Archives For Church

I’m excited to share a little project that I’m involved with at Liquid Church of New Jersey — through which we’re hopeing to bring a little joy to the world this Christmas Eve.

How — you ask?

How about by organizing the world’s first virtual Christmas choir made up of singers from around the world wide web.

Whether they’re soldiers in the Middle East, moms in Estonia or students in Phoenix, Arizona, the church will leverage technology to synchronize individual singers into a unified choir rendition of Silent Night.

The sermon message for Christmas eve will touch upon how the body of Christ can come together as one voiceAnd so this project is a nice tie-in to the message while providing something fresh at Christmas.


The project actually arose from the fact that Liquid not only has over 2,000 people who attend our church services each week, but thousands more come to church online or download any of the hundreds of podcast files each month.  One question that we asked ourselves was: How do we increase interactivity and sharability at the same time?  Well, a guy named Eric Whitacre recently presented at TED about a virtual choir he assembled by harnessing the connectivity of the web.

And in a simliar way, we decided to ask our people at our campuses and across the web to help spread the Christmas cheer together this year with us by getting involved.

Singers are given access to sheet music, music tracks and a video-recorded conductor so that anyone can record and upload their contribution to YouTube. Liquid Church’s media team will then assemble a composite video production that integrates all of the individual videos into one large-scale synchronized video rendering for the Christmas Virtual Choir.

Participation in the Christmas Virtual Choir is open to everyone around the globe.  And it’s easy-peasy.  Here’s my own video submission for the Silent Night song:

The deadline for those who want to participate in the choir is December 15th. Instructions are available at

The Christmas Virtual Choir’s performance will occur at six live Christmas Eve services in New Jersey on December 24th held by Liquid Church as well as church online services that weekend.


For the 10th Anniversary of 9/11, Liquid Church commissioned a new song by songwriter/singer Dave Pettigrew. Its called “There Is Hope”

You can find the lyrics and free mp3 download form on the Liquid website here.

The song itself received great exposure, making its way to Sirius/XM Sattelite Radio and beyond. Some of the feedback the song received was amazing. It has touched a lot of hearts and helped in healing for many that have heard it to date.

Now, the song has lived on beyond September and has broken into the Top 50 at Would you help the song reach more people by clicking a few clicks and vote up the song?

Here’s exactly how to do it:

Music is such a big part of people’s lives and it takes on meaning of its own for many of them. Seeing the journey that this one song has taken is been wonderful. This is just one of the innovative ways we are trying to reach more people outside the walls of the church, and it seems to be working.

Do you have a song that has been meaningful in your life? Would you share your story with a comment below?

In 10 days, we’ll arrive at the 10th Anniversary of 9/11. I don’t think many people have thought about it much yet. Here in NJ, we just got through a mini-earthquake, Hurricane Irene and still struggling without power or flooded main streets.

But it’s been 10 years. Yup 10. Many of us are still living like it happened just recently.

While the Gospel is not patriotic to our red white and blue stripes, there is a call to attend to the healing that is still going on. And it’s not just “our people” in the pews every week. This is one event, may I say especially in the northeast, if not NYC Tri-State Area, where 9/11 touched almost every family personally or via someone they know.

September 11 Memorial Services in New Jersey

Most communities and churches are planning to do something on that date in this country. The question is just who are you trying to remember, and re-unite? This seems to be one of the rare opportunities where the church has the chance to be in a position of leadership within the public square — isn’t this when we can reveal the beacon of light on a hill that we have found in our faith?

Liquid Church is trying to embrace the widest definition of that word “community” and trying to reach out to anyone that wants to walk in the door that Sunday morning, planning six different memorial services for 9/11 in three NJ cities, geographically located in three different counties. The intention is to provide a meaningful way for people to gather and bring loved ones with them to hear a message that, perhaps, only the church can share: hope is something we have to hold onto, even in the darkest hours of our time together here.

I think many churches tend to limit themselves in thinking that by default, they don’t have a chance to the attract *everyone* in a given community to their programs and outreach events. But if we start with such a self-defeating posture, what chance do we really have for a really big win?

This doesn’t mean you have to hype it up and be all splashy in order to gain the the broadest reach, of course. Here’s one creative way that this might be expressed. . .

Since so much of our generation is almost surgically tied to our iPods, and iPhones, music has become a powerful and meaningful way of expression and common experience. American Idol has shown us a little bit of this.

One example of trying to reach outside the normal boundaries that church signals reach is a project that was hatched this past year. Here’s a video that was created to accompany a new song titled, “There is Hope” by Dave Pettigrew. (You can download it for yourself here.)

With music, it seems that there might be less friction for word of mouth to happen. In addition, the spread-factor takes an entirely different route as well. Here’s the song being shared right now:

As you can tell, this message of hope is also something that comes across well via songwriting medium. Hopefully it is one additional means to reach someone that may not normally be in proximity to or responsive to typical communications messaging from churches, but really needs to hear it. Do you see how in this one instance, trying to reach someone on their own terms and inviting them into the fold this way is at the same time — expanding the boundaries of what we might envision the total potential *community* we can engage with?

Is this the message that your church is prepared to send out during this time of need and gathering? If not, where are you going with your 9/11 Sunday message this year?

Hurricane Irene stole the stage this weekend as everyone and everything was mobilized on account of the incoming storm of the decade.

New York subways, mass transit, airports, etc have all been shut down. Even Redeemer Presbyterian Church cancelled Sunday services on the East Side and West Side.

Many, many churches cancelled services this weekend. The only services that were left untouched seemed to be the 160+ Internet Churches including Liquid Church Online and That’s where I personally plan to go to worship with others in community this weekend.

But Tim Keller’s congregation wasn’t left high and dry with this storm in town. Irene might be able to shut a lot of things down, but apparently not so for heralds of the text. . .

Redeemer church published their worship bulletin as well as a free mp3 download of Tim Keller’s sermon, LORD OF THE STORM.

If you are stranded, cooped up inside, or just able to take in a great sermon message, CLICK HERE to download the timely sermon message where Tim Keller preaches from the Book of Luke.

It’s Good Friday. And Sunday’s Coming.

Tim Keller put this weekend all in perspective: “Easter means that Christmas worked.”

Now that’s something to be happy about. 90 percent of people who celebrate Easter buy chocolate. You know those 90% of the people know there’s an upswing to all of this.

Perhaps the 10% that ain’t buying no chocolate need to hear a specific message that is imprinted in my mind every year when Good Friday comes around. . .

Tony Campolo’s famous “It’s Friday” sermon is a classic, and it just makes you wanna shout in response, doesn’t it?


This weekend, I’m excited about being on the top floor of 7 World Trade Center.

It has a spectacular view in a totally green building — the first to go up amongst the WTC buildings.  When you are there, you can see up, out and down all around you when you are peering out the ceiling to floor windows.

But the view that I’m more excited about is regarding the discussions and activity that’s going to be going on at Redeemer‘s Entrepreneurship Initiative 2011 Forum conference — carving out a collaborative vision for what gospel entrepreneurship looks like on a practical basis.

It is always refreshing and at the same time challenging to hear  Tim Keller share his theological vantage point and then interact with others marketplace practitioners about how we are to go about faith and work integration.

I’ve been asked to help lead a session on social media for non-profits and for-profit organizations on Saturday — so glad that Guy Richards of Abiah will be my co-pilot so that we can both share case examples of social media in action.

I’m looking forward to reviewing with the group some of my own approaches to digital engagement across the web — including the Five C’s for Social Media Success framework I’ve been developing through my client work over the last couple of years.

If there’s enough interest, I’m willing to walk through the presentation again online via a webinar. Just drop a comment here if you’d be interested in hearing what I have to share.

QR codes are those 2D square black and white bar codes that are popping up in different places.  First they were used in manufacturing and UPS started using them for tracking of packages before they were embraced by the retail & marketing community.

Now you’ll find them on posters, brochures, and stickers. . . These days, they are popping up in printed materials of various church communications.  You probably have seen one — since over 50% of the population supposedly has seen or knows what a QR code is at this point.

The big question is are we at the tipping point yet for QR code adoption? Or is this just a passing fad?

Are the ones using QR codes right now trying to force geeky hipness into daily routines while there is still some notable friction in using them?

Well, according to a couple of recent studies, it isn’t so clear.  Here’s two specific data points that might make you think again about QR codes:

Less than 1/3 of people have actually scanned in a QR code.  28%.  Yup, that’s it.  That’s not a huge percentage of people.

And if you look at the actual usage patterns of people who do scan QR codes, the data is not in favor of this hip tech trend amongst communicators to use it.  After all the native cell phone camera applications don’t recognize QR codes yet.  You have to proactively download a QR code reader, launch it and then scan the code.  This can take a couple of minutes and in all that time, you have no idea what you’ll find once the QR code is decoded by your app.  Is it a promo code?  A website?  A call to action?  Just another big fat advertisement?

The other practical downside is that you have to remember — while QR codes are small, they are usually placed in what is typically considered valuable real estate on the actual marketing collateral piece.  Is it worth utilizing such precious space for something that most people who see it won’t actually use?

That said, it really depends on the audience whether or not it is useful.  In a way, the church community is one place where adoption could be successful if you are intentional about both promotion of QR codes as well as what is delivered to the audience once it is scanned.   Because the church assembles on a regular basis, and there’s recurring publications (like the bulletin!) that are published, QR codes do lend itself to this type of environment where once you expose and train people to use it once, the chances of long-term adoption are high.

Paul Steinbrueck over at suggestions 10 different ways for ministries to integrate QR codes into their communications practices.  One of my favorites from the list is #3 – where you use QR codes to link to media offerings that delve deeper into the subject of the sermon, or offer sermon notes or recordings for on-demand playback.  The other one worth considering is integrating them into event invitations so that they are easily passed along and the landing page has details, maps, directions for the event you are promoting.

QUESTION: Have you EVER scanned a QR code?  When was the last time you actually spotted one?

In this time of crisis for the people of Japan, due to the March 2011 8.9 scale earthquake, tsunami, fear of a nuclear meltdown event and more, prayers are being offered up for the country.

But as Japan continues to be one of the most “Christ-less” countries today, Tim Keller points out that Christian brothers and sisters around the world might see a greater need beyond the physical and natural destruction that has happened in Japan just this week.

Check out this short video as Dr. Keller mentions some of the factors one may not immediately think about regarding bringing the Church to the country of Japan:

He makes a great case for the strategic influence of Tokyo, but also points out the spiritual need in Tokyo and the country. 

Here is another video from a church planting group (Mustard Seed) that helps further paint the picture of that neediness Keller speaks about:

One of the biggest concepts we’ve covered already is that social media is here to stay.  The Church cannot ignore this growing part of any given individual’s daily routine.  Your people are using social networks to manage and grow their relationships right now.

The question then becomes, how do you integrate social media technologies and frameworks into the social fabric of the church or ministry?  Is it too early to try and adapt or integrate the social web into how we do church?

The answer is a clear no, it’s not too early.  In fact, the time is ripe to seriously embrace social media into the relationship and communications flow of your community.  And there are a bunch of options available that are ministry specific so that you don’t have to cobble together your own solution if you don’t want to.

Here’s one example: the Table Project. It’s a non-profit ministry group that is producing a robust, customizable social networking platform specific to churches. Take a look at this overview that covers the philosophy/approach to TableProject:

This video above leaves you wanting for a peek at the actual nitty gritty of the TableProject experience for users, right?

Here’s just one example of how the TableProject is utilizing mainstream social web assets so that users don’t have to adopt another entirely new social networking platform.  Your community members already know how to use these features, they’re comfortable with them, and by taking this approach, TableProject aims squarely at the problem of  adoption and usage uptake for any new system.

One of the strengths of this entry into the social networking platforms for churches market is how it integrates 3rd party sites and content. For example, you’ll find fluid use of Facebook, Twitter, blog RSS feeds, and other web apps.

Here’s another video covering some of the basic features inside the platform:

It’s not open source, but it’s free (for now). It’s certainly an interesting platform to consider for most ministries.

The question to ask would be just how customizable is it — especially for larger 1000+ person communities that usually need more tailoring to their communities’ needs in managing groups, sub-groups, etc.

QUESTION: Are you encouraged or discouraged after seeing potential solutions like TableProject?

My friend Joe just hit me up with an interesting factoid and corresponding question.

Now the answer to the question really depends on the posture of your ministry, in my humble opinion. . .

But first, the factoid, and then the question:

Did you know if one spends $100 on small business, that local community gets $68 back?

That factoid makes a compelling argument to spend your money in the local mom and pop shops around town.

So, here’s the big question for our church and ministry leaders:

If one gives to the church $100, how much would go back to your local community? (Feel free to define “local community” as it applies to the church)

What a challenge to ministry leaders to think in this kind of ROI context!  Some of the tough questions that serve as a reality check immediately pop into my mind:

  • What type of impact are you having within the local community?
  • Are you actually engaged with more than just your regular attenders and members?
  • Have you reached out to your civic leaders?  Schools?  Community-wide events?
  • What percentage of your ministry budget is directed toward your building? Or your staff?  Now, how much is spent on local outreach?  Are you at the right balance?
  • While you might be proud of your missionary support activities, how are you doing with the mission field in your zip code?

What IF you could claim a noteworthy ROI for the church?  What would it do in terms of getting people notice your ministry and how you are going about loving your neighbors?

Did you know if one spends $100 on small business, that local community gets $68 back?

So, if one gives to the church $100, how much would go back to the church’s local community? (Feel free to define “local community” as it applies to the church)

Just wondering…