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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.

5 Pastor Leadership Styles You Will Discover

The Ministry Best Practices Staff will be on vacation and will be entering a "tech-free" zone. Therefore for the week we are sharing some of the best of MBP. Some of the content has been repurposed and updated.

When a church is “looking” to call a pastor, in reality there are only five “types” of pastors out there.

A disclaimer before proceeding. These five types or paradigmatic pastors don’t cover varying theologies, beliefs, doctrines, or even tribal affinity. These categories are talking about five kinds of “Christian” leaders based on “how” they lead. This is a behavioral/personality typology that should be helpful in choosing a pastor for your church.

Each of these types carries positives and negatives, and most likely no one fits into only one category but rather has roots in one and branches that spread into one or two others, we're all mixed bags.

Here is the summation of the article of the 5 Kinds of Pastors:

The five archetypes of pastors are:
  • Catalytic 
  • Cultivator 
  • Conflict-Quelling 
  • Chaplain 
  • Catatonic 
Here’s a brief description of each.

The Catalytic Pastor: The catalytic pastor is wired to stir things up. They’re gifted in the prophetic and tend to be charismatic leaders. These pastors have lots of energy and are focused on the mission of the church … that is, reaching the community for Jesus Christ. In the “right” church, they’ll grow it without a doubt. In the “wrong” church, they’ll create conflict, they’ll be frustrated, and they’ll either burn out or they’ll move on … assuming they’re not fired first. Catalytic pastors are ideal church planters but often lack the finesse and patience for church transformations (except in those VERY rare churches that are truly willing to do anything to reach the community for Jesus).

The Cultivating Pastor: The cultivating pastor is wired to break up hard ground, plant seeds, nurture the fields, and are both willing and able to bring in a harvest. They’re gifted in big-picture understanding, systems analysis, and systems manipulation (in a good way). Because of their systems understanding and their patience, they are able to cultivate change and transformation over time. However, they’re tenacious and are used to getting their way in the long run … because they know how to deal with obstacles that get in their way. Cultivating pastors are well suited for church transformations in churches that can afford to effect gentle change that takes significant time … as many as seven to ten years.

The Conflict-Quelling Pastor: The Conflict-Quelling pastor is exactly the type that the name implies … they’re the guys and gals who are natural or skilled peacemakers, mediators, and/or conflict managers. These pastors are wired differently than any of the other pastoral types. They’re not catalytic and they’re distinctive from chaplains. Instead, these folks can walk into a congregation and in short order assess the situation and instinctively seem to know who the major players are. They are affable and able to build bridges. They tend to be quiet and reflective … when they speak, they do so with conviction, wisdom, and certainty. Conflict-Quelling pastors make excellent interim pastors and/or troubled-church pastors.

The Chaplain Pastor: The Chaplain pastor is wired for peace, harmony, and pastoral care. This is the type of pastor that has been produced by seminaries for several decades, though a few … a very few … seminaries are retooling. Chaplain pastors eschew change and value status quo. They don’t want to stir the waters; rather, they want to bring healing to hurting souls.

They are excellent listeners and tend to be good networkers within the community, primarily so they can extend their ministry, but also so they can refer those in need to oasis’ of help. Chaplain pastors don’t grow churches. In fact, a Chaplain pastor will hasten a congregation’s demise because they tend to focus on those within the congregation rather than in bringing new converts to Jesus Christ. Churches that have very little hope of transformation and church growth do well with Chaplain pastors who serve as hospice care.

The Catatonic Pastor: This type of pastor is, frankly, either lazy or sick. There are far too many of these pastors. They take refuge in their offices ostensibly to do sermon preparation, create brochures, sum up numbers, and so on, but ultimately they’re spinning their wheels and accomplishing very little.

They may or may not do the hospital visitation, but they seldom miss an opportunity to have a meal with one of the inside buddies. Catatonic pastors tend to be well liked by the power holders in the church, because the Catatonic pastor is easily manipulated and seldom, if ever, makes waves … except when they need to accomplish something and fail to meet even the lowest of expectations. Indeed, Catatonic pastors may remain as the senior pastor of a church for many years because they know how to schmooze their way into grace.

Churches that hate change often end up with excellent examples of Catatonic pastors. Catatonic pastors may spend a lot of time “at work” but any congregation that sets performance goals for their Catatonic pastor will quickly discover that time in the office does not guarantee results. Of course, Catatonic pastors do not grow churches, are poor chaplains - even poor hospice chaplains, and they pretty much destroy wherever they root … and they’re more like crabgrass or bamboo that, once established, is almost impossible to eradicate.

from original post HERE

Top 5 Books On Spiritual Disciplines

from Nathan Finn:

1. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald Whitney

Though not the most famous book in the genre, I think Whitney’s book is the best because of his commitment to the sufficiency of Scripture and his focus on the centrality of the gospel for spiritual maturity. If you can only read one book on this list, this ought to be the one. Highly recommended.

2. Spiritual Disciplines within the Church: Participating Fully in the Body of Christ by Donald Whitney

This book is Whitney’s “sequel” to the aforementioned title. Whereas Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life looks at personal spiritual practices, Spiritual Disciplines for the Church focuses upon corporate spirituality within the body of Christ. Whitney’s high view of the local church and his commitment to biblical community shine through in this book.

3. Disciplines of a Godly Man by Kent Hughes or Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes

Kent Hughes was the longtime pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL; Barbara is his wife. Both are accomplished authors who are known for their commitment to sound doctrine and godly living. These two books are ideal for use in a local church’s men’s ministry and women’s ministry. Also, check out the couples’ companion volume, Disciplines of a Godly Family.

4. The Life You’ve Always Wanted: Spiritual Disciplines for Ordinary People by John Ortberg

One of the unintended dangers of spiritual disciplines language is that it can be approached in a way that is motivated more by guilt than grace. To be clear, evangelical writers on this topic are almost never legalists. But it can still seem overwhelming, especially if you’ve never thought about spiritual disciplines beyond (perhaps) a daily quiet time. If this sounds like you, then Ortberg has written just the book you need. Though not as deep as Whitney, Ortberg excels at writing in a winsome and pastorally sensitive style.

5. Formed for the Glory of God: Learning from the Spiritual Practices of Jonathan Edwards by Kyle Strobel

Strobel is a theologian, a scholar of Jonathan Edwards’s thought, and an expert on spiritual formation. This book reflects all three of those emphases. This is the best book I know of for introducing readers to how an influential Christian from bygone days approached the spiritual disciplines. Plus, Edwards is awesome. As a church historian who loves spiritual formation, I recommend this book to my students all the time.

Honorable Mention: Richard Foster, Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth; Donald Whitney, Simplify Your Spiritual Life: Spiritual Disciplines for the Overwhelmed; Earl Crepps, Off-Road Disciplines: Spiritual Adventures of Missional Leaders.

The Top Bible-Minded Cities In America

Hollywood has been betting big money that America still loves the Bible. From Noah to Exodus to the forthcoming Last Days in the Desert, a fictional look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert, Scripture has returned to the screen. But what is America’s relationship with the Bible?

In Barna's annual “Bible-Minded” cities report, Barna Group partners with the American Bible Society to explore how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. Which cities top the list? And which cities have the least Bible-minded populations?

Find out where your city ranks >

Connection Between Porn & Sex Trafficking Is Undeniable

Sex Trafficking
This is an issue that we need to be addressing within our churches, especially with our young people.

from Walt Mueller 

Since we began researching and talking about the issue of pornography, we’ve seen the value of telling the truth about the connection between pornography and sexual trafficking. This is a truth that our kids need to hear. We must connect the dots for them. Sexual trafficking is an issue that the emerging generations care deeply about. Still, pornography use is pervasive among this very group, shaping them (more accurately misshaping them) in powerful ways. Not only must we seek justice in response to sexual trafficking, but we must seek justice by seeing how pornography use makes us complicit in sexual trafficking. If we seek to fight sexual trafficking yet engage in it ourselves, we are divided, dis-integrated selves. We are doing wrong.

This great little video is something you can use to spark discussion and a thoughtful response to these issues. . .

Teaching Teenagers In A Post-Christian World

Teaching Teenagers

from Rachel Blom:

This brilliant book by Jake Kircher is a game changer for anyone interested in teaching teenagers. We all know that the standard three or even five-point sermons aren’t working anymore. Not only do they fail to hold students’ attention while you’re talking, they can’t remember much afterwards even if they did attempt to listen.

Even students involved in youth ministry often miss a basic understanding of the core of the Gospel and don’t know much about the Bible. Not only that, but many teens who claim to be Christians don’t lead lives that are different from their non-Christian friends. And there’s no need to mention the all-too-familiar problem of students walking away from their faith in college.

Welcome to a post-Christian world.

Read the rest of Rachel's review HERE

Deal With Your Procrastination Like A Band-Aid

broken egg

If you struggle with procrastination (which in fact I do often), then this is good advice worth remembering and applying when you are faced with a task that you just don't want to do (but you have to!).

excerpted from 99u:

The best way to deal with procrastination is to treat it as you would ripping off a band-aid: get it over with as quickly as possible.

While it’s not unusual to procrastinate, it’s worth questioning when our fear of discomfort and resulting procrastination is justified, versus when we’ve assumed it will be worse than it really is. (But even time spent evaluating the reasons we might be procrastinating can be procrastination in itself.)

Instead, it’s best to dive head-first into whatever it is we’re procrastinating on to get the uncomfortable stuff over with as quickly as possible. As Robert Terson, author of Selling Fearlessly, tells us:
Here’s the vital question to ponder: What do you think is the greater agony to deal with…the pain of procrastination that you’re beating yourself up with day in and day out, or the difficulty of the project itself? I mean, why keep torturing yourself about it when you know down deep that you’re going to have to get to it eventually, that you’re never going to let it go, that sooner or later you’re going to have to, as Nike say, do it? Wouldn’t it be far better to tackle it now, get it over with, just to put a stop to the self-flagellation you’re enduring?
Procrastination is like a band-aid we use to cover up what needs to get done. Removing the band-aid can certainly hurt (no matter how many band-aids you’ve removed in your life) but there’s no way around the fact it has to be done. Besides: once the initial pain of ripping the band-aid off subsides, we’re often left wondering why we didn’t do it sooner.

A Simple Hack To Give You Success With Your Goals


Ok, we are a month into 2015, how are those new year goals going? Are you getting more fit? Are you more productive? Eating healthier? Spending more time with your family? Perhaps you are making some headway, but perhaps you have too many goals going at the same time.

The best way to tackle all that you want to do is to "chunk it up". Set your mind on a singular goal for a determined time - don't try to do it all - now.

Laura Vanderkam, author of 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, proposes breaking down your year-long goals into 90-day chunks:
You may have lots of goals, and that’s a good thing. Giving yourself 90 days means you can focus on a few at a time, knowing that there’s another 90-day period coming up soon. Maybe during the first quarter you focus on launching a new product. Then in the second quarter you focus on finding a new and bigger space. At the end of six months, you’ll have the new product and the bigger space, whereas if you aimed to do both at once, you might get overwhelmed and figure out neither. 

(ht: 99u

25 Truths About Preachers From 2 Timothy

Here is a great list from Colin Adams:

The Bible is the best place to learn about preaching. Other books on preaching can be good, of course. But whatever Scripture says on preaching is definitive. Its like drinking from the spring itself.

1. The herald proclaims a message that holds out the promise of life (2 Tim 1:1).

2. The preacher’s gift comes from God (2 Tim 1:6).

3. The gift of a herald must be fanned into flame (2 Tim 1:6): that is, stirred up by constant use.

4. The preaching gift must be exercised with love, power and self-discipline (2 Tim 1:7).

5. A gospel minister must not be ashamed to testify about the Lord (2 Tim 1:8).

6. The gospel must not simply be preached, but suffered for if necessary (2 Tim 1:9).

7. What they proclaim is a gospel of salvation, holiness, grace and life (2 Tim 1:9-10).

8. The gospel can be, and must be, both heralded and taught (2 Tim 1:11).

9. There is a pattern of sound teaching against which every sermon can be measured (2 Tim 1:13).

10. We are not just to preach the truth; we are to preach ‘with faith and love’ (2 Tim 1:13).

6 Simple Rules To Make Your Next Presentation Memorable

Giving a presentation in front of an audience is difficult enough, giving it accompanied with an awful powerpoint - well that makes your presentation simply deadly. Powerpoint is the most misunderstood, misapplied and misused presentation tool today. And even with all the books, blogs and videos that teach and instruct on how to use powerpoint well, many people still abuse it. Follow these 6 simple rules and your powerpoint presentation will go from "sucks" to "stellar".

  1. Include Only One Key Point per Slide - To many presentations crowd the slides with too much information.
  2. Pay Attention to the 3-Second Rule - According to graphic designer and presentation guru Nancy Duarte, you should look at each slide and ask: "Will the audience understand what I'm trying to communicate in 3 seconds?" If your honest answer is no, then whittle it down.
  3. Have a Bold Opening Slide to Grab the Audience's Interest Early And To Make a Wow Impression
  4. Make Sure You Pick an Easy-to-Read Font - This means that you should use nothing smaller than 24 pt.
  5. Create a Coherent and Consistent Look and Feel - Every slide should feel like it's part of the same story. Keep a consistent template and color scheme throughout.
  6. Use Images to Visualize and Explain - Images make content 55 percent more memorable than words therefore use them generously.

The 5 Most Helpful Ways To Avoid Youth Ministry Burnout

We talk about ministry burnout a lot here at Ministry Best Practices. It seems that ministry burnout and the damage it does (with all of it's different forms and implications) is a rising tide within the church and ministries. No one is exempt, especially those who focus and work with youth.

excerpted from YouthMinistry360 and Heather Bishop

A few months into my first ministry job, I found myself in an interesting position. Because I am a type-A, people-pleaser (recovering), I wanted to "be all things for all people" and said "yes" to any and every opportunity to serve. I loved my job and wanted to work my hardest to minister to the middle school girls in our youth group. However, I found myself easily exhausted. Thankfully, and with the help of others, I learned the following few tips to help me keep from spreading myself too thin:

1. Depend on your fellow youth workers.
Thankfully I work on a staff that encourages me to set some boundaries and utilize the gifted people all around me. Because I've seen ministry burnout first hand within my family, I put my driven personality aside and listened to my fellow staffer's encouragement. I was determined to learn how to maximize my ministry, rely on God's strength and the strength of the people He put in my life.

2. God does the saving, not me.
There is some bit of release in working hard, but knowing that God is in control of the outcome. Ministry is a healthy balance of encouraging and building up the weak and hurting, while also empowering them to rely on the Lord's help.

3. Serve from the overflow.
Though ministry requires sacrifice and service, a wise woman once advised me to "serve from the overflow in my life." The Lord continues to teach me the fairly obvious truth that we must be poured into before we can pour out. If I'm not taking time to spend with the Lord each day, if I'm not sitting under older and wiser women that can teach and encourage, then my personal resources are slim and will deplete quickly.

4. Parents are vital.
I have worked for ministries in the past that felt parents are too antiquated to "relate" to students. I strongly disagree. The Lord has entrusted these precious students to their parents' discipleship. The student ministry I am currently a part of is working fervently to equip parents to better disciple their children. Developing a partnership with parents is integral to effective student discipleship. These men and women are further along in their faith journey than I am. A clear partnership and encouraging relationship between parents and youth workers help transform ministry exhaustion into JOY and PEACE.

5. Humility is key.
Once I humbled myself before the Lord, relied on his strength, and realized I am not in this alone—ministry became a fun, exciting, and fruitful experience. I am better, healthier, and stronger because of the staff members. Mentors, and God has put in my life.

Top Twitter Tweets Of The Past Week

Twitter church
Here are the most popular Twitter posts from the past week. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter - @BestMinistry

Facebook - MinistryBestPractices

And of course don't forget to subscribe to Ministry Best Practices via email to get your daily dose of actionable and awesome content delivered daily right to your inbox.

Want To Know What Most Interests Us? Google Knows

google search

In 2014, Americans looked to Google for information on Ebola, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge and the actor Robin Williams’s suicide—all of which ranked among the hottest search terms of that year.

Google has announced the results of its “14th Annual Year in Search,” an inventory of the year’s most-searched-for keywords and phrases. 

The inventory is set up by category so you can browse through the different areas and drill down to more specifics. For a pastor and ministry leader, there is an enormous amount of information here for articles, blog posts, sermons, and essays. Seeing what we (Americans) were curious and interested about will help to give you some perspective and a pulse of the audience you minister to.

Scientific American also posted some interesting insights as well as trending subjects that were searched on Google. 

(ht: Phil Cooke)

How The Most Creative People In History Lived Their Day

creative thinking
Turns out great minds don’t think alike. Discover how some of the world’s most original artists, writers and musicians structured their day, based on ‘Daily Rituals’ by Mason Currey. Filter the different categories by toggling on or off, and hover over the colored bars to learn more about the daily (click HERE for the interactive graph)

The above info doesn't characterize the entire life of each person but a specific period of time as recorded in diaries, letters and other documentation.

How To Get Stuff Done When You Don't Feel Like It

Head in the sand

A recent post on the Nectar Collective offers a few suggestions for how creatives can find the inspiration to get work done in situations where time is of the essence but motivation is not, this is simple yet great advice for anyone, especially ministry leaders:
Use the 20-second rule. Want to get stuff done? Make it 20 seconds easier to do. In The Happiness Advantage, author Shawn Achor describes a simple strategy for… doing things even when we don’t feel motivated. Achor says, “Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.” 
Recognize when you’re at the top of your game. Figure out when you feel and work your best and then do all of the things that take the most brain power during those times. 
Create rewards. Tell yourself that once you finish X, you can have/do Y. Another alternative is to reward yourself with something (like a small piece of candy) whenever you knock an item off your to-do list. 
Organize. Spend 15 minutes organizing your work area and cleaning up… When your work space is clear, your mind is clear.
How to you find motivation to start those projects on your schedule every week?

(ht: 99u)

Good Reads From The Week

Here are some good and challenging reads that Ministry Best Practices recommends from the past week on topics of ministry, faith, parenting and the church.

7 Essentials for Effective Sermon Preparation by Wayne McDill

Good sermon preparation is hard work. There are no easy ways or gimmicks that will eliminate that work. It is, however, possible to develop systems of preparation that will make most effective use of your time. Necessary to everything we are describing here will be a serious commitment to put in the effort for good preaching.

Biblical Help for the Angry Person: Understanding Anger by Dave Dunham

At its heart anger is a problem of the heart. We often look at our circumstances as those things which generate our outbursts, annoyance, and rage, but the Bible speaks of the source and origin of anger as something more internal. To properly address anger, then, we must look at our hearts.

4 Ways the Modern Church Looks Nothing Like the Early Church by Preston Sprinkle

I often hear Christians say that we should be more like the early church. And I must admit, I’ve been one of those Christians. But if we linger on how this would look, I wonder how many of us would rather stay put in our 21st century churches. After all, first century Christians clung to a set of values that differs quite radically from most Christians today.

5 Things I Plan to Tell My Teenage Sons About the Nude Photos of Kim Kardashian by Brian Orme

Tonight, I plan to sit my teenage boys down on the couch and ask them a pretty awkward question. It’s a question I never thought I’d ask and I’m a little angry that I even need to ask it. What is the question? Have you seen Kim Kardashian naked? Why would I ask this?

The Biggest Barrier to Students Going to the Mission Field by Kim Ransleben

My husband and I sat with a couple dozen college students one night to listen to a missions’ mobilizer answer their questions about going overseas after college. The first question was one we’ve heard many times: How do you go about raising money when you’re just about to graduate from college? I know the young man probably got a little confused when his question was met with a smile and a shaking head. The mobilizer told them that money wouldn’t be their problem, and instead he asked the students to guess the primary barrier to them going to the mission field after college.

The Rise Of The Churchless

empty pew

Based on two decades of Barna Group interviews with thousands of churchless men and women, the new book Churchless by Barna and Kinnaman outlines a profile of the unchurched and the cultural context that has led to the trend away from church.

 “It’s critical to recognize these trends have a huge impact on how our churches and faith organizations work,” says David Kinnaman in a joint interview with George Barna. “It is harder today—based on this data—to go out and say ‘invite your friends to church.’ So recognizing the context in which these trends play out is very important for church leaders, and for us as researchers.”

According to the Churchless data, in the 1990s, 30% of the American population was unchurched. Today, two decades later, that percentage has risen to more than four in 10 Americans (43%). (Tweet This)

“If we want to turn that trend around,” says George Barna, “we’ve got to understand what these people are thinking, what they’re doing, why they are making these particular choices, what we could do to actually serve them better, to understand them, to love them, to do everything we can to help them get closer to God. . . . Armed with this kind of information, it’s a lot more likely that you’ll come up with a strategy that enables you to have positive impact on the lives of such people.”

Kinnaman agrees, “Jesus asks us to be faithful wherever we are, in whatever context we are. So good information helps us to learn how to be faithful.” Watch the full interview with George Barna and David Kinnaman below, and find out more about today’s unchurched population in their new book, Churchless.

Mobile Can No Longer Be An Afterthought!

iphone anxiety
If you ever had any doubt that our culture has grown highly dependent on our smartphones, then you'll need to read this:

excerpted from Digital Trends:
If you feel a dark, heavy cloud over your head preventing you from being a fully functional human being whenever you forget to take your smartphone with you, you’re not alone. In fact, there’s now a study that declares smartphone separation anxiety is a real affliction that has psychological and physiological effects. 
Researchers at the University of Missouri conducted a study observing what happens to iPhone users when they’re unable to answer their phones while they work on word search puzzles. Participants were told to sit at a computer in a lab and that the experiment was about testing a new wireless blood pressure cuff.
“Our findings suggest that iPhone separation can negatively impact performance on mental tasks,” said Russell Clayton, a doctoral candidate at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and lead author of the study. “Additionally, the results from our study suggest that iPhones are capable of becoming an extension of our selves such that when separated, we experience a lessening of ‘self’ and a negative physiological state.”
Putting aside the real psychological effects of being apart from our smartphones, this study reinforces yet another issue - that people are never too far from their phones. They are always with us and we are connecting through them. Which means that if you are not thinking and working toward reaching your church, constituents, community and culture through their phone then you are missing it.

More and more people in your church and ministry are connecting through their phones. They are reading news and information from their phone, giving through their phone, communicating through their phone and watching media through their phone. Every email you send, every website you create, every call to action you require must be seen through the lens of how it accomplish it through mobile. Mobile can no longer be an afterthought for you and your church and ministry!

Why You Should Consider Shutting Down Your VoiceMail

from a recent Bloomberg post:
Forget about leaving a voice mail at Coca-Cola's Atlanta headquarters. Send a text instead. 
Office voice mail at the world’s largest soft-drink maker was shut down “to simplify the way we work and increase productivity,” according to an internal memo from Chief Information Officer Ed Steinike. The change went into effect this month, and a standard outgoing message now throws up an electronic stiff arm, telling callers to try later or use “an alternative method” to contact the person.
And it makes sense that companies would want to get rid of voicemail, because people are. In 2012, Vonage reported its year-over-year voicemail volumes dropped 8%. More revealing, the number of people bothering to retrieve those messages plummeted 14%. Very few people now want to take the time to listen through a 90 second voicemail. And those that do check it, do so mostly out of obligation, because it is still a communication bucket out there that needs to be checked and processed.

With so many ubiquitous and more productive methods - such as texting, email and instant message to communicate - voicemail seems to an anachronistic technology holdout like the fax.

As a leader, what do you do with voicemail? To you use and rely on it much? Would you ever consider dumping it?

You're Not Going To Believe This About Churches Online!

Just read in Christian Web Trends news that surprised me a bit.

Here is a quote from their post:
2012 Duke University National Congregations Study that showed a shocking low percentage of U.S. congregations. How low? 55.7% 
Granted, the study was conducted in 2012, so it’s 2-3 years old. However, considering the fact that the percentage of churches with websites only grew 11% in previous 5 years (from 44.3% in 2007), we can extrapolate that the current percentage isn’t likely to be more than 60-65%
Wow...those stats are incredible! Yet even though those statistics say that about 65% of churches have a web presence, it of course says nothing about the nature or condition of those websites. Are they current? Are they updated? Are they aesthetically appealing? 

There are a lot of ugly and broken websites out there! And truthfully I wonder if having an ugly, dated, and inactive website is any better than no website at all. (btw you don't have to settle for this...there are great website builders like Clover Sites and others that can give your church and ministry an attractive web presence.)

Don't forget your church and ministry website is your storefront. It will be, for many, the first thing they see or experience about your church before they even step through the front door on Sunday morning. Your church and ministry is creating a significant divide and disadvantage if you are not online.

The Wonderful Power Of Doubt

guest post by Jeff Anderson

I wonder how many Christians will be apologizing to Thomas in heaven. He inherited quite a reputation as a doubter.

(How would you like to have your life summarized by your moment of doubt?)

In my opinion, “Doubting Thomas” got a bad rap. He’s not even called by that nickname in scripture. And I don’t want to be among those who trash his name. Maybe it’s because I am a lot like Thomas.

When Thomas found out from friends that they had seen Jesus, he wasn’t so convinced. “Look, if you saw Jesus, that’s great. But I won’t believe until I see Him with my own eyes. I want to see and feel His scars.” (My paraphrase of John20:25)

If I were in Thomas’s position, being told they talked with Jesus, after I saw him crucified, I probably would have reacted the same way.

Someone else’s experience is not enough for me. I want my own signature moments with God.

Sometimes our faith needs something more

The faith journey is a test of endurance. We come to a life of faith with nothing…but faith. And faith alone is enough.

But at some point, your faith needs some substance. And I’m not talking about substance from you. I’m talking about substance from God. That’s right – when our faith is tested, we need God to step up!


What I mean is, God offers proof for those who want it. He offers further assurance for those who need a boost for their faith.

Throughout scripture, faith heroes called out to God for “more.” Gideon wanted proof that His angel encounter was for real; God gave Him the proof he wanted (multiple times actually).

Moses wanted proof that God was pleased with Him; God gave Him a special encounter on the mountain.

And Thomas wanted something more too. After all, he was a personal friend, a disciple, to Jesus. He wanted more than just a second hand account of Jesus’ aliveness.

God knows when your faith needs a kick- start

Seasons of doubt are to be expected. Life on earth is long. And our faith… gets tired. God knows we need faith boosters along the way. After all, He’s a good Father, right?

Jesus knew that Thomas needed his own moment with God. When Jesus took the hands of Thomas and placed them over his scars, Thomas encountered the fresh wounds of the risen Christ. Can you imagine that moment for Thomas – rubbing his fingers over the nail-scarred flesh of the risen God?

“My Lord and my God,” Thomas cried out. Yes, he had seen God. And his unbelief was once again defeated.

Often we tell the story of Thomas as one of disappointment and failure. But I see it differently. I see the privilege Thomas had of a personal revelation with God. And I see someone who had the guts to ask for more.

I often have doubts about God’s involvement in certain areas of my life. It’s not that I doubt God presence or existence. But I do tend to shrink back in fear at times, and desire more assurance of the things unseen.

Something tells me you have these moments too.

It could be doubt about a particular call on your life – maybe I don’t belong here in seminary. It could be doubt about your marriage – maybe we’ll never be able to reconcile. It could be doubt about a wayward child – maybe my child has abandoned God, and maybe God has abandoned him, too.

It could even be doubt at the very inner core of your faith – maybe God is not even real!

If you are struggling with feelings of doubt – your first step is an honest call-out to God. “Help my unbelief!” (Mark9:24).

In the case of Thomas, he said, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

Sure enough, Jesus showed up and gave Thomas the proof he needed.

Divine Applause moments
It’s comforting to know that these God encounters are available to us. I call these encounters divine applause moments - when God connects with us in noticeable ways.

Being steadfast in faith does not mean that you’ll never have weak moments. Instead it means your weak moments can be met with fresh experiences, divine applause moments to strengthen you for the journey ahead.

“Doubt”, in search of more from God, is good!

Maybe Thomas’ nickname should be “Thomas who wanted more.”

What’s your nickname?

JEFF ANDERSON speaks and writes about walking with God, with an approach to discipleship that combines scripture and story. He’s the author of two books, Plastic Donuts and Divine Applause (January 2015 RandomHouse/Waterbrook). Jeff and his wife, Stephanie have four children.

22 Expert Tips On Fundraising - Infographic

See below in the infographic by Jenn Fortner the top tips and advice on fundraising by the experts. She asked 22 fully-funded missionaries to anonymously answer the question: "If you could tell a new itinerating missionary one thing about raising fund, what would it be?" The infographic below pulls together the responses she received.

(ht: Jenn Fortner)

How To Get You And Your Ministry Fully Funded

Join me February 16-17, for the Support Raising Solutions Bootcamp.

I have been raising support for ministry for over 23 years, 17 years of that with CRU and now with CMDA Atlanta. Over those years I've gotten a lot of great training and experience, yet I'm still in need of a major tune-up and to be re-fired again in this area. I need to never stop learning, be challenged and grow in this area - and I suspect the same is true for you too.

If you raise your support, or you have staff who raise their support - you need to be at this Bootcamp. If you have just started the process of support raising or if you have been doing it for years - you need to be at this Bootcamp.

You will not only get training on the mechanics of developing your support and ministry partners, but you will receive Biblically grounded perspective on why and how to raise support. These are some of the highlights of the Bootcamp:

One of my Board members and I are going to the Atlanta Bootcamp on Feb. 16-17- I'd encourage you to join me (or choose a date and city close to you). It will be worth the investment!

Want To Be More Happier At Work? Practice Gratitude

It is important and vital to practice gratitude. We must, not only have an attitude of thankfulness, but also we must continually be thanking those around us who serve in our church or organization, whether they are volunteers or paid staff. Gratitude is powerful. But the problem is that too often gratitude gets overlooked, yet science says, don't ignore it! Here is an interesting post from 99u concerning the science around practicing and experiencing gratitude.

excerpted from 99u

In 2013, a study from the John Templeton Foundation found that offices are the least common place to either hear or express gratitude.

At first glance, the workplace—where we devote long hours, develop important relationships, and regularly participate in teamwork—seems an unlikely candidate for the title of World’s Least Appreciative Environment. But in reality, the speed at which we move through our daily motions, a lack of understanding around individual talents and contributions (read: what your colleague is actually doing over there), and a bad tendency to attribute the bulk of credit to people at the top puts gratitude in meager supply. In short, everyone loves to be thanked, but no one really prioritizes it.

It’s normal to give gratitude a backseat when your brain’s full of to-dos, but a growing body of science suggests forgetting your thank you’s might be to blame for unhappiness at work. 

According to Harvard Health, research in positive psychology shows that “gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” Even more studies, old and new, show significant and concrete correlations between increased gratitude and improved happiness—in work and in life.
Studies, old and new, show significant and concrete correlations between increased gratitude and improved happiness—in work and in life.

So how can you boost your outlook and improve workplace morale with gratitude? The key is making thankfulness a habit, which you can do in just a few minutes a day. Here are our three favorite gratitude exercises, backed by research, for getting it done.

1. Make a gratitude list

A daily exercise of listing several things you’re grateful for can increase happiness by 25 percent, and only takes a few minutes. Your lists can include anything you’re grateful for, but regularly including a few work-related items will support a more positive outlook on the job.

2. Create an environment of thankfulness

In 2010, a study by Adam Grant and Francesca Gino explored how gratitude motivated pro-social behavior—or in other words, how thanking someone for something motivated future acts of support. After being thanked for their personal contributions, participants in the study experienced increased feelings of value and worth, which in turn more than doubled their likelihood of repeating that helpful behavior.

For everyone, this study unveils an easy way to support the self-esteem of your colleagues. For people at the management level, it also suggests just how much support and productivity you could be losing by not expressing gratitude. To make sure you’re taking advantage of the benefits of appreciation and acknowledgment, try building intentional and genuine thanking into your team meetings or one-on-ones. 

3. Acknowledge every contribution

While it’s much easier to high-five a visible leader in your organization for her or his teams’ accomplishments, acknowledging the whole team with a warm email will highlight the critical support of each individual, and boost the happiness of an entire group of individuals instead of just one.

How about you?

Has gratitude shaped your church and ministry?

The Top Facebook Posts From MBP

Here are the most popular Facebook posts from the past couple of weeks. Don't forget you can get more helpful, engaging, inspiring and fun content by joining Ministry Best Practices' social media communities on Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter - @BestMinistry

And of course don't forget to subscribe to Ministry Best Practices via email to get your daily dose of actionable and awesome content delivered daily right to your inbox.

Will Twitter's Next Move Be A Game-Changer?

This news below has been creating a lot of buzz.
Earlier, Twitter said it was working on a native video platform for 2015 that would allow users to upload and tweet original clips. 
"Aside from just watching video more easily on Twitter, you should be able to record, edit and share your own videos natively on Twitter too," Twitter's VP of Product Kevin Weil wrote in November. "Alongside short looping Vine videos, we think you’ll have fun sharing what’s happening in your world through native video. You can expect to see this in the first half of next year."
The question that I am always asking myself when I hear news like this is how will it advance the church and ministry's mission and vision?

At first blush I think this new and projected Twitter development around the use of video will be a positive and welcomed addition to churches and ministries that are using this platform. Below are two reasons why...

First of all, video invites and garners a lot of engagement. It is by no accident that more and more video platforms (such as Vine and Instagram's Video) are popping up and becoming popular. The ability for a church and ministry to share more video content with their fans and followers is a positive development.

Second, having the ability to upload videos to Twitter, makes it more likely that the content provider will get clear and specific metrics as to how often and by whom their videos are being viewed. A ministry having this kind of information about the videos they upload and share is invaluable and tremendously useful. 

Needless to say, I think this new development in creating and sharing video on Twitter provides another positive opportunity for the church and ministries to both communicate to their constituents as well has market and reach out to those outside their circle.

MOVE Conference 2015

MOVE Conference

This conference and event is definitely worth a trip to Atlanta. Great and dynamic speakers and networking coupled with practical training and tools offered in the many breakout sessions.

Make a difference in your community and around the world. Inspire your church to reach their neighbors & those in the uttermost parts.

How To Create The Perfect Blog Post

One of the key opportunities that pastors and ministry leaders have is blogging. Through blogging you can build influence and make an impact with the people you lead and shepherd. (I have listed some reasons why you should blog in an earlier post HERE) Yet I would hazard a guess that many pastors and ministry leaders don't use and leverage this strategic opportunity. I believe that is a mistake.

 Consider today to start blogging. You don't have to do it every day, but be consistent. Perhaps do it weekly just to start. You can use a simple and turn-key blogging platform, such as Wordpress, Medium or Blogger to get started. Be creative. Have fun and begin to build the discipline of writing - by which you can become a more influential leader through the written word.

And as you do begin this endeavor of blogging, see this infographic below on how to write and create a blog post that will make maximum impact and get read by others.

(ht: Bitrebels)

Who Will Win The Battle Between Email And Social Media?

What is the better, more effective way to communicate with your church/ministry/organization? Is it email? Or is it social media?

There has been a debate going on for the past couple of years. Some say that email is dead and that the younger generation doesn't connect via email anymore. Others say that email is a commodity you can own and control, while social media is "rented" property, continually the victim of the fickle social media provider. I think it's a faulty dilemma to pose having to choose. Both have strengths and weaknesses. Both have a valuable presence and role in your communication strategy.

Your organization should be intentional with both email communication and active & present on several social media platforms. This infographic below compares the two, with both their strengths and weaknesses, in a side by side comparison.

Email Marketing

Want To Be More Productive? Then Work Only 90 Minutes


excerpted from NY Mag:

As Tony Schwartz, author and CEO of the Energy Project, once wrote for the Harvard Business Review that we can steal the habits of elite violinists and apply them to our comparatively humdrum to-do lists. Schwartz writes:
Consider the study that performance expert Anders Ericcson did of violinists at the Berlin Academy of Music. The best of the violinists practiced in sessions no longer than 90 minutes, and took a break in between each one. They almost never practiced more than 4 ½ hours over a day. What they instinctively understood was the law of diminishing returns. 
The top violinists also got an average of more than 8 hours of sleep a night, and took a 20-30 minute nap every afternoon. Over a week, they slept 16 hours more than the average American does.
From where I sit and from my personal experience, this advice seems to make sense. 90 minutes gives us enough time to enter into a place of greater focus and allows us to accomplish a significant portion of the task. Yet allowing for the rhythm of a work and rest cycle also then gives us the needed energy and stamina to accomplish more throughout the day.

The key therefore is not to get into either of two extremes. Either being always interrupted and checking email and social media accounts throughout the day. Or simply never stopping and always working toward complete exhaustion. In order to help stay accountable to this 90 minute work rhythm you may want to check out some of these time-tracking apps.

Imagine - If You Can - A World Without The Internet

Internet Broken
Well can you? It would be hard to do. We are so connected these days using the internet. We all depend on it so much. Through it, we connect, communicate, shop, work, travel, read, watch movies - we do so much through it.

On one hand it is sobering just how dependent (and addicted) we are. It would certainly be a shock to the system if the internet went away tomorrow. I think many people would probably fall into a deep depression!

But the stats below in the infographic also make another important point. If you are ignoring the online opportunities available then you are invisible - that's just a fact. And yet there are still many churches, and even ministries, doing very little online. Their internet presence is anemic and shallow, usually with very little time, attention and effort given to it. That trend needs to change - Today!

There just isn't any excuse anymore to ignore the incredible opportunities for a church/ministry to be actively online. Are you leveraging the online opportunities like you should? Here are some questions that I have for your organization that might help you explore that answer.

  • What would people find if they attempted to search for your church/ministry on Google?
  • Are you active and participating on social media networks like Facebook or Instagram? Do you have at least an active presence on 2 major social media sites?
  • Are you using and leveraging video to communicate to your constituents as well as for outreach?
  • Do you use visually appealing email marketing, such as the Mailchimp service, to communicate with your constituents within your church/ministry?
  • Is your organization set up for and actively promoting online giving?
  • As a ministry leader, are you blogging in order to create impact and influence with the people you lead?
  • Is your website design more than 3 years old?
(if you need any help moving your church, ministry or organization to the next level with your online presence, Ministry Best Practices can help and would love to talk to you more about it)

The World Without Internet

Are You Brave Enough To Ask This Question?

If you and your church were to disappear off the face of the earth tomorrow, would anyone in the community around you notice you were gone? And if the community did even notice would they say ‘we are really glad they are gone’, or ‘we are really going to miss them’?
-Tim Keller

This is a great question to ask as you and I move into 2015. Yet asking the question is one thing, getting an honest answer is another. Too often in our churches we are keeping busy and being distracted with our programs and events that indulge us and make us feel self-important. Yet at the end of the day, what Kingdom impact are we really making to the community around us? Are lives, families and communities radically changed and impacted? Have we been a blessing to them? Serving them? Show them the love of Jesus in word and deed?

Certainly God's power and ability to impact lives, families, communities and societies is very much possible without you and me. He can and will accomplish His purposes - "I tell you," he replied, "if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Lk 19:40). And yet he uses broken, frail and faulty men and women like you and me. It is a privilege that we have the invitation to be a part of God's redeeming purposes. Therefore let us use our time, talents, money and energy to do more than just serving ourselves, let us bless and serve others who are outside our church. Let us make such a tangible impact and have such a positive presence that our communities would certainly miss us if we were to disappear tomorrow.

How To Sabotage Your Church Without Even Trying

Here's an excerpt of the 1944 'Simple Sabotage Field Manual' created by the US Strategic Services explaining how to train people to sabotage their workplace. Full of useful suggestions, from the very practical to the less so (i.e. bring a bag of moths into a theater showing propaganda films). It also recommends doing things through official channels, making speeches, and referring matters to committee as techniques and means of sabotage.

What's scary about these suggestions is that we do these all the time in our churches, without even thinking. This list of subversive and sabotaging acts is so eerily close to many church meetings that I have been a part of over the years - I hate to admit.

Therefore if you want to sabotage your church and especially their heart for kingdom ministry and impact, then go ahead and implement these simple techniques. (For some of you, your church is already doing it.). Here is a sample:

Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.

Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate our “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of personal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.

When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and consideration.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.

Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.

Haggle over precise wordings of communications, minutes, resolutions.

Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting. Attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision.

Advocate “caution.” Be “reasonable” and urge your fellow-conferees to be “reasonable” and avoid haste which might result in embarrassments or difficulties later on.

Be worried about the propriety of any decision — raise the question of whether such action as is contemplated lies within the jurisdiction of the group or whether it might conflict with the policy of some higher echelon.

Have you ever been in or a part of these kinds of meetings?