Seth Godin on Church Planting

I don’t know if Seth knows what church planting is or not, but his post yesterday should be memorized (it’s short – that’s Seth) by every church planter in the world. I’ll quote it in its entirety because of its brevity…

There’s nothing wrong with having a plan.

Plans are great.

But missions are better. Missions survive when plans fail, and plans almost always fail.

Gotta love Seth.

[bcoxlike]

Leaders Are People Who Create a New Reality

I was involved in a fairly deep conversation this morning with a fellow Pastor and mentor about the subject of change. Yes, it’s hard. Everyone understands that. But leading change is real leadership. Michael Hyatt said as much in a recent blog post…

My answer to the question is this: Leaders exist to create a shift in reality.

Without leaders, things drift along. They go where they want to go, following the path of least resistance. However, when this is not desirable—or acceptable—you hire, elect, appoint or become a leader. The leader’s job is to overcome resistance and make things flow in a different direction. His or her job is to create a different reality.

via Why Leaders Exist.

Whenever I’ve talked about change, someone has always responded with the classic line, “yes, but change just for the sake of change isn’t good.” Why? Why do we think that’s true? I would actually argue that sometimes a leader needs to change things just for the sake of changing things. Here’s why…

  • Growth is change. Not growing requires not changing.
  • Change moves us out of our comfort zones, ruts, and routines.
  • Change wakes us up and requires that we pay attention.
  • Change keeps us off our center of balance and takes us in new directions.
  • The culture around us is changing. Changing our communication techniques is non-negotiable.

Change is difficult, and it’s more difficult for the leader than for anyone else. But that’s what leadership is all about – leading change.

Communication Is What We DO

1939 Radio

This post is a bit of a rant, but not a mean one. I spend a LOT of time on the phone and on the internet connecting with church leaders. I’ve observed, in the wild, the communications strategies of hundreds of churches, and I keep noticing that the very basic principles of messaging and communication are often missed. Let me give you some examples of what I mean…

I see church websites that are poorly designed. It isn’t just aesthetics, which on the whole tend to be a decade behind modern web design trends. It’s also the communication strategy. Information is poorly arranged with no logical order. Events are out of date. Contact information is missing or old. Navigation and menu structures are often… shall we say discombobulated?

I see logos and identity design that reeks of “I paid $99 bucks for a box of templates and slapped our church name on one.” The vision, values, culture, and identity of the church is rarely captured in the imagery. Symbols are used that are only familiar to the deeply churched and never explained anywhere.

I see content published on websites and blogs that seems to target no one other than fellow ministry leaders, not people who have huge questions about God and spiritual things. When I search Google for answers about divine questions, I see that the cults are killing us on search engine optimization. In other words, we aren’t intercepting those questions. We’re allowing false teachers to catch the passes instead.

I so want to grab church leaders by the ears, albeit gently, and persuade them to do just a brief and cursory reading about how to use content to reach people, how to build a usable church website, and how to design great brand imagery to represent your church.

Does that mean every Pastor needs to become a communications expert and buy design and coding software? Absolutely not. Pastors need to be in the Word (unless, like me, tech stuff is just your thing). But every Pastor with a message worth spreading needs enough of a grasp on design and communication principles to either empower or hire the right person for the job and then inspect the work along the way.

If I could throw out some random tidbits of advice to church leaders about communication practices, here are a few of the things I’d say based on recent observations…

  • Make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Have a nice website optimized for search engines, especially for terms like “churches in Anytown.”
  • Make it as easy as possible for people to contact you. A contact form, a phone number, and an email address are all essential. Which of the three is best? It doesn’t matter. Publish them all to catch everyone.
  • Do things that are remarkable, like preaching the timeless gospel, without compromise, in the midst of an often crooked and perverse generation. People will talk about you, which is the goal.
  • Do more things that are remarkable, like getting outside the walls of your church and getting engaged with the problems of your community in the name of Jesus.
  • Make it easy for people to share stories of all the remarkable stuff you’re doing. If Facebook were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, and you’d see it as an optimum mission field. So open your eyes and look on the fields…

I’m not looking to argue with anyone over whether we should “market” the gospel or not. I’d rather just use different words instead – words like “preach,” “proclaim,” and “publish.” It’s the same process with less controversy. God wants the world to hear about His Son, so communications really ought to be one of the church’s highest priorities. It’s what we (the church) DO.

Where does preaching, proclaiming, and publishing fit in your church’s priorities?

photo credit: x-ray delta one

Content Is Social Media Currency

We’re all tired of hearing how “content is king,” but it’s still the rallying cry of many, many people in the marketing world. The phrase encourages debate between content producers (writers and publishers) and creatives (designers and developers). Is content really king? Or is it usability? the development platform? or the sharable nature of the content?

I’m going to suggest a different line of thought. Content may be king of your world, but I think of it more as currency. It’s like money. Content is what gets spent in the world of data and information. Let me explain what I mean…

[Read more…]

Thank God For the BMA of America

I grew up in a staunchly conservative Southern Baptist church, where I first heard the gospel and received Christ as my Savior. I was baptized by Doug Riley, a man who was committed to the faithful proclamation of God’s inerrant Word. Many of my heroes in the faith are or were Southern Baptist leaders.

I have benefitted greatly from W. A. Criswell’s heart for the preaching of the Word of God in its perfect entirety. I’ve been inspired to be a more wise and well-equipped leader by Dr. Adrian Rogers. The scholarly works of A. T. Robertson and John Broadus have taught me much about preaching and about the message of the New Testament. I’m thankful also for many of today’s leading Southern Baptists who are holding a firm line on having a strong commitment to an orthodox belief in the Scriptures as God’s inerrant self-revelation.

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Blessed Persecution

”And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad… Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word.” –Acts 8:1, 4

At the close of Jesus’ ministry, just after His resurrection, He instructed the apostles and the church they would lead to “go into all the world” and preach the gospel everywhere. God has always wanted to be known to men everywhere, hence His great effort to publish the story of His Son Jesus. The apostles, however, got comfortabe in Jerusalem and though they had great success there, they neglected the great commission to go to the uttermost part of the earth.

What did God do in response? He allowed, within His sovereign will, a persecution to come to God’s people which scattered them around the region. When they were forced out of their comfort zone, they then obeyed the commission to witness to all creatures.

How often do we put off the leadership of God in our lives because of our comfort zones? Sometimes we merely miss the blessing altogether. Other times, God sends or allows circumstances in our lives that stretch our comfort zones or kick us out of them completely. The greatest strategy we can have is to get out of our own comfort zones before these circumstances have to come.

What is God leading you to do that you havent’ yet because of a comfort zone. What can you do to escape it and live to your full potential for God?