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 Vision. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vision. Show all posts

Two Communication Keys Can Double Your Organization

guest post by Mike Loomis:

Years ago, after selling my second business, I took some time off, painted our house, and volunteered time at our church.

To my surprise, in three months I was the executive pastor, serving 350 people and about seventy-five volunteers!

Two years later, the church attendance doubled to seven hundred. Volunteer involvement doubled as well, despite being a “mobile” church, with three different venues in those two years, and in a city with lots of churches. There were plenty of other challenges as well.

In hindsight, I credit two important elements in the growth of the church. Add these apply to any organization, business, or nonprofit.

1. Tell People Why the Organization Exists

It might sound elementary, but I challenge you to really examine this point for yourself.

Assuming you’re not the only option in a fifty-mile radius, why should people commit to your organization? What does the leadership believe is most important for this community? Communicate this—clearly and often.

One way of looking at this is to be clear on what your organization is not about. In other words, have the courage to be lovingly unapologetic…

“We hope you love our church (or conference, or restaurant, etc.) but here’s what we’re focusing on, and here’s what we’re not so great at - and we’re okay with it!” Just make sure you communicate the “why."

Once you start trying to please everyone, you’ll please no one. As an added bonus, your joy will decrease and your stress will increase!

2. Make Daily Choices Based on Your “Why”

Lack of follow-through is why many savvy employees and potential customers roll their eyes at “Mission Statements.” Face it, these globs of words get stale on a forgotten web page or poster and rarely are used in daily decision making.

Legendary organizational cultures are built by difficult decisions, based on a clear vision. (Click to Tweet)

Every week you’ll be asked about some new “must-do” idea. Most of these suggestions will be terrific—but that’s also why most new businesses, and churches, self-destruct. They try to be all things to all people.

People can sense when an organization is rudderless. How?

They simply look at actions.

In an effort to stay ahead of the competition, my past businesses were always temped to stretch outside our competencies. And the church I helped lead was almost derailed by well-intentioned forays into all kinds of distractions. The amount of effort we expelled, and the amount of pressure we exerted on people, was huge. And fruitless.

And you know what? Few really wanted these programs in the first place, least of all the senior leader.

Say no thanks.

People respect an enterprise that’s clear about their purpose and sticks to their focus. Communities are hungry for dependability and stability. You can’t have positive brand positioning when you’re chasing lots of good ideas at the expense of your great idea.

The best communication is not words anyway, the best communication is action. (Click to Tweet)

People in your organization, and those in your community, will appreciate focused, consistent leadership, where words and actions paint a clear picture.

Why does your organization exist? I challenge you to answer that question, and dare you to stick with the vision on an hourly basis!

Mike Loomis helps people launch their dream projects and books. Since starting and selling two businesses, hes strategic partner to bestselling authors, non-profits, publishers as well as startups, and aspiring messengers. He and his wife live in the mountains of Colorado with their pet moose.

Five Critical Keys To Casting A Clear Vision

Casting Clear Vision
excerpted from Mike Riggins and Support Raising Solutions:

How clear is your ministry vision? Is it 20:20? Or is it closer to 20:200?! The most important piece of our support raising is the crystal clear sharing of our ministry vision with our prospective donors. Here are five keys that will bring much needed clarity to your primary role in support raising—that of being a vision caster:

Results, not strategies, speak to people’s hearts! It is easy to talk about all our grand ministry schemes and ideas, but lose sight of actual results. Changed lives are what really matter to our prospective partners! Yes, vision casting is about painting a picture of a preferred future, but make sure you also include the stories of lives already touched for the sake of eternity. Remember—you don’t take God anywhere. He is already at work touching lives and drawing them to Himself long before you ever arrive on the scene! So make sure you are telling about the work the Lord is already doing. It will validate your vision when you can show your prospective partners it is God Himself who is at work.

Leave the ministry language at home! Most of us hold tightly to our ministry lingo, like: “Unengaged People Groups,” “Missio Dei,” or “Urban Plunge.” Not only do these cool phrases take a lot of time to explain in your support appointments, but they can leave your prospective partner feeling like an alien on another planet, an outsider that just can’t quite connect. Do the difficult work of making your presentation easy to understand and embrace. Vision casting is simply building a verbal bridge that spans from where they live life to where God has you.

Leave room in the vision for them!Make it clear there is need and space for the involvement of others in your ministry. For your prospective partner to truly engage with you, you must mentally and emotionally help them cross the bridge you create for them. Your vision can either give them a clear incentive to make that journey or it can leave them feeling stranded as a spectator on the other side. Invite them in a clear and compelling way to be a part of fulfilling your vision in more ways than just their checkbook.

Don’t talk as if your thing is the only thing!Because of the strength of our calling and the passion God has given us for it, sometimes it is easy to talk as if our vision is the only thing God is doing and the only thing people should be giving to. Shane Bennett, editor of the Mission Catalyst, writes that some missionaries arrogantly describe their ministry as if “God has given up on alternatives and that their thing is it!” He encourages workers to instead communicate that their ministry is “a good one on a table full of good ones.” The Lord is working through others just like you all across the planet to bring people from every tongue and tribe to Himself. Passionately cast a compelling vision for your work in such a way that invites the participation of others, but make sure you don’t convey that the hand of God is solely on you and your ministry!

The focus shouldn’t be on you! The central figure in your vision should be God and his redemptive activity, not you! A natural tendency is to see ourselves right in the middle of everything involved with the vision we are casting. Recently, during my commute home, I had a person tailgating me and I was constantly keeping a view on him in my rear-view mirror. Not only did they stay right on my tail, they were swerving back and forth too. Thus, I had to keep adjusting my viewing angle back and forth to see them. But as I strained to keep them in view, all I saw in my mirror at times…was my fat face! Casting our vision to others can be just like that. We must be careful or we end up seeing too much of ourselves and what we’re doing in the picture and not enough focus on what God is doing to fulfill the vision. Keep in mind it is His ministry and He has graciously invited you to participate—not the other way around!

(ht: Support Raising Solutions)

The Key To Making Vision Statements Work

What makes a vision statement work? Why do some vision statements galvanize people toward great achievement while others cause your eyes to glaze over?

What all great vision statements have in common is they provide an answer to these three questions:

1) Destination: Where are we going?

2) Purpose: Why do we exist? What greater good do we serve?

3) Values: What principles guide our decisions and actions on our journey?

When a vision address all three of these questions, a tremendous amount of energy is unleashed. There is a higher level of commitment because employees are able to see the relationship between the direction of their company and what they personally believe in and care deeply about. Everyone is clear about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and how their work contributes.

(Read rest of post HERE)

5 Breakout Practices To Uncage Your Ministry Vision

excerpted from Will Mancini

How do you discover, develop and deliver the unique vision God has for you? How can you know you won’t die a carbon copy when God has made you an original?

#1. Uncaging vision begins with the vision of God. Finding your unique vision starts by worshiping and listening to the Chief Visionary. Remember no “better future” than you can imagine was not already imagined in the heart of God. He started with perfection in Eden, and he will end with perfection in New Jerusalem. But you have your part in the story in between—thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. When was the last time you prayed to God as the ultimate source of vision?

#2. Uncaging vision demands ruthless self-examination.One definition of genius is the ability to scrutinize the obvious. Most leaders are so close to their community both inside and outside of the church, they miss the contextual and cultural cues that are essential to guide the vision discovery process. The win is to answer the question, “What can our church do better than 10,000 others?” I call this your Kingdom Concept. How does your church specifically glorify God and make disciples? One key practice for self-examination is to invite a strategic outsider who can bring objectivity and honesty to the process.

#3. Uncaging vision requires robust team dialogue.

#4. Uncaging vision involves meticulous articulation.Words create worlds.

#5. Uncaging vision extracts significant time commitment. 

In the end, if you are trying to lead with someone else’s vision, who is going to fulfill yours? The American dream does not apply to the church: Your church can’t be anything you want it to be. But it can be everything God wants it to be.

(read entire post HERE from Church Leaders)

A Question For Your Staff Meetings

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

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

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

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

(ht: Communicate Jesus)

Is Too Much ‘Vision’ Limiting Your Church?

Guest Post by Jeff Anderson

There's a new champion fundraiser in town. Her name is Vision.

She's not really new. She's been helping congregations raise money since the early church began, and in Old Testament times, too.

Is it just me, or are we seeing increasing reliance on “vision” in our modern church context?

Everywhere you turn, vision seems to be the answer to the problem at hand, especially if it involves finances. Leaders and consultants say that money follows vision. And it’s true.

Craft vision… cast it… celebrate it… and repeat.

Vision is essential. Without it, the people perish. That’s what the Bible says. And without it, a church may perish. Whether it paints a picture of a new building, a multi-site campus, serving the community, planting missionaries, or digging water wells, good vision helps people see the gap between what isn't and what could be - and most importantly, to do something about it.

Tastes Great

Vision inspires people to give when plans are polished and leadership is poised; when needs are clear with price tags attached; when opportunities are abundant and excitement fills the air. Vision is great for these conditions.

Could we have too much of a good thing, though? When it comes to church finances, there's unfortunate fallout from over-emphasis on vision. As vision launches to the forefront, foundational teaching on giving can be pushed aside.

Less Filling

When plans have been fulfilled (or lost their curb appeal) and leadership is focusing on other important areas, or when the mood is doubtful or weary, what helps God’s people give in those seasons? Doctrine does!

What helps people give every day –as a lifestyle? And what helps these lifestyle givers disciple others? Again, doctrine.

When I say “doctrine”, don’t think of mahogany bookshelves, six-inch thick bible commentaries, and academic dissertations. I’m talking about discipleship, highlighting biblical stories of gifts to God, and teaching the principles that show up in those pages.

These gifts are showcased from Genesis to Revelation, but are your people acquainted with how God sees our giving? (Statistics prove they are not.)

I’m not talking about just stewardship education. Your people are in desperate need of a biblical perspective on giving. And if that sounds boring or daunting – maybe you’re in need of one as well!

Vision appeals are necessary and good - but only bringing up this topic when there’s an “ask” will not develop people’s spiritual connection to their gifts.

So, I’d like to challenge you. Have you been relying on vision to communicate about financial giving? Is financial need driving your vision communications?

Vision is Not Discipleship

As church leaders rely more and more on vision for raising money, the perceived need for true understanding on this subject can decline. Of course the need for money never stops… nor does the pressure for new vision to attract it.

How long can this really go on? If vision is coffee, doctrine is oatmeal. Caffeine is great, but we need solid food to go the distance.

In today’s vision-funding environment, one must wonder, are we just Tazer-ing our people with Vision Blasts, or feeding their souls? Are we over-selling vision, or helping them understand and grow?

After all, it seems easier to cast vision than to teach a biblical foundation of giving.

Vision is fun. Doctrine is dicey.

Vision engages imagination. Teaching requires study, thought, and some tension.

Vision sails gracefully on the winds of moving music, eye-popping PowerPoint’s, and goals. Understanding involves small-font bible references.


Doctrine is inspired. It floats on the pages of scriptures and is carried by the spirit. This instruction is “God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

It can fund a vision, too!

If the goal is to simply raise money, vision can be king – for a season. But if the goal is to see people develop spiritually and grow closer to God in their giving (both in and out of vision season), then deeper instruction is needed.

Vision: It’s Not Generosity

Generosity...The word has been seen hanging out quite frequently with the word vision. They seem to have a thing going on. The idea is this: cast vision, collect money, meet goals, and therefore “generosity” exists.

If we're not careful though, we can convince ourselves that vision creates generosity. It might. But it might not. It all depends on your definition of generosity.

Is generosity the fruit of the campaign? Or, is generosity a fruit of the spirit?

Spiritual (biblical) generosity is a measure of how God sees the gifts of His children. Campaign generosity is often how we measure progress towards the funding goal.

When Apostle Paul was raising money for the famine-plagued Judeans, the initial gifts were from the poorest church, the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8). It surely wasn’t enough to meet the need at hand. The vision was much larger. Still, it was enough for Paul to declare a state of generosity (v2).

But the campaign was far from over. We might say it hadn't even started. Today’s “generosity campaigns" often launch with lead gifts from the wealthy. We have a goal to meet. However, the affluent Corinthians came in last – or maybe not at all. We don’t really know. They submitted their pledges and a token gift to get started (v10), but their response was lacking, and Paul was sending the buckets back around again.

Paul's two-chapter note (2 Corinthian 8 & 9) is perhaps the most famous passage today for teaching on giving. It is saturated with that doctrine stuff (insight into God’s perspective).

We know very little about the vision Paul must have shared to improve the conditions of the needy. And we never find out about the success of the campaign. Was the vision clear? Was it effective?

Again, all we know is that generosity was celebrated by a blue-collar church that day, and the campaign was far from over.

More Challenge

If we’re not careful, we’re unconsciously teaching people to set their minds (and their gifts) on what’s “below”, instead of what (and Who) is “above” (Colossians 3:2).

Are you reminding your people about the scriptural insights on how God measures their gifts, and not just how the church measures the campaign?

Scripture is full of insights on how God reacts to our gifts. Are you teaching your people that giving is about pleasing God first and meeting needs second? (Does that make your head tilt?)

Do your people know it’s possible to write a check that doesn’t get God’s attention? Do they know their gifts can bring delight to His heart? Are you helping your people understand what God calls an "acceptable gift"? (2 Corinthians 8:12)

Giving was designed to be a part of relationship with God. Are you willing to give your people the freedom to walk away with their gifts, in order repair their relationships first? (Matthew 5:24).

In my years of working with churches, and teaching people about how God delights in gifts from His children, I’ve seen that counter-culture, and counter-intuitive, really works in the Kingdom.

From the Inside Out

Vision is from the outside in. Teaching builds from the inside out.

Continue to cast vision and appeal for needs. We need vision. But biblical understanding and revelation builds a foundation in people that lasts beyond every campaign. It outlasts you!

When a person understands how God sees their gifts, their approach to giving is transformed for the rest of their life. And that revelation gives them something to teach their family.

When you teach your people to love God, through their gifts, they will give when compelling vision presents a need; and they will give when a campaign season is over.

When people have a solid foundation, they will rally as the vision plans are announced and the shovels hit the dirt. If the project goes south; they will shovel grace in your direction and give anyway… because doctrine goes deeper than vision.

Visionary leadership is hard work. By faith, we trust the vision we cast is from God and not just our own hopes and dreams. Even so with God-inspired vision, things do not always unfold like the brochures suggest. In those times, you’ll be glad that you and your people are on the same page with biblical understanding.

When Vision and Reality Meet

There will come a day when there will no longer be need-based vision and need-based giving. The redemptive work on earth will be over.

Campaigns as we know them will end. But the beautiful gift of giving will continue.

For eternity, God’s children will bring gifts to Him. We’ll start with the very crowns from our heads (Revelation 4:10), and we’ll continue giving from whatever else we are given.

Now that’s a vision.

Jeff Anderson has worked with churches and non-profits for over 12 years, as elder in his own church, and as Vice President, North America Generosity Initiatives with Crown Financial Ministries, and currently as leader of

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

Do People Laugh At Your Vision?

“The best way to make children good is to make them happy”

Pastor, do people laugh at your vision?

Do you cast a vision that is so enormous that it WILL hopelessly fail if God doesn't show up? If not, you should!

Our God longs for leaders to request of Him to do that which they cannot.

Why does He long for this type of faith? So all the glory will be His . . .He wants to amaze us and have us spellbound and breathless over His wondrous works.

Question: What are you accomplishing in your ministry presently that does not require God to pull it off? Whatever it is, please stop.

God has not called us to a natural ministry, but to a supernatural ministry which requires us to cast vision and lead in such a way that only our Super God can accomplish it.

Marinate on that.

From Pastor Dervin Gray - A former National Football League player (1993-1998), Pastor Derwin L. Gray has planted two multi-ethnic, missional churches since his transition from itinerate evangelist to pastoring. He is the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church ( in Indian Land, South Carolina.

Rethinking Vision

In Gary Collins' recent newsletter, he submits that casting vision isn't what it used to be:
Recent years have seen a seismic shift in our perspectives on vision, especially as it relates to leadership. A new book by Jimmy Long calls this The Leadership Jump. Top-down, controlling leadership is fading. No longer can people with titles and power set the agenda and expect everyone else to follow. A new form of leadership has emerged where the leader stimulates ideas and plans but where teams combine their creative ideas to set vision and shape directions together.
It is all about collaboration and coroperation.  Is it no wonder that we get this kind of response from those we lead particularly since we now live in a world of "social media", such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.  Social Media empowers people to particapate not only in the medium, but also crafting the conversation and message.  People want to be empowered to participate.

Gary goes on to say:
In an issue of Leadership Journal (Summer 2009) devoted to "iGens" (the contemporary "isolated generation"), one writer urges ministry leaders to "forget about implementing the church's vision." Instead, leaders need to release control and share influence with others, including those who are younger. This can be one of the most difficult changes for a traditional leader to make.
Visions and vision casting are still relevant and motivating. Leaders, coaches, mentors, and teachers will continue to instill and stimulate visions. What's changing is the shift of control, creativity and ownership from an influential individual to teams. This change in vision and visionary leadership is too far along to reverse. Maybe that's not so bad.
You can read the newsletter in it entirety HERE.

The Problem With Vision

Was reading Shawn Lovejoy's blog the other day, and he said that the problem with vision is that:
  • Vision leaks.
  • Vision shrinks.
  • Vision dies.

Yet the problem with most leaders isn't receiving a vision from God. There are plenty of visions out there in statements, on placards and posted in churches. The issue for a vision doesn't come down to receiving it, rather it's becomes all about maintaining it. Shawn goes on to state that there are several reasons why vision seems to leak, shrink and die:

  • Fatigue
  • Failure
  • Fear
  • Other people
  • The length of time the vision is taking to become reality
The question for the leader is how do you fight and battle against these things that will rob you of your vision?

(ht: Shawn Lovejoy)

What Are You Passionate About?

This video isn't about the merits of beer, rather it is about passion.

These micro-brewers, or craft brewers as they are called, communicate a sense of purpose, vision and mission. Can you talk this way about what you do? Could you say that you are just as passionate, focused and excited about the church and it's mission? I know one thing, after watching this video, I get excited about what they're talking about. Passion is contagious. If you are a passionate leader, than those that follow will share in that passion.

Watch this video

Vision Is ALWAYS Speaking!

Got this from Bob Franquiz's site

Do you know that you are always sharing Vision?

You are always communicating vision in your church. It's not just the day you decide to do a "Vision Talk". I contend that everything you do in your church is speaking about what the vision of your church is. Here are a couple of examples:

- You communicate vision with the language in your bulletin
- You communicate vision with your appearance
- You communicate vision with your style of teaching
- You communicate vision with your signage
- You communicate vision with your follow up processes
- You communicate vision with how often you present the Gospel
- You communicate vision with your worship style
- You communicate vision a hundred other ways.

You're always communicating vision. Here's my question: What's your vision speaking?

(ht: Bob)

Three Tests Of A Good Vision

Here are three tests of a good vision from Eric Swanson and Reggie McNeal:

1. Passion. Do you wake up thinking about this? Is it what you think about as you drift off to sleep? Does the vision pepper your conversations throughout the day?

2. Attraction. When other folks hear the vision, the response is, “Wow! Don’t leave me out! What role can I play. The attraction test fits very well with the idea that everyone wants to change the world but few people are given the opportunity to do so. A compelling vision invites others–even outside the church to take part. The leaders of every domain of a community could see how they could play a part.

3. Direction...(read the rest HERE)

(ht: Leadership Network)

Loving it When the Vision Clicks!

Today our lead pastor received an email from a family that has been attending our church for little over a month.  The email was such a blessing and encouragement, as it stated how loved and connected they felt since attending.

As I have said in earlier posts, when you get an email or note such as that, you definitely want to relish it and bottle it up for later.  Ministry can be hard, and so it is great when God lets you receive those encouragements. 

Even though I was encouraged to read how this family had gotten connected and felt loved, that wasn't the most exciting part of the note for me.  In the email, they mentioned how they heard over and over again our church's vision of loving God, loving each other and loving the community.

Wow! Within one short month, they got it.  They understand what we are all about.  They know it so well that they can recite it from memory.  That's what got me stoked!

At least, for this family, we have been clear about our vision.  They know what it is.  There is no mystery.  And by clearly knowing who we are, they are now so very excited to become a part of it.

Cliff Notes on Vision

Here are some quick hits on Vision:
  • Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18)
  • Without vision: family members eat separately in their own rooms; churches argue; companies only have employees
  • "Without vision, people will define their own vision and the loudest voice will prevail."
  • Vision unifies us around a preferred future; a future that can’t be accomplished by myself.
  • Great leaders cast a clear, concise and compelling vision.
  • "If your vision doesn't scare you, then both your vision and your God are too small." - Brother Andrew
  • For vision to to motivate it must connect on 3 levels:
    1) Mind-to-Mind – Vision is strategic. While your vision may be, as Jim Collins says, "big, hairy and audacious," people have to believe that it is attainable. When you connect, it becomes “OUR PLAN” and people give their resources.
    2) Heart to Heart – Vision is passionate. When people see you, they see, feel and taste the vision. It becomes something you were created for and are willing to die for. When you
    connect, it becomes “OUR DESIRE” and people give their life.
    3) Soul-to-Soul – Vision is personal. It comes from God but it permeates your life. A calling. A confidence that IT will be accomplished. When you connect, it becomes “OUR CALLING” and people take responsibility.
  • Winston Churchill believed that leadership's foundation was vision. He had five tools he used when he got ready to communicate vision. Here they are:

  • And take this poem by Sir Francis Drake to heart:

    Disturb us, Lord, when
    We are too well pleased with ourselves,
    When our dreams have come true
    Because we have dreamed too little,
    When we arrived safely
    Because we sailed too close to the shore.

    Disturb us, Lord, when
    With the abundance of things we possess
    We have lost our thirst
    For the waters of life;
    Having fallen in love with life,
    We have ceased to dream of eternity
    And in our efforts to build a new earth,
    We have allowed our vision
    Of the new Heaven to dim.

    Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
    To venture on wider seas
    Where storms will show your mastery;
    Where losing sight of land,
    We shall find the stars.

    We ask You to push back
    The horizons of our hopes;
    And to push into the future
    In strength, courage, hope, and love.