Why Bring Greg Atkinson, the Church Secret Shopper, to Your Church This Year?

Greg Atkinson is the bestselling author of Secrets of a Secret Shopper and The Hospitality Handbook for Volunteers – and is a speaker, coach, and consultant who has worked with churches of all sizes, including some of the largest and fastest-growing churches in the country. Greg has also consulted with numerous businesses and nonprofits, including Josh McDowell Ministries.

Greg has produced worship services for three mega-churches and been a pastor – serving the local church for the last 20-plus years. He has also produced large conferences including Leadership Network’s Conference and Catalyst Dallas.

Greg has a unique ability to see things that you miss due to his “fresh eyes” and experience in knowing what to look for that makes a difference to guests visiting your church.

Whether your church is historic and traditional like Menlo Park Presbyterian in California and First Baptist Dallas, or modern and rocking like New Life Church in Colorado Springs and Bayside Church in Sacramento (where Lincoln Brewster leads worship) – Greg will make sure your church is doing things with excellence and an eye towards hospitality.

Greg is available to come to your church over the weekend this year and give you a detailed and lengthy report of his finding and action items to do to help your church go to the next level. Greg goes over the entire report with your church’s leadership team, takes questions and points you in the right direction. If you’re serious about reaching the unchurched and making your church guest-friendly, contact Greg.

Here’s what some amazing leaders said after hiring Greg to work with their church:

“Greg’s ministry provided a really valuable perspective on our weekend experiences as a church. His heart for the Kingdom and passion to see every church reach its maximum potential is a gift to those of us who care deeply about seeing our churches thrive.” – John Ortberg, Senior Pastor, Menlo Church, Menlo Park, CA

“Greg came into Grace Community Church and gave us a top to bottom look at who we are as a church to the people we are most trying to reach. He is thorough and detailed in his report but tries hard to be helpful, explaining his findings in a context that fits with the church culture. He knows that culture well because he knows churches, people and he does his homework. This is money well spent!” – Ron Edmondson, Former Co-Pastor, Grace Community Church, Clarksville, TN, CEO of Leadership Network

Greg Atkinson is smart, detailed, thorough and saw things that we would never notice. His feedback was invaluable and we are making several strategic changes as a result of his visit. We will use him again. I encourage to you do the same. In a word – he’s the best.” – Ray Johnston, Senior Pastor, Bayside Church, Sacramento, CA

“Visitors to your church are more often than not people who don’t know Jesus and are looking for an excuse to not come back. Greg’s evaluation of your church helps you dig into where you can significantly improve a guest’s first time experience. He makes you think and leaves no rock unturned. Probably the best money we’ve spent all year long.” – Ashley Wooldridge, Senior Pastor, Christ’s Church of the Valley, Peoria, AZ

“I highly recommend Greg as a “Secret Shopper” for your church. He helped us see things we had missed and confirmed what we were already working toward. His insight will help your church feel like a home.” – Brady Boyd, Senior Pastor, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO

“Greg has a great ability to see and assess ministry detail. His work in many churches brings considerable experience and insight to your staff team. Greg’s church Secret Shopper process offered us a fresh set of eyes to help us take excellence to the next level. Very helpful!”– Dan Reiland, Executive Pastor, 12Stone Church, Lawrenceville, GA

“Greg was able to bring things to our leadership team’s attention in areas that we had missed. His perspective and ideas have helped us develop new strategies to help us grow and reach more people. As we take the ideas for improvement and implement them we look forward to seeing more people come to connect with God, grow and learn to live generously.” – Steve Smothermon Sr., Senior Pastor, Legacy Church, Albuquerque NM

“Greg brought a fresh perspective to our campus and offered a frank assessment of where we were honoring our guests and where we might need improvement. It’s easy for us to miss the obvious when we experience it week in and week out. But Greg knew what to look for and where to find it! His input has shaped a key area of our strategic development.” – Danny Carroll, Senior Pastor, Water of Life Community Church, Fontana, CA

“It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day operations of the church and not see some of the glaring issues you may have in your church. Greg has the unique ability to look at the church from a “first-time guest” perspective and communicate with you that experience. His insights were invaluable.” – Scott Wilson, Lead Pastor, The Oaks Fellowship, Red Oak, Texas

“Greg provided detailed and thorough feedback regarding his experiences before, during, and after his visit to First Baptist Dallas. He helped confirm some things we already knew or suspected, and brought others to our attention for the first time. Greg will help you make sure you are doing everything possible to reach as many as possible for Jesus Christ.” – Ben Lovvorn, Executive Pastor of Operations, First Baptist Dallas

“Greg’s approach is thorough and holistic. From the conversations before the visit to the detailed report following, you can tell Greg knows what he is doing and that he cares deeply for the local church. Our weekend services benefited a great deal from his critical feedback and observations.”– Ted Vaughn, Chief Creative Officer, The Rock Church, San Diego, CA

“You want your church to Thrive? If so, pay attention to the little things. They add up to a big impact! Greg can help your church become more effective in just one visit!” – Dr. John Jackson, Executive Director, Thriving Churches International, Executive Pastor, Bayside Church

“Greg Atkinson helped us look at our weekend services with fresh eyes. His feedback was intelligent, balanced, and helpful.” – Steve Stroope, Lead Pastor, Lake Pointe Church, Rockwall, Texas

To inquire about more information and get the process started, fill out Greg’s brief intake form here.

* Happy New Year!

How to Reach More First Time Visitors for Your Church

Are you a pastor or church leader with a full schedule and only limited hours in the week? If so, are you struggling to find ways to reach more first-time visitors with the limited time you have?

Being a pastor isn’t just preparing for Sunday’s message every week but the scope goes much more beyond that. And on top of all of that, you must find a way to reach more visitors and to spread the message of Christ.

There just isn’t enough hours in the week for everything a pastor must do.

And with that, I am so excited to invite you to the Church Hacks Summit to Reach More First Time Visitors!

They’ve assembled 25 of the world’s leading church first impressions, guest services, and marketing experts to teach you their secrets on how to reach more first-time visitors and grow your church.

I’m honored to kick off the Summit with the opening talk on why hospitality matters. I’ll be making the Biblical case for why you should take this area of ministry seriously.

This is going to be a free online event (no travel) for equipping your church with proven systems and strategies to connect with new first time visitors in your community! We’ll show you how your church can be a magnet for first-time visitors without being gimmicky, breaking the bank, or setting unrealistic expectations.

And the best part of the Church Hacks Summit is that it is 100% absolutely free! If this is something you’re interested in, just click this link and register today! And if you know somebody that would benefit from this Summit, make sure to let them know.

What Grace Means to Me

graceGRACE. It’s my favorite word. As a matter of fact, I named my first-born child Grace. I often tell her how special her name is. I know she gets tired of hearing it (or maybe she secretly loves it), but I point out every song, sermon, or movie that mentions the word “grace.”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently became the Executive Director of ExPastors.com. We have a mission statement that reads as follows: We seek to be a place of help, healing, and hope for ex-pastors, pastors, and church leaders. We do this by hearing their stories, connecting them with people and resources, and focusing on spiritual, physical, mental and emotional health.

When Tullian Tchividjian reached out to us and I talked with him on the phone, I heard a man that had committed a sin (a serious sin before God and that is a hot-button for many people). I heard a man that had experienced brokenness, shame, loneliness, deep and dark sadness, and regret over what he had done to his family, and how he let his church and followers down.

As a matter of fact, Tullian was in such a dark place of sadness, regret, loneliness, anger, and frustration that he set out to take his life. He even wrote a suicide note that he shared in the piece we published. You can read it here.

He did, however, address questions and accusations with RNS in this piece. A while back, when writing about Tullian, Charisma News wrote the following:

“Weak areas such as drugs, alcohol, pain meds, sex, anger, marriage issues, and so on are ‘opportune times’ for the enemy to strike. We must expose these areas through repentance, and install safeguards and accountability.”

I agree. Friends, I’ve been in ministry for over two decades and I know and have experienced the attacks, traps, temptations, and lies of the enemy. I urge you to pray for pastors around the world. And I challenge you to sincerely pray for pastors who have fallen (like Tullian), been fired for addiction (like Perry Noble), and burned out (like Pete Wilson).

We, as a ministry, and myself personally, took a ton of heat, bullets, and accusations by many upset and angry people. Did they have a right to be upset and angry? I don’t know. I just know that when it comes to truth and grace, I always lean towards grace. A therapist, professor and author that I respect said the same thing. Only Jesus perfectly embodies truth and grace equally. He is 100% truth and 100% grace. We all lean one way or the other.

On Wednesday night, after we and I took a beating on our website and on social media, I looked my daughter Grace in the eyes, with tears in my eyes and said, “You know how special your name is to me, right?” She said, “Yes.” I told her about the personal attacks I had received for showing Tullian grace. And I reminded her:

“Grace is unmerited favor. You can’t earn grace (thank God). We don’t receive grace because we’re perfect, deserve it, or have it all together. Grace is freely offered by God to us and we should freely offer it to others.”

Tullian’s grandfather, Billy Graham, wrote about grace and the unmerited favor of God here. I encourage you to read it. You can read more about what we, at ExPastors, believe and are about here.

So, Thursday after being emotionally drained and exhausted from the constant attacks on our website, social media, and people that targetted me personally and questioned my integrity, I went to see my therapist for our weekly appointment. Yes, I see a counselor. Yes, I believe strongly in therapy. And I’ve written and spoke out about it frequently. I think every pastor should see a therapist. One of the lies and traps of the enemy is isolation. If you feel alone and have no one to talk to, you will fall (or take your life), and be another statistic.

So, last week I met with my therapist. He said, “What would you like to talk about today?” I said, “I have a lot to talk about, express, get off my chest, and get some counsel on.” So, I told him about my week and the reason we published Tullian’s piece (which has since been removed). I told him that many pastors commit suicide each year. In an article by Charisma News, they wrote: “It’s this thought process that could have caused both Seth Oiler and Isaac Hunter to take their own lives after being caught in affairs.” God help us!

My therapist told me of another local therapist that used to be a Lutheran minister. He said this former minister is now a practicing counselor, who’s whole practice is dedicated to helping former pastors. Believe me, I will be reaching out to this counselor and getting to know him.

I told my therapist (and this is the God’s honest truth) that when I woke up Wednesday morning (after we posted Tullian’s piece on Tuesday), the first thought in mind before I even sat up and put my feet on the ground was:

JUST ONE. Yes, we took a lot of heat and bullets for posting the article, but if just one pastor read Tullian’s story of deep, dark depression that led him to consider taking his own life. If just one pastor decided to not take his life and seek help so they can keep on living – it was worth it all. 

My therapist encouraged me by reminding me of the “Starfish story.” You’ve probably heard it. Ever heard of the man walking along the beach and picking up starfish and throwing them back into the water so they wouldn’t die? Someone mocked him because there was no way he could make a difference and save every starfish. The man picked up a starfish, threw it in the water and said something like, “It made a difference to that one.”

Read my article on ExPastors.com entitled, “It’s Okay to Not Be Okay. This is a Safe Place.” In the article I write, “We reach all kinds of pastors and ex-pastors: broken, hurt, wounded, mad, angry at God, angry at the Church, confused, on the verge of suicide (like Tullian Tchividjian shared), in transition, now in lay leadership, pastors who have burned out and are ready to quit, pastors who have resigned and now work a job outside the local church, pastors who were fired, pastors who were laid off due to finances or circumstances out of their control – all kinds of pastors and church leaders.

As my friend Pete Wilson once said, “It’s okay not to be okay.” And I would add, “This is a safe place. All are welcome here. Whether you like us or not, trust us or not, love us or hate us, agree with us or not, or are just checking us out – we welcome you.

And like it or not, Tullian is the very definition of an ex-pastor. For every mega-church pastor, author and/or conference speaker that finds themselves in a similar situation, there are hundreds or thousands of ex-pastors and struggling pastors that are hurting and/or burned out – they just pastor smaller churches and don’t have the platform that Tullian has. And to you, my friend, I also say, “This is a safe place.””

So, if you stumbled across this blog post and God has stirred something in your soul. If you’re a current or ex-pastor, we’d love to hear from you. Submit your story to us. It doesn’t matter if you pastor a church of 10 people, 100, or a 1000. We’re in this together and we hope to create a community where people can help one another get through tough seasons of ministry and life. If you’re at the end of your rope and need of help, contact us. We want to connect you with resources and other pastors.

Browse the site. Read through our articles. Maybe you’ll find something helpful and timely. Check out our Resources page and if you have a recommended resource, email us. Check the site often. Subscribe to our newsletter to get weekly email updates and subscribe to our YouTube channel to keep up with video content, including our new podcast (coming soon). FYI – When you subscribe to the ExPastors.com newsletter, you’ll receive a free copy of our Founder, Bo Lane’s best-selling book Why Pastors Quit.

Let’s be people known for and characterized by GRACE. That’s my story and my personal mission. I’m a grace dealer and I’m going to keep on dishing it out. God bless you pastors as you serve the Church. Keep pressing on. Don’t give up! You’re not alone.

What Are You Doing to Develop Personally?

book

One of the biggest challenges every leader faces is how to continue developing and growing as a leader while still getting things done and moving things forward.

With the ever-increasing demands on our time and energy, often the first thing that goes is investing in ourselves. We know that isn’t wise; it’s really very short-term thinking, but under the pressure of the moment we often make that choice.

One reason we do that is that we don’t see immediate consequences. The consequences of not investing in ourselves now often show up later—a year or more later, when the challenges are even bigger and we aren’t ready for them.

One way to address that is to change our reading habits. We have all heard that “readers are leaders” and that “growing churches are led by growing leaders.” But the average reader takes 4-6 hours to read one book. It can be a challenge to find that time on a regular basis! Most of us end up with a bunch of unfinished (or unstarted) books that we know we should read but just don’t have time to get to.

Maybe it’s time for you to check out Leaders Book Summaries. They summarize books for busy leaders. They condense books down to 12-15 pages, and then also provide a 2-page summary of the summary. An average reader can go through a whole summary in just 15-20 minutes. That’s a lot more efficient than 4-6 hours!

You’ll get summaries of the titles you should be reading. Leaders Book Summaries was started by pastors, for pastors. They are practitioners, not just theorists. They know what it’s like to be in the trenches, and they pick and summarize books that will help you make a difference.

They issue thirty (30) summaries of leadership books each year. The books are written by both secular and religious authors. Recent examples include…

  • Leading Congregational Change, by Herrington, Bonem, and Furr.
  • The Leadership Playbook, by Nathan Jamail
  • Amplified Leadership, by Dan Reiland
  • Be The Best Bad Presenter Ever, by Karen Hough
  • Supersurvivors, by David Feldman and Lee Daniel Kravetz.

In addition, titles by Andy Stanley, John Maxwell, Henry Cloud, and other well-known leaders fill their library.

A subscription is normally about $7 a month, or $119/year if you want the archives (over 150 titles). Leaders Book Summaries is currently offering a special discount to our blog readers. Instead of paying the full rate, you can get the monthly rate for just $5.95/month, or the Premium subscription, giving you access to their whole library, for just $99/year. And that covers all the new summaries coming out in 2016 as well!

This is a win-win-win. You can save time, save money, and invest in your own leadership development. You can’t do much better than that!

Click here to get the discounted rate. (It isn’t being offered anywhere else!)

By the way, besides providing summaries to those who subscribe, the folks at Leaders Book Summaries go a step further to support God’s leaders. A tithe of the profits is given to church planting efforts in the U.S. and Mozambique. Additionally, they give free subscriptions to third world pastors, who often can’t afford to buy books. When you subscribe to their service, you are also investing in other leaders around the world.

Faith Village Interviews Me About ‘Church Leadership Essentials’

FaithVillage CLE interview

By Blake Atwood

Source: FaithVillage.com

Greg Atkinson’s Twitter bio neatly summarizes the many ministry hats he’s worn over the last 20 years: “Greg is a servant of Christ, husband, father, pastor, author, speaker and consultant.”

In those two decades, he’s learned much about what it means to be a church leader. He’s now taken those lessons and has distilled them into Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know.

For an opportunity to win a print copy of Greg’s book, comment on this article with something you think is a defining characteristic of a church leader.

FaithVillage spoke with Greg about his book, one that would be a welcome addition to any pastor’s library.

Why did you write Church Leadership Essentials? What makes it unique compared to the many church leadership books already on the market?

I wrote Church Leadership Essentials because, after speaking at numerous conferences over the last 14 years, I’ve seen that many pastors and church leaders were not properly and practically prepared for real ministry in Bible college or seminary. This is a leadership book that is specifically geared toward the church and ministry in general.

As my former boss and pastor Pete Briscoe once said, “The world for which we were trained no longer exists.”

Who’s the ideal audience for Church Leadership Essentials?

The audience is pastors and church leaders of all types. Whether you’re full-time, part-time, bi-vocational or volunteer, there is a nugget of wisdom or two in the book for you, which is full of leadership lessons and principles I’ve learned over two decades of ministry.

What chapter in Church Leadership Essentials is your favorite? Why?

My favorite chapter is the last chapter. It is a look back on 20 years in ministry. I share my heart and reveal what God has taught me as I look back over the last two decades. It’s close to my heart because I share that God uses weak, broken, messed up people for His glory.

Church Leadership Essentials is a direct result of your blogging. Can you recall why you started blogging in the first place?

In the summer of 2006, my friend Don Chapman of WorshipIdeas.com was visiting me in Dallas. I was driving to Oklahoma City to speak at a conference and Don came with me. It was about a three-hour drive and I started sharing some ideas, resources and new companies that I had come across. Don directly and boldly said, “Dude, you have got to start blogging. Church leaders would really benefit from what you’re sharing with me.”

That night Don went online to GoDaddy and bought the domain name: ChurchVideoIdeas.com and said, “Here you go. Now get to blogging!” I started a cheesy-looking WordPress blog and the rest is history. Thanks to my great Charter Sponsors, I was able to give my blog a face-lift. It’s been through several design changes over the years.

The “why” is simple. I have a heart for the Church (capital “C”). My heart and passion is for the Kingdom and equipping Church leaders — that’s why I write, that’s why I consult, that’s why I speak at conferences. I love Christ’s Bride and want to be a friend, helper, encourager and equipper to Church leaders around the world.

Praise God, people actually care what I have to say. Almost every day I receive an email from a church leader asking me a question. Many of you reading this who have sent me an email hopefully have seen that I try to answer your email promptly and to the best of my knowledge. I wrote this book to answer many of the problems and scenarios that I’ve seen or heard of all too often from leaders around the world.

Do you think all pastors should blog? Why or why not?

Good question. I’ve taught on this in the past and tried to answer it numerous times. I used to just simply say, “Yes.” Now my answer has evolved and I don’t think blogging is a good fit for every pastor.

One, to be a good blogger, you have to have something to say and you have to blog regularly and consistently. Lots of pastors and church leaders have started blogs with the best intentions, and then I check on them months later and their last post was weeks or months ago. That’s a sure-fire way to lose an audience and momentum. But, if you can commit the time and you have something original, useful, practical and insightful to say, I say, “Go for it!”

Aside from the Bible and your book, what other five church leadership books should every pastor have in their library?

You’re heavily involved in online ministry, and you have been for quite some time. Why is it important for church leaders to be involved in online ministry, even if it’s only through one online outlet?

Being involved in online ministry (social media especially) is essential for communication with our congregations now. We cover this a ton at Christian Media Magazine where I’m Editor. I believe that pastors and church leaders should definitely be on Facebook (that’s why I wrote the Foreword to Facebook for Pastors).

Being on Facebook is a way to be reachable, approachable and let your people see that you’re a normal, regular guy or gal. It breaks down the barrier between the pulpit and the pew. If you’re going to your kid’s recital or ballgame or on a date with your spouse, share it on Facebook and allow your people to see you outside of the guy that delivers the sermon each week.

I use Twitter (@GregAtkinson) mainly to learn from, communicate with and share with peers and professionals in ministry. If you are to be a life-long learner (which I feel strongly about), you can learn a ton by being active and engaged on Twitter.

Now, consider adding Greg’s book “Church Leadership Essentials: What Every Pastor Needs to Know” to your church leader library, check out his blog at GregAtkinson.com and read more about the book at ChurchLeadershipEssentials.com.

Comment below with one defining characteristic you think every church leader should have, and you’ll be entered into a drawing to win a print copy of Greg’s book.

Buy Now

Resources for Your Ministry

As we near the end of the year, I want to thank our two main sponsors of this blog for the past quarter: eaHELP and MAG Bookkeeping.

300x250-eaHELP 300x250-MAG-Bookkeeping

Both companies are great resources for your church, non-profit, business or ministry. I blogged about eaHELP years ago when they were new and I could see their potential. They have now grown significantly and are serving tons of churches and businesses and key influencers like Michael Hyatt.

Check out THIS article about the day in the life of an EA Virtual Assistant. It’s quite interesting. I encourage you to click on their logos and see what they have to offer. You won’t regret it. I only partner with advertisers that I respect and trust. Check them out!

 

 

Christmas Media Review

The following is from my friend Dale at WorshipHouse Media:

Christmas is probably the time more churches use media than any other time of the year. We decorate trees, why not use some great seasonal media to “decorate” your Christmas media presentation? Here is a roundup of 5 short videos that are being used at churches all over the world this Christmas.

 

1) True and Better  (new this year)

by Dan Stevers

Why it is great: Stunning animation, Longer script allows you to base your sermon off the video, Works beyond Christmas as a gospel video

How you would use it: We have heard many churches have loved it so much they are theming the Christmas season to “True and Better.” Perfect to show it before, during, or after a sermon.

 

2) Christ The Savior Is Born (new this year)

by Centerline New Media

Why it is great: Visuals, easy to read text, Scripture based, short in length

How you would use it: As a stand alone reflection piece, Prior to a Christmas Sermon, Prior to worship to set the tone of praise.

 

3) The Christmas Scale (2012 best seller)

by Igniter Media

Why it is great: Familiar Music, True Story

How you would use it: To blow peoples minds! No, seriously – it is an amazing story about something so familiar people will be surprised. Can be used in conjuction with another Christmas video as this one is unique and great as a stand alone video at the beginning of your service.

 

4) The Christmas Truce (new this year)

By Shift Worship

Why it is great: The animation is amazing, Based on a true story so history buffs will love it.

How you would use it: This would be perfect in the middle or near the end of your Christmas message to bring home depth and meaning to our own celebration of the birth of Christ.

 

5) Christmas Welcome to Our Church (new this year)

by Floodgate Productions

Why it is great: Seasonal way to welcome visitors, Visuals and Voice over easy to follow.

How you would use it: Either in place of a countdown at the very beginning, or just after a countdown to start your service.

 

We hope you enjoy these Christmas videos from some of the best producers of church media! It was really hard to pick just a few as we have so many awesome videos in the Christmas seasonal store this year. What is your favorite?

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Oh Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

grand theft auto

Let me say up front that I’m not a true “gamer.” I play video games with my kids, but I have friends that stay up until 2 or 3 am playing games and are true gamers – that’s not me. With that being said, I want to offer some pastoral counsel and advice to church leaders and parents: Be careful what games you let your kids buy and play.

I recently had a friend purchase “Grand Theft Auto V.” He got to the third scene and had to take it back to the store because it was so bad and vulgar. He described people having sex in a van, two going at in the street and one scene where the paparazzi pay you to take pictures of a teen star having sex. Of course in the game, you can still pick up a prostitute. Read this review of the game to truly know what goes on.

Some of you may be shocked. Some of you may be yawning and thinking what’s the big deal? The big deal is what our kids are seeing behind closed doors in their rooms when we think they’re playing a simple racecar game and they are acting out sex, crime (remember it’s called “Grand Theft Auto”), and violence (there are a lot of fights and car-jackings).

When parents don’t get involved in details like this in their kids’ lives, it leads to trouble down the road. Kids are growing up today with a taste and thirst for violence (think “Halo” and “Call of Duty”) and when you mix that with a negative view of women and thinking of them as sex objects, it makes you think what the next generation of leaders, pastors, teachers and businessmen and women will be like.

I don’t want to preach or come down too heavy. I just want to raise awareness of a problem and strongly encourage you to check into what your kids are playing. If a thirty-three year old friend of mine had to return the video game because it made him blush and feel dirty, what business does a teenager or child have playing it?

So, like the title says: Be careful little eyes what you see. My kids play games like Madden (football) and Indiana Jones and Star Wars. We are intentional not to buy them games with graphic content or violence. I encourage you as leaders in the church to be careful what you look at (on computers, tablets and gaming consoles) and be a present parent to your children. They look to you for guidance and today’s kids need all they can get. So as the Christmas season approaches, take a careful look at what games and movies you buy your kids. Okay - I’m stepping down off my soap box!

 

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.

 

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: http://thepullconference.com