer!

5. Be willing to risk. You gotta to be willing to risk and risk failing. If your church isn't a risk culture, you are going to be conservative and cautious in what you are willing to create and try. Failures are some of the greatest tutors and learning opportunities. Be willing to risk and risk Big!

When someone asked Spurgeon why within his sermons he preached other's ideas, he quickly retorted. "I am like farmer Smith's cow. I graze in others people's pastures, but just like farmer Smith's cow, you can count on the milk that you get being mine."(1) We need to be willing to graze in all the pastures out there - other churches, the culture, other professions. But at the end of the day, our creative ideas will reflect who we are, who our church is and our unique culture and ministry context.

(1) I remember hearing this quote attributed to Spurgeon and it has always stuck with me, but for this post - I tried to find it's reference, but I had NO success. Do I have it correct? Did Spurgeon say this?

(originally published at Provocative Church)

More resources: Check out this blog post about the 8+ Ways to Train Yourself to Be Creative

New Name, New Look!

Some big changes have happened to this blog within the last 24 hours. Two big things happened. The template changed. But more importantly than the aesthetics and look, was the change in the name.

Over the past year this blog has been evolving and changing. It first started as a simple communication piece to my First Impression Team - which I barely updated. At that point the blog was dying on the vine. Then, in keeping the name First Impressions, I tried to revive it and it became and developed into a Ministry Best Practices blog - including a variety of subjects from Assimilation to Small Groups to Communication skills.

That is why I changed the name. I needed this blog to accurately reflect the content that I am delivering and writing about every week. So I figured, if I am going to change the name, I might as well update the look. There you have it :-)

I hope you will continue to find this blog a good resource of ministry best practices and that you will keep coming back and even subscribe in order to stay updated with future content.

Let me tell you what hasn't changed though:

If you have subscribed to either the email updates or the RSS feed, there should be no interruption to receiving them.

Also what hasn't changed is my desire for this blog to be a conversation. I don't have all the answers. Sure I know some stuff and have learned about ministry having worked in it for over 17 years, but there is a lot I don't know. I am continuing to learn and to apply those learnings. Therefore the comments are open, don't hide and be a "lurker" - share the wealth and let me hear from you!

How to Recruit from the Platform

This came from Church Volunteer Central's Tuesday's Tip. Make sure to visit their site and sign up for their weekly newsletter.

Leveraging the Platform for Help,
Tony Morgan & Tim Stevens and adapted from Simply Strategic Volunteers

"The platform (stage, pulpit, whatever you call it) can be valuable in making the "big asks" as long as it's done at the right times in the right ways.

Rule 1: Less is better than more.
Platform announcements or "asks" are your trump card, to be played only occasionally. It's not a card to pull out every week. The more you play this card, the less effective it becomes. Be very strategic about the areas for which you cast vision in a given season. Don't make a "big ask" more than once a quarter.

Rule 2: New is better than old.
People love to be pioneers. It's less exciting to be involved in something that's been around for a while. So leverage the platform to cast vision for new ministries. New is always better than old.

Rule 3: Vacant is better than forced.
When you are sharing the vision for a specific ministry, always tie it to the way God has wired people. Here's a good example: "Some of you were created by God to make a difference in the lives of children. You feel as if you're soaring when you're teaching or caring for children. We're looking for thirty people with your wiring to help launch this new class." Here's a bad example: "We need thirty people who would be willing to make the sacrifice to work with kids for a few months to get this off the ground..." It's much better to leave a role vacant than to fill it with someone who is forced into a ministry position that doesn't fit.

Rule 4: Outcomes are better than inputs.
When you're casting vision, talk more about the results of the ministry and less about the work required. Talk about the lives that will change, the relationships that will be built, and the ministry that will happen. Don't focus too much on the specifics of the job. That will come later, during the observation or training phases. Used sparingly and correctly, the platform can be an effective tool for communicating the vision that people need to make a difference. Used wrongly, it's merely a time-consuming sleep aid."

At Big Creek Church we have learned that communicating and recruiting from the platform has it's limitations. Although, at times, it can be strategic, the best way to recruit and communicate is person-to-person. Nothing beats either a personal phone call or a face-to-face conversation.

Read my earlier post How To Recruit and Communicate More Effectively

Keep Visitors Coming Back

Below is an excerpt from an article at ChurchCentral discussing the importance of preparing for guests, especially during Easter. But the practice of preparing for guests must be done EVERY Sunday.

Traveling teaches you a lot about hospitality. Being a stranger teaches you about friendliness. How do you see strangers? Most Christians think of themselves as friendly.

How does your church see them? Most people think their churches are welcoming— even when they are not.

According to Gary McIntosh, Christian ministry and leadership professor at Talbot School of Theology and church consultant, the friendliness most church members say they feel may be a result of having the people they already know around them.

"People who attend a church regularly look at the issue of friendliness from the inside out," McIntosh writes in his book, "Beyond the First Visit: The Complete Guide to Connecting Guests to Your Church," . It is a matter of perception.

Welcoming guests

According to McIntosh, the best way to welcome visitors is by modeling the welcome of God, who instructed the Israelites to welcome strangers. And, His Son, Jesus, who welcomed sinners. "When we welcome newcomers to church," McIntosh writes, "we are demonstrating the gracious love and care of God himself."

This task gains even more weight in the view of church leadership trainer, Nelson Searcy, who founded The Journey Church of the City in New York shortly after September 11th, 2001. Since then, it has grown to more than 1,000 members. Searcy says churches should view visitors as gifts from God. "God isn't sending a single person through our doors haphazardly, so we have a responsibility to treat each guest in a way that will make him want to come back again and again," he told Church Central. Once a right perspective of visitors is in place, McIntosh and Searcy offer practical steps churches can take to prepare for newcomers.

Company is coming — plan for it

McIntosh writes that churches should prepare their facilities as though they were preparing their house for company. For churches he says this involves "preparing an attractive worship service, organizing teams of greeters, cleaning the church facility, offering refreshing snacks, and, most important, creating a welcoming environment."

Searcy also advises churches to prepare for guests by thinking through the experience they will have upon arriving at your church. When it comes to guests, he says the biggest mistake churches make is failing to plan to properly welcome and follow up with them.

Searcy's new book, "Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests into Fully Engaged Members of Your Church", delineates a complete system that any church can use to help move each new attender along the continuum to becoming a fully-engaged member and a fully-developing follower of Christ.

Then the process of welcoming guests begins all over again as new church members are educated in welcoming. This is an important aspect of discipleship and evangelism, according to Searcy, who says preachers would do well to prepare sermons on how to be a welcoming church.

"By spending a little time preaching on the importance of biblical hospitality, you can ensure that your people exude a warm and welcoming spirit when your guests arrive," Searcy says.

I appreciate Searcy's thoughts about how to transfer the vision and habit to new members in welcoming. Becoming a welcoming church won't JUST happen. You have to be intentional. You have to teach toward it, you have to put in place processes toward it, and you have to train toward it.

How to move people into small groups

Willow Creek Association is posting a very helpful 3 part series on Assimilation into Small Groups.

Here is an excerpt from the series, taken from the second post-

Broadly speaking, you can group unconnected people like this:

People who are actively looking for a small group. (Relentless)
People who would join a small group if asked. (Ready)
People who would join a small group if asked repeatedly. (Reluctant)
People who would rather be nibbled to death by minnows. (Resistant)

In the first class, folks are actively pursuing community and just need information. They are hungry for community, and will relentlessly pursue it. The Relentless comprise about 10% of your unconnected target.

The second class covers another 50%. An amazingly high number of folks are Ready, and would join a group if someone would just ask them. But no one has, maybe because the church has implemented a strategy designed for the Relentless (too much information, not enough invitation).

The third class presents an interesting but solvable challenge. The Reluctant need time to develop trust, multiple invitations, and a very low barrier to entry (convenient times and locations, lightweight discussions or extended social times, and an easy way to get out.) The Reluctant 20% may need prior relationships with group members or a chance to break the ice before making a commitment to attend.

The last 20% of your unconnected are the Resistant. They will never join a group, even though they may say they want to. For example, most men want to be in a small group until they find out they have to join one. They love the vision of community, but the reality is too much for them. The same is true of individuals (or couples) who are given multiple connection options and reject them all. (Every option is too far, too long, too intense, too frequent, or too different.) Love them, pray for them, but don’t waste time designing a system to try to reach them. God can overcome their resistance, but nobody else is going to come close.

I think that Willow Creek is correct is their assessment of where people fall into the four categories they defined. It is important to remember that 60% of the people that come to your church are low hanging fruit - ready to pick. Either with information or an invitation, most people will be ready and eager to get involved in a small group.

Therefore the two keys are clear information (what to expect, where do they meet etc..) and a simple process. If you can nail these down, most people in your church will be ready for a small group. And then you can spend the time to do the rest of the heavy lifting in order to move the other 40% into small groups over time.

Make sure you read the entire series, here are the links to the entire 3 part series

Part I
Part II
Part III

All the Stuffed packed into a Logo

In a post at Provocative Church I shared that our church is going through a branding process with Metaleap. Just one of the many deliverables from the process will be a new logo for our church. Of course anyone with a computer can slap together a logo. But a logo is much more than producing eye-candy.

Wired has an interesting article about the design of Google's logo and its many iterations.

The article talks about the evolution of the design and what reasons and rationales went into the design of their now ubiquitous logo.

Over time the Google designer came up with a lot of different iterations of the logo,
"from a pattern that suggests the infinite to interlocking rings that symbolize the power of search to transgress cultures, from a happy magnifying glass to sheer playfulness. By taking out the magnifying glass, Kedar, the designer, opens up the logo to signify that Google can become much more than just a search engine. By playing with the angles and colors of the letters, she tries to make clear that Google isn't a square corporation."

Ruth Kedar, the designer, explains that she chose the Catull typeface because "Catull borrows elements from traditional writing instruments such as the quill and the chisel with a modern twist. Search, by nature, is an activity that requires we look into the past. Therefore Catull's historical ties seemed appropriate, as did the bridging between the old analog world and the new emerging digital era."

From the examples above it becomes obvious that the simple and cheerful Google logo hides a lot of interesting ideas and concepts. A logo isn't just something that has to look cool, but rather, embedded in the DNA of the logo's design, is the communication of the organization's ethos.

There is more to a organization's logo than meets the eye.

I look forward to seeing what this branding process for Big Creek Church will eventually produce.

(HT: Google Operating System)

originally posted at Provocative Church

Technorati Tags: Google, Logo

Fewer Meetings....More Ministry

This is a follow up from my previous post, "Death By Meetings"

This material is from David Rudd...this is good stuff and you can download it and use it you own staff and leadership context.

Death By Meetings

Churches are notorious for meetings. We actually have meetings in order to plan meetings!

I am sure this can be true in just about every professional setting. Meetings can be a problematic. Too many meetings. Unproductive meetings. Boring meetings.

People, as busy enough as they are, don't want to go to meetings just for the sake of going to meetings. And since, in the church, most of the people we work with are volunteers, as a leader, you have to work extra hard on making meetings worthwhile when you have them. Because since you don't pay volunteers you can't order them to come to the next meeting you call.

Here are some helpful thoughts and tips that I have discovered to help avoid, "Death by Meetings".

Be judicious with meetings!

I try to only call meetings with my volunteers and leaders only when I have to. And most of the meetings that I do call are well planned and scheduled in advance. Try not to spring too many last minute, emergency meetings on people.

Know why you are meeting.

What do you want to accomplish? What are your anticipated outcomes? If you don't know the answers to those questions, then you don't need to meet! To often we think that if people just meet together than productivity will ignite. Not true! You must plan and prepare before you meet. Review past notes and information before you meet. Don't wing meetings. Have an agenda to guide your time and to forecast for the participants where you are going and what you intend to accomplish.

Infuse value into your meetings.

What you invest into your current meeting opportunities will produce dividends for future meetings. If your meetings are engaging, purposeful and productive then people will see value in them. If your meetings help move the church or organization toward it's greater vision than people will see value in them. And if people see the value of your time together, they are more likely to carve out time and make future investments to meet.

Not all things can be accomplished in meetings.

Meetings don't always produce the best environments for new ideas and creativity!
MSNBC has an interesting article titled “Meetings make us dumber, study shows“. Here’s the point that really deserves to be noticed:
"The researchers speculate that when a group of people receives information, the inclination is to discuss it. The more times one option is said aloud, the harder it is for individuals to recall other options…"
Meetings aren't always the best incubators for new ideas and creative thinking. New ideas and creativity are often cultivated in environments of play or quiet reflection.

Think through creative alternatives to face-to-face meetings.

I have tried different ways to interact with groups of people without necessarily having to set up another face-to-face meeting. Sometimes what you may need to accomplish doesn't require everyone to be in person. You can try to use:

Conference calls

Online chat and web conferencing

Collaboration tools

What you do after the meeting is just as important.

Try padding a meeting with 15 to 30 minutes of follow up time. This means that after a meeting have time blocked out to review your action steps, follow through on quick/easy actions such as email, and plan out your necessary projects and next steps. In order to do this it will mean that you can't allow yourself to schedule back to back meetings throughout your day. You are going to have to allow your schedule the margin to reflect, process and follow-through from your meetings in order for them to be the most effective.

Top 3 Buckets for Capturing Ideas

How do you capture ideas when you get them? What are the buckets that you are using?

If you are anything like me, you have a mind like a steel sieve and therefore I need quick and easy ways to capture a to-do, an appointment, file an important resource or make a reminder.

I am not asserting that these tools are the "best", but I have tried and used many tools over the years, and I have settled on these few that are working for me.

The king of my tools right now is

At its most basic level, Jott is a voice to text transcription service. All you need to do is call Jott, leave a message, and Jott transcribes it and emails you or your contacts the text.

I Jott myself notes or reminders right over the phone. This is great because if I have an idea or remember to needing to do something while in the car, I can capture it instantly in Jott and not worry about trying to remember it until I get home or to the office. Also I can Jott an email to anyone in my contact list or group of contacts that I have set up before hand.

If you have Google Calendar hooked up as your own preferred calendar application you can just add Google Calendar to your choice of Jott Links and simply by calling Jott you can add an appointment. There are times in the car after a phone call my next action is that I need to put in my schedule an appointment. With Jott links, I now just call in my appointment and it shows up in my Google Calendar. It couldn't be more simple.

(By the way, here is a great post from Lifehacker that gives you a good run down of the Jott features.)

The next tool I use a ton is Google Notebook.This is one of the least known of the Google apps, and not until recently has Google been adding some very nice features. I use Google Notebook to capture information on the internet. Although I use it some for note taking (I use Google Docs more for that purpose), the main feature is the ability to clip information. The beauty of this application is the Browser extension that allows you to take any highlighted piece of information and "Note this" sending it right into the Notebook. I am always collecting interesting articles, quotes and resources that I know will come in handy during my sermon preparation or have some use in my ministry. Google Notebook is my online file cabinet for all my sermon illustrations, ministry articles, and the like. Because of the great ability to search the notebook or even tag items, information never gets lost or misplaced, it is always at my fingertips.

And lastly, I use Backpack reminders.

I haven't been using Backpack as much as I used to, but I love the Backpack Firefox extension which allows me to instantly add reminders that will go directly to my email. I use this app a lot while I am in meetings. A deadline comes up, a new event is going into the church schedule, I need to send an important email out to my volunteers or I need to add something to my to-do list and I don't have the time to stop my work flow to add it fully to my calendar, write the email or add it to my to-do list. This is why I like this little extension within Firefox, because within seconds I can capture that important piece of information knowing that I will get an email sent to me reminding me to take some action. Then later, after the meeting, I can spend the time populating my calendar, writing the email, adding it to my to-do list or doing whatever action is required.

What are some of your favorite collection tools?

The Power of Buzz

There is an interesting article in the Portland Press Herald about the power of buzz marketing especially as it applied to the movie Cloverfield.

"So how does this explain the story of the unseen monster in the near-nameless movie with unheard of actors that grossed $40 million in its opening weekend?"

The key,

"Never underestimate the power of a mystery,"

(HT: The Big Tease | Portland Press Herald)

There is power in a mystery. A mystery provokes curiosity and intrigue. Too often when we communicate we back up the information dump truck and give people every nitty gritty detail.

When people get too much information they tune it out. They stop listening. If you want to communicate effectively, you got tease people. Your communication has got to be salty, it has to make them thirsty.

Many people around the church have asked about these signs around the church. These signs are doing exactly what they were meant to do, encourage people to ask questions and "want" more information. There has been buzz around the church because of these signs.

Buzz creates want. It creates a want to know more. And if people want more information they are more likely to remember it.

If you want to cut through all the communication noise in our culture, you got to willing to create a little buzz.

Easy Things First

This excerpt is from Sanders Says by Tim Sanders

If you have an unreasonably long to-do list, don't let it overwhelm you.

All you need is a little momentum, a quick win to get your started. I've learned that time management is really a question of energy management. You can mow through almost any task list, much like running a long race, so long as you have 'gas in the tank'.

Often, we dive into our daily lists, trying to tackle the toughest stuff first. We get a little bogged down, the day passes, and we feel like we got nothing accomplished. Reverse that thinking. Look at your list, circle three things that are easy yet important -- and knock them off. Circle two more ez-pezee tasks to tackle right after lunch. You'll find that when you get three things done, you have a sense of confidence. That is when you tackle something harder (creative, emotionally charged, etc.)..... read the rest here.

I know for myself procrastination is a deadly habit in my life. I too often run certain tasks to their last possible deadline, giving myself very little margin to finish and accomplish them. I appreciate Sanders advice on how to move through the long to-do list and get through the inertia of procrastination.

But I should also mention that there is contrary advice to fighting procrastination. In the book, "Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time "by Brian Tracy he suggests to do just the opposite of Tim Sanders. Here are just two of his "21 ways", Do the most difficult task first: Begin each day to do the most difficult task, the one task that can make the greatest contribution to yourself and your work, and resolve to stay at it until it is complete. Slice and dice the task: Break large, complex tasks down into smaller pieces.

So there are definitely different ways to slice and dice this procrastination monster. Do the most difficult task first - tackle it head on by breaking it into smaller pieces. Or do easier tasks first to build momentum and confidence as you move toward the harder tasks.

 Which way works best for you? And why?

Speaking off the Cuff

If you are anything like me, you enjoy the luxury of being able to think through and craft what you want to say to your audience. It is always to your advantage to be able to prepare before you speak. But you know, as well as I do, that many opportunities to speak don't often come with much or any notice. As I pastor, I am often called to stand up and speak, sometimes with no notice or warning. So how does a person effectively speak off the cuff?

From the Public Speaking Blog:

"I just came across a four-step formula created by Richard C. Borden that will teach you how to craft a powerful speech on the fly. To speakers who suck at speaking off the cuff, you will find this post God-sent."

Remember these three quick questions and one imperative to give you guidance on how to craft what you are going to say on the fly.

1. Ho hum!” (or don't be B-O-R-I-N-G!)
2. “Why bring that up?”
3. “For instance?”
4. “So what?”

More about what these points mean from the Public Speaking Blog.

(HT: The Public Speaking Blog)

Are you inviting?

Here is an excerpt from Todd's blog:

David Foster writes, "Why do the people attending your church not invite other people to come to the experience? They come. They’re faithful. They give and support, but they don’t invite other people. If people in your church are not inviting people, they are not inviting people on purpose. We think they are intimidated, but they are not. They know very well how to invite people to great stuff. They do it all the time..."

David continues:

You take an average person who goes to a great concert; it’s very easy for that person to invite someone to the next one. He went and had a great experience. He was moved, he was touched, it was a great value, and it was worth the time and the effort. He knows that his friend is going to benefit from it and he’s going to thank him afterward. So he invites him enthusiastically. They make the date, they plan, they spend the money, they anticipate. We’re really good at inviting people to places that we love going and knowing there’s a benefit at the end.

So at the end of the day, maybe what you should be more focused on is helping your people love to come and to understand the benefit that others may have who come after them. Maybe people aren’t inviting people to your church because they aren’t that enthusiastic about it either.

Read more here at

(HT: MMI Weblog)

David is exactly correct. If someone is excited about a product or an experience, the people become natural evangelists. When people aren't inviting, one question I must ask myself immediately is, Do people that come here actually what to be here themselves? I may not like the answer, but I have to be willing to ask the question.