Church(ology) – Celebrating Growth, But Respecting Health

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutesIf 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...

7 Key Steps of Recruiting, Training and Retaining Church Volunteers

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutesI’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...

Extending Digital Media Webinar

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minuteI was recently asked to present a webinar for churches and non-profits on how to extend digital media. In it, I covered trends and stats and offered my recommendations for churches that were not new to social media or strategic communications, but also ensured those still ramping up their digital media efforts would not be left behind in the conversation. The very kind and talented folks at Limelight Networks hosted the webinar. Theresa Bui, their Director of Content and Product Marketing, interviewed me and also ran real-time polls and Q&A during the webinar. I’m happy to share the recorded webinar, including both the slides I shared and the full audio, here on my blog. This is 1 hour, 1 minute worth your church leaders’ time to help them understand the need to think and communicate using digital channels – and specifically via mobile, which is a large portion of the content I share. I hope your church benefits from this recording. Please share it with your pastor friends! A BrightTALK Channel...

Facebook Home, Churches & Less Noise

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute “We don’t need more technology. We need less noise in our technology.” Today, Facebook announced Facebook Home (see story by Mashable), currently available for Android only (interesting to me). Facebook Home is a collection of apps you can install to automagically turn an Android phone into a Facebook phone. It is an always-on, Facebook-focused graphical interface that makes Facebook’s news feed, notifications and chat a part of using the phone – even when you’re using another app. As if we needed an ever-present distraction that doesn’t even require us to sign in to Facebook to be inundated with more noise. I’ve come to believe that for the average person, filtering your “friends” list in Facebook and organizing who you follow on Twitter into practical Lists is a necessity to keep the signal-to-noise ratio down to something that is not only manageable, but useful. While this could, in theory, still be achieved organizationally via Facebook Home, the ever-present cover feed would introduce more distraction than is viably useful. As an aside, I also wonder if their video and website showcasing Facebook Home hints at their targeted demographic: teens and early 20-somethings, a market that is beginning to leave Facebook. My recommendations are still the same: use the right tools to manage your inputs and execute a strategy to make technology work for you and not the other way around. QUESTION: How is your church managing the noise to find what’s valuable in social media?...

Twitter’s Most Powerful Feature

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute “Twitter’s most powerful feature is the ability to mobilize people to give, serve and share.” Since 2007, I’ve been finding new ways to leverage the power of Twitter. From reaching large groups of not only people I know, but the people they know, Twitter has been a great tool. But, like any technology, there are plenty of uses of it that are – at least to me – time-wasters. I think a good number of pastors view Twitter with a skeptical eye. But that doesn’t make Twitter any less useful; people behaving badly is nothing new. In 2009 I published my first ebook, “The Reason Your Church Must Twitter”. In it, I outlined the practical benefits of the mass text-like messaging medium, but what I never saw coming was that its most powerful feature is the ability to mobilize people. From Janis Krums “miracle on the Hudson” picture aboard a ferry used to rescue stranded passengers of the US Air jet that landed in the Hudson River, to the staggering success of the Obama campaign (“organizing for action”) to rally young voters to contribute (80% of the $639 million dollars Obama raised came from donations that were 20 dollars or less), Twitter is a powerful tool that churches should be strategically using to engage and mobilize their attendees and community. QUESTION: What’s working – and what’s not been working – with how your church uses Twitter?...

Good, Fast & Cheap for Churches

Estimated Reading Time: 1 minute “Good. Fast. Cheap. Pick any two, because all three at once doesn’t exist.” I certainly didn’t invent this concept, but I came to appreciate it – as us Texans say – right quick. On face value, it’s obviously true, yet I am still amazed at how often all three are expected in oh-so-many churches I’ve worked with over the years. Look, it’s possible to buy good technology, get it fast and install it cheap with volunteer labor; but that’s not the meaning of this paradigm. This reality is about outcomes, not process. When someone wants something good, fast and cheap (that’s their desired outcome), they’ll inevitably find that there are always – always – trade-offs. Where I think many people get caught is in the definition of cheap. Cheap doesn’t always mean inexpensive. Cheap can be an attribute of quality, whether in craftsmanship, durability or lasting value. If cheap is the highest priority, then the lowest priority will always be good. QUESTION: Where has your church been hurt by missing this simple but profound principle? Comment below. Need help explaining this to your leadership? Connect with Anthony on a 1-on-1 Google Hangout coaching session. Name(required) Email(required) Church Name(required) I need:(required) $99 - 1-on-1 coaching session On-site consulting Just information - for now Anything I need to know?...