During the month of April, I did something I haven’t done since Middle School. I had a whole month off with no work responsibilities. I had a one month sabbatical.
Where I serve at West Ridge Church, we take staff health very seriously. So much so that our Pastors and Directors are given a 1 month sabbatical after serving for 5 years, and a 2 month sabbatical after 10 years. This paid time away is provided for spiritual refreshment and professional growth. It’s a reset button so desperately needed for a life in ministry.
So on April 1st, I removed my email and calendar from my phone and computer and kicked off a month like I had never experienced before. During the month, I:
- Spent a weekend with my wife exploring Savannah, GA
- Soaked up all the extra time with my 16 month old son, Ethan
- Did a whole bunch of yard work…
- Went to New York for the first time, attended the filming of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and saw the incredible sights of a city that energizes and inspires me
- Spoke at a communications conference in San Antonio
- Retreated to the mountains for a few days of quiet time, writing, and dreaming for the season ahead
I’ve walked away from this month feeling rested and energized for the season ahead of me. I’m so thankful for our Senior Pastor and Elders who have set a tone for staff healthiness.
If you’re a senior church leader, I think you should consider doing this for your staff. Here’s why:
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We have a “Millennial” problem in the church. Statistics and attendance are showing that Millennials are leaving or not connecting to the church at higher rates than ever before. Meanwhile, churches across the country are trying to find the best new tactics for reaching young people.
So what can churches do to reach this Millennial generation? Is it a new program or service? Is it adding some cool moving lights or starting new social media accounts? Maybe it’s just copying what the biggest church in town is doing?
Here’s the issue.
In an effort to reach Millennials, many churches violate the foundation that will make them effective. That foundation is authenticity.
Some call the young generation of 18-34 year olds “Millennials.” I just call them the authenticity generation. From an early age, this generation has been constantly bombarded by messages and marketing from businesses, organizations, politicians and churches.
Here’s the superpower that this generation was born with: they can sniff out whether you’re being authentic or not. They know when you’re just trying to sell something to them, get something from them, or be someone that they aren’t. This superpower is what draws them to certain organizations or people, and what turns them away from others. The current political landscape in 2016 is a testament to this power of authenticity.
So what does this mean for the church? Continue Reading »
I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there… I hate announcements.
The very mention of the word brings back memories of being stuck in a pew, listening to someone read from a bulletin for 15 minutes about everything on the church calendar that week.
Growing up in the church, I can’t remember a time where I’ve heard someone say, “Wow, those announcements were powerful today.”
That presents a challenge for us as the church. We have life-changing opportunities for people to take advantage of, but they are often getting tuned out, ignored or forgotten during the typical announcement time.
Churches are making the dangerous assumption that if it’s important to us, it must be important to the audience. We assume if it’s announced from the stage, it’s remembered in the seats. Reality is, that’s just not the case. Continue Reading »
Wanna know the most surprising thing I discover when talking to people working on a church staff? The biggest source of disunity and conflict often lies between the Senior Pastor and creative team.
Creatives often find themselves feeling under-appreciated, overwhelmed and ill-equipped to do their job well. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard the phrase, “my pastor/boss just doesn’t get it.”
On the other hand, I hear consistently from Pastors that they feel like creatives only care about their work and not how it fits into the church as a whole. They don’t feel the support, don’t give the benefit of the doubt to leadership, and are rarely happy with what they have.
Here’s the bottom line if you’re working on a creative team (or anywhere on a church staff):
If you can’t support the Pastor and the vision and mission of your church, go find another job. Seriously.
If you’re working on a church staff, you probably find yourself in one of three situations:
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I’ve answered the same question to dozens of people over the last couple months. The question? “Where have you been?” Fair question. My consistency on social media and blogging has taken quite the dip. Here’s why:
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For my first five years working in creative ministry, I was obsessed with the idea and the destination of “excellence.” I always felt excellence was a value often forgotten or overlooked in the church world, and I tried to make it my mantra as a young creative to fix everything and bring it up to a level of excellence I could be proud of.
I still love and value excellence. I think it’s critical to effectively communicating the story of what God is doing in and through our churches.
However, as I look back at that first season of ministry, there was something missing. Now I realize that drive for excellence created a steady rhythm of being overwhelmed, frustrated and feeling like I never arrived anywhere.
Everywhere I would look, I would find things that need fixing, frustrated by things that I couldn’t control or speak into, and facing challenges with limited resources and staff. I was wasting sideways energy on so much that I couldn’t control, feeling like excellence was the destination that I’d never actually get to arrive at.
If I was going to survive and be effective in the call God placed on my life, a couple things needed to change. Continue Reading »
“Simple isn’t always shallow. Complicated isn’t always deep.” -Jon Weece
Everybody loves the idea of simplicity. Few actually practice and apply it to how we communicate.
The harsh reality of simplicity is that you have to fight for it. It never comes naturally. Complexity has a sneaky method of finding its way into our lives, our organizations, and what we communicate.
Here’s the harsh reality: if we don’t fight for simplicity in how we communicate, we will simply not be effective in helping people take their next step and experience life change. Our audience is getting bombarded each day by advertisements, messages, images, videos and agendas that are all fighting for the valuable commodity of their sole attention. If we don’t fight to find the clarity and simplicity in the chaos, our message will get lost in the clutter. Continue Reading »
I had the awesome opportunity to speak at the SoCon14 Conference here close to my home in Kennessaw, GA today and speak on the topic of social media strategy. The talk was about putting a strategy in place to effectively share your story and connect with your audience in the ever-changing world of social media. Continue Reading »
A few weeks ago at West Ridge Church, we conducted a social media experiment. I’m a big believer in the power of social media, but to be honest, the results shocked me.
On Tuesday, January 7th during our Lead Team meeting, we were talking about Terence Lester, one of our church planters who created an innovative ministry called Love Beyond Walls. His focus is giving a voice to the homeless of Atlanta and building relationships with them to help change their lives. Terence put together a campaign called 6,000+, where they were looking for donations of socks, gloves and hats to give to the 6,000+ homeless in Atlanta that go to sleep without a home. The deadline to submit donations was in 5 days, and they were 2,000 short of their donation goals at that point. We wanted to be a part of taking care of this need and mobilize our church to play a part. Continue Reading »
What do you think of when you think branding? Logos? A set of colors? A product or a tagline? All of these can play a key role in the development of the branding of an organization or church. They each play a role in connecting with the head of your audience.
However, I believe there is one aspect of branding that too many organizations, especially churches, are overlooking. Logos and tag lines can all communicate to the head, but what about the heart? How are people connecting emotionally with your brand? Most likely, when someone thinks of your church or organization, they are not thinking about your logo. They are thinking about how you make them feel. Great branding connects the heart of the audience with the heart of your organization.
Nothing puts this concept on display more than Super Bowl commercials. It’s the one time during the year that I’ll use my DVR to go BACK to a commercial instead of using it to quickly fast-forward through commercials. But on Super Bowl Sunday, it’s different. This is a time when the brands of our country are on display to get noticed and create a lasting impression.
Here are a few recent commercials that stand out to me as brilliant in how they connect their brand with the head and heart of their audience. When you watch these, see how they’re able to tell a story you can connect with, and bridge that with how it connects to their brand.
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