Believe it or not, 140 characters could solve your communication problems
If you're a church leader who feels like your church should be using the social networking tool Twitter, but you're not sure how to leverage it to carry out your church's vision or mission, here are a few techniques that may give you some ideas for getting started. Showcase your staff. On your church website's "Staff" page, provide clear links to those staff members on Twitter. This is also a good place to link to their profiles on other social networking sites like Facebook. Here's an example: Show live chats from events. A simple hash tag (indicated by a "#") can go a long way. At a recent youth event, our church encouraged people to use a hash tag when discussing the event on Twitter, and then we pointed parents to the Twitter search results page for that hash tag. Note: It was very popular, but you do run the risk of someone posting something inappropriate; nothing can be cleaned up or deleted. read more
During a Sunday worship service, a gunman walked unnoticed into a church in a small town in the Midwest. Inside the sanctuary, he shot and killed the pastor. For weeks, TV crews, photographers and reporters camped out in the small town as the church leaders and congregation struggled to deal with their loss and personal trauma of the tragedy.
Faulty wiring ignited a fire that burned down a 100-year-old church in the suburbs of a large metropolitan area. No one was injured, but the congregation was left without a permanent facility where they could worship and carry out their ministry.
The respected pastor of an urban megachurch confessed to an extramarital affair and stepped down from his leadership role, leaving the congregation and church leaders to face the consequences of his moral failure. read more
It was the middle of a Sunday service. The music was done, and I got up to pray.
Suddenly, from my right a woman rushed at the pulpit, ran up the stairs, screamed something, threw a book at me and started back down the aisle. I paused for a moment in mid-prayer, taking in the situation.
Almost every church faces it from time to time. How do you handle those individuals that aren’t quite right? read more
God is the ultimate filter for every part of our lives—including technology
Technology is powerful—drawing you in, altering your world and expectations, even defining who you are. If you’re not careful, what you start out controlling has a way of controlling you.
There’s nothing quite like the power of saying yes. The ability to say yes is heady, immediate and satisfying. It’s the feeling of having the world at your fingertips. No matter what the latest “it” app is, with the slide of that finger, the press of a button or the click of a mouse, your options magically unfold in nearly geometric progression.
But with every yes comes a consequence: when you say yes to all this technology, you attach yourself to a digital umbilical cord that can be difficult to remove—even temporarily.
If you’re not careful, what you start out controlling has a way of controlling you. read more
To be effective, communication must be approached as a broad, multi-faceted spectrum
The church vision is clear; the church leadership and staff is in place; ministerial and operational systems are developed and running. The church is functional and taking shape. With all the given tasks to check off, it can be easy for anyone within a moving organization to get tunnel-vision, and not think about creating a meaningful brand experience.
When it comes to the mission that God has placed on the heart of the senior pastor and the community, are churches being mindful of their “brand experience” and intentionally living it out? To implement a meaningful brand experience requires the entire team to embody the heart, mission, values, personality and culture of the church. Staff must be given the liberty to take leadership-covered risks in which they can creatively think and become a spot-on expression of the church’s heart.
The brand experience is every touchpoint an individual would encounter related to the church. Each touchpoint should effectively bridge the church’s vision, goals, theology and community demographics (left-brain stuff) with the heart, personality, creativity and culture of the church (right-brain stuff). When done strategically and consistently, the outcome is a living, breathing, dynamic relationship that every person develops with the church. read more
How a multi-site church creates more opportunities for community impact
Christ Fellowship is a multi-site church. That means we are one church family meeting in multiple locations across our region. We currently average around 30,000 people in all of our combined campuses. Before you begin to revel in our fruit, I want you to understand why we worked so hard to pioneer a new way of doing church.
One of the major roles of the American church must be the reformation of our great nation. We started down the arduous path of multi-site development knowing that would help us mobilize a vast army of compassion, which could impact on our region.
No one cares about our politics or moral issues until they know we love them. The multi-site model creates more outreach opportunities and makes us more aware of the broader needs of our community, allowing us to serve in a more strategic and thoughtful way.
As our people step out to serve others in loving compassion, more doors are opening for us to have greater influence. For example, when we saw that the foster care system in our area needed help, we established the Place of Hope children’s home. Because of the widespread impact of this faith-based program to care for abused and abandoned children, we are now able to speak into the entire foster care system and offer positive contributions on the local, state and national levels. read more
We should use technology to help glorify God, not put on a show
Technology in a church setting can be a difficult issue. When referring to the sound, video and lighting aspects of a church sanctuary, we all have our own varying experiences.
On the positive side, a well-lit room may inspire us to forget what is going on around us and create an environment that draws us closer to God. But isn’t it strange how the same tools can be distracting by demanding our attention and causing us to take our eyes off God?
The fact is that many churches commonly use equipment that was initially developed for use in concert tours and theater productions. In theater settings, technical equipment is used to bring scenes alive. It directs our focus and makes us believe we are somewhere else. In concert tours, it builds excitement and stimulates our senses. read more
How to find the right technology to launch and sustain growth
According to a 2010 survey conducted by Leadership Network, more than 5 million people attend a multisite campus church in North America. In fact, more people attend multisite churches than megachurches.
Much of this movement is possible because of technology. Internet technology enables churches to stream video in a variety of ways, making it possible for churches to replicate all or part of their main church’s service to additional locations.
When consulting with churches, Jim Tomberlin, a multisite church strategist and founder of MultiSite Solutions (multisitesolutions .com), often begins by offering some important up-front education: “First of all, churches need to know that at least half of their startup costs will be in the technology area. Second, a church that is considering multisite has to decide how it wants to deliver its teaching content: through live in-person at each campus or by video.” read more
How a divine disappointment led us to save money and triple our growth
I will never forget the day the town said “no.” I thought it was the end, but it was actually just the beginning. We had experienced a season of growth at Seacoast and felt it was time to build. We were conducting five services on the weekend and had purchased additional acreage for a 4,000-seat expansion. We had been in discussions with the city for about a year, and things seemed to be progressing well. At the last minute we were caught in a “not in my backyard” backlash which resulted in a no vote from the town council, making it impossible to build.
To say I was disappointed by this turn of events was an understatement. The prospect of continuing five services or adding more seemed overwhelming. We were already beginning to plant churches, but that didn’t address our current capacity issues.
So I did what I always do when discouragement sets in. I shut the blinds to my office and turned on some country music. In that genre, singers are always losing something—a horse, a dog, a girlfriend or a truck. I wanted to listen to someone who understood my loss. I wasn’t ready to move on yet. Later, a church member helped me with my flawed theology.
“Pastor, it’s OK to sit on the pity potty,” she said. “As long as you don’t sit there long enough to get ring-around-the-hiney.”
That sounded about right. So I sat in my pity for a while. Then I remembered: There are no surprises to God. He has never had a day when He said, “Wow, I never saw that one coming.” So if He didn’t share my surprise by the turn of events that day, it’s probably because He had been working on a solution—before I even knew there was a problem. So we bandaged our wounds, rolled up our sleeves and went to work finding out where He was leading us next.
We settled on multisite services as the best possible solution to our situation. We knew that adding more services at off-peak hours had inherent problems. The further we moved the service from the “golden hour” of 11 a.m. to noon on Sunday, the less likely people were to attend. What if we were able to add extra services at the optimum time? The only way to do that was to meet offsite. Ultimately, we added 30 more services in 13 additional locations.
How much did it cost? A lot less that a 4,000-seat auditorium. We used the phrase “high impact, low regret” to guide us in the process. We wanted the highest impact for the kingdom with the lowest potential for financial regret.
We also tried to define what was necessary and what was merely helpful. If you confuse these two categories you can focus on the wrong things and find yourself regretting your decision in the long run. In life, for instance, food, water and air are essential, while Guitar Hero and iPads are just helpful. If you mix up the categories, you’ll wind up in a world of hurt.
In launching multisite services, a good location, the right leader and the leading of the Holy Spirit are necessary, while high-definition video, a live stream and lots of low end in the sound system are only helpful.
We still haven’t added most of the helpful stuff, and we never built the 4,000-seat auditorium. But we have more than tripled the number of people we minister to weekly, and we’re able to do it with very few regrets.
Greg Surratt is the founding pastor of Seacoast Church in Mount Pleasant, S.C., one of the early adopters of the multisite model. Greg is a founding board member of the Association of Related Churches and is married, with four children and seven grandchildren.
Pastor Chip Sweney tells the inspiring story of one church that looked beyond its own growth limitations to create “a new kind of big”—a citywide network of almost 150 churches that today work together to meet the needs of their community and change their city. read more