Christmas Resources for Your Church

Christmas is coming! If you are in church leadership, hopefully you have already begun preparations for your Christmas weekend services.Whether you are hosting a Christmas Series, a Christmas Eve service or simply want to add some resources to your church website or blog – I suspect one or more of the below links and video’s may be just what you were looking for. Enjoy! (by the way, if you know of any you think should be added to the list, let me know!) 

Helpful Tip: If you want to open a lot of links all at once, try holding your CTRL key down on your PC while you click several links in a row. They should open them in new tabs.

Great Christmas Music Videos

Planning Christmas

Free Christmas Sermon Series/Graphics/Clips

These graphics are available for download for free. Some of them also include background video’s and extra resources.

Christmas Graphics/Clips for Sale

These graphics are available for a small fee. 

Random Christmas Websites

The following websites may offer interesting or helpful resources to you and/or your congregation. 

Christmas Crafts for Kids Ministry

Looking for some creative ideas for Sunday School classes? Try these sites.

Last Minute Christmas Links

I came across some more great links, resources and articles for churches & pastors I’d like to share with you. Perhaps you will find one or more of them helpful as you prepare for upcoming Christmas services & events and as you navigate that tension between ministry and family during this holiday season. Enjoy the Christmas Links!

60+Christmas Ideas by Canva
From elegant cards to simple invites, eye-catching flyers and posters, humorous and festive messages, you will definitely find the design that you’re looking for. Spread the good cheer and holiday spirit with a stunning template from our special selection! Read More.


The One Group You Might Forget This Christmas by Focus on the Family
The holiday season is upon us. As a pastor you have planned Christmas Eve services, prepared end-of-year reports, and been to more Christmas parties than you care to remember. With all of the activity involved in getting your church ready for Christmas, it can be easy to forget one group – your family. Read More.


Take the Nice Is Naughty Quiz for Pastors by Will Mancini
You’ve heard of the naughty or nice quiz before. We put people on one side of the behavior equation this time of the year. And if that doesn’t cross your mind, then someone at North Pole Central is finalizing the tally before Santa’s globe-trotting, Christmas Eve sleigh ride. This year, however, I want to put these terms on the same side of the equation. I think pastors need to consider “niceness” from an entirely different point of view. Read More.


25 Last Minute Christmas Ideas (for your church) by Robert Carnes
We’re all familiar with last-minute Christmas shopping. I’m one of the worst when it comes to Yuletide procrastination. Some of us don’t even start buying gifts until Christmas Eve. However, last minute is not a good policy when it comes to Christmas planning at your church. Because it takes a good deal more time to successfully orchestrate church events than it does to pick up some tacky sweaters from the department store. Read More.


Watch “The Story of Christmas” Video Series by YouVersion
Brought to you by The Lumo Project, the Bible App is now featuring this very special video collection throughout this holiday season. Each clip shows part of the story of Jesus’ birth with voice-over narration directly from the Scriptures. Read More.


57 Christmas Videos by Kevin D. Hendricks
Leading up to Christmas, we’re highlighting several Christmas videos on Fridays because videos on Fridays are fun. Plus Christmas videos that don’t suck might be useful for your church. If you like Christmas videos, today is your lucky day. We’re not waiting until Friday, because we’ve got 57 Christmas videos your church can use. Read More.


4 Ways to Keep Your Marriage from being Injured During the Christmas Holiday by Ron Edmondson
The Christmas season can be hard on relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met with a couple after the holidays because of problems that developed — or were exaggerated — between Thanksgiving and New Years. How can you protect your marriage this Christmas? That’s a good goal, right? Read More.


Christmas Resources For Your Church (right here on waynehedlund.org!)
Christmas is coming! If you are in church leadership, hopefully you have already begun preparations for your Christmas weekend services.Whether you are hosting a Christmas Series, a Christmas Eve service or simply want to add some resources to your church website or blog – I suspect one or more of the below links and video’s may be just what you were looking for. Read More.

The Christmas Scale by Igniter Media
It’s hard to believe that the greatest message the world will ever hear is contained in one simple scale. Downloads are available at IgniterMedia.com.


Check out more great links & videos for Christmas right here!

photo credit: kevin dooley via photopin cc

Blind Spots for the Local Church

 
I visited a church a while back that had a BIG blind spot. At least, it seemed like a blind spot to me. I could see the problem, but none of the leaders seemed to realize it was there. The problem was that they really believed they were a friendly church, but in reality they weren’t . . . unless you were an insider. I was greeted at the door, which was nice; but from that point forward I became invisible. People actually seemed to work hard at avoiding eye contact with me! This ‘Blind Spot’ is really hurting them – mostly because they are blind to the problem, while it’s painfully obvious to every guest who darkens their door.

Last week I wrote a post entitled, ‘Blind Spots for the Christian Leader‘. This simple matrix does a great job of defining the various areas of self awareness each of us possess. If you haven’t read it yet, I recommend you jump back & check it out.

Today, I’d like to explore how the Johari Window applies to the local church (rather than just the pastor or a leader within the church). Here’s a review of how the Johari Window works. 

Johari-Window3

In the above image you’ll note the four quadrants.  Each section represents knowledge or lack of knowledge regarding various character traits, weaknesses, etc. for the individual, or for today’s discussion, the local church. Because we are dealing with a group of people instead of just one person, each quadrant gets a little more complicated. With the exception of the ‘Unknown’ section, there end up being different groups of people for each area. So far as I can tell, here are the different groups of people we should keep in mind:

  • Leaders: This includes the pastor, key staff, elders and any other leaders who are on the front lines in ministry at the church.
  • Members/Attendees: This includes everyone else who attends regularly and are the recipients of most of the ministry at the church.
  • Guests: This includes anyone who attends a service, activity, or event for the first time as well as those who come back to visit two or more times. A ‘guest’ is anyone who considers themselves a visitor at the church, regardless of how long they have been attending.
  • Community: This includes anyone in your community who has never attended your church. 

Let’s take a look at each quadrant in relation to the local church:

Open Self – Known To Everyone

For the local church, this is the smallest quadrant of all. There is very little about a local church that everyone knows about, especially when you add in the community – some of whom may not even know the church exists. Depending on the community, the ‘Arena’ quadrant may include things like the church name, location and/or pastor.
 

Hidden Self – Known Only To Us

Leaders are aware of things that members, guests, and the community are unaware of. Examples might include sensitive information like giving records, individual’s unique circumstances, people problems, etc. It may also include a clearer understanding of the bigger picture for the church. For instance, leaders are most likely to know where the church has been and where it’s going.

On the down-side, leaders are often guilty of unintentionally holding their cards too closely to the chest. As a result, sometimes other leaders, volunteers, and/or members can be stuck serving without fully comprehending what they are doing, how they should do it, or why it’s important.

Members are usually ‘in the know’ in some areas, at least in comparison to guests and the community. Where church life can get messy is when members are aware of sensitive information that doesn’t include the whole story or bigger picture. This is a feeding frenzy for satan to reek havoc in the church. Lack of communication or miscommunication will often lead to false conclusions, wrong expectations, and misguided assumptions.

To make matters even more complex, many times members are privy to situations and needs in the church that leaders are unaware of and don’t take the ownership to communicate what’s going on with them. Again, this disables whatever care those leaders may be able to exert in the situation.

Finally, leaders often fail to realize that many members are exactly what they need to solve certain problems, lead certain ministries, or fund new initiatives. God has placed the right people in ‘the house’ for the ministry He wants to initiate. This means many members have the skills, experience or funds to fulfill those purposes, if leaders would just invite them to participate.
 

Blind Self – Known to Others, Unknown to Us

Leaders are often the ones in the dark in this quadrant. There’s an old saying, “Ignorance is bliss.” It may be true for the church leader & pastor. Many would rather not know what they don’t know, but ultimately it isn’t healthy or helpful to the success of the church.

Blind Spots for leaders will include what people really think about the services, events, and activities in the church. For instance, the pastor may believe the weekly bible study is important, relevant and impacting to those who attend while the attendees may simply come because they believe they are supposed to, not because it is helpful to them. Other leadership Blind Spots might include genuine needs that members, guests and the community has, but which have never been communicated to them.

(Remember, we are focusing on the organization, not the individual – there are more blind spots that the pastor or a leader may have personally which I’ve discussed in the post ‘Johari Window for the Christian Leader‘.)

Members often have blind spots in their overall effectiveness or involvement in ministry in the church. Additionally, they may not reflect the values and culture the leadership is expecting or hoping for. This is usually due to a lack of communication, mentoring and regular leadership development.

Guests are blind to nearly everything going on around them. Often, their perceptions do not fully reflect reality. They may perceive the church as a warm, friendly place at the start but discover later on that it’s very difficult to connect with people. Conversely, their first impression may be that the church is unfriendly and irrelevant when in reality the opposite is true, were they to stick around. They may be blind to conflict or organizational dysfunction until they’ve been around for a few months or even years. Research says that 96% of people who have a bad experience never complain. This means your guests may know things about your church that you are completely clueless about; in particular, their first impressions and experiences.

The Community is usually completely clueless. If they are even aware your church exists, what they do think about the church and those in the church rarely reflects reality. Unfortunately, this may also contribute to their unwillingness to visit. That said the community may also have important information about your church that you are unaware of. In particular, they know what they think about the church, even if it’s not true. For example, perhaps they ‘heard’ about a guest’s bad experience or a member was rude or insensitive to someone they know. Maybe that community event the church hosted ten years ago that didn’t go very well is still resident in many people’s minds. Individuals in the community will almost never share these thoughts with church leaders, unless they somehow find their way into the life of the church first and reflect back on their original perceptions.
 

UNKNOWN – Known to No One but God

There are things about your church that nobody knows, but God. Some of those things don’t really matter, like where the cool Christmas lights went that were bought two years ago. However, sometimes there are important aspects of ministry that, if revealed, would stimulate personal and numerical growth over time. This is why it is so critical that church leaders remain humble, are voracious learners and readers, and are willing to allow others outside their church (and often inside their church) provide ongoing coaching to them both personally and organizationally.

As a ministry coach, I might be able to play a role in helping you unveil some of the ‘Unknown’ in your ministry. If you’re interested, please contact me and we’ll start a conversation about it.

 

Why Simple is Better

Recently, I was asked to speak at a church. I already knew what I wanted to talk about when I was asked. I looked forward to the opportunity . . . except for the part where I had to sit down to do the ‘work’. Since I wanted the message to be simple, I ended up redrafting that message three times. I whittled a 45 minute message down to 25. Chopping it up was painful, but in the end it was well worth it. The congregation stayed with me the whole time and I believe God used my words to bring transformation to their lives. Simple. Hard. Worth it.

Perhaps one of our biggest mistakes when attempting to make ministry, leadership, relationships, or whatever, simple, is that we assume the process should be simple too. Not true. Most of the time, making something simple is complicated, time consuming and a lot of work. Most of us give up at the worst possible time, when it’s the most complicated. There’s a miserable valley we must walk all the way through before we arrive at the other side and our goal. 

Despite the work, simple is better. A few more observations about simple.

People Remember Simple.

God gave us 5 fingers on each hand, not 8. I suspect He knew that most of us can only remember a few things at a time. If I ask you to remember 4 words, I suspect you can do it no problem; but 12? God gave us 10 commandments, but Jesus summed them up in 2 that any four year old could remember.

People Value Simple.

We live in the day of the ‘elevator speech’. If you can tell me what you want to say between the 1st and 12th floor, I’ll listen. If not, well, “Sorry. I need to get going.” We pay attention to simple and lose interest in complex. When you present me with simple, I’m impressed and know you cared enough to prepare. 

People Do Simple.

Less is more. Give me 23 tasks and I’ll easily get locked up. I won’t know which ones to do and might just go find something else to do (like check Facebook). Give me 4 tasks and I feel empowered to get things done. Simple helps me focus and motivates me to action.

Other Examples:

  • Your congregation and community don’t want 8 announcements that last fifteen minutes; they want 2 announcements delivered in 3 minutes.
  • They don’t really want 12 emails a week about upcoming events & activities; one will suffice.
  • They don’t want to spend 10 minutes on your website trying to find service times or directions.
  • Certainly, they would love to have notes from your message; but if they are going to have to fill in the blanks they secretly hope they won’t get writer’s cramp, that there’s enough light in the room and possibly that you will provide pencils for them. 
  • Your volunteers and leaders would really prefer to open the resource closet and find what they need in 8 seconds.
  • Your attendees aren’t looking for a booklet with 28 volunteer opportunities; they just want to know what the one or two things are they can do to help make a difference.
  • Volunteers would like to have a simple 1-page document that lets them know what you expect. They would appreciate getting a quick email reminding them that they are scheduled to serve each week. They want to know about the training event at least a month ahead of time. 

What do you need to simplify in your life or ministry this week?

How To Deal With Volume Complaints

In the same Sunday morning service I’ve had two people approach me with differing complaints – one asked if the worship could be turned up while the other asked if the worship could be turned down. In most churches it seems like the sound is never quite right. The fact is, it’s one of those, “you can’t please everyone” areas. Many years ago I had to navigate a different problem though. The volume was driving people away.

It’s one of the reasons why I wrote the following two posts: Turn the Volume Down! & Turn the Volume Up! as well as why I asked my friend, Josh Cummings, to write this follow-up post: Unlocking the Secrets of Church Sound.

I’d like to offer some advice on dealing with volume complaints. These ideas will help leverage what you believe the volume levels should be each week with the myriad of volume adjusting requests you may have to entertain.

Acknowledge Mistakes.

If the shoe fits, wear it with grace. You should know if the sound was off on a particular Sunday. If it was, simply acknowledge to your listener that he or she is right and that you will be looking into what happened. If you are unsure about whether the sound was grossly off from the standard, still let them know you will be looking into it (and do).

Respect Others’ Opinions.

Intellectually, we know everyone is entitled to their opinions and ideas. Practically, it can be a lot more difficult to respect and honor them. Make sure any person who has a concern or frustration in this area gets your undivided attention. Listen closely to their perspective. Seek to understand it fully. Honor them by recognizing their thoughts are important and matter. Do not try to ‘defend’ or ‘answer back’; let them have their say. Once that is done, kindly seek to help them understand where things stand with the sound.

Know Your Target Audience.

It was a lot easier for me to respond to people’s complaints simply because I knew who our target audience was. Because Elim Gospel Church has a strong desire to reach the younger generations, they are willing to push the envelope a little on volume issues in order to reach them. That’s not to say I would blow people’s complaints off, but I would be armed with the “Why?” behind our reasoning – which often resulted in my listener respecting and sometimes embracing our decision when we were done talking. 

Understand The Challenges.

As I just suggested, volume challenges are often beyond our control because of a lack of training, poor equipment, or bad acoustics. Although none of those difficulties should be given as the ultimate excuse, they should also play a role in helping others understand that resolving volume problems aren’t as simple as they might think. It is extremely important, however, that you ALSO give your listener the confidence that your team is working on solutions to those challenges.

Create and Hold To Your Standards.

It’s a lot harder to argue with well defined, tried and tested, standards. This is why I recommend your church purchase a dB meter and spend some time determining the best sound levels for your room, and sticking with them. This removes some of the ‘personal opinion of the sound person’ challenge. If they are aware of the standard and held responsible to hold to it, then you are much less likely to get complaints, and when you do, you are more likely to be able to respond with confidence. Even better, if you have a digital sound board, learn how to program it for individual bands or band members so that your sound tech is less likely to make mistakes when mixing.

I also recommend reading Willowcreek Church’s Audio Volume Policies. Understand, they are a huge church, but the fact that they have taken the time and energy to figure these things out should be a testimony of the value they find in getting it right. 

Write A Position Paper.

If volume ends up being an ongoing issue for your congregation, consider writing a position paper underlining your values, standards, and limitations. Again, this simplifies communication. You can be sure people are hearing it said the way you want it said, and you can always follow up with people after they’ve read it over. The link mentioned above also points to Willowcreek Church’s Audio Volume Open Letter. It’s a great example of what your position paper might look/sound like.

Ask Your Sound Team To Subscribe To www.behindthemixer.com.

You can address concerns with your congregation a lot easier when you know your team is well trained and not just doing a ‘hack job’ of it. Ask each sound tech to subscribe to www.behindthemixer.com to keep them focused, sharp and on the cutting edge of all things church sound!

Why Young Adults Don’t Attend Your Church

I used to visit a restaurant that had two separate dining areas, one slightly larger than the other. The larger dining area was always where I sat to eat, even though I had to walk right by the smaller dining area to get there. To be honest, it never occurred to me that I could sit in there if I wanted to. The reason was quite simple. It was where all the ‘regulars’ sat, who were also all much older than me. There was sort of an ‘exclusive club’ feel to the place. Everything about that space screamed, “Private Party” even though it wasn’t.

Sadly, our churches often send this same message to the younger generations, without even realizing it.

Let’s split up the ‘younger generation’ demographic into two categories, those (1) not interested in God and those (2) interested in or pursuing God, and focus on the latter group. It’s not hard to miss these people in our churches today, especially in the small to mid-sized churches. 

Why aren’t they attending more of our churches? 

I suspect the following 5 reasons might answer that question.

1. It feels like an insiders club.

Young people aren’t interested in learning the secret handshake so they can be part of the church. If they visit the church a few times and feel like an ‘outsider’ for very long, they’re not going to stick around. It is super important church leaders ask the question, “What (formal & informal) hoops have we created that people have to go through before they are accepted and integrated into the life of our church?”

In other words, how long will it take & what needs to happen before they are treated like family? More than any other age group, we need to be intentional about making this process simple, both practically and emotionally. 

2. It reminds them of their ‘mom & dads’ church.

I’ve heard young adults echo this phrase many times over the years. They leave the church they grew up in and find themselves at college or on their own. Eventually, they check out some churches in the area. From the moment they walk through the doors until they leave, their experience reminds them of church growing up. Only, for many of them, the Sunday morning experience growing up wasn’t for them, it was for the adults, for mom and dad. 

Although technically “adults,” many young people aren’t interested in acting like the ‘older’ adults they’ve been around their whole life. They want to express themselves as the younger generation. Churches who are actively reaching this group of people are also finding ways to enhance the Sunday morning environment to better appeal to them.

3. There is nothing interesting for them to do.

Despite the fact that young adults have a history of sitting in front of their devices, TV’s and xbox’s growing up, they don’t want to just sit around at church. They’ve grown up having a lot more freedom and control over what they get to see and do than those before them. And they are going to get bored real quick if they are forced to just do and go where everyone tells them to. They want to have a say in what’s going on and they want to do something important and interesting.

Churches who are thinking of this generation will quickly get them involved in ministry. They will encourage them to reach out to felt needs in the community. And they will provide lots of fun activities that are designed to keep young adults engaged with one another and the church family.

4. There is no one interesting to hang out with.

Many young adults who visit your church are looking for new connections. Surprisingly, not just with peers, but with people who can act as mentors and leaders in their life. That said, peers are important. Many a young person will walk in a church, scan the crowd, and determine to never return simply because there is no one else around their age. Churches that can reach a small ‘quorum’ of young adults have the beginnings of a foundation to build on, relationally.

It shouldn’t stop there. One of the best ways to truly connect to this auspicious group of people, is by inviting them into the homes and lives of your church families. I’ve never heard of a young person who turned down an invitation to dinner and who doesn’t secretly enjoy experiencing ‘family’ away from their own family.

5. Their questions are not getting answered.

Young adults hate watered down and pat answers. They have questions and they are genuinely interested in the answers. They want to know the Truth. But they have little patience for flowery speeches, big words, and long explanations. They want it simple. They want to get it. They want it fast.

Communicators need to brush up on their skills and not assume what worked ten years ago will work today. They need to know how to tell great stories and they need to be consistently asking themselves how they can connect with young adults. More than ever before, church leaders must, “be prepared in season and out of season.”


What other reasons are young people staying away from our churches?

Four Terrible Assumptions Church Leaders Make

I was standing in the lobby of a local church talking to an unchurched first time guest. It was one of the first times he had ever visited a church and he knew nothing about God or christianity. The service had just completed and people were filtering out of the sanctuary and collecting in small groups, visiting with one another. It was a warm, friendly atmosphere. I was so glad when the pastor noticed me and came over to talk to us.

Alas, my joy was short-lived. The pastor introduced himself to my new friend and then proceeded to talk about his sermon and how important it was for “us Christians.” It was sort of an “insiders” conversation. I wanted to step on his toe or something. I wished he could read the urgency in my eyes. In desperation, I finally interrupted him and blurted out, “Pastor, I didn’t know if I mentioned this or not, but this is our friend’s first time here this morning. Did you get to meet his wife and kids yet?” I’m still unsure if the pastor got the message, but I was at least able to distract him from the unhelpful conversation and redirect it to a more safe topic. Ugh.

I happen to know this pastor has a heart of gold. He’s a great guy, a seasoned minister, and truly loves both his congregation and the people in the community. I know he has a heart for the lost.

But he has fallen into a trap. One that, unfortunately, is very easy for pastors and church leaders to stumble into. He’s forgotten that the people who sit in his congregation are not like him. He’s making several bad assumptions about the people in his church, and I’m afraid it’s potentially turning them away.

Four Terrible Assumptions Church Leaders Make:

Since I visit a lot of churches as a ‘Mystery Guest,’ I have the chance to experience their church from a very unique perspective. Following are four terrible assumptions I have seen church leaders make way too often. 

Assumption #1: Guests Know What To Do

It saddens me greatly when church leaders assume guests have experience attending churches and know what’s going on, what they are supposed to do, where they are supposed to go, etc. They forget that the church environment, one they are intimately familiar with, is a brand new environment for many guests. Even those who have, perhaps, attended church before may still be in the dark, especially if their ‘church experience’ was from a different denomination or style of church.

Imagine visiting a place that you have never visited before, where everyone but you feels at home and nobody thinks to help you get acclimated. Even better, go find that place and check it out. Perhaps your local health club or golf club, I don’t know, try the New York Stock Exchange. Visit that place and be reminded that your guests are experiencing something similar.

They don’t know what to do with their kids. They don’t know the words to the songs, and probably feel a little uncomfortable singing them. They don’t know if they are supposed to give money or take communion. And they don’t know when to stand, when to sit or what to say. At one church I visited, everybody quotes, from memory, the Lord’s Prayer and sings the Doxology every week. Your guests know neither of those things.

Assumption #2: Guests Know the Bible.

Walk up to just about any adult in America and you will discover that they know how to drive a car. It’s a given – and it’s pretty much assumed. After all, everyone we know eventually ends up behind the wheel. Sometimes we ride with them while they drive. That sense of familiarity has seeped into many churches regarding the Bible. Church leaders spend a ton of time with other people who read the Bible, understand what it’s about, and know all the stories. So it’s not that great a leap for them to assume that anyone who is in the church has Bible knowledge.

Imagine walking into an advanced physics class at your local university. Even better, go visit it sometime. Don’t tell anyone who you are or why you are there. Just let the instructor & students talk to you as if you’ve already been through the other physics courses, like everyone else. You get the picture.

You’re guests probably don’t know where to turn in the Bible, if they even own one. And it’s likely they don’t know the story of Jonah, David & Goliath, the parting of the Red Sea, the Last Supper, Pentecost and quite possibly even the story of Jesus’ death & resurrection. You learned all that as a kid in Sunday School; they didn’t. For many of your guests, the most they know about the Bible and it’s stories is from what they’ve seen at the movies. Do you really want to briefly mention Noah after they just watched Hollywood’s rendition of the story? 

Assumption #3: Guests are Christians

Perhaps one of the worst assumptions church leaders can make is that guests are already Christians. The tragedy behind this assumption is that, by making it, there is little to no room to actually open up the most important conversation that individual may ever have. When we assume someone has already discovered Christ’s love and forgiveness, we no longer think to share the Good News with them. Even worse, when we talk to unbelievers like they are already believers and part of the family, we may even give them the false impression that they are, in fact, Christ followers. They may end up attending and serving in the church for months or even years, and have never truly grasped the simple, yet profound message of the Gospel.

Imagine being invited to a football party with a bunch of people you don’t really know. What if, without being asked, everyone assumes you’re rooting for the same team as everyone else in the room? When a touchdown is made, everyone cheers and slaps five and nobody even stops to think that you aren’t rooting for that team, and maybe don’t even like football! Is it possible that our Sunday morning environment and the way we talk to and treat guests aren’t too far off from that hypothetical situation?

There is no guarantee your guests know God, or understand God. Jesus Christ may simply be a religious and historical name. Salvation? Forgiveness? A loving God? Atonement? All may be totally foreign words or concepts. The next time you shake the hand of that guest, assume nothing about their faith in God. Realize that they could be completely unchurched, or an atheist or agnostic; or to complicate matters, even possibly a Mormon, Buddhist, Muslim . . . you get the idea.

Assumption #4: Guests have it all together.

I’m convinced most Christian leaders would make terrible police officers. We have no idea how to truly profile another person. I’m pretty sure if we were sitting in the police car with an officer, watching the same people, we’d point out the nicest people as being potential criminals and totally miss those truly guilty. Sad to say, but I think a lot of church leaders look at our guests and falsely assume that, if they’re smiling, dressed well and friendly, then they are happy, well off and emotionally healthy; and if they’re scowling, dressed poorly and want to make a quick exit, then they are grumpy, in loads of debt and emotionally unstable.

Think about what you’ve gone through, personally, this year. I know you’ve faced a few challenges of your own – we all pretty much do. If this has been a good year, then go back a couple years until you hit that particularly difficult situation. Now, how many of the employees knew about your challenge at the local supermarket when you were buying milk? No. They thought you were fine. 

Philo of Alexandria once said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” That includes your guests. We don’t know if the battle is a recent loss, an addiction, a broken relationship, a serious illness, major debt or a lost job. Whatever it is, you aren’t going to see it when you introduce yourself and welcome them to the church. Don’t be fooled. They need the hope, love, healing, peace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.

How about you. Which assumption are you most guilty of making?

Behind the Mixer

I hear a lot of pastors express frustration about the people behind the mixer. Evidently, getting the right mix, sound, volume, etc. is nearly impossible. I know. I was in that place for many, many years. In fact it’s what prompted me to write the following posts:

And finally, I strongly recommend you ask your sound techs (and worship leaders) to subscribe to behindthemixer.comBesides some great ongoing articles on running a mixer, there is also a section entitled, “Church Audio 101”. Check it out!

Behind-The-Mixer

www.behindthemixer.com

 photo credit: fensterbme via photopin cc

Worship Slides 101

worship-slideOne of my jobs as a ministry coach is to visit churches and evaluate the experience. In my travels, I’ve observed that churches often break some basic rules of thumb regarding how words are displayed on the screen. Today, I ran across a website that does a pretty decent job of outlining these basic rules of thumb, so I thought I’d share them with you.

Note: If you are using presentation software like MediaShout or EasyWorship, you should find some standard templates that will take care of most of this stuff (unless you’re using a real old version).

Also, if you’re church is strong on creativity + technology, then you might break these rules successfully. This post is primarily for those who struggle with creativity within technology.

There are three posts from this author on the topic. After you’ve looked each of them over, check out my additional thoughts below.

I have just a couple more pointers I’d like to add.

  • Stay away from orphan words.
    An orphan word is when you have one word all by itself on a line that is completing a sentence. For example:

Jesus loves me, this I 
know.

  • Keep line lengths somewhat even.
    It can be distracting and make reading more choppy when the lines in your text are grossly different in length. For example:

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the
Bible tells me so. Little
ones to
Him belong, they are weak…

This is going to be a lot easier to read:

Jesus loves me,
this I know.
For the Bible
tells me so.

Or even:

Jesus loves me, this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.

  • Don’t squeeze tons of words on one slide.
    Your congregation will get lost and be forced to focus on reading if you try to squeeze tons of lines onto one slide. Spread them out.
  • Transition before the last line ends.
    There’s nothing more frustrating than not having the next group of words up on the screen in time, especially if you don’t know the song. Make sure your projectionist knows to transition to the next slide a few words prior to the end of the slides grouping of words. Or, about 2 seconds before the words are done being sung on that slide.

 

 
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