Advent has begun. It is season of the church year that is often lost in the rush to Christmas. The season when the church focuses on the expectation of the Messiah.  When in the midst of a people living in deep darkness, a voice begins crying “Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”

A lot of churches use this season to draw attention to themselves, to their presence in the community.  Christmas carolers and acts of kindness in the malls. Food drives for the poor and the needy.  Festive decorations adorning their facilities and musical extravaganzas in their sanctuaries and auditoriums.  Christmas mailers to everyone in their zip code and block parties for the children of the neighborhood.

All very good things.

But here’s an important question.  What are you planning to do as a church that will continue to bless and transform your neighborhood after the Advent and Christmas season have passed into memory?  You may add to the festive spirit of the season.  You may even pontificate that Jesus is the reason for the season so people won’t let that truth get lost. But what is your plan for ministering amidst the hopes and fears of the New Year?

Because you’re going to be around after Christmas, aren’t you? Will your neighbors? Will they be blessed by it?


Everybody wants a sound byte from the platform… now what?

Fri, Oct 1, 2010

The question…

“Our church seems motivated to attend events and activities when things are announced from the platform. How do you get people excited to participate in things when there’s no major push from the pastor?”

My answer…

If people are responsive only to events and activities announced from the platform, it’s probably because it’s too hard to find out about the other events and opportunities that aren’t announced from the platform. Normal people take the path of least resistance and if they have to work too hard to find something, they’ll just take what’s on top (like the platform announcements). The problem with the platform announcements being the only place to find out about individual growth and serving opportunities is that it limits church growth and community impact. YOU CAN’T SAY EVERYTHING AT ONCE. My guess is that you “get this” and it’s why you asked this question in the first place.

Here are a few tips to help raise awareness and energy for the things happening all around the life of the church without being solely dependent on the platform announcement.

  1. Use the platform to reinforce and promote core values and macro steps from the platform, not individual events or teams. It might look like this:
    • Announced from the platform:   Volunteer, Join a Group, Bible Classes, Be Generous
    • Not announced from the platform:   Men’s Hunting Trip, Book Discussion for Singles, Scrapbooking Overnight
  2. Then, reinforce everywhere (from the platform, the bulletin, pre-service slides, postcards, business cards, etc.) the one place where people can find everything. For us, it’s our web site. It’s the one place where all information for every team is up to date and everyone—staff, volunteer, attendees, secret shoppers, the information counter—has access to it 24/7. For you, the one place might not be the web. It might be the information counter, or the weekly newsletter, or an events blog. Whatever you choose, stick with that one place and drive everyone back to it. When you talk about big, all-church steps like volunteering, joining a group, etc., that one place is where people can find the specific opportunities that appeal to them with dates, times, directions, registration, etc. (I’ve written about our web communications strategy before.)
  3. Of course, there are always special events that warrant specific priority attention from the platform. Usually this makes sense for big deal events that affect the entire church like Baptism, Membership Classes, unique opportunities that directly apply to the topic you’re discussing in the sermon (i.e., Financial Freedom class when the message is about money.) But, even when you talk about specific events, remember to keep driving people back to that one place to find out the rest of the story.

It’s about the basics. People have good news and they want to spread the word. So, tell the people go spread it! (Luke 8:38) There are SO many wins to this approach.

  • People (on both sides of the message) are satisfied with a rewarding experience. They know where to easily find information when they want it.
  • People take ownership of the invite and spread the word about different opportunities naturally when you empower them with direct, self-service access to information. You eliminate the middle man and give them the tools to share it on their own.
  • You eliminate redundancy and extra work when you put everything in one place.
  • And, the most important benefit of all is you are able to diffuse the spirit of competition with ministry leaders jockeying for pole position on the platform. You reinforce the message we are “one church” where ministry happens not a bunch of individual ministries housed in the church.

This comes from Kem Meyer, LESS CLUTTER/LESS NOISE.  See the blogroll on the home page for a link to  more of her great counsel.


No matter what we’re leading…

A church
A family
An organization
A business
A classroom
An office

Loving people is always more effective long term than using people.

Sure, it’s easy to manipulate and convince people to move in a certain direction or do a certain thing the way you want it done… for a while.

But eventually, the motivation used by manipulation runs it’s course.
In other words, a leader can only manipulate someone to do something (do it well) for so long.

Love on the other hand,
When flowing from a genuine care for the people you’re leading,
Never runs it’s course.

People will always be motivated and will always feel more appreciated if they feel our genuine love.

Sure, there may be bumps in the road,
You still may have to have the tough conversations.


When they’re done in and through love, they will lead to a renewed motivation for the follower.

No matter what you’re leading today, use love as the motivator, not manipulation.

After all, if you’re manipulating, you’re really not leading, you’re dragging.

People eventually figure out you’re dragging them and will abandon you.

Love leads, manipulation drags.

Choose to love, not use.

Steve: This is a great reminder from Jonathan Pearson and his blog (Un)Common This is copyrighted material and used by permission. Visit his blog and subscribe.