Life http://ministrytodaymag.com/life Sun, 14 Feb 2016 00:57:16 -0500 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb Women of God, Have You Made Yourself Available for His Purposes? http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/22593-women-of-god-have-you-made-yourself-available-for-his-purposes http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/22593-women-of-god-have-you-made-yourself-available-for-his-purposes

The truth is simple but profound ... you don't have to go to India, have a TV show or be on staff at a church to be a woman in ministry.

You don't have to write articles for Christian magazines, be invited to speak at conferences or have a husband who pastors a megachurch in order to be used significantly by God.

A woman in ministry is a woman who has made herself available for the purposes and plans of God. If your heart's desire is to be used by God at your moment in history, take a deep breath and look around. Your circumstances are not accidental nor are they insignificant. God has placed you where you are for His strategic and eternal plan. 

The people in your life are all desperately in need of someone who will simply love them unconditionally ... and that is where you come in.

You got the job.

Jesus has hired you to love the unlovable ... to show grace to the fractious ... and to bring joy to the discouraged.

You are here not for prestige, for fame or for earthly power. You are here to be a vessel of God's mercy, His hope and His power.

You got the job.

A woman in ministry is a woman who encourages the single mom in the checkout line at the grocery store.  A woman in ministry is a woman who prays for the students and teachers at her children's school. A woman in ministry is a woman who smiles at strangers, cheers on the weary and finds a way to demonstrate the love of God in little ways every day.

A woman in ministry is a force to be reckoned with not because of a prestigious title or due to a significant position in a well-known ministry but because of her enormous heart. She has a heart that is filled to overflowing with the power of the Holy Spirit and is unable to hold back that which has been placed inside of her.

A woman in ministry is unable to stop talking about that which she has seen and heard. She is compelled to exhibit the fruits of the spirit in the home, in the marketplace, on the street and at the church. A woman in ministry has been commissioned to tell the story of Jesus in word and in deed. She tells it to the aged, to the lonely, to the misfits, to the fortunate, to little people and to rebels.

I believe that the most powerful women in ministry in any age are not those who receive financial remuneration for their services. I also know for certain that the most dynamic world-changing women of any generation are not those whose names are synonymous with cultural recognition.

The women who are the truest champions of the faith are often the most unknown, underappreciated and underpaid servants in any generation and yet they are called, anointed and powerful.

Are you a woman? Do you love Jesus? You got the job! {eoa}

Carol McLeod is an author and popular speaker at women's conferences and retreats, where she teaches the Word of God with great joy and enthusiasm. Carol encourages and empowers women with passionate and practical biblical messages mixed with her own special brand of hope and humor. She has written five books, including No More Ordinary, Holy Estrogen!, The Rooms of a Woman's Heart and Defiant Joy! Her most recent book, Refined: Finding Joy in the Midst of the Fire, was released last August. Her teaching DVD The Rooms of a Woman's Heart won the Telly Award, a prestigious industry award for excellence in religious programming. You can also listen to Carol's "A Jolt of Joy" program daily on the Charisma Podcast Network. Connect with Carol at justjoyministries.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Carol McLeod) Women Fri, 12 Feb 2016 19:00:00 -0500
Women Working Together in Ministry: The Drama http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/22588-women-working-together-in-ministry-the-drama http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/22588-women-working-together-in-ministry-the-drama

The drama, insecurities and comparisons ...

I remember years ago I was eight months pregnant with my first child and word got back to me that a woman volunteer was asking the question, "Why isn't Tricia doing more?"

That was when my husband and I first started our church, which was my first experience working with women in ministry. I was hurt by that because, as a pastor's wife, I have always tried to encourage women in our ministry, be friendly with them and I try to make them feel secure in our ministry. My thoughts were "Can't this woman see that I am seriously pregnant and I am not able to do as much?" This is how I felt.

Over the years, I had to battle my insecurities working with women in ministry. Women will come around each other and look each other up and down; they sometimes want to know or find out your weaknesses so they can feel better about themselves. I have seen it all in 20 years of ministry, everything from offenses, arguments, insecurities and comparison. 

For some reason women struggle working together in ministry by comparing themselves. If the pastor praises a certain woman, other women get jealous. Women tend to act and dress like other women in the ministry to feel good about ourselves. Women will look at other women in the ministry that are married and compare their marriages, or think that this couple or that couple has the perfect marriage. It can cause women to stumble and even lose their ministry because they are acting out in their flesh and they are not sticking to what God has called them to be.

Here is what God thinks of you and what He has called you to be:

  • You are a new creation - 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • You are His ambassador - 2 Corinthians 5:20
  • You are being transformed into His likeness - 2 Corinthians 3:18
  • His grace is sufficient; His power is made perfect in your weakness - 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
  • You are chosen and hand-picked by Him - 2 Thessalonians 2:13
  • You are beautiful - Ecclesiastes 3:11
  • You are holy and blameless; you are the King's daughter; redeemed and restored to righteousness - Ephesians 1:4-7
  • You have been created in His image - Genesis 1:27
  • You are His perfect bride - Hosea 2:19
  • You are the work of His Hand - Isaiah 64:8
  • You have been created for His glory - Isaiah 43:6-7
  • You are a good and perfect gift - James 1:17
  • You are His beloved – Ephesians 1:6 
  • You are valuable to Him - Luke 12:7
  • You can do all things through His strength - Philippians 4:13
  • You are so wonderfully made - Psalm 139:14
  • You have been crowned with love and compassion - Psalm 103:4

The last Scripture says that you've been crowned with love and compassion. As women of God working together, we must work in love and compassion.

We are all uniquely made and there are no duplicates. God has an individual purpose for all of us, so there's no need for comparison or insecurity. God created all of us just the way we are and God does not make mistakes. Love the women you work with in your church, show them compassion. You do not have to be buddies and you may not always get along, however if you are working in your ministry with other women, know that God called all of you to work together to build His Kingdom through your ministry. 

I am firm believer that women working together in love and compassion can accomplish great things! Next time you work with other women in your ministry, compliment them and encourage them. You will be surprised how it will make you feel and you may find out that all women need encouragement and we don't all have it all together.

God is faithful and if you can receive your identity from His Word, you will be able to work with any type of woman and God will use you in a great way. 

"But He gives more grace. For this reason it says: 'God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble'" (James 4:6, MEV).

Humble yourselves ladies so that God can empower you in such a great way that you will impact so many lives through your work in ministry! {eoa}

Along with her husband, Pastor Luis Reyes, Tricia Reyes is the co-founder of The New Church Of Joy in Waukegan, Illinois. She is a blogger, author and helps manage her daughter Madison's (Maddie Rey) Music Ministry. She is a devoted wife and mother to Madison and Matthew and loves the Lord with all her heart! To learn more about Tricia's ministry or to book her for a Women's Event/Conference visit her website at triciareyes.com or thenewchurchofjoy.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Tricia Reyes) Women Thu, 11 Feb 2016 19:00:00 -0500
Homegrown Integrity http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/legacy/22586-homegrown-integrity http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/legacy/22586-homegrown-integrity

Homegrown Integrity

The quiet witness of his father led Roy Stockstill to faith in Christ.

Roy Stockstill

Editor's Note: This article is from the fall 2010 issue of Ministry Today magazine.

My father, Joel Ernest Stockstill, was born in 1885. He and my mother, Mamie, had nine children. My sister Inez died in my father's arms, but her death was the catalyst that brought him to Christ. Papa, as we called him, was a quiet and honest believer from that time forward. I can recall many things about his life that transferred to me and became part of my spiritual DNA.

First, he lived by principle, not personality. He worked during the Great Depression and held a longtime job at a sawmill. When he was asked to work extra time on Sundays, something that conflicted with his belief in honoring the Lord's Day, he declined; the decision cost him his job.

But with nine children to feed, Papa happily purchased a plot of land in the country and fed our family with homegrown vegetables and other produce from simple farming. Because of his example, I too have been able to find the courage to make the right decisions in ministry, even at great personal sacrifice.

Papa also demonstrated consistency in prayer. I recall his trip to the woodshed each morning for his daily prayer time. His time alone with God gave him the faith he needed to face literal and spiritual storms in his life. Once when a tremendous hurricane passed over our home, he lay calmly in bed speaking his faith as huge trees were uprooted in our yard!

I can recall many times when he exercised his faith. Once when I had returned home during World War II from the European theater en route to the Pacific theater, he entered my room after spending time with the Lord and confidently announced, "You will not be going back overseas."

My father spoke prophetically that day and soon after a miracle occurred. I was transferred to a stateside position only hours before the rest of my unit moved out to the Pacific.

Today we live in a financially inept society where many Americans are drowning in a sea of debt, but Papa showed financial integrity by living within his means. It is a foreign concept to millions of people, but he detested borrowing. But if he had to do it, the transaction was sealed with a simple handshake because the lender knew Papa would rather die than break his word. True to his convictions, when Papa died he owed no one anything.

At his funeral, I was reminded of the words of the apostle Paul: "Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain that we can carry nothing out" (1 Tim. 6:6-7). I later implemented my father's financial values into the finances of our church, refusing elaborate and expensive building structures in favor of simpler, utilitarian buildings that would free up more funds for world missions.

A final principle I observed in Papa was the integrity of justice and equality. In a time when prejudice and racial division were the norm in south Mississippi, Papa felt called as a lay preacher to minister mainly in
African-American congregations.

In an era when it was unthinkable for a white man to cross racial lines, he would sometimes walk six miles to minister in small African-American churches. His fierce love for the black community was reciprocated, and oftentimes a knock on our door in the middle of the night was an urgent request for Papa to go and pray for one of their members who had fallen sick or died.

He would then walk to the home of the person to pray or stay up all night with grieving or stricken family members. It is no wonder that our church, Bethany World Prayer Center, is also a multiracial witness in the racially divided city of Baton Rouge, La.

The psalmist says, "The generation of the upright will be blessed" (Ps. 112:2). I have been greatly blessed by Papa and owe my life, my ministry and my legacy to a quiet sawmill worker who showed me the true meaning of integrity.

Roy Stockstill has been in ministry for 64 years. In 1983, he retired from Bethany World Prayer Center and turned the leadership over to his son, Larry. Roy continues to share his faith and encourages others to  develop a life of integrity and character.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Roy Stockstill ) Legacy Wed, 10 Feb 2016 19:30:00 -0500
BREAKING NEWS: Bethany Church Founder Roy Stockstill Passes Away at 97 http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/legacy/22584-bethany-church-founder-roy-stockstill-passes-away-at-97 http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/legacy/22584-bethany-church-founder-roy-stockstill-passes-away-at-97

Roy Stockstill, founder of Bethany Church in Baker, Louisiana, died Tuesday at the age of 97.  Rev. Stockstill founded Bethany Church (then called Bethany World Prayer Center) in August 1963 with a "handful of people in his living room." The church now has five campuses and has grown to almost 10,000 members.

Rev. Stockstill's influence reached worldwide through hundreds of other churches planted by associate ministers. In addition, Bethany has given over $70 million to local and foreign missions.

Larry Stockstill, Roy's son, pastored Bethany Church from 1983 to 2011. Larry then handed the reins to his son, Jonathan, on October 2, 2011.

"I love my Papaw ... Roy Stockstill went to heaven today," Jonathan Stockstill wrote on Bethany's Facebook page. "What an incredible role model of a man who loved his God, his family, his church, and his country. His last words to me were 'Jonathan, how blessed it is to live an obedient life.'

"I'm 1 percent sad and 99 percent glad because I know how much he was looking forward to seeing Jesus and his family. He kept asking me to pray for him to have patience because he wanted to go to heaven so bad. He was always hilarious, always filled with a word, always had a story ... and if he didn't, he would just say.. 'my my my.'"

Ruth Stockstill, his wife of 63 years, preceded Rev. Stockstill in death in 2008.

Rev. Stockstill fought in North Africa during World War II as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Air Force. He came to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1957, as the pastor of Florida Boulevard Baptist Church.

A 2010 Ministry Today article explained that the quiet witness of Roy's father, Joel Ernest Stockstill, led Roy to his faith in Christ.

"Because of his example, I too have been able to find the courage to make the right decisions in ministry, even at a great personal sacrifice," Roy said in that article. "Papa also demonstrated consistency in prayer. I recall his trip to the woodshed each morning for his daily prayer time. His alone time with God gave him the faith he needed to face literal and spiritual storms in his life."

Joel Stockstill became a lay preacher, ministering mainly in African-American congregations when American society looked down such a thing.

"In an era when it was unthinkable for a white man to cross racial lines, he would sometimes walk six miles to minister in small African-American churches," Roy said in the article. "His fierce love for the black community was reciprocated, and oftentimes a knock on our door in the middle of the night was an urgent request for Papa to go and pray for one of their members who had fallen sick or died."

A memorial service will be held for Rev. Stockstill at the Bethany North Campus on Sunday, Feb. 14, at 6 p.m. The family requests that donations be made the "Surge" church-planting project in lieu of flowers.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Shawn A. Akers) Legacy Wed, 10 Feb 2016 17:20:00 -0500
10 Ways to Unlock Your Church's Giving Potential http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/money/22572-10-ways-to-unlock-your-church-s-giving-potential http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/money/22572-10-ways-to-unlock-your-church-s-giving-potential

You may smirk at my simple, and profound, paradox of church giving:

  • The vast majority of people want to give.
  • They just don't.
  • And there are lots of reasons why.

Some don't give because they don't know that they should. Others don't give because they've never been taught what the Bible says.

Many make assumptions about how a church works without understanding where its finances are supposed to come from.

Even seasoned Christians can be wary of giving.

So the question is: how can you overcome the resistance to giving that pushes against the desire to give? And the follow-up question: if you manage that, is it possible to unlock the giving potential of your church?

Your first step: understand that not everyone gives with the same motivation.

5 Reasons Why People Give

What motivates you may not motivate me. As you teach people to give, it helps to understand their reasons.

1. Some give because of relationship. People will give money to an organization because they have a relationship with the people there.

2. Some give because of vision. A compelling vision inspires people to give (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). People want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Clear vision helps people understand what God wants to do through his church.

3. Some give because of need. People will give to a need, as evidenced by the outpouring of donations after a hurricane or other natural disaster.

4. Some give out of obedience. Many people give because they understand God's directive to give (Malachi 3:9-10; Proverbs 3:9-10; Luke 6:38).

5. Some give because of education. People will give when they have been taught what God's Word says about money.

As you instruct on giving, recognize that some reasons will make more sense to a certain segment of your congregation, while others respond to a different drum. When possible, touch on each of these motives when you explain stewardship to people.

People need to be led, taught, inspired, encouraged, given incentive, celebrated, and helped with their personal money-management in order to become faithful and generous stewards.

Next, the actionable steps.

10 Ways to Reach your Church's Giving Potential

1. Make sure you are tithing. God is always more interested in teaching the leader than having the leader teach the people. If you haven't studied the principle of firstfruits giving, I encourage you to read Robert Morris' The Blessed LifeIt will inspire and educate you! The Law of the Harvest says you reap what you sow.

It's almost guaranteed that if you don't tithe, the church won't be financially healthy.

2. Make sure your staff and Board are tithing. Likewise, if your leaders haven't learned to tithe, the Lord will teach them before he lets you teach your members. At New Song, we talk about tithing with all staff members before hiring them and all Board members before submitting their names for a vote of the congregation.

We also make sure every member of our counting and accounting teams are tithers. We want the people who handle our offering to be qualified to handle it well. I encourage you to verify that a person is tithing before you allow them to join any teams related to finances in your church.

3. Have a Christmas offering. Generosity reaches its peak during the Christmas season. Churches who take an annual Christmas Offering or Year-End Offering find that their members will give to a specific cause over and above their normal giving. In most churches, the Christmas Offering totals five to twenty percent of the church's annual budget. Imagine being able to add ten percent to this year's budget without offending anyone!

An informed fundraiser once told me that Americans gives to an average of six charities between Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you believe your church is worthy, it ought to be one of those charities.

Recognize that your Christmas Offering has to compete with all the chatter from other non-profits, so you must plan and prepare for it carefully. Successful Christmas Offerings start with thinking and prayer in September and end with thanking and reports in February.

A few years ago I created a short ebook called a Step-By-Step Guide to a Successful Christmas OfferingThis little ebook will walk you through twenty simple but important steps to ensure that your offering is well planned, directed to the right priorities, honors your donors, and furthers your goal of growing mature financial stewards.

4. Take your offering slowly. Because pastors are often uncomfortable talking about money, sometimes we don't give people time to prepare for the offering or help them understand what the offering is for.

At New Song, immediately following the sermon, the service host will say, "Now is the time when we take our worship up a notch. Last week we saw eleven people come to Christ. Don't you love knowing that your giving changes lives for eternity? That's why we love investing in his work around here." Or, "Last month, we were able to give away 1,000 pounds of food to needy families." Or the like.

Take a full minute or two to introduce the offering, explaining how people can give, why they would want to give, what God says about giving, and/or how giving is an investment in God's work. Invite a tither to tell their story of blessing occasionally.

When you take the offering slowly, your congregation has time to get ready.

5. Quarterly, ask non-givers to give. Somewhere between forty and seventy percent of your church members fall into the "non-giver" category. They aren't including God in their financial priorities, experiencing his blessings from giving, laying up treasure in heaven, or obeying God's commands to give.

Most people grow one step at a time. Help them take a small step by asking them to give their first gift.

Mark your calendar with a note that on the first weekend of every quarter, you will ask non-givers to make their first gift.

While introducing the offering, say, "This morning I want to encourage those of you who've never given to make your first gift to God today." Quote a blessing or promise from Scripture about giving. Matthew 6:19-21; Luke 6:38; Proverbs 3:9-10; Malachi 3:10-11 are a few possibilities.

6. Quarterly, ask givers to tithe. Help your givers to take a small step as well. On the second weekend of the quarter ask your givers (those who give occasionally, or a fixed amount below the tithe) to take your "Ninety Day Tithe Challenge."

Moving from giving to tithing can seem like a big step for some, so shrink the size of the step by guaranteeing the results.

Here's what you say:

Just before the offering, read Malachi 3:9-11. "This is the only time in Scripture when God allows people to 'test' him. Tithing is a faith step. It's like planting seeds for a harvest. You sow. You wait ten or twelve weeks. Then you reap. You don't reap the day you sow, there's an interval in between."

"We believe so strongly in this principle that we will guarantee your investment. If you will tithe faithfully, from every paycheck for the next ninety days, if, at the end of those ninety days you do not feel blessed by God in whatever way you define a blessing (which could be monetary or otherwise), as long as you've documented your giving by doing it online, by check, or filled in your information on your giving envelope so we can verify what you've given, we will refund your full tithe."

No one has ever asked for their money back.

7. Enlist more volunteers. Take a moment to mentally look over your congregation as they're seated for worship. About half of them are non-givers. Now, think through your teams of volunteers. Nine out of ten of them are givers. Volunteers become invested in their ministry.

Where your treasure is, there your heart is also. Which is why volunteers find themselves giving – their hearts become invested in their ministry!

What's the best way to enlist volunteers?

We cover that in eBook No. 5 in this series: Placing and Keeping Great VolunteersIn one sentence, volunteers are invited, oriented, cared for and celebrated.

8. Encourage people to automate their giving. Encourage people to automate their giving by having their bank automatically send a check or direct deposit to your church's bank account once or twice a month. Even the best-intentioned tithers miss an offering by accident once in a while. They mean to give, but they got sick, went out of town, or something happened where they just forgot and didn't notice soon enough to make it up.

During the month of May, create an automated giving campaign.

Remind your people that summer is coming and they don't want to fail at their faithfulness to the Lord's work. Place an automated giving brochure in your bulletin and talk about it every week for a month. Bring someone on stage to give a testimony about how this practice has increased their faithfulness. Make a video of how easy it is to automate one's giving.

9. Cultivate a relationship with high capacity givers. Every member of your church needs a peer to relate to. Pastor, you are probably the person most capable of ministering to people with high capacity to give. Man up to this challenge and befriend and appreciate those who give a disproportionate amount to your church just as you would befriend and appreciate those who serve or lead at extraordinary levels. Just don't be tempted to prefer them above others (James 2).

A very astute pastor once told me that in most churches, seven families contribute thirty percent of the offerings.

He claimed that it's a law, like the Pareto Principle (where eighty percent of the work is always done by twenty percent of the people.) According to this law, your top-giving family probably contributes ten percent of the church's budget.

Two other families contribute five percent each, and four more families contribute two-and-a-half percent each. Total it up and that comes to thirty percent. If this is true, those seven families are enabling a lot of ministry in your church and are probably some of the best money managers you've got.

People who have the capacity to write large checks often have unique stewardship challenges. They need the wisdom and encouragement of a spiritually mature leader to help them navigate those challenges.

10. Educate your high capacity givers. Money is such a personal thing in our culture that the only way you will be able to give good counsel to your biggest givers is if you become close enough friends that they can confide in you.

Pastors who find someone who makes money well ought to help them learn to manage their money well, and give it well. Fuel their spiritual gift of giving with books, podcasts, and other resources that will teach and encourage them to develop and increase their spiritual gift and the money-related skills involved with it.

Now What?

Start at the top of the list and work your way down. Or start with the idea that will have the biggest impact. Or start with the easiest idea to implement for a quick win. To learn more about developing your church's financial health, pick up my ebook: Developing Generous Givers.

Please comment below to tell me what you're going to do.

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

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Hal Seed ) Money Mon, 08 Feb 2016 22:00:00 -0500
How Do You Measure Success in Women's Ministry? http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/22571-how-do-you-measure-success-in-women-s-ministry http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/women/22571-how-do-you-measure-success-in-women-s-ministry

Leaders often ask, "What's most important?" The answer is develop committed Christ followers.

Making disciples comes down to women experiencing a dynamic, growing relationship with Jesus. Women's ministry helps create an environment for this continuous transformation.

Observing and measuring spiritual transformation is not easy. In some cases change is occurring, but we are not observing it, leading some to underestimate effectiveness and miss the powerful encouragement testimonies of successful transformation can provide. In other cases, growth is minimal, but our lack of effectiveness goes unnoticed because we are measuring the wrong things.

To more accurately observe and measure transformation, we must first identify the marks of a committed, growing disciple. What does a fully committed follower of Christ look like? These descriptions are based on the Bible's description of a growing disciple. They are designed to help you measure transformation and help women evaluate personal spiritual growth.

Marks of a Committed Disciple

  • She abides in Jesus' words by living in obedience (John 15:10,14).
  • She demonstrates transformation.
  • She is becoming more obedient.
  • She is accountable to other believers.
  • She is growing in godly love.
  • She deals with disagreements in a healthy way.
  • She affirms new members/visitors.
  • She bears eternal fruit (John 15:8).
  • She lives more for the kingdom and less for worldly things.
  • The fruit of the Spirit is becoming more evident in her life.
  • She is growing in a lifestyle of prayer.
  • She eagerly prays for others and follows up on requests.
  • She lives every day for God's glory.
  • She testifies of God's work in her.
  • She invites others to ministry events.
  • She knows and uses her spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10).
  • She finds her place of service.
  • She makes new disciples.
  • She is becoming equipped to share Christ in her daily life.
  • She is involved in local and global missions and ministry.

What other characteristics have you noticed in the women you lead as they grow in their faith? In the comments below, tell us more about how you've seen them grow in spiritual maturity. We'd love to celebrate the Lord's work in their lives along with you!

Excerpted  from Transformed Lives: Taking Women's Ministry to the Next Level compiled by Chris Adams. For the original article, visit lifeway.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Chris Adams/LifeWay) Women Mon, 08 Feb 2016 19:00:00 -0500
9 Keys to Maximizing Your Church Facebook Page http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/social-media/22570-9-keys-to-maximizing-your-church-facebook-page http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/social-media/22570-9-keys-to-maximizing-your-church-facebook-page

In an episode of Rainer on Leadership earlier this week, I explained Facebook post boosting and how churches can utilize it to inform people in their communities. I soon began receiving questions from pastors and church leaders about best practices on Facebook.

While many churches have Facebook pages, most do not know how best to utilize the platform for kingdom growth. So here are nine keys to getting the most out of your church Facebook page:

1. Give as much information as possible in the "About" section. Facebook offers several fields for you to enter information about your church—use them. Don't make those interested in your church have to click away to your website and find the basic information of service times or location. Also, set up your church as a "Company Organization, or Institution" and not a "Business or Place." Certain functionality is included in the specific categories, and the former is preferred for churches.

2. Use correct graphic sizes. Avatars (or profile pictures) should be square and the cover images (header images) should be sized correctly. Visit this Facebook page for all the specific graphic dimensions. Well-done graphics allow you to make a great first impression with potential guests. Poor graphics do not.

3. Remember your audience. Many of those who like and view your page will be members looking to stay in the know about what is happening at the church. But you will have potential guests viewing as well. Your content must appeal to both.

4. Post appropriate content. This is related to the previous point. As with your church bulletin, not everything going on at the church needs to be on your Facebook page. I've seen everything from funeral arrangements to surgery updates on church Facebook pages. In most instances, those don't belong on a church's public Facebook page. Use private emails or church groups for those kinds of updates. Facebook page content should be of importance to both guests and members and be of great importance.

5. Get permission to post photos of kids. Many parents have an aversion to posting pics of their children, so it's always best to ask or make parents aware that there is the possibility pictures from events might end up online.

6. Use Facebook events for major church-wide events. I've seen some churches add an event for every service, every week. This is not good. At all. Facebook events can be highly effective, so save their use for major ministry or outreach events.

7. Encourage your members to share. Do not hesitate to ask members to share updates, promotional pictures, or events. It's always better to have a few hundred people sharing a post rather than just your church page. As always, make sure what you are asking people to share looks good, is grammatically correct, and will be attractive to potential guests. 

8. Answer any messages or questions promptly. The only thing more frustrating than not being able to find an answer is asking a question only to have it ignored. When people ask you questions through the message app or in comments, answer them quickly and courteously.

9. Monitor the page and stay current. You may not have major events or news to share each day, but someone (or a team of someones) should be checking the Facebook page routinely. Always be available to help a member or potential guest.

I know many of you use Facebook for your church. What are some other keys that you would add to this list? {eoa}

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of LifeWayPastors.com. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Jonathan Howe ) Social Media Mon, 08 Feb 2016 13:00:00 -0500
7 Church Signs That Give a Positive Impression http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/22563-7-church-signs-that-give-a-positive-impression http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/22563-7-church-signs-that-give-a-positive-impression

I was recently in a church that had several signs posted about not bringing food or drinks in the worship center.

I asked a guest what he thought of the signs. His response was telling: "I think they are telling me they don't want to clean up my mess."

From that perspective, the sign was a negative sign for the church. At least from one person's point of view it meant, "Don't bother us."

Many churches, however, have positive signs posted around the church facilities. Unless you are a curmudgeon, these signs would give you a favorable impression of the church. My comments after each sign reflect the message it would likely communicate.

1. Guest parking. We welcome guests at our church. We want to treat you like a guest in our home and demonstrate our hospitality.

2. Allergy alert. These are the snacks we will be serving your children. We care about them and their well-being. If they have allergy problems, we will gladly offer them an alternative snack.

3. Expectant/young mother parking. We care about families. We especially understand the challenges young mothers have, and we hope this convenient parking helps a bit.

4. Public welcome to this playground. We did not build this playground as just a perk for our members. We want all of the community to know they are welcome here.

5. Guest welcome center. We always have someone at this welcome center during church activities. We have placed it at the entrance so you can walk right up and ask us any questions. We will also provide you information on our church.

6. You are welcome to take a Bible. We want everyone to have a Bible. We provide these Bibles as our gift to you.

7. Covered drop off. During inclement weather, we want you to have a place where you can drop off members of your family. This drop off is also available for those dropping off senior adults.

I love hearing from you readers. Let me know of some "positive signs" in your church.

Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Research. For the original article, visit thomranier.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Thom S. Rainer ) Relationships Fri, 05 Feb 2016 19:00:00 -0500
21 Signs Your Children's Ministry Is on Life Support http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/children/22561-21-signs-your-children-s-ministry-is-on-life-support http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/children/22561-21-signs-your-children-s-ministry-is-on-life-support

Here are some telltale signs your children's ministry is on life support and needs an infusion of health and vitality:

1. You have to close classrooms because you don't have enough volunteers to open them. Here's help.

2. You don't see kids, parents or volunteers smiling.

3. Parents are having to make their kids come to church. Here's help.

4. First-time guests don't return. Here's help.

5. The number of kids in your church is less than 10 percent of the overall attendance.

6. You don't have any teenagers serving in your children's ministry. Here's help.

7. You ask the pastor to beg for volunteers. Here's help.

8. People are serving out of necessity rather than passion.

9. When parents ask their children the famous question—"Did you have fun today?"—The answer is "no." Here's help.

10. There is no money to purchase supplies, resources and crafts. Here's help.

11. You don't hear giggles and laughter in the hallways.

12. Your ministry calendar is full, but not effective. Here's help.

13. Kids' attendance is declining. Here's help.

14. All of the volunteers have been serving since Noah got off the ark and are burned out.

15. The kids are shoved in the basement or get the leftovers when it comes to ministry space. Here's help.

16. Volunteers are having to serve in multiple areas to keep things going.

17. There is more talk of what God did in the past than what He is doing now.

18. Your elementary playlist includes "Father Abraham," "Deep and Wide" and "I've Got the Joy, Joy, Joy ... Down in my Heart." Here's help

19. There were very few, if any, babies dedicated last year.

20. There were very few, if any, kids that stepped across the line of faith last year. Here's help.

21. There were very few, if any, kids who were baptized last year. Here's help. 

Dale Hudson has been in Children's Ministry for over 25 years. He is the director of children's ministry at Christ Fellowship Church in Palm Beach, Florida. Christ Fellowship has nine campuses and ministers to over 22,000 people on weekends. Dale leads a Children's Ministry staff team of over 50 and a volunteer team of over 2,600.

For the original article, visit relevantchildrensministry.com.

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Dale Hudson ) Children Wed, 03 Feb 2016 22:00:00 -0500
5 Ways the Church Can Help Caregivers http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/22555-5-ways-the-church-can-help-caregivers http://ministrytodaymag.com/life/relationships/22555-5-ways-the-church-can-help-caregivers

"Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).

Few individuals can regularly attend church without hearing the apostle Paul's mandate regarding one another's burden, but it is often difficult to know how to carry out that mandate in the multitude of challenges facing Christians in today's world.

One of the more challenging issues facing so many is to serve as a family caregiver for a chronically ill, disabled or elderly loved one. The church has a lengthy record of ministry regarding short-term issues and stricken individuals. Yet, when a malady or condition extends into months, years and even decades, many clergy and laypersons alike find themselves at a loss on what "bearing one another's burdens" looks like, and how to effectively minister to those who daily put themselves between a vulnerable loved one and disaster.

In the South, I often laugh when saying, "Whenever two or three are gathered, you will find 'macaroni and cheese,'" but 30 years of experience as a caregiver has effectively demonstrated that "bringing meals are helpful, but eventually someone has to learn to cook." The same principle applies with finances. A financial gift from the mercy ministry is helpful, but eventually someone needs to work and learn how to manage money.

For long-term caregivers of vulnerable loved ones, I see five major areas where the church is well-equipped to help and contribute not only to the spiritual well-being of the caregiver, but the physical, fiscal, emotional and even professional health of the caregiver—all with no or minimal budget impact.

1. Meals. Bringing dinners is hugely helpful for a short-term issue, but instead of signing up to bring a fully prepared meal (and risk being late, someone forgetting and so on), a church can coordinate volunteers who will simply grocery shop. Many grocery stores will do the shopping for individuals, and church members can easily swing by, pick up the groceries and deliver them to the caregiver's home.

Caregivers lose their independence, and while it's important for them to get out and have some downtime, regular trips to the grocery store can be a challenge. Just handling the logistics (not even the actual purchases) of shopping offers much needed hours that can be better used to care for a loved one or even take a break and get some rest. Other useful things can be something as simple as, "Hey, I'm at the grocery store—can I pick up a gallon of milk or something for you?" It may sound like a small thing, but it can be a huge help to a caregiver juggling a variety of tasks who feels overwhelmed at the thought of leaving a loved one, fighting traffic and spending time at the market.

2. Finances. Many caregivers find themselves in the uncomfortable role of managing someone else's finances. Budgets, long-term planning, filing taxes, medical bills and other financial matters can pile up on a caregiver quickly. Virtually every church has financial professionals as members who could provide much needed counsel for that family with a special needs child, the spouse taking over the finances when their husband/wife becomes impaired or adult children caring for an aging parent. If the family cannot afford the services of a CPA or similar professional, then the church can offer to subsidize those fees from the mercy ministry. Sending a service, not a check, is a better path towards a sustainable infrastructure for the caregiver.

3. Home maintenance. "If Mom's watching Dad, 'Who's watching the water heater?'" Just like the caregiver's physical health, the state of the house can also show wear and tear. Cleaning gutters, lawn care, weeding, minor repairs, even building a wheelchair ramp are helpful ways a local church can effectively serve their members, and even non-members who are in the community. All of these projects can incorporate the youth program of the church and offer an invaluable minister opportunity to young people.

4. Respite. Churches can schedule respite moments for the caregivers to attend to personal issues such as support groups, counseling, classes for professional development and doctor visits for themselves. When skilled care or more professional home-health workers are required for these isolated events, then the mercy ministry can contract with local businesses (and even work out a reduced-costs agreement) to provide these services to the caregiver. That way, the caregiver can feel comfortable with the person staying with their loved one, and the church can be assured that professional services are delivered.

5. Safety. With an alarming number of patients suffering from Alzheimer's as well as other forms of dementia and impairments, an overlooked fact is that many of them are gun owners. If the caregiver is inexperienced around firearms, the weapons may be left within reach of someone who is impaired. Church members who are experienced and trained with handling firearms (particularly law enforcement) can offer their services to pastors and become an important resource for securing weapons in the home. This allows the caregivers to protect their loved ones better from horrific accidents, and themselves from being victimized by an impaired loved one.

These five areas of ministry provide churches with tools and strategies for bearing the burdens of the family caregiver. It offers a unique way of communicating love and compassion, and more importantly, the gospel of Jesus Christ to individuals who are daily laying down their lives for another.

Peter Rosenberger is the founder of Caregivers With Hope. For the past 30 years, as a radio host, author, speaker, accomplished pianist and black belt in Hapkido, Peter has personally traveled the path of the family caregiver. In the process, he has learned that a caregiver cannot only survive but thrive in the midst of oftentimes grim circumstances. In an unparalleled journey with his wife, Gracie, he has navigated a medical nightmare that has mushroomed to 78 operations, the amputation of both of Gracie's legs, treatment by more than 60 doctors in 12 hospitals, 7 medical insurance companies, and $9 million in medical bills. Peter is the author of Hope for the Caregiver, which released in 2014 from Worthy Inspired. Visit his website at CaregiversWithHope.com

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shawn.akers@charismamed.com (Peter Rosengberger ) Relationships Tue, 02 Feb 2016 13:00:00 -0500