Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your internet looked like this, what would you do? Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV. What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast and Verizon?On September 10th, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality. Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.If you’ve got a website, blog or tumblr, get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! Don’t let us tell you what to do. See you on the net September 10th!

via Battle For The Net.

FREE Social Media Web Event

Does social media ever feel like a waste of time?

Like you’re spinning your wheels?

Not getting traction? No clicks, likes, fans, or opens?

You might be making some crucial mistakes you’re not even aware of. Mistakes that could be costing you customers, web traffic, clicks, and engagement. Good news: You can fix your mistakes. Better news: It’ll take you less than an hour to do so.

Join the web event “The 7 Social Media Mistakes You’re Making and How to Fix Them” hosted by Think Digital Academy founder, Justin Wise. I’ve learned so much from Justin the past couple years and I have no doubt he is going to do a slam dunk job with this web event.

On this web event, you’ll learn:

1. Where 80% of your social media results (more purchases, traffic, members, etc.) will come from.

2. What an editorial calendar is and why virtually nobody uses one.

3. Why “engaging the conversation” is the worse social media strategy on the planet.

4. Why online influence is more important than ever.

5. How to instantly improve your search engine rankings with social media.

PLUS, you’ll get exclusive access to a 14-minute interview with New York Times bestseller and social media powerhouse, Gary Vaynerchuk. Gary’s worked with some of the top brands in the world and shares some of the biggest social media mistakes he sees.

Registration is free. Anyone can sign-up.
Get more details and join this exclusive web event by clicking here.

God Sees Your Service

Even though I am not currently serving on a tech team, this post made me cry. Mike Sessler hit the nail on the head with this one and I wanted to repost it because it was just so good. His post is in between the separators.

__________________________

One problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that.

A big part of the problem with serving behind the scenes is that you are, by definition, supposed to be pretty much invisible. Most of the time, we technical artists are OK with that. We’d rather not be the ones on stage, talking to the crowd; or even in a big room full of people if we’re honest. We like to be in the background, and that’s OK. But there’s a problem with being invisible.

We tend to feel invisible, too.

I’m sure it’s happened to you (and if it hasn’t, it will) on a Sunday afternoon that while you’re picking up the stage, eager congregants will come up and tell the worship leader, band and pastor what a wonderful job they did. They’ll go on and on about how much they love to worship, and how much they got out of the message.

This is all good. But it can sting a little, too. We know that we helped make the service happen. Shoot, we may have even made the band sound a lot better than they really are (reverb covers a multitude of sins, and sometimes turning down a guitar is better than turning it up).

We made sure the pastor’s slides were made—and displayed at the right time. All the mics worked exactly the way they were supposed to. The lighting complemented the music, and the service was technically excellent.

And nobody noticed.

Those are the times when we don’t enjoy feeling invisible. It was after one of those weekends that I happened to be reading through a passage in Mark 9. One verse in particular caught my attention and re-framed my perspective (the Bible is cool like that). I take comfort in the fact that God notices when people give a cup of water to someone in the name of Christ (Mark 9:41).

Surely he notices the hours we put in working on the mix, the lighting, or slides. No doubt he sees and is pleased with what you do each weekend.

Somebody does indeed notice.
So take courage, my fellow technical artist. Just a few verses later, Jesus reminds us that, “Many who are the first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31).

Maybe, just maybe, those who received all the praise in this life will be surprised by the praise those who served in the shadows receive in the next.

_________________________

Usually when people notice us (technical artists), its to tell us something was bad, we made a mistake and/or the sound was too loud. Next Sunday, I challenge you to try and notice the good things. Take time and notice your church’s tech team every once in a while.

Send them a thank you card. Make them brownies. Bring breakfast early one Sunday morning. Notice something positive about the lights (something as simple as the pretty matching colors) or the sermon slides and thank them for their hard work. It would mean so much to us, even though we like being unnoticed and are naturally not drawn to the spotlight, we need encouragement from the body of Christ.

Strategy?! Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That!

If you find that you “ain’t got time for that” then I encourage you to make time. This is so important and should actually help guide you in some way, shape or form towards a more developed communications strategy. I want to share with you some steps I have had to learn over and over again when figuring out how to develop and carry out a strategy. These are by no means perfect and I am sure compared to some of the experts, I have left out something. The cool thing about these steps is that I can use them constantly. I have to remember that communications strategy is an ongoing process,

# 1. Your vision – Make it known.

This is the most important step. Without a vision, nothing is communicated. Clarify, cast and integrate your vision.

#2. Your Priorities – What is important?

Separate what is important into levels. (Yes, everything is important but if you don’t set priorities then everything becomes important, which in turn makes nothing important.) Communications levels can be decided by the team in the order of importance. Use verbiage like “Big Days” would always let me know what was a level one. Levels can be decided into examples like this:

Level One:  Easter, Christmas Eve/Day, Giving, Vision Casting, etc. Its going to be something that is going to impact at least 80-85% of the church.

Level Two:  VBS, Student Camps, D-Now’s, Men/Women’s events, Promotion etc. A major ministry event that is aimed toward a large majority of your people.

Level Three:  Women’s Bible study, Men’s breakfast, Celebrate Recovery, etc. This pretty much is everything else. Things that are reoccurring throughout the year.

#3. Your Channels

What communication channels are most important? You should choose between 2-4 channels. (Social media – you should start out with 2-3 channels of this as well – blog, newsletter, email, announcements, etc.) This should be based on your vision and overall audience. (Note: I italicized two very important ones. You’re welcome!)

#4. Your Audience – Who you talking to?!

Whose is your audience? Make sure to have this written down.

#5. Your End Result – See, what had happened was…

Did this turn out the way you initially wanted? Identify what you want the win to be and then use that to measure your results.

#6. Adjust

This just means to start over and constantly have this process being followed throughout your church or organization.

Meetings Are Toxic.

meetingsaretoxic

The worst interruptions of all are meetings. Why?:

• They’re usually about words and abstract concepts, not real things.

• They usually convey an abysmally small amount of information per minute.

• They drift off- subject easier than a Chicago cab in a snowstorm.

• They require thorough preparation that most people don’t have time for.

• They frequently have agendas so vague that nobody is really sure of the goal.

• They often include at least one moron who inevitably gets his turn to waste everyone’s time with nonsense.

• Meetings procreate. One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another . . .

Rework

Meetings are toxic. Now don’t misunderstand me – meetings are important, but in my opinion, meetings are the worst kind of interruption. In ministry, no matter what your role is (lead pastor, executive pastor, worship pastor, communications director, children’s director, graphic designer, etc) the most important thing you can do is engage people. That’s the main priority. But churches and ministries hold a lot of meetings. It seems that there is always another reason why we need to have another meeting and sometimes these meetings are not the most successful or rather productive.

I mentioned that meetings are the worst kind of interruptions. Why? Because you must invest a lot of prep time to lead great meetings and a lot of prep time to be a part of great meetings. Unfortunately, most of us do not have a lot of time to prepare. That lack of preparation means they do not have a defined and fluid agenda. Because of this a good majority of our meetings tend to be haphazard and lacking of definitive action.

Perhaps the biggest time waster of all time (for me) is the way meetings procreate.

One meeting leads to another meeting leads to another meeting…

If you think about it, meetings ain’t cheap. They cost some moolah!

For example: When you invite ten people to an hour-long meeting, that really means 10 hours are being spent up – not just one hour. 10 people at 1 hour a piece. That’s 10 hours of productivity, time, resources, and salary devoted to one meeting.

Having Effective Meetings

Since we can’t eliminate meetings…I want to go through some tips that you (and me) can work at to make our meeting times more effective, productive, and valuable:

* Limit the number of people you invite. Keep meetings as small as possible. Try to have less than eight people a meeting. That way you can give everyone a chance to talk or ‘voice their opinions’. Too many people can cause a meeting to rapidly chart off course and lose its focus.

* Create a detailed agenda. Send the agenda out to everyone who will attend the meeting. I can’t tell you how many times my mind would wander about what a meeting’s topic would be about. And as always, worst case scenarios would play through over and over in my head and I would come into the meeting thinking the worst. I would recommend at least two days in advance. This will allow everyone attending to review the agenda and prepare on their own ahead of time. It also gives them time to compose any thoughts they may want to share.

* Start on time – Always. Do whatever you can to start on time. In college, I had a professor who would lock the door right at 8am. If class started at 8 and you got to the door at 8:01, the door was locked and you had to take an absence. You were not able to enter the classroom. Needless to say, we all learned very quickly to get to class on time.

* Set a timer. Whether on your iPhone, an alarm clock, a microwave or even having someone come in at the allotted time – set a time limit. If the meeting is set for 30 minutes, set your timer for 30 minutes. Scheduled for one hour – put a one hour timer. When that timer goes off, the meeting is done. No excuses. Make it known to everyone attending and have everyone agree that the meeting ends when the timer sounds.

  1. Start by defining a problem. If you can, hold the meeting at the site of the problem. For example: If the problem is you are not engaging guests well on Sunday mornings, go to the place or the site where the experience of the guest begins. Have the meeting at that location. This will help you see and address the problem in a more tangible manner.
  2. Be decisive. Make sure that you end the meeting with a solution. Map out action steps (thanks, Juanice!) and assign those responsibilities to out. By making a decision, you create momentum to make other decisions and that will help your organization accelerate in the right direction.

Recap: Limit the amount of meetings you schedule and have and increase the amount of time you spend outside of said meetings, engaging people. Reaching people is our ultimate mission. Don’t allow meetings to poison your ministry.

My Go-To Books.

communications_gotolist

A lot of my learning I gained from reading books and learning from others.  I created this list of books for anyone involved in not only church communications, but ministry in general. Each of these books will definitely help you communicate your church’s vision and message with intentionality, with simplicity, and overall with effectiveness. I know they have definitely helped me.

–> Check out My Go-To List of books <– What books would you add? 

Church Bells.

“When I left, I loved Jesus, but I was tired of Christianity,” I said. “I tried to blame everything on the whole Christian subculture — but that isn’t fair. Here, I’ve learned that no one is my problem but me. Francis never judged the church, even when he didn’t like what it was doing. What right do I have to judge it? Spiritually, I just want something more.”

(pg 152 from “Chasing Francis” by Ian Cron)

We live in a culture full of cynicism.  We’ve seen the leaders that we trusted fall; we’ve seen the wizard behind the voice, and we were disappointed.  I have noticed with a lot of my friends that grew up in the Christian church that those who are reflective often have a particularly difficult time with not becoming jaded and cynical in the light of all of the visible hypocrisy and shortcomings. 

In fact, I know some people who have become so jaded that they freely spill it on others wherever they go.  It wasn’t enough for them to have lost their own song, it’s like they are trying to rob others of theirs as well. This is a song to the jaded – and not just the jaded in others but also the jaded in me.  A song inviting the listener to relax… let it go… and don’t spill your cynicism onto others.  Instead of allowing all of your unanswered questions to fully consume your joy, just enjoy the dance.  To me, that’s largely what faith has become. Yes, I have my doubts and questions and everything else, but at the end of the day, it’s not what questions I have in my mind but whether I’m going to join the dance or sit on the outside and sneer.  I’d rather dance. 

Musically, this song is scaled back quite a bit compared to others on the album.  The acoustic part is actually fairy difficult to play though.  It’s a 3-over-4 pattern that seems like it should be in a more complex song, but somehow it works for me with the simplicity of the song.  It helps it not be too kitschy with the song’s simple and almost childlike chord progression in the key of C.  It’s the complexity conforming to simplicity for the sake of the joy of the music.  That’s what this song is all about to me.

I originally was going to just have this song be vocals and acoustic, but John Arndt, who helped me with most of the string arrangements, was really hearing the strings and flutes coming in at the bridge, and I’m glad we went that way with it.  When those strings come in, I imagine the old man and the children all dancing in this innocent waltz-like circle together.

It’s also worth mentioning Jason Morant’s guest vocal appearance on this song.  I am so honored that he would do that for us.  He was a worship leader years ago, and one that I was quite inspired by, actually.  We were signed to the same label and went through a lot of the same experiences and even social circles. I’ve had meaningful conversations with Jason over the last year or two, and he has become a dear friend.  I wanted him to sing this song with me because we have dealt with some of the same issues and faced similar doubts and jadedness.  After recording this for us, he told me that singing this song was helpful for him. May our jaded hearts be healed, Amen. 

(from “Ghosts Upon the Earth” eBook by Michael Gungor)

Let church bells ring
Let children sing
Even if they don’t know why let them sing
Why drown their joy 
Stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours

May our jaded hearts be healed
Amen

Let old men dance
Lift up their hands
Even if they are naïve, let them dance
You’ve seen it all
You watch them fall 
Wash off your face and dance

May our weary hearts be filled with hope
Amen

These 7 things.

7 things churches communicate each sunday

Working in the church has allowed me to learn and observe some awesome things and some not so awesome things. If there is one thing churches need to work on is communications ministry. So many times we shout at the top of our lungs from the pulpit with so many announcements from every which way that our congregations get confused about what is important for them. We need to learn how to communicate what is important. We need to learn how to communicate what matters the most. If there is one thing you get out of the next 7 points I am going to be going through is: By communicating everything, you communicate absolutely nothing. Each Sunday, we as church communicators and leaders need to communicate what matters.

#1.

thegospel2

#2.

vision2

#3.

mission2

#4.

values2

#5.

stories2

#7.

calltoaction2

Remember:

By communicating everything, you communicate absolutely nothing. Each Sunday, we as church communicators and leaders need to communicate what matters. Everything else can go on your website or other avenues of your communications.