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.

My Personal Recommendation Of Tony Stiff

In this post, I want to toot someone's horn and bring them to your attention.

In my years of working alongside many ministry leaders, Tony Stiff is one of the most gifted pastors I know. Tony is not only a pastor, he is a friend and a ministry colleague.

Tony is currently in a season of transition and seeking the Lord for the next ministry opportunity

If you are part of a church that is going through a pastoral transition, whether it be a lead pastor or a pastoral staff position, I would encourage you to take a look at Tony's material - his resume website and video!

 I wouldn't hesitate to work with Tony on the same team if the opportunity provided itself.

To see Tony's resume website with this video in its intended context click here.
To download a copy of Tony's Pastoral Resume in PDF form with references, recommendations, and more click here.

In 20 Years, One Quarter Of Americans Could Claim "No Religion"

According to a post at U.S. News and World Report, if current trends continue, a quarter of Americans are likely to claim "no religion" in 20 years, according to a survey out today by Trinity College.

Americans who identify with no religious tradition currently comprise 15 percent of the country, representing the fastest growing segment of the national religious landscape.

While the numbers portend a dramatic change for the American religious scene—"religious nones" accounted for just 8 percent of the population in 1990—the United States is not poised to adopt the anti-religious posture of much of secularized Europe.

That's because American religious nones tend to be religious skeptics as opposed to outright atheists. Fewer than 10 percent of those identifying with no religious tradition call themselves atheists or hold atheistic beliefs, according to the new study.

Read the rest HERE

Now You Know...

You got to watch this latest "Did You Know?.." video below.

The video includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology.

Watching the video reminds me again and again of the importance for the church not to ignore the important trends such as social media, the ubiquitous use of cell phones and the future of marketing.

Of course it is important to always view trends and technology with discernment and through a theological grid..but that doesn't mean that our ministries and churches have permission to ignore the shifting landscape and ignore genuine opportunities to connect people to their faith and to proclaim the gospel.

I believe that we are in a paradigm shift today as big as the day when the world was opened up by the invention of the Gutenberg printing press.

Rotten On The Inside

"I've come to see institutional decline like a disease: harder to detect but easier to cure in the early stages; easier to detect but harder to cure in the later stages. An institution can look strong on the outside but already be sick on the inside, dangerously on the cusp of a precipitous fall." – Jim Collins, How the Mighty Fall: A Primer on the Warning Signs,


The One Secret To Become More Productive

Matt Cutts, Google software engineer shares one of his best productivity secrets. This secret can literally CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!! Are you ready?

Step 1. Buy a productivity book.

Any productivity book will do. It doesn’t matter what book you order though, because you probably won’t read it. You can use any random “increase your productivity” book.

Step 2. Look at the productivity book and tell yourself, “If I don’t get X done, I’m going to have to read that productivity book.”

That’s it. Staring at the cover of a productivity book gives you almost as much of a motivational boost as actually reading the book. And if staring at the cover doesn’t work, then tell yourself the punishment for not getting your work done is that you’ll have to read that dang productivity book. Pretty soon you’ll be off and working. :-)

Thanx Matt!

Rethinking Vision

In Gary Collins' recent newsletter, he submits that casting vision isn't what it used to be:
Recent years have seen a seismic shift in our perspectives on vision, especially as it relates to leadership. A new book by Jimmy Long calls this The Leadership Jump. Top-down, controlling leadership is fading. No longer can people with titles and power set the agenda and expect everyone else to follow. A new form of leadership has emerged where the leader stimulates ideas and plans but where teams combine their creative ideas to set vision and shape directions together.
It is all about collaboration and coroperation.  Is it no wonder that we get this kind of response from those we lead particularly since we now live in a world of "social media", such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  Social Media empowers people to particapate not only in the medium, but also crafting the conversation and message.  People want to be empowered to participate.

Gary goes on to say:
In an issue of Leadership Journal (Summer 2009) devoted to "iGens" (the contemporary "isolated generation"), one writer urges ministry leaders to "forget about implementing the church's vision." Instead, leaders need to release control and share influence with others, including those who are younger. This can be one of the most difficult changes for a traditional leader to make.
Visions and vision casting are still relevant and motivating. Leaders, coaches, mentors, and teachers will continue to instill and stimulate visions. What's changing is the shift of control, creativity and ownership from an influential individual to teams. This change in vision and visionary leadership is too far along to reverse. Maybe that's not so bad.
You can read the newsletter in it entirety HERE.

Passion - Atlanta 2010

Where? - Atlanta. January 2-5.

Louie Giglio. Hillsong. Chris Tomlin. John Piper. Francis Chan. Beth Moore. Matt Redman. Andy Stanley. Steve Fee. David Crowder. Christy Nockels. Charlie Hall. Kristian Stanfill.

Worst Meeting Ever!

Have you ever cried that out loud? I know I have.

Meetings can be bad enough as they are - but a bad book about meetings, such as the one pictured, All About Meetings,  is Uberboring!

You won't find this book at your local Barnes and Noble.  Rather you will most likely find this dusty old find someone in the dark recesses of your public library.

The table of contents of this book include:
1. Why Meetings? ...
2. What Is a Meeting?…..
12. Was It A Good Meeting?

Memorable quotes:
Page 81, “Probably you too have been present at affairs where the hostesses acted as though they hated everyone and wished that they were anywhere but there…”   And, “The guest who arrives too early sometimes presents a problem which may be solved simply by not opening the doors until a certain set time…” - no kidding?!

Meetings are unavoidable in ministry and in the marketplace.  Since you are going to have meetings - you might as well do them right.   When you hold your meetings it is important that you include several things:

An agenda that people receive at least 24 hrs before the schedule meeting - that way people aren't going in cold with no thought or preparation.

Clear start and end times.

Everyone walks away with a clear action plan - answering the three questions.  What is the task?.. Who specifically has responsibility for it?...And when is it's deadline?

Related Posts:
Death by Meetings
How to Become a Scheduling Wizard

(ht: Awful Library Books)

Facebook Gets More Social

Facebook is rolling out “@ mentions” similar to those found in Twitter. According to the Facebook blog:
Now, when you are writing a status update and want to add a friend’s name to something you are posting, just include the “@” symbol beforehand. As you type the name of what you would like to reference, a drop-down menu will appear that allows you to choose from your list of friends and other connections, including groups, events, applications and Pages. Soon, you’ll be able to tag friends from applications as well. The “@” symbol will not be displayed in the published status update or post after you’ve added your tags.
This feature isn’t working universally yet, you may need to wait awhile until it get fully rolled out.

In addition, Facebook has added a feature allowing users to browse and filter friends by city. To access this feature, go to Friends, then click on Browse. You’ll be given an option to browse by City; a dropdown menu will appear showing the cities in which you have friends.

It is exciting to see Facebook adding new features.  Facebook is one of my must-have ministry tools.  It helps me to communicate and stay connected with those in my ministry unlike many other tools out there.

And don't forget...if you aren't a part of Ministry Best Practices' Facebook Fan Page - become a FAN!

Related Posts:

Biblical Worldview Training

Starting today, the Colson Center for Christian Worldview will begin to equip a true movement of believers — men and women who want to defend and live out a thoroughly biblical worldview in this postmodern age, an age that is growing increasingly hostile to the beliefs and values that have made Western civilization possible.
 The Colson Center is a unique interactive Website — a vast virtual library that pulls together not only my work and teachings, but those of many of the great Christian thinkers, ancient and modern. When you come to the Website, you'll have full, free access to articles, videos, online courses — all designed to help believers see the world through the eyes of Christ. You'll also find links to a wide variety of Christian ministries and organizations that share my passion for seeing a renewed, vibrant Church impacting the society in which we live.

To learn more about the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and explore all it has to offer, visit the Colson Center at....

They have created a brief video that captures the heart of what they're trying to accomplish through the Colson Center.

Top 10 Biggest Megachurches - In Pictures

Here are some interesting facts about the list:

Four of the ten are in Texas.

Seven of the ten are in the south.

One is just down the street from where I live.

There’s a father and son whose churches are on the list- can you guess who that is?
Click Here to view all 10 Churches

(ht: BagofNothing)

Make Your Communication Come Alive

Do you find it challenging to find that right graphic or photo for the next church newsletter, website, or blog post?

Are you looking for free, quality stock photography for your church or ministry?

That’s where the free meta-search engine Everystockphoto can help you make your communication pieces come alive.  Everystockphoto searches millions of free stock photos from many different sources, including Flickr, stock.xchng, morgueFile and FreeRange.

All you do is enter a search term - like I did for "stained glass", and Everystockphoto returns the results in a series of easy-to-navigate thumbnails.  Clicking on a thumbnail reveals a larger image, together with more information about the photo, including license, image size, the name of the photographer and more. Also, the highest-resolution version of the image is available through the “Full Size” link.

For this blog post, I pulled one of the images of "stained glass" from the search and found this beautiful spiraled "Glory Window". You will definitely want to bookmark Everystockphoto, because chances are you are going to get a lot of use out of it.

Bible Bestsellers

1. Outreach New Testament – ESV
2. Text Bible – NKJV
3 . NIV Adventure Bible
4 . Operation Worship Bible – NLT
5 . True Images – NIV
6 . Thinline Bible – NIV
7 . Abundant Life Bible NT – NLT
8 . Adventure Bible – NIV
9 . Thinline Bible – NIV
10. NIrV Adventure Bible for Early Readers
Compiled and distributed by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA)

Link - to see the whole list

Be A Better Leader?...Be A Humble Follower!

This quote is from Jack Miller and his book The Heart of a Servant Leader:
How blessed it is just to be a follower of Jesus! Really, isn’t being a good follower the very heart of being a leader? And isn’t our leadership often lacking just because we have weakened in followership? I know that is my experience repeatedly. I get overly concerned over how to be a better leader, but Jesus is concerned about making me a better, more humble follower. (p.218)

The Nines

Catalyst is partnering with Leadership Network on a brand new event they have created called The Nines. I'm participating, and you should too. Here are the details:

Wednesday, September 9, begins at 9:00 am CST.
The event is free, but you have to pre-register.

Over 60 presenters, including Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Mark Batterson, Ed Stetzer, Reggie McNeal, John Ortberg, Steven Furtick, Greg Surratt, Reggie Joiner and many, many more.  Each presenter has nine minutes or less to present based on this thought: “If you could sit down one-on-one with a handful of church leaders, what is the one thing you would want to tell them?”

Over 6,000 leaders have already pre-registered for this one day online event, so make sure you register today.

(ht: Brad)

Ministry Best Practices Goes Mobile

Take Ministry Best Practices with you where ever you go!

Ministry Best Practices is especially designed for your iPhone, Blackberry (or any other web enabled mobile phone).

On the sidebar is a widget that will send your cell phone a text message with the link to the Ministry Best Practices mobile url.

House Churches By The Numbers

According to research from George Barna, 33 percent of people responding to a dozen national surveys indicated they have experienced God or shared their faith in the last month with a group meeting in a home environment.

But take pause before you assume the simple church movement is spreading like wildfire in the United States as it has in other countries.

Barna's latest report shows that the actual number of people involved in house churches varies wildly, depending upon how the question of participation is posed. For example, when house church is defined in the strictest sense—as a group that meets regularly in a non-church building, is independent of a typical church and considers itself a church—only 3 to 6 percent of respondents said they are involved. When asked if they have "attended a worship service in someone's home, known as a house church," about 10 percent of the adult population has done so in the past month. (Interestingly enough, simply using the words religious service instead of worship service prompted a full 22 to 24 percent of people to agree.)

So where did the one-third figure come from? That's the results from the broadest question asking if respondents had "experienced God or expressed (their) faith in God in a house church or simple church meeting in the past month." Overall, Barna believes the most consistent and reliable assessment is that 5 percent of the population is involved in a house church on a regular basis.
"With growing numbers of conventional churches attempting to incorporate both the house church concept and language into their ministries, it becomes increasingly difficult to get an accurate reading," Barna said. "All research is simply an estimate of reality, but our preference has always been to use conservative measures rather than questionable or exaggerated figures. … Each question is measuring something different; in its own way, each question is accurate and useful. The study shows that it depends on what you want to find out—and how important it is to have a well-defined sense of the element to be measured, and how questions can be crafted to distort our understanding of reality."
(ht: Barna & MinistryTodayMag )

Coming Soon - YouVersion Live!

Beginning in October, you'll be able to interact with live events on your mobile device using YouVersion Live.
During church services, conferences, Bible studies, small groups, and more, you can:
  • Follow along with message outlines and take notes
  • Read related Bible verses and click through to the expanded passage
  • Vote on a poll and see the results live
  • Respond to questions anonymously
  • Request prayer
  • Take it all home with you on your phone
Anyone with a web-enabled mobile phone will be able to take part, along with iPhone, BlackBerry, and Android users. And if you’ve got a laptop or computer with an internet connection nearby, you’ll be able to join in too.

YouVersion Live gives you a simple, free way to participate, contribute, and get involved in the conversation.
Check out and sign up for email updates to stay in the loop!

How Excellence Goes Viral

Do what you do so well that when other people see what it is that you do, they will want to see you do it again and they will bring others with them to show them what it is that you do.
– Walt Disney

10 Deadly Sins Of A Dying Church

1. Doctrinal Drift

In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down doctrinal truths believing that they are creating a more inviting environment for seekers. The Word of God may not be very sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make no mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of the mush.

2. Evangelism Atrophy

Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.

3. Failure To Be Relevant

The Gospel was not written in a cultural vacuum. The words we read today were written thousands of years ago. They still apply today, but we must learn to understand them in their cultural context and then find ways to help 21st century people understand.

Church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.

4. Inwardly Focused

The new unspoken mantra of the modern American church is; “It’s all about me.” While no one will readily admit it, all one has to do is look at the ministries and programs. What can be quickly discovered is that most churches build ministries to satisfy the already fed. These programs are good to keep the flock happy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.

5. Personal Conflict

Church people have found a way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power struggles rule the day.

6. A Priority Of Comfort

Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.

7. Biblical Illiteracy

The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says. Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly quoted as scripture.

8. Hording

It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we, like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.

9. Failure to Follow

Too often pastors are treated like hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job.

10. Idolatry

You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive. Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church and forgotten the main thing.

[from Essential Church by Thom and Sam Rainer]