The Epic-Fail of Church Announcements.

Picture this scene. You’re in your pew. The worship is amazing, almost transcendent. The song ends in a moment of awe-filled silence. It’s just you and God. And then—train wreck; you are catapulted from a state of ethereal wonder to an awkward announcement about the church cookie bake-off or a video that never seems to have the sound start until seven seconds after it begins.

Nothing in the history of Christendom, save perhaps the Second Crusade, rivals the ineffectiveness of the church’s ability to accomplish an intended purpose more than the medium of in-service announcements.

I wish the Bible had some direction in regard to announcements.

So why are announcements chronically bad? There are a number of answers: ranging from announcement guy or gal walking on stage unprepared and oblivious to where the congregation is emotionally; to the presenter thinking this is a great opportunity to practice their stand-up routine.

On Twitter, someone tweeted, “ The Bible does not have announcements, why should we?” At first I thought, “Yeah, that’s right, down with announcements altogether!” Then, I thought about it. It’s actually not true that the Bible does not have announcements. Technically, the Bible is one big giant announcement.

Let’s start with Jesus. Prophets, kings, psalmists, angels and John the Baptist announced Jesus coming. Or what about the book of Revelation? Is it not just a giant announcement of what is to come? Even the rapture will start with an announcement from the heavens. Notice that these announcements really matter. There’s not a bake sale in the bunch.

Here’s the point. When we fail at offering our people life-giving announcements that really matter, we are failing at something that the word of God does extremely effectively and on purpose.

The Bible uses announcements so effectively because God understands the nature of proclamation. When done right and under the direction of the Holy Spirit, announcements have the ability to bridge people into God’s purposes for their lives. An effective announcement can see a marriage healed through the conference you are hosting or an alcoholic find sobriety through the Celebrate Recovery ministry your church sponsors. Simply put, announcements are a passage to seeing people transformed. Every time we do announcements poorly or perfunctory, it means people, your people, are missing an opportunity to be changed.

So what is the answer? It’s pretty simple. Announcements need to be valued in the same way you value worship and teaching. No, I’m not saying that your announcements are on par with the eternal word of God, but they should contribute to a functional life-giving worship experience.

  • While there is not a spiritual gift of “announcements” listed in the scriptures, I do think you want your most talented and Spirit-led people doing them.
  • Next, these people need to be prepared. Think memorized with no notes. Nothing crushes announcements like the presenter not knowing the details. When that happens, they are telling the audience, “I don’t care about this enough to know about it, so why should you?”
  • Announcements need to be covered in prayer and directly relate to the global mission of your church. While the Yahtzee ministry’s rummage sale is important, I’m not sure the entire church needs to know about it. But a night to support all the missionaries your church supports would be. This means that your in-service announcements need to push the ball down field for the whole church, not just a small section of it. The rest goes in the bulletin. Trust me, people read the bulletin.
  • Another important lesson is not to focus on what you’re doing, but why you’re doing it. The practical details of next week’s service project won’t entice anyone to come (“It starts at 7:30? Yes!”), but a story of how it changes someone’s life probably will. Put the details in the bulletin. Put why it matters on stage for people to see and hear.

There are lots of great and creative ways to do announcements from videos to quick interviews. The medium is up to you. The non-negotiable is that they need to offer your people life.

 

 

 

 

 

Originally posted in November 2011 on Church Marketing Sucks 
Advertisements

Your New Ministry Job.

Hand-ShakeThe first month as the ____ pastor/director/minister/associate at a new church I think can be one of the toughest months as you get to know the congregation, learn the culture, and try to figure out how things work. You get all sorts of people coming up to you with smiling faces and firm hand shakes, telling you their names and after a while it sounds like the all familiar teacher from Charlie Brown – “Whon whon wha wha whooon.”

If you’re in worship ministry, you may get tons of emails of people within the congregation wanting to do ‘new’ songs. (Looking at the bright side…your iTunes library will grow with free mp3’s that were attached to all those emails). If you’re in outreach or small groups ministry, you may get phone calls and  ‘surprise’ visits from people who want to know what you’re all about and what makes you the right person for the job. (Questions like: “Why did the other guy really leave?” “Have you ever worked with my type of small group; I just started it” “What is the most exciting mission trip you have been on?”) All questions to get to know who you are. Be confident. Be prepared. If you’re in Youth ministry, you get to meet parents and teens. And you sometimes may get extremely varied responses. Some teens may look at you like you’re their long-lost best friend. Others act like you shot their puppy and then ran over him with your car. Some parents may give you the pleasure of awkward conversations about their teen dealing with [insert issue here]. Some parents will want to be involved with your planning and want to sit in the back every week and meet with you to give you their encouraging critiques [do those words go together?]. No matter what areas you come into, ultimately, you have to learn the rhythm of the church. [Where to put forms, what drawers in the kitchen you must never touch under any circumstances, etc.]

The worst part, though, is that a lot of times you just don’t know what to do! It’s a weird contradiction. You simultaneously have a whole lot to do and very little to do. How? Well, you don’t have a daily routine of things to get done, but you have a lot of “newbie steps” to do that can seem overwhelming.

So, what do you do in the first few months at a new church? Let’s go through some of them so that things can go a bit smoother for you:

1. Get to know people.

This is priority number 1, and priority number 2, and 3, 4, 5…

If you do nothing else the first month at a church, this should be it. If you can avoid it, don’t jump into leading a small group or teaching a Sunday School class. Try to hang back and use the time to meet people and get to know them. Learn names. Learn names. Learn names. [It’s one of the hardest things for me. And the bigger the congregation, the harder and longer it’s going to take to learn names.] If you’re church still has a paper back directory [most churches today use online tools like this] or grab one and study it. Once your first Sunday has passed and you have been able to meet some people…go on Facebook and reach out to as many of those people you met as you can. Identify the people who are the ‘social butterflies’ and ask them to introduce you to everyone! You’ll of course get to know the teens, but you need to get to meet everyone you can. Those little old ladies and the other people who might not come up to you could have a big impact on your ministry so get to know them as well.

2. Learn the culture.

This may be obvious to you but just in case you don’t know…each church is different. If you can, sit down with a staff member or church leader and have them clue you into everything they can think of. You’ll get it all eventually, but whatever you can learn early on will keep you from stepping on a landmine down the road. If there is a way for you to, go back and read old newsletters and bulletins. Those things are filled with clues to the church culture. Most importantly, just be observant. You can learn a lot by keeping your mouth closed and opening your eyes and ears. If you are conscious of how the church operates and try to adapt yourself to its rhythms, you’ll be good to go.

3. Your office.

The first couple weeks, you may find yourself saying, “Hmmm, I’ve got nothing to do…” Use this time to organize your office. You probably won’t have time to do it after the first couple weeks. If there is one thing I have noticed about offices, is that when someone has an organized office…it communicates something about them – that their professional and they take this job seriously. It’s just a good idea to take a couple of days to set it up right so you don’t have to worry about it later.

4. Meet with core people.

You will have a lot of people you need to meet with. Church staff, parents, leaders, students, volunteers, – the list goes on. You may or may not be able to meet with all these groups of people in the first month, but you should at least make plans to meet with them at some point. You are meeting with them to get to know them, of course, but you are also meeting with them to share your vision. They need to know what you’re about, what you’re going to do, and most importantly the role they play in it.

5. Get to know the community.

This one can be easy or hard, depending on your community. Drive around and get to know the area. Learn where the schools are. See where students hang out. Read the local newspaper or check out online resources about the town. Get an idea about the heartbeat of the place. This is your mission field – study it carefully. Ask questions. This should be something you continually do, but make the first steps in this first month.

6. Evaluate.

You should be observing and evaluating the ministry from the first minute you come through the door. What are its strengths? What are its weaknesses? What sort of things did they do in the past? What curriculum (if any) is used? How are the facilities? Just look at every aspect of the ministry, and see how it works. Again, ask questions. Even asking those you will be working with (staff, volunteers, students and parents, etc.) on how things are. Getting that clear picture will help later.

7. A plan for the future.

You should start laying the foundation of your plans for the ministry. You don’t need to lay out exactly what you want to do, just some general goals for the future. (Example: let’s say in a year you want to have started a special needs ministry. Set that as a goal, and then make some plans on the how to. Or, say you need new volunteers: set a goal that in 8 months you’ll have 4 new volunteers.) Have an idea of what you want to do, but remember to keep it flexible enough so that if it’s not a good idea that’s ok. And in 8 months when you have learned some new things, you can apply them.

The first month at a church can seem a bit overwhelming, but it is also an awesome time to meet new people, make new friends, learn about a new place, and have an opportunity to do some awesome things for God’s kingdom.

Enjoy the first early months, but be sure to use them to your full advantage.

Are Millennials Fit to Lead?

What happens when the youngest, greenest and least experienced step into leadership?
Young_Leaders_RECTby: Andrew Hink; reposted from relevantmagazine.com

 

It was 6:00 a.m. when I rolled out of bed. Only 72 hours earlier, I was waking up to life as a college student. On Saturday, as I walked across my alma mater’s commencement platform, my thoughts were enamored with the enormity of the future ahead of me, symbolized by the mighty blue Pacific Ocean extending into the horizon. It was now Wednesday morning, and my thoughts were focused on the morning rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles and the uniform I had seen my baby-boomer father put on nearly every day of my childhood life: a freshly starched dress shirt, slacks and, on this occasion, the best tie I could find.

I was a fortunate outlier. Amidst historic times of economic recession plaguing the futures of my fellow college graduates, I had finished college not just with my diploma in hand, but also a job. I was finally joining “the big boy working world.”

My job hunt brought me to the management team of a nonprofit agency. My responsibilities required managing staff, coordinating volunteers and developing programs for clients. In other words, in a matter of days, I had transitioned from undergrad student to professional leader. But I soon learned it wasn’t quite as simple as that.

THE SIMPLEST OF QUESTIONS RADICALLY CHALLENGED MY NOTION OF MY PLACE IN THE OFFICE WHEN MY ASSISTANT, A BABY BOOMER, TURNED TO ME AND ASKED, “ANDREW, HOW OLD ARE YOU?”

From my undergrad experience, I thought I had a pretty good grasp on what it takes to lead. Whether it was serving on student government or representing my high school classmates on the city school board, I was used to leading people. You agree to serve, run for a position, and more times than not, you have some title to hold. This naiveté oozed from my Millennial self as I drove to work that first day, ready to begin the next chapter as a “director.”

The simplest of questions radically challenged my notion of my place in the office when my assistant, a baby boomer, turned to me and asked, “Andrew, how old are you?”

This first job gave me a crash course in the challenges of leading as a Millennial in an intergenerational workplace, and I had to recognize different approaches to learning and living that I hadn’t considered before. Without a doubt, the meetings with my baby-boomer assistant, daily conversations with my Gen-X boss and other interactions with clients and colleagues taught me and challenged me more than I could have ever imagined after spending most of the previous four years around people my age.

After nearly a year and a half in the position, I realized there was a lot more to learn in order to contribute my best in developing people and serving organizations. The next step in my Millennial journey, then, took me to graduate school, beginning a M.A. in, of all things, leadership.

Leadership has been a focal point of our cultural consciousness for centuries. We’ve debated whether or not leaders are born are made. Countless articles and books have been published to help leaders with easy tips and quick solutions for our most common problems. This is especially true in the Church, where leadership is often considered the capstone of spiritual maturity.

“I AM ALSO GETTING IN TOUCH WITH THE MYSTERY THAT LEADERSHIP, FOR A LARGE PART, MEANS TO BE LED.” —HENRI NOUWEN

Yet with recent movements and revolutions from Wall Street to the Middle East, we have shown that followers are an even more significant element in the leadership equation than had been previously believed. It’s the followers who comprise the fuller movements that pave the way for real change.

Additionally, organizational structure is shifting. Different generations of leaders in companies have transitioned from largely organizational cultures of hierarchy and bureaucracy to new atmospheres of collaboration with flatter structures.

In this new reality, the emphasis on authority, position and title has been diminished. By 2020, many expect that we will have an unprecedented five generations at work together. As today’s record numbers of Millennials appear on the workplace scene, they have big aspirations and carry the expectation, often, to rise to the top in a position of leadership.

Our culture has long prized leadership, usually praising achievement of position or applauding titles and authority. But with these new developments and changing workplace realities, we have an opportunity to change the way we think about and practice leadership, especially across the growing generational spectrum at work.

Catholic priest and writer Henri Nouwen names this new opportunity well: “I am also getting in touch with the mystery that leadership, for a large part, means to be led.” My experiences, and maybe yours as well, have quite poignantly aligned with his countercultural words. Through leading as a Millennial fresh out of college, my eyes have been opened to the great possibilities of learning and living when you realize there is much that you don’t know and much to be learned.

By learning how to follow well, we learn how to better lead. Despite entering the workplace with limited experience, Millennials have a unique opportunity to contribute to the organizations where we work and serve. Alongside colleagues from across the generational spectrum, who have already seen great change in the workplace, my fellow Millennials can contribute the most by leading and living with an attitude of perpetual learning. When we recognize and live with this attitude, we continue the journey of never arriving. This is the best kind of leadership we can offer.

Downton Abbey Paper Dolls!

For those of you who don’t know…I love Downton Abbey! As season 3 starts for American viewers, I wanted to delight you with these truly amazing cutouts for you to print. From the Dowager Countess herself, she wishes us happy viewing:

Sybil: “Nobody learns anything from a governess, apart from French and how to curtsy.”

Countess: “What else do you need? Are you thinking of a career in banking?”

Cora: “Things are different in America.”

Countess: “I know. They live in wigwams.”

Dowager Countess is my favorite.

Who’s your favorite character on Downton?

Inspiration.

“…all the beauty of the world, the beauty that calls our admiration, our gratitude, our worth-ship at the earthly level, is meant as a set of hints, of conspiratorial whispers, of clues and suggestion and flickers of light,all nudging us into believing that behind the beautiful world is not random chance but the loving God.”  (N.T. Wright, For All God’s Worth)

Multi-Sites and their Websites.

The multisite church revolution is not slowing down. More and more churches nationwide are choosing to launch new
campuses. Outreach Magazine stated that 75 of the 100 Largest Churches in America are multisite. Wow. I love when I find churches that have put their website as a priority in providing an easy user experience. Churches that use their website to provide value and accomplish missional goals is easier said than done. I have a couple of examples of some multisite churches that have provided inspiration for the best online solution for their church.

#1. Biltmore Baptist Church – Arden, NC

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 11.48.31 AM

Why I like it — Biltmore Baptist Church utilizes the “splash page” model. They ask users to pick a “default location” on their first visit. As you hover over each location, it displays when services are held, what the physical location is, and a link to Google maps. Everything you need before you even have to click a button. They also display a countdown that shows when the next service will go live. Easy. Simple.  Extremely helpful.

#2. Elevation Church – Charlotte. NC

Screen Shot 2012-12-19 at 11.51.51 AM

Why I like it — Elevation Church displays their various campus locations right there in the middle of the page. The Google Maps location finder is helpful, especially for first time visitors! I have learned that first time guests make up their minds about your church within the first 7 minutes from the parking lot to decide whether or not they are going to come back. The same principle applies to websites…except with websites that time slashes to seconds. 7- 30 seconds to capture the attention of first-time visitors to your website. If they can’t find the information they need, they’ll look elsewhere.

Storytelling Rules.

Storytelling is used everywhere! As a church we have the most incredible, life-changing, powerful story to tell and share with the world…the Gospel. Churches mainly use storytelling in testimonies, cantatas, videos, promo videos, etc. Maybe your church has even more things it does when it comes to storytelling. Here are a few tips I grabbed on to on storytelling…from Disney Pixar’s own, Emma Coats. Yea…she’s legit. Although she is now a director in L.A she knows a thing or two about storytelling:

#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.

#2: You gotta keep in mind what’s interesting to you as an audience, not what’s fun to do as a writer. They can be v. different.

#3: Trying for theme is important, but you won’t see what the story is actually about til you’re at the end of it. Now rewrite.

#4: Once upon a time there was ___. Every day, ___. One day ___. Because of that, ___. Because of that, ___. Until finally ___.

#5: Simplify. Focus. Combine characters. Hop over detours. You’ll feel like you’re losing valuable stuff but it sets you free.

#6: What is your character good at, comfortable with? Throw the polar opposite at them. Challenge them. How do they deal?

#7: Come up with your ending before you figure out your middle. Seriously. Endings are hard, get yours working up front.

#8: Finish your story, let go even if it’s not perfect. In an ideal world you have both, but move on. Do better next time.

#9: When you’re stuck, make a list of what WOULDN’T happen next. Lots of times the material to get you unstuck will show up.

#10: Pull apart the stories you like. What you like in them is a part of you; you’ve got to recognize it before you can use it.

#11: Putting it on paper lets you start fixing it. If it stays in your head, a perfect idea, you’ll never share it with anyone.

#12: Discount the 1st thing that comes to mind. And the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th – get the obvious out of the way. Surprise yourself.

#13: Give your characters opinions. Passive/malleable might seem likable to you as you write, but it’s poison to the audience.

#14: Why must you tell THIS story? What’s the belief burning within you that your story feeds off of? That’s the heart of it.

#15: If you were your character, in this situation, how would you feel? Honesty lends credibility to unbelievable situations.

#16: What are the stakes? Give us reason to root for the character. What happens if they don’t succeed? Stack the odds against.

#17: No work is ever wasted. If it’s not working, let go and move on – it’ll come back around to be useful later.

#18: You have to know yourself: the difference between doing your best & fussing. Story is testing, not refining.

#19: Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.

#20: Exercise: take the building blocks of a movie you dislike. How d’you rearrange them into what you DO like?

#21: You gotta identify with your situation/characters, can’t just write ‘cool’. What would make YOU act that way?

#22: What’s the essence of your story? Most economical telling of it? If you know that, you can build out from there.

Emma CoatsTwitter: @lawnrocket

Church Communications – What is that??

Anything people read, touch, or click is considered communications. Maybe there is something to add to that, but I haven’t really found that yet. When it comes to church communications I think this is crucial because:

  • Read would include any written messages communicated from or about the church…be it in print or electronic form.
  • Touch would include a weekly bulletin, newsletter, brochures, mass mailings/postcards, or anything else that represents the church or has the church logo on it…in print form.
  • Click would relate to any form of web or email based technology, as well as new social media tools like Twitter, Facebook, etc.

The role of church communications is changing…it’s no longer about a church secretary typing announcements into a pre-printed bulletin shell. Church communications now involves a lot of planning, strategy and people who are focused on directing the different communications channels of a church. In 2 words, hard work. There are some churches that have started to see the need and importance of having a full time staff member as a communications director. The director of communications is responsible for managing and directing a church’s internal and external communications. They work to create communication strategies and (depending on their role or level of authority) serve as the key spokesperson and media contact for the organization. The director of communications typically reports to an executive pastor and/or lead pastor. They handle all messaging in the church outside of the Sunday morning messages and work to build teams to support all facets of church communications (print, media, web, etc.).  They are passionate about the church’s vision and care about how it translates to people inside and outside of the church. They defend it. They design it. They care about it.

The local church is the hope of the world. I believe it has the greatest message that’s out there, the message of the Gospel. And with that, the greatest message deserves the greatest marketing, creativity, and storytelling. If there is one thing I am learning from school is that marketers spend millions of dollars every single year to tell us that our lives would be better or enhanced with the products, services, or ideas they are selling. I know that we are not about selling salvation as a product. The goal of the church is not to try and woo people to our ‘services’ (haha) or trying to convince them to convert or whatever….we are about seeing the trajectory of people’s lives changed. Seeing hearts surrendered to Jesus. Being a young person, I have the privilege and curse of being part of the generation that has made it harder and harder to communicate with. The cool thing is…with that comes the challenge of communicating the unchanging, timeless message of the Gospel in way that is relevant and compelling to the culture of its time.

Watch this video:

That commercial was for a WEB BROWSER. Google Chrome. What? Wow. Why didn’t they focus on the features and explain why Google Chrome is better than the rest or the best for you to use? Because Google understands the power of storytelling. They focused us on the story of Sophie and her Dad. They wanted us to watch it, get attached, say a few “aww” and “how sweet!” and emotionally connect with it. Less product. More story. Well, it worked for me.

What message are the experiences people have with your church communicating?

What does your marketing say about you and your church?

Is there a disconnect between what you say and what people experience?

What if Starbucks marketed like churches do? Watch this video:

Everyone Else Gets It.

Walt Disney World. One of my favorite places to go to. I was able to go with my best friend in June and have the pleasure of going again next week. Needless to say, I am excited! 🙂 Anyway I was thinking about all my past visits to Disney World and how it has the power to transport me to a different place. How do they do that? Is it the smells? Probably not. I think it is the things I hear throughout the park.  A philosophy I think that can apply for their parks, rides, and video environments should be: “75% of what our guests see is what they hear.”

Even if this isn’t really a Disney thing…is should be. And every other theme park I’ve ever been to as well. Universal. Islands of Adventure. Busch Gardens. — What you hear in a video can make or break whatever it is you are producing.  Watch the video below:

WORDS from Everynone on Vimeo.

Now try to watch it with the volume muted. Notice how the sounds and music make the video.

Being a music snob, the first thing I look for in a movie is–Who is the composer? Why? Because it matters more than people think it does. Take a look back at the film that won Best Picture and Best Original Score this year at the Oscars—The Artist. A silent, black and white film made in 2011. Nothing but music, sound effects, and pictures. Unfortunately, sound is usually an afterthought on low-budget productions. Audiences are far more likely to forgive bad video quality than poor sound quality, yet most of us invest most of our time and money into making our video content look better instead of focusing on how to achieve the best sound. Lets take lessons from the people who know what they are doing and focus on how to make our sound quality better.

Leadership & Reflections.

  My reflections from 21 most powerful minutes in a leaders day by John Maxwell.

 The Law of THE LID — Leadership ability determines your effectiveness:

 1. In your leadership, have you been more like David or Saul?

As much as I would love to say that I am more like David, I can’t. I think I have been more like Saul. Because leadership ability determines a person’s level of effectiveness, I know my leadership ability is lacking in lots of ways, due to not only lids in my life but my lack of understanding the nature of leadership…just like Saul.

I have always thought leadership was just something you were born with and if you weren’t born with the right personality and attitude, there was no way you could ever become a great leader. But I am learning that this is totally a false way of approaching leadership, I have to want to change and grow in who God has called me to be, no matter what I think or feel; its time to improve myself consistently towards the next level…just like David did.

2. What lids exist in your life?

I am not a fan of this question. But I am sure that if I am truly honest, I could make a list the length of a football field but I will list the ones that have been floating around me for some time.

Fear. (…the unknown)

Insecurity. (…what others think about me and my leadership ability.)

Discipline. (…disciplining myself to learn and grow spiritually and demand improvement of myself.).

Initiative. (…being confident in creative ideas and taking the ‘dive’ whether others agree with me or not.)

Inexperience. (..my lack of experience because I am young.)

Denial. (…being confronted about a shortcoming or issue in my life and without confessing and praying about, deciding it’s not true about my life.)

Contempt. (…getting to a place where I don’t want to learn and grow as a leader.)

3. What lids can you lift?

I can lift all of the lids listed. For me, it’s going to have to start with my attitude and truthfully answering the hard questions to myself.

I cannot be a lid lifter if I am not willing to grow personally first.

4. Who are the lid lifters in your life?

I can feel that the list of lid lifters in my life is growing and I pray that I always have people to lift me up despite my shortcomings. I know that I can’t lift my lids on my own. I pray that I can be a lid lifter in their lives too.

5. Which one leadership concept, insight, or practice that you’ve learned this week will you pass on to another leader in the next two days?

Every leader has lids regardless of title, position, or achievement. I am going to lift the lids that I can on my own and be courageous and humble enough to grow through the encouragement and Biblical wisdom of those in my life who are lid lifters.