Wednesday, October 30, 2013

ITC: 16 Church’s Internet Ministry Upgrades To Make This Week

16 Church’s Internet Ministry Upgrades To Make This Week
Want to give your church internet ministry a boost, but not sure where to start?
Here’s a list of things you can get started on right away to help you – directly or indirectly – reach more people.
Don’t be overwhelmed…you don’t need to try all of these at once.
Just find one that you feel motivated to work on or just try, and see what happens.
This list doesn’t replace a strategy. It’s just one of those kinds of lists you can refer back to when you have a little time to work on something but don’t want to take on a huge project.

Take your sermon to Facebook

Turn to the news

Take a current news item, and write a website post about it, applying a Christian perspective.

Become more welcoming

Write a friendlier and more genuine “welcome visitors” message (or page)for the website.

Get more ideas

Brainstorm a list of topics that could be posted about, either on the website or on Facebook. Make sure at least half of them are topics thatwouldn’t be too difficult to create.

Enlist some help

Make a list of people in your church who you could contact to ask to help with an aspect of the church’s internet ministry.
Specifically, look for people to fill any of the following roles not currently being served by a volunteer or staff member:
      • Content editor
      • Proofreader
      • Supplemental content writer
      • Web posting
      • Website and Facebook content coordinator

Do more internet outreach

Brainstorm additional ways your church could do internet outreach.

Better understand your visitors

Install Google Analytics (or other analytics package) on your website to help you better understand your site visitor patterns.

Do more of what’s working well

If you have an analytics package installed, identify the top pages in terms of TimeOnPageBounceRate (the percentage of site visitors who leave the site from the same page they first arrive at without ever interacting with the site), or just Visits (hits).
Jot down a list of ideas of new content you could create that would be best positioned to replicate (or improve upon) these top pages.

Fix what’s not working well

Again, if you have an analytics package installed, identify the worst-performing pages (in terms of the same statistics above) and make a list ofmodifications that could be made to the pages to improve their performance.

Make a quick video

Turn on your computer’s webcam and record a 90 second video.
The video could be aimed at a specific group within the larger audience for the website, for example, a video directed toward a youth group.
Present one point (and only one) that you’d like to convey. Give the viewer an introduction, something scriptural, an explanation and something they can apply to their lives.

Do outreach when people are most open to it

Think ahead to Christmas (or Easter) and make a list of ways that your internet ministry could be used to help reach people at that time of year.

Challenge yourself with something a little bit different

Write an easy blog-style post that’s different than what you’d normally create.
      • Write a blog post following up on themes from this past Sunday
      • Write a post preparing your congregation for the readings and themes for the upcoming Sunday. Even try out a point you’re thinking about for the sermon.
      • Write a Q&A-style “Ask the Pastor” post using questions you’ve been asked in the past week or two.

Showcase what’s going on around the church

Set up a church calendar in Google Calendar and embed it onto your website.

One topic. Multiple posts.

Identify a topic or style of posting that could be turned into either an ongoing or finite series of posts.
      • “Ask the Pastor”
      • A three-part series on aspects of living your faith at work
      • An ongoing series of posts for the youth in the church

See through visitors’ eyes

Pick a sampling of pages that currently exist on the website and then pretend you are a non-member (or even a non-Christian) but visited the site on a friend’s recommendation.
Make a list of the things you see which don’t make sense to you, sound too “churchy”, or which seem to be for “insiders”.
In other words, things which fail to engage you. Think about what’s missing.
Snapping back to yourself, sketch out a plan to do a better job of making the website more outreach-friendly.

Get feedback

Ask three people for their honest impressions of the website or Facebook Page (your choice), including the last time they visited it, and the reason they visited (at least in general terms).
If they’ve never visited, or can’t recall the last time they visited, find out what would make them more inclined to visit the site.

What would help your church?

Any of these items could help your internet ministry take a leap forward.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Leaders, Stay Away From These 5 Bad Leadership Traits

Someone asked me a great question recently. It came from a young pastor. He appears to be doing a great job leading, but he wants to do better. I admire that. I hope he (and I) continue that attitude throughout his career (and mine).
His question was this: Knowing what you know now about leadership, what would you say are the biggest traps to avoid? What are the worst leadership traits that you’ve seen limit a leader’s potential to lead well?
That’s a hard question because, depending on the circumstances, I think there could be many different answers. I wrote the “most dangerous” traits previously, but this question seemed different to me. It wasn’t addressing the dangerous traits as much as the ones that were just bad.
You can have these and perhaps still see some success as a leader, but they are still bad leadership traits ... the worst. And they keep one from leading well. Eventually, they may derail a leader if not addressed.
There are many I’ve observed. I’ve seen laziness, for example, cripple a leader. But with the right team around him or her, even a lazy leader can experience success. I thought of incompetence, but I have seen some dumb leaders (like me at times) smart enough to surround themselves with wise people. But what about the worst?
So, I’ve narrowed my list to the following five of the worst traits I’ve observed personally:

1. Poor Character

Nothing can overcome a flawed character. Dishonesty in a leader, for example, will always overshadow even the most worthy vision. You can’t hide a corrupt heart. Immorality always shines brighter than competence or ability. And it can be argued whether or not it should be called success, but I’ve seen some bad characters leading what appear to be very successful organizations.

1 2

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pastors are busier than ever, but I’m pretty sure our ministries are not more fruitful than ever. How can we aim what we spend our time on toward what will be most effective for our ministries? How can we cut out what is least effective for our ministries?

Since we’re both busy, I’ll cut to the chase. If you’re looking for a productivity boost, try these ten experiments.

1. Resting in Christ. So this first one is more of an imperative than an experiment. How much does anxiety about your productivity negatively impact your productivity? Well, that’s how sin works: it is a self-destructive parasite that annihilates what it clings to, all the while promising to help you flourish. Who was more productive than Jesus? Who produced more than Jesus? And – here’s the clincher – he applies his work to you through the gift of the Spirit, and empowers you to do your work through the same. Faith in that truth gives your soul rest. A soul at rest, as it turns out, can get a lot of thigs done.

2. Try cutting out fake productivity from your reading diet. Fake productivity books and blogs (Lifehacker, anyone?) give lots of gimmicky tricks that will supposedly make your life immediately easier. But most of the time, you probably just say, “Huh. That’s neat,” and don’t do anything about it. Those are fake productivity resources are a double edged sword. Not only do they take you away from what you need to do, their tips don’t give you only superficial advice on how to do your work better.

3. Try identifying the least productive hour of your workday and exercising insteadExercise increases productivity. If you’re really skinny like me, or haven’t worked out in a while, calisthenics will be more than enough for you. Here is a great resource that has all your workouts for the next 7 weeks planned out for you, so you don’t have to procrastinate getting to work by comparing gym prices, writing workouts for yourself, or surfing Craigslist for kettle bells.

4. Try not checking your email until 11 am. What important goals could you tackle if you had three uninterrupted hours of work each morning? How much better would your sermon and teaching prep be? I guarantee your church will not collapse if you save email for the last thing you do before lunch. You might even find that goals get accomplished much faster.

5. Try working from a standup desk. Studies show that standup desks make you more productive and healthier. While a lot of them look pretty ugly, or are ridiculously expensive, this one doesn’t look bad and isn’t too much.

6. Try reading easier books as a “smoke break” instead of Facebook, Twitter, or the Internet. We all hit that point during our workday when our attention fades, our stamina drops, and we just need a break. If your habit is to check updates on social media to give your brain a reset, try chipping away at a book instead. Pick something easy to read, like a leadership book or something on the practical side. By the end of the year, what would rather look back on: the number of tweets you read, or the number of books you read?

7. Try carrying something to write stuff down on at all times. How many good ideas have you lost because you couldn’t record it? How many important tasks have you forgotten to do because you didn’t write it down right when you thought of it? The simple habit of writing things down is the easiest way to give your productivity a boost. It could be paper or digital. (Now don’t go to Lifehacker to look up the best pocket notebooks or the best pens for note taking. Remember, that’s fake productivity. Throw the nearest scrap paper in your back pocket, or download Evernote to your phone.)

8. Try coming to a decision as soon as possible in your meetings. In their fantastic productivity bookRework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson argue that meetings are the number one productivity killer (and the second is like unto it: interruptions). So try this goal, make all the talk conversation in your meetings drive toward the decision that has to be made. That might take a long time, especially if it is an important decision. My guess, however, is that you’ll find your meetings will be shorter overall, and that people will have a clearer sense of what “productivity” actually looks like for them. The bottom line: it is more productive to spend time doing than talking. (This wasn’t their idea, it was God’s – Proverbs 14:23, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” But we can give Fried and Heinemeier credit for reminding us.)

9. Try going to bed earlier at nightSleep boosts creativity. Furthermore, because we are holistic beings, the more we are rested physically, the easier it will be for us to be at rest spiritually (see #1).

10. Try drinking coffee in the morning. There’s nothing like a little boost in the morning, right? Scot McKnight posted recently about his creativity habits, which include strategic coffee drinking: Michael Hyatt argues for it, too. And even the Mayo Clinic notes health benefits associated with moderate coffee drinking. I have even found that a 2:30 p.m. cup of decaf is just the placebo I need to push through a groggy afternoon.

Despite all these tips, #1 is the most important. We should be thoroughly gospel centered in all that we do. Even in productivity. So in all of your work, rest in Christ.

Monday, October 14, 2013

At a time when many Christian leaders today are failing, we need to reclaim these eight vital qualities:

1. You must have a sure calling. Nehemiah said to the king: “Send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ tombs, that I may rebuild it” (Neh. 2:5, NASB, emphasis added). Nehemiah was a “sent one.” He was called by God, and he surrendered. You must be convinced that you are called. You may have great preaching skills, a powerful anointing or a magnetic personality, but human abilities and God-given talents alone will not make you successful. You must know that you know that you know that God has sent you.

2. You need a heavenly burden. When Nehemiah heard that Jerusalem’s walls were destroyed and that the Jews were displaced, he wept (1:4). His call to leadership flowed out of true compassion for people. The most successful leaders step into their assignments not because they want to make a name for themselves or because they want a paycheck from a church, but because they want to help others. If love is not your motivation, do us all a favor and wait until God’s compassion grips you. The church today does not need any more leaders with personal agendas or selfish ambitions.

Read it all.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Why is My Church NOT Growing?

Why is My Church NOT Growing?
Do people visit your church but end up not staying?
Here is an example of a common question I receive:

My church is not growing. People come, but they do not stay. We’ve analyzed all the majors and feel we are doing what we should, but they do not stay. Any thoughts please?
I receive something similar almost weekly. I wish I had answers every time. I don’t. Most of the time I know they can’t afford a consultant (or don’t think they can, but should consider the investment), so I try to give them a few suggestions, in the limited time I have, to think through their issues.

Here is an expanded version of my typical answer:

It’s hard to diagnose here without more information. I do believe God wants the church to grow. We are to make disciples, and part of discipleship is make more disciples. That in and of itself is growth.

A few quick comments first:

God is in charge of the numbers.

People can disagree with me (and do) when I say I believe healthy churches are growing. Some grow in different ways. Some internally and some by raising up people who go outside the church to make disciples. Regardless of how growth occurs, all of us must agree God is ultimately in control.

The Holy Spirt grows people and therefore the church.

We aren’t without responsibility in doing our part. We’ve been given an assignment to be a body with many parts, but we don’t ultimately grow people or churches.

Churches go through seasons, just as individual believers do.

There are seasons we grow more than others and seasons we are simply maturing to grow later.

There are no cookie cutter answers.

Just as God makes people unique, churches are unique because they are comprised of unique people.

With those clarifications, here are a few quick thoughts to help you discern your particular situation:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Paul Tripp, in Dangerous Calling (pp .119-120) lists five ways that our ministry is affected by what rules our heart.

Do any of these apply to you?

Do any of these not apply to you?

“It is very difficult in ministry to give away what you do not possess yourself. In ways of which you are not always aware, your ministry is always shaped by what is in functional control of your heart.

1. If you are more motivated by the awe-inspiring experience of having the esteem and respect of the people around you, you will do ministry in way that is structured to get that respect, even though you probably aren’t aware of it.
2. If your heart is ruled by the awesome power that comes from controlling the people and situations around you, you will work in your ministry to be in control.
3. If your heart is more ruled by fear of man than by fear of God, you will build a ministry that erects walls of protection around you and build a moat between your public persona and your private life.
4. If your heart is more moved by the awe-stimulating experience of being theologically right than by an awe of God, who lives at the center of all that theology, you will be a theological gatekeeper who does not pastor messy people well.
5. If your heart is ruled more by envy over the awe-inspiring ministry of another than by an awe of the God who has called and gifted you, you will minister out of a debilitating dissatisfaction with the situation and location of your calling.”

So what do you do if your pastoral heart is ruled by something other than God? Tripp concludes:

“I don’t have a set of strategies for you here. My counsel is to run now, run quickly, to your Father of awesome glory. Confess the offense of your boredom. Plead for eyes that are open to the 360-degree, 24/7 display of glory to which you have been blind. Determine to spend a certain portion of every day in meditating on his glory. Cry out for the help of others. And remind yourself to be thankful for Jesus, who offers you his grace even at those moments when that grace isn’t nearly as valuable to you as it should be” (p. 124).

Buy the book here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Choose Greatness
By mark miller on Oct 02, 2013 11:17 am

Did you take Latin in high school or college? Unfortunately, I did not – nor did I take Spanish, French or German. My counselors thought it best I focus on English. Decades later, I’m still working on it!
The truth is, I only know one Latin word. If you, like me, missed the cultural and academic advantage of studying this ancient language, you should at least know this one word…


It’s a fantastic word, a very powerful word for leaders. It literally means, “as great as you choose.” Therefore, the implication is, greatness is a choice.

Is greatness really a choice or does it have everything to do with DNA or an Ivy League education? 

Certainly talent and education can help, but talented people and well-educated people often miss greatness by a mile. Why? They fail to make the right choices.

Jim Collins, the notable leadership and management expert did decades of work studying truly great organizations. He discovered many principles that have transformed organizations across the globe. 

One of his summary conclusions:

Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.

So how does this translate for you and me as leaders? The choices we make matter!
Who should we hire?
Who should we fire?
What goals should we pursue?
How should we allocate resources?
How should we invest our time?
How much preparation is really required?
What personal disciplines do we embrace?
How will we measure our success?

These and countless other choices chart our course on a daily basis. Are we making the often challenging, decisions that lead to greatness? A good test to apply is to literally ask yourself the following question as you contemplate your next decision – Will this choice put me, or us, on the path to greatness?

Over the course of a lifetime we’ll make an almost infinite number of decisions. Each one moves us closer or further from greatness. Many of these choices we’ll immediately recognize as significant. Others are critical but may not get the attention they deserve.

Let’s close by considering what may be the ultimate choice to determine our “greatness.” It’s falls in the category of the easily overlooked or undervalued.

Dr. Martin Luther King said it like this:

Everybody can be great because anybody can serve.

Will you choose to serve? Great leaders do – Quantuvis!