Archives For Communication

By Whitney Jones

With social media sites like Twitter, pastors can easily connect with their church members or fellow preachers just by typing out a message and hitting “send.”

But navigating the constant stream of Twitter and other social networks from the standpoint of a pastor can be challenging since those websites are targeted toward more casual content. However, many pastors throughout the country are using Twitter as a tool to encourage and further teach the Gospel.

Micah Fries, lead pastor at Frederick Boulevard Baptist Church in St. Joseph, Mo., said he tweets to share further thoughts on his sermons, so church members can continue to contemplate each week’s message.

“I guess for me Twitter — and Facebook to a similar degree — is much like an extension of the pulpit,” he said. “So I try to use it regularly during the week as a means of extending the sermon throughout the week.”

But Fries does more than tweet Scripture references or sermon points. His Twitter feed includes day-to-day observations and comments on his family’s activities. He said showing people both his professional and personal life is important because both aspects…

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There has been a lot of talk in recent years about making the Gospel announcement of Jesus Christ front and center in our preaching and teaching. As our society becomes increasingly post-Christian, it is critical for us to not assume lost people know who God is, what He is like, and what He has done for us. We need to be clear in what we teach, with a laser-like focus on Jesus Christ our Savior.

But how do we make sure that Jesus is center-stage in our church? How do we keep other things from taking His place in our sermons, our Sunday School classes or our small groups? In other words, how do we maintain Christ-centeredness when there are so many other good things vying for our attention and time?

As editor of The Gospel Project, LifeWay’s new curriculum for Sunday School classes and small groups, I’ve wrestled with this question. It’s one thing to have “core values” like “Christ-centered” and “mission-driven” written on the page. It’s another thing entirely to make sure that these values are actually expressed in the lessons. To help our writers, we’ve…

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TrustGood teams trust one another. Good teams trust their leader, too. Imagine a football team where the quarterback couldn’t trust his wide receivers to catch balls thrown his way

You can’t build a team without trust. It’s crucial. I can’t overstate how important trust is in developing your staff team.

Philippians 2:19-20 says, “I want to be encouraged by news about you. So I hope the Lord Jesus will soon let me send Timothy to you. I don’t have anyone else who cares about you as much as he does.” (CEV)

Paul trusted Timothy. Trust is the emotional glue that binds a team together and produces confidence. If your team doesn’t trust you and if they don’t trust one another, you won’t achieve your aim.

High-achieving churches have a high level of trust among the staff. It means the lead pastor trusts the staff, the staff trusts the pastor and the staff trusts one another. To build trust you’ve got to not only trust your staff to get the job done but also trust them to do the job in the way they think is best.

So how do you create that kind of…

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Sermon NotebookHave you ever read something and all the bells went off inside you? “That’s it! That’s what I’ve been thinking!” The author has been reading your thoughts.

That happened to me recently.

Warren Wiersbe was the culprit, the reader of my mind. His book is titled “Preaching and Teaching with Imagination.” I notice that he autographed it to me, but have no memory of the occasion when that happened. Mostly, I wonder why I delayed reading this incredible book. (Published in 1994, it’s been around long enough for you to purchase it for a song at or your favorite used book source.)

Dr. Wiersbe put this insight in the form of a story. I suspect it’s a parable, meaning he fictionalized it in order to make a point. (He has good precedent; our Lord did this.) Briefly, what he told was this:

Grandma Thatcher sits in church with a number of hurts and spiritual needs. Although she’s lovingly known throughout the congregation as a saint, she gets nothing but harassment and trials at home for her faith. When she gets to church, she needs a word from…

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A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down with Social Media Church for a conversation about—you guessed it—social media. I had a great time talking about how I like to use social media as a connector and strategist. I also shared about a recent social media faux pas I made.

After the show, I thought I’d share the one way a lot of churches are missing it with Twitter. And it’s this…

Twitter is just as much of a listening tool as it is a sharing tool. It’s a two way street. If your church isn’t using twitter to engage with your members or people in your community, you’re missing out on the fundamental benefit of the social media network.

Here are a few practical steps you can take to use Twitter engage your community instead of simply sharing last week’s sermon or next week’s series:

  • Create a Twitter list of everyone you know in your church, responding to them when it’s appropriate.
  • Engage with influential twitter handles in your community. (e.g. – Chamber of Commerce, Events Around Town, Government Entities)
  • Set up proximity searches for terms like…

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lovePastor, you set the tone and atmosphere in your congregation. If you want to know the warmth of your church, put the thermometer in your own mouth.

I’ve visited some churches where the pastor’s lack of love is the main reason the church isn’t growing. Some pastors, by their cold demeanor and lack of personal warmth, virtually guarantee that visitors won’t come back. And in some larger churches, I’ve gotten the impression that the pastor loves an audience but doesn’t like people.

Great preaching without love is just noise in God’s view.

Every time I speak to at Saddleback, I repeat a simple reminder to myself. I never preach or teach without thinking this:

“Father, I love you and you love me. I love these people and you love these people. Love these people through me. This is not an audience to be feared but a family to be loved. There is no fear in love; perfect love casts out all fear.”

Let me suggest some practical ways that you can demonstrate your love:

Memorize names. Remembering names shows that you’re interested in people. Nothing sounds sweeter to a second-time visitor than hearing you use…

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Good leaders are good listeners.

If you want to be effective in ministry, you’ll need to be a good listener first.

Probably the greatest reason people fail in ministry is not immorality, a lack of intelligence, or poor planning. It’s insensitivity.

Most of us simply talk too much. James 1:19 (NIV) says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”

You may think you’re already a good listener. But there’s a big difference between hearing and listening.

  • Hearing is simply the vibrations that take place in your ear.
  • Listening is how you decode those vibrations in your brain.

Many times I’ve heard my wife, my kids, or someone at the church say something – but I didn’t listen. Listening is a skill. And if you’re going to be in ministry, you better develop it. It’s developed through practice, desire, attention and by simply wanting to become a good listener.

Here are four tips to becoming a better listener.

1. Withhold judgment and criticism from the start. Don’t evaluate until you’ve heard and comprehended it all. I’ll admit that this isn’t natural. When someone else is talking…

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP) — The greatest struggle the rising generation will have is knowing too much about the world around them — and so little about their own lives. With a few taps on a phone, we can call up the exact population of Lincoln, Neb., or find out what the purpose of our pancreas is. More importantly, we can jump to any verse in the Bible and find a wealth of commentary about it.

This world of knowledge, however, comes with its own psychological and intellectual issues. Specifically, we don’t have to remember stuff. We can skate by with a cursory knowledge of things and — when we need to — dive deep into a topic and have full knowledge of facts, stats and figures. As our minds, education and cultures adapt to this expansive yet unretained knowledge base there is a critical issue at hand:

Forgetting the details of our own lives.

If we don’t have to retain knowledge about how to make bread or some other random piece of hand-me-down information, we become accustomed to not needing to remember anything. And that goes for our…

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One of the most powerful aspects of small groups is the opportunity to offer prayer requests, to pray together, and then to see how God follows through on those prayers.  It’s amazing to see how God works over three months or six months or a year.  Prayers get answered, situations change, hearts change – your group sees God work in mighty ways.

Just as powerful as the group dynamic of prayer is the impact that a praying leader can have on his or her group.  A praying leader ministers to the group not only by showing how much he or she cares about their needs but also by modeling a life of prayer.

As with most things, becoming a small group centered on prayer doesn’t just happen.  Here are 7 tips on how you can minister to your small group through prayer:

  • Dedicate the last half hour of each bible study to “personal prayer needs” time.
  • Write each member’s prayer requests down on 3×5 cards.  Bring the cards to every study so you can check back on their requests.
  • After the requests are given, pray immediately with your group.

“Religion isn’t a word often associated with technology — but it should be,” says Amanda Pittman in a Mashable story about how churches use social media. I agree.  And as I said in my comment on the story, when Gutenberg finished his printing press, the Bible was the first thing produced and churches utilized print media like crazy. When broadcasting took off, so did churches and some of the longest running programs on today are church broadcasts that started many decades ago. But with the emergence of social technologies on the internet, we’re slow to adopt. What’s up with that?

Check out this infographic put together by Buzzplant and tell us how your church uses social media, and why you think the church is slower to adopt internet-driven social technologies than past innovations.

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Paul in RomeWhile we know Paul’s inspired Biblical work first appeared and has been known for generations as letters, epistles, and singularly as verses, it is clear, that as a social media guru, he was the first.

After some 20,000 + social media ministry messages, I am always drawn to the fact that nothing can connect people like a Bible verse.  Especially Paul’s work because it is so clear, concise, and flat out inspiring to people living at the height of the Roman Empire, in an age no one had ever seen before… in other words, much like ours.

Here are some quick lessons:

1. Inspiration + Application = Story.

Look at a verse almost any Christian can quote, like Philippians 4:13: I can do all this through him who gives me strength (NIV).  Just on its own it has easily been tweeted more than a million times.

It inspires, makes God apply in your life immediately, and it sends you deeper for the story.  While the first temptation in reading this verse is to respond, “of course”; the second response is almost always “why”, and that is the introspection that leads directly…

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The most important question a church or ministry can ask about their online presence is this:

Who is in charge of the website?

If you can answer this, you’re light years ahead of most organizations. It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not.

What ends up happening in most ministries and churches is that no one is in charge. Or everyone’s in charge. The debate is still raging for which one is worse, but I’m pretty sure Dante’s seventh circle of hell is reserved for website administration discussions.

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

The bottom line is that you need to give someone the keys and say, “drive!” Answering the “who’s in charge” question allows the following things to happen. (By the way, you could answer with one specific person or department. What matters most is that someone(s) has ownership of the website.)

1. Eliminates role confusion.

Many a church administrator has been reduced to tears when trying to sort through the crushing content demands of a church website.

“This link is outdated. How do I change it?”

“I can’t find the information I need for the Underwater Basket…

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