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.

The 10 Commandments Of Speaking

One of my favorite places to visit is the TED Conference's online site. The TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) Conference is one of the most prestigious in the world. TED brings together some of the most innovative and passionate thinkers, leaders and doers in our culture.

Each speaker is challenged by TED to give “the talk of their lives.” To give that talk of their lives, each speaker is only given just 18 minutes to do so. If you can't say it within a short period of time, either you don't know what you are talking about or it's not worth talking about.

Before the speakers do their talk, the TED conference organizers provide them with ten guidelines. They refer to these as “The TED Commandments.” - pretty catchy.

These are helpful to any presenter in any situation:
  1. Thou shalt not simply trot out thy usual shtick.
  2. Thou shalt dream a great dream, or show forth a wondrous new thing, or share something thou hast never shared before.
  3. Thou shalt reveal thy curiosity and thy passion.
  4. Thou shalt tell a story.
  5. Thou shalt freely comment on the utterances of other speakers for the sake of blessed connection and exquisite controversy.
  6. Thou shalt not flaunt thine ego. Be thou vulnerable. Speak of thy failure as well as thy success.
  7. Thou shalt not sell from the stage: neither thy company, thy goods,
    thy writings, nor thy desperate need for funding; lest thou be cast
    aside into outer darkness.
  8. Thou shalt remember all the while: laughter is good.
  9. Thou shalt not read thy speech.
  10. Thou shalt not steal the time of them that follow thee.

Social Media And Loss Of Control

When a church engages in Social Media, it loses control. I have made this point in numerous interviews about Social Media. If you are a leader or a church that values and insists on control of your message - then stay away from blogging, keep far from Twitter, and don't bother with Facebook.

Social Media isn't for you.

With Social Media you lose control because Social Media, by design, empowers the masses, it encourages conversation and allows a people to contribute and collaborate.

With the help of Social Media, people may post negative comments about the church, critique the pastor's sermon or post pictures and video that might be unflattering. Of course not much can be done when members of the church use social media that way...but how does a church respond when a staff person has a lapse in judgment and says or posts something on Facebook, Twitter or on their blog that causes consternation to the church and it's leaders?

It happens in the church and it's come with unfortunate consequences . I know a story about a youth pastor that got in trouble with the church elders because of something he posted on his blog - the incident led to his firing.

Does your church or ministry have any guidelines for employees and staff using social media?

How bad can it get when people using social media run amok? Check out these errors in judgment that happened in the marketplace with social media:

  1. Facebook Football Firing - In March 2009, the Philadelphia Eagles fired a part time employee for his Facebook status update regarding a player being let go by the team.
  2. Domino’s Disgusting YouTube Dilemma - In April 2009, Domino’s employees uploaded a video on YouTube showing disgusting actions they performed while
    preparing orders. The employees were quickly fired and later arrested.
  3. Terrible Twitter Post - During a trip to visit a major client, James Andrews, a vice president at a global public relations firm, posted an unflattering remark about Memphis, the hometown of his client.
(The above were collected by a study done by SelectMinds and who also produced an informative whitepaper on the topic (download here - and thanks for ChurchCrunch for bringing them to my attention).

People say and do stupid things all the time...the only problem with Social Media is that it gets broadcast to the world. But despite these extreme examples of when the use of Social Media goes terribly wrong - the "loss of control" for the church coming from Social Media, is actually a GOOD thing.

-Social Media breaks the idol of "control" and creates an organic environment that elevates people over programs.
-With Social Media, people in the pews contribute to the conversation.
-It promotes greater ownership within the congregation.
-Social Media creates a learning community where creativity is bred.
-It gives people a greater sense that they belong because their voice is heard.
-Social Media creates an avenue where church leadership can gauge the temperature of the congregation.

Creativity Just Requires A TWIST

I have nothing against wedding videos - but they are typically boring to watch...especially years and years after the event - most of them are long and bland and would have very little appeal to anyone except the couple.

But this is a wedding video that I would watch over and over again. Brian and Eileen had the company who filmed their wedding and a TWIST. They made it into a music video. This is a lot of fun to watch!

That is what creativity is most of the time. Just a little twist. It doesn't require genius..just a willingness to risk doing something a little different.

Top Seven Reasons To Measure Results

The need for measurements within any organization may seem obvious to many, however, more often than not, it's overlooked as being unnecessary by many leaders of churches.

Measurements of success, such as counting numbers and defining outcomes can be seen by some as being unspiritual...but I would argue that it is not!

Defining clear measurements and success criteria is being wise and actually will allow you to use the people, money and facilities God has given the church more effectively.

Let's look at the top 7 reasons why your organization needs to measure its results:

1. Measurement clarifies expectations.
2. Measurement increases objectivity.
3. Measurement focuses attention and allocation of resources.
4. Measurement promotes consistency.
5. Measurement facilitates feedback.
6. Measurement improves decision-making.
7. Measurement provides an opportunity to promote change.

Mobilize Your Website

As I have said in a previous post, if you are not thinking mobile with your web presence you are missing where more and more people every day who are using their phones as their primary means to surf the web.

The problem is that most websites or blogs are not mobile ready. So how do you Mobilize your blog? Mofuse is the answer.

Mofuse provides customization, redirection, sms widget and a preview site. It doesn't get any easier than this to have an easy to navigate and attractive mobile web presence.

Click HERE to get started and get mobile ready.

What Is Social Networking?

There is a lot of talk about Twitter, Facebook, Loopt, Ning and the whole world of social networking...especially it's role within the church. Well first things first, What is Social Networking? I think this video is a great start in answering that question.

Get The Ministry Best Practices Starter Kit

This is like a starter kit for the Best Ministry Practices on the web.

Click here to go to the Ministry Best Practices FEED BUNDLE and with ONE Click you can subscribe to the best Ministry blogs all at couldn't be any easier!

These are some of the best blogs on leadership, technology in ministry, small groups, ministry systems, Christian thought and culture.

(ht: Eric Jones via ChurchCrunch)

You Can't Lead From The Office

“The initial locus and primary focus of [pastors] work is in their offices. Time-management studies again and again have confirmed that pastors invest a large percentage of their time in their offices - in meetings, in doing administrative work, and in taking care of administrative details…Pastors continue to spend so much time their offices because it is a familiar and habitual behavior pattern that has been nurtured and reinforced for many, many years. And the foundation underlying that behavior pattern is an understanding of the nature of leadership that is no longer helpful.”

- Kennon Callahan, Effective Church Leadership

Pastor's can't lead from their office. Pastor's can't care for those in their church sitting in their office chair. Ministry happens outside the four walls of the church.

Ministry leadership and pastoral care happens in people's homes. It reminds me of how the Puritan pastors made it a regular practice to visit those in their homes to check on their member's spiritual condition. Certainly a pastor can't necessarily visit everyone's home if the church is of considerable size, but at minimum is the pastor in the homes of those who are in spiritual leadership within the church?

Ministry leadership and pastoral care happens in people's workplaces. I had read a tragic statistic that only 1% church members interviewed said that their pastor had visited them in their workplace. Given that people spend more than a third of they day at work, shouldn't pastors be finding ways to visit and connect with their members where they work?

When you have to do the admin stuff, do it in a public setting. Often I will bring my laptop and work at a neighborhood Starbucks- checking email and making calls. It provides me an opportunity to see people I know - often getting into many God ordained conversations..the kind that don't happen by scheduling an appointment. Of course there are going to be times when some work is going to have to happen hunkered down in an office with the door closed...especially if you can't afford having your work flow disrupted by continual interruptions.

(ht: Todd Hiestand for the quote)

When Everything Is BOLD, Nothing Is!

Barton Damer on his blog, Already Been Chewed, made an interesting comment about the world of design,

"How is it that some things stand out and others blend right in? In order for BOLD to stand out, it must be different than the rest. If everything is bold, nothing is bold. When you think about design and what stands out, it’s often something that is different. Could be complex, could be less is more. It’s all relative. If everyone resorts to simplicity, eventually complexity will be what stands out. When overly complex designs are everywhere, all of the sudden, simplicity stands out."
Barton is talking about contrast and in the church, more often than not, simplicity is the contrast to much of the church's complexity and choices. There is a church in our community that boasts, "162 programs to serve you and your family". That is too much BOLD!

How many times do you open up a church bulletin on Sunday morning and see every ministry and every event showcased in it. That is too much BOLD!

If your church or ministry is communicating all the time in BOLD - everything will blend together. If your church says that everything is "important" than all people end up actually understanding is that "nothing" is important.

You think that you are communicating a colorful mosaic of variety and choice but in effect you're ministry looks more monochromatic.

(read Rainer's book, Simple Church, that provides a complete discussion on how to create simplicity within the church)

Related Posts:
Simplicity is Never Simple

Twitterifically Hilarious

One example that something has become mainstream is when it gets mocked..I am still waiting for a Twitter SNL skit (unless it's already happened and I missed it).

thanks to David for the heads up!

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Here is the description from
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Subscribe here!

(And if you're a fan of Ministry Best Practices, I'd love it if you would post a brief review on the Kindle page, to encourage new subscribers. Thanks!)

New Bible Translation - FREE To Download

On August 11, 2009, Thomas Nelson will release a new Bible developed by a trusted team of Bible scholars called The Expanded Bible New Testament.

For your free copy of the NT Expanded Bible in PDF, click on the link above.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Has Your Pastor Embraced Twitter?

The 7 Deadly Sins Of Inviting Volunteers

Sin #1: Expect announcements to get volunteers. An announcement may get a couple of volunteers, but usually those are the people who are volunteering anyway. People must be challenged individually. A challenge to everybody with an announcement is in fact a challenge to nobody.

Sin #2: Ask by yourself. You need a team to help you invite volunteers. Try to recruit people who are "connectors" in the church. Put them together as a special inviting task force that operates like a nominating committee. The key element is to brainstorm about people who could fit the roles you need.

Sin #3: Ask For, and Expect Long-Term Commitments. Just remember that short-term projects provide excellent “first dates”—they’re how you find your long-term volunteers. Give people the opportunity to try on your ministry to see how it fits. Short-term volunteers have the opportunity to catch your ministry’s vision as they work closely with a passionate leader.

Sin #4: Assume That “No” Means “Never”. Sometimes a “no” only means that a prospective volunteer would rather do something other than the role you’ve described. Probe to find out what the person likes to do and what their gifts are, then see if there’s a match for that person in your (or someone else's) ministry.

Sin #5: Recruit Just Warm Bodies. It is easy to get in the mindset of just needing to fill slots and needs within your ministry..but you don't just want warm bodies, rather you want people with warm hearts toward your ministry. You want people whose gifts, skills and abilities are a good match for your ministry.

Sin #6: Recruit to the need. People don't want to hear a desperate plea of how you need volunteers. You don't recruit to the need, rather you recruit to the vision. Most people don't volunteer out of guilt because you tell them that your ministry team is in desperate need of volunteers. Rather most people volunteer because they are compelled by the vision. Paint and cast that compelling vision for your prospective volunteers.

Sin #7: Keep Leadership all to Yourself. A good leader should be thinking of replacing themselves. You should be developing future leadership within your ministry, not just hoarding all the leadership responsibility for yourself. One day God may call you to step out of your leadership role. When that day happens, who is going to replace you? Are you going to leave a vacuum?

(ht: The New Breed by Jonathan and Thomas McKee)

The Enthusiastic Need Only To Apply!

Considered one of the most innovative and best companies to work for today is Zappos.

Zappos has one of the most counterintuitive strategies toward building a company of excellence. Apparently the company famously offers $2,000 to employees who have just completed its training course … to quit! Turns out they save money long-term on "weeding out" people that aren’t enthusiastic in working for them.

Zappos is interested in creating the right culture.

As a church, you may have all the right technology, you may have great strategies, you may have charismatic preaching and skilled staff on your team...but if you haven't invested in creating the right won't succeed.

Zappos wants a culture of fun, enthusiastic and passionate employees. That is their culture, and they are unwilling to compromise.

What is your church's culture? What are you trying to create? I would suggest to you that it isn't just about hiring and keeping competent staff, but it's also about creating the right chemistry.

You want staff that are in sync with one another and the church's vision, not just interested in their own personal agendas and building their own kingdoms.

You want staff that are passionate about what they do.
If they didn't get paid, would they still do it for free (and yes, I know, getting paid a ministry salary is almost like working for free :-) )

Invest in creating the right culture - and be uncompromising in your effort!

Should We Twitter In Church?

I asked the Ministry Best Practices readers about Twittering in Church (polls are still open) and the response was huge!

Of the people responding to date, just shy of 50% of you said that it is NOT a GOOD IDEA to Twitter in Church.

Where do I come down on this issue, you may be asking?

I am certainly a big fan of Twitter. And as you may have discovered from my many posts HERE, HERE and HERE and as well from this Public Radio interview I gave this week on social media and the church (click to play)...

...Twitter is a great tool for ministry and I think that it has a lot of great applications for the church.

But with that said, I think that there are some fundamental concerns with integrating Twitter regularly within Sunday morning worship. Here are a few thoughts....

- Worship is about ascribing "worth", praise, glory and honor to God our Daddy and creator...Twitter can feed our more narcissistic impulses and tendencies therefore taking our focus and eyes off of God and our worship of Him.

- As a commenter on my post said, "Given that brain research (see clearly demonstrates that there's no such thing as multitasking - you can only attend to one thing at a time-I think that fiddling with anything during worship takes your mind off the object of worship"

- Also, in worship as we listen to the Word of God being preached, we are to ask the Spirit to apply and transform our faith and practice. We are to reflect, ponder and contemplate on what we've just heard...that takes some time to do. Therefore my concern is that if we allow people to Twitter their "instant" reactions and thoughts to what they've just heard preached, we haven't allowed the necessary time for the work of the Spirit to apply the Word to our hearts and lives.

Now is your time to weigh you think my ideas and reasons are valid? Am I missing something? Sound off!

Message FAIL!

What is the shelf life of your message???

Your church puts a lot of time and energy in communicating it's message...but the ability to keep your message current, relevant and fresh depends on HOW you communicate.

Put up a church's shelf life is as long as next day's weather. :-)

Put your church's event calendar on a website with no one managing it...and your church looks only as relevant as the last event posted on it. It is sad to see church websites with the latest calendar events dating back to looks like the church closed up shop and went home.

Send out an email blast to your congregation and it is only as effective in proportion to the size of the recipients inbox. I can't tell you how many emails that I send get unopened and unread!

Publish a church bulletin on Sunday morning and it's chances of being read go down exponentially in relation to the more stuff and information you put in it.

It is not enough for the church "to be" communicating information...but rather the church's message and information must be communicated with:

  • Consistency
  • Excellence
  • A Variety of communication channels and mediums
  • And with Focus on a Clear and Concise Message

Going Global

Mars Hill Church, (Mark Driscoll's church in Seattle) just released their Mars Hill Global site.

The purpose of this site to expand Mars Hill's reach to provide ministries and churches relevant and excellent's all about resourcing Christ's church and giving it all away.

This trend, over the past couple of years, of churches willingly giving away their "intellectual property" is a wonderful example of a Kingdom mindset. This has been a great trend and has benefited not only the smaller churches who don't often have the resources to produce this kind of quality content...but it has also benefited greatly the churches who give it away.

Has The Church Become A Relational Crutch?

A little while back I wrote this post discussing that developing relationships within the church isn't something that can be organized, programed or rushed. Rather it is something that needs to develop within the natural, unexpected margins of our life.

But isn't it the church's job to make sure people are connecting within the church...connecting with one another?

Last week I had a conversation with a friend over email, we were discussing this issue when he said this statement that stopped me in my tracks,

"connecting at church is weird to me’s like you are expected to meet friends and hang out with people just because you go to church together...seems weird to friends don’t necessarily go to this church and just because you do doesn’t mean I want to go to lunch with you after church"

As a leader in the church and a pastor whose job description it was to "connecting" people within the church - then according to my friend, is that really the church's responsibility and role?

Is the church supposed to create relationships for you just because you are part of the church, and are your relationships supposed to exclusively come from the church? Have we made the whole connecting thing artificial and contrived?

Has all of these church programs and events designed to develop "forced friendships" become a giant, glorified church "dating" service? Isn't it each individual's responsibility to invest in developing relationships? Should people be angry or disappointed at the church if they for some reason haven't "connected"?

Perhaps all the church is required to do is to create "relational spaces" or environments where relationship can easily cultivate and flourish.

As these thoughts had been tossing around in my mind all week, I then come across a new post from Tony Morgan that further stoked these ideas.

Tony Morgan ponders the issue, "for whatever reason, when it comes to church, we think the church needs to find us a friend." Then Tony goes on to ask...

-Have we made people too reliant on the church for putting them in relationship with other people?

-Have we made people too reliant on the church for “growing them” in their faith?

-Have we pulled people into relationship with other Christians at the expense of their relationships with people who need Jesus?

Tony continues on to make these observations:
It just strikes me as odd that people seem to be very capable of finding friends outside the church. In fact, the social networking craze has made it even easier to connect with people both face-to-face and virtually. I wonder if social networking has any clues for the Church when it comes to biblical community. If we create the right framework for relationships to happen, will people find their own friends? If we create the right environments, will people take that step on their own?
What would happen if we put less attention on organizing relationships and more attention on giving people something to organize around? For example, what if we focused on serving opportunities? Would people naturally gather around those initiatives to serve others? What if we focused on the content we were generating to help people better understand the Bible and its application to our daily lives? Would people naturally organize around that content for conversations together?
Relationships are important, no one is saying otherwise...but is it the church's role to create "friendships" and relationships? Are we just setting up the church for failure and people for disappointment in the church?

What Do You Think About Twittering At Church?

Six Different Styles Of Leadership

Here is a good and brief summary over at the Wall Street Journal of six different leadership styles, as summarized by Daniel Goleman (author of Emotional Intelligence and Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence).

The six styles are:

1. Visionary
2. Coaching
3. Affiliative
4. Democratic

5. Pacesetting

6. Commanding

According to the article, “The most effective leaders can move among these styles, adopting the one that meets the needs of the moment.” However, some of the styles need to be used very sparingly.

These categories by Goleman reminded me of Tim Elmore's Dorothy's Way presentation from the Catalyst Labs last year.

Tim used Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz as a metaphor for the many church leadership styles through the different era's and how leadership style differed through that era.

In the 50's it was a Military style - top down and demanded loyalty.
In the 60-70's it was the CEO - leading with vision and valued productivity
In the 80's it was the Entrepreneur - desiring to be "cutting edge" and valuing innovation
In the 90's it was the Coach - deploy the talent of players and valuing teamwork
NOW - is the Dorothy Way...a leadership style called Poet/Gardner

The leadership style of today leads in an age of complexity and doesn't pretend to have all the answers. They are learning, reading and synthesizing information in order to lead (that is the Poet part) and they are most interested in growing people under their care (that is the Gardner part). This style is a leader that asks questions and listens.

Elmore did suggest, just as Goleman, that although a leader will conform to a primary leadership style, there will be times though when the leader will need to move between these many styles depending on the situation and leadership context.

What is your primary leadership style?

(ht: What’s Best Next)

A Church Moving Into The 21st. Century

has a good article on how the United Methodist church has taken a giant leap into the 21st century with a social media driven web presence. Their website called, 10thousanddoors - - integrated Google Connect, Twitter, Video, Google Earth, RSS to provide an interactive experience with relevant and fresh content. The website is easy to navigate, well designed and aesthetically pleasing.

I commend the UMC denomination for taking this leap into social attempting to relevantly communicate and connect people on the web.

Your Flock May Be In For A "Tweet"

There seems to be a lot of talk these days about Twitter and the Church. Last week Time magazine ( Twittering in Church, with the Pastor's O.K.) had a story about how churches are not only allowing, but integrating twitter within their Sunday morning worship services.

This Sunday, the Orlando Sentinel published a story about Twitter, Churches connect via social media: Flocks In for a tweet.

Yours truly was interviewed for that story to discuss how churches and faith based ministries are viewing, and utilizing social media with their ministry contexts.

One of the biggest challenges of this new medium for churches is that Twitter is not about just pushing out information (although Twitter can provide that use in a small measure), rather Twitter is about empowering people to be able to change and influence the message and be part of a conversation. When churches don't understand that, their use of this tool becomes just one big Twitter Fail! (this holds true just like businesses who don't understand this fundamental truth - see article HERE)

Used properly, Twitter can provide a variety of great opportunities to encourage participation within the church and engage people in a spiritual conversation. Illustrating that point, here is a quote from the Time article:

"If worship is about creating community, Twitter is an undeniably useful tool. The trick is to not let the chatter overshadow the need for quiet reflection that spirituality requires. At Westwinds, people can ask questions about the sermon that the pastors will answer later, or they can tweet in real time and hope another congregant offers insight. Some use Twitter as a note-taking tool. Often, it's pastor-directed, with McDonald preaching while Voelz taps out, "In what way do you feel the spirit of God moving within you? Now Discuss."
Do you Twitter in your church? If so, how? Do you think there are some inherent concerns and cautions with using social media during worship?

First Impressions - Somebody Is Watching

Those who serve on a First Impressions team of a church (parking lot, greeters etc..) are some of the most important roles on Sunday morning. It is true when it's said that the sermon starts in the parking lot. But even though it's important, it doesn't always get the kudos and recognition as other more on stage roles may receive.

But just know, God is watching, and your work is done for Him, and to glorify Him. (Col 3:17)

Potential - First Impressions from Flamingo Road Church on Vimeo.

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