Archives For Communication

FB AdsGod invented social media, so church, you ought to use it! Nonprofits who hope to change the world? You too! I’ve written plenty about the theory and philosophy behind using social media. In fact, I wrote a whole book about using social media to spread the gospel and I wrote it to lay a foundation.

Today, I’m shooting from the hip and offering some practical, do-able tips for using social media on the ground. These are based on my observations of what I’ve seen work, what I’ve seen done poorly, and what I believe is on the horizon. So…

  1. Define the why. Don’t just engage because it’s cool. Engage because it matters. For eternity.
  2. Define the who. Who are your audiences (and you will have more than one).
  3. Determine your strategy. Don’t try to do everything, but definitely don’t do nothing (I know…).
  4. Value communications and creativity. It’s not a little thing on the side. Everything you do is communications.
  5. Start. Sign up…

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Finding your authentic voice in social media isn’t that different from traditional media. I had a client once who was a TV host. The problem was, as soon as the red light came on the camera, he became a completely different person. His voice got deeper. His style became bigger. He was more over the top. The problem was – that wasn’t him. Even his friends would tell him, “Stop using your TV voice.” But many of us do the same thing on social media. We try to project authority, sound more spiritual, or generally be someone we’re not. Remember my age-old branding advice – a brand isn’t about becoming something (or someone) else, it’s about discovering who you really are. So with that in mind – here’s my advice about finding the real you on social media:

1) Don’t say things on social media you wouldn’t say to someone face to face.   I have a friend that suddenly becomes totally “spiritual” on social media. He blurts out cheesy cornball Christian sayings he’d never actually say to anyone face to face. Others become hyper political, or try to be overly inspiring. If…

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TargetIn the book “Extreme: Why Some People Thrive at the Limits,” writers Emma Barrett and Paul Martin explore what makes thrill seekers get such a rush from being out on the edge. “Brain imaging studies,” they write “have found that risk seeking behavior is preceded by activity in the region of the brain associated with the anticipation of pleasurable experiences like sex, drug taking, and monetary gain.” In other words, situations that would be terrifying to us, are pleasurable to them. As a result, they don’t understand the kind of fear, insecurity, and intimidation most of us experience. The book is filled with stories of people who have gone beyond what we normally think human beings are capable of, but in their list of attributes of thrill seekers, two things stood out:

Resilience and Single Mindedness.

The biggest reason people who most people would call crazy are still alive is that far from being impulsive or easy to panic, they are actually control freaks.  The writers list many of the keys to their success, including planning and preparation (rehearsing for catastrophe), experience, and methodical thinking. They’re not really risk TAKERS, they’re…

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2014I’ve loved 2014. It’s been crazy busy, but there’s also been a sweet rhythm to life. I haven’t blogged as regularly as I have in past years, but my posts have often been longer, more article-length, and at least half of this year’s top ten are actually the top ten of all time (and this is my tenth year blogging). Without further delay, here were the best button-pushing, attention-garnering articles I wrote for pastors and ministry leaders this year.

10. The Truth of the Bible Still Matters, And It Always Will

This has been a bit of a roller coaster year in American culture, from the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case to the various gay marriage cases heard. In the middle of that chaos, I felt a calm assurance because of a decision I made when I started my ministry at age eighteen – to accept the Bible as God’s perfect Word.

Regardless of the outcomes of these and other controversies, I will still carry a Bible in which I completely trust. I believe it to be timeless truth as a whole and in all of its parts. Therefore, I have an absolute…

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These days, I think the song “Jingle Bells” might start like this:

“Dashing through the snow with a high-def touchscreen display, all the fields we go, tweeting and texting all the way. Bells on smartphones ring, making bandwidth bright, what fun it is to stare and cling to a virtual world tonight…”

Silver bells, tinsel and mistletoe are being replaced with smartphones, tablets, computers and social media. Our youth are catching on to the technology-driven era at younger and younger ages. They pay more attention to screens than people. In fact, one toy maker is even rolling out a bouncy seat for infants with a built-in iPad holder. My co-worker told me his 2-year-old daughter toddled up to the TV to try and swipe it like an iPad. Another father in my office said his 18-month daughter knows how to unlock and navigate his smartphone.

A new study, conducted by the Common Sense Media group, reported 72% of children ages 8 and younger have used a mobile device with 17% using the device daily.

When Jesus said to “Let the children come to me,” I doubt he intended to give a slideshow from a mobile device with wi-fi.

Technology…

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AttackThere’s no question that the Internet has brought Christianity many wonderful things. Today we have online education available to virtually everyone, social media that encourages people to support great causes, and online communication tools that allow us to connect from the four corners of the earth. But it’s also created something I believe is tearing at the very fabric of our faith. It’s created a culture of attack.

Rarely does a day go by that Christian news sites, social media streams, and other web platforms feature some Christian “correcting” another Christian – and calling them out by name. It can range from arguments over worship music, to theological squabbles, to disagreements over ministry styles, to charges of outright heresy, and the barrage of criticism has grown exponentially. While there are qualified theologians, pastors, and other leaders we should respect and listen to, there’s also a tsunami of armchair theologians, angry ex-church members, and wannabes who are convinced their criticism du jour needs to be shared.

Aside from feeling comfortable “correcting” a brother or sister publicly when we’ve never met the person, or know little about the background of what we’re criticizing, a significant…

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CameraEveryone talks about “passion” these days, and truthfully, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s always better to be emotionally plugged into projects and excited about the possibilities. But these days, it seems that people talk about passion a lot, but they don’t see the importance of preparation. For instance, you’d be amazed at the number of people who call our office hoping I can introduce them to a literary agent – except for the small fact that they haven’t actually written a book yet. The other day someone asked me to introduce him to a movie studio executive so he could pitch his idea, but the caller has never actually worked in the movie industry, written a screenplay, or know anything about the business.

I literally get hundreds of calls from people who want to speak at conferences. But they’ve never volunteered at a conference, met the people in the background, or taken the time to learn by speaking at smaller, less important events. Others want to teach at a university but haven’t taken the time to get a graduate degree. The list goes on and on…

Surgeons don’t get into an operating room…

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SpeakingEvery day, someone in America is committing career suicide. But it’s not with a gun or even drugs – it’s with a podium. Respected men and women – often excellent leaders and employees – but who end up dying a horrible death in front of an audience – usually at an industry conference, corporate meeting, or workshop.  It doesn’t take a CSI officer from the crime lab to analyze the evidence from the scene. It can easily be found in an audience filled with people nodding off to sleep, checking their e-mail, mumbling to themselves, or finding excuses to leave early.

The truth is, most speaker mistakes could easily be solved with a few easy steps – keys that only take a short time to learn, but could literally catapult your speaking career to an entirely new level.  So if you’re preparing for an upcoming conference or workshop, or know someone who is, look over this list carefully.

…It might save you from the dreaded “ECH” (Early Career Humiliation).

Workshop Titles:

1. Titles are critically important for their advertising and promotional value, so I suggest you make it “sexy” but not “cute.” “Sexy” simply means…

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Creative GeniusThe “lone wolf” theory of creativity (usually an artist struggling alone) has always been the romantic ideal, but is it true? We look to artistic geniuses throughout history and naturally think that real creativity happens in isolation. But as more and more research and historical information comes to light, the lone wolf theory just isn’t holding up. As Peter Bart from Variety Magazine recently pointed out: “Most creative breakthroughs, recent studies point out, are the products of teams of artists.”

For instance, we know that great painters throughout history often worked with teams. Elizabethan Theater – even Shakespeare – reflected the greater efforts of teams of writers and re-writers. Records from the era record payments to multiple writers for the same play. The history of Hollywood is the story of teams of writers, producers, and other creatives working as teams. If you look at musical theater, you see legends like Rogers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe.

Steve Jobs had a co-founder, and although he had a powerful and compelling vision, he always surrounded himself with an incredibly talented team. In fact, it’s fascinating to track all the other innovations former Apple…

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MegaphoneAfter taking LifeWay Christian Stores through a vision process, I not only shop there often, I go with a different mindset. Their mission is passionately engaging believers on their journey of faith. The big idea is to be an oasis-outfitter. A place that feels at the same time like a refreshing oasis and an REI outfitter, for your spiritual life.

Because I’m a father to Abby, my 15-year old daughter, I recently  picked up a new piece of equipment: a book by Kate Conner titled,  Enough: 10 Things we Should be Telling our Teenage Girls.

Here is a takeaway that I think brings immediate value to any Christian using social media.

ONE PRINCIPLE

Conner argues that the answer to problems with social media don’t center around removing social media itself. Rather it involves the commitment to:

Take the good, leave the rest.

She cites 1 Thess. 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Here is where her words grabbed me:

  • Take the enjoyment, leave the addiction
  • Take the communication, leave the isolation
  • Take the inspiration and leave the jealously

Good stuff. And remember what Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able…

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Social NetworkingI’ve been a fan of social media for as long as it’s been around.

There are the voices out there that complain about how it separates us from each other or makes us narcissistic or zombies as we do nothing but stare at our screens. And there are truths to each one of those complaints. Social media, like most things, can be used in a negative way.

But it can also be a tool for some really positive things as well. There are many ways we can use it to expand the Kingdom of God, and I’m constantly trying to learn how to make better use of it.

Something I find so interesting about social media is how it is an accurate reflection of how our flesh-and-blood world works. Things that happen in social media land are not so different from things that happen in our real lives.

Because of that, there are a lot of lessons about life we can apply to social media, and a lot of lessons we can learn from social media that can be applied to our lives!

So here are a few lessons I’ve been collecting about social media…

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Everything Is CommunicationI first read The Purpose Driven Church around 1998 and began to implement some of the core ideas of the book. Somewhere along the way, Christian leaders began to re-interpret Rick Warren’s ideas and reduce the idea of being a purpose driven church down to a seeker-sensitive style of worship and nothing more. But being a purpose driven church is really about having an intentional process for disciple-making.

This disciple-making process is rather simple. Bring your community into your weekend crowd. Help the crowd become part of your congregation. Move the congregation to be committed, and turn the committed into a core. And as your core adopts the mission, vision, and values, they reach the community and the cycle repeats. So it’s a matter of moving people into church membership, into spiritual maturity, into ministry, and into mission.

Church communications is an area of special interest to me and a vital part of any church’s strategy for reaching our current culture. And in a purpose driven paradigm, we need to think about how we communicate in a well-rounded fashion to strengthen the process of disciple-making. We tend to think about church communications as design, marketing,…

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