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.

Showing posts with label Assimilation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Assimilation. Show all posts

5 Simple Yet Effective Ways To Improve A Guest Experience

Often times there is content within Ministry Best Practices that is worth repeating, today we would like to re-share with you a post that reminds you to always be preparing and to be on alert for "company" coming on Sunday mornings. Guests will be visiting and coming to your church, yet are you ready, alert and prepared for them?

from the Ministry Best Practices archives

Don't allow your church website to become out-of-date and be hard to navigate. Make sure important facts such as service times/location & directions/what to expect are clear and easy to find.

Make sure you have enough parking lot volunteers to show people where to park and where to enter the church. It is often said that the "sermon" starts in the parking lot - and it is true that the first impression and assistance given in the parking lot will help set the tone for the visitor's experience.

Have adequate exterior signage that identifies buildings and points a visitor in the right direction. It is ok to make your church look like the bat cave...can't have enough signage.

Make sure your indoor signage is clear and not confusing in which it uses ministry names that a visitor won't understand. Avoid jargon and clever ministry names without explaining what they are/who they are for. For example, don't just post signs for "Discovery Cove" without posting more info about what age group that ministry is for.

Smile, Say Hello & Talk to Visitors! This is everyone's responsibility - not just staff and certain volunteers.

And a Bonus!

Make sure you have clear, concise and compelling information about the church to give to visitors before they leave. Make a point to put that info in their hands. But don't make the mistake by feeling compelled to give them every piece of information about every program about every facet of the church. Keep it simple! Just give them enough information to tell them who you are, what you believe, about your mission, and to point them toward the direction of what's next in their journey to become a part of your community.

Should You Put The Kibosh On The Church Stand & Greet?

Church Greeters
Thom Rainer recently hit a nerve. He recently discovered that many people just don't like the church stand and greet on Sunday mornings. Apparently the opinions were pretty strong. This is what he discovered.

from Thom Rainer:

So what is it about this stand and greet time that many guests don’t like? Here are the seven most common responses, again listed in order of frequency.

  1. Many guests are introverts. “I would rather have a root canal than be subjected to a stand and greet time.”
  2. Some guests perceive that the members are not sincere during the time of greeting. “In most of the churches it should be called a stand and fake it time. The members weren’t friendly at all except for ninety seconds.”
  3. Many guests don’t like the lack of hygiene that takes place during this time. “Look, I’m not a germaphobe, but that guy wiped his nose right before he shook my hand.”
  4. Many times the members only greet other members. “I went to one church where no one spoke to me the entire time of greeting. I could tell they were speaking to people they already knew.”
  5. Both members and guests at some churches perceive the entire exercise is awkward. “Nowhere except churches do we have times that are so awkward and artificial. If members are going to be friendly, they would be friendly at other times as well. They’re not.”
  6. In some churches, the people in the congregation are told to say something silly to one another. “So the pastor told us to tell someone near us that they are good looking. I couldn’t find anyone who fit that description, so I left and didn’t go back.”
  7. Not only do some guests dread the stand and greet time, so do some members. “I visited the church and went through the ritual of standing and greeting, but many of the members looked just as uncomfortable as I was. We were all doing a required activity that none of us liked.”
(ht: Thom Rainer)

What do you think? Should we put the kibosh on the church stand and greet?

What To Communicate To Prospective Church Members

Church membership is an important component to the life of the church,

Before people take those membership vows and make those commitments, you should take the time over the course of several weeks (6-8) outlining several components of their membership.

Although mileage may vary in regards to the exact details, structure and format a church will conduct those sessions, here are a couple of parameters

1.  Give them information - you want people to enter into your church with their eyes wide open and a chance to address their questions or concerns.  Here is some information that you should cover.
  • Basic theology/doctrine/creeds/confessions relevant to the church
  • Short history of the church
  • The church's vision/mission/values
  • Structures of the church - offices/leadership/staff & overview of ministries within the church
2.  Give them expectations - becoming a member of a church isn't just about consuming goods & services that the church has to offer - it is about contributing, participating and using their unique gifts for the body.  Here are some issues that you may want to cover:

Give each new member a clear opportunity and on-ramp to SERVE and CONNECT.  It should be spelled out clearly that serving and connecting aren't optional, rather they are essential to the membership commitments that they are about to undertake.

Help them to serve, assess their gifts. Conduct a Spiritual gifts survey/inventory. Have them afterwards meet with a church representative/counselor to help them connect their gifts with tangible opportunities within the church.

Help them to connect, make sure they find a place to connect relationally with others in the church. Since people are getting to know one another during the membership instruction, perhaps you may make the membership class and sessions a small group that continues on beyond it's initial purpose.

When Churches Lie - REAL Church Postcards

Do you ever find your mailbox stuffed with those slick and well produced "church postcards" inviting you to their awesome church?!  What would those postcard invitations look like if we stripped away the hype and actually told the truth?  EchoHub has done just that and they have posted some hilarious examples.  Here are a select few below:

(ht: EchoHub)

How To Move Members Into Ministry

by Chuck Lawless
(excerpted from Thom S. Rainer's blog)

Sam attends his church faithfully every Sunday, but he is not involved in doing ministry through his church. Others view Sam as a committed member simply because he is there every Sunday morning, and no one would dare question his faithfulness.

Yet, Sam is really doing nothing in his church. How do you move members like him into ministry? Here are some basic principles we learned in a study published in my book, Membership Matters.

1. Pray for Laborers
Jesus gave us clear guidelines for securing workers: pray for God to provide them (Luke 10:2). The fields, He said, are ready, but the workers are few.

My experience is that churches look for laborers, and they begin praying earnestly only after they’ve not been able to secure workers through their established processes. Is it possible we would have less difficulty enlisting workers if we started praying before recruiting?

I encourage churches to build praying for laborers into their DNA. The staff and church should pray not only for current workers, but also for potential workers. Prayer meetings should include a time of focused prayer for more workers, even when all the current positions are filled. God will provide the laborers if your church will follow His command to pray.

2. State Expectations Up Front
Here’s the primary reason church members don’t get involved: churches expect very little. One of the best ways to correct this problem is to state expectations in a membership class. Our study shows that churches with effective membership classes stress five expectations of members:
  • Identifying with the church (e.g., through public baptism)
  • Attending worship services and small groups
  • Serving in the ministry of the church
  • Giving financially toward the church’s work
  • Promoting unity in the church
Stating these expectations is no guarantee there will be no members like Sam in your church, but not clarifying expectations almost assures you will.

3. Have a Ministry Placement Process in Place
In the churches we studied, leaders had an intentional placement strategy. Those strategies included the SHAPE concept (Rick Warren), the DESIGN program (Wayne Cordeiro), BodyLife (John Powers), and Network (Willow Creek). These processes are built upon the assumption that God works through our life experiences, desires, spiritual gifts, personalities, and abilities to prepare us to serve in His church.

4. Recruit Face-to-Face
We asked laypersons in our study why they chose to get involved in their church’s ministry. Listen to the personal recruiting that their answers reflected:

“A minister spoke to me and challenged me to get active.”
“The Minister of Education sat me down and talked to me.”
“Two guys approached me and asked me [to serve].”

Leaders in the churches we studied did not recruit workers through bulletin board sign-ups, worship folder tear-offs, or pulpit announcements. Rather, they sought workers by challenging members face-to-face—the way Jesus recruited disciples. In most cases, a personal challenge and invitation made the difference.

5. Offer Entry-level Ministry Positions

6. Recognize and Affirm Workers

7. Don’t Give Up Easily

Read entire post at Thom S. Rainer's blog HERE

Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

Perhaps The BIG Reason People Leave Your Church

from Thom Rainer:

Numbers of gifted persons and organizations have studied the phenomenon of the church “back door,” the metaphorical way we describe people leaving the church. And there will always be the anticipated themes of relocation or personal crises. We should recognize those issues, though we can respond to the latter more than the former.

But all the research studies of which I am aware, including my own, return to one major theme to explain the exodus of church members: a sense of some need not being filled. In other words, these members have ideas of what a local congregation should provide for them, and they leave because those provisions have not been met.

Certainly we recognize there are many legitimate claims by church members of unfulfilled expectations. It can undoubtedly be the fault of the local congregation and its leaders.

But many times, probably more than we would like to believe, a church member leaves a local body because he or she has a sense of entitlement. I would therefore suggest that the main reason people leave a church is because they have an entitlement mentality rather than a servant mentality.

(ht: Vitamin Z)

Photo Credit: innaminnafly via Compfight cc

How To Invite To Church

via Shawn:

ONE of the mistakes I think we Pastors make as much as any other is telling people WHAT to do on the weekends without showing them HOW to do it. For instance, so many pastors every weekend tell the members of their congregations to "go share Jesus with the lost". However, I am convinced that most of the time, people don't know HOW to share Jesus with the lost! That's so broad! As Pastors, we've got to do a better job, not just telling people WHAT to do, but showing them HOW to do it. IN honor of this truth, I wanted to share THE TOP 10 WAYS TO INVITE SOMEONE TO CHURCH WITHOUT GETTING PUMMELED:

1. Send a co-worker an e-invite from our church website, with a note that says: "Just thought you might connect with what our church is going to be talking about this weekend."

2. Send a link to one of our church's online sermons with a note that says: "When I heard this message, I thought about what you've been going through..."

3. Take a worship guide in to work with the message series title on it and say: "When I heard this message title, I thought of you."

4. Have a BBQ and invite some co-workers or friends over to eat. Here's the only criteria for the INVITATION list: They can't be going to church anywhere.

5. Invite someone to lunch on Sunday (or dinner on Saturday) and then say: "Hey, would you guys be interested at all in meeting us at our church beforehand, and THEN going to eat?

6. Think of someone who had a tough year this past year, drop them an enail or a phone call and simply say: "when I was listening to my pastor;s message this past week, I thought about you and prayed for you (IF you actually prayed for them)."

7. Invite a family friend's child over to spend the night with our children on Saturday Night and then ask the family's permission to take their child on to church with you and drop them off afterward. If our Children's Ministry rocks, this child will be one of Jesus' biggest advertisers afterward!

8. Just say: "Hey, man, what would I have to do to talk you into giving God and the church one more shot this week?"

9. Just say: "Hey, are you going to church anywhere right now? Why don't you come hang out with me this weekend at our church?"

10. Say: "You would not believe what my church is going to be doing this next weekend..."

Not just WHAT, but HOW...DOES THIS HELP AT ALL??? 

 (ht: shawnlovejoy)

Top Ten Ways You Can Draw Me To Your Church

You want me to come and stay at your church? Then...

10. Show me Jesus

9. Smile

8. Serve me

7. Help me to get involved and connected

6. Look me in the eye

5. Ask my opinion

4. Be clear and anticipate my questions

3. Remember my name

2. Call me (without asking me for something)

1. Be yourself

All of these together boil down to one simple message: Show That You Care.

9 Questions Leaders Should Ask When People Leave

  1. Do we have some mechanism for personally knowing our "sheep", if so - is it working? 
  2. Do we have some way of knowing when people are not showing up at church? 
  3. Are the pathways to connecting in our church clear and easy to navigate? 
  4. Are we confronting cliquishness in our church? 
  5. Are we burning out those in the church by allowing or causing them to over-serve or serve outside their gifting? 
  6. Are we effectively and clearly communicating with our congregation? 
  7. Is it at least possible that we are more at fault than we think? 
  8. Have we contributed to their frustration by having made promises we didn’t deliver on? 
  9. Are these critics who are negative toward the church generally critical and impossible to please?
(read entire post by Kevin DeYoung)

Are You A Welcoming Church?

Updated from the MinistryBestPractices Archives: 

Are you a welcoming church? Perhaps you think you are...but because you've been coming to your church for some time and your opinion or perspective may be skewed.  Try to enter into the experience of a guest on Sunday morning. Ask God to give you fresh eyes on the Sunday morning experience.  How do think that a guest may feel when they enter your church?
  1. Do you provide an appropriate welcome to those visiting during your Sunday worship service? 
  2. Do you have the expectation that people will be visiting your church every Sunday?
  3. Is there adequate signage around the church for parking, bathroom and nursery?  
  4. Are people at your church able and prepared to go beyond "Hi, what's your name? Where do you live?" in a conversation with a guest? 
  5. Are people at your church willing to stop being driven by the TASKs on Sunday morning and stop long enough to have a conversation with a guest/visitor? 
  6. Do people smile at guests when speaking? 
  7. Do people make eye contact with the guests when speaking to them? 
  8. When someone is hurting, are you and others at your church willing to go beyond the "I'll pray for you" and actually stop and pray for that person? 
  9. Are you and others willing to accept and approach people who are different from you? 
  10. Are you truly a welcoming church?

The Top 10 Reasons People Leave Your Church

From the MinistryBestPractices Archives:

Here are the top ten reasons LifeWay Research found why people switch churches: 

1. The church was not helping me to develop spiritually. (28%)
2. I did not feel engaged or involved in meaningful church work (20%)
3. Church members were judgmental of others (18%)
4. pastor was not a good preacher (16%)
5. Too many changes (16%)
6. Members seemed hypocritical (15%)
7. Church didn’t seem to be a place where God was at work (14%)
8. Church was run by a clique that discouraged involvement (14%)
9. Pastor was judgmental of others (14%)
10. Pastor seemed hypocritical (13%)

How To Spot Visitors In Your Church

Do You Want To Leave Your Church?

The top three searches that find Ministry Best Practices are:

  • How to Leave a Church
  • When To Leave a Church
  • How To Leave Your Church
And those searches usually find this POST and this POST

Wow, that really surprised me. But after seeing this data, I began asking myself, what is driving people to look elsewhere and leave their church? Why are people so dissatisfied with their church?

Could it be because of serious issues of spiritual abuse?  Or theological compromise? Or are people leaving their church based on more trivial matters of worship taste or program selection?

Let me hear from you....what do you think?  And if you are a person in the category of leaving your church...please comment below why and what is prompting you to leave? (but leave leave out names and identities)

Is Church Membership Biblical?

Matt Chandler from the Resurgence blog writes:
I was 28 when I became the pastor of Highland Village First Baptist Church (now known as The Village Church). I had had a rough go early on in my church experience, and at that time I was not fully out of my “disenchanted with the local church” phase.
In all honesty, I wasn’t sure at the time that church membership was biblical. Despite that, the Spirit had made it all too clear that I was going to be pastoring this small church in the suburbs of Dallas. That was one of the many ironies of my life in those days.
Highland Village First Baptist Church was a “seeker-sensitive” church in the Willow Creek mold and had no formal membership process, although they were actively working on one and wanted the new pastor’s input. I had a strong understanding of the church universal but wasn’t well versed—and, as I said, somewhat skeptical—about the church local. We started growing quickly with young and oftentimes disenchanted 20-somethings who usually had no church background, or bad church backgrounds. They liked The Village because we were “different.” This always struck me as strange because we weren’t doing anything but preaching and singing. If there is no understanding of local church membership, then who are we to submit to and obey?
In conversations with these men and women I began to hear things like “The church is corrupt; it’s just about money and a pastor’s ego,” or “I love Jesus, it’s the church I have a problem with.” My favorite one was, “When you organize the church it loses its power.” Although something occasionally resonated in me with these comments (I, along with most of my generation, have authority and commitment issues), I found them confusing since they were being made to me by people who were attending the church where I was the pastor.
Read more at The Resurgence.

At the churches that I've been at, church membership is important part of participation and accountability.  What about your church?  Do you think church membership is biblical or merely an antiquated notion?

Top 10 Tips for Welcoming

Although this video by be a bit formal and stiff, it has some excellent points to consider.  Also it is refreshing to observe that it isn't just only hip and contemporary churches that value doing this well, but even more traditional churches understand its importance.

5 Tips For Remembering Names

If you are in ministry and part of the church then you are always meeting new people - especially on Sunday mornings.  But how can you effectively remember people's names and prevent their name being lost to you only seconds after you meet them?  Here are some tips excerpted from Wisebread.

Look for Distinguishing Features
When I meet someone, I always look for something unique in the way they look or act, and try to make an association with that feature and their name.

Associate a Name With an Occupation
Usually people tell you what they do for a living. I find that it's often easier to remember occupations than names because there is always a story to that occupation. All you have to do is to weave a person's name into your mental image of that person's occupation.

Repeat and Reintroduce
When you just meet someone new, try to say their name a few times while talking to them. Repetition always aids your memory, so introduce that person to some of your friends. You can also ask people to spell their names if you don't have nametags. If someone has an unusual name, it is especially helpful to get the pronunciation correct by repeating the name a few more times.

Associate Real Words With Names
Many names aren't real dictionary words, and that makes them harder to remember. If you see a person's name and associate it with a real word, somehow it is much easier to remember. For example, when I hear a name like Jaden, I think of the word "jade," and I associate the color green with that person. When I hear "Gladys," I think of gladiolas and associate that flower with the person's face.

Use Social Media
If you happen to like people you just met, you could friend them on Facebook or Twitter, where they will have pictures of themselves and links to their personal sites. When you have faces and names show up on your social media feed, then it is much easier to remember who they are when you see them in person.

What are your tips for remembering names of new people you meet? What do you do when you can't remember someone's name in a social situation?

(ht: WiseBread)

10 Things To Consider About Those Who Visit Your Church

#1 You will have more guests in one year than you think.
Research shows that five to eight percent of your worshipping community will self-identify as guests. Therefore the number of guests in one year is: [(Ave. weekly worship attendance) x (.05) x (52)]

#2 Many of your guests are going through situations that make them more responsive to God. These are the folks that are most likely to be moving, changing jobs, getting divorced, having kids, etc.

#3 Your guests are assessing very quickly whether or not they are coming back. This happens much faster than we think. For example, read The 11-Minute Difference.

#4 Your guests represent step one of accomplishing the Great Commission- these are the people coming to you! How much does your church spend on foreign missions? Compare that to how much we invest into the fish that swim to the boat before we cast a net.

#5 A guest who is attending may represent years of prayer, service, and invitation by a church member. My mom and I attended church without my father for 12 years. The first time my Dad came to church with us, imagine how I felt about the church and the hospitality of the people. All I could think was “Don’t screw up!”

#6 Studies show that guests will talk about their initial experiences 8-15 times with other people. Serve guests well and multiply your message.

#7 A welcoming ministry is a great “shallow end of the pool” to get people involved in service for the first time.Yes, you have plenty of intimidating places to serve like worship, small groups, and children’s ministry. So why not leverage an easy place to start?

#8 Building a great ministry to guests nourishes a culture of hospitality because of the concrete reminders to the entire congregation that guests matter.

#9 Investment in a welcoming ministry is an investment into every other ministry your church offers. I ask churches to dream about what ministry they might start. I then tell them to get it done by first having great guest services. Do you want an amazing prison ministry? Maybe the next Chuck Colson is visiting next week.

#10 We are commanded in Scripture to be hospitable. The Greek word philoxenia literally means to “love strangers” and is used in Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 13:2.

( ht: Will Mancini)

The 4 Most Important Things Your Guest Needs

How do you turn guests from their initial first impressions into lasting connections?   It is important that you keep your eye on these four things your guest is going to need from you - and you are going to need systems in place that will help you accomplish these four things.

  • Push guests toward regular attendance 
  • Make sure they develop deep friendships within the congregation
  • Get them in a small group
  • Find a volunteer opportunity where they can plug in

Top Reasons Why People Choose Your Church

Top 13 Reasons that Unchurched People Choose a Church
(research conducted by Ranier in his book Surprising Insights of the Unchurched, p. 18)

90% – Pastor/Preaching
88% – Doctrines
49% – Friendliness of Members
42% – Other Issues
41% – Someone Church Witnessed to Me
38% – Family Member
37% – Sensed God’s Presence/Atmosphere of Church
25% – Relationship Other than Family Member
25% – Sunday School Class
25% – Children’s/Youth Ministry
12% – Other Groups/Ministries
11% – Worship Style/Music
7% – Location

Top 9 Reasons that Church-Attenders Choose a Church
(research conducted by the Barna Group in 1999)

58% – Doctrine/Theology
53% – People Caring for Each Other
52% – Preaching
45% – Friendliness
45% – Children’s Programs
43% – Helping the Poor
36% – Denomination
35% – Like the Pastor
26% – Sunday School

(ht: EvangelismCoach)

40 Simple Ways To Invite People To Church

Mike Lukaszewski at Oak Leaf Church posted a list of 40 Ways You Can Invite People to Church.

Here is a sample of that list, but go HERE to read the entire list.
  • Grill out for the employees of a company or business.
  • Set up our party trailer, which comes with a grill, moonwalk, helium tank and balloons, video games, chairs, etc. at any community events.
  • Dress up like a Star Wars character wherever there are people and take pictures with kids and families. Give them a special invite card with the location they can download the picture. You will have a blast and invite a bunch of people to church.
  • Tailgate at high school football games. Give away hot dogs and invite people.
  • Set up a moonwalk at a local park while events are happening.
  • Volunteer at community runs and bike races
  • Hand out coffee or hot chocolate at the First Friday events in downtown Cartersville
  • Give out hand warmers with the OLC logo at winter events like the Christmas parade
  • Do a free oil change or car inspection in the House of Rock parking lot
  • Show UFC fights on Saturday night at the House of Rock
  • Host a block party for your neighborhood. Again, the party trailer is available.
  • Provide “full service” at a local gas station – wash windows and leave a car freshener
  • Show free family movies at the House of Rock on Friday nights
  • Help local schools with their fall festivals. Instead of re-creating the wheel, just help a school make their event better.
  • Take professional pictures at local school talent shows
  • Visit a nursing home
  • Take a couple of hours and put out door hangers in your neighborhood or apartment complex.
  • Go put invite cards on car windshields. Try not to get arrested…that keeps it fun.
  • Be intentional about coaching a kids sports team.
  • You and your kids set up a lemonade stand.
  • Have a free garage sale…give away things and invite people to church
  • Do a free car wash
  • Walk around a neighborhood and collect canned food. Invite people to church while asking for food.
Read the rest HERE

What ideas would you contribute to this list?