Archives For Communication

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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Once churches discovered the value of video, the multi-site and satellite campus model went from a handful of mega churches to tens of thousands of churches. With this explosion of multi-site churches, a separate venue utilized as another service style option – or even just a simple way to make more room –  has also been gaining popularity on existing church campuses. In both cases, I have found that there are 4 types of church video venues. For churches considering video venues or multi-site campuses, I am presenting these 4 types of video venues as helpful research that looks beyond the venue to the technology and logistics required for effective services.

Type 1 – Overflow Video Venue

Growing churches will find themselves running out of space in their main meeting venue. A seemingly simple step is to open up another part of the facility, run a video and audio cable to the room and fire up a projector and portable sound system. Voila! A “video venue” is born. Well, not really. While the concept of space-sharing is great, the implementation of the technology and the logistics of planning are…

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BooksWhen most pastors write books, you can bet they’re compiled from sermon notes and manuscripts. Preach a series on fear, and they end up with a book on the subject. Same with marriage, prophecy, grace, epic Bible stories – whatever. I don’t discourage that, but don’t think for a minute that’s a serious book. Writing is different than speaking, and editing sermon notes into a readable manuscript and then calling it a “book” isn’t very impressive. If you’re a pastor or ministry leader, here’s what I recommend:

1) Go ahead and do these books I call “pastor books.”  After all, content should be maximized, and when you preach, that should be available  online, through radio and TV, podcasts, and other places – including book form.  But understand where these books line up on the food chain. These are books that will mostly help your congregation and other members of your social media or broadcast tribe. These books can often be good, but rarely make a big impact.

2) Next, focus more on your life’s work, or what I call your “One Big Thing.”  Every 3-5 years, create a book that you pour your life…

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Social Media

I’ve written before about why I believe pastors need to be on social media (I’m a big believer in pastors, and a big believer in social media, so it’s a natural connection). But recently someone asked me if I think churches need to be on social media and the answer I gave surprised me a little.

For whatever reason, in the moment the question was asked, the word “no” popped out of my mouth. No with conditions, but no just the same.

Churches don’t have to be on social media. 

I know that probably surprises you to hear me say that (I surprised myself a little) but let me explain.

When people ask me this question, for some reason all I can think about is what happens when I tell my kids they need to clean their room. “Do we have to, Dad?” is inevitably the response (I have great kids, but what kid likes to clean their room?) Usually, I tell them yes, they do have to.

But when a grown adult asks me, “do I have to?” I guess I just want to say, “Well, no, you don’t. You don’t have to be on social media but if you…

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Rebranding ChurchAt times, we all get frustrated or just plain tired of the way we do things.  Maybe it’s repetition, maybe it’s competition, or maybe the culture or markets have changed.  But chances are, as I discuss at length in my book, “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media,” you’re simply not telling your story well.  In that case, a “re-brand” or “brand refresh” might be in order.  But don’t just leap off the branding cliff or hire a costly agency.  Before you do anything drastic, start with these five questions.  They’ll help you determine if it’s really time for a re-brand, or if you just need a vacation:

1) What do you really want to change?  Do you need a simple “refresh” of the look, or a complete re-think of your identity and perception? Make sure you know the difference.

2) Is my logo simply out-dated?  First of all, a logo isn’t your brand – it’s the visual expression of your brand story. Maybe your perception and “brand” are fine, but it’s just time to update the logo.

3) What is your current perception?  What do people…

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