Archives For Communication

Yesterday, I asked a group of pastors if they believe minister’s should address pop culture related topics in their messages. Over 1500 pastors responded to the survey. A whopping 74% of them said, “Yes”—ministers can and should talk about culture from the stage.

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Recently, I chatted with Ministry Pass’ Content Manager, Wade Bearden, about pop culture and the Bible. Along with leading our sermon series planning department, Wade is also a film critic in his spare time. His work has been featured on Christianity Today,, and He’s also gearing up to help launch a new podcast on film and television in the next few months.

Here’s a quick summary of our conversation about pastors and pop culture:

1. Jesus used the common imagery of his day to illustrate deep, spiritual truths, we should do the same. Seeds, sheep, and vineyards; Jesus utilized all of these pictures to help an ancient middle eastern culture understand the Kingdom of God. We too should leverage our contemporary culture’s interested in film, television, and art to communicate the message of the Bible. Films are modern day parables. Facebook is a contemporary…

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Blog GraphicEverything your church does is communication, from the condition of the parking lot to the content in your bulletin to the tone of your sermon. Everything you do communicates something about what you really value, regardless of what you say you value.

I’m a church communications nut. I read dozens of blogs on design, branding, social media and marketing. I’ve designed logos, websites, and print pieces for dozens of churches. So I’ve perfected the art and science of church communications, right? Actually, in the last week, I received an email from someone who couldn’t find a location for our services, another who had a hard time finding out how to get involved, and a third who couldn’t find details on a couple of upcoming events. #humbled

But our bulletin does look kind of pretty…

Since the publishing and communication of the gospel is paramount, I’ve learned the value of doing some punch-me-in-the-gut audits of our communication strategy. We’re constantly tweaking and improving so that we can put our best foot forward and do the best possible job of getting the word out, connecting…

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imageIf you work on the communications or media team at a church, ministry, or nonprofit, your job is to share the story of your organizations to the local community and sometimes the world.  While a pastor or leader may speak to the local congregation or supporters, your job is to take that message and share it on a much bigger platform.  To do that well, here’s a list of critical things you and your team need to know:

1. Understand the pastor or CEO’s vision.   That’s where your messaging begins.

2. Learn as much as you can about every media position, from graphic designer to video operator.  As a leader, you need to at least have an idea of what each role requires.

3. Ultimately – it’s not about technical equipment – it’s about connecting.   I don’t care how fancy your new software is, the question is, are you using it to connect your message with people?

4. Understand today’s culture.  Communicating a message has changed dramatically in today’s digital world.  Know how to make that change work for you.

5. Learn to work under authority.   If you want to be an independent filmmaker, novelist, or…

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JoltWhen disaster strikes our life, we’re often simply overwhelmed.  As we saw during the 2011 tsunami in Japan, entire towns were wiped off the map, and all these years later, we’re still seeing news reports of problems with the clean up. When a country like that is in chaos, where do we begin when problems happen? Even more important, how do we deal with the “meltdowns” we face in our lives? In my book “Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing” I show you how to weather the storms of change, and actually use it to your advantage. After being fired, going through a divorce, losing a loved one or experiencing other traumatic life events, how do you start over?  Here’s 5 ways to move forward with purpose:

• Realize the time to change is now.  When you’ve hit the wall, or rock bottom, that could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, because it “jolts” you into action. While we never welcome terrible things, they can often help us focus on what really matters and show us the way out.

• Jolt your priorities.  In Japan,…

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WireframeDid you know that your church website is the digital front door to your church?

To put it another way, your church website is one of the first impressions that your church leaves with your first-time visitors who are checking you out.

What first impression are you leaving?

Don’t think you aren’t because your website is leaving some kind of impression right now with a first time visitor. Every church website leaves an impression. Good, bad, bland, fun or welcoming.

One anomaly I’ve found since entering into church world is that churches will invest budget into facilities, AV, staffing, but next to zero budget into creating the best first impression possible for their primary audience (I’m fortunate to serve in a church that is prepared to invest in the digital space).

In pure marketing terms (don’t shoot me) many churches think they have a great ‘product’ but expect people to wade through the quick-sand of a poorly designed church website and still expect visitors to come along to the church on the Sunday.

Why would they do that?

Ask yourself this question Pastor – What kind of impression do I want to make with new visitor on my…

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When it comes to leadership and influence, we rarely talk about trust. When we do, it’s usually in terms of honesty and integrity. Questions like: “Can I trust you to honor your word?” or “Can you be trusted with finances?” usually come to mind. Those questions are important, but the truth is, trust is a far deeper issue, and when it comes to your team, employees, congregation, or followers, trust may be the single most important connection you can build. To achieve that connection, here’s four principles every leader and influencer should know about trust:

1. Trust doesn’t come easily.  This is the most marketed, sold, pitched to, and promoted generation in history. They’ve grown up around brand names, Super Bowl commercials, and sales pitches. They make judgements about everything they encounter through apps like “Yelp.” That’s why when you tell them your conference will “shake nations” or your new book will “transform the culture” they’re naturally skeptical – and should be. They’re weary of all the hype and have learned to see through it.

2. They stopped trusting early in life.  Half of all American children will witness their parent’s divorce. In…

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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.


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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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