Archives For Communication

Tips to Improve Your Sermon Preparation

One of the ways I prepare for sermons is by constantly collecting content—things like news stories or statistics that might make a good illustration, anecdotes and quotes, and Bible verses based on a common theme.

I usually start collecting this stuff months or even years before I ever write the sermon. This kind of collecting is one of the most underrated habits of great preachers. We can learn from them by always being on the lookout for things that will help us develop future sermons.

I’ll give you an example of what I mean. A few years ago, I preached a sermon series on Psalm 23. It turned out to be a great evangelistic series. In fact, 446 people gave their lives to Christ during the seven-week series. But here’s the thing: I started collecting material on Psalm 23 back when I was in college! And so when it came time to preach this series, I had a huge file of information to draw on. I’d been thinking about the topics in Psalm 23 for years, so I don’t believe it was accidental that God used the series…

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4 Things That Matter Most in Holiday Giving Campaigns

You’ll hear one word more than any other during the holiday season.

I’d like to say that word is Jesus or Gospel or even gratefulness. But it’s not.

The most popular word, by far, is gift. Everyone wants to talk about gifts they’re giving or gifts they’re getting. It’s not just a national obsession. It’s a global one. We spend at least a month—and these days, likely two months—in a mad dash to find the right gifts.

Many people think that the idea of giving gifts at Christmas began with the wise men bringing their presents to the Baby Jesus. It does begin in the Bible, but it isn’t the wise men who gave the first Christmas gift.

It was God himself.

The most famous verse in the Bible says it like this: “God loved the people of this world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who has faith in him will have eternal life and never really die” (John 3:16 CEV).

Jesus was the original Christmas gift. God loved us so much that he gave.

That’s why it’s natural to encourage people to give to ministry…

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6 Ways to Prevent Vision Drift in Your Church

Your most important job as a church leader isn’t to hire and fire. It isn’t to manage a budget. It isn’t to mentor younger leaders. It’s not even to preach.

All of those tasks are important. They’re part of what you do as a church leader.

But your main job as a leader is to remind your congregation continually of your church’s vision. Everything else you can delegate. You can’t delegate vision.

Proverbs says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” You have a lot riding on the vision you communicate to your church.

Communicating vision get harder and harder—and much more important—as your church grows. I saw this firsthand at Saddleback. If you’ve heard the story of Saddleback, you know I shared a vision for the future of the church during our trial run, a week before our official launch.

At first, it was relatively easy to keep the church focused on the vision. When we were small, the only people who came were non-Christians. They had zero expectations about what church should be like. All they knew was Saddleback. We didn’t have a children’s ministry, a youth…

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Share With Newcomers These Six Reasons to Get Plugged In

The difference between being a church attender and a church member is commitment.

Attenders are spectators from the sidelines; members get involved in the ministry. Attenders are consumers; members are contributors. Attenders want the benefits of a church without sharing the responsibility.

One of the biggest hurdles you will face as a church leader is convincing attenders they need to commit to their church family and become members. Today’s culture of independent individualism has created many spiritual orphans without any identity, accountability, or commitment.

God is not silent on this issue. The Bible offers many compelling reasons why every believer needs to be committed to and active in a local fellowship.

1. A church family identifies you as a genuine believer.

I can’t claim to be following Christ if I’m not committed to any specific group of disciples. Jesus said,“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples” (John 13:35 NLT).

When we come together in love as a church family from different backgrounds, races, and social statuses, it is a witness to the world. No one believer can be the body…

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Project

As a pastor, you need to be able to put together projects efficiently and effectively. Whether you are starting a new church, planning a new ministry, opening a new building, or just preparing for next weekend’s services, you need to mobilize people around a common task. That’s leadership in a nutshell.

When Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem to help rebuild the city’s wall, he had a monster project on his hands. How he tackled that project provides us with seven key principles for getting things done.

1. The Principle of Simplification

Nehemiah kept his plan simple. He didn’t randomly assign jobs, he didn’t create a whole new organization, and he didn’t force any complex charts.

He organized around groups already associating together, such as the priests, the men of Jericho, and the sons of Hassenaah. The point is: Don’t create an organization if you don’t need it. If an organization already naturally exists, try to work through it and with it.

Sometimes a new leader comes into a situation, and the first thing he does is start changing the whole organization. Think: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Strong organizations are often the simplest ones.

2. The Principle of…

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Bible and Marketing

Okay, content marketing might be a new term for you. Here’s a definition from Joe Pulizzi, Founder of the Content Marketing Institute:

“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Two Observations About the Church and Content Marketing

Let me make two observations about the relationship between the church and content marketing.

First, I believe that the church was the first great content marketing institution. How do I know? As I pointed out in my book, Rewired, the early church used papyrus for publishing, the Roman roads for traveling, and the Greek language (almost universally used for written communication) to get the Good News about Jesus out to the ends of the earth.

Then, the church used the printing press to distribute Bibles. The Bible was the first book printed, and is the most widely published book in history for a reason.

My second observation isn’t quite so positive… we’ve fallen behind.

Where once the church was innovative in finding new means of spreading the gospel, now we’re skeptical of technology, scared to engage the…

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Website

The world of website development has come so far that there’s very little you can’t do online these days. But in spite of the progress – including easy to build websites – churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations still struggle getting their websites to accomplish their goals. Sometimes it’s an expectation problem (because after all, they don’t teach website development in seminary or Bible college) and sometimes it’s a lack of good advice. Either way, I decided to create a baseline list of what your website should be able to do. And if it doesn’t, you need to have a serious talk with your in-house webmaster or your outside vendor.

1) Your website should work. Sure there are times when sites or servers have issues, but they should be few and far between. If your site malfunctions on a regular basis, something is wrong. Don’t allow your webmaster or outside vendor to make excuses. If they can’t get it running smoothly on a regular basis, it’s time to look for another vendor.

2) You should be able to manage it in-house. With the exception of major design or technical changes,…

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Facebook Like

I will never forget that one Sunday. We were launching a new message series called “Healing.” It was all about how Jesus’ Beatitudes are the ultimate pathway for recovery. We spent about $200 sponsoring a video advertising the series during the week leading up to the first Sunday.

The results? We had 74 first-time guests, and, literally, all of them indicated on their communication cards that Facebook was how they’d heard about us.

Two young ladies who had come because of the ad told me after the service that they were heading out to a party the night before, and our ad caught their eye. They decided to attend our services that morning, and both of them prayed to receive Christ.

That was $40,000 well spent. Let me clarify a few details about that amount . . .

  • It was actually Facebook AND Instagram.
  • It was over five years, not all at once.
  • It was, literally, our entire advertising budget for five years.
  • It has worked! Very well, in fact.

But that’s not all. Theirs isn’t the only story. We now see about 400 to 450 people gathering each week, and a majority of them have actually…

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Church communication is both art and science. You can use spreadsheets, but you also need finesse.

You can print bulletins, but few people will read them. You can use social media but few people will see the updates. You can send email but a majority won’t see it in their inboxes. You can even print a newsletter and use snail mail to send it, but why in the world would you?

Church communication leaders and church staff members hear it all the time: “I didn’t know that was happening.”

I’ve been a pastor for 20 years and I’ve been designing church websites for 15 years. I’ve worked in church communications for over a decade and in the last five years, I’ve watched our church plant grow from two families to 500 or so regular attenders.

We still struggle with all of the same questions every church leader has about keeping people informed:

  • What gets announced from the stage?
  • What gets put in the bulletin?
  • What gets posted on social media?
  • What gets passed along via email?
  • Who is in charge of all of that?

Signal-to-Noise

This matters so much because people are constantly being bombarded with noise. From work,…

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Communication

Most organizational communication problems are really something else.

Here are a few examples:

My friend Kaleigh is a freelance copywriter. Business owners routinely hire her to write their About Us webpages and their Core Values. She often has to make the content up from scratch . . .

. . . because they need her to tell them who they should be since they don’t know.

I once attended a church and regularly heard the leaders complain that people wouldn’t sign up for small groups. Every Sunday they announced Men’s and Women’s Bible Studies and special classes and events for young adults. People signed up for those things . . .

. . . because that’s what sounded important and fun.

When I worked in corporate PR, I had a well-known technology company on retainer. About once a month, my team and I were asked to write a press release and pitch journalists…

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There is no doubt that social media is having a huge impact on churches’ ability to reach and influence culture. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities church leaders face is whether or not they should be active on social media. If you are in leadership at any kind of level reading this I want to tell you that you should absolutely be actively participating on social media.

I’m not talking about your church social media feed. I’m talking to you personally. You should absolutely be active, interacting and present.

Why?

When you leverage social media well, you have the potential and capacity to reach many more people online as compared to those who may attend your church. Not just those in the wider Christian community, but you will reach more people who don’t even attend church. Most church leaders dream about being able connect and communicate with the wider community so simply and directly.

Is it your dream that you could impact and connect with your wider community? If it is I want to share with you seven steps that will help you reach people more than ever before.

1. Imagine the average person in your community that doesn’t…

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In ministry, some things must never change, but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his Church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing.

For instance, when I first started Saddleback Church, fresh out of Southwestern Seminary, computers were in their infancy, slow and cumbersome and capable of very limited functions. The Internet was just a crude academic network and nobody had even heard of email. Now I often sit in my pajamas and have conversations with people across the globe.

In addition, you can get on a plane and within a few hours fly to almost anywhere in the world, and that means there’s even less of an excuse for not being involved in foreign missions, even if just for the short-term. The times, they are a-changing, and they’ll keep right on a-changing whether we want them to or not.

And…

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