Have You Heard of Worship Central?

Worship_Central_Let_0000768514627.170x170-75

This week, my worship pastor – Matt Rector – turned me on to a new worship album by Worship Central from the UK. I had never heard of them, but after digging around, I saw that the band is led by one of my favorite worship leaders: Tim Hughes! You’ve got to check out this album and download it today. There are at least 3 great songs that I want us to do in the near future. One (about the cross) we’re doing in our Gospel series in a couple of weeks. And yes, one of our amazing sponsors (that we use every week at my church), MultiTracks.com has tracks available for their album HERE. Good stuff. Check out their title track:

Announcing My Resources Page

 If you look at the top of my blog (go to my actual blog if you’re reading this via RSS Feed), you’ll see a new page or category called Resources. This is where I will be publishing my writing (such as articles and eBooks). I just released my new eBook Church Leadership 101 today and you can go download it HERE. This is the first in a series of eBooks on leadership lessons and principles for church leaders. Look for more content coming to the Resources page. Thanks for your support and I pray that God will bless your ministry through my writing and encourage and equip you as you lead.

I’m Back in the World of Social Media

Greetings friends and readers of this blog. You may or may not have realized (depending on if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook) that I took the last 2 weeks off from technology. I haven’t blogged, done Twitter, Facebook, any social media or even really used my laptop for the last 2 weeks straight. It’s been wonderful.

The past 2 weeks of blog posts were done way in advance and set to post automatically. The next 2 blog posts this week are guest blog posts, too. I’ve been trying to free my mind and heart up to focus on God and hear from him. I’ve blogged about this numerous times over the years and even wrote an article for Relevant Magazine entitled “Noise” where I reflected on how nice a break or fast from technology can be.

A friend and I decided to fast and pray for an extended period of time and I told him that for me to totally focus on God and hear from him, I needed to fast from social media, too. This proved to be a pleasant experiment. I was more present with my family, more productive throughout my day and more prone to hear from my Creator.

One of the things I’ve talked about all over the country when I talk about social media is setting up boundaries and having a dark day. You may not need to take a long break from social media (maybe you do), but all of us could use one Sabbath or dark day a week. For me, sometimes it’s Saturday – sometimes it’s Sunday.

So, friends – when was the last time you took a break from social media? How did it help you hear from God? If you’ve never tried a break from technology, I encourage you to give it a shot. You won’t regret it!

Revised and Updated: Digital Real Estate

It’s been a little over a year since I first blogged about “Digital Real Estate“. Was I right? Did you take me up on my plea and dive into social media for your organization? Let’s see what’s happened in the last year and what changed with the examples I mentioned in the first blog post. Basically, I showed you the concept of digital real estate and gave you some examples of people or churches that weren’t actively twittering at the time, but had reserved their space/name online.

The first example was of worship leader Matt Redman. When I first blogged about him over a year ago, he had created an account, but was not using it, yet. He had a total of 310 followers.

I’m writing this blog post on August 11, 2010. As of today, Matt Redman is twittering regularly and has 21,135 followers. Wow! Look:

The second example I pointed to was LifeChurch.tv’s Twitter account. Now LifeChurch.tv is active and has 3,586 followers as you can see here:

The next example I gave was of Willow Creek Church. Willow now has 3,774 followers on Twitter and tweets regularly. You can check them out here:

Lastly, I mentioned that Rick Warren had reserved his spot on Twitter and had 5000 followers before ever writing his first tweet. Now Rick has 130,463 followers and is a regular on Twitter and encourages church leaders daily.

So… have you claimed your digital real estate? Have you grabbed you or your church, business or organization’s name?

Guest Post by Tom Harper: 13 Questions Leaders Should Ask Themselves

The following is a guest blog by Tom Harper, Publisher of ChurchCentral.com and President of the Society for Church Consulting.

Every leader needs to ask introspective questions. Several of the ones on the checklist below have caused me to reevaluate not just where I am, but who I am. They are in no particular order.

As this year unfolds, now is a great time to recalibrate yourself.

1.  Is narcissism 90% of Twitter?
I mean come on. How can I really follow and read what 1,736 people have to say? Isn’t it really all about having an audience of my own? So then, what is my motivation for doing it?

2.  Is social media your newest time-waster?
In a recent blog post, Seth Godin wrote, “I’d like to posit that for idea workers, misusing Twitter, Facebook and various forms of digital networking are the ultimate expression of procrastination. You can be busy, very busy, forever. The more you do, the longer the queue gets. The bigger your circle, the more connections are available.”

3.  Are we insulting Jesus with all the books and blogs denigrating his church?
I’m reading a thought-provoking book called “Why We Love the Church.” The authors ask this same question.

4.  Do you lead your organization too softly?
Humility is honorable, but is it time to shake things up and perhaps lose a few friends for the sake of the vision? Why not be bolder?

5.  Are you blinded by your own vision?
Is it time to get a new one, even if the old one was unique – though not yet achieved?

6.  Is it time for you to make a personal leadership change?
Maybe you’ve done your best and the ride has come to an end. Leaving may be exactly what you and your organization need for rejuvenation.

7.  If you were hired to replace yourself, what would you do differently in your job?
Zero-base your position. What would you do if you started from scratch? Why aren’t you doing it now?

8.  What excites you these days?
Why aren’t you doing more of it? Maybe your followers would be more enthused if you were.

9.  Do you need to be more accountable to someone?
Someone needs to know what’s going on in the world of your heart. God often speaks to me frankly through my wife and close friends.

10.  What do you pray about?
Is it the same thing all the time? Is it always about yourself?

11.  Is your near-term future one big question mark, or do you have a plan?
Our God is a God of plans. Think two or three years out – what’s your next destination?

12.  Who was the last person you witnessed to that accepted Christ?
We are called to make disciples. Is it time to hone your skills or simply step out of your comfort zone?

13.  Do you read enough books?
It’s hard to grow without putting new ideas into your head. I get inspired by books on leadership and management. They encourage me to try new things.

Guest Post by Bill Seaver: The Twitter Balance Score (So You Don't Look Like a Jerk)

The following is a guest blog by Bill Seaver, Social Media Marketing Consultant

In one way or another we’re all marketers now. Once you got your hands on Twitter or Facebook or your WordPress blog or that Flip video camera for your YouTube channel, you became a marketer. Most of you did that on purpose, and you shouldn’t apologize for that.The question isn’t so much whether you use these tools for promotional purposes as it is this: do you use them the right way?

The way you use social media tools is directly affected by the way you think about them. They are excellent promotional devices when the promoter (that’s you) has the right mindset. With the right mindset you can connect with people and promote whatever you’re doing in ways that were never this cheap or easy.

With the wrong mindset, however, the best thing you can hope for is that you’re wasting your time. The worst thing would be that you’re becoming an annoying jerk who’s losing influence and dragging your organization’s reputation down at the same time. To use the tools effectively, you need to understand the new online culture and acquire the new mindset. The new mindset is to earn people’s attention before you promote anything.

Understanding The Old Mindset
The old mindset was one in which organizations just talked about themselves. The assumption was that people were interested in them. In some cases they were. In a rare few cases, they still are. For most of us, however, we’re just another one of a thousand people wanting someone’s attention.

Twitter is a perfect place to observe the old and new mindsets in action. With Twitter and other social media/social networking tools, a shift is occurring where people can more easily choose not to pay attention to self promotion. Marketers still need to get attention, but rather than screaming for it, they need to earn attention by being valuable to the people they want to reach. To earn attention with Twitter you have to understand it to be the conversation tool that it is. Twitter is a conversation tool that also does promotion.Many marketers seem to think it’s the other way around. As such, I have observed organizations that don’t understand this strategic mistake and don’t have the restraint to keep from over-promoting on Twitter. It’s fine to promote sometimes, it’s not fine to promote all the time.

Scoring The Right Balance
To help organizations strike the balance, I’m proposing a self-imposed Twitter Balance Score that is weighted toward conversation and sharing before promotion. The idea is that once you have scored 10 points, you’re free to promote, sell, or otherwise bring attention to something you’ve done. Until the points are scored don’t promote anything. Be part of a conversation or start a conversation.

Keeping Score
The easy way to think about the Twitter Balance Score is to think about sharing as the most valuable portion of a conversation and then listening. Only after that do you start talking. With that perspective in mind, here’s the Twitter Balance Score:

  • Share a link: 3 points
  • Retweet: 3 points
  • Ask a question: 2 points
  • Respond/reply to someone: 2 points
  • Update about what you’re doing/thinking/etc.: 1 point

The goal with this scoring system is to Tweet at least four times between promotions.

Negative Points
The downside to keeping score with anything is the ability to “game” the system. As such, someone could look at the scoring method above and just share a lot of stuff but still never talk to anyone. Beyond that, there are numerous tools available that give the appearance of activity and sharing without actually requiring the person to participate, which should result in negative points. Here are a few scenarios where negative points would be applied:

  • Provide links in three consecutive Tweets: -3 points
  • Three consecutive Retweets: -5 points
  • Retweeting compliments: -10 points (I think this is a big Twitter sin as I’ve written about in the past.)

So that’s the Twitter Balance Score. Think it will help?

Guest Post by Cynthia Ware: 5 Trends Affecting Church Communicators

The following is a guest blog by Cynthia Ware, Executive Director of the Center for Church Communications

“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. – Albert Einstein

This past week concludes one of the busiest weeks of the year for many of us who are church staff members.  It takes work to pull it off all the things associated with Good Friday and Easter.  When you put a lot of effort into something, it helps to define how you’ll measure your success right? It’s foolish, for example, to go to all the trouble of going on a diet but never weigh in and see what your progress has been!  I read that in a book.  So, does your church put effort into whatever they communicate during Easter?

Great communicators want results.  So, great communicators measure. They are constantly re-calibrating their message so they can connect with their intended audience and produce a result. This doesn’t mean the message changes; this means the message is specifically tailored for a particular audience. And then, the astute communicator will consider whether the message accomplished its intended purpose. Think of all the letters the Apostle Paul wrote to different audiences based on unique circumstances and particular needs.

As a person who helps churches communicate as effectively as possible, I’ve got a vested interest in understanding what tools help us communicate effectively.  And these days churches are beginning to embrace a somewhat holistic approach to communication involving many channels and many tools.  By evaluating both their online and offline communication resources, churches are ensuring a consistency of message and the possible complementary use of multiple communication platforms to accomplish the task of addressing those who have ears to hear.

We know that offline communication resources have been used by churches for years. These channels include word-of-mouth, traditional print (newspaper articles & ads, Yellow Pages ads) media, billboards, flyers, posters, banners, postcards, bumper stickers, radio, tv, etc.  Newly popular online communication channels would include e-mail campaigns, websites (with SEO positioning), webinars, blogs, micro-blogging, RSS feeds, podcasts, livestreaming and Internet Campuses.

When a church is using (and measuring) both off and online communication, it’s known as an integrated communication program.  The goal of selecting certain elements of a proposed integrated communications program is to communicate effectively and consistently across media platforms.

There are several macro-trends your church leadership could be aware of in order to communicate more effectively via an integrated communication program.  Note these shifts:

  • From “traditional media” to multiple forms of communication (everything from webinars & podcasts to micro-blogging & vidcasting).
  • From limited internet access to 24/7 internet availability and access to messages and services across any mobile platform.
  • From a big business dominated culture to a user-generated content & consumer-influenced culture.
  • From a “we take care of our own” mentality to a refocusing on benefits for the common good (community).
  • From broadcast-style media to more specialized narrow-casting or niche media, often centered around specific target or need-defined groups.

Following last weekend’s Easter services, I recommend debriefing with all those who helped your church communicate over Easter.  Did you use an integrated communication program?  Whose attention were you trying to attract?  Was your communication directed towards those who attend your church services or towards those who don’t?  Was your message tailored to fit a particular group or was it generic?  Did you see results from what you communicated and how?  Did you measure your success? Will you do the same thing for the next church event or will you make changes?

And most importantly, if your church excels in communicating with excellence, please speak up.  The Center for Church Communication is searching for great church communicators to showcase.

Strategic Partnerships Announced

Greg Atkinson is a consultant, friend and partner with a select group of strategic partnerships. Greg works with these partner companies (listed in alphabetical order) and encourages you to contact him at greg@gregatkinson.com for more information on how we can be a resource to your church. Click on the logos to go to the company website.

    • We focus on your finances. You focus on your church. We’ve created a web-based system that allows your church to outsource all aspects of day-to-day financial management. Greg is also available for financial consulting for your church or organization.

    • HelpStaff.me is a church staffing company. If your church is looking for a new staff member or you’re a church leader looking for a new ministry position, contact Greg. Many organizations have hired employees to fill needs without having a master plan for their organizational goals and growth. HELPSTAFF.ME can do an overall assessment and help you set up your staffing more effiiently and effectively. Again, contact Greg for more info.

    • TruthCasting creates custom iPhone apps for your church. Greg is your connection to this amazing mobile resource.