Archives For June 2012

god works outside your comfort zone


Are you good at what you do?

I take pride in working hard at what I do and becoming incrementally better at it as time goes on.  I strive to be creative, focused, effective, impactful, trustworthy, inspiring. . .

But sometimes, that’s not good enough.

Lately, I’ve had the opportunity to zoom out a bit and become self-aware of where I am now with my vocation, my art, my passion.   I’ve been reflecting on that fact that it is relatively easy to become great at what we do as long as it is all about doing just that same thing around which we draw convenient boundaries.

And it’s also easy to forget that sometimes, that is not where we’re called to be.  You’re not meant to live inside that small box.  Because there’s something greater out there just beyond your comfort zone.

Where are you living lately?  Would you share what’s going on in your world with a comment?



Pinterest Pinboards of Churches
Recently, I pointed out that Pinterest is prime for churches to embrace and start pinning.  If you do it right, there’s potential to generate word of mouth and traffic to your church website.

Here is a complete list of churches that have a presence on Pinterest:

Denomination Pinterest Pinners:
  • PC (USA)
As you can tell, there really aren’t a ton of churches that have hopped onto the Pinterest platform yet.  (Actually there are — but a lot of them are still with zero pins, no photos, no profile photos, no descriptions, etc.  I didn’t include those in this list above.)
I think a big reason for this is that most church communications people that have thought about getting onto Pinterest haven’t really figured out what you’re supposed do on Pinterest if you are representing a church.
Strategically, there’s a bunch of things you should consider pinning in order to gain exposure and start engaging with your community.  I’ll share more of the details for some of this soon, but here’s a category list to get you started:
  • Help prospective visitors figure out your church — take photos that help propsective visitors know what they’ll encounter if they come to visit.  Take photos of your worship environment, your fellowship hall, kids ministry rooms, bathrooms, parking, offices, people, greeters, worship services, etc.
  • Illustrate a dynamic church life — events, neat photo angles of various parts of your building, staff, leaders, etc.
  • Show your links to partner organizations — any organizations you work with, partner with or serve
  • Collect sermon / discipleship content — Books, resources, your sermon notes, scripture references.
  • Become the #1 advocate for living in your town — the church should become the advocate for living where you are.  Become the tour guide, the local expert, the concierge that shows up all the nook and cranny goodness of the city and surrounding towns you live in.  This means pinboards for restaurants, professional services, sports, schools, annual events & festivals, and more.

Do you know of any churches that have a Pinterest presence (with at least ONE pin please!)?   Please leave the name, location and URL in the comments below.

religion and the internet

According to a new study from Grey Matter Research (Phoenix, Arizona) that was published this month, 44% of online Americans use the Internet for religous purposes.

Do you realize what this means? It means that the Internet is used for religious purposes by 35% of all American adults.

Over a 1,000 responses of a statistically representative sample explored use of the internet for religious content, and there’s a bunch of interesting findings coming out of this study:

  • 19% of respondents, in the past six months, visited the website of a church or other place of worship they are currently attending
  • Another 17% have visited the website of a church or place of worship they were not attending during the same time frame.
  • 19% visited a website designed to provide religious instruction or learning during the last 6 months
  • 11% visited the website of a group or organization from a religious faith that is different from their own during the last six months
  • 17% read religion-oriented blogs once a month or more
  • 14% have a pastor or other religious leader as a friend on Facebook (or a similar social network site)
  • 1 in 10 of American adults online have “Liked” a church or other place of worship on Facebook or a similar social network site
  • 8% participate in religion-oriented discussions online (e.g. bulletin boards or forums) 1x or more every month


What is noteworthy is that the younger generation seeks out religious content even more: 57% percent of online adults under age 35 use the Internet for religion.  And it is 48% of those who are 35 to 49 years old.

And even more interesting for church marketers: 27% who don’t attend religious services still use the Web for religious purposes.

If your church doesn’t think it is worth pursing excellence in online communications, check this fact out: 69% of those who attend worship services once a month or more use the Internet for spiritual purposes.  If you don’t want to be missional online, at least recognize that the overwhelming majority of your own community are looking to the web for spiritual content to augment their faith.

Is your church’s current website and online communications strategy something that is intentional or does it ignore these facts about usage?

non-profit giving donor development insights

Some very interesting research was recently published and if you pay attention, the 2012 Millenial Impact Report can be very relevant to your church or non-profit donor development communications efforts.

The intent of the research was to find the best ways to engage the millennial generation for volunteering, donations and involvement in leadership.

Here are just some of the findings that I found really interesting along with personal reactions listed below:

  • 75% of surveyed Millennials made a financial gift to a nonprofit organization in 2011 // Are you still saying giving is down?  No one is in the mood to give these days?  Think again!
  • The typical Millennial supported five organizations in 2011 // This tells us that it definitely makes sense to try and build relationships with this group.  They aren’t putting all their eggs in one basket.   They see a need, they give.
  • By a margin of more than 2-to-1, Millennials who volunteer for nonprofits are more likely to make donations, and survey responses and focus groups comments suggest that volunteering correlates to larger gifts // Are you making volunteers a central part of how you carry out your mission?  Do you have a spot for every person that would want to give their time and talent?
  •  70% of the Millennials participating in the survey said they have raised money on behalf of nonprofits, most often by promoting events or participating in active events // Are you just asking for checks?  Or are you finding ways to create experiences that help engage donors via physical events?
  • Millennials are willing to help raise money for nonprofits they believe in, and will turn first to family and friends for donations // If you can gain the trust and support of this group, they’re willing to carry the torch for you to their personal network
  • 89% of Millennials go first to the web page that describes the mission of the organization // Does your website tell WHY you do what you do?  I’m not talking corporate gobbldy-gook mission statements.  I’m talking good storytelling that shows (not tell), what you do, why and how.
  • The phrase that best describes their giving preferences (42% of respondents): “I give to whatever inspires me at the moment.” // Are you effectively sharing your vision? You are sharing all the great stories of the transformations & impact their donations create large and small?  And vice vesra, whenever you share the small and big wins, are you make it easy for someone to give again?

But I think the biggest idea that can be taken away from this research report is something the organizations I work with are already tired hearing about from me at this point (but I won’t stop saying it again and again!):  You have to continue to chisel away at the gap between when the donation action occurs and when you share what impact their contribution has done.

When someone gives you money, they want to know their donation made an impact, and they want to know it isn’t just a drop in the bucket.  You have to make sure you communicate that every dollar they gave was critical — and share how it was pivotal in doing ____________.  Without their donation, ____________ would not have been possible!

Your job isn’t just to say what words fill that blank space, it is to put it on display.  Tell the story.  Your job is to put the donor as close to the point of impact as possible.

What part of this equation is still a challenge for you?  Describe it in the comments below so we can help you increase your effectiveness.


When you think of church, do you think of a white building with a steeple or do you think movie theater, hotel, or school?

Because we live in a post-Christian culture today, meetings in “third place” are becoming increasingly important so that people who have not grown-up going to church can find a safe, neutral ground to explore faith and spirituality.

  • There are approximately 24,000 trailer-stored churches in the USA and Canada.
  • A 2007 national survey of newly established Protestant churches found that 12% met in schools [source: LifeWay]
  • Acts 29 Network, the Seattle-based evangelical coalition which has started 350 churches in the past five years says about 16% of these meet in school spaces.

my desk at work - workspace environment

Here’s a photo of my current workspace. The environment in which you work is so important since it effects your ability to focus, concentrate, collaborate, and be creative.

Here are some photos of inspiring corporate workspace environments:

Swatch Office

Three Rings Agency
creative workspace

Switzerland Fed Institute of Tech’s Architectural School
Federal Swiss Institute of Tech creative lab space


Open workspace
team collaboration spaces

Need more inspiration? I love this blog with the tag line “this ain’t no disco, it’s where we work” – great photo galleries of creative work environments from around the world.

What does your current workspace look like?  Go ahead and share a photo of it here below with us.  Whether it looks like a tornado hit or if it is a clean as a clean room.  It would be great to see what the current state of your own workspace environment looks like right this minute.

You can upload to instagram, twitpic, flickr, or other photo site and drop a link below.  Or even embed the image in your reply.  Super users can take a video clip and share a tour of your own space. 

The recent post where I shared the 5 questions I sit down and ask and answer myself at the end of each week has been a popular post.  It is encouraging to hear the feedback that you are considering to start the same of simliar praxis.

For me, having a mechanism to regularly check in to increase self-awareness of various milestones I’m going through as well as the potential obstacles and opportunities ahead has been very fruitful.  Some of you have asked to be able to see and read the 5 actual questions I use in my own journal.  I print out a page with multiple copies of the set of 5 questions and then cut them out so they’re accessible whenever I need them.

five questions for your own self-reflection and productivity journal

I just opened up a new 3-pack of  8.5″ x 5.5″ thin journals which I picked-up from Staples.  I love the green color cover and the pocket inside the front cover where I can stash my little cut outs of 5 questions ready to be taped to a new page.  

Journal with pocket

There really is something to putting pen to paper and writing, drawing and listing out various things that are evolving in my head.  And having the prompt at the top of new journal entry is much better than always looking back and trying to remember which question I’m answering on a given page.

tape down the 5 questions and answer!

If you missed the video where I walk through the 5 questions in a bit more detail and what I’m trying to adress with each, check out the original video post here.

BTW, I really love reading your comments and emails and seeing how you keep yourself in check and how some of you are even modifying the questions to suit your own context/niche/industry/needs.  Be sure to leave a comment below!

Do you think a weekly journal check-in is too frequent? Not enough? Or just right?


  • The average person takes 2-3 seconds to decide
  • Clutter is the single biggest enemy that we have (as church marketers).
  • Your name matters more than ever.  Packaging matters more than ever.
  • The platform — the way you deliver the message — becomes just as important as the message itself.

Why am I so passionate about better communications efforts coming out of the Church? Because there’s a cool ending whenever someone really hears Jesus’ story.

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” ~Matthew 4:19 NIV

Video HT: Your Jesus Story

Christian Tweets Engage Better Than Celebrity Tweets

Take your friendly neighborhood christian leader’s tweets and compare them to Hollywood’s pop culture celebrity’s tweets and you’ll apparently find a big difference when it comes to something that’s critical regarding social media:  engagement.  If you look at the top Christian tweeters, you might find something interesting.

Let’s take Andy Stanley from North Point:



The New York Times recently did a comparison of various pop culture celebrities and christian leaders on Twitter and found Andy Stanley had 295 responses per 50,000 followers on Twitter.



 What about Rick Warren?  He’s at 259 responses per 50,000 followers.

Now when you compare them to some of the pop culture celebrities, you get a totally different outcome:



Even with 20 million followers, we have a big whopping 6 responses per 50,000 followers for @KatyPerry



Lady Gaga is doing a little better than Katy.  @LadyGaga drives 19 responses per 50,000 followers on Twitter.

The big gap between christian leaders’ tweets and pop culture “powerhouses” even when you look a bunch more of big tweeters out there.   What’s interesting is that Twitter has seen the data themselves and have hired @Claire, who now runs “social innovation” at Twitter to explicitly reach out to religious leaders in order to get more of them on the platform.

What do you think drives the increased engagement with inspirational tweets from christian leaders across the Twitterverse?  Are you surprised at these numbers?