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.

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.