Archives For Communication

Most bloggers, pastors, leaders and influences want to have an online influence. Not for their own glory or attention, but because they see an opportunity to inspire others toward positive change, and to share the Gospel with hundreds, thousands and even millions of readers.

These people pour their lives, energy, time and even resources into developing beautiful platforms with quality content and pray their efforts will pay off. Most people I meet, however, are missing something. And this single thing they’re missing is stunting their influence.

It’s so easy to miss, I miss it sometimes. And I know missing this step limits the amount of influence my online presence can have.

Are you ready to know what it is?

It’s simple: You have to tell your audience to do something different.

It’s one thing to change the way somebody thinks. It’s quite another to change the way they act. One is easy. The other is difficult. One makes for an entertaining blog post. The other makes for an impacted life. I’ll let you guess which is which (since you already know).

So how do you get people to do something different?

Again, it’s simple…

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Bobby GruenewaldBobby Gruenewald and YouVersion Bible App

It’s not often that a local church leader is listed by Fast Company magazine as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business.  But that’s exactly what happened in 2011 to Bobby Gruenewald, innovation leader, pastor, and a member of the Directional Leadership Team at, based in Edmond, Oklahoma.   Working with lead pastor Craig Groeschel, has shaped a missional approach to technology, seen in initiatives like Church Online and the YouVersion Bible App, which help tens of millions of people around the globe grow closer to God and His Word.

This year, the YouVersion app passed the 100 million downloads mark, and that’s why Bobby is one of the leading voices in the Church as it relates to innovation and the use of technology to reach people for Christ. He frequently writes and speaks on the topic, and has been featured in the New York Times, The Atlantic, TechCrunch, NBC, CNN, CBS, and more.  Recently, filmmaker, media consultant, and blogger Phil Cooke sat down with Bobby to find out more:

Phil Cooke:  Bobby, tell me about you.  What’s your background and how did you…

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I received an interesting note from Joe Hayes, head of the TV and video ministry at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, South Carolina. At Redemption, the Sunday online worship service is succeeding way beyond expectations. Since so many churches have an online video feed of their live service on Sunday – and yet very few do it well – here’s 4 tips from Joe that might help:

1) Consider it just as important as your live event.   Don’t do an online, streaming feed and treat the viewers like second class citizens. Make sure it’s as high quality as you can afford, and make it available and easy to find.

2) Understand the online experience is different from the live service.   In the live service people are sitting with a large group. They can feel the excitement, see the preacher sweat, and it’s a visceral, physical experience. But with the online service, people are watching on a small screen, usually from across the room. They’re also probably distracted. So shoot more close-ups, and make sure the audience…

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The world turns on the power of ideas, and yet the social media world seems very often to revolve around shallow opinions. Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and others encourage a 24/7 barrage of opinions on every subject imaginable. In my book “Jolt” I reveal that the average employee spends up to 40% of his or her day dealing with email, and 70% of workers experience great stress when their email systems go down. (With 10% of that group physically assaulting their computers.)

Email, social media, blogs, and other tools allow us to weigh in on everything from politics to sports to art – whether or not we’re actually qualified to report on the issue at hand.  Sure – much of these are just innocent comments exchanged between friends, but the question is – how much of your life is spent spewing opinions versus developing or thinking about great ideas?

Do you spend most of your time online discussing the latest conspiracy, Kardashian sister, political or office trivia, or thinking about issues that really matter? Certainly gossip has always been a staple in our culture. It didn’t…

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There is a formula for launching a church in America. Collect lots of money. Spend lots of money getting the word out. Turn the big crowd of strangers into a church. It’s easy… if you have lots of money. But c’mon, church planters are hackers by nature right? It’s possible to get the word out in a better way, especially today.

When we began planting Grace Hills, we didn’t want to drop a ton of money on massive but impersonal means of announcing our arrival – and we didn’t have a ton of money anyway. So we used Facebook. We’re still using Facebook. And it’s working.

  • We started with two couples (including the Cox’s). We spent $0 on traditional advertising but had 35 at our first gathering in July of 2011.
  • We grew to approximately 80 within six months by word-of-mouth and while spending $0 on traditional advertising.
  • We launched with 176 on our first Sunday, mostly gathered through Facebook, word-of-mouth, and search engines.
  • Today, we’re the most “liked” church in northwest Arkansas and an estimated 75-80% of our first time guests found us on the web.

Why Social Media…

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Freedom House ControversyRecently, Freedom House Church in Charlotte, North Carolina was confronted by the incredible power and influence of the media. When a member of the church’s leadership team sent an email to the congregation asking for “only white people” to greet at its front doors in an effort to “bring racial demographic pendulum back to mid-line,” the leaked email set off a firestorm of criticism. The church, realizing the mistake,immediately apologized the next Sunday to the entire congregation. It was an unfortunate incident, but as I’ll point out, similar conversations in church and ministry leadership meetings happen all the time. Conversations meant to be perfectly innocent, can backfire with serious results. To that point, here’s a few thoughts:

1) First, it’s important to note that the church handled the crisis response very well.  Kudos to Pastor Troy Maxwell who immediately apologized and publicly offered to make things right. He didn’t blame anyone, he just took responsibility. That’s what a good leader does in difficult situations.

2) What is said in leadership team meetings isn’t necessarily public information.   In this case, I can imagine the church’s legitimate concern that potential visitors…

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My position affords me the opportunity to meet influential church leaders, thinkers, and writers. One such leader is Leonard Sweet. One day, as I made a trip to the airport with him, he said something I refer back to often:

“The greatest distance between any two numbers is 0 and 1.”

It struck me as an accurate mathematical description of the power of networking in ministry. There is no power in zero. It’s a place to begin, not a place to stay.

We cannot multiply our influence until we connect with others.

I am not convinced, however, pastors or church leaders understand how to maximize opportunities for connection (like conferences) in order to improve themselves and innovate new approaches to ministry.

Since Catalyst is coming up, and fall tends to be a season full of networking opportunities, I thought I would share some thoughts I have about maximizing these events.

No matter what conferences you are are attending this fall, or what other opportunities you have to connect with others, I have 15 suggestions for how to maximize your opportunities and use them for growth and progress.

Today, I’ll share five…

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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 high school age daughter would tell him, “Dad, 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 that’s not you when…

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Communication MistakesThe single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  George Bernard Shaw

I have a love/hate relationship with Shaw’s line.  I love the simple truth in it.  And…I hate the simple truth in it.

One of the greatest inhibitors of effective ministry is poor (or less than great) communication.

Here are six very common mistakes:

  1. We assume that everyone already knows.  As infrequent attendance becomes more and more common, our assumption needs to be that everyone doesn’t already know.  This is why I’ve suggested that we need to make the host ask several weeks in a row.
  2. We try to explain detailed information in the wrong settings.  Some things need a more thorough explanation.  Detail can be provided in a well written FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) document.  Here’s an example of a Host FAQ.
  3. We try to automate too much communication.  Some things need a personal touch.  I hand out a lot of business cards and say, “Call me.  Let’s talk about it.”  No matter the size of your ministry, personalizing some communication is just good practice.  I’ve pointed out this little detail before.  See also, The Teeny Tiny…

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Pastors Should Be BloggingThe title of this article may seem both presumptuous and audacious. Do I really believe everypastor should have a blog? Yes I do. I speak to pastors in numerous settings, and I am able to share with them the benefits of such a discipline in writing.

Understand that writing a blog can begin simple with little time pressure. The pastor can commit to write 400 words a week in one post. I do recommend that the number of posts increase to at least twice a week later, but you need to start somewhere.

I think you will be amazed how much the blog benefits the church and your ministry. Here are seven reasons why it is so important:

  1. Heavy doses of communication are vital in any relationship. This reality is powerfully true in the pastor/congregation relationship. Healthy churches have healthy pastor/members relationships. Healthy relationships are enhanced through ongoing communication. And the blog is an incredible way to communicate regularly. For this reason, I am very grateful for the Internet age.
  2. The pastor is able to present those most important emphases or visionary matters. The sermon just does not allow sufficient time to do all the…

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Web ContentThe complaint I get most often from churches is that they aren’t sure how to improve their community’s online presence. They know they’re supposed to do it, and they’re pretty sure it involves a website and being more involved in social media, but beyond that, they aren’t really sure.

But the problem goes even deeper than that. Because many of them get as far as a website, and still aren’t sure what to do.

My response is always to tell them they need to create great content. I feel like a broken record actually, saying “create good content, create good content, create good content” but of course this is easier said than done. Then recently my friend Josh Burns pointed out how churches are content factories and it clicked. It’s actually really simple. With a few small directions, you can create web-ready content to engage your members and potential members of your community online.

The best news is: It takes very little work.

Here are four things you can do to leverage the content your church is already creating in order to equip your online community with content that will be helpful for them.


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Questions for CommunicationThe church in general isn’t doing a very good job in communicating. Just ask their people if they know what is going on. Several churches in Dallas-Ft. Worth have been singled out as good at communicating: PrestonwoodStonebriar, and Irving Bible. Irving Bible has its own department with a staff that’s responsible for communication.

Spend a day (or at least a few hours) exploring what these churches are doing well. I don’t think churches are completely aware of the importance of good communication as indicated by their lack of doing it well. Number 1 is trust. Good communication engenders trust, poor communication creates distrust. People think you’re hiding something. Some churches can get away with poor communication if their pastor has been with them awhile and has gained respect for his leadership in general. However, it is “getting away” with poor performance should not be the ideal.

Create a church communications team. Then empower them to answer the questions below. The most important step comes next as you empower them to develop and execute a plan for improved congregational communication.

10 Questions to Transform Church Communication:

1) Why is communication important in the…

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