Facilities http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities Fri, 27 May 2016 02:41:20 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb 7 Steps to Make an Effective Pre-Service Video http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22786-7-steps-to-make-an-effective-pre-service-video http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22786-7-steps-to-make-an-effective-pre-service-video

Like you, I'm always looking for new ideas that will make my church better.

When I got the idea from Rich Birch's podcast "5 Elements of Effective Pre-Service Videos" to make a countdown video for our services that shows our church in our city, I knew we had to do it.

It's brilliant: give guests a two-minute story of your church as they take their seats and they will likely be more predisposed to your church. And reinforce your church values with your congregation without a word, every week—that's brilliant too. Then see it spread across social media to attract the community? Priceless.

Watch our video here, then I'll break down how to make one of your own.

Here are seven steps to make a pre-service video about your church:

1. Cover every step in prayer. "Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans" (Prov. 16:3)

2. Think through the purpose and goals. Think through what is important about your church. What is your story for your city?

We wanted to show each of our campuses and their cities. We wanted to show what we value—our DNA. We decided to show the ministries of our church in the context of our DNA statements.

And importantly, we wanted to show that our church is more than a Sunday morning service. It's alive all week long, all across our region. It's a place to find meaning and value in Jesus.

Action: How do you want to tell the story of your church in your community?

3. Ask the person in your church who has experience making videos to do this project. We have a very capable music and video producer, Joe Tran, in our church. He brought his experience to the project and you can see his talent in the video.

Find the best person you can and don't be intimidated by others' expertise. Be authentic and do your best.

Action: Who should you ask to do this project?

4. Write a script. Plan the places, the shots, the services, the ministries, the people and the leaders you want to include. Plan to show your buildings but put the focus on the people using the buildings.

Watch our video, and the three on Rich Birch's post, to get ideas for points you want to make, the pictures you want to show and how to craft a meaningful flow.

Then plan the locations and the schedule.  Figure out where you need to go and what time you need to be there to get the footage you need.

Action: What is the script for your video?

5. Film and edit. Stake out the scene before you film it. Plan the crowd shot to catch people's faces. Set up staged conversations because they will seem more authentic than candid conversations that turn awkward when people realize they are being filmed.

Don't worry about not having expensive equipment; simple is satisfactory. Use your cellphone or an HD camcorder to film. Use iMovie or your preferred software to edit.

Keep the video as short as you can to accomplish your purpose. We went for 2 1/2 minutes of awesome. Each clip is just a few seconds long.

You may need to go back out to film a few more shots.

Action: What is your time frame for filming and editing?

6. Choose the music. The decision about what music to use comes before you begin editing and it is just as important as the video you've taken. If you have exceptional video but choose weak music, the result will be disappointing.

The mood of the music creates the mood of the video. Choose upbeat, inspiring music. We used theatrical trailer music rather than worship music. You're already running the race and winning the fight just by listening to our video.

If you can, try to sync up the beat of the music with the action of the clip, or the change of the scenes. This will increase your emotional impact of dramatic shots. Speed up or slow down the footage to connect with the music and make it more powerful.

Be sure to pay attention to licensing the music you use. Facebook will pull your video if you violate copyright, so here are two options:

Search for and download royalty-free instrumental music.

Ask one of your musicians to write your own underscore using GarageBand, Logic Pro or Ableton Live.

Action: What do you have in mind for the music for your video?

7. Plan for it to get shared. Your video will go beyond your worship services to spread across social media if you do two things:

  • Make it meaningful. We know that things that amuse, inspire or entertain are what gets shared, so be sure people connect to your video emotionally.
  • Ask people to share it. It's amazing how many more shares you will get if you just ask.

When your countdown video shows up in Facebook feeds and on Instagram and Pinterest, then you're spreading the story of your church, winning good attention and attracting people to church.

Action: Who is good at social media and will help promote your video?

Now What?

  • Go back and jot down your answer to the action steps.
  • Be the catalyst to get the video made.
  • Then share the video and your lessons learned in the comments below or to the PastorMentor Facebook page. {eoa}

Hal Seed is the founding and lead pastor of New Song Community Church in Oceanside, California Hal mentors pastors to lead healthy, growing churches. He offers resources to help church leaders at pastormentor.com.

For the original article, visit pastormentor.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Hal Seed ) Media Tue, 19 Apr 2016 12:00:00 -0400
How Your Building Is Killing Your Growth http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/expansion/22711-how-your-building-is-killing-your-growth http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/expansion/22711-how-your-building-is-killing-your-growth

Senior pastors typically underestimate the impact their building has on their church's future growth.

Building Too Late

Church planters believe the lie that they don't need a building to grow, ignoring the fact that your chances of survival begin to plummet drastically after year six outside of a permanent facility (whether owned or leased). We will always find growing church plants past that age in rented/temporary facilities, but those outliers are breathing rare air.

Senior pastors of established churches, likewise, face their own unique challenges.

Expecting A Silver Bullet

Many assume that simply "rallying the troops" and building a new building, or relocating to another location, will automatically ignite growth. What happens, more often than not, is the increased debt and facility expansion doesn't overcompensate for the fact that the church hasn't addressed the underlying issues that stalled their church's growth in the first place. As the old Buddhist proverb states, "Wherever you go, there you are."

Inevitable Bottlenecks

Others assume they can overcome the size limitations their facility places on their ministry. The rule of thumb when it comes to facilities is that there are three things that impact a church's ability to grow: parking, seats in the auditorium, and children's ministry space. If any one of those three becomes a bottleneck, it is worth considering expansion.

What many realize, too late, is that expansions in these areas rarely cause growth. They simply allow it to keep happening if it is already occurring.

Too Much Room

Still, others are often in the unenviable position of having too much space in their worship area stemming from building too big or shrinking in size. Ministry friends will tell you what a delight it is, Sunday after Sunday, to have too few people in a room three times too large.

Growing churches always manage to keep their seating occupancy vs. capacity in the "40-80 zone" (never allowing their services to drop below 40% seating capacity and rarely more than 80% capacity). Allow your services to drop below 40% of your seating capacity very long and you'll eventually sputter out. Push the envelope beyond 80% very long and you stop retaining new people, in addition to losing existing attenders.

There are two more issues facing senior pastors of churches in their own permanent facilities that are more devastating than the others combined: ugly facilities and excessive debt.

Too Much Debt

Church leaders often succumb to "magical thinking" when it comes to buildings. While they might argue for months over how to save money on facility maintenance, it's astonishing how quickly leaders will go into debt without fully mapping out how that added weight will impact the church's future five, ten, fifteen and twenty years on down the line. I've seen the allure of quick potential growth cause even the most financially astute leaders to make dumb financial decisions. Beware of that siren's call.

Holy Cow, That's Ugly

When one looks at "church" from a neutral, purely sociological perspective, "church" is nothing more than a building that human beings gather in. Rarely do people frequent stores, restaurants, doctor's offices and the like that have ugly facilities. We have a word for those entities in our culture: "CLOSED FOR BUSINESS." Why should your facility be any different?

Here Are Some Solutions

Listen, almost every senior pastor I know, including me, has struggled with one or more of the issues above. Why? We're pastors, not construction professionals. We're funded by free-will offerings, not by selling products and services. We can't raise venture capital. Communities change. Priorities shift. Culture reinvents itself.

Building and maintaining relevant, effective ministry space is simply hard work. There are no easy answers. And we're all in the same boat.

But there are a few things I think Senior Pastors and church leaders can do to make cost-effective, workable changes:

1. Identify and rebrand your facility's "red zones" every seven years. In the same way updating a home's kitchen and master bath will provide your strongest returns on investment, churches have similar areas that provide the biggest bang for the buck. I call these areas "red zones" because they have the greatest ability to attract and/or detract people to/from your church. Fortunately the "facelift" for each of these areas is pretty small compared to new construction.

Here are the areas of your facility to focus on:

Church facility "Red Zones"

  • Road Sign – This is the first thing new people see when they approach your complex. Usually it's a pre-done, cheesy looking thing from the '50's. My suggestion is to take pictures of 25 different corporate signs in your region and make your sign almost indistinguishable from the best on that list.
  • Front Entrance – The best thing I can suggest is to go to our friends at Plain Joe Studios and have your entire team look at what fresh graphics can do to simple box structures. The addition of 3-4 large banners at your entrance could transform even the most dated looking church building.
  • Lobby Space – Space is more important than what's in it. Remove absolutely everything that's in there – walls, chairs, etc., until you have enough space to move traffic freely. Once that happens you can slowly add back Guest Services areas, etc., if they fit.
  • Children's Ministry Entrance/Lobby – Wowing parents of children is one of your highest priorities when contemplating facility renovation. Have your entire leadership spend a few hours together combing the pages of our friends World of WOW! and you'll walk away brimming with great ideas you and your volunteers can implement with a little bit of money and elbow grease.
  • Kid's Classroom Doorways/Entrances – See above.

2. Take a leadership field trip to get ideas. When you realize there are changes you need to make to your facility, the first thing I tell senior pastors I coach is to put their leaders in a van or bus and hit the road. It's one thing to see ideas on a website. It's a completely different experience to see the same thing live.

Three years ago we rented a bus and took 60 of our most dedicated volunteer leaders to visit LCBC Church in Lancaster. We attended a service, met with their staff, and then had a wonderful dinner in the home of a sweet Amish Family. We took away a number of great ideas from that experience.

Seeing and feeling the vibe of a place breeds vision. It breaks through what psychologists call "groupthink." It helps your people walk back into your facility with fresh eyes.

In the past two years I visited 30 different churches in six different metro areas to simply see what churches in the 2000-5000 range are doing, and to bring video and pictures back to my team. You may not have the resources to do that, but you could do a "virtual trip" with your team. Find people that are willing to Facetime or Skype while walking around their building.

3. Get outside eyes to give unfiltered feedback.  One of the exercises I do with Senior Pastors I coach is have them record a video of every aspect of their building. Then we watch it together as I have them take notes while I give unfiltered observations about what comes through my mind first. I quickly notice "low hanging" fruit that can be quickly changed – paint, too much "junk" in the facility, outdated signage, etc. You can do this with anyone.

4. For oversized worship venues, create "virtual capacity." Virtual capacity is a phrase I coined to describe the attempt by church leaders to make our worship facility venues feel like they are near capacity, regardless of the number of people in the room. We always want our buildings to feel full, even when they're not.

Room too big? Space out your chairs and rows and hang floor to ceiling cloth barriers on the sides of the room to block peripheral vision.

Have pews? Rope off sections. Cover them. Move the stage closer by placing a temporary smaller stage in front of a portable backdrop.

Ask your people to help provide creative solutions to your "too much space" problem and I'm confident you can shrink the emptiness of the room.

5. For with too little ministry space, challenge your people's assumptions and priorities. I'm shocked how recalcitrant church members can get when asked to reconsider what is "necessary" for Sunday morning activities.

For instance,

  • Will you REALLY not grow as disciples of Jesus if you are encouraged to give up coveted adult Sunday School space so that your church has the children's ministry classes it needs? You may have not been told this but in the grand scheme of things children's classes are more important than adult Sunday School classes. Read Matthew 19:14. Get over it.
  • Will your church's ability to fulfill the Great Commission be hampered if you redecorate that ugly worship space you've grown to love? Of course not. Get uncomfortable.
  • Will the world really end if you put up a Sprung Structure for a few years to create more lobby space? Churches all over the country are doing it. I have a friend whose church grew from 1,000 to 3,000 meeting in a tent. A TENT.
  • Will you really be unable to worship Jesus if you ripped the carpet and pews out of your sanctuary and replaced them with polished concrete and chairs so that space could be used 7 days a week by multiple groups? Of course not. Make the change.

Challenge your people (and yourselves) to maximize the space that you do have to reach as many people as possible in your area.

Challenge yourself to not become the pouting, self-centered Christians caricatured throughout the world.



Do hard things.

That's what disciples do.

Moving Forward

Will redesigning your church's "red zones" every seven years cost money? Of course it will. But it won't be nearly as steep as the cost of church decline, which is exactly where you're headed if you do nothing.

The reality is where there's a will, there's a way. You CAN do a lot of this yourself, but you have to drive this.

If you want it bad enough you'll find affordable solutions that will allow your facility to continue to enhance your ministry, not detract from it.

But you have to find a way to win. If one, two or twenty different options don't work, the 21st one just might. Keep pushing and don't become apathetic about this.

Like I say all the time, you can do this.

You can.

Brian Jones is the founding Senior Pastor at Christ's Church of the Valley, a church that has grown from 0 to 2,000-plus people in the northwest suburbs of Philadelphia. His personal passion is to encourage and coach fellow senior pastors in the trenches. He is the author of several books including Second Guessing God,  Hell is Real (But I Hate to Admit It). Connect with Brian at seniorpastorcentral.com or on Twitter @brianjonesblog.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Brian Jones ) Expansion Fri, 25 Mar 2016 21:00:00 -0400
How You Can Worship God With Tech Gear http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/22618-worshipping-god-with-tech-gear http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/technology/22618-worshipping-god-with-tech-gear

I used to think the worship team members were "the people who lead music on the platform." I didn't think they had anything to do with the tech team. At the same time, I felt that worship only happened when I attended church and sang worship songs. But as I grew to be a leader of tech teams, the Lord shared with me that this thought process was wrong.

God created us to worship. Technicians, musicians, preachers and the congregation all have a logistical role to play, but the main role we play is worshipping God in everything we do.

As human beings, we were created to worship God, but how does that translate to a technician and his specific duties? The answer is simple: Our gear is simply an instrument of worship.

If a worship leader with a piano, drums or guitar is considered playing an instrument of worship, then a technician's sound console, camera or lighting board is just as much an instrument of worship. Many times, we ask our technicians just to be in the background and "make it happen." But we need to realize that technicians are a critical part of the worship team. They ultimately preside over the service's flow, creativity, atmosphere and the worship team's abilities.

Technicians are not behind the scenes; they are the scene. How a technician uses instruments of worship is critical to painting an atmosphere that welcomes the Holy Spirit and engages the congregation in deep worship. This atmosphere doesn't begin with how well we play our technical instruments of worship; rather, it all starts the moment we wake up in the morning. The spiritual environment we usher into our lives is the starting point of our worship. As John 4:24 says, "God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth." Technicians must orient their spiritual lives in a way that points toward God and what He wants for us. This doesn't start at church; it starts at home.

Holding your tech teams to these standards will change your perspective on all of your tech needs, mistakes, wants, desires and performance. The goal is to reduce distractions and paint an atmosphere of worship through tech. That's a vision the team can latch on to. It also creates a lens for everyone to look through when providing the tech needs of a worship event.

Don't get me wrong. I am not completely throwing out the need for qualified or talented people to operate your gear. Similar to the talent of a worship team member, gifted tech people who understand and can operate the gear is important. But I prioritize talent behind someone who has a heart for worship and a passion for the worship experience being the best it can be.

You may say, "This is all pie in the sky!" You may think there is no way you can have someone who has this passion and also possesses tech abilities. My answer to you is this: It is possible, but it takes time and work. Be sure to set up systems that identify where people are in their walk with God, passion for worship and tech abilities. Just as a coach does, work hard not only to fill positions but to have layers on your team. These layers should include everyone who is just putting their toe in the water to test whether they like working in tech all the way up to the experienced and then leadership level. Develop a plan to train and move people from layer to layer, then make sure you have a way of monitoring those layers. This is critical to ensuring you have bench depth and the heart, culture and vision carrying throughout the entire team.

As techs or tech leaders, our ultimate goal is to create teams whose members are not on the team to be cooler, flashier or more creative than the next church but want to use tech to point everyone's attention toward our God. This happens when all of us use our talents, relationships, attitudes and abilities to worship Him in everything we do.  

David Leuschner is associate senior director, technical arts and technology at Gateway Church in Dallas/Fort Worth. He facilitates the live audio, video and lighting for events and oversees approximately 230 volunteers and more than 30 full-time and over 60 part-time staff.

webmaster@strang.com (David Leuschner) Technology Mon, 21 Mar 2016 21:00:00 -0400
The Deaf Should Be Privy to the Gospel Too http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22594-the-deaf-should-be-privy-to-the-gospel-too http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/media/22594-the-deaf-should-be-privy-to-the-gospel-too

Last Sunday, more than 110 million viewers tuned in to watch one of the biggest sporting events in the world—Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos.

The Super Bowl ended with what seemed to be one clear winner and one loser. But there were millions of other Americans who, once again, lost.

They are the ones who communicate in American Sign Language. As the national anthem was sung by Lady Gaga, Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award-winning deaf actress, gave her beautiful rendition of this most patriotic song in American Sign Language. It's sad, though, that only a few seconds of it were seen.

It seems only fitting that after the success the National Association of the Deaf has had in getting Netflix and iTunes to provide captions and subtitles for deaf individuals to be able to watch movies, something like signing the performance of the national anthem at one of our country's largest public gatherings would be an awesome sight to see and experience, as well as important to the deaf community.

Whatever reason the media uses to explain this away, it comes down to the simple fact that they probably didn't see any value in it and chose not to show it.

Several years ago, the Deaf Bible Society team spoke with people at a well-known ministry that holds large crusades. The crusades are streamed live. We were so excited to find that they offer an interpreter at the event—so we proposed that they should also live stream the interpreter, so that deaf from around the country could tune in and learn of the salvation message. We were told that it would cost too much and would take too much time to accommodate such a small part of the community. This was frustrating but not unusual coming from a group unfamiliar with working with the deaf.

Deaf Bible Society believes that the best way to engage deaf communities with the Scripture is to provide access to the Bible in their heart sign language. We understand that communication is vital. A breakdown in communication results in a loss of information, leaving people without knowledge or understanding. The deaf are considered one of the largest unreached people groups in the world because we have not taken the initiative to make the gospel available to them in their heart sign languages and in a way they can efficiently engage with it and share it.

The challenge for Deaf Bible Society is that we lack the resources necessary to make this happen. We need to help the media and other ministry organizations understand the value—transforming the lives of the deaf. It is not unlike the communities that were colonized or enslaved; people prohibited from education because "an educated man is a free man." Historically, governments kept people down by creating a breakdown in communication and prohibiting education.

Showing the signed rendition of the national anthem was easy, inexpensive and desired by the community. If this simple and easy resource is not made available, what happens to the more challenging situations? Those challenging situations are much more critical than the opening of the Super Bowl—they involve the eternal lives of people.

Deaf Bible Society believes it is the right of every deaf person to have access to the Bible in their heart sign language—a language they communicate in effectively so that they can decide the relevance for themselves. Whatever your religious views are of the Bible, as a literate person, you have had the opportunity and choice to read or not to read it; to engage with it or not engage with it; and decide what you need for your own spiritual benefit.

The same lack of understanding that the media had with showing the signed rendition of the national anthem has infiltrated the church at large. We allow ourselves to be persuaded that sign language Bible translation is difficult, expensive, hard to understand and, ultimately, not valuable.

However, if we truly believe the Great Commission, Jesus' command to make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28, then we must agree that all nations includes all deaf people. It isn't left to us to determine which people groups are worthy of the message, but it is left to us to take this worthy message to all people groups. 

J.R. Bucklew is the president of Deaf Bible Society.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (J.R. Bucklew) Media Fri, 12 Feb 2016 22:00:00 -0500
Adopt a Village, Transform Numerous Lives http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22318-adopt-a-village http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22318-adopt-a-village

The honor was all mine. Sitting at the dining room table of a village leader, I was privileged to listen as she shared about the needs of the Mganduzweni village in South Africa. Her husband had been the village leader, but since he had passed away, she was providing leadership for the community's 170,000 people.

As I inquired about the needs of the village, she replied without hesitation, "We need water." I couldn't believe they didn't have water. She explained that they have water brought in once a month, but the supply was inadequate to meet their basic needs. Before I knew what I was saying, I told her, "We are going to get you water. We are going to dig you a well. Not only that, but we are going to build a church here, and one day I will come and preach here. Is that OK?"

With tears in her eyes, she simply replied, "Yes." That was a defining moment not only for our church but also for a village in great need of hope.

Since that meeting two years ago, our church has built and dedicated two wells in the village. Not only that, but we broke ground for a brand-new church building, a facility that will provide not only a place of worship for C3 Church South Africa, which worships every Sunday, but also a building for the children that we feed and care for throughout the week in partnership with an organization called Children's Cup based in Prairieville, Louisiana.

One Village at a Time

From the beginning of this journey, our passion has been to ask God to direct us to one village that we can give hope to and wrap our arms around. Our church can't solve every problem in the world, but we can do something. Our prayer is that God could use C3 Church to reach out to this village beset by poverty, AIDS and witch doctors and turn its people completely to Jesus. On our trip to South Africa several years ago, the late Dave Ohlerking, founder of the Children's Cup organization, said these unforgettable words: "Hope's name is Jesus."

One of the verses that drives us to fulfill God's vision is Acts 1:8: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you shall be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."

I've discovered that when I lay down my personal agenda and goals and look around, I see what God sees. There are so many people around the world who are hurting and hopeless. If all churches would take just a small piece, we can change the world—one village at a time.

One Step at a Time

Churches motivated to change the world through adopting a village or community can take these steps to get started:

1) Start where you are. Many people want to change the world but need to know they can begin by making a difference where they are. Where do you live? Where do you work? In what activities are you involved?

Start serving those around you and see what God does. When I'm faithful to use what God has put in my hands, He fulfills the dreams that are in my heart. Decide today to make a difference where you are now.

2) Take others with you. Ministry has the greatest impact when we serve with others. Great things can happen when people in their local church join together with others of a similar passion and begin serving together. Most churches have opportunities to get involved locally as well as globally. If God opens the door for you to go on a mission trip, take others with you. Even Jesus sent the disciples out two by two. My wife, Martha, and I decided several years ago to take at least one of our three children with us when we travel and minister. When we took all three of them to Africa with us, it was one of our most life-changing trips. The trip was a defining moment for all of our children. One of our daughters spent a summer in Swaziland serving and studying at the Global Leadership Academy. My son will be going on his third trip in November to serve and provide Christmas parties for thousands of children in South Africa. The passion our children now have for the world began with our trip together to Africa.

3) Partner with your church or a missions organization. For many years, our church had a passion to make a global impact but didn't know where to start or how to accomplish our mission. We also had limited resources and time. But after establishing strategic partnerships, we have been able to accomplish more than we could have on our own. We partnered with different organizations, including Children's Cup, which provides care points for children to be fed and discipled. Children's Cup also offers opportunities to sponsor children.

4) Wait on God's timing. You can't force a door open. The right decision at the wrong time can lead to disaster. Sometimes God takes leaders and churches through a process of growth and preparation for what He has for us to do. But while waiting, it's important to keep serving and trusting God to open the doors in His timing and His way.

5) Expect challenges. Satan doesn't like it when we give people hope! Impacting the dark places of the world isn't easy. That's why, according to Ephesians 6, we need to put on the full armor of God to withstand the schemes of the devil. Many Christians glamorize the mission field, but we must not let the devil blindside us. Nevertheless, the challenges are worth it when you look into the eyes of the children you have helped and see their hope.

6) Every child matters. Although not everyone in your congregation will be able to go to the mission field, they can still support the effort by praying, serving and giving, perhaps through sponsoring a child. Sponsors often reflect on how they feel knowing they have a child they are caring for personally. On our family trip to Africa, we got to meet the children we sponsor—it was so emotional! Even with the cultural differences, the impact and connection we had was evident. Together, we can change the world, one child at a time. Never underestimate the power of sponsoring one child.

7) Remember, hope's name is Jesus. Our passion is to provide real hope for real people in a real world—and hope's name is Jesus! Providing food, clothing and education is fantastic, but if that's all we give, we miss out on the most important thing they need. They need to know that Jesus loves them and that He is their only hope. Everyone needs hope and a family. We have the answer for hope in Jesus, and we have a family for these children in the church.

The opportunity is in front of us, we have the answer, and the time is now. Let's change the world together!  

Matt Fry is the founding and lead pastor at C3 Church in Clayton, North Carolina.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com ( Matt Fry) Ministry Facilities Fri, 20 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
Moving Beyond the Paper Trail http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22314-beyond-the-paper-trail http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22314-beyond-the-paper-trail

When the phrase "church administration" comes to mind, you may not instinctively think of cutting-edge digital tools. With the administrator's role centered on organizing information, managing team logistics and communicating information, that is a fair assessment. While the business of the church is not driven by technology, and administrators likely have a longer paper trail, technology can still make an impact on church administration.

Tools and Transactions

The most widely known administrative tool is online giving, most recently taking the form of mobile giving. Online giving has allowed the church administrator to keep tithes and offerings in the forefront as well as special projects like building campaigns.

Not long ago, unless a church member attended a congregation that still handed out a box of tithing envelopes, the member didn't see anything about his giving record until the end of the year. Today, by using technology as a transaction tool for church attendees, we have real-time information as a reminder of their financial role.

With regard to church administration, processes come to mind ahead of technology. For instance, long gone are handwritten job applications, and job listings have found a home in the digital world. Employee reviews no longer are an end-of-year event but rather a day-to-day conversation using tools such as TrakStar. Scheduling staff for the weekend, managing vacations and tracking time can be managed and viewed at once on an iPhone by using tools like Paycom and Planning Center.

In this day of megachurches, multiple campuses and church ministries starting every day, it can be hard to know where members and attendees are growing or struggling. Used well, church management software helps everyone on staff get the big picture of who's connected through a small group, who is engaged as a part of the church and which classes are the most helpful. Web analytics can support this as well.

Staffing is a significant responsibility for the administrative or executive pastor. The question he may ask is: How do we ensure we have the "right people on the bus in the right seats"? Online assessment tools such as Strength Finder, StandOut and Keirsey Temperament not only get the right people in the right role but also help those with different roles and personalities work well together.

However, these instruments are only helpful when they are actively used, and the administrator, who tends to be more analytical, will find that these sorts of tools are only effective when used outside of the data. Knowing someone's primary aptitude isn't enough. Leaders must nurture these strengths with clear and measurable results while also equipping people with their different skill sets.

Of course, we can't talk digital and not address social media. While social media doesn't directly correlate to the administration to-do list, it should be kept in sight. Executive pastors should consider crafting a social media policy that fits their culture. Administrative staff needs to understand that church leadership expects them to be an extension of the congregation, whether their social media is seen as an extension of their role as staff or is entirely personal.

Members of the communications team also need to understand the expectations of the church regarding tone and boundaries on social media, answering questions such as:

  • Do we allow and retain comments that go against what we are preaching?
  • How do we handle inappropriate or inflammatory comments?
  • Who answers messages asking for church assistance?

Direction and Danger

The biggest opportunity on the horizon is in pulling all of these elements together. Today, a church's website is often static. Everyone is getting the same information. Imagine tying these technologies together and serving the content that matters most.

For instance, instead of showing online to a happily married man that a singles group is meeting Saturday night, the website invites him to watch the game at a men's small group. For the person who attends services but hasn't yet engaged through giving, how about showing him a video of how finances are making an impact through the church in the community? To move in this direction, it's best not to let technology do the leading but to learn from the church administrator who might use technology to better direct and power the ministries of the church.

One of the dangers of technology, in both the church and wider world, is to allow it to drive strategy. Everyone else has a mobile app, so your church builds one. Everyone has big tech on stage, so why shouldn't your church implement it? The problem is we become high in tech but low in strategy, which flatlines our effectiveness. We may have a cool mobile app, but nobody is gaining anything from it and a stage that looks good but doesn't connect to the overall brand of the church or support the weekend series.

It's true that we often don't think of technology when we consider "church administration." But as we let administrators have a say in strategy, the church can then look for ways to support these strategies with technology, bringing significant benefits to the congregation.

Michael Buckingham serves as experience team pastor at Victory World Church (victoryatl.com) in Norcross, Georgia. Email him at mbuckingham@victoryatl.com or connect via Twitter at @mbuckingham.

webmaster@strang.com (Michael Buckingham) Ministry Facilities Wed, 18 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
Growing and Giving in the Digital Church http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22331-growing-and-giving-in-the-digital-church http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/22331-growing-and-giving-in-the-digital-church

Church attendance and charitable giving have changed radically, in large part due to the Internet and cellular technology. From electronic giving to live, online services, it's clear that churches must continue to go digital to remain relevant to their tech-savvy congregants.

According to Pew Internet Project's recent mobile technology research, as of October 2014, 64 percent of American adults reported owning a smartphone, and 42 percent own a tablet computer. In a Barna Group study published in February, more than half of pastors polled agreed that the Internet is "a powerful tool for effective ministry," up from 35 percent in 2000. Fifty-five percent of pastors also think that a church must have a significant website or online presence to reach people effectively.

Churches also need to find effective ways to engage online attendees, fostering connections with their community of worshippers as well as encouraging accountability and giving as their commitment to the church grows.

"We just tend to operate on a philosophy that we need to be where people are," says Nathan Clark, online minister and director of digital innovations for Northland, A Church Distributed in Longwood, Florida. "I believe more than half of our giving each year is now done electronically. I myself write less than a half-dozen checks in a calendar year (now). Everything is online."

If attendees can click once to watch a church service and a second time to give their tithes and offerings, can going to a building be worth getting out of their pajamas and off of their couch? The short answer is "yes," according to pastors and online-giving service providers.

Engaging Online Attendees

At Northland, Clark says he looks for ways to personally interact with the church's online community.

"I extend an invitation," he says. "I saw somebody online one weekend, and she was not far from where I live. As we started talking (online), I found out she had a son the same age as my son. We were having an open house at my house to get people familiar with the church, so I invited her to be there."

She showed up. After that meeting, the woman and her son started coming to a weekly community gathering.

"So out of this online experience, she became grafted into our (church) family," Clark says.

While some churches offer only an online experience, the majority of American churches meet at a physical space and use the Internet to live stream one or more weekly services. Although the live events may have some attendees who never walk into the building, most viewers worship in both spaces, pastors say. Online watchers regularly attend in person but check in online when someone is sick, out of town or otherwise unable to get to church.

Stevens Creek Church in Augusta, Georgia, has an online campus as well.

"We see the primary attendance there is people (who) just can't get to the church," says Drew Landrum, son-in-law of Stevens Creek Senior Pastor Dr. Marty Baker. "You have some megachurches like Hillsong and Willow Creek that people will log on to because they have some of the best speakers on the planet, but I think the larger amount of people attend online when they can't get to their local church."

Landrum also heads up sales and marketing for SecureGive, an e-giving company Baker founded in 2004 by creating the first giving kiosk. Today, SecureGive also offers church-giving apps for Android and iOS devices, as well as platform for online giving and text-to-give services. Landrum says as fewer people carry cash or write checks, electronic giving is becoming the church standard.

"It's not really about what works better, e-giving versus traditional methods," Landrum says. "It's just that we're reaching a point where God's church is going to very practically say that e-giving makes the most sense."

Landrum is right on the money. As Americans become a "cashless" society, churches are cashing in by installing convenient ways congregants can give electronically. The companies, platforms and emerging technologies seem endless. A Google search of the phrase "electronic church giving" returns more than 37 million results. By employing electronic giving methods, 21st-century churches can advance God's kingdom by achieving more financial security, engaging new attendees through online and mobile technology and helping congregants become more faithful and disciplined givers.

"Churches that are currently offering electronic giving see a substantial increase in giving," says Niel Peterson, co-founder of ChurchLink, a church-giving mobile app provider. "On the contrary, churches that are not offering electronic giving are missing out on a substantial level of donations. Every year this disparity grows larger. Ultimately, every church needs to embrace electronic giving. There is nothing to be afraid of."

Using Tithing Tools

As churches find themselves swept into the current of electronic giving, how can they determine which options provide convenience, reliability and security? They have to do their homework.

The church that wants to offer electronic giving will soon see the many options available: online giving platforms through the church's website, mobile apps, text platforms and electronic kiosks—which are used like an ATM takes deposits—that can be installed in the church.

SecureGive's kiosks have evolved from giving platforms into connection centers, which allows churchgoers not only to give but to register for small groups, summer camp and other events.

"We notice that most churches that implement one of our kiosks see an increase in donations within the first six months of 27 percent, and that's from people who have never given to the church before," Landrum says. "That is pretty powerful."

Pushpay is another popular e-giving option dubbed a "complete giving solution." Pushpay allows congregants to download a mobile app that integrates with church databases. Users can give via text, kiosk and web through the mobile experience. Pushpay also guarantees churches will see an annual increase in giving of at least 5 percent, or the monthly fees will be refunded.

"Making first-time and ongoing giving extremely simple is a great way for churches to grow participation," says Chris Heaslip, co-founder and CEO of Pushpay. "When we give, we also become more invested, both with our heart and the way we volunteer our time."

The company ran a beta test of the Pushpay app in 2013 with a group of 80 churchgoers who had never given before.

"We tied Pushpay to their church app, downloaded it on their phones and then tracked their giving habits over the next three months," Heaslip says. "What we found is that these people were giving an average of $143 (per) month to their church at the end of the three months. These are the results we get excited about."

ChurchLink offers churches an instant ChurchLink-branded app or their own custom-built app. Peterson says the most exciting thing about seeing churches implement e-giving for the first time is the positive difference it makes to their bottom line.

"Giving is an essential part of every church and ministry to advance the kingdom of God," Peterson says. "The more a church embraces technology to receive donations, the more donations they will receive. It's that simple."

Forecasting Church Finances

Two of the big benefits churches say they receive from e-giving are a better ability to survive the "summer slump" and the ability to predict more accurately their financial forecasts.

Constance Free Church in Andover, Minnesota, was an early adapter of electronic giving methods. Today the church offers e-giving options that have increased donations because congregants are able to set up automatic recurring payments.

"It gives us a little more stability in the giving because people tend to give online even when they are not attending," says Jeff Piehl, church business administrator. "Even in summer months, our giving stays pretty consistent. Also, some people just don't have the discipline to give by themselves every month and enjoy knowing that it automatically comes out."

Another advantage is the way technology allows churches to engage with their congregation every day, not just Sundays.

"We see 45 percent of giving happens on days other than Sunday," Heaslip says. "That tells us that churchgoers are just as compelled to give outside the church as they are in the church. Either way, it's great that people have a way to respond generously when they feel led rather than having to wait until next Sunday."

Piehl says electronic giving increases spontaneous gifts as well since congregants can give immediately after hearing a special guest; when asked from the pulpit to give toward a special project; or offer an additional gift on special occasions and seasons like Christmastime.

Freeing 'Miss Brenda'

Providers say that electronic giving platforms should integrate easily with church websites and databases, freeing church treasurers, business managers or the "Miss Brenda" of the congregation from handling some related duties.

"What electronic giving can do for church staff is somewhat revolutionizing," Landrum says. "You have 'Miss Brenda' at the local church who has $2,000-3,000 a week that she has to hand enter as line items. She might get things wrong sometimes, and she may never admit it, but she actually dislikes reconciling. Platforms like SecureGive do this automatically. What I love about our product is that it can help smaller churches like Miss Brenda's, then turn around and handle a church that gets $30-$50 million a year, and serve it with the same level of reporting and accounting."

Landrum says SecureGive frees up about 152 administrative hours each year.

"Churches can now take those hours and shift an administrator's serving capacity because of the e-based giving and e-based reconciling," Landrum says.

"We can track giving more easily now," church administrator Piehl says. "We still pass the plate during the services, and people who give electronically can fill out a card and drop it in if they want to, but it's amazing how many people give electronically during that little five-minute window when the plate is being passed."

Tracking also gives churches the ability to see when donors start and stop their gifts. If a donor who gives substantially suddenly stops giving, church administration can decide the right way to approach the giver and find out why.

"Electronic giving actually makes things easier for church treasurers, not harder!" ChurchLink's Peterson says. "When someone gives electronically through a Church Giving platform, there is an electronic paper trail from start to finish. Additionally, there is no cash or checks to deposit, and the money hits the account usually within two business days. Most platforms also allow importing into all major accounting programs. Lastly, donors also have instant access to their giving transactions, adding a level of convenience and time-saving for administrators."

When considering implementing a new e-giving platform, remember that they all cost money—either monthly fees, charges based on usage, a percentage or some combination thereof. Crunch some numbers, and ask other churches what companies they use. Consider systems designed for churches against regular e-payment platforms. Look for a system that will interface easily with your database and one that has the tracking features you need. Do your research because different systems serve congregations in different capacities. Finally, make sure the company you choose offers good support and troubleshooting.

Pastors and providers agree that electronic giving is here to stay. And that's a good thing for the financial future of the American church.

"Electronic giving is equally convenient for someone sitting in a pew on Sunday morning or sitting at home on his or her couch watching a live stream," Peterson of ChurchLink says. "The fact of the matter is that when someone is ready to support his or her church with a financial donation, there should be a convenient way to give, no matter where they are. Each time someone gives, it starts with a prompting of the Holy Spirit. That can happen anytime and anywhere."

Natalie Gillespie is an author, editor and journalist who has been contributing to Charisma Media publications for 20 years. She can be reached at nataliegillespie@att.net.

webmaster@strang.com (Natalie Gillespie) Ministry Facilities Fri, 13 Nov 2015 22:00:00 -0500
How to Revitalize Denominations Through Church Planting http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/expansion/22274-how-to-revitalize-denominations-through-church-planting http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/expansion/22274-how-to-revitalize-denominations-through-church-planting

From 1795 to 1810, the Baptists and the Methodists planted 3,000 churches in 15 years on the western frontier: Kentucky and Tennessee. But today, Methodists and Baptists are declining.

Methodists and Baptists—now in many different denominations—are seeking to recapture that passion. Of the denominations in decline, the ones that have a chance at growth will embrace a church planting focus.

Even mainline denominations are asking how to engage in church planting.

Many from mainline denominations get frustrated when they see the urgency with which evangelicals try to reach people. They'll lose this frustration when they realize those are the people who plant churches.

How will mainline denominations go about this kind of change? Some haven't planted churches in a while. They'll have to relearn a part of their own history. They'll also need to look into other traditions, denominations, movements, and networks to see what else is being done in this area.

I was recently with some mainline denominational leaders and was asked how they might accelerate their church planting focus.

How Mainline Denominations Accelerate Church Planting

If you are a part of a mainline church and recognize this need for change, first I would say, don't be afraid to look into movements very different from your own. Maybe these movements are different for a good reason, and you should recognize that reason.

Learn from people who have planted churches. That can be of tremendous help. But don't fail to relearn the history of your own movement. You have to know where you are and how you got there.

Sadly, only three percent of Protestant churches have said that they have accepted direct financial responsibility for a new church as its primary sponsor within the last year. There's not a whole lot of church planting going on right now.

Keeping an institution alive is not a bad thing; it's just not enough.

To merely sustain a denomination, it needs to plant at a three percent rate. More and more mainline denominations are moving toward that three percent.

It's the difference between a preservationist approach and a propagationist approach.

There's a place for preservationists, but what a denomination really needs is more propagation—the gospel being propagated and churches being congregated.

Keeping an institution alive is not a bad thing; it's just not enough. The gospel has to be proclaimed and churches need to be planted.

Initiating Change for the Good of the Church

How does this change happen?

For mainline denominations, there's a certain level of desperation needed. And, statistically, there actually should be some desperation—things are not going well in mainline world.

Also, mainline denominations needs to become aware of the phenomenon of church planting among Protestants. And it's not just about awareness. They need to recognize it's the way forward. After all, it's how such denominations came to be in the first place.

In today's world, we can't just wait for people to show up to our historic buildings. New plants are the way to find them.

Needed Adjustments

But in order to embrace a church planting mindset, a couple of adjustments need to take place in some mainline denominations.

First, church planters must be welcomed. The old guard tends to reject unfamiliar terminology and is therefore suspicious of church planters, so try to keep things simple and focused.

1. Welcome evangelicals. Most church planters will be evangelicals—and some mainline denominations will be suspicious of evangelicals. But, church planting—by its very nature—is planted in the soil of lostness.


Church planters reach unchurched people. Unchurched people are mostly unevangelized people. Unevangelized people need evangelism. Church planters need to be evangelists. Evangelicals are passionate about evangelism.

If you are going to plant evangelistic churches, you will need evangelicalistic people. If you don't have them, you don't need to plant a whole lot of churches anyway.

2. Celebrate planters. It's also important to celebrate planters in denominational life. Church planting has taken over crusade evangelism as they way we reach people.

In the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, which is similar to the Assemblies of God theologically, they hand out special pins to church planters. If you plant a church, you get a pin at the denomination's annual meeting. The pin is symbolic of a bigger celebration.

In your denomination it might be helpful to do something similar. Recognize those who are doing the work of planting. Make them special. Make them precious, and you will encourage others to join in.

3. Involve mother churches. It's also important to involve established "mother" churches. By speaking in terms of mother and daughter churches, the mother churches are given a clear role in church planting. Some say "partner" churches, but as long as the roles are clear, that's fine.

To get mother churches to actually begin acting like mother churches, begin by casting a vision. Create a recruitment strategy. Then, if you can get five or six churches to say they'll help start one church plant, it will signal a shift and create awareness and excitement.

When a mother church starts a daughter church, there are two ways they can go. On one end of the spectrum, some churches simply reproduce their DNA.

The Particulars of Planting

After getting your denomination moving in church planting, don't grow weary. Everybody seems to love church planting until they actually see the first church plant.

There's an old expression in church planting: Start a church in another state, it's all for God's grace and glory. Start a church in my backyard, now that's another story.

There will be resistance, so ongoing focus is necessary. Church planting can't be an annual emphasis, but it has to be an ongoing focus.

There's no way to deal with all the questions related to dwindling denominations and their need for renewal through church planting in one short article. This was the answer I gave to one denomination in one meeting, but hopefully it will help others consider the issues.

Ed Stetzer is president of LifeWay Research, one of the best and most-quoted Christian research organizations in the world. He has planted churches in multiple states; trained pastors across the U.S. and on six continents; and taught at 14 seminaries. Author or co-author of 12 books, Stetzer is a leading voice among evangelicals. He is a contributing editor or columnist for several publications, including Christianity Today, Outreach Magazine, The Christian Post, and Facts and Trends.

For the original article, visit pastors.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Ed Stetzer) Expansion Wed, 21 Oct 2015 21:00:00 -0400
3 Creative Ways to Kill Creativity and How to Get It Back http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/communication/22269-3-creative-ways-to-kill-creativity-and-how-to-get-it-back http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/communication/22269-3-creative-ways-to-kill-creativity-and-how-to-get-it-back

Leading teams of volunteers and staff can be an exercise in mental yoga. It stretches me so much further than I think I'm capable. Rarely do I walk away from a conversation or meeting feeling anything less than challenged and stretched.

This is great, but not easy.

I'm surrounded by extraordinarily sharp people who love the church and want to see it succeed. They see the gaps and have thoughts and ideas to fill them.

Most of the time I find myself fighting to maintain a posture of openness as I "field" all their ideas. I want their ideas. I need their ideas. If there is anything I've learned in the past 15 years of ministry ... I don't have the answer for everything!

I need their insights, thoughts, and creativity in order to foster environments where kids and adults encounter and grow in their relationship with Christ.

In fact, there are three creativity-killer responses I have to stifle in order to foster a culture of creativity within volunteers and staff.

Creativity Killers

1. "Been there, done that." I'm embarrassed to admit that I've had such an attitude. The idea that it's already been done ... we already tried that ... that's not a new idea ... etc. This mentality can shut down ideation before it begins.

If I want to foster a culture of creativity, it's helpful to allow some not-so-great ideas flourish into better ideas.

I'm not suggesting that we throw experience and wisdom out the window for the sake of fostering creative thought. Our past experiences can help us avoid future mistakes. However, immediately responding to a thought with the "been there, done that, got the T-shirt" mentality only communicates one thing to the originator.

2. "Not enough ____" mentality. I'm so guilty of falling into the "not enough" thought process. It's a dangerous loop that's tough to break free from. You can fill in the blank however you choose ... the mentality is the same. Each idea is arrested with the same response.

  • We can't do that because there aren't enough volunteers.
  • We can't do that because there isn't enough budget.
  • We can't do that because there isn't enough support.

The "not enough" trap can keep you from allowing ideas to grow into something that attracts more volunteers, fits in your budget or garners greater support.

I'm not suggesting that allowing someone space and time to put their idea into action will magically reproduce volunteers, increase budgets or give you more favor with your leadership. I'm just suggesting that there are more helpful responses to your perceived limitations or constraints.

The "not enough _____" response communicates one thing to the originator.

3. Poorly timed "How?" I'm notorious for shutting down an idea or creative thought with this most powerful showstopper.


It isn't that "how?" is a bad question. It's a great question. But timing is everything. When we ask the question "How?" is critical to the development of the idea. Too early and it aborts the ideation process and leaves you with a team member mentally vowing to horde their thoughts in the future.

Unfortunately, the poorly timed "How?" response can inadvertently communicate 'no' to the originator.

If our goal is to foster a creative environment where so-so ideas flourish into great ideas, how do we overcome these ideation showstoppers?

Here are a few techniques and postures we can adopt that create room for ideas to grow and mature.

Creativity Builders

1. Understand divergence and convergence. This is a tool I love using in teaching contexts. It's a skill I'm still learning to navigate in my day-to-day interactions. Where I use it well, it's a game changer. Divergence (by definition) means to move apart in different directions. As it relates to ideation, divergence is the act of allowing many different ideas to branch off, one from the other, in a variety of directions.

For some this can feel like rabbit trails. But there is actual value in allowing ideas and thoughts to ramble out. Like slinging mud on the walls ... you just want to see what sticks.

Convergence moves in the opposite direction. Convergence is the act of bringing things together. Refocusing. Great brainstorming sessions begin with divergence and end with convergence. Divergence says "anything goes!" Convergence says "now what can we do?" Divergence creates options, no matter how crazy. Convergence chooses from this pool of options to execute.

When I'm listening to someone's idea, there are ways I can respond that help them to diverge on their thinking a little more. Maybe I mention a factor that may conflict with their original idea but invite them to explore ways around that. For example, when a volunteer suggests that we require all parents of school age kids to serve in Elementary environments, I'm guilty of replying, "Been there, Done that!" My response goes a long way toward shutting down that idea along with a multitude of other ideas that might have merit.

Instead, what if my response is, "I like the way you're thinking. The goal is to increase our team. And parents are a great resource. Let me build on that. Is it possible to create a serving pathway for parents that aren't 'wired' well for teaching kids?" (Though I would have a ton more qualifiers to that type of recruiting approach, this is only the beginning of the conversation. The goal is to keep the flow of ideas coming.) 

The point is ... there are ways we can respond that steer the idea process without killing it.

2. Power of limited resources. We can view our limited resources so negatively. It really gets a bad wrap.

By "resources" I'm referring to the limited budget, volunteer team, time and space every ministry leader encounters. I've known one ministry leader out of thousands that says, "I have more budget dollars than I can spend." (I did apologize after kicking him in the shins. That was rude. But dang, people.)

The rest of us have limited resources that can trap us in the "not enough _____" mentality.

The only way I've found to work through this one is to present the limitations ... not as showstoppers but as opportunities to explore. The idea might require more volunteers than your ministry can yield initially. But could the team be built over time?

The idea might not fit within your current budget, or could you make the idea happen using fewer dollars? Are there benefactors, donations, or other ways to reallocate funds to make it happen?

Though the process requires more thought and planning, it holds potential for greater ideas to emerge and the end product be better than imagined.

3. Think wow, not how. I learned this from Andy Stanley at the 2015 Leadercast event. When you encounter an idea, think "Wow!" not "How?" You can "how" an idea too early and kill something that could potentially help you. Instead, consider responding with a "Wow!" Affirm the originator and help them focus their idea to move in the right direction.

I wrote more about Andy's talk at Leadercast here. Hop over and learn more.

All in all I'm challenged by these attitudes. If my desire is to truly derive all that our volunteers and staff have to offer, then fostering these postures in my life isn't an option. It's a necessity. {eoa}

Gina McClain is a speaker, writer and children's ministry director at Faith Promise Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. For the original article, visit ginamcclain.com.

For the original article, visit ginamcclain.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Gina McClain) Communication Tue, 20 Oct 2015 18:00:00 -0400
10 Ways to Improve Your Church Announcements http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/communication/22259-10-ways-to-improve-your-church-announcements http://ministrytodaymag.com/facilities/communication/22259-10-ways-to-improve-your-church-announcements

As a pastor, I always struggled with the best way to do announcements. Whatever we did, it never felt right.

Over the years, I've noted what other churches have done—and I'd do announcements differently than I ever did back then. Here are some suggestions for doing announcements well:

1. Send weekly emails. Either in place of, or in addition to, making announcements during the service, send one to two emails each week that give the details. Encourage those folks who do not use email to note announcements in the church bulletin.

2. Capitalize on social media. Use Twitter, Facebook and so on to remind members of events during the week. Not only can these announcements be much needed reminders, but they can also be calls to prayer for the particular events.

3. Organize announcements well in the bulletin. One of the problems with announcements in print is that a bulletin is sometimes so cluttered it's hard to figure out what's happening. Prioritize clarity and conciseness by using a bullet point for each announcement.

4. Promote prayer through announcements. If the church's bulletin or website includes a calendar of events for the upcoming week, train your church to view that calendar as a prayer list. Get them to pray for each event on the day it occurs, and you might lead some members to pray more than they've ever prayed for some events.

5. Use video announcements. A single brief video that covers all the announcements helps in several ways: (a) it gives folks an opportunity to correct any mistakes before releasing the announcement; (b) it limits the time folks use for announcements; (c) it provides a resource for the website so others who miss the service can still hear the announcements.

6. Don't disrupt the service. No matter how you do it, announcements in the middle of a service almost always seem to be disruptive. There are so many other options available that I see no reason to do announcements this way.

7. Don't do the announcements at the end of the service. My reasoning here relates to my understanding of spiritual warfare. Jesus told us that Satan always seeks to snatch the seed after it's sown so those who hear won't believe (Mark 4:14). If that's the case, the enemy is at work while the Word is taught and immediately after it's taught. My fear is that if we turn quickly from preaching to announcements, we unintentionally introduce distractions the enemy might use.

8. Choose the right person to make announcements. I prefer only one person making the announcements—someone who is concise, clear, creative, whimsical, passionate and time-sensitive. Even if you use video announcements, I would look for the same type of person.

9. Do announcements just as the service begins. Obviously, then, this approach is my preferred one. Whether via video or a live speaker, use announcements to call the church to order just prior to opening the worship service. Do them well, but get them out of the way before worship begins.

10. When appropriate, refer to events as sermon application. If the sermon is about meeting needs of the community and the church is scheduled to do a food drive in the next two weeks, refer to that event as application. It's always good when the church's events are appropriately connected to the Word.

What are your thoughts about the best way to do announcements? {eoa}

Be sure to check out Dr. Lawless' daily blog posts at chucklawless.com. 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.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Chuck Lawless ) Communication Thu, 15 Oct 2015 21:00:00 -0400