The Best of ChurchLeaders.com

Sharing my thoughts here on my blog is a joy; but having my ideas, experiences, and stories shared with hundreds of thousands of pastors is a privilege. Thanks to the leadership of  Outreach Magazine and ChurchLeaders.com for allowing me to speak with their audiences. I had a featured column (Plugged In:) for several years in Outreach Magazine and for over 5 years have shared even more content via their amazing pastoral resource site, ChurchLeaders. Here is my personal “Best Of” list of posts on ChurchLeaders.com around three subjects near to my heart: Volunteers, Church Staff, and Communications.   VOLUNTEERS & TEAM ARTICLES 7 Ways to Effectively Lead Volunteers The Four Keys of Potent Volunteer Teams Is it OK to Fire Volunteers? Dealing with a Mistake the Right Way Tech Arts Volunteer Burnout Church Hospitality: On Purpose   COMMUNICATIONS ARTICLES 3 Things Church Communications Can Learn From the Drive-Thru Making Your Church Website Mobile Friendly How to Make Your Church E-mails Work The True Power of Social Media Social Media 101   CHURCH STAFF ARTICLES You Deserve a Higher Wage The Best Ways to Share Information When Your Ministry Needs Get Bigger Balancing Tradition and Innovation   If these articles resonate with you, it would be an honor to speak with your church leaders and staff. Contact me via the form below. Name(required) Email(required) Your Role/Title(required) Church Name(required) How can I help your church?(required)...

Making Your Church Website Mobile Friendly

*Latest update: June 2014 It’s hard to go anywhere (including church) where people are not pulling out their phones for more than calls. We’re clearly a mobile culture with habits now firmly entrenched in anytime, anywhere access. Churches must, at a minimum, make a mobile version of their websites for these small screens. For those pastors wanting some stats to back this up, it’s helpful to note the following: 94% of smartphone users have searched for local info – including your church. *[1] 67% (and climbing) of mobile users are now smartphone users (159.8 million people in the U.S. own smartphones as of October 2013). *[4] 66% of smartphone users visited an organization in person after viewing a website. *[1] 90% of smartphone users acted within 24 hours of viewing the website. *[1] 73% of mobile searches trigger additional actions, such as continued research (36%) and in-person visits (25%) *[2] 57% of mobile users won’t recommend an organization based on a poorly designed mobile site. *[1] 37% of all digital media time is spent on mobile *[3] But where to start? Pastor’s don’t need to bother trying to keep up with the technology, but they do need to empower their staff/volunteer web team to ensure their church websites are mobile friendly. 6 quick checks any pastor can do: 1) Does the website load fast? Mobile phones are not always on Wi-Fi, so under 3 seconds load time is the goal. 2) Is the text big enough to read without zooming? The only acceptable answer is “yes”. 3) Is navigation simple and obvious? Less is more with only a few, obvious choices for most mobile websites....

REVIEW: Shift Worship App – DIY Church Stills & Video Loops

One of the young men I had the pleasure of mentoring and encouraging over the years is Camron Ware, today’s leading expert on Environmental Projection in churches. Camron has been a strong proponent of curating your own content for use in worship services on his blog, and has helped countless churches leverage lighting and video technology in surprisingly affordable ways. Back when a few of us church tech directors were using $100k+ projection systems to achieve high-end environmental projection, Camron started finding ways to do it on the cheap. He innovated, and today churches are better for his DIY mindset and hard work ethic. So, when Camron asked me to check out a new mobile app called “Shift Worship” that he helped develop, I was more than a little excited to try it out. The Shift app’s purpose is to allow anyone to capture still images and edit and manipulate them for use as  backgrounds for church presentation software (song lyrics, sermon notes, etc.) as stills or as motion graphics. There are plenty of apps for editing photos, but one that includes looping video options is pretty hard to find; and one that is made for churches and allows for easy curation – well, this is in a class of its own. What’s Great Simplicity is the key of any great app, and Shift has done the understated very well: it needs no instruction to start using it, thanks to a built-in step-by-step interface. Powerful features are equally important, and this app is well and truly loaded with the kind of power that rivals it with some of the better photo...

Church Communication Lessons from Fast Food Drive-thru

Churches and drive-thru fast food restaurants seem to have little to no comparative value, until you look at the common denominator of both: the customer (people). Of course, I’m not saying the local church is selling anything to people, but I am provoking a perspective that says the people who are customers of a fast-food chain are the same people who are attending our churches. Lesson #1 – Minimum information, Maximum call-to-action Unless you order a meal or item as-is from any fast-food drive up, there’s a high likelihood that your order will be incorrect. Likewise, unless you create a valuable call-to-action that is framed around the default expectations of your members and attendees, there’s a high likelihood that people won’t get involved. My personal experience has taught me that if I want a burger with only a couple of things on it, it’s easier to say “plain, but add lettuce and pickles,” than to tell them what I do not want on my burger. The reason is simple: there’s a button for “plain” and a button for “add”. This is much easier on the fast food employee than making them put in the regular order, then start subtracting what I don’t want and then finally adding something I do want. Frankly, it confuses them. Similarly, there’s great simplicity in the truth that “less is more.” Rather than giving all the details at once about a service, activity, or event, and then listing all of the unique qualifiers and exceptions, it’s much more effective to summate the big idea with a simple qualifier statement and an easy to respond/act/sign-up immediately...

Church(ology) – Celebrating Growth, But Respecting Health

If I were to sum up the most used hashtag at every church conference over the last several years, it’s going to include “growth”. Maybe it’s #churchgrowth or #smallgroupgrowth or, simply, #growth, but there is a huge amount of attention and effort aimed at growing churches. I celebrate growth, but I respect health. I’ve been watching The Nines online conference for the past two days and have taken away a lot of What’s Working stories and, at least for me, the best stories have been about What’s Not Working. I love that Leadership Network has created this brilliant concept, but I also have a caution in my heart when so much of the content talks about or at least mentions church growth. It reminds me of hearing a pastor I love and respect say this truthful statement to a packed out room of thousands of pastors: “Healthy things grow.” That’s true, but what I saw blow up on the conference Twitter stream and in conversations after the talk was the emphasis on “growth”. Yes, healthy things do grow. But what God spoke to me immediately was “Cancer grows, too.” The focus on growth is emphasizing the wrong end of the sentence. “HEALTHY things (grow).” Growth is the by-product, not the point. Do I not want or endorse growth? Not at all. Healthy things DO grow and there SHOULD be a numerical increase that follows spiritual formation. Evangelism will yield more believers. Discipleship will produce more leaders. But measuring numbers before measuring spiritual fruit is always problematic, because it places the emphasis on quantitative measurement instead of first measuring qualitative growth....

7 Key Steps of Recruiting, Training and Retaining Church Volunteers

I’ve written on burnout (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & also this one) and volunteer issues before, but the key to avoiding those issues is right-fitting volunteers and placing safe boundaries around their workload. In my experience, there are three parts (Recruit, Train, Retain) to this process, so I’ve included my 7 Steps of Recruiting, Training and Retaining Volunteers. Feel free to share and comment. 1) Invite someone to learn with you. There’s something powerful about being invited and asked to participate in something bigger than ourselves. Most of the best volunteers I’ve met at hundreds of churches came because someone asked them if they’d like a chance to see what it was like to do what we do! Your pool of current volunteers are the best possible recruiters. Why? Because, chances are, they are friends with people similar to themselves. That means techies know more techies. It also means that your non-techie volunteers (more on that below) know people like them, too. Leveraging the spheres of influence that your volunteers have is the best way to invite new people to your ministry. Another important recruiting tip is to find college interns, stay-at-home moms and retirees who have the time to give on a Monday thru Friday basis. Unlike your other volunteers with full-time jobs, these folks have more flexible schedules and can help you with a host of necessary areas including volunteer scheduling, administrative support, copywriting,  organizing, documenting and encouraging other volunteers with handwritten notes. I have had men and women help me out during the week so that I was freed up to do the work that only I...