Tag Archives: Religion

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Church communication must show you care: Here’s how

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I recently spoke to a church about effective church communication. In my talk, I reminded the congregation that Jesus told His disciples that we’re to be known for loving those around us.

However, when the world is asked about the Church, most of them know what we’re against (and not for love and caring). We’ve become really good at being salt while our “light” skills haven’t broken through. Dare I say that the church has hidden our lights under a salt-flavored bushel basket? It’s always easier to become known for what we’re against, than it is to be known for something.

This elicited a lot of questions from the congregation as they stayed for an hour after the service asking me questions about how they can be known for love.

Church communication must tackle this since it’s the voice of ministries to our communities (and not just an internal reminder voice to our congregations). The test? Do our nonchurch members in our communities know we care? How about our members? Both must feel it.

Here’s how to truly care for a group (as God’s called us to) using communication:

1. Identify, know, and love your audience.

The best way to do this? Look at your demographic numbers (internally and externally) and get a clear understanding of the groups within your reach.

Which ones are growing and which aren’t represented (but should be). Get to know them. Truly understand their needs, concerns, and goals. The more you know, the more you should want to help them. To love them (as Christ does). Fall in love with the people God’s placed around you.

2. Know how they receive love and caring.

Dr. Gary Chapman’s book, “The 5 Love Languages,” defines the ways we receive love from others. Are you attempting to communicate love and caring in all five ways?

Do you give them things, serve them, encourage them, spend time with them, and, for those wanting it, give them a handshake or a hug? We need to have a spectrum of caring.

3. Make communication about them, not you.

Many of us like to talk about what interests us. But that often can feel promotional and boring to others.

Want to engage a group of people and have them wanting more? Make all your communication about them. If the focus feels like you care for them, they’ll receive it willingly.

4. Stop pushing when they should be pulling.

The sign of caring communication? People will reach out for it because they want it. If you feel that your church continuously pushes content and you constantly wonder if it’s being received, then you’re making it too much about your ministries and events and not about the people it’s intended for.

Rework your communication and make sure it clearly identifies who it’s for, what it’s solving, and delivers something in a manner that will be received. And desired!

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The retention secret every volunteer coordinator should know

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We all know how challenging it can be to get and keep volunteers. There are a variety of strategies for how to communicate the need and invite more people to serve.

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7 tips to help your ministry team prevent burnout

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As leaders, sometimes we need to protect our team members from themselves. The individuals who regularly stay late to wrap up a few tasks, who take on the toughest assignments, and practically live at the church need your help.

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3 ways accounting is vital to ministry vision

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If your job responsibilities include keeping track of the church’s finances, you know that your role is frequently overlooked as part of ministry. After all, you ask other staff members to submit requests by a set date, fill out forms, turn in receipts, and manage their departmental budgets.

While you’re doing this out of a desire to support the church and make sure you’re an excellent steward of church finances, you may be viewed as an obstacle to ministry rather than a supporter and partner in ministry.

If you don’t work in your church’s accounting department, please note that those individuals love the church just as much as the front-line folks. They just show their commitment in different ways. Here are three ways accounting is vital to a church’s ministry:

1. Ensuring You Don’t Overspend

They’ll advocate for developing a budget for the upcoming year by department. This supports the vision by getting staff to plan ahead, prioritize expenditures, and helps them ensure the money will be there when you need it for that big event or new program.

2. Properly Stewarding Church Finances

They may push back on a purchase request because you forgot to follow financial controls like getting two or more bids for a large expenditure or not obtaining the proper approvals. This may feel like they’re slowing you down.

However, they’re being a good steward of the money that’s been donated and want to help you stay within budget, so you’ll have money to keep the vision moving forward.

3. Conducting Financial Health Checks

Just like you need a periodic physical or medical checkup, your CFO or accounting department manager may want to review financial reports with you such as a cash flow statement, budget vs. actuals, etc.

These probably aren’t the most exciting meetings, but you need to know where the money is going and if there are any concerns. If your CFO says you need to be extra careful with expenditures for a while, you need to back him/her up in front of the entire staff.

To my friends in the accounting department: I’ve been there and know it’s frustrating when your fellow staff members don’t plan ahead, ask for things last-minute, or forget to check the budget.

You’re supporting the vision by ensuring finances are well-managed and it’s a thankless job most of the time. However, you do need to work with the rest of the team to find ways to say yes when possible (and appropriate). Here are a few tips from my own experiences:

Don’t nickel and dime the office supplies. This seems simple, but make sure money is budgeted to ensure folks have the supplies they need to get the job done.

Set expectations and offer training. If a staff member messes up a purchase request, provide a quick tutorial to help them get it right the next time. They probably don’t think like an accountant, so you’ll have to tell them when (and how) to get quotes, how to know if a request is within budget, what details you need on the purchase request, etc.

Don’t just tell them what to do — explain why it’s essential to provide each piece of information. People tend to be more willing to fill out paperwork if they understand the purpose behind it.

Make forms easy to complete. Don’t make purchase requests or other financial forms several pages long or difficult to fill out. Keep each form as short and simple as possible (and put it online if possible). No one likes filling out paperwork, but if the form is pretty straightforward, you’ll have more success in getting staff members to fill it out on time.

Don’t withhold financial information people need to do their jobs. Department managers should own their budget. This means they create it, review it with senior management for approval, monitor the financial reports for their department, and are held accountable for staying within budget.

When you get a last-minute request, do what you can to help (especially if the person making the request rarely does so). People make mistakes, and emergencies do happen. Offer your assistance with a positive attitude.

Money is one of the tools needed to accomplish your church’s mission. Members of the accounting team want to support the vision by keeping the church within budget and preventing even the appearance of fraud.

They don’t want to be the “no” people — they’re just trying to do their job with excellence. Let them know you appreciate what they do, even when it’s a bit frustrating.

They want to support your vision and help you succeed. Return the favor by making sure they have your support and the tools they need to be successful.

The accounting department is more than just a necessary back-office function. It’s vital to the health and reputation of your church.

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Stop! 5 things to never do with your church logo

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Your church logo is a visual representation of your church’s brand. It’s not your brand. Your brand is the emotional aftertaste once someone has experienced your church. The story they remember, the benefit of attending, or description of who you actually are. It’s their real answer to the question, “Why do you attend your church?”

Your church logo should be a simple, professional, representation of your church. When people see it, they should quickly remember everything that’s relevant to them. For people who are fully committed to your church, they should desire something with your logo on it. Why? Because it represents THEM!

Your logo is important. Therefore it should be protected, controlled, and promoted properly. Here are five things you should never do with your church logo:

1. Never stretch the file.

People have the ability to take your logo file from the internet or get it from your church and place it in a document. Most people understand they can resize files — but most don’t understand that there’s a way to constrain the sizing so that the horizontal and vertical scale are controlled together. So your logo doesn’t look narrower or wider than it was intended.

In an attempt to “fill” a space, people will warp the logo. Don’t. Learn the key command (often holding the shift key while sizing the logo) so this doesn’t happen. Ever.

2. Never use it on a complex background.

Your logo needs to breathe with lots of space around it. It should also be on a calm, non-competitive background that doesn’t dominate the logo or make it unreadable. Your logo should be quickly seen on all branded material.

3. Never use it on something that doesn’t represent your brand.

Effective brand managers don’t allow their logos to appear in something that’s not appropriate or congruent to their brand.

Be careful when someone says, “don’t worry, you don’t have to pay for the sponsorship! I’ll just put your logo on it.” Always ask for a proof before authorizing it — or ask lots of questions before agreeing!

4. Never make a bitmap file too large.

Your bitmap file (jpg, png, tif, psd, etc.) has a resolution built into it. That means it was intended to be used at a certain maximum size. If you look at the file’s metadata (info area when you right click on it) you’ll see the maximum pixel size (i.e., 400 by 600).

Take these numbers and divide by 72 for screen application, 150 for desktop printing, and 300 for high-end printers and this will tell you the maximum size in inches. Often the file will be placed at 100 percent of the screen size.

Don’t enlarge it. If you do, it will look blurry or pixelated. Always check! The only exception? A vector logo (ai and some eps files) can be enlarged without these issues.

5. Never use it without words on external promotion.

After you’ve used your logo for a while, you may be tempted to use just a part of the logo (perhaps the symbol alone). Be careful!

Occasionally, that can work inside the building or with your internal audience. But resist doing it in an external promotional piece to a potentially new audience. If you must (for a design purpose), always include the complete logo (with words) somewhere on the same piece.

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Are you ready for Easter Sunday?

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Yes, I realize it’s several weeks away, but it’s almost never too early to start preparing for one of the highest attended Sundays of the year. If you haven’t started planning, or have but have a nagging feeling you’re forgetting something, here are a few steps to consider:

No. 1: Invite Volunteers

With larger crowds comes the need for more volunteers. You’ll likely have more children in the nursery, more people needing help finding a seat, and more cars to manage in the parking lot.

Don’t wait until the week before to start asking your regular attendees to serve on Easter Sunday. Some people might travel over Easter, while others will have family visiting that afternoon. Make sure you get on their calendar now so they can plan accordingly.

How do you find more volunteers?

  • Ask people who’ve served at a church event but who aren’t serving on a weekly basis. They might not be ready to commit to a consistent volunteer role, but they might be willing to help out Easter weekend.
  • Talk with volunteers who serve every other weekend or less frequently. See if they would like to add Easter weekend to their volunteer schedule.
  • Encourage volunteer leaders to identify people who might be interested in serving over Easter weekend.
  • Check the church database to see if you have people listed who’ve expressed interest in volunteering but haven’t committed to a specific role yet. Easter could be an excellent opportunity for them to experience what it’s like to serve.

No. 2: Reach Your Community

Consider hosting an outreach event the week leading up to Easter. This gives your congregation a chance to serve the community and helps spread the word about Easter services.

Outreach ideas include:

  • Coordinate with local schools to beautify classrooms, playgrounds, and other common areas.
  • Host a clothing, food, shoes, or school supplies donation drive. Find out what areas of your community need assistance and what would be most helpful to them this time of year.
  • Talk with employers in the area and see if hosting a job fair would be beneficial. Let employers set up booths at the church and invite job seekers to come and apply for jobs. Consider providing resume assistance, interview preparation, and professional clothing for job seekers as well.

No. 3: Communicate Effectively

Whoever creates graphics, updates the church website, sends out mass emails, produces video announcements, and manages the church’s social media accounts needs time to make all that communication happen. Make sure you give that team (or individual) at least 3-4 weeks to create graphics, flyers, invite cards, first-time guest handouts, video announcements, and more.

No. 4: Plan Follow-up

How will you follow up with someone who came to your church for the first time on Easter Sunday? Do you have a plan and a system to make that follow-up effort run smoothly? If not, take the time now to decide how you’ll reach out to first time guests.

A few steps to consider:

  • How to collect contact information from guests (email, mailing address, etc.)
  • Who will enter that information into the church database and by when?
  • Who will contact guests, how, and by when? Will that initial contact be via email, a phone call, or through the mail?

By preparing for Easter several weeks in advance, you increase your ability to host Easter services with excellence without wearing out church staff or volunteers. We tend to plan well in advance when we invite guests to our homes. Let’s use that same hospitality and servant mindset as we prepare to host guests at our church home.

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Are you ready for Easter Sunday?

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Yes, I realize it’s several weeks away, but it’s almost never too early to start preparing for one of the highest attended Sundays of the year. If you haven’t started planning, or have but have a nagging feeling you’re forgetting something, here are a few steps to consider:

No. 1: Invite Volunteers

With larger crowds comes the need for more volunteers. You’ll likely have more children in the nursery, more people needing help finding a seat, and more cars to manage in the parking lot.

Don’t wait until the week before to start asking your regular attendees to serve on Easter Sunday. Some people might travel over Easter, while others will have family visiting that afternoon. Make sure you get on their calendar now so they can plan accordingly.

How do you find more volunteers?

  • Ask people who’ve served at a church event but who aren’t serving on a weekly basis. They might not be ready to commit to a consistent volunteer role, but they might be willing to help out Easter weekend.
  • Talk with volunteers who serve every other weekend or less frequently. See if they would like to add Easter weekend to their volunteer schedule.
  • Encourage volunteer leaders to identify people who might be interested in serving over Easter weekend.
  • Check the church database to see if you have people listed who’ve expressed interest in volunteering but haven’t committed to a specific role yet. Easter could be an excellent opportunity for them to experience what it’s like to serve.

No. 2: Reach Your Community

Consider hosting an outreach event the week leading up to Easter. This gives your congregation a chance to serve the community and helps spread the word about Easter services.

Outreach ideas include:

  • Coordinate with local schools to beautify classrooms, playgrounds, and other common areas.
  • Host a clothing, food, shoes, or school supplies donation drive. Find out what areas of your community need assistance and what would be most helpful to them this time of year.
  • Talk with employers in the area and see if hosting a job fair would be beneficial. Let employers set up booths at the church and invite job seekers to come and apply for jobs. Consider providing resume assistance, interview preparation, and professional clothing for job seekers as well.

No. 3: Communicate Effectively

Whoever creates graphics, updates the church website, sends out mass emails, produces video announcements, and manages the church’s social media accounts needs time to make all that communication happen. Make sure you give that team (or individual) at least 3-4 weeks to create graphics, flyers, invite cards, first-time guest handouts, video announcements, and more.

No. 4: Plan Follow-up

How will you follow up with someone who came to your church for the first time on Easter Sunday? Do you have a plan and a system to make that follow-up effort run smoothly? If not, take the time now to decide how you’ll reach out to first time guests.

A few steps to consider:

  • How to collect contact information from guests (email, mailing address, etc.)
  • Who will enter that information into the church database and by when?
  • Who will contact guests, how, and by when? Will that initial contact be via email, a phone call, or through the mail?

By preparing for Easter several weeks in advance, you increase your ability to host Easter services with excellence without wearing out church staff or volunteers. We tend to plan well in advance when we invite guests to our homes. Let’s use that same hospitality and servant mindset as we prepare to host guests at our church home.

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3 steps to editing church website content

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People want to discover the information they’re looking for, when they need it, and in the easiest format preference possible. That’s why we’ve all grown attached to websites. We want some information and then quickly pickup our phones to find it online.

But there’s nothing worse than getting to a webpage that has too much information when we only want a quick answer. In fact, most people only want a simple answer!

In fact, metrics show quick amounts of time for a website session. Most people give up if they can’t find the content easily and most give up if the page content looks too dense, boring, or long. We just want the facts!

Does your church website deliver more than the facts?!

Most of our church websites need editing if we want people to enjoy our content. The speed to content is key for most people. Let’s deliver it the way they want! Here are three steps to making your website content the size and structure that most people will enjoy:

1. Clarify what your page’s takeaway is.

Many times we get wordy in our attempt to “fill: pages. Stop. Every page doesn’t have to be full (more will enjoy a page with light content and wide margins).

Consider why each of your personas would want to arrive on the webpage and clarify how you would answer them as concisely as possible. Make sure it’s “enough” but don’t give additional information they wouldn’t want (unless it’s done in a secondary area).

2. Remove any unimportant word or concept.

This is the tough part. Edit. Edit. Edit. Examine each sentence and consider ways to provide information and answers, but try to say it with less words.

Supply a Readers Digest version. 50 words per module/page is something to shoot for. People really don’t want to do the editing — they expect you to!

3. Add links with secondary page content.

Finally, look at the content that’s left. Can you provide links within the content to make it scannable? As people search/scan across the content, the links will lead them through the content and give them the ability to go deeper. If they want. Links catch the eye almost as much as bullet points; you may want to try to combine them!

If you do this throughout your website, you’ll create an environment that attracts congregation and community. Who knows? It may start affecting your entire church’s content! Saying less, so you engage more.

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8 ways to build a stronger church team

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They’re committed, dedicated, hard-working, loyal and steadfast in their determination to serve the church. They come in early, stay late, and pour their energy into their work.

They can also get exhausted and discouraged to the point of giving up. Prevent burnout and improve team morale by implementing these tips for a stronger church team.

No. 1: Show your appreciation

Share a specific story about something one of your team members did that you appreciated and that impacted someone’s life. Be specific and say thank you in front of the whole team and/or congregation.

No. 2: Have fun

Cater lunch for your team, then eat with them and talk with several people. Catch up on family news, listen to stories of their kids’ latest achievements, and relax as a team.

No. 3: Listen

We all long to be heard and understood — your team is no different. Make a concerted effort to solicit and listen to their concerns.

If you haven’t responded well to their open honesty before, you may need to apologize and let them know you’re going to change that before they’ll feel comfortable sharing things with you.

You’ll gain valuable information as you listen to your team members. They’ll bring great suggestions, new ideas, and will help you solve problems all because you’re taking the time to listen.

No. 4: Apologize

Being in a leadership role doesn’t exclude us from making mistakes. When you fall short, own the issue and apologize. You might need to apologize to an individual or perhaps to the whole team.

Whatever the case, do it as soon as possible. Your team members will appreciate your humility and will respect you more, not less, when you accept responsibility and apologize.

No. 5: Communicate, then communicate some more

It’s imperative that you communicate with your team. If you casually mention a huge new program without any details, they’ll get concerned. If you say you’re going to make some organizational changes, they’ll wonder if they need to update their resume.

People tend to think the worst and become frustrated when there’s a lack of communication. Tell them what you expect and why.

Invite them to ask questions if they’re not sure about something. Don’t withhold information unnecessarily. If it’s not confidential and they need to know — tell them.

No. 6: Make sure they have time to recharge

Due to the nature of ministry work, there may be seasons of long hours, including weekends. When that happens, find a way to give staff time off to rest and recharge.

They’ll come back refreshed and will be more productive (and appreciative that you recognized that they needed the break).

No. 7: Invest in your team

Allocate funds in the budget to provide training that will help them become more effective in their work. Many online courses provide excellent material at a reasonable price.

Sending staff members to conferences can also be a useful learning experience. When possible, host a training session yourself. Buy books for your team and lead a group book study once a quarter.

Don’t expect them to just figure it out — provide them with the tools and information they need to be successful.

No. 8: Take care of yourself

You need rest and time off as well. Use your vacation days, leave the office at a reasonable hour, and don’t answer emails at all hours of the night.

You need to be at your best to lead a team effectively. That’s not going to happen unless you’re intentional about taking time to rest.

These are just a handful of ways you can, with minimal effort, build a stronger church team. Along the way, make sure your team knows you care about them as individuals (not just as worker bees).

You can communicate that by showing your appreciation, listening (and acting on what you hear), and developing them. They’ll be more effective and are less likely to burn out if you take these simple steps.

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3 things to consider before Easter

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I realize that Christmas is still in the rearview mirror. The chaos of special holiday and new year’s services are still fresh on your mind, and now there’s a peace that happens as January unfolds. It’s called the winter months. Or… the lull before the storm. Of Easter.

Easter is typically a highly attended service because it’s an easy time to invite people to a service and it’s also the one week in the year that everyone (sort of) decides to attend “the” Easter Sunday service (since many alternate weeks in attendance rather than attending every week, it boosts attendance on that one week).

Why is this important? Easter’s the one week you can also get your community to attend if they believe they’re welcome (and they’re invited). It’s also a great week for them to see a fuller service with special content. If they don’t like that week, they probably won’t like any week!

Do you want to get ready for Easter? Here are three things to consider (when you have 100 days to go):

1. Consider your audience.

Are you content with just having your attendance boosted from your members? Or would you like to truly invite your community.

As a leadership team, this has to be decided with the ramifications discussed. Then, consider the large group and write a brief description of various unique groups contained within (i.e. working moms, people who just moved to town, frustrated parents, etc.). Choose 1-3 particularly interesting groups from the longer list and decide the persona type(s) who you’ll target this year.

2. Consider what they need.

Once you know your targeted group(s), write a longer paragraph about them and focus on who they are, what they do, what needs/concerns they wake up with most days, and start to understand their goals. Get into their heads — not just those within your church but everyone you’re targeting.

Maybe it’s the perfect time to sit down with a small group and chat with them. Ask them how they’re doing and “tell me about your life.” Then, sit back and listen to the interaction with each other. You’ll start to hear their concerns, needs, and goals.

3. Consider a solution for them.

When you see a need in ministry, you should want to fill it. Why? Because you love your audience. Just like Jesus did. He (and you) know that everything can be tracked to a spiritual need but it’s hard to engage with a group only on the spiritual.

Instead, think about temporal solutions (or paths to goals) so you get their attention. Talk solutions or talk about their problems or goals. They’ll pay attention.

Then how does the powerful Easter narrative play into the storyline of solutions? Can you get their attention and then make the turn to talk about Easter and the Gospel?

This is what we’re called to do: “As you are going, make disciples.” Engage with your congregation and/or community this Easter. Talk about the things that are on their minds and lead them to the cross.

Let’s reach the world for Christ this year. Let’s use Easter as our goal. Consider the changes in your community once they learn about the resurrection!

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