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 Trends. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trends. Show all posts

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 >

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)

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.

Teens Bored With Facebook - Now What?

excerpted from AllFacebook:
Research from GlobalWebIndex revealed Tuesday found that the number of teen Facebook users was not decreasing, but the frequency of their visits was. Wednesday, GWI explained why: boredom.

According to GWI:
  • 45 percent of teens are less interested in Facebook than they used to be.
  • 37 percent said they were bored with Facebook.
  • 18 percent said Facebook is no longer as cool as it once was.
For many years, Facebook has been a go-to social media channel of churches in communicating and connecting with their youth. Yet as Facebook activity and interest has been trending down for youth, how do you as a youth minister communicate the most effectively with the youth in your ministry? Or is Facebook still as effective for you as it has always been?

Teen Facebook Infographic

Challenge For The Church - Delayed Marriage

Delayed Marriage

excerpted from an online article from Time.
A new report from Pew Research predicts that more folks under 35 will be single forever. 
The number of Americans who have always been single and will never marry is at a historic high, says a new Pew Research report, partly because they don’t have jobs and partly because marriage is becoming less highly-regarded. Most people think it’s important for couples who intend to stay together to be married, but the number of single Americans who want to get married has dropped significantly even in the last four years.
The report, based on census data and Pew’s surveys, is the latest in a series of indicators that marriage’s stock is on a sharp downward trajectory. Fewer young people are getting married and many are getting married later. About 20% of Americans older than 25 had always been single in 2012, up from 9% in 1960. In the black community, the numbers are even starker: 36% of black Americans older than 25 have never been married, a fourfold increase from 50 years ago. 
Why aren’t people getting married anymore? The three main reasons people give for their singleness are that they haven’t found the right person (30%), aren’t financially stable enough (27%) and are not ready to settle down (22%). Many more young people are eschewing tying the knot, at least for a while, for shacking up. The researchers don’t see that as the new normal yet. “Cohabitation is much less common than marriage and cohabiting relationships are much less stable than marriages,” says Kim Parker, co-author of the report.”It’s hard to imagine marriage being replaced any time soon.”
What does this mean for the church? 

It means that we have to be more intentional ministering and accommodating older single people in the church, and not making them feel like outsiders. The majority of focus, outreach and ministry of the church is focused on couples and their children, we are going to have to expand beyond that narrow focus.

It also means, as a church, that we better be intentional, clear and constructive in helping these older singles navigate a potential life-time of singleness - all the while living morally pure. We can't be silent in helping them honor God with their sexuality and ignore the real challenges and struggles that they are facing.

And lastly, as the church, we need to develop a better apologetic that will encourage singles to consider marriage (that is if they are simply resisting marriage on terms of $ or personal comfort). Marriage is a tremendous means by God to help in our sanctification. Marriage is hard. Yet it is through the testing and trials of marriage that God uses to help make us holy. There is a real spiritual benefit from marriage that needs to be communicated to singles in the church.

The American Church Is Facing A Herculean Challenge


The Herculean challenge for the church is unchurched America. They pray, own Bibles and are 'spiritual' but nearly half still see no value in attending church. 

excerpted from Christian Today:

New research by the Barna group paints an interesting picture of those who are aware of the church and even think positively of the Christian faith, but who, for whatever reason, feel that actively being a part of church is not for them.

'Churchless' is the title of Barna's latest research into understanding today's unchurched and how to connect with them.

The research reveals that the number of churchless Americans has risen sharply since the early 1990s, when only around two out of 10 adults were churchless.

That figure rose to three in 10 in the early 2000s and today now stands at nearly half the adult population (49 per cent).

Those who do not currently have never attended church make up 10 per cent of the population but a far higher figure is the de-churched - those who were once active in church but are no longer - who make up exactly a third of American adults.

Eight per cent of the population are "minimally churched" - they attend church "infrequently and unpredictably".

"Not too many years ago, church attendance and basic Bible literacy were the cultural norm. Being a Christian didn't feel like swimming against the cultural current. But now?" said Barna.
"Churchless confirms that the world has, indeed, altered in significant ways during the last few decades. It's not just your imagination."
In total, there are around 156 million adults and children in the US who are churchles, with more than half of those born between 1984 and 2002 being unchurched, compared to just a third of those born before 1946.

And Barna warns that much of what is reported as "church growth" is actually little more than "transfer growth", where people just change from one church to another, and not from non-Christian to Christ-follower.
"If churches hope to grow by discipling new believers, we must improve our ability to attract those who are intentionally avoiding a connection with the church," said Barna.
The younger the person is, the more likely it is they have never been to church and are 'post-Christian' - lack any Christian identity, belief and practice.

But the door hasn't been completely shut, with two in three unchurched Americans describing themselves as spiritual, and six in ten churchless adults saying they prayed in the last week.
"The truth is, most of them are already looking for a connection with God," Barna said.
Three-quarters of unchurched Americans say they own a Bible and two-thirds said they tried to grow spiritually in the past month by talking about faith with friends and family, or by watching religious TV programming.

The research reveals the scale of the challenge facing the church, as 99 per cent of the unchurched said they were aware of Christianity and over two-thirds (69 per cent) said they had a favorable view of the faith. And yet nearly half also said they see no value in personally attending church.

8 Social Media Trends Church Leaders Can't Ignore

Below are 8 social media trends moving within the church. These trends show how church members are using social media to proclaim Christ, grow in their faith and even deal with church conflicts.

from Thom Rainer:

  1. More church members use social media to encourage others in their churches. These words of encouragement are typically directed toward pastors and church staff. The good news is that these tweets and posts seem to be more frequent and pervasive.
  2. Church members increasingly use social media to point others to interesting articles related to Christianity and church life. Indeed, I am encouraged to see many such visits to my blog and to other sites that include information on faith and church life.
  3. Though in the minority, an increasing number of church members use social media to attack and criticize church leaders. I recently read a scathing attack on a pastor. It was filled with venom and vitriol.
  4. More non-Christians are viewing such attacks as normative for Christians. They thus have no desire to associate with Christians or come to our churches. I have heard from many of these non-Christians myself.
  5. A number of church members are using social media wisely to share the gospel. I have been greatly encouraged to read many tweets and posts that point readers to articulate and loving presentations of the gospel. May their numbers increase!
  6. Church members are using social media with increasing frequency to share prayer requests. On more than one occasion, I have seen a prayer request spread virally. It is very encouraging to see the power of prayer on this modern medium.
  7. Some church members use social media as means to share activities and ministries in the church. Indeed, social media has become one of the primary forums to invite others to the church by letting people know what is taking place in the congregations.
  8. While the use of social media by church members is overwhelmingly positive, the toxic users of these forums still get an inordinate amount of attention. It’s the “car accident syndrome.” Traffic slows down to see the havoc created by the accident.
Your thoughts? Are you seeing similar trends and usage within your church and among your members?

Internet Facts That Will Astound You

Internet Facts
from Host Advice
Despite thinking most of the World we live in embrace the Internet with many people using it on a daily basis on their mobile phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. You will be surprised that out of the 7 billion people who inhabit the Earth just 2.4 billion actually use the Internet. What’s even more jaw-dropping is that 1.7 billion of the Internet’s users come from Asia, which shows that they have positively adopted this technology.  
So what do we use the Internet for? Well it’s no second guessing that social media tends to be up there at the top and every 60 seconds 72 hours of YouTube video is being uploaded, which really shows you the extent of the YouTube platform as it continue to grows. Especially if you look at the stat showing over half of the traffic on the Internet is that of media streaming and file sharing. It shows us that people have a lot to share and a lot to see, from family photos to family videos it’s a great way to share previous memories with relatives that live in other countries.
Internet Facts 2014

What Americans Pray For Probably Won't Surprise You

excerpted from the Religious News Service:

When Americans aren’t busy praying for themselves or their own needs — and most of them are — many are seeking divine intervention on behalf of a favorite sports team or the golden ticket in the lottery, according to a new survey.

About 13 percent of Americans who pray say they pray for sports teams, compared with about one in five (21 percent) who say they have prayed to win the lottery, the new survey from LifeWay Research suggests.

A survey earlier this year from Public Religion Research Institute suggested that more Americans (26 percent) pray for their sports team, while more than seven in 10 (73 percent) say they have never done this.

Some of LifeWay’s new survey’s main findings include:
  • 48 percent of Americans pray every day
  • 82 percent who pray typically pray about family or friends
  • 20 percent pray for people of other faiths or no faith
  • Equal numbers of Americans (7 percent) pray behind the wheel, either for a good parking space or not to get a speeding ticket
  • Smaller numbers of people, around 5 percent, pray for someone’s relationship to end, someone to get fired or for someone else to fail.
Praying Infographic

read the whole article HERE

Do You Know What Is The Most Popular Book Of All Time?

Library Books

The most popular book of all time may not surprise you, it is of course - The Bible. The Bible has an interesting history. With thousands of translations, over forty original authors, and a two millennium history, let’s take a look below in the infographic at the trails, tribulations, changes, and status of the world’s most popular book.

Snapchat Continues To Be Popular Among Millennials

Snapchat is now more popular than Twitter among U.S. millennials. A report, from comScore, finds that 32.9% of Americans aged 18-34 had installed the Snapchat app on their phones in June 2014, trailing only Facebook (75.6%) and Instagram (43.1%).

While the data says nothing about actual usage of social media apps, it does indicate that Snapchat's reach among young adults is remarkably high, especially when compared to a multi-billion dollar company such as Twitter.

Infographic: Snapchat More Popular Than Twitter Among Millennials | Statista
You will find more statistics at Statista

This trend is a significant challenge to those of us in youth, college and young adult ministry. How do you address and confront the popularity of this App among your youth and those in your church?  Do you even believe you should? I and manny others (see Adam McLane) would claim this is a dangerous App. In fact, it is an App that needs to be deleted from every phone.

Why? Because it's not an innocent App. It is built on the objective and promise that images can be sent without the fear of consequences - images just simply disappear. This promise opens people up to sending inappropriate and sexually explicit pics among each other.

But the truth is - those pics don't disappear. There are consequences from sending sexually explicit pictures and comments. There is no "real privacy" and anonymity with an App such as Snapchat.

How do you address Snapchat in your ministry context?

Are Teens Addicted To The Internet?

Here are some highlights from the infographic:

  • The average teen spends between 14 and 19 hours / week online. (those numbers may be on the low side)
  • 50% of students have 3 devices that can access the internet. 10% have five. Usually that breaks down to a family computer, a personal laptop, a smartphone, a tablet, and the TV / Gaming system. 
  • 62% of teens say that they need the internet to function on a daily basis.
Although it is almost impossible to avoid any degree of computer and internet use these days, the key for parents and youth leaders is to assess when normal usage has moved into addiction. Some things and signs to keep an eye out for that may signal addiction are...

Does you teen sleep with their smartphone? Or take their phone to the bathroom with them?

Is their internet use affecting or changing their mood? (usually in a detrimental way...depression, anxiety etc..)

Do they become anxious, angry or irritable when they are removed or don't have access to the internet? (or when they loose or misplace their smartphone)

Is their performance at school and grades suffering?

The Day In The Life Of A Mobile Teen

Here are some interesting stats from the infographic below.

  • 75% of teens have phones. (this stat probably is higher)
  • A typical teen sends 49 texts a day
  • 54% of teens text their friends every day
The point of this infographic and it's stats is that teens are inseparable from their phones and their preferred mode of communication is still texting. So let me ask, why are so many youth groups still relying on email (or even Facebook - which is becoming more passé among teens) as their primary mode of communication?

There are all kinds of helpful and easy to use programs and services, such as ProTexting and EZTexting  (many with a cost attached- but definitely worth it). How are you using and leveraging technology and their phones to communicate and connect better with your youth?

(ht: YouthMinistryMedia)

Who Attends America's Megachurches?

by Warren Bird:
“As the Baby Boomer generation (born 1946-1964) passes on, megachurches are also dying off.” I see statements like that often in the public media, but all the evidence says they’re just plain wrong, based on a major research project I did with Scott Thumma. Instead, the larger the church the greater the percentage of young adults go there on average.
See how people of different ages break out within megachurches in this infographic below:

(ht: Leadership Network)

Evangelicals Are The Biggest Cheaters

Here is some disturbing news from Christian Today:

"Thou shalt not commit adultery" may be one of the Ten Commandments but if a new survey is anything to go by, a sizable percentage of evangelicals think there's some room for negotiation on God's rule for love.

A not so insignificant 25.1 per cent of Ashley Madison users identified themselves as evangelical, topping the international poll by the dating service that specializes in hooking up people already in relationships.

The survey uncovers the religious affiliation of 105,000 of the dating service's members, with more than 60,000 of the respondents coming from the US. Around 57 per cent of respondents were male and the average age was 30 among the men and 34 among the women..

The breakdown of religious affiliation in full is:
  • Evangelical 25.1%
  • Catholic 22.75%
  • Protestant 22.7%
  • Agnostic 2%
  • Mormon 1.6%
  • Muslim 1.5%
  • Jewish 1.4%
  • Atheist 1.4%
  • Jehovah's Witness .5%
  • Hindu .3%
Meanwhile, just under a quarter (24 per cent) of men using the site and nearly a third of women (32 per cent) said they pray regularly.

The figures mirror the religious breakdown of the US population, with Pew research putting the proportion of adult evangelicals in the country at 26 per cent, and Catholics at just under 24 per cent.

Ashley Madison founder Noel Biderman told the Daily News: "You can go and pray every Sunday, or Saturday, or three times a day, and it may not make a difference in how monogamous you are."

Post Christian Cities - Where Does Your City Rank?

from Barna:

The level of irreligion in America depends on how you measure it. And the vitality of faith in America is much more than simply how people label themselves.

Barna Group tracks the following 15 metrics related to faith, which speak to the lack of Christian identity, belief and practice.

Post-Christian = meet at least 60% of the following 15 factors (9 or more factors)
Highly Post-Christian = meet at least 80% of the following 15 factors (12 or more factors)

1. do not believe in God
2. identify as atheist or agnostic
3. disagree that faith is important in their lives
4. have not prayed to God (in the last year)
5. have never made a commitment to Jesus
6. disagree the Bible is accurate
7. have not donated money to a church (in the last year)
8. have not attended a Christian church (in the last year)
9. agree that Jesus committed sins
10. do not feel a responsibility to “share their faith”
11. have not read the Bible (in the last week)
12. have not volunteered at church (in the last week)
13. have not attended Sunday school (in the last week)
14. have not attended religious small group (in the last week)
15. do not participate in a house church (in the last year)

Based on that are where people ranked throughout the U.S.

(ht: Barna)

Poll: Americans Lie On Attending Church

from RNS:

Nearly one in seven of you fibbed about attending church, according to a new survey by the Public Religion Research Institute released Saturday (May 17).

You skipped church. And then nearly one in seven of you fibbed about attending.

That’s according to a new survey by thePublic Religion Research Institute released Saturday (May 17). The study, to be presented at the national meeting of the American Association for Public Opinion Research, was designed to measure the “social desirability bias in self-reported religious behavior.”

The survey finds that many Christians — and unbelievers, too — will exaggerate about attending worship in live phone interviews. However, when asked in an anonymous online questionnaire, people will answer more realistically.

On the phone, 36 percent of Americans report attending religious services weekly or more, while 30 percent say they seldom or never go.

But online, a smaller share (31 percent) of people surveyed said they attended church at least weekly, while a larger portion (43 percent) admitted they seldom or never go.

People who don’t attend worship — but say they did — may not mean to lie, said PRRI CEO Robert Jones.

People respond to phone surveys as they think “a good Christian” would or should answer, he said. “There’s an aspirational quality here,” he said. “People see themselves as the kind of person who would go.”

Once you remove the social pressure of speaking on the phone, “you see people willing to give answers that are probably closer to reality,” he said. “People feel less pressure to conform.”

Three groups were most likely to inflate attendance:

Read the rest HERE

What Are The Most & Least Bible-Minded Cities in the U.S.?

from Barna:

The social, economic and political values of any given city compose a richly distinct cultural climate—but what about the spiritual values? How does one city differ in spiritual profile to the next?

Barna Group’s latest Barna:Cities study, conducted annually in partnership with the American Bible Society, examines a combination of regular Bible reading with belief in the Bible’s accuracy across the top 100 metropolitan areas in the United States. The result reveals a geographical portrait of the most and least Bible-minded U.S. cities.

(ht: Barna)

The Hyperlinked Life

Our relationships to personal devices is so strong, it naturally affects personal relationships—for better and for worse. Social media, of course, lives up to its name. As Barna data show, more than one-third of adults (36%) stop whatever they're doing to check their device when they get a new text or message. About the same number (35%) admit their personal electronics sometimes separates them from other people.

The hyperlinked life has its advantages and disadvantages for a life of faith, too. For all their hyper-connectivity, for example, only 21% of adults say they set aside time each day to connect with God.

Digital life connects—and disconnects—adults in life and faith.

Do You Have Ministry Burnout?

Leadership Journal recently asked its readers the question, "Have you experienced burnout in ministry?" The answers showed that burnout is nearly universal. Here's how the responses broke down:

18.2% - Yes, I'm fried to a crisp right now.
28.4% - Yes but I'm learning to endure despite the heat.
26.5% - Yes, in the past, but I made significant changes and it's gone now.
17.6% - I'm not sure if what I had was burnout or something else.
9.3% - No, I've never been burned out.

(ht: Leadership Journal, Winter 2014, p. 13)