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Today’s guest post comes from Bill Blankschaen, with whom I recently connected at Seth Godin’s live event in NYC.  He’s a breath of fresh air and definitely someone who understands that we all need to Pick Yourself and start building a Tribe.

Bill BlankschaenBill Blankschaen is a writer, thinker, and speaker who is passionate about connecting real life with real faith. He has served as a church elder, interim pastor, and non-profit leader over the last fifteen years. His dozen years of retail management experience with both small business and big-box retail (Target) combined with his MBA from Case Western Reserve University with a concentration in Non-profit Management give him a unique perspective on ministry issues. He presently serves as the Principal of a successful K4 -12 Christian school near Cleveland, Ohio: www.cca-impact.info


WOW experienceWOW!

Is that the first word on the lips of the typical person who visits your church, engages your non-profit , or encounters your ministry efforts for the first time? It should be. If not, something’s wrong.

Why?

It was the first word everyone used after he or she had an encounter with Jesus. And Jesus knew a thing or two about ministry.

Think about it. An offer to give a drink at a well gets a whole town talking. A request for wedding help behind the scenes gets a miraculous vintage. A plea for an extra shekel receives a fresh set of legs. A tearful call for sympathy produces life reborn as a stone is rolled away. And so it goes.

See if you can find an encounter with Christ that didn’t result in far more than anyone anticipated. Think about how it rocked your world. Now think about how people feel after they first encounter your ministry – a church, a school, a non-profit outreach – any extension of Christ’s call to love your neighbor as yourself. Is “WOW!” the first word used to describe their interaction?

When someone walks away unimpressed by what you’re pouring your life into, it’s usually not about what happened during the encounter. It’s about what didn’t happen. You were boring. Really. Sorry.

Here’s a quick way to make your ministry standout: WOW them – like Jesus did!

1. Jesus blew them away. Not only did he answer the questions they had, he met needs they didn’t even know they had. Think of the woman at the well. She just drifted into his presence. He intentionally engaged her and systematically built the relationship. Who does that today? You do, if you’re smart. Train your team or group members to invest the time.

2. Jesus engaged with bone-deep authenticity. You’ve got to hand it to him. Jesus never faked it. People can detect polite retail manners. Think of your last encounters with cashiers. You know without much thought if they were sincere when they wished you a good day. Authenticity stands out. Be real.

3. Jesus always cast a bigger vision for a brighter future. People asked him for physical needs. He spoke to them about their deeper spiritual needs. And then he met them. When people first encounter your ministry, do they leave still talking about the vision that pulls your organization forward – and how it can change their world? If not, why not? An encounter with Christ always left people buzzing about exciting things to come. Just because you know it doesn’t mean anyone else does.

 

Quit being boring. Get people buzzing. Be like Jesus. Make your ministry stand out by leaving all you encounter with one word to share – WOW!

Where do you think your ministry efforts need to change to better resemble the first impressions Christ left? What ways have you found to be intentional about blowing away expectations?

Leave a comment to share the growth.

 

The viral spread of social media is one of the most obvious indicators of the break-neck pace of cultural change.

For many pastors already trying to cram 25 hours into a single 24 hour day, social media poses a range of dilemmas. . .

Do I use social media at all?

Is it merely a distraction?

Is it a legitimate way to reach and shepherd people?

Am I too enamored with it…or too resistant to change?

Wherever you fall on that spectrum, here are a few thoughts to fuel your pursuit of balanced answers.

Top 5 Reasons Pastors Should NOT Use Social Media:

1. Everybody else is doing it.

There is nothing more miserable then watching someone who isn’t interested in facebook, twitter, or blogging using the social application out of duty or a need to keep up with the guy down the street. They don’t want to use the application and have no plan. They simply throw stuff on the wall and hope it sticks.

If you can’t find an internal and healthy motivation, don’t fake it.

2. Brand “Me”.

In the age of Pastor as entrepreneur/CEO/rock star, it’s worth asking yourself if you are using social media to promote yourself or elevate your own profile.

If your gut tells you this is part of your motive for using social media, don’t do it.

3. Quick Fix.

Just because you’re tweeting, facebooking, and blogging, doesn’t mean all your church problems are solved (i.e. bigger crowds, more baptisms, and more revenue). Social media is not the silver bullet, even for better communication.

While we are at it…there is no silver bullet.

5. Creating Noise.

People don’t care that you almost ran over a squirrel on your commute this morning. Well, maybe the animal lover in your church cares, but you aren’t earning any points there. Be a good steward of your followers’ time. If you are going to post something, make sure it has value (see below). It’s fine (even good) to be whimsical and fun as you develop a sense of what you’re doing. Just don’t let meaningless banter become the norm. People will notice, and you’ll find yourself wasting a lot of time.

If you are just creating noise, don’t do it.

5. Distraction.

This is probably the most important reason you should not use social media. It can be a total time suck. Listen, your congregation (and your social media friends and “followers”) need you to be a lover of God and a shepherd of people.

If social media is just one more thing that will distract you from the things that matter most, don’t do it.


Paul LoylessThis guest post was shared with us by Paul Loyless, the President of d2design (formerly Details Direct). d2design is faith-based church branding organization that excels in helping small churches and church plants communicate clearly.  You can find more of Paul’s thoughts on his blog at: http://blog.d2design.com or on Twitter @d2design

When studying the Word, we’ve come a long way even in the last decade or so as a part of the Google generation.

Information is at our fingertips. The Bible is no different it seems.

Logos is one of the major bible study software platforms out there for pastors, seminarians and others that want to dig deep and utilize all the resources available to study a passage or Biblical topic.

While the Logos Bible Study software package ain’t free, this offer is!

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Check out this video below for what Logos Bible Study sent me to give away to our readers here at Godvertiser.com.

All you have to do is leave a comment here below on this blog post page and let us know what is your preferred Bible translation.

Make sure to fill in your name and email address in the comment form so we can contact you in case you are a winner!

We have 3 of these nifty giveaways totally free from the coolio team at Logos Bible Study — Thanks guys!

Today on the drive to basketball camp, my son started sharing with me some of the stories from yesterday on the court. Since he’s so young and not as many kids his age are enrolled in sports camps at this point, he’s mixed in at the lower end of the age range with some other boys as much as 2-3 years olds than him. A 3-year gap in age makes a difference when you’re that young — in development, maturity and size.

The amazing part was the life lesson that he managed to teach me in the 15 minute drive using just one incident that happened yesterday at camp. It just struck me how similar his message was to a Tim Keller talk I listened to recently on cultural renewal

It is amazing how children and see the world with such clarity. Watch this vlog below where I try to share what I learned.

I guess I have to keep talking to my kids more, don’t I? 🙂

QUESTION: DO YOU SEE YOUR EVERYDAY LIFE AS A CHANCE TO AFFECT CULTURAL RENEWAL WITH YOUR CHRISTIAN IDENTITY?

For many churches, the calendar is driven by the academic year because the ministry has many families with kids involved.  And if that’s the case, we’re right at the point where you’ll be rewind the clock and “start over” with your ministry programming this fall.

Aside from the Sunday School and youth ministries, the other parts of the church might also be preparing for a new small group season or new lay leadership team installations, or new . . .

It might all be “new” but at the same time, it can quickly become “old” and repetitive…just the same old thing over and over again year in and year out!

ministry-rut

I don’t know about you, but when this happens it can quickly lead to paralysis and lifeless leadership on my own part.

But what can you do about it? Well, just sitting there and playing along isn’t going to solve anything!

Here’s some tips — eye-opening ways of approaching your “job” as a pastor or ministry leader to help “unstick” what’s “stuck” for you right now: Continue Reading…

Is there anyone out there that doesn’t take a jab at the Church with a capital “C” regarding technology of the day?

We are living in a 2.0 world and the Church always seems to be struggling just to stay awake and alive in a 1.0 world mode, right?

Well, this is not just a recent phenomena apparently.

That’s right, back in the day, and I mean back in the olden times, the early church had trouble with adopting new technologies too!

Thankfully, the help desk was around back then too though.

Take a look yourself at the video below documenting the upgrade experience from Biblical scrolls to bound books:


QUESTION: WHAT *ONE* AREA OF TECHNOLOGY DO YOU EXPERIENCE THE MOST FRUSTRATION WITHIN CHURCH / MINISTRY LIFE RIGHT NOW?

Sometimes, pastors are pressured to pump out sermons that detail the Scriptures and it ends up becoming a sit and soak extravaganza that only the pastor is paying attention to.

Although the average sermon length is now at about 15 minutes these days, sometimes, even that is too much.

Once in awhile you come across a way of doing things that is just refreshing, inspiring and attention-grabbing. And you don’t need more than 90 seconds to do it apparently!

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This is what Tamara Lowe, an international motivational speaker, who happens to be a Christ follower displayed when sharing her version of the Gospel.

Check out how she tells the story and I’m sure you’ll crack a smile along they way.  It has been dubbed the “one minute sermon” . . . Continue Reading…

The economy is having a hard time rebooting itself. . .
Everyone is struggling more than ever. . .
Does the church have any responsibility to address these economic issues?
It’s one thing to promote better financial planning but what about when the church starts to hand out cold hard cash each week, right?

Check out this story where one pastor has decided to reverse the offering plate in order to bring more people into the sanctuary:

Now, while this church is relying on this tactic as a fundamental church marketing tactic, some other churches do one-time giveaways while trying to tie it into a Biblical message.

But what if the size of the church giveaway becomes outrageous? Does this make a difference?

QUESTION: WHAT MAKES GIVING AWAY FREE STUFF AT A WORSHIP SERVICE OK OR NOT?

It’s summertime, and for some that means a breath of fresh air and a chance to pick-up a book or two.  I recently asked a colleague of mine, Benjamin White who is a part of Circle of Hope to share one of his recent reading list selections with us.  His take on Karl Barth’s sermon collection, Deliverance To Captives,  gives it respect, but doesn’t default to just sycophantic praise.  While so many pastors and seminary students are drawn to Church Dogmatics and other Barth works, sometimes the best way to get to know someone is through the experience of sermonic listening (or reading!).  Enjoy Ben’s book review. . .


Barth writes just seven sentences in the “remarks” he says suffice as an introduction to this collection of sermons.  The sermons were preached primarily in the Prison of Basel in Switzerland to what Martin Schwarz, the chaplain of the prison, in his addition to Barth’s introduction called a “critical, presumably even not very ‘Christian” audience.  Barth served as occasional guest preacher between 1954 and 1959.

deliverance-to-the-captives-karl-barthThe title, Deliverance of the Captives, obviously speaks to the state of the audience.  They are literally captives, but Barth recognizes and preaches that we are all captives to our sin and broken humanity.  The nature of his audience at the Prison of Basel serves as a parable for all of us and warrants publication.  The gospel message of deliverance from captivity is just as needed within the prison walls as without.  Barth’s preaching to these men in this particular circumstance serves as a sign to all.  We are called to preach deliverance to the captives so Barth went to the captives and proclaimed a message that goes beyond the realm of physical captivity.  If these men may be freed, so may we all in Christ Jesus our Lord. . . Continue Reading…

I’m sure that your church was a welcome committee or team. . . A group of folks that keep an eye out for new visitors that walk in the door on Sunday mornings.  Greeters, ushers, connection card collectors, etc.

Some churches just wait for people to come, relying upon the building to do all the work as people drive by and take note that the church exists.

But some churches do intentional work to attract new visitors.  While that subject is large enough for a blog post series on its own, this post is about sharing the way(s) in which your church attracts new visitors . . . to your website.

attract-visitors

What are some of the methods you use to get new people to visit your website?

. . .which paid resources are worth it?

. . .which were filled with hopes and promises but were a complete waste of money (not to mention time)?

. . .do you have any free / unpaid suggestions for churches to attract more church website visitors?

QUESTION: Would you share one idea or tactic that you have used to gain more church website visitors? Please share your ideas below in the comments section.