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.

10 Warning Signs Of An Inwardly Obsessed Church

  1. Worship wars. One or more factions in the church want the music just the way they like it. Any deviation is met with anger and demands for change. The order of service must remain constant. Certain instrumentation is required while others are prohibited.
  2. Prolonged minutia meetings. The church spends an inordinate amount of time in different meetings. Most of the meetings deal with the most inconsequential items, while the Great Commission and Great Commandment are rarely the topics of discussion.
  3. Facility focus. The church facilities develop iconic status. One of the highest priorities in the church is the protection and preservation of rooms, furniture, and other visible parts of the church’s buildings and grounds.
  4. Program driven. Every church has programs even if they don’t admit it. When we start doing a ministry a certain way, it takes on programmatic status. The problem is not with programs. The problem develops when the program becomes an end instead of a means to greater ministry.
  5. Inwardly focused budget. A disproportionate share of the budget is used to meet the needs and comforts of the members instead of reaching beyond the walls of the church.
  6. Inordinate demands for pastoral care. All church members deserve care and concern, especially in times of need and crisis. Problems develop, however, when church members have unreasonable expectations for even minor matters. Some members expect the pastoral staff to visit them regularly merely because they have membership status.
  7. Attitudes of entitlement. This issue could be a catch-all for many of the points named here. The overarching attitude is one of demanding and having a sense of deserving special treatment.
  8. Greater concern about change than the gospel. Almost any noticeable changes in the church evoke the ire of many; but those same passions are not evident about participating in the work of the gospel to change lives.
  9. Anger and hostility. Members are consistently angry. They regularly express hostility toward the church staff and other members.
  10. Evangelistic apathy. Very few members share their faith on a regular basis. More are concerned about their own needs rather than the greatest eternal needs of the world and community in which they live.

Read the rest.

(ht: Thom Rainer)

Are You Tempted To Feel Entitled

Thom Rainer:

As a leader’s sphere of influence increases, he may feel that certain benefits and perks are due him. She may believe that those in the organization exist for her service and needs. Entitlement is a creeping sickness that often envelops a leader with such deceptive subtlety that the leader is often unaware of its control over him.

Frankly, I am embarrassed to admit that I have yielded to the temptation of entitlement myself. I am president of a large organization with thousands of employees under my leadership. Without going into detail, I admit that I have caught myself thinking that I deserve a benefit or a perk just because I have this position. I have to remind myself that the leadership given to me is a gift for which I have a huge stewardship responsibility. I should be giving and not expecting. I am stupid when I think I deserve something because of my position.

Read the rest.

8 Reasons Your Church Is STUCK!

  1. You lack a leadership empowerment plan. We have failed as leaders in the church if we do not embrace the unique gift-mix that God designed. And we won’t fully know the power and impact of the local church until people are empowered to be the people God wired them up to be. 
  2. You are unclear about your vision and mission. There are lots of churches with vision statements, but I don’t think there are very many churches that really have a vision statement that clarifies who they are as an organization. A clear vision that is properly communicated will both rally and repel people. 
  3. You blame outsiders and external factors. Victim-thinking will only lead to bitterness and competition. Leaders who blame outsiders and external factors actually are confessing their own failure to think creatively and inspire their team. 
  4. Your structure inhibits growth. One of the attributes of a church in decline is a complex structure. The natural tendency of organizations is to add complexity to their structure and systems. The longer an organization exists, the more complex it typically gets. 
  5. You worship your past success. Our past successes can be one of the greatest contributing factors to our future demise. When organizations stick to “the way we do it,” the safe approach of avoiding innovation and change becomes the riskiest approach. 
  6. You focus on activities instead of outcomes. While many church leaders are full of vision and passion, they lack an effective strategy to accomplish their mission. That leads to a feeling of disorganization, and ultimately they become stuck. 
  7. You fail to equip God’s people. For whatever reason, smaller churches I work with have a tendency to rely on the pastors and paid staff to carry the ministry load rather than equipping lay people. 
  8. Your ministries ignore people outside the church. When churches become inward-focused and start making decisions about ministry to keep people rather than reach people, they also start to die. 
(ht: Tony)

Top 10 Things That Cause Stress In A Leader

  1. I actually believe the church is MY church and not HIS church…and that I am in control rather than HIM! (See Matthew 16:18)
  2. I do not trust the people who I delegate authority and responsibility to and actually begin to believe the lie that, “if I want something done right then I must do it myself.”
  3. When I know without a doubt what God has spoken to me to do…but I begin to listen to the “experts” who tell me that the very thing God has called me to do is an impossibility.
  4. When I try to explain myself to those who don’t really want an explanation…they just want to argue.
  5. When I refuse to take some time to disconnect and rest, claiming that the devil never takes a day off while not understanding that the devil isn’t supposed to be my example.
  6. When I begin to take on the “Messiah complex” and begin to think about how much the church needs me rather than how much I actually NEED CHRIST!
  7. When I worry about results more than obedience!!!
  8. When I focus on the size of the problem rather than the size of God!
  9. When I fail to share my worries and concerns and admit my mistakes to others for fear that it may make me seem weak and stupid. (When…the opposite is the case, those around me actually love and respect me more when I ask for help!)
  10. When I become unaware of HIS presence every single minute of my life!
(ht: Perry)

5 Ways To Lead Like Jesus

1.  Jesus prayed and fasted all night asking God who He should bring on His team.

2.  Jesus chose the “uneducated and untrained.” He didn’t choose leaders, He built His own.

3.  Jesus trained His followers by example, and then empowered them to do the same.

4.  Jesus expected those that were with Him, would do greater things than He did.

5.  Jesus gave His life to and for those that were with Him.

(ht: Artie)

Want To Change The World?

from Michael Kelley:

Who doesn’t want to change the world? There’s something inside of all of us, I think, that desires to leave things different than when we found them. That manifests itself in all different kinds of ways:

- We build libraries.

- We donate money to charity.

- We raise our children.

- We tell people about Jesus.

Here’s the rub: When you think about changing the world, usually you think of something big. Massive. And joyful. Something that gets your name in the papers or on the best-seller list. But here’s an uncomfortable question:

What if your greatest chance to change the world is also your greatest source of pain?

Read the rest.

(ht: Take Your Vitamin Z)

Get Michael's new book here.

6 Questions Every Leader Should Ask

1. Which gauges should we be watching?

At a glance, the right set of gauges can tell you a lot about the health of your organization. Knowing the right three or four to watch is critical. Your mission and vision should help narrow your focus to the numbers that matter. For us, attendance is an obvious one. But if we focus only on attendance, we won’t get a complete picture. If your church’s strategy requires small group involvement, then the ratio of small group participation to Sunday attendance is a gauge. If personal ministry is critical in your model, then your “leader to attendee” ratio is critical. A regular glance at the right gauges can keep your organization on track for the long haul.

2. Where are we manufacturing energy?

Is there a ministry area where you have to pretend a little bit-an area that once generated results and excitement but now requires you to manufacture energy?

This question quickly exposes those areas that need to be retooled or replaced altogether. Often this will free up much needed time and money for truly effective ministry.

3. Who needs to be sitting at the table?

Good decisions require good input. Ask yourself, “Whose input do I need to make the best decision possible?” Then cut through the red tape and ignore the org chart to make sure those people have seats at the table.

We all have different skills and talents. There are people you’ll want to brainstorm with, but who would be horrible in the “get it done” meeting, while others will shine while implementing. Understand who on your team fits where and make sure they are at the right table at the right time.

4. Who is not keeping up?

No one likes to ask this question. It’s painful. But it’s inevitable that as your organization hits 60 mph, there will be some still moving at 45 mph.

As painful as this question is, the truth is that other people already know the answer. They are wondering if you know. Accommodating people who are falling behind hurts the organization, dishonors those people, and will ultimately keep them from finding their areas of success.

5. Where do I make the greatest contribution to the organization?

As leaders, we are often tempted to try to do everything. Generally this leads to widespread failure. We must ask ourselves where we add the most value. In other words, “What do you do that only you can do?” There may be more than one thing that you do well.

Once you’ve answered this question, your goal should be to spend the majority of your time doing the things that make the greatest contribution. Young leaders, this takes time. Usually years. Sometimes decades. But when the time comes and you are in a position to control your time, will you know where to invest it?

6. What should I stop doing?

Once you’ve answered question five, this answer should be clear. You have to make the tough decision to stop doing some things, even things you enjoy doing, if they don’t add value.

Regularly asking these six questions will help keep your organization healthy and on track.

Stop Doing These Three Things

Guest Post by Jeff Anderson with

We’ve all heard the reasons people hold back in financial giving. You may have even heard or taught sermons about them: fear, greed, biblical ignorance, poor money habits, etc.

In my years of interacting with givers, I have observed some subtle and more practical reasons people are held back from acceptable giving.

Whether you’re new in the giving journey or a teacher or pastor encouraging other givers, here are three things you can stop doing to help embrace more freedom and growth in giving.

#1. Stop Looking for that Magic Moment

Often Christians want an “experience” to accompany their giving… a peaceful easy feeling that tickles their hearts when they drop the check in the plate.

When people write a check, or click “Pay Now”, for their mortgage or rent, they're not looking for a magic moment. Still, they enjoy their homes - working in the yard, sitting on the patio, or watching their big-screen.

In the same way, no one is looking for a spiritual buzz when they pay their Mastercard or Visa. Still, they enjoy the vacations, the dining experiences and stuff they purchased.

Sure, knowing that our gifts can please God should bring peace to our hearts…and our giving. But if we have the wrong expectation that a warm fuzzy should be there, we’ll get confused or even discouraged when it’s not.

Giving is a lifestyle…not a moment

If your giving choices influence your lifestyle in a meaningful way, you will experience worship through giving all the time. But if your lifestyle influences your giving instead (by giving leftovers or amounts that don’t really matter to you), your giving won’t be fulfilling. Often this leads to giving less or even not giving at all.

Years ago my wife and I decided to drive our cars for as long as it was cost effective to do so. Without continuous car payments, we could direct more of our disposable income towards a giving lifestyle.

When my power windows stopped working and my air conditioning did too, it seemed ridiculous to be driving the car during certain summer months. After all, we had the means to get it fixed – or even buy a new car.

But we also knew our lifestyle choice was enabling us to support our church, missions and the needy in greater ways. We felt worship through giving all the time, not just during the Sunday offering.

The issue is not merely about sacrificing lifestyles. There is nothing wrong with new cars. I drive a much nicer car now. The issue is that a giving lifestyle helps to engage your heart outside of Sunday worship. And when your gifts involve meaningful trade-offs, they will please God too.

So when it comes to writing a check, paying online or dropping the envelope in the plate, stop looking for that magic moment… or that peaceful easy feeling. Leave that to The Eagles.

#2. Don’t Obsess about the Methods

If you grew up giving weekly into the offering plate on Sunday mornings and that venue is meaningful to you, then continue this practice. If instead you prefer the discipline of automating your gifts online, then do that. If monthly or quarterly giving is more practical for your planning and cash flow cycles, then trust the freedom to give accordingly.

Again, the idea is that your gifts cost you in a meaningful way. The overall measure of your gifts matters more than the method or the frequency.

Systematic or Sporadic?

A friend of mine began giving systematically for 12 months straight. Previously, he had always given sporadically in line with his the unique patterns of his business. When he asked for my thoughts on systematic versus variable giving, my response was this: give in whatever way allows you to give the most!

He knew me and he knew what I meant. So he discontinued systematic giving and returned to giving in a way that suited him better.

Apostle Paul was very interested in the Corinthians setting aside money systematically (1 Corinthians 16:1-2). He encouraged them to do so weekly, so that the money would be saved up when the collection buckets came around again. Rather than a mandate for weekly giving, Paul’s instructions were to encourage them to be ready when he came back months later to collect the gifts.

While most of us may benefit from the help of systematic giving, the point is this – there are no rules! As stewards and money managers, we are also gift managers. We are free to utilize the methods that help us to give in line with our circumstances.

So stop analyzing the gift methods. If you give an amount that matters to you, it will matter to God also… regardless of whether you automate your gifts or write checks, give weekly or monthly, give with moving music during church service, or while paying bills with the kids yelling in the background.

#3. Stop Looking for the Correct Causes.

Making gift decisions can be difficult. There is no shortage of places to give. Needs are rampant. Kingdom vision-casting abounds. So how do we determine where to give? Who deserves our help? What recipients are worthy of our support? The answer: RELAX!

God is not standing behind certain “cause curtains” waiting to see if you’ll walk through the right ones. Instead, He is paying attention to your gifts directed to Him.

For those who have been on a mission trip, you recall that before the trip you spent most of your time thinking about the “effective work” you were going to do. But after the trip you spent most of the time talking about what happened to your heart. That’s because when it comes to missions, often God does more in us than through us. The same goes with giving.

We should give freely and openly. Don’t complicate the giving process. Don’t over-think the needs. Just start giving. And don’t try to give everywhere. You can’t.

But as you develop in the giving journey, you’ll learn to sense God’s leading to be more discerning and selective and in line with a clearer giving purpose. The generous givers I know tell me they rarely, if ever, regret a gift… even when the outcome may not be as effective as they envisioned.

What about “church giving”?

There are some biblical guidelines to help us in this area. We are biblically instructed to support two groups through financial gifts: (1) the “seed- sowers” - which include the local church, missionaries, word-based organizations, etc; and (2) the needy – the poor, orphans, widows, hungry, lame, etc.

The matter of tithing and “church first” giving is a beefy one and can’t be fully addressed here. But in short, we are commanded not to neglect giving to where we are fed spiritually – and that means supporting our local church. And as scripture makes very clear, we are to remember the poor with our gifts as well.

If we keep these gift categories in mind, grace abounds in our gift choices.

Look Up

Keep in mind, God is the primary recipient of our gifts. Do not let your giving be driven by need for an experience... or search for the right method… or understanding the “right” gift recipients.

Instead, try looking up to God with your gifts. Make giving a way of life. Explore new methods and giving rhythms. And pull the trigger more freely with your gifts.

In doing so, you’ll likely discover a lifestyle experience that fills you, a giving method that motivates you, and a heart transformation that is worth more than any effective work.

Jeff Anderson has worked with churches and non-profits for nearly two decades, as elder in his own church, and as Vice President of Generosity Initiatives with Crown Financial Ministries, and currently as leader of

Jeff continues to consult and speak, and is the author of Plastic Donuts, A Fresh Perspective on Gifts. 

Tim Keller On Sermon Preparation

Tim Keller is the pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian in Manhattan, and he explains in this video below that he spends about 14 hours a week in sermon preparation.

(ht: Denny Burk)

Creativity Is Just Connecting Things

"Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while."  ~ Steve Jobs

I have often put that same thought a little differently by saying that creativity is about making new associations - taking existing ideas, objects, resources - and connecting them differently.

Therefore creativity isn't merely about making something new out of absolutely nothing rather it is creating something new out of making a new association of two completely divergent and different things.

What does this mean for leaders?
  • Be cross trainers - read broadly, don't just get stuck in your own niche, become familiar with other disciplines.
  • Don't quickly rush to judge new ideas.  Let ideas percolate and simmer.
  • Capture ideas and thoughts when they are fresh - keep a notebook available to jot down ideas.
  • Think Non-linearly - use Mind Mapping to brainstorm.
  • Keep a Tickler File - store ideas in a file - even if you aren't sure how you might use them or if they are relevant - they might apply in the future.

Small Groups Shouldn't Be A Christian Cul-de-Sac

by Logan Gentry:

Small groups have become a staple in the American church as a way of cultivating friendships, developing community, and encouraging spiritual formation. Pastors and other small group leaders often cite Acts 2:42-47 as the model for such community devoted to God and devoted to one another through shared time, resources, and space. But there is growing sentiment for small groups to fulfill the rest of that passage---God adding to their numbers daily---by extending the gospel of Jesus Christ to unbelievers.

We love to study the Scriptures and discuss the glorious truth of the gospel with one another, and we enjoy spending time with fellow believers. Yet we're often fearful and uneasy about what will happen if we invite people who do not believe as we do into these environments. What will happen to our intimacy? What will happen to our deep community?

I worried about the same things when church leaders first asked me to transition my community group toward an outreach focus. Now, as a pastor seeking to foster community, I'm encouraging others to transition their groups, and they're reacting with the same skepticism.

Read the rest.

(ht: Take Your Vitamin Z )

What Is A Healthy Online Church Presence?

Take a good look at these statistics compiled by in this infographic.

The keys to a healthy online church presence from this infographic are good use of the technology available, social media and design.

Ministry And Identity

I once heard a pastor unwittingly verbalize this problem well. My brother Tedd and I were at a large Christian life conference listening to a well-known pastor speak on family worship. He told stories of the zeal, discipline, and dedication of the great fathers of our faith to personal and family worship. He painted astounding pictures of what their private and family devotions looked like. I think all of us felt it was very convicting and discouraging. I felt the weight of the burden of the crowd as they listened. I was saying to myself, "Comfort us with grace, comfort us with grace," but the grace never came. 
On the way back to the hotel, Tedd and I rode with the speaker and another pastor, who was our driver. Our pastor driver clearly felt the burden and asked the speaker a brilliant question. "If a man in your congregation came to you and said, 'Pastor, I know I'm supposed to have devotions with my family, but things are so chaotic at my house that I can barely get myself out of bed and get the children fed and of to school, I don't know how I would ever be able to pull off devotions too,' what would you say to him?" (The following response is not made up or enhanced in any way.) The speaker answered, "I say to him, 'I'm a pastor, which means I carry many more burdens for many more people than you do, and if I can pull off daily family worship, you should be able to do so as well.'" There was no identifying with the man's struggle. There was no ministry of grace. With little compassion or understanding he laid the law down even more heavily. 
As I heard his response, I was angry, until I remembered that I had done the very same thing again and again. At home, it was all too easy for me to meet out judgment while I was all too stingy with the giving of grace. This unique category identity as pastor not only defined my relationship with others, but it was also destroying my relationship with God. Blind to what was going on in my heart, I was proud, unapproachable, defensive, and all too comfortable. I was a pastor, so I didn't need what other people need.
To be clear, at the conceptual, theological level, I would have argued that all of this was bunk. Being a pastor was my calling, not my identity. Child of the Most High God was my cross-purchased identity. Member of the body of Christ was my identity. Man in the middle of his own sanctification was my identity. Sinner, and still in need of rescuing, transforming, empowering, and delivering grace was my identity.
I didn't realize that I looked horizontally for what I had already been given in Christ, producing a harvest of bad fruit in my heart, ministry, and relationships. I had let my ministry become something that it should never be (my identity), and I looked to it to give me what it could never give (inner sense of well-being).
from Paul Tripp - read the rest HERE 

(ht: Vitamin Z)

Top 10 Signs Of A Dying Church

10. There’s plenty of parking near the building for weekend services.

9. You can always get your favorite seat, or simply ask who is sitting in it to move.

8. The music is always familiar, and never too loud.

7. The pastor has been in everyone’s home, and knows everybody’s name.

6. You are never asked for money.

5. Phrases like, “We’ve never done it that way before,” “I’m not being faithless, just realistic,” “Why pray? God’s gonna do what God’s gonna do,” “If God wants His church to grow it will grow – we don’t have to do anything,” and “They really should do something about that” are common refrains.

4. You can be confident that whatever change there is will be incremental, insignificant, and will only happen with your direct input and approval.

3. There aren’t any of those left-leaning, evolution-believing, gay-marriage supporting, Harry Potter reading pagans daring to attend; just the pro-family, Christian-radio listening, fish-sticker wearing, big-Bible carrying types.

2. The Bible is seldom taught in ways that are uncomfortable or challenging.

1. It is always about you – getting fed, getting ministered to, with services evaluated by what you get out of it.

 - James Emery White

Remember This ONE Simple Thing!

Someone's NAME!

Remembering names is one of the most important things you can do when you are meeting guests on Sunday morning. I remember reading in college, Dale Carnegie's book, How to Win friends and Influence people ( a pretty manipulative title, I know!) and it had one point that I will never forget -
A person's favorite sound is hearing their own name.
Using a person's name provides a point of connection. It communicates care and that they matter. We shouldn't just remember names for self-serving reasons, but rather because every person we meet is special, they matter to God.

But on a Sunday morning, if you are anything like me -meeting a lot of new people- it can be difficult remembering all the people you meet.

The key to remembering names isn't all that revolutionary. Paper and pen.

A Chinese proverb says that the faintest ink is more powerful than the strongest memory.

You can't rely on your memory. You got to keep a piece of paper, or small pad of paper, and a pen with you at all times. Just remember that ONE simple thing.

The Millennial Teenager

Young people today are more connected and wired than any generation before them. But is this good or bad? People aged 18-34 have an average of 319 online connections, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. That’s compared to an average of 198 connections for the 35-46 group. The infographic below shows how the numbers continue to decrease from that age group.

Pew also recently reported that 63 percent of teenagers text message with friends on a daily basis. Thirty nine percent speak on the phone daily and just 35 percent interact face-to-face outside of school. Other research has found that text-happy teens send more than 100 messages per day.

The Millennial Teenager
Courtesy of: Online Schools

A Question For Your Staff Meetings

You've begun another staff meeting.  And like many meetings in the past, this one will have the tendency to meander or get bogged down in the weeds with minor issues magnified to look like major problems.  Instead of letting your staff meetings be pulled by the tyranny of the urgent or get distracted, it is important that your meetings, as well as your staff, remain focused and constantly drawn back to the vision.

That is why I love this quote from Andy Stanley on a key question he brings to his staff meetings.

“What did you see, hear, or experience this week that makes you feel we have successfully fulfilled our mission?” - Andy Stanley

How do you conduct, lead and organize your staff meetings?

(ht: Communicate Jesus)

A Minister’s Prayer

O My Lord,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
or merely win the esteem and affections of people;

But do the work of grace in their hearts,
call in thy elect,
seal and edify the regenerate ones,
and command eternal blessing on their souls.

Adapted from “A Minister’s Prayer,” Puritan Prayers & Devotions (Kindle Edition)