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.

Telling YOU Who We WERE!

"Before we tell you who were are, we want to tell you who we WERE"

Would you come to this church if you saw this video?  I sure would.  Being in a community of real, authentic, forgiven ragamuffins - you bet!

Where Does Productivity Go?

Does your productivity get lost in the triangle of these online distractions?  Mine can.  So how do you reduce the temptation of checking either your email, Twitter or Facebook every 5 minutes?  Here are a couple of thoughts.

Get rid of the sense of urgency
I need to address the lie that every communication that comes through email/Facebook/Twitter demands my instant attention.  The world will not spin off of it's axis if hours go by and I don't read or respond to my email.  Very few things that I receive require urgent attention.  Usually urgent stuff finds me via a phone call or text message.

Disable pop-ups or alerts
I don't need to be reminded by my computer or phone every time an email, or Facebook message or new tweet comes into my account.  Too often these alerts are like the bell and I am the Pavlovian dog - responding every time I am alerted.

Reduce keeping my browsers always on
The temptation is heightened for me because I do a lot of work in the "Cloud" and online, therefore my browser is always open.  But there are also a lot of other projects that I work on, that don't require online access.  Therefore, when I am working and not requiring online access, shut down the browser and get offline.

Fundamentally it is ME who chooses to go down these productivity black holes, and no matter what tools or tricks I use, I can always choose to cheat.  Therefore, I need to go beyond the symptoms and try also to discover what is at the heart.  Am I trying to avoid a hard or difficult task?  Do I seek out these distractions because they give me some kind of significance or affirmation that people are thinking of me to comment on my Facebook wall, send me an email, or Retweet my latest stuff?  What's driving me to these distractions throughout my day?

(image Fuchsia Macaree)

Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone!

Ran Zilca, writing for Psychology Today, argues that being too comfortable won't foster the desire and the ambition you need to go after your dreams. He argues that in the short term we do believe comfort is more important, but choosing comfort over taking risks is what leaves many of us with regrets in the long run:
We live in a society where comfort has become a value and a life goal. But comfort reduces our motivation for introducing important transformations in our lives. Sadly, being comfortable often prohibits us from chasing our dreams. Many of us are like lions in the zoo: well-fed but sit around passively stuck in a reactive rut. Comfort equals boring shortsightedness, and a belief that things cannot change. Your comfort zone is your home base, a safe place not to stay in, but to return to, after each exhausting and exhilarating expedition through the wilderness of life. Take a look at your life today, if you are enjoying a shelter of comfort, break through it and go outside where life awaits.
Isn't that true about our faith?  When we play it safe or comfortable, our faith isn't stretched and we don't grow into deeper dependence on God.  Without getting out of our comfort zones, our faith can become stale, listless and stagnant.

A couple of months ago, I led our ministry into a venture that was a big hairy audacious goal and step of faith. It caused us to get on our knees, it united our community together and it energized our faith.

Is there anything in your life or ministry that you are reluctant or scared to venture into?  Would doing it be a big risk and undertaking?  Would it stretch you and get you out of your comfort zone?  Then perhaps it is the very thing you need to do!

(ht: LifeHacker)

King For The Week

You know what we’ve found? Magical things happen when employees know they’ll get to be king for a week. Gone is the complaining about what management is forcing them to do, because rotating management gives them a clear perspective of both sides of the fence. Employees will step up and grow if you give them the chance.
—Un-Manage Your Employees, an article for My Business by 37signals.

How would your church staff or volunteers feel and react if for a week they were empowered to make the hard decisions and were given the opportunity to see and experience the "behind the scenes" of leadership?

Never Having To Cancel Church

Pastor Andy Childs of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Toccoa, Ga., speaks to others online from his home Dec. 26. Childs and other church leaders patched together the idea for a webcast the night before as snowy weather descended on north Georgia.

This except from the Baptist Press:
Using the social media site Ustream, Childs was able to broadcast from his home while church members logged in online for the 10:30 a.m. service. Jones created a link to Ustream from Ebenezer's website to simplify the process. "He's the tech guy; I'm just the dreamer," Childs, 39, said. "I wanted it to be from our home page and made simple to use."

Childs' idea came from using Skype, a free online software application that allows users to make video phone calls. Childs and his wife had used Skype to call her family in Arizona for Christmas. In planning an alternative to meeting at the church building, Childs looked at taping a message versus a live broadcast. Ustream provided the option for the webcast, while 40-50 local churches ultimately cancelled their services.
I am from North Georgia, and my church canceled services because of the inclement whether.
What do you think of the idea? Would you ever try it?

How Do You Communicate?

Wild Apricot Blog posted some insights and excerpts from the 2011 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report.  Although the focus of the report is broadly all types of non-profits, I would suspect many of the findings accurately reflect what faith-based non-profits, churches and ministries are doing as well.

Here is a piece from the report:

The survey listed 14 communications tools and asked respondents to select up to three that were "most important," "somewhat important," and "least important." When the "very important" and "somewhat important" rankings were combined, it became obvious that online marketing tools dominate, tumping more traditional forms of nonprofit communications."

Here are the highest ranked communications tools:
  • Website - 96% of participants identified their website as being a very or somewhat important tool
  • Email marketing - 94% identified this as being a very or somewhat important tool and 75% said they'll email supporters at least monthly
  • Facebook - 79% ranked this as a very or somewhat important tool
  • In-person events - 67%
  • Print marketing - 67%
  • Media relations/PR - 57%

Kivi Leroux Miller, president of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, notes that "while Twitter (34%), blogging (27%), online video (26%, photo sharing (11%) and audio-podcasting (6%) did fall far behind the top 6 communications tools, many nonprofits do rely on blogging, video, photo sharing and podcasting to keep their website, email and Facebook pages fresh and engaging."
(read the rest at Wild Apricot Blog)

What does your organization, church or ministry rely upon the most to communicate with it's constituency?

10 Rules For Email Etiquette

1. Be concise.

2. Communicate “action steps” first, not last.

3. Number your questions.

4. Make the way forward clear.

5. Include deadlines.

6. Use “FYI” for emails that have no actionable information.

7. Tell them that you’ll get to it later.

8. Don’t send “Thanks!” emails.

9. Never send an angry or contentious email.

10. Never “reply all” (unless you absolutely must).

(read the whole post at the 99%)

Turn Your Contact Card Into A QR Code

Some of you may be asking, what are QR codes? QR codes have been all the rage this year for big brands and media outlets.  You see them printed in magazines, in newspapers, flyers and on website.  QR codes turn a webpage url, phone number, or email address from a printed page or computer screen into a scanable code that allows you to view that information on your cell phone and therefore making it actionable.  The beauty of the QR code is that instead of typing a long url or contact information into your smartphone, you can simply scan the QR code using your phone's camera - now its as easy as a click of a button.  (you can find QR readers by searching smartphone's app store)

Now there is a new app that takes all of a person's contact information, name, phone number, website, email, bio, and social media and turns it into one scanable QR code.  That new app is called JumpScan.  JumpScan lets users create customized QR codes that combine all your contact information for on-the-go sharing.  See how I used the JumpScan QR code on my ministry webpage HERE.  Also you can have friends or business contacts scan your QR code from your phone therefore transferring to their phone your contact information - it's like an electronic business card!

When someone scans your QR, it takes them to an easily viewpage webpage seen below.  Here you can email, call or even download their entire information as a Vcard.

Go to - sign up it's free and get started using QR codes.

Fruit NOT Success

“There is a great difference between successfulness and fruitfulness. Success comes from strength, control, and respectability. A successful person has the energy to create something, to keep control over its development, and to make it available in large quantities. Success brings many rewards and often fame. Fruits, however, come from weakness and vulnerability. And fruits are unique. A child is the fruit conceived in vulnerability, community is the fruit born through shared brokenness, and intimacy is the fruit that grows through touching one another’s wounds. Let’s remind one another that what brings us true joy is not successfulness but fruitfulness.”
  - Henri Nouwen

(ht: Dream Awakener)

How To Bring Your Church Together

Does your church struggle to connect along generational lines?  Then listen to this.

Mary Madden, Senior Research Specialist for the Pew Research Center's Internet and American Life Project, and author of the report, suggests that:
"social media has the potential to bridge generational gaps. There are few other spaces - online or offline - where tweens, teens, sandwich generation member, grandparents, friends and neighbors regularly intersect and communicate across the same network." She also notes that "email is still the primary way that older users maintain contact with friends, families and colleagues, but many older users now rely on social network platforms to help manage their daily communications."

The Demise Of Your Church Website?

Here is a quote from the sysomos blog: "On the weekend, I was watching the National Football League playoff game between the New York Jets and Indianapolis Colts. Aside from the action on the field, one thing that caught my attention was a commercial from Sears that ended with a suggestion that people visit Sears’ Facebook Page rather than

The promotion of a corporate Facebook Page is not new but seeing a high-profile company put the spotlight on Facebook rather than its corporate Web site was, nevertheless, interesting.

It wasn’t that long ago that having a Web site was the core of a company’s digital presence."

Do you think this is true for churches and ministries as well?

What is more important to your church/ministry's internet presence, a website or Facebook page?  Which one to you send me to more frequently and why?

The New Revolution

(click image to enlarge)

Those in the church who are uncomfortable with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like, have to stop framing social media as a fad in order to dismiss it.  It is revolutionizing the way we live, communicate and connect.

7 Billion People In 2011

The world will grow to 7 Billion people in 2011.

This video from NatGeo illustrates what that looks like and the kind of statistics and trends that are in keeping with a world brimming with 7 Billion.

As you watch this video consider the implications of the church and the gospel. What new challenges does this offer the church in reaching 7 Billion people with the gospel?

Happy New Year!