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.

Are You Invisible Without Social Media?

If your church isn't engaged with social media or doesn't have an internet presence...will anyone know you even exist?

(cartoon ht: Abstruse Goose)

Please Quiet Your Cellphones!

When you go to the movies, without exception you are given a reminder to silence your cellphones.  But what about the church worship services...especially this Christmas season when many, who are unfamiliar with church etiquette, will be filling our pews.  Therefore how do churches deal with cell phones in church.  Guest blogger Maria Rainer addresses that issue:

With the rise of cell phones being used in the United States, one would think that cell phone etiquette would be common knowledge. Increasing incidents of people texting or, worse, answering calls and having entire conversations during church services and events indicate, however, that either it is not common knowledge or that people are flouting it.

What Cell Phones Mean to Us
Cell phones have become, to younger and older generations alike these days, an extension of ourselves, a part of our identities. Turning off a cell phone even during service thus might mean a missed lifetime or social opportunity.

What May Not Work
Some churches have resorted to providing plastic bins at the entrance for all congregants to put their cell phones. Trusting others to take back only their devices and not steal those of others may be too much for most congregants, and prohibiting these devices entirely from church may also encourage lying within church walls. Neither does calling out those text messaging or having private phone conversations during a service work, as it may shatter egos in the process.

What We Can Do
Rather than by force or coercion, churchgoers and pastors alike might encourage one another to mind their greater purpose and the meaning of their very attendance, and at least silence their phones. Posting a large, plain sign at the entrance reading, “Please turn off all cellular devices,” may do the trick.

Or this funny video might do the trick:

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, where recently she's been researching music degrees and blogging about student life. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Rethink Is Revamped

You have to stay current and fresh and a year ago I gave a lot of kudos to the United Methodist Church for engaging relevantly with social media with their new online presence. (see previous post HERE)

Now UMC has revamped their site, keeping it fresh and current, the new site url is now: - check it out!

How is your church or denomination engaging people online?

Is God Calling Me To Be A Pastor?

One of the best books out there on understanding one's call is Os Guinness, The Call.

How To Discuss A Pastor's Salary - Scripturally

These are 8 scriptures to consider when discussing a pastor's salary. There scriptures are helpful for both the pastor and for those leaders in the church who set it.

Scriptures that the senior pastor should bear in mind:
  • I am not doing this for gain (2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Tim. 3:8; 1 Tim. 6:5; Titus 1:7).
  • I am free from love of money, and am content trusting God (Heb. 11:5-6).
  • I am above reproach, and at pains to do what is right in the eyes of God and man (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Cor 8:21).
  • My followers owe me nothing—I will gladly spend myself for them (2 Cor. 12:14).
  • I consider devotion to me as if to God; I will pour it out to the Lord (1 Chron. 11:18).
Scriptures that those who help set the pastor's salary should bear in mind:
  • My leaders are worthy of double honor (1 Tim. 5:17).
  • My aim is to make their lives a joy (Heb. 13:17).
  • I can be attentive to their needs, and quick to try to help, and alert to give them support and encouragement (1 Chron. 11:18).
(ht: Resurgence)

First Impressions Fail

Don't you just feel the warmth?

And Now For Something Completely Different....

Here is a Friday Funny...

Seven Reasons NOT To Go To Church

Don't go to church if you don't like people. Church is full of them!  Filled with all kinds of messy and broken people - but you know what? -you are no different.

Don't go to church if you like comfort - Going to church will shake up your life - if it isn't doing that, then I recommend that you find another church.

Don't go to church if like the way you are - God wants to change you...conform and transform you more and more into the image of Jesus.

Don't go to church if you want to hold onto your money - Because fundamentally it ain't yours anyway.

Don't go to church if you want to remain anonymous - Going to church isn't like enlisting in the witness protection program - you can't hide.

Don't go to church because they may ask you to serve in some role. I mean, isn't it more intelligently stimulating to sit on couch eating nachos and watch Simpsons re-runs?

Don't go to church because we all know that they are full of hypocrites - But who isn't? Thank God for Jesus and the cross!

Free Online Summit - Check It Out!

The Leadership and Influence Summit is going to be online and for FREE on November 3 and 4.

10 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me

from Brady Boyd, via:

1. Sheep bites can’t kill me, but the gnawing will make life miserable a few days each year.

2. No matter how hard I try, I will always be tempted to measure my success by attendance numbers.

3. The best thing I can do to build and grow God’s kingdom is to be myself and not compare myself to others.

4. It takes a long time to become old friends so nurture and cherish the old friendships God has given me.

5. I will only have as much spiritual authority as I am willing to submit to myself. Independence will destroy me but there is power in submission.

6. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Challenge people to go deeper even when the message is unpopular.

7. My brain will always feel like scrambled eggs on Sunday afternoon so don’t make any major decisions until Tuesday morning.

8. Some people will only trust you after a really long time of proving yourself and another group will never trust you no matter what you do.

9. Don’t feel guilty about taking a Sabbath. It was not a suggestion.

10. I will never regret spending time with my family instead of saying yes to a church meeting that someone else could lead.

Top Reasons Why People Choose Your Church

Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Ranier in his book Surprising Insights of the Unchurched, p. 18)

90% – Pastor/Preaching
88% – Doctrines
49% – Friendliness of Members
42% – Other Issues
41% – Someone Church Witnessed to Me
38% – Family Member
37% – Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
25% – Relationship Other than Family Member
25% – Sunday School Class
25% – Children’s/Youth Ministry
12% – Other Groups/Ministries
11% – Worship Style/Music
7% – Location

Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church
(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)

58% – Doctrine/Theology
53% – People Caring for Each Other
52% – Preaching
45% – Friendliness
45% – Children’s Programs
43% – Helping the Poor
36% – Denomination
35% – Like the Pastor
26% – Sunday School

(ht: EvangelismCoach)

Church Greeters And Hand Sanitizers

Trust But Verify!

Is this message biblically accurate? What do you think? Discuss...

How To Raise The Profile Of Your Church

It is a struggle of every church and ministry - how the community perceives you.  When the community thinks of your church, what comes to mind?  If your church were to disappear tomorrow, would the community notice?  To often the church is perceived as out of touch, irreverent, condemning and merely fighting the culture wars.  But wouldn't you want the church to be known for what it was meant to be known for? - a place of grace, love, care and compassion.  A place were people with their junk find hope and healing through the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and where that love and hope permeates and changes our world around us.

The Episcopal church has been contemplating the same issue. Here is an excerpt from a post from Fr. Ron Pogue:

It is not that The Episcopal Church doesn't have a public profile. We do. However, for a number of years it has been out of balance. Many Episcopalians have felt they needed to apologize for their Church because our internal conflicts and many angry voices have been the topic of the community grapevine. It seems to me that it's time for the public profile to change. It needs to change at every level, but especially at the local level where most of the day-to-day mission is being carried out.
  • When people in Lawrence, Kansas think of The Episcopal Church, we'd like them to think of the Trinity Interfaith Food Pantry, the BackSnack program, and the outstanding music ministry, all of which we share generously with our neighbors.
  • When people in City Island, Bronx, NY think of The Episcopal Church, will they think of the Healthy Aging Program at Grace Church?
  • When people in Raliegh, NC think of the Episcopal Church, we want them to remember that St. Mark's Church there has an AIDS Care Team.
  • When people in Tuscaloosa, AL think of The Episcopal Church, maybe they'll be aware of the Arts and Autism after school program they sponsor.
  • When people in Kansas City, MO think of the Episcopal Church, they'll think of the St. Luke's Hospital system with 11 hospitals and a hospice program, or, maybe they'll remember that St. Paul's Church just across the state line in the Diocese of Kansas, has a remarkable ministry of feeding the hungry.
Maybe all of those Episcopalians who have found their spiritual home in this Church will be salt, light, and leaven in their communities in ways that make a difference.

Don't Monkey Around With Your Email Communication! (Actually Do!)

A couple of weeks ago I was helping to teach a Social Media and Ministry workshop, and during our discussion of email marketing and communication, someone suggested MailChimp.  Up to then, I had been using another email marketing service and hadn't given MailChimp much thought.  But then a couple of days later I was talking to someone I respect in the IT space and he was raving about MailChimp - needless to say my curiosity was peaked, and I had to give it a try.  I am sold!

Here are a couple of reasons why:

1. MailChimp application for iPhone (hoping for an Android one soon) - mobile access is essential.
2. Social Media integration such as letting your readers 'like' your campaigns from their inbox, and auto posting your email campaigns directly to your Facebook page or to your Twitter stream.
3. User friendly web based interface - it is so easy to use
4. Extremely easy to use autoresponder and attractive templates right out of the box
5. Widgets such as Rapportive widget (don't know what that is, then you need to check it out!) and their Adobe Air app called "Chimpadeedee" which allows you to sign up people to your list from a computer run kiosk.
6. Free for under 500 subscribers, pay as you use is available - which is great if you have a small ministry/church
7. Integrated with Google analytics.
8. The upshot is that MailChimp has a lot of cool bells and whistles, and is continuing to innovate into the mobile arena, with social media and is increasing it's power and reach through integration with other like minded applications.

Because I have become such a fan of MailChimp, I have donated some of my ad space on the sidebar to showcase them for the next 60 days - so let it be clear, this post was not ad sponsored - I have merely become a raving fan of MailChimp!  You need to give it a try.

Don't Fear Failure

The CEO of Google just recently announce that one of their latest innovations, Google Wave, has been a failure.  This post does not intend to discuss the merits or shortcomings of Google's ambitious attempt to change email as we knew it, but rather I think Google response to the situation is a good platform to talk about FAILURE.

Here are a couple of quotes from the article about Google's latest announcement.
"Our policy is we try things," the Google CEO said, hours after the company announced it was halting development of the complex real-time communication tool. "We celebrate our failures. This is a company where it is absolutely OK to try something that is very hard, have it not be successful, take the learning and apply it to something new."
Google wasn't afraid to fail, in fact they were willing to invest a lot of time, energy and money to risk on something new.

Here are a couple of lessons I think the church can learn from Google's example:

Be Willing to Create a Risk-taking Culture - Make it clear to your staff and your volunteers that innovation and taking risks is not only encouraged but celebrated.  Let people know that failure is inevitable when a church steps out in faith to invest in new ideas.  But also remind them that failure isn't fatal.  Just like Google, who is trying to learn from the failure and who also is taking the best ideas of Google Wave and utilizing them in other applications - we need to do the same with our church.  Sometimes a failure doesn't mean the whole idea was bad, maybe it was bad timing, or bad execution, or bad planning.  Creating this kind of culture within your church can't just be mere words, you must back it up - which means the leaders need to be the biggest innovators and risk takers.

Be Willing to Risk Time, Energy, Manpower and Money to an Idea - It is not enough for a church to generate new ideas, you've got to be willing to leverage the needed resources to make sure the idea has a chance for success.  To many times, ideas just remain ideas...they never move effectively into the implementation stage.  They never translate into any tangible outcomes or results - therefore leaving a lot of ideas simply to fail because they died on the vine.

Don't be Afraid to Admit Failure - to often the church is afraid to admit failure - because of what we fear others might think (i.e. were we listening to God properly when we moved forward?)  Because we won't admit failure we're then tempted to merely continue to do the same thing again and again even though it is giving us failing results.  I remember a couple of years ago when Willow Creek and Bill Hybels admitted publicly that they made a mistake on one of their biggest ministry assumptions for their church.  A lot of people piled criticism upon them, but I was impressed by their humility and willingness to step out faith and risk failure rather than not to step out at all - as well as their willingness to whiteboard and rethink the issue when they released it had failed.

40 Simple Ways To Invite People To Church

Mike Lukaszewski at Oak Leaf Church posted a list of 40 Ways You Can Invite People to Church.

Here is a sample of that list, but go HERE to read the entire list.
  • Grill out for the employees of a company or business.
  • Set up our party trailer, which comes with a grill, moonwalk, helium tank and balloons, video games, chairs, etc. at any community events.
  • Dress up like a Star Wars character wherever there are people and take pictures with kids and families. Give them a special invite card with the location they can download the picture. You will have a blast and invite a bunch of people to church.
  • Tailgate at high school football games. Give away hot dogs and invite people.
  • Set up a moonwalk at a local park while events are happening.
  • Volunteer at community runs and bike races
  • Hand out coffee or hot chocolate at the First Friday events in downtown Cartersville
  • Give out hand warmers with the OLC logo at winter events like the Christmas parade
  • Do a free oil change or car inspection in the House of Rock parking lot
  • Show UFC fights on Saturday night at the House of Rock
  • Host a block party for your neighborhood. Again, the party trailer is available.
  • Provide “full service” at a local gas station – wash windows and leave a car freshener
  • Show free family movies at the House of Rock on Friday nights
  • Help local schools with their fall festivals. Instead of re-creating the wheel, just help a school make their event better.
  • Take professional pictures at local school talent shows
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Take a couple of hours and put out door hangers in your neighborhood or apartment complex.
  • Go put invite cards on car windshields. Try not to get arrested…that keeps it fun.
  • Be intentional about coaching a kids sports team.
  • You and your kids set up a lemonade stand.
  • Have a free garage sale…give away things and invite people to church
  • Do a free car wash
  • Walk around a neighborhood and collect canned food. Invite people to church while asking for food.
Read the rest HERE

What ideas would you contribute to this list?

Ministries Of Mercy

This is Tim Keller's first book that I ever read, while in seminary at RTS.  And for a while it was the only book Keller had written before he become such a prolific author.  But I think this a wonderful book for your deacons, Stephen ministers, small group leaders or anyone in the leadership of your church to read or to listen to. is offering Tim Keller’s book Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road as the free audio download for August. Click HERE to take advantage of this special offer, and make sure to use the coupon code AUG2010.

Churches Are Still So 20th Century!

A just released National study by BuzzPlant, a leading internet marketing firm focusing on the faith-based market segment, shows that churches across America are not taking advantage of the social networking phenomena that has revolutionized interpersonal communications in the 21st Century.
"Thousands of churches are not walking through the unprecedented number of open doors social networking has provided them...To not be proactive in wireless communications today is to not be communicating" says Bob Hutchins, Owner of BuzzPlant,  
The BuzzPlant Study entitled, "How Do People of Faith Use Social Media?", surveyed churches across the country exploring their levels of involvement in the social media explosion which is not only becoming a marketing powerhouse but the point of connectivity between people of all generations. The study showed that while almost half of surveyed churches have some sort of social media presence, such as on Facebook, the vast majority use it poorly or are not committed to maximizing the effectiveness it offers the church to connect with its members and promote the connectedness that people need and are increasingly turning to social networking to satisfy.  Here are some of the statistics:

62% of churches have their sermons on a website or do a pod-cast
28% of the churches surveyed post a blog by their pastor
32% use social media to get feedback from the membership
25% always use social media in the promotion of special church events and activities.

Also the study shows that the larger the church, the more likely it is to use social media to stay connected with its members.

You can download the entire study HERE.

How is your church or ministry using social media?  Or is it?

Creativity Is Messy

Creativity is not neat. It is not orderly. When we are being creative we don’t know what is going to happen next. When we are being creative a great deal of what we do is wrong. When we are being creative we are not efficient.
-Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant, p. 163

Have You Been Googled?

Have you ever "googled" yourself?  Of course you have.  And what did you find?  Chances are as you may be either looking for a church/pastoral position or hiring for one, you've turned to google.  But what are the challenges and potential problems for both the potential candidate and the search committee?

In the Call and Response blog from Duke Divinity school, Carol Howard Merritt discusses the issue of search committees and Google.
This experience has made me wonder: what happens if someone on a search committee Googles the name of a candidate who has been attacked by a vicious blogger? How much will that weigh on the committee’s decision? We can usually control what sort of information we put on the Internet about ourselves, but we cannot control what people say about us. We also have very little legal recourse in these situations (to dig deeper, see Daniel Solove).
How do we lead religious institutions in the Google generation? There are a few possibilities.
First, religious leaders can severely limit their web interactions. Some people have decided that it is too dangerous for one’s reputation to get in the mud of social media. If they do interact, then it’s all business. I respect this decision, but I also think that social media presents incredible opportunities for us to connect with people in authentic and creative ways. I would hate to miss out on that because I’m a pastor. In fact, it seems that I should be involved because I’m a pastor.
Second, we can encourage no-Google policies in our job searches. This is something that Daniel Solove condones, but I’m afraid it is not possible. When an employer is trying to gain as much information about a candidate’s character as possible, then I’m not sure that they can ignore such an important research tool. And even if the search committee did maintain a no-Google policy, the people in the institution or pew will be looking up the name on search engines.

Read the rest HERE

Don't Do The "Yearly Dump"

It doesn't matter if you are in a business or a church/ministry...yearly performance reviews are the norm.  But are they necessarily the best.  I appreciate Phil Cooke's thoughts on it, in his latest blog post:
If you store things up and do the "yearly dump" I think it creates many more hard feelings. Employees need to be reviewed, encouraged, and corrected. But do it as the problems (or good stuff) happens. Don't wait until they've forgotten what the reprimand was about in the first place.
(read the whole post HERE)

Phil communicates what I have been thinking for a long time.  It may be necessary to document performance for the employment file, but in terms of actual usefulness, it is better to receive (both for the employee and the organization) real time feedback.

What do you think?

Still Think Social Media Is a FAD?

This is an updated video from the original Social Medial Revolution.

Making Ideas Happen

Over at Tim Schraeder's blog, he has a great review of Scott Belsky's book, Making Ideas Happen.

Here is an excerpt:

In his new book Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance, argues that ideas are worthless if you can’t make them happen and offers this simple equation…

Making Ideas Happen = The Idea + Organization and Execution + Forces of Community + Leadership Capability

The Idea
The era upon us is filled with problems and opportunities that require fresh innovation like never before. We need to conceive new ideas to address the problems and opportunities that surround us – and we need to defy the odds and make these ideas happen.
Ideas are in no short supply. In fact, I think most of us are plagued with too many of them! The process of innovating and creating is birthed with a single idea… a new way of doing something or a better way to do something else.

In today’s Church, we need new ideas and insights to better reach and impact our communities with the Gospel. However plentiful our ideas may be, unless we act on them we’ll still keep doing what we’ve always done and fail to innovate new ways to make a difference in people’s lives.

Organization and Execution
Creative professionals – defined as those who generate (and sometimes execute) ideas for a living – constitute what is most likely the most disorganized community on the planet. But these same individuals are ultimately responsible for the design, entertainment, literature, and new businesses that bring meaning to our lives.
If you’re at all a creative-type, like me, you probably live your life with a certain degree of chaos and disorganization. We somehow equate clutter with creativity, but this book slapped me the face to bring order to the chaos.

It’s only when you are organized that you are fully prepared to effectively execute.

(read the rest over at Tim's blog)

Social Networking Media In Congregations: Possibilities & Practicalities, July 26-29

(I will be one of the speakers/workshop leaders for this event below.  If you are a pastor or ministry leader in the Southeast region, you don't want to miss this event.)

The Center for Lifelong Learning invites you to this interactive event designed to help church leaders explore, plan, launch, and maintain social networking media such as Facebook, blogs, Constant Contact, Skype, Twitter, YouStream, Flickr, and podcasts. You'll learn how to choose from the huge array of social networking options, based on what your ministry wants to accomplish. 

Seminary president Steve Hayner and Georgia Institute of Technology's Susan Wyche are keynote speakers. The event includes workshops sessions for beginners and for those already familiar with various forms of social networking media, as well as panel discussions with pastors and other church leaders experienced in using social media effectively in their congregations. For details about plenary themes and workshop topics, click HERE to view the event schedule.

Click HERE for event schedule and registration, and HERE for housing registration.  
Questions about registration? Contact Lifelong Learning Registrar Angela Wyatt (
[email protected]).

Questions about the event?  
Contact Linda Morningstar ([email protected] or 404-687-4636).

When Ideas Go BAD!

TV Hat, a baseball cap with an elongated peak from which hangs a “personal private theater”. It is a head-mounted blackout tent into which you drop your portable media player, wherein you can watch movies in the glare of the midday sun, or in bed next to your smiling spouse. It costs $30, and includes a 2.5x magnification screen.

Obviously someone thought this was a good idea to manufacture and market - but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that this is a dumb idea.  First of all it looks like a feed bag, and who in their right mind would wear this in public (or private for that matter).  

Like marketing the latest gadget, ministry is also filled with ideas that look good on paper, but once implemented become dismal failures.  Although it is OK to risk, try and be willing to fail - it is also important to create ideas that will really work.

One way to guard against implementing awful ideas is to get other people's feedback and objective opinions - particularly people who aren't close to the issue, ministry or church.

Do you have someone outside your organization that you can go to in order to bounce your ideas off of - so that you don't fall in the trap of producing a new and fresh idea that will go terribly bad?

Is The Era Of FREE Social Media Coming To An End?

Just posted from Beth Kanter's blog:

Last week, Ning, announced a complete end to free services for its users. This includes many, many schools, community groups, and grassroots nonprofits that embraced the free service since it opened its doors in 2007 and will now be forced to pay, or relocate their communities, or say farewell. We've been seeing the end of the era of free social media applications over the past few months. Last November, Causes, a popular and free social networking fundraising application, ditched its Myspace widgets and Ideablob closed its doors.

Are churches and ministries prepared to eventually pay for what is free?  And if that meant keeping their most strategic social media sites up and running (i.e. Facebook), do you think they would be willing to do so? And at what cost?

Do Christians Have An Original Bone In Their Body?

Read this on Phil Cooke's blog a while back,
"Filmmaker Jesse Bryan, media producer at Mars Hill Church in Seattle sent me this interesting article from USA Today. The question is the $4.6 billion dollars in Christian merchandizing - most of it rip offs from the outside culture. As the paper says,"American retailers sell about $4.6 billion worth of Christian products annually, and some are spoofs or spinoffs of commercial logos or brand names. Many such goods are illegal, trademark attorneys say, but companies often are unaware their names are being copied or don't put up a fight for fear of being labeled anti-faith."
We wonder why Christians don't make more of an impact in the culture, when so little of what we do is really original and innovative. When it's easier to copy ideas from the non-believing culture, what attraction is that for them to consider our perspective on faith?"
We worship a God who is infinitely and wondrously creative - who created all that is in the world, with all of it's variety and beauty.  Then why can't the people of God reflect that creativity rather than merely rip off, copy and make pale imitations from the culture around us?

Growth Is A Biological Metaphor

 …we pay attention only to those parts of reality that we can measure with numbers.
…But we forget that growth is a biological, not an arithmetical metaphor. Growth in biology has to do with timing, passivity, waiting, proportion, maturity. There is a proper size to each thing. There are proportions to be attended to. It is an exceedingly complex and mysterious thing, this process of growth. Every congregation has proportions, symmetries, and a size proper to it. Different congregations in different places and conditions will have different proportions and sizes.

-Eugene Peterson, Under the Unpredictable Plant, p. 138."

(ht: Buzzard)

Never Lose Infinite Hope

Ministry leader,...does your ,ministry situation look hopeless?  Are you discouraged? Have hope, anticipated certainty, upon the Lord.
We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope."
Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no love without hope, no hope without love, and neither hope nor love without faith.
Augustine of Hippo

Hurt By The Church? - There Can Be Healing

One of the objectives of many churches is to attract people who do not participate in the life of a church. New research from The Barna Group, however, points out that most of the unchurched in America may be different than expected.
Based on past studies of those who avoid Christian churches, one of the driving forces behind such behavior is the painful experiences endured within the local church context. In fact, one Barna study among unchurched adults shows that nearly four out of every ten non-churchgoing Americans (37%) said they avoid churches because of negative past experiences in churches or with church people.

Read the whole report from

Facebook Fan Page Training Videos

LifeChurch has recently created a library of Facebook Training Videos so that you or your church/ministry web guru will have the tools and training necessary to pull off creating and managing a Facebook Fan page for your ministry.

Training includes videos that you can even download for your own use.

You can get some training for:

  • Events
  • Configuration
  • Fan Updates
  • Insights and Metrics
  • Moderation
  • Notes
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Wall Updates

Now there is no excuse to get a Facebook Fan Page up and running and therefore increasing exponentially your ministry's communication, connection and reach.

(ht: ChurchCrunch)

The Joy Of Making Word Clouds

If you are not familiar with what a word cloud (or tag cloud)  is, it's a visible depiction of a set of words and text, with the size of the words being delineated by their frequency.

These word clouds can be a great illustration tool for bible study, especially when you want to emphasize the frequency of the words within a Bible passage.  Also, because they can be done in customized shapes, they also can become beautiful works of art.

There is a new tool online called, curently in beta, which is an excellent tool in accomplishing the word cloud effect.

The example of the "JOY" word cloud is one that I created.  I created it by importing Philippians, chapter 1 into the editor. (since the letter of Philippians is about joy).

You can customize the shape, style, appearance and content of the cloud.  This is an excellent tool, and now is the time to try it while it is still in beta and all of the features are available for free. (once it goes out of beta, it will reserve some of the features to a PRO paid edition - but it says that much of the functionality of the program will still be available for free).

For another example of creating word clouds, visit my blog, ProvocativeChurch.

6 Reasons Why You Should Avoid Social Media

If you have been an avid reader of Ministry Best Practices, you know that I am a big social media advocate...but for some of you, social media may not be for you. If you don't have the proper expectations and the issues thought through, then you should avoid social media at all costs.

You should avoid social media if...

1.  You like control - Social Medial is messy.  With Social Media you are inviting participation and collaboration.  If you like to control the message and the medium, then stay far away from it. (see Related Post)

2.  You have no clear purpose or goals in doing it - Getting involved with Social Media, just because "everybody is doing it", won't keep your church and ministry engaged with it for the long haul.  After the newness wears off, you will need to have clear goals and measurable outcomes to keep your ministry persevering with it.

3.  You have no clear owner - Your Social Media outposts (i.e. Facebook, Twitter) don't run themselves.  If you don't have a clear owner(s) over it, it will never happen and your Social Media outlets will look like unused wastelands.

4.  You think that it going to be the answer to all your problems - Social Media will enhance your engagement with your church or ministry, but it doesn't solve all your ministry's problems.

5.  You think that it will happen quickly - Nope, just like real relationships, Social Media requires time and investment.  It will take time to develop your Social Media presence, it won't happen over night.

6.  You don't think about the content - If you don't have any meaningful content to offer, then save your energy.  Content is king!

11 Epic Fails Involving Ministry Idolatry

David Powlison rightly observes that “Idolatry is by far the most frequently discussed problem in the Scriptures.”

In the video on the Resurgence site —Mark Driscoll looks at idolatry and applies it especially (though not exclusively) to those in ministry. He defines idols as good things turned into God things—which is a bad thing. (or as I have heard Tim Keller say, idols are turning 'good things' into 'ultimate things')
Driscoll shows that idols lie to us by presenting themselves as Saviors and mediators who can give us identity and make us righteous. But in reality they dishonor God and destroy people.
Driscoll asks 11 questions about ministry idolatry in particular:
  1. Attendance idolatry: Does your joy change when your attendance does?
  2. Gift idolatry: Do you feel that God needs you and uses you because you are so skilled?
  3. Truth idolatry: Do you consider yourself more righteous than more simple Christians?
  4. Fruit idolatry: Do you point to your success as evidence of God’s approval of you?
  5. Method idolatry: Do you worship your method as your mediator?
  6. Tradition idolatry: What traditions are you upholding that are thwarting the forward progress of the gospel?
  7. Office idolatry: Are you motivated primarily by God’s glory or your title?
  8. Success idolatry: Is winning what motivates you at the deepest level?
  9. Ministry idolatry: Do you use the pressure of ministry to make you walk with God?
  10. Innovative idolatry: Does it matter to you that your ministry be considered unique?
  11. Leader idolatry: Who, other than Christ, are you imaging?
Here are the resources from my sister blog, Provocative Church, which would be most helpful in thinking through what the Bible says about idols and how to destroy them:

(ht: Justin)

The Church Of Facebook

Ok, so a church has a Facebook page - now that is no big deal...but a church that is entirely or exclusively found on Facebook...well that is different.

See this CNN report where a church is putting an exclusive presence just on Facebook.

Like the critic, Jon Acuff, who is interviewed for the piece, I have serious concerns believing that an online church can serve as a serogate for a "spacial" church.  Church is ultimately an "incarnational" encounter and experience, and therefore believing that it can be merely a virtual experience found in the virtual world, undercuts it's vibrancy and power.

Make A Splash With Your Facebook Page

Most churches are ministries have ventured into Facebook, and have created a Facebook Fan Page. But the question is, are you leveraging the full power of your Facebook page? I want to show you how to create one feature that will allow your Facebook page to stand out from the rest.

Catholic Church And Social Media

A shameless plug.  I was quoted for a recent Orlando Sentinel article on the Catholic Church and Social Media. You can read the article online HERE.  Read the whole article, but make sure to go to page 2 to see my quotes.

Who Said That?

If you are retooling your church to fit the Starbucks model, try reading Ephesians instead. Surely we can do better than faux community and the illusion of social superiority.
-Kevin DeYoung, read the whole post here

Make Your Sermon Count

Ever feel as if your congregation doesn't remember on Monday what you preached about on Sunday?

It is important for those of us who hear the preaching of the Word, to meditate on it and apply it into our lives.  And if the church can provide tools and resources to further that goal, we should make every effort to do so.

That is why I like what College Park Church is providing.  They are making available on their website a 'Sunday Package'. In the package is the sermon to listen to again, a manuscript of the sermon, a study guide, as well as the weekly church bulletin and news and opportunities.

I think this is an awesome idea, and as far as I can see, it isn't very difficult to implement.

10 Insane But True Facts About Porn

In Tim Chester's forthcoming book, Captured By a Better Vision: Living Pom-Free, he describes the spread of pornography as an epidemic. Here are some statistics that back up his claim …
  • Every second, 28,258 Internet users are viewing pomography and $3,075.64 is being spent on pornography
  • The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink
  • There are 4.2 million pornographic websites, which is 12% of all the websites on the internet
  • Every day there are 68 million (25% of the total) search engine requests for pornographic terms
  • 42.7% of internet users view pom
  • The average age of first exposure to pornography is 11 years old and 80% of 15-17 year olds have had multiple hard-core exposure
  • The 35-49 age group is the largest consumer of internet pornography
  • 47% of Christians say that pornography is a major problem in the home
  • 17% of women struggle with pornography addiction and 70% of women keep their cyber activities secret
  • The USA produces 89% of all pornographic web pages (Germany are the next biggest producer, producing 4% of all pomographic web pages)
The fact that pornography is an enormous problem probably comes at no surprise to you. But this isn't just a problem that is merely out there, outside of the church - it's prevalent inside the church as well. Christians struggle! Pastors struggle!

Therefore it's a surprise to how relatively silent the church is about this issue.  Perhaps we've developed a "don't ask...don't tell" mindset, I won't challenge and ask you about this issue, just as long as you won't ask me.

But as ministry leaders, we must,with grace and truth, be addressing this with our youth, our men and yes, even our women.  We cannot any longer be passive and timid about this issue - we must be as aggressive toward pornography, as pornography has been aggressive in coming into our homes and putting people into bondage.

Does your church publicly address pornography with it's members?  If so, how?  Please share in the comments section.

Also check into a helpful resource that will provide you Internet Accountability - Covenant Eyes - sign up today and receive 30 days for FREE!

The ONE Rule To Create WOW Presentations!

Guy Kawasaki, in one of his classic posts, put together a set of guidelines for using PowerPoint within presentations. His rule, if followed, would keep presentations focused, interesting and make them effective.

Here is Guy’s rule:
A PowerPoint presentation should have ten slides, last no more than twenty minutes, and contain no font smaller than thirty points.
Here is Guy's rule unpacked from his original post....

Ten slides. Ten is the optimal number of slides in a PowerPoint presentation because a normal human being cannot comprehend more than ten concepts in a meeting

Twenty minutes. You should give your ten slides in twenty minutes. Sure, you have an hour time slot, but you’re using a Windows laptop, so it will take forty minutes to make it work with the projector. Even if setup goes perfectly, people will arrive late and have to leave early. In a perfect world, you give your pitch in twenty minutes, and you have forty minutes left for discussion.

Thirty-point font. The majority of the presentations that I see have text in a ten point font. As much text as possible is jammed into the slide, and then the presenter reads it. However, as soon as the audience figures out that you’re reading the text, it reads ahead of you because it can read faster than you can speak. The result is that you and the audience are out of synch.

The reason people use a small font is twofold: first, that they don’t know their material well enough; second, they think that more text is more convincing. Total bozosity. Force yourself to use no font smaller than thirty points. I guarantee it will make your presentations better because it requires you to find the most salient points and to know how to explain them well. If “thirty points,” is too dogmatic, the I offer you an algorithm: find out the age of the oldest person in your audience and divide it by two. That’s your optimal font size.

Read the rest of Guy's 10/20/30 rule here

Run Your Meetings Like Google

Say the word "meeting" and most people break out in hives.
When it comes to boring and unproductive meetings, churches and ministry are often the worst offenders.

Certainly every organization must have meetings in order to plan, strategize and communicate. So the question is how does the world's most productive and innovative companies tackle the problem of badly managed meetings? Or in other words, let's ask the question, "What Would Google Do?"

Google’s Marissa Mayer was recently interviewed by Business Week. In the interview, she described her own methodology for dealing with the 70+ meetings she needs to attend each week.

Here are Mayer’s six key principles for running productive meetings:

1.  Set a firm agenda. Mayer believes agendas provide focus and help participants find routes towards achieving a particular goal.

2.  Assign a note-taker. Mayer’s meetings tend to use multiple displays to project presentation slides, a live transcript of the meeting and a ticking stopwatch! Each element provide focus, and crucially a record, enabling non-attendees to stay informed.

3. Carve out micro-meetings. Mayer routinely divides larger meetings into smaller 5-10 minute blocks to highlight particular subject areas. This enables agendas to remain flexible, but disciplined, and also allows wide-ranging discussions to occur.

4. Hold office hours. Each day, for 90 minutes at 4PM, Mayer holds court with colleagues in her own office. Coworkers can choose a slot on a first-come-first-serve basis. Incredibly, she’s able to get through up to fifteen meetings in these periods.

5.  Discourage politics, use data. To avoid showing favoritism and to minimise office politics, Mayer insists all decisions are driven by performance-based metrics and analytics. (This approach has caused some controversies, as related by former design director Douglas Bowman.)

6.  Stick to the clock. The “ticking clock” mentioned earlier might sound draconian, but is apparently a source of levity at meetings, exerting a subtle motivation, but also underlining a precious commodity in a busy organization.

What are some of your tips and best practices for leading meetings?

(ht: WebWorkerDaily)

200 Million Non-Churched In America

There are about 200 million non-churched people in America, making America one of the four largest ‘unchurched’ nations in the world.
-John Piper, in a January 31 sermon, “I will build My Church”

(ht: Justin)

Young Adults 'Less Religious,' Not Necessarily 'More Secular'

From the USAToday:

Young adults today are less church-connected than prior generations were when they were in their 20s. But a new study finds they're just about as spiritual as their parents and grandparents were at those ages.

Members of today's Millennial generation, ages 18 to 29, are as likely to pray and believe in God as their elders were when they were young, says the report from Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life....

Read the rest HERE: 

Trends Concerning Teens And Technology

Bobby Gruenwald, over at has done an informal survey with their youth ministry to measure the usage of teens using technology.  It is worth taking a look at...but here is a sample:

Number of students with internet at home: 652 (93.1%)
Number of students with cell phones: 610 (87.1%)
Number of students with internet on cell phones: 293 (41.8%)
Number of hours spent each week on internet (400 responses):  4,440 hours, an average of 11 hours per student. (34 responses of “A LOT” were not included in the count.)

15 Most popular websites in order:
4.    Email

(read the whole thing)

2,000 Plus

This fact has totally caught me by surprise, but Ministry Best Practices has just crossed over 2,000 readers/subscribers.

Thanks to you all who have faithfully read, commented, and shared Ministry Best Practices' posts with your friends, your church staff and other ministry leaders.

Here's to more of Ministry's Best Practices!

What Is A Pastor Worth?

In the last post, I addressed, via Casey Graham's post, why pastors need to be adequately compensated.

The fact that the issue of pastor's compensation even needs to be addressed, highlights the fact there is a problem of pastors being underpaid.  But why?  I think there may be some reasons why pastors may be underpaid for their ministry work.

Churches just don't know better

Some churches are flying by the seat of the pants when it comes to assessing pastor and staff salaries.  Rather, churches need to do their homework.  There are reports available to examine compensation packages that you can get from your church's denominational headquarters or from other resources.

Here is some help from ChristianityToday:
Resources that can help churches determine a fair salary for pastors include The Annual Compensation Handbook for Church and Staff from Christian Ministry Resources, Zondervan's 2000 Minister's Tax and Financial Guide by Dan Busby, and How to Set Clergy Compensation by Steve Clifford.
Your denominational headquarters could tell you what pastors in churches like yours are paid. So might CPAs such as Jack L. McGinnis of Brooks, McGinnis & Chafin in Atlanta, Georgia, who collects data from more than 50 churches to help clients determine salary packages. (read the rest HERE)
Also, churches need to take into account cost of living issues by checking the local census information to find out what the median income level is for it's community, in order to measure if the church's salaries will adequately provide.

A Pastor's work perhaps isn't appropriately valued

I don't know any other way to say it, but if there were a correct, biblical understanding of the role and ministry of an pastor/elder, then pastors wouldn't haven't to negotiate more adequate salaries - they would be generously and appropriately compensated.

1 Timothy 5:17 says, "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching".  Now think through the words translated often times as “double honor”.  In the CEV version its translated as  “double pay”.  This doesn't mean that pastors need to be paid tons of money, but just that they need to be appropriately paid and provided for.

Fear of Association

Perhaps there is a fear that if staff and pastors have a compensation package that is too generous it will reflect poorly on the church's stewardship of the people's tithes.  Given the history and examples of ostentatious living that some pastors have enjoyed - many people are over-sensitive and react in ways that end up poorly compensating faithful and humble servants in ministry.

Giving Has Dried Up

A big reason why many churches have either pulled back or frozen staff and pastor's salaries is that because of the economy, giving is down and that fact has forced churches to make very difficult budget decisions.  I would suggest that if a church needs to freeze a cost of living increase or reduce salaries, then they should at the same time be willing to pay back that loss in full, if and when financial circumstances turn around in the future.

Pastors Are UnderPaid

Casey Graham gives 4 reasons ministry leaders should make more money:

1. To Decrease Stress
Ministry is always ranked as one of the most stressful jobs. The last thing a pastor needs to be thinking about is how they are going to pay their personal bills or be able to afford a family vacation. IF YOU ARE BAD WITH YOUR MONEY, YOU DON’T NEED MORE MONEY!!! However, a lot of the ministry leaders I work with really make below what it takes to run a family financially. Church planters, you need to pay yourself first before you hire a bunch of staff!!! Don’t make your spouse bitter!

2. To Allow The Spouse To Stay Home
If the ministry leader is the “bread winner” in the home they should make enough to allow the spouse to stay home if they want to. I have seen too many spouses angry because they have to work so their spouse can be in ministry.

3. To Live Culturally Relevant Lives

4. To Eliminate The Poor-Mouth Mentality

(read Casey's post to read the reasoning behind point 3 and 4)

But the question is why aren't pastors paid what they are worth?

We will look at that in the next post.....

(ht: Casey)