Tactical Tip: Reminder Calendar

Last Friday I received a text from my wife informing me that the inspection was overdue on our minivan. We decided a long time ago that things like vehicle inspections are my responsibility in the home. Oops. So I called the garage and got an appointment for Monday morning. I got a little chuckle from the auto mechanic as I left the garage. Evidently he sees a lot of ‘overdue’ stickers there!

So I did what I should have done long ago, I added a reminder into my “Reminder Calendar”. I don’t think I’ll forget again.

The Reminder Calendar is perhaps one of the coolest reminder systems I have ever stumbled across – and it’s super easy to setup and use. Even better, it’s free! This is not to be confused with the Appointment Calendar! I keep them totally separate because I don’t want to store all kinds of ‘reminder’ appointments on the calendar I look at every day for real appointments, like meetings and such. In fact, I never actually look at my Reminder Calendar!

Let me define what I mean be a reminder calendar. Basically, it’s a calendar that is specifically designed to send you very timely emails or text messages.I use my Reminder Calendar to remind me to get up extra early in the morning for a breakfast appointment, change the oil in the car, take the garbage out, check the church website to make sure it’s relevant and up to date, and to remember when a task I assigned someone, or myself, is due. Here are a couple other examples to stimulate your thinking:

  • I asked someone if they would draft a proposal for me regarding our online streaming service. My goal was to be able to hear back from him no later than two weeks from that date. So I set myself up a reminder in my Reminder Calendar to shoot me an email in two weeks letting me know that I should have the proposal by now.
  • I wanted to find something out from a friend and discovered that he would be on vacation until August 13. So I set myself a reminder in my Reminder Calendar to give him a call around August 15.
  • My boss is on vacation and I will be leaving for a few days the day after he returns. I don’t want to forget to ask him an important budget related question before I leave. I created a reminder email for about 9am that morning.
  • My boss asked me to give him a call at 2pm while he was travelling on a certain day. I knew there was a chance I wouldn’t be at my desk and I didn’t want to forget to call him. I created a reminder that was setup to text me at 1:55pm so I would remember to make the call no matter where I was at.
  • I want to remember to begin planning for the Christmas Eve program no later than June of every year. I created a reminder appointment that will email me on June 1st to get the ball rolling.


HERE’S HOW TO SETUP YOUR REMINDER CALENDAR:

  • Log into your Google Account.
    Log in to your Google account or create a Google Account for free. It’s important that you associate the account with the email address that you want to receive emails from.
  • Go to your Google Calendar.
    Once you’ve logged in, select “Calendar” from the top menu of options. This will take you to your calendar, specifically associated with that email address.
  • Create a NEW Calendar & label it as your Reminder Calendar.
    This option will allow you to keep your primary Google calendar as your appointment calendar. To create a new calendar, click the very small “Add” link in the “My Calendars” section to the left of your screen.
  • Enable Mobile Notifications
    Once you have created the calendar, click the “Settings” link right next to the “Add” link to take you to your Calendar Settings Screen. Next, click on the “Mobile Setup” tab. Follow the instructions on that screen to associate your cell phone with your Google Calendar. This will give you the option to receive text reminders from your calendar.
  • Set the Default Reminder Setting in Your ‘Reminder Calendar’
    You are almost finished. Now you should tell your reminder calendar what you want the default reminder mode to be every time you create a reminder appointment. I have mine set to email reminder. This way, all I have to do is create a reminder appointment and it will automatically email me for every appointment. I can still manually go in and disable the reminder or set it up to text me if I want to instead. To do this, click on the little drop-down arrow next to your Reminder Calendar and select “Calendar Settings”. Find the Notifications tab and click the “Add a reminder” link.
  • Start Creating Your Reminder Appointments!
    You are all ready to go! Now just create ‘appointments’ at the designated day and time that you want to receive your reminder. You can even create recurring reminders for every week, month, or year. To create your reminder simply highlight the appropriate day/time, type in the appointment and press ‘enter’. You just created a reminder appointment set to your default reminder method. To change the reminder method, add additional information, or set the reminder as recurring, double-click the appointment to open it in a new window for updating.

Notes for Newbies:
If you are new to Google Calendars then you may want to note a few of these details as well:
  • Make sure you have the right calendar selected.
    Since you have more than one calendar in your Google Account, you need to make sure you create your reminder appointment in the appropriate calendar. On the left of your screen, make sure that ONLY your Reminder Calendar is selected. You may also designate which calendar you want the reminder to be posted to in the appointment details.
  • Consider which reminder method you really want.
    There are three reminder options. Email, Text, and Popup. You probably won’t want to utilize popup unless you will always have your calendar open on your computer. You WILL want to make sure you designate which method you prefer for your reminders. You may also select BOTH if you want.
  • You can also use this same reminder system for your Appointment Calendar in Google. 
    OK. So you tend to be late for or forget meetings. Simply set a reminder for each of your appointments to send you a text 10 minutes before you’re supposed to prepare to arrive at the meeting.
  • Don’t give up.
    If you find yourself getting stuck, don’t get frustrated and give up. Like anything new, it may seem complicated at first, until you get the hang of it. Eventually, you’ll figure out how to make the system work and serve you the best.

Love Your Sound Tech As Yourself

There is someone else on the stage. You can’t see him, but he’s not invisible. His presence rolls of the stage in waves – sound-waves. He lives in a world of high’s, mid’s and low’s – and no, he’s probably not manic-depressive. When he’s ‘on’, you sound fabulous. When he’s ‘off’, you sound boomy, hollow, or possibly demented. He is either your hero or a villain.

I’m talking about your sound man (or woman). Pixar did a superb job of catching the essence and challenge sound tech’s (and pastors) face every Sunday in this short clip. For copyright reasons, I am only showing you the first 2 minutes. Enjoy.

Love Your Sound Tech As Yourself
All kidding aside, your sound tech is a very important part of the Sunday morning experience. He probably knows things about sound that you don’t , and even if that isn’t true . . . well, he’s back there and you’re up here, right?

It seems that a lot of pastors and church leaders nurse a gnawing frustration when it comes to their sound tech. They never seem to ‘get it right’. It’s too loud, too soft, or just mixed weird. The microphone isn’t working again, the monitors hum distractedly, or you can’t hear the video as it’s playing on the screens. Overall, the relationship tends to be strained.

I have a suggestion for you. Invest in your sound tech relationally. Ask he and his family over for dinner. Set up occasional meetings with him to just talk shop regarding the Sunday morning experience. Help him understand your values and preferences with sound. Cast your vision for ministry to him. Let him dream with you about the church and it’s future. Help him feel a part and extension of you every single week – after all, he is.

Tactical Tip: Email Signature

You would be very frustrated if someone left you a voice-mail and failed to tell you who they were or how to get hold of them. Example: “Hi pastor! This is Joe. I was wondering if you could give me a call about what we were talking about last Sunday. I have some ideas on that. Thanks! Bye.” OK. So I talked to someone named Joe about something last Sunday and he wants me to call him back. Hmm. I don’t remember that. Now what?

The email signature is the digital version of the voice-mail signature. It’s your chance to let the world know exactly who you are and how they can get hold of you. It’s your business card.

I am often amazed how few pastors and leaders leave a meaningful, relevant signature at the bottom of every email they send. Especially when it usually takes 5 minutes or less to set up! In the past month alone I have received emails from 3 pastors I totally respect and love working with, but who don’t have a helpful email signature. With two of them I had to do a Google search to find their website (and it took a while to find one of them) when a link at the bottom of the email would have sufficed.

So today’s Tactical Tip is simply this . . . create a simple email signature at the bottom of all of your emails.

Suggestions on a very basic email signature:
The internet is full of suggestions on what a signature should look like. Ultimately, you want to give people the information they will need to contact you. Beyond that, you can personalize it all you want – but within reason.

  • Some people suggest starting with two dashes, like this >>   – –
  • Start with your first and last name (and title if appropriate).
  • Include your position if there are multiple people on-staff.
  • Include your church or organization name.
  • Include your church website. Some people suggest you actually type out the web address as well as create the link (in case someone isn’t able to click on the link, but wants to copy/paste or type the address in themselves.)
  • Include your phone number(s) of choice. This can be your personal cell number, home number, or office number. Whichever number you are most comfortable with the whole world knowing.
  • Optional: you may also opt to include the church or organization’s address. If it’s on your website this may not be necessary. It’s up to you.
  • Finally, you may want to include an inspirational, funny, or thought provoking quote.
  • NOTE: Many experts suggest that you keep your email signature to about five lines. Anything beyond that and it may look like you’re really lonely or just trying to write a book. Check out this site to view four common mistakes on email signatures.

Example Signature:
I rarely change my signature, but review it at least a couple of times a year. Here is my signature as of today’s date:

Pastor Wayne Hedlund, Executive Pastor
Elim Gospel Church
1679 Dalton Road
Lima, NY 14485
(585) 624-5560

Check out my blog at www.tranformingleader.org.

How to Setup Your Signature:
Now, I can’t exactly give you instructions since everyone has different email carriers. I have included links below to some helpful articles for the more popular email carriers. For the rest of you, I suspect the following will get you where you want to go: Open www.google.com and type the name of your email provider and the words “email signature”.

 

Thinking is Hard Work!

How many times this month have you noticed some problem and didn’t try to find a solution? I bet it happens a lot more than you are willing to admit. You walk to your car and notice, again, how inadequate your parking lot is; or you are reminded during your Sunday service that the drums overpower all of the other instruments during worship. Perhaps you have a recurring problem with Sunday School volunteers showing up late; or you find yourself embarrassed to discover that your website is out of date again.

This weekend I got to spend a day talking about strategic planning with some of the leaders at River of Life Fellowship in Copenhagen, NY. It was exciting to hear about the recent growth they have been experiencing as well as some of their future plans. Their unique mix of excellence and their commitment to the cause of Christ for their congregation and community were so refreshing.

We ended our day brainstorming ideas on what they might improve or change in order to accommodate ongoing growth. They were full of some new and great ideas. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if they implemented some of those new thoughts within a few short days.

That day reminded me how often we tend to let problems slide simply because a solution isn’t obvious or readily available. Usually, we simply don’t want to stop and really think things through until we find a solution.

Thinking is hard work. I’m not talking about the kind of thinking we do every day to operate our vehicle on the way home from work. I’m talking about the kind of thinking we engage in when we have to complete a final exam, prepare a sermon, or learn something new. The energy and focus necessary for that level of thinking is taxing, which is why we shy away from it. I know I do. It’s a lot more satisfying to see a problem and find the solution without breaking into a sweat first!

Last night I revisited some of my own past posts regarding critical and strategic thinking. It seemed appropriate to point them out to you this week as well.

That’s why I’d like to introduce you to my new e-book:

Thinking for a Change: a fresh look at critical thinking

I’d love it if you would consider purchasing the book and letting me know what you think. You can learn more about this e-book right here or feel free to purchase it right now! Cost is only $3.99. Thanks!

The Sunday Service Video Clip

 

We all have unique preferences regarding how we like our food. Some like it bland, others spicy. Personally, I like my food to have a lot of flavor and spices whenever possible. Everyone who eats with me is pretty used to hearing, “Pass the salt and pepper please.”

I would like to introduce a couple of websites that can and will add some ‘spice’ to your Sunday morning experience. These clips usually range in price from $5 – $20. Despite the minor expense, they will often help bridge the gap between a good and great Sunday morning experience.

I highly recommend you check them out today!

How to Keep Missional Momentum

A couple of weeks ago my son purchased a small dirt bike for $25 at a yard sale. We checked to make sure the engine worked before we made the purchase. What we didn’t check was to see if the clutch worked. Oops. It didn’t. Benjamin would open the throttle all the way and just barely move a few inches at a time. Thankfully, the owner took the bike back and returned our money!

The same thing can happen in our churches and ministries when it comes to staying focused on our mission. We can get so caught up in everything else that we forget to keep mission, well, front and center. The next thing we know, we go for a ride and discover that we have very little missional momentum.

Here are a few ideas to gain and keep missional momentum.

  • Create a Relevant Mission Statement
    I have several posts about why your mission statement is important and how to build one. You can check them out here.
  • Preach Your Mission
    You should do this often. You don’t need to title the message in the same way and it doesn’t have to be the same message, but you should preach the concepts of your mission regularly. If you don’t, well then I would suggest that perhaps you don’t really have buy-in to the mission of your church. 
  • Use Missional Language Whenever You Can
    Don’t get tired of hearing your mission statement. Include it in every possible conversation, both public and private. Use pieces of the mission statement as well as the whole thing. For instance, our mission statement at EGC includes the word “transforming”. That word is part of our language. Talk about fulfilling your mission when you give key announcements, receive the offering, during a message, during small group, and while counselling. If you haven’t used ‘missional language’ in the last week, then it’s very possible your starting to slip away from your missional focus.
  • Ensure EVERY Leader Knows the Churches Mission
    Any leader that doesn’t know your church mission is a leader who will not be pushing your mission, focusing on your mission, and building your mission into your church culture. Worse, there’s a much greater chance those leaders may slide in their focus, slowly drawing the ministry they lead away from what’s most important.
  • Connect Your Mission To Every Ministry of the Church
    Every ministry in your church should be clearly connected to the mission of your church. They should not have a separate mission statement. Ideally, the leaders will also preach the mission and use missional language whenever possible.
  • Connect Your Mission to Every Volunteer Position in the Church
    If you can’t explain how a volunteer position ultimately helps to fulfill the mission of your church, then you should re-evaluate that position and ministry. Ideally, your volunteers understand the connection as well. For example, perhaps you have a volunteer to lay and spread mulch outside every Spring. Does that volunteer understand that, by spreading this mulch, our community, guests and congregation will drive into the lot feeling welcomed and knowing this church cares about excellence. This (combined with a lot of other things) will motivate and inspire people to come and hear about Christ’s transforming love.
  • Put Your Mission in Print
    Your mission should be on your letterhead, website, in your bulletin, on the wall and anywhere else you can find a place for it to remind you and everyone else why your church is here (perhaps even a t-shirt).
I’m sure there are more thing you can do to stay missional as a church. These will certainly help. Take two minutes right now and ask yourself how you are doing in each of these steps.

Image compliments of hnfg at istockphoto.com

Sunday Morning Announcements

 

Remember our friend, Charlie Brown from the Peanuts comic strips and cartoons? You probably do, and you probably remember how realistic the sound of the school teacher was during those old fashioned episodes . . . “Wah, wa, wha, wha, wah, waah, wa, wah, whaa, wha, whah, wah.” Wow. Just quoting it reminds me of Jr. High History Class all over again.

Question. Is that what your congregation hears during the Sunday Morning Announcements? I hope not. The announcements usually get a bum rap. Just for kicks, check off how many of the following are true at your church:

  • You traditionally have more than 3 announcements each week, often 5 or more.
  • You decide what will be announced early Sunday morning.
  • The emcee reads most of the information to the congregation; usually that’s also the first time they’ve personally seen or thought about the announcements themselves.
  • Each announcement is nothing more than a regurgitation of what’s already in the bulletin – a lot of basic information like who, what, when, and where.
  • The emcee sounds like my Jr. High History Teacher.
  • There are no slides or images displayed during each announcement.
  • There ARE slides during each announcement and your 5th grader could have done a better job.
  • The announcements average 5 minutes or more, sometimes up to 10 minutes.
  • The content of each announcement often doesn’t include how to sign up or get more involved.
  • You don’t plan to attend most of what is announced, or you wish you didn’t have to.
I could go on, as I’m sure you can. I can honestly say that we’ve fallen into every one of these traps at some point or another at Elim Gospel Church. How about you?
 
Question. What can you do different THIS WEEK to change those patterns? Here are a few random suggestions:
  • Sell Your Announcements.
    If you think it’s important to say, then don’t just say it, SELL IT! The whole point of the announcement is to give people a reason to care. Focus on WHY they should participate, not when and where it’s happening.
  • Information is Overrated.
    Seriously. Your people are pretty smart. Most of them know how to read. If it’s in the bulletin or on your website, then point them there to get all the nitty gritty details. When was the last time you saw someone pulling out their pen and writing all the information in their calendar on the edge of their seats during the announcement anyway?
  • Find a Good Talker to Do the Talking.
    If you’re going to sell your announcements, then find someone who can and will be passionate about selling them. Monotone is so NOT in.
  • Announce Something, Not Everything.
    Ideally, you’ll only highlight 2-3 key activities. I know this means you just might offend your ministry directors – that’s OK. They’re not serving as leaders for themselves, but for the church, right? Right?
  • Follow the 4 Minute Rule . . . (wait, I mean 3 minute)
    Make a rule of thumb that you’ll never spend more than 4 minutes on announcements. Offer your emcee a bonus if they can communicate them effectively in 3 minutes. Not possible? Give it a try.
  • Create Standards on ‘What’ Will Be Announced
    Not all of your church activities carry the same weight. I recommend you reserve verbal announcements for events that will apply to a large portion of those present in the room OR to people who are still new to your church and may not be sure what their next steps should be.
  • Decide on Announcements Ahead of Time
    One of the ways to keep your announcements focused and intentional is to decide ahead of time exactly WHAT will be announced. For instance, is it  possible for you to think through and decide on Sunday announcements for each week a month in advance? You’d be shocked how effective this method can be in clarifying what you will announce, when, and how often.
  • Prepare, Prepare, Prepare.
    Your emcee should prepare in advance. Ideally, he or she will know a day or two ahead of time and will PRACTICE communicating the announcements in privacy or in front of a captive audience.
  • Creative Announcements
    Mix things up every once in a while with a creative announcement. This doesn’t have to take a lot of time, but will still add value to the service and give people something to talk about. For example, one Sunday we had two men drive into the sanctuary in a golf cart and tee up for a shot to announce our upcoming EGC Open Golf Tournament.
  • Video Announcements
    Every once in a while someone will mention to me that video announcements are reserved only for large churches. I have to disagree. You probably already own enough equipment to put together some basic video announcements. (My phone even has High Def Video capabilities.) There are two teens at our church right now who have taught themselves how to edit video’s. One of those teens has created video announcements for the teen program on occasion. Video Announcements can be a simple way to mix things up in your service and ensure your church activities get the attention and focus they need. See below for a few examples of some standard video announcements at EGC. (Note: Our video editor is a professional. You’re VA’s may not look quite as polished as these, at least at first. That said, Dave Bode learned a lot of what he knows about video editing by creating video’s for our church.)


04-17-11 EGC News (1 minute and 51 seconds)

2-6-11 EGC News (1 minute and 48 seconds)

1-30-11 EGC News: 2D Madness (2 Minutes and 34 Seconds)

5-22-11 EGC News: Talking Animals (3 minutes and 9 seconds)

4-24-11 EGC News: Easter Song (3 minutes and 53 seconds)

..maybe you should do something scarier..

 

I’m a fan of Seth Godin. His life message is about doing something new and different; getting out of the status quo; getting off the couch and making a lasting difference. Powerful and motivating. His message is to the world, not to Christians specifically. He can be blunt and painfully honest at times, but what he has to say is critical to our role as church leaders (not managers).

In the church world I believe it is extremely important that we ask ourselves what we should be doing differently. What isn’t working? What new ideas should we tackle? How can we better facilitate the message of the Gospel? For instance, a while back I had an informal conversation with Pastor Joshua Finley and Pastor Seth Goodson at Elim Gospel Church about discipleship for the new believer. It was a refreshing conversation for me, simply because we were willing to stretch our thinking beyond what we’ve always seen and heard in the church world.

Check out this 11 1/2 minute video interview with Seth and be challenged and inspired. Here are two quotes I jotted down while listening: “..maybe you should do something scarier..”, “.. mega-church is a factory..”.

Exclusive interview with Seth Godin from GiANT Impact on Vimeo.

Character Driven or Emotion Driven

Many years ago our church hosted a five minute radio show on a local radio station with our Senior Pastor at the time, Pastor Mike Cavanaugh, giving a short teaching.

One day while out driving with my family, Pastor Mike came on the radio and shared the below comparisons between Character Driven People and Emotion Driven People. It impacted and challenged me so much that I wrote it out and for many years kept it posted on the wall in my office as a personal reference.

I recently read Galatians 5:22-23 and this little teaching came back to my mind. I thought you might find it meaningful as well.

 

 

  Character Driven People
  Emotion Driven People
  Do right, then feel good
  Feel good, then do right.
  Are commitment driven.
  Are convenience driven.
  Make principle based decisions.   Make popularity based decisions.
  Action controls attitude.   Attitude controls action.
  Believe it, then see it.   See it, then believe it.
  Ask, “What are my responsibilities?”   Ask, “What are my rights?”
  Are steady.   Are moody.
  Continue when problems arise.   Quit when problems arise.

Hosting Great Services

 

Perhaps you’ve had the unfortunate experience of attending a church service that was a major flop. Let me describe for you what I would define as a ‘flop’. People are unprepared, there are a myriad of distractions, and there doesn’t seem to be any sense of the Presence of God throughout the meeting. That’s not to say that the Lord isn’t/wasn’t speaking. We all are quite aware that He can and will speak whenever and however He wants. That said, we are also aware that God has entrusted to His people to be facilitators and instruments of His words (more on that later).

This month I will begin unpacking key ideas and principles regarding the Sunday morning services. As Executive Pastor at Elim Gospel Church it has been one of my primary roles to ensure the Sunday experience shines with excellence and that everyone works in tandem to accomplish the mission God sets for us each week. I look forward to unpacking what I’ve learned in upcoming weeks, so stay tuned!

Additionally, I invite you to consider purchasing the “Hosting Exceptional Sunday Services” workshop by going to the Transforming Leader store. This workshop summarizes the 6 key elements of a Sunday Service and, more importantly, how to pull them all together to form an Exceptional Sunday Service. The workshop includes several additional resources and is available for purchase on CD or as a download. Click here to purchase the workshop today.

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