Three Points To Remember When Preparing A Weekly Sermon

PBS-register

1. Communicate for change. Your goal as a pastor is to take people from where they are to somewhere different. This is communicating for change. Andy Stanley will talk about how he crafts messages for life change rather than just to communicate information and he’ll also explain how to create clarity and focus around your message at the Preach Better Sermons FREE online event on April 29th.

2. Attract people to God’s word, not you. Lysa TerKeurst knows how to match the reality of God’s word with the struggles of her audience. She’ll explain how she does this, as well as how to help more people remember your message by using sticky statements and memorable points at the Preach Better Sermons event.

3. Preach from a passion for people and an urgency of the Gospel. Judah Smith talks about how preaching with the urgency of the Gospel is foundational to effective preaching. He’ll also share how to deal with discouragement as a pastor at Preach Better Sermons.

Make a commitment to be a better preacher.  Sign up for the free online conference.  Here are the details:

Date:  April 29th, 2014
Time:  1pm, 4pm EDT
Speakers:  Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, Lysa TerKeurst, Judah Smith, Herbert Cooper, Michael Hyatt, Andy Andrews, Derwin Gray, & Carl Lentz.
Registration:  Free sign up at PreachBetterSermons.com

DJ Chuang Discusses Social Media and the Church with Greg Atkinson

I was honored to be a guest on my friend DJ Chuang’s Social Media Church Podcast this past Tuesday. We did a special live show to coincide with the special Pre-Release Party of my new book Strange Leadership, which has been in the Top Ten of the Church Leadership category on Amazon ever since Tuesday! Here are the show notes:

Listen to the wide span of insights from Greg Atkinson – pastor, consultant, and Editor of Christian Media Magazine. He’s also author of a new book, Strange Leadership: 40 Ways to Lead an Innovative Organization. Topics we covered include: how to encourage church leaders that are reluctant about using social media, how to use social media wisely instead of wasting time, evaluating the effectiveness of a church’s social media presence, and much more! This episode of Social Media Church was recorded before a live online audience via Google+ Hangout on Air. For more on the Social Media Church Podcast and to subscribe, go HERE.

Show Notes

Join the Strange Leadership Pre-Release Party!

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This Tuesday, April 15th (Tax Day), some friends of mine are throwing a Pre-Release Party for my new book Strange Leadership. We’ll be doing some fun stuff, giving away cool stuff and I’ll be a guest on a couple of live podcasts talking with church leaders about the book. I don’t want you to miss out on a thing, so go HERE to join the Pre-Release Party. Join in the fun and thanks for your support!

To read more details about the book and look around the book website, go here: StrangeLeadership.com

Monday, be sure to check out my first video podcast about the book on the Pastor Fury Podcast. Go here to check it out: https://armansheffey.com/iTunes 

Leveraging Christmas from Chad Hunt

My friend Chad Hunt, from The Barjona Company, has some great ideas for how to leverage Christmas this year for your church. Watch this video to get some great insight, advice and ideas.

leveraging from TheBarjonaCompany on Vimeo.

The Good of Social Media

typhoon

Our world has watched in horror and shock as the Philippines was devastated by a typhoon. All forms of media have been buzzing with up-to-date news coverage and stories of search, rescue, survival, and death.

I’ve been amazed at the use of social media to help bring aid and relief to victims. Numerous sources have written about and commented on the use of social media to rally people and retain resources to help in time of need.

From Twitter to Instagram to Facebook, people and organizations are getting the word out about how to bring help and order to what seems like chaos.

According to TechCrunch, relief efforts are now underway, including one by the Geeklist Corps of Developers, which is recruiting coders, product managers and other tech experts from around the world to build tools that will help coordinate rescue efforts, enable crisis communication and make sure emergency supplies and food are quickly distributed to areas in need.

The initiative is working with the government of the Philippines to deploy and start using finished projects. Kat Borlongan, the initiative’s coordinator, tells me that they are searching for designers, developers, product managers and social media experts to help out.

So people are employing and utilizing social media experts to bring help and aid, but even ordinary people are taking to their own initiatives to bring relief. Check out the following story:

We are just doing as much as we can and I put a post on Facebook. I said: ‘Can you help? I am going up there with the car.’ So I got a lot of donations from my friends and family, said Simon Timmins, as he made his delivery. I got about 1,000 pounds so I have got enough for at least two trips up here. This is the first trip and I will be coming up again later in the week. This is just an example of one person who is trying to make a difference and using a simple tool like Facebook to collect supplies and donations.

Patrick Meier is director of social innovation at the Qatar Foundation’s Computing Research Institute in Qatar. He develops tools, like the just launched website MicroMappers, that quickly sort through online data, from tweets to uploaded photos, and then display the information on satellite maps. Aid agencies can view the maps, which change in real time based on data coming in, and then use that information to help plan their relief efforts.

When National Geographic asked how they are mobilizing to help victims of the typhoon? Meier answerd, We launched MicroMappers in order to very quickly tag tensof thousands of tweets (and soon pictures) coming out of the Philippines. More specifically, and at the UN’s request, we are asking volunteers from all around the world to tag tweets if they are related to “requests for help,” “infrastructure damage,” and “displaced populations.”

We’re doing this entirely online via the Digital Humanitarian Network and anyone can volunteer, no prior training or experience required. You can learn more about the efforts at MicroMappers.com.

When asked about their specific goals for crisis mapping amid the typhoon’s aftermath, he said, Our goal is to rapidly map the needs and damage resulting from Typhoon Yolanda so that our UN colleagues can respond more quickly with their relief efforts.

This is the good of social media, friends. We saw this with Hurricane Sandy, and in Chile, Japan, Iran and Haiti. People took to social media to mobilize, coordinate, raise support, communicate and raise awareness, and bottom-line, make a difference.

This is why we champion and focus so much on social media here at CMM and this is a great example that technology is not a waste of time. God has given us these amazing tools to communicate with others and who knows, maybe even save a life.

 

Todd Mullins and The Nines Conference

I had the opportunity to meet and befriend Todd Mullins over 15 years ago when we both attended Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary for weeklong intensive classes together. He’s a great leader and just one of the many great speakers you can hear tomorrow and Wednesday at The Nines.

Some other additional information you might find helpful:

  • The nines is designed specifically for church leaders

  • It lasts two days (this Tue/Wed Nov 12-13)

  • Starts at 11:00 EST each day.  (Schedule runs about 5 ½ hours each day)

  • Over 100 of your favorite speakers

  • Each speaker gets just 5 minutes.

  • Its totally online.  (No need for travel arrangements… just watch from your computer).

  • Absolutely free to watch on Tue/Wed.  But you must register at https://thenines.tv

Steve Stroop and The Nines Conference

Years ago, I had the privilege of consulting for Lake Pointe Church in Rockwall, TX where Steve Stroop is Senior Pastor. He’s an amazing pastor and leader. Here he is in a sample video of what The Nines Conference is like. The Nines is this coming Tuesday and Wednesday.

Some other additional information you might find helpful:

  • The nines is designed specifically for church leaders

  • It lasts two days (next Tue/Wed Nov 12-13)

  • Starts at 11:00 EST each day.  (Schedule runs about 5 ½ hours each day)

  • Over 100 of your favorite speakers

  • Each speaker gets just 5 minutes.

  • Its totally online.  (No need for travel arrangements… just watch from your computer).

  • Absolutely free to watch on Tue/Wed.  But you must register at https://thenines.tv

  • History:  Was started five years ago on 09/09/09.  Originally, each speaker was given 9 minutes, and there were a total of 99 speakers that first year.  (You get where we got the NINES from!)  Over the years, we’ve kept the name, cut the time each speaker gets from 9 to 5, and grown the event to one of the largest online events for church leaders… attracting leaders from over 50 countries.

  • Fun fact:  We have a feed specifically for our European viewers of the NINES this year.

  • Watch this video to see what the conference is like:

The Conference that Will Explode your Church with Growth

I’m always on the look out for quality events where I can grow and train my staff at the same time. I want to put this event on your radar: My friend Bob Franquiz is hosting The Pull Conference on September 18th at 1PM EST.

Bob’s new book Pull: Making Your Church Magnetic is releasing on September 15th and to celebrate the book’s release, Bob is hosting a free conference to help churches grow this Fall.

Check out who is speaking at the event…

This event is focusing on what you need to do to see explosive growth in your church this Fall.

Here are the topics they’ll be drilling down on at the conference:

#1 – Mobilizing your Congregation

#2 – Preaching with the Unchurched in Mind

#3 – Creating an Evangelistic Culture in your Church

#4 – Launching your Fall series like you’re Re-launching your church

#5 – Using Strategic Outreach to Reach Unchurched People

Plus, Bob is leading a Live pre-conference call where he’s going to be sharing our Fall launch strategy step-by-step.

The Pull Conference is happening on Wednesday, September 18th at 1PM EST.

The pre-conference event is happening on September 12th at 3PM EST.

I’ve had this event marked on my calendar for weeks. Be there!

*** Here’s the link to register: https://thepullconference.com

Getting Started in Social Media

Hand holding a Social Media 3d Sphere

I’ve blogged numerous times and for various websites about getting started in social media. However, if you are still new to this and curious, I thought I would repost this very informative blog by Ed Stetzer. This is his how-to guide to getting started and I think it can really help you. See his thoughts below:

Recently, Leadership Journal interviewed me about social media, publishing it under the headline: “Not Tweeting? Repent!” So, in light of the fact that I basically called pastors sinners for not being on Twitter, I thought I should share some tips for getting started in social media.

Choose An Outlet

First, you’ll need to consider which social media outlet to use. My recommendation would be to engage in both Twitter and Facebook. The simple reason—you’re more likely to engage men over Twitter and women on Facebook.

Twitter is more of a broadcast medium. Users send out content (“tweet”) and people can reply to you if your tweet provoked a thought they wanted to share with you. Because of the way Twitter is set up, users don’t necessarily see one another’s replies to your original tweet.

On the other hand, Facebook is a bit more of a community-oriented conversation in that people can see each other’s comments in what is called a thread, short for a comment thread, underneath the original post.

There are other social media platforms as well (e.g., Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+), but the two biggest are Twitter and Facebook, so I think that’s probably the best place to start.

Getting Started on Twitter

Set up separate Twitter accounts for you and your church. These accounts will be able to complement each other. Here is a step-by-step guide for how to set up a personal Twitter account.

  1. From an Internet connected device go to https://twitter.com.
  2. Choose the New to Twitter? Sign Up box on the screen.
  3. Enter a name and email address. (You will need to access this email address during signup.)
  4. Twitter will help you find a valid Full Name and Username. The Username is the one associated with the “@” symbol. Mine is @edstetzer. Sometimes you’ll need to add a number or underscore “_” to your username for it to be unique.
  5. Follow the step-by-step instructions provided by Twitter. Don’t forget to upload a clear photo of yourself.

To set up an account for your church follow the same directions as above. If you have a long church name you will need to abbreviate or modify it to find a workable username. Usernames are limited to only 15 characters. If your church is First Charismatic African Methodist Episcopal Church of Waxahatchie, you might need to be really creative! For example, I pastor Grace Church, but our Twitter handle is @GoGraceChurch.

The next obvious questions are, how often should I tweet and what should I tweet about? Well, first look what other people who are successful on Twitter are doing. For example, here are some examples of pastors who do a good job. See what they’re saying, notice how they’re interacting, and learn from them.

  • Jared Wilson, pastor of in Middletown Springs Community Church in Middletown Springs, Vermont: @jaredcwilson
  • Zach Nielsen, pastor of The Vine Church in Madison, WI: @znielsen
  • Mark Marshall, pastor of Clearview Church in Franklin, TN: @mxmarsh

Your church account can be more about what’s going on in the church, retweeting things people in the church say, news of specific interest to the religious community and reminders of upcoming events. In most cases your church account will be less followed and connected than your personal account.

Here are some things you need to know about Twitter that are applicable to either type of account:

A “retweet” is when you tweet what another person has already tweeted. It is one of the most active features on Twitter. A tweet being retweeted exponentially compares to something “going viral” in the world of YouTube videos. Most people understand that retweeting a tweet does not imply that you endorse the content of that tweet. It does mean the content (typically a link to a news story) is worth reading.

A “favorite” is similar to a “like” on Facebook or +1 on Google+. It doesn’t actually mean it’s one of your favorite tweets of all time. It is a means of acknowledgement without giving a “reply” or retweet.

“Following” is like subscribing to a Twitter feed. You can follow people, news organizations, sports teams and more. Anyone on Twitter can “follow” you and mutual following is not necessarily expected.

I talked about replying earlier. While they aren’t visible to everyone who follows you, they are public though. So, if you want to speak to someone privately on Twitter, you can send them a “direct message” or “DM.” Those are only seen by you and the other person.

Getting Started on Facebook

To be effective on Facebook you need both a personal Facebook account and a different account for your church. Depending on how well known you are, you may end up needing to move from a personal Facebook account to what is called a “Page.” However, if you’re to that point you probably have a social media helper and there is no reason for me to go into all of that. So, let me focus on creating your personal account and your church’s page.

If you do not already have a personal Facebook profile, you need to create one before you can start a church page. Go to https://www.facebook.com and fill out the information to sign up for Facebook.

Once you have established your personal profile, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/pages and create your page. The setup wizard will walk you through the rest of the steps. Church pages fall under the Company, Organization or Institution category.

There are also Facebook Groups. These groups could be used for subsets of the congregation if you so choose. You could create groups for different ministries or sets of volunteers to share details with a select few.

Groups can be open to the public or password protected. It’s best to decide on the privacy of each group based on the content that will be shared with the group. A youth ministry group might not need to be private. However, a group for Celebrate Recovery or Divorce Care just might.

Blogging

In the Leadership Journal interview, I also suggested that you probably don’t want to jump into a full-fledged blog, where you are promoting daily content and things of that sort, unless you are in a specific ministry niche as I am.

However, if you are on Facebook and Twitter and you create a blog where you share weekly updates—some pastors call that “Between Sundays”—you can tweet links to the post or share them on Facebook. So, even though people aren’t generally going to your blog every day, and you don’t have a large blog readership, because you post it on Facebook and Twitter you can share updates during the week and people can share it with others.

So now that you know how to get started, repent and move forward into the social media world!

Feel free to ask questions or for clarifications as needed, and I will update this article to help all those who are interested.

Systems are the Key to Sustainable Church Growth

Today is the second post from my friend, Michael Lukaszewski. Again, I’d like to encourage you to check out his free webinar today. See details at the bottom. Here’s his blog post:

In 2005, after a dozen years of working with students, we moved from Arkansas to Atlanta to start a new church.  It launched in 2006 in a movie theater.

Our church grew quickly in the first year —from a launch team of about twenty-five people to over eight hundred people on our one-year anniversary. That’s like a cute little puppy growing into a 100lb guard dog in no time flat.

A little after that one year mark, I had a mini-crisis, because I realized that we didn’t have any systems in place to deal with the rapid growth. We had succeeded in getting people to church, but we hadn’t answered the question, What next? How are we going to disciple these people? How are we going to stay organized?

We realized that we didn’t have healthy systems to sustain this growth. You might not get excited about systems, and if you’re a visionary leader, systems might want to make you drive your car off a cliff. But systems are important.

If you’re attracting people, but not keeping people, you could have a systems problem. If you’re launching programs, and changing them all the time, that’s a systems problem. Many of the problems we were facing were systems problems. We failed to realize that while systems were not sexy, they are a huge contributor to success. I was getting mad about problems in our church, but they would be repeated frequently because we were not addressing the systems that created the problems in the first place.

So eighteen months in, I went to work on our systems. I made a list of every system that needed to exist in our organization—things from how we hired and interviewed people, to how a service got planned, to how the truck was loaded. Next, we wrote them down.

It took us months and months and many meetings, but eventually, we wrote down every system in our church. We began to implement these systems, and do things the same way. It revolutionized the day-to-day operations of our church. People problems seemed to go away, because our people knew what we expected of them. Volunteers knew what they were responsible for and who to call in case they needed something. Meetings took shape because we knew the goal and the desired result.

My journey, and the lessons I learned in the process, is one of the reasons I’m doing this free webinar TODAY at 1pm EDT.  I’d love for you to join me.