The Internet's Best Practices for Ministry

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

Welcoming Guests and First Impressions

The sermon starts in the parking lot, and the impression you make for your guests on Sunday morning during the first 10 minutes will be indelible.

Technology and The Church

Leveraging technology for ministry can be an incredible blessing. But it can also be fraught with problems and pitfalls. Learn how to use technology well.

Vision and Leadership

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot. Faith filled vision, leadership and risk are key ingredients for ministry.

Preaching and Communication

You know and understand how challenging it is to communicate. It is hard to get and capture people's attention. Learn how to communicate effectively.

Creativity and Innovation

Being creative means asking the right questions and making new associations. Discover new and creative ideas for your ministry.

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.