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8 Things To Remember As You Prepare For Easter

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Easter Sunday is less than a week away and it’s likely that your church will experience your highest attendance numbers for the year. We all understand that making a good impression on visitors is crucial and that it’s important to communicate the Resurrection message in a fresh way to your regulars. But I’ve been in ministry long enough to know that this week can be really rough on the people working behind the scenes. Because there’s so much emphasis placed on this one Sunday, there’s a lot of pressure to strive for perfection and do extraordinary things, all while still finding time to do all of your normal, weekly duties. It can be downright exhausting.

Here are eight things to keep in mind during this hectic season:

1. Your hard work is worth it.

The hours that you’re pouring into making this service special are so important. Easter Sunday matters because people matter. Each individual who walks through those doors on Sunday was created by God with a purpose. Your hard work and dedication are leading the way for them to connect with the risen Savior.

2. Going the extra mile can make all the difference.

No matter your role in Sunday’s service, give it all you’ve got. When we give our best, we can have confidence that we’ve done our part and that the rest is up to God. Remember that even the smallest detail of a service could be the one thing that stands out to someone; the thing that keeps them coming back to hear more about Jesus.

3. Easter Sunday is important, but so is your family.

This is where it gets tricky. Yes, it’s important to work hard and give our best to make Sunday great. But, we have a responsibility to our family that should always come before the church. In the midst of the craziness, make sure that you’re connecting with them. Be intentional to show love to your spouse. Spend some quality time with your kids. Be careful that this doesn’t become the most dreaded week of the year for them.

4. Two is better than one.

The more people that you can get involved in your Easter service, the better. Not only will it take some of the pressure off of you, but it also helps to get more people to attend your big service. Experts say that you can expect four additional people in attendance for every person involved in an event. For example, if you have 25 people involved, you can expect them to attract 100 friends and family members. Even if it’s a small task, get people plugged in.

5. Everything cannot be perfect.

This is always a tough one for me. I’m all about striving for excellence in everything that we do, but you just can’t do it all. Rather than stretching yourself thin with a long list of projects, focus on a few things and give them all you’ve got. Place your emphasis on the projects that will make the biggest impact on your crowd and are the most noticeable.

6. No matter how hard you try, something is still going to go wrong.

Expect problems to occur – that’s simply the nature of Sunday morning. No matter how many times you rehearse, proofread, or practice, mistakes are going to happen. This is especially true when you’re working with technology. ProPresenter may crash in the middle of service. A microphone may malfunction mid-song. Stuff happens and it’s out of your control. Expect it and prepare for a quick comeback.

7. The power of God is not limited by your budget.

No matter the size of your church, you have to work within a budget. Some budgets are smaller than others, but we all wish we could spend more than they allow. This is a good thing – our dreams should always exceed our budgets. Keep in mind that the power of God far exceeds anything that you could purchase to make your service great. Use what He’s given you to its fullest potential and let Him cover the rest.

8. Jesus wants to connect with you.

In the midst of all of this work for God, we often forget to connect with God. You’re at your best when you’re in communion with Him and you need Him in this season. Be intentional about seeking Jesus in this week leading up to Easter. Remember that this is all about Him. This Resurrection Sunday, let us lead the way in having an authentic relationship with the risen Savior.

 

Introducing The “Shift Media Creator” App

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Unknown-1Our friends over at Shift Worship made a big announcement this week that I believe is going to make a huge impact in the Church Media world. With the release of their “Shift Media Creator” app, you’re able to create custom, high-quality motions right from your iPhone. I downloaded this $5.99 app to check it out for myself and it far exceeded my expectations. No matter the size of your church or budget, this is a must-have for your ministry. The ability to create custom backgrounds for your services so easily is huge.

“You could keep finding worship media the way you’ve always done it. Search. Sort. Search some more. Or you could use that powerful, high-end camera you’ve got in your pocket to shoot exactly the image you want, quickly and easily make it exactly the right size – and make it gorgeous – before sending it straight to your ShiftWorship account to download into your software.

It’s fast. It’s easy. It’s fun. And it puts all the creative power right in your hands. Worship media will never be the same.”

Find out more about Shift Media Creator here.

What do you think about this app? Will you download it?

Getting Started In Church Communication Ebook

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Congratulations to @locklear_jay, @cralex3, and @anthonymcmurtry! You’ve won a free copy of the “Getting Started In Church Communication” ebook!

The year of the Church Media ebook continues! The Center for Church Communication has just released a new 3-in-1 ebook that covers the basics of getting started in Church Media by focusing on three topics—copy, web, and jobs. Since these are three subjects that often get neglected, I was really happy to see this release.  I checked out this ebook over the weekend and it seems to be really practical. I like that it has real insights from church communication pros that deal with this stuff every week. The way it’s laid out definitely makes it easy to read and apply a little at a time. Each topic is available as an individual volume for $2.99 each, but I’d recommend picking up the complete set for $6.99.

Find more info on this 3-in-1 ebook here.

Purchase here: Kindle, iBooks, PDF

We’ve also partnered with the CFCC to provide copies for three lucky TCP readers! We’ll announce the winners next week, so be sure to go ahead and enter so that you don’t miss out!

OFFICIAL RULES & SUBMISSION INFO:

1. To enter, tweet I just entered to win the new “Getting Started In Church Communication” ebook at @creativepastor! Check it out here – http://ow.ly/uKxdx to your followers.
2. Entries will be accepted through Friday, March 21st, 2014 at 11:59pm (Eastern).
3. Three winners will be selected at random by our staff.
4. The selected winners will receive a free copy of the “Getting Started In Church Communication” ebook (3-in-1 edition).
5. We will announce the winners on our site on Monday, March 24th, 2014.

Spread the word about this contest to your friends and followers!

7 Innovative Ideas For The 21st Century Church

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The continual danger confronting the church is irrelevancy. We live in a world filled with innovation and ever-changing technology. In the midst of this fast-paced modernization, the local church is often left behind as it’s seen as stuck in the past and irrelevant to 21st century life. I believe many of the unchurched don’t necessarily have a problem with Christianity. Rather, they simply cannot fathom how the church could possibly fit into their modern day life.

It’s with this idea that a passion began to grow inside me for meeting 21st century people on their digital turf. Asking people to be a part of your church shouldn’t mean that they have to step back in time on Sundays. Technology is available for us to step up our game in every department of our ministries and it’s more affordable than ever.

Here are seven forward-thinking ideas that create an atmosphere of progress and communicate that your ministry is willing to meet people where they’re at in 2014:

1. E-Bulletins

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.09.42 AMThe bulletin is no stranger to today’s church. While ministries have been using them for decades, I still see pretty much the same format in churches big and small. It’s time for an upgrade. While most paper bulletins never make it out of your building, you can deliver digital bulletins with all of your church’s announcements straight to your attendees’ inboxes. I’ve seen this done really well through services like Bulletin Plus and Mail Chimp.

2. Text To Give

Giving is a integral part of every church, but passing the plate isn’t always the best method anymore. Only a small percentage of your congregation still carries cash and checks, because they’ve shifted to a digital lifestyle. Many ministries have added online giving to their website and some have added giving kiosks in their lobby. But my favorite new method for digital giving is with services like Kindrid where donors can give right from their cell phones.

3. Mobile Connection Cards

This is another area where paper may not be the most effective route. I’ve recently started to see churches add their connection card to their mobile website. This allows attendees to quickly submit their data right from their cell phone. I love this idea because data is automatically emailed to ministry leaders and it saves money on printing/pens. Here’s a sample from a church I recently visited.

4. Retweetable Sermon Points

retweet-buttonThe retweet is the digital “amen” of this day and age. When a point in a pastor’s sermon really resonates with someone, their instinct is to share it with their social networks. I like to make this really easy by having a social media coordinator live-tweet the pastor’s big sermon points to the church’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. This allows for attendees to simply tap one button to share rather than having to type the entire quote.

5. Walk-Through Videos

It’s very nerve-racking to visit a church for the first time. One of the best ways to take the edge off for your guests is to provide a walk-through video on your website. This gives visitors an inside look on what your Sunday morning experience is like. Here is one of my favorites from a church that I often visit.

6. Sharing Worship Set-lists Through Spotify

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 12.24.30 AMA great way to encourage continual worship outside of services is to provide Spotify playlists of your worship songs from Sunday morning. This is really easy and free for both your church and congregation. Simply create a Spotify account for your church, make a playlist that includes your songs from service, and share the playlist url to your social media sites. Your congregation will be able to sing along to the Tomlin, Israel, and Hillsong versions of your worship anthems in their car, at the gym, and at home.

7. Instagram Announcement Videos

Instagram is one of the most popular social networks for photos and videos, but did you know you can use it to share announcements? Instagram allows for videos up to 15 seconds, so with a little creativity, you can easily promote your church’s events right on your congregation’s newsfeed. Check out how Radiant Church in Surprise, Arizona is using Instagram to promote their activities.

Do you have any other ideas for reaching people on their digital turf? Let us know in the comments below!

 

10 Game-Changing Tips For Church Creatives

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Our God is a creative God. He spoke the universe into existence and actually carries the ultimate title of Creator (Romans 1:25). Serving the Church through creative ministry has been a passion of mine for over a decade and I love connecting with others like me. As I’ve served in a Creative Pastor role, I’ve learned many lessons on what it means to minister to people through art and media.

Here are ten of my most valuable, game-changing tips for those serving the church in creative roles:

1. Just Because It’s Cool Doesn’t Mean It’s Right For Your Church

One of the biggest traps for church creatives is attempting to duplicate what other ministries are doing. I think it’s great to learn from others and be inspired by outside creativity. But, you are not Hillsong. You are not Life Church. You are not Elevation. Before you reproduce their ideas, make sure that they’re a good fit for your ministry. Start with who you are as a church and then seek small pieces of outside inspiration to combine with your church’s DNA.

2. Functionality Trumps Appearance

A common mistake for creatives is focusing all of your energy on how a project looks while neglecting the functionality of the design. For example – your sermon slides may look awesome, but if your font choice makes it difficult for your audience to follow along, you’ve failed. Your job is to create beautiful things, yes – but make sure they work. Don’t let your design preferences get in the way of ministry.

3. Creativity Is Best In Numbers

One of the biggest pitfalls in my early years in creative ministry was trying to do everything alone. The one-man-show approach will only take you so far in creativity. You’re much more likely to develop (and execute) great ideas by getting other people involved in your creative process. Each individual will bring unique personality and experience to the table that will go far beyond what you’d achieve alone.

4. Some of Your Best Ideas Will Come At Odd Times

Every creative longs for those “aha moments” when inspiration strikes and you’re suddenly aware of how to move forward. If you’ve been pulling your hair out and can’t come up with an idea, I suggest taking a break. Creativity will often strike as you lay down for bed, while you’re in the shower, or during your commute. Don’t beat yourself up if ideas don’t spark during office hours.

5. Be Open To Inspiration From Anywhere

I have no shame when it comes to finding inspiration in unconventional places. It’s very common for me to snap photos on my iPhone when I see creative designs in stores, restaurants, and churches. Some of your best ideas will be inspired by two or three random things you saw throughout the week. Start keeping a reference of the things that inspire you.

6. Let Your Constraints Inspire You

Creativity isn’t about having the best resources. It’s about how resourceful you can be with what God’s given you. You may have a vision to create a video that would normally require three cameras, but only have one camera in your arsenal. Instead of throwing in the towel, ask yourself how you can use the one camera you’ve been given to create something similar (or better). If you will use all of the tools that God’s given you to their full potential, I think you’ll be surprised at how much you can do.

7. Well Done Is Better Than Well Said

Creatives are all-stars at developing ideas, but often fall short when it comes to executing them. Out of the ten ideas that you’ve dreamed up for the next sermon series, choose one or two to carry out. This will keep your head out of the clouds and your hand to the plow. Ideas are only as good as your willingness to execute them. Why not get some volunteers involved to help you make your ideas happen?

8. Follow Your Leadership First, Creativity Second

When you’re serving in the local church, it’s important to remember that God has given your leadership a vision for that ministry. No matter how awesome your ideas are, if they don’t fit with that vision, they’re not going to work. I suggest meeting with your leadership regularly to find out the direction that God’s leading them. Staying on the same page as your Lead Pastor communicates respect and develops trust.

9. Don’t Lose God In Your Art

In the same way that it’s important to seek vision from your leadership, it’s critical that you follow the Creator’s direction in your projects. It’s really easy to get caught up in the work of ministry and totally forget to connect with God. Your relationship with Him should always come before your art, creativity, and media. The more that you can get God involved in your creative process, the better it will be.

10. The Goal Is More Important Than Your Role

For Sunday morning services, the overall goal is to lead people towards becoming fully devoted followers of Christ. Sometimes that process will involve your ideas and methods, but sometimes it won’t. It’s important to remember that it’s not about you. It’s not about your creativity. It’s about the goal. As long as people have connected with Jesus, it’s been a successful service.
Do you have any others that you’d add to the list?