Great Sunday Services

Free Ministry Video Resources

lift-increaseI’ve recently come across two websites that are successfully making a difference in the world through video. They each boast several great video interviews with both ‘regular’ and ‘famous’ people and they capture great stories of people who have faced difficulties and sinful pasts and have overcome through Jesus Christ.

What’s even better is the owners of these websites are providing them FREE OF CHARGE. You are welcome to access and utilize them as you see fit.

Let me say the obvious. Most of us couldn’t pull this off ourselves. But we CAN utilize them to strengthen our current ministry. I can easily envision these videos being used at:

church services.
school chapels.
small groups.
college ministries.
discipleship programs.
1 on 1 encouragement.

Check them out today and be sure you earmark them as a resource for your ministry!    

The Increase ( Am Second (

Sunday Announcements: Information Overload

Dark microphoneSeveral months ago I and my family visited a small church as a ‘mystery guest’. The goal of my visit was to provide some helpful feedback to the Sunday morning experience, especially as viewed through the eyes of a guest.

I was completely overwhelmed (or maybe the word is underwhelmed) by the morning announcements. They were boring. The person giving them was practically reading them from the bulletin. And perhaps most frustrating, there were way too many. I stopped listening when they got to the special event happening 6 months from now. If it wasn’t my job to listen, I’m not sure I would have ever ‘started’ listening,

I was recently reading a book summary of a book I read a few years ago entitled, “Less Clutter, Less Noise” and ran across this very poignant paragraph.

“A Sunday edition of the New York Times carries more information than the average nineteenth century citizen accessed his entire life. Information used to be a rare and precious as gold; now it is so inexpensive and plentiful that most of it ends up being overlooked, ignored, or tossed like garbage. The barrage of data to which we are constantly exposed carries a cost – physically, mentally, and financially – regardless of the generation. People who live in today’s world respond in one of three ways: they become overwhelmed and shut down; they labor over whether they are making the right decisions; or they just ignore you and move on. More isn’t what people are looking for; relief from the pressure of more is what they’re looking for.”

Well said. My advice is simply this.

  • Keep your announcements to a maximum of 3, preferably 2.
  • Sell what you have to say. Convince people why it’s important to them.
  • Communicate everything else through other means (like a weekly eblast, the Sunday bulletin, the church website & calendar, facebook, word of mouth, etc.)

photo credit: istockphoto

Leveraging Technology for Ministry


This is a guest post by Chris Zeigler. Chris is the Assistant Director of BASIC College Ministries. He was a student leader with BASIC at the SUNY Oswego Campus and has never lost his heart for college students. He has started BASIC groups at SUNY Geneseo, Monroe Community College, and the University of Rochester and also advises new groups while travelling, speaking, and writing a blog for campus ministers along with many other things.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been interested in computers and technology
. In high school I got involved in the student-run TV station. When I went to college I chose to get a degree in broadcasting and worked as a campus representative for Apple. Since that time I’ve learned Photoshop, built websites, and started a love/hate relationship with social media. But I recognize that for many, living with technology is just a necessary evil.

Now that I’m working in ministry, I’ve realized that my love for technology can be used for good and for more than just posting pictures of the delicious dinner my wife made (but really she’s a great cook and I love to brag on her). My job gives me the great opportunity to reach out to college students who are considered by many to be the minority in the church.

Here’s what I’ve seen over the last 4 years working in college ministry: students (and many adults now) are extremely connected to technology. Their iPhone has become an appendage and they are constantly connecting with the rest of the world. While we could easily choose to bemoan this fact, the truth is that the world is only going to become more centered around technology 

It is becoming more common to see young people their phones during church services. This will continue happening whether you want it to or not. The past response has been to get frustrated and demand that they put their phones away. Instead of pushing them further away though, it’s important to recognize this as an opportunity to connect with them in new ways. In addition to connecting with the younger generation, there are many ways technology can benefit you as a leader too.

Here are two ways to leverage technology for your ministry’s benefit:

Encouraging Interaction

Twitter is a great way to encourage community interaction in your church using short messages. The church I attend just recently did a series walking through the books of Peter and humorously called it ‘Tweets from Pete’. Using social media in this way encouraged people to share what they were learning on social networks with unsaved friends and also kept discussion going throughout the week.

A fun way to incorporate this into your services is by using the service twitterfall. With this you can display posts associated with your church on the screens before and after the service to promote discussion. As a side note, Twitter is also a great way to network, find resources, and learn from other ministries. If you’re not sold yet check out the article ‘3 Reasons You Should Tweet In Church’.

This all sounds great, but it was while I was traveling a little while back that I fully realized the benefits of combining technology and ministry. My wife and I were speaking on the topic of relationships at a college ministry. After preaching we had decided to hold an anonymous Q&A time. Since no question was off limits, the topic was relationships, and the questions were anonymous you can imagine some of the things we were asked 

People texted in their questions and they showed up on the screen behind us as we worked through each one. This was a moving time as people asked questions they wouldn’t normally ask. God’s presence showed up and allowed us to speak to people right where they were at.

We’ve done this a couple times since then and had great success. There are a couple of services out there you can use. We used one called Poll Everywhere; but there are others available as well.  

Leadership Training

It seems these days that great leadership and ministry training is happening all the time. But paying for your staff to attend a conference can be costly once you add in hotels, airfare, meals, etc 

While going to a conference can still be very beneficial, the good news is that many conferences now stream the entire event online. The admission for this varies from free to still fairly expensive, but it will definitely be cheaper than attending the event in person. Here’s a list of some of the best that I’ve come across:

  • Leadercast – a leadership conference hosted by the popular fast food chain that requires viewing at a local host site
  • Willow Creek – a leadership conference hosted by Bill Hybels’ church that requires viewing at a local host site
  • Exponential – a conference focused on church planting and other various topics
  • Verge – a conference focused on building missional communities

The last resource I have to mention is the Andy Stanley Leadership Podcast. This free monthly podcast consistently offers some of the best leadership training I’ve been exposed to.

Now that I’ve sufficiently overwhelmed you with links, my hope is that these ideas and the subsequent ideas you gain from them will benefit you, your leaders, and your congregation.

What are some other ways your church or ministry has found to leverage technology? Feel free to comment with any questions or ideas. 

photo credit: mjdave via photopin cc

Preparing/Delivering Great Messages

The church where I attend has been known for it’s outstanding preaching right from it’s birth in 1988. For more than 20 years the founding pastor, Mike Cavanaugh, fed the body of Christ through a steady diet of timely, relevant, God-inspired messages. A few years ago, he handed the reins over to his successor and the current pastor, Joshua Finley. Pastor Josh has done a fabulous job of picking up where he left off. He is one of the best communicators I’ve ever heard.

In the following workshop, Pastor Josh shares some keys to preparing and delivering great messages. I trust it will help you strengthen your communication skills. Enjoy!
[vimeo 42830604]Can’t see this video? Try clicking this link.

‘Preach Better Sermons’ Cliff Notes

Looking to get some advice on how to improve your sermons? Chris Zeigler from BASIC College Ministries has graciously agreed to share his notes from the recent Preach Better Sermons” online conference. Thanks Chris! For more information on Chris, BASIC, or college ministry check out the links & information at the end of this post.

You might also want to check out my cliff notes from last year’s ‘Preach Better Sermons’ online conference right here!


  • Plan your sermon series about 4 months out.
  • Build a team around you who will brief you on each series you do. Let them ask tough questions! And allow them to meet on their own to brainstorm ideas on how to integrate popular culture, what scriptures are being used, memorable illustrations, etc.
  • Remember – “The game is won or lost in transition” (Urban Meyer). Don’t focus so much on the message that you ignore other important elements in the service.
  • Develop a routine before each service that helps you focus your mind and center your heart on God.
  • Don’t worry about how people will react to your message or what they will Tweet about it – focus on the fact that God has anointed you to speak His Word.

LOUIE GIGLIO – 6 Rules of Preaching

  1. Have something to say – be honest about what God is putting on your heart
  2. Above all things – be faithful to the text
  3. Lead people to Jesus
  4. Don’t be boring!
  5. Prepare
  6. Be led by the Holy Spirit
  • Find and refine ‘you’ – your own voice and style. Don’t waste your God-given talent trying to be a Steven Furtick or Andy Stanley.
  • Remember the menu is just a suggestion – be flexible and let the Holy Spirit lead you.
  • Stay humble – don’t fall into the trap of using your messages to trumpet yourself.


  • Don’t rely solely on inspiration – build on a foundation of discipline in sermon preparation.
  • If you want people to receive what God gave you, walk them through the same process God took you through.
  • Remember that Paul said not to use impressive words – doing this can be manipulative.


  • Don’t forget about humor – if people don’t laugh every 7 minutes, you’ve lost them.
  • Public speakers say that for every hour presenting you should prepare for three. The preparation should take even longer for preaching.
  • Keep culture in mind. If their attention spans have dropped, make your messages and series more focused and shorter.


  • Write out your sermons as you would a manuscript. Many of his sermons become book chapters. *Key – have your manuscript done in time to pray over it.* 
  • Remember to use metaphors. They are important and biblical metaphors are the most powerful.
  • Keep your dependence on God in perspective (example – fast on the day you are supposed to preach).
  • Great Preacher vs. Great Prayer – you can’t be a great preacher unless you are first a great prayer.


  • The best speeches and sermons are when you and the audience go where you are leading them together.
  • Don’t over-practice – it will come off sounding more rehearsed and less genuine.
  • A well used prop can be both simple and powerful.
  • Remember – the greatest way to ruin a sermon is to be the star of your own success story – people want you to be real.


  • Your preaching flows out of your relationship with God.
  • Remember, in the Bible God is far more concerned about leadership development that He is about leadership technique.


  • Draw from other pastor’s series and books that impact you.
  • Don’t let the success or failure of your sermons attach themselves to your identity.


  • Keep it relevant – take a walk in the audience’s shoes and spend time in their minds.
  • You rarely see a film win any awards without it first having had great editing. It is the same for preaching.
  • You only have one hour with your people – make the most of it.


  • The key to keeping an audience’s attention is your approach – approach is what makes content interesting.
  • Let new people know you are happy they are there – don’t call them visitors.
  • Preach with new Christians or unbelievers in mind – acknowledge the odd things in scripture. Then give the unbelievers permission to not believe or obey what they heard. Even Jesus’ disciples didn’t believe until after the resurrection.
  • Stay plugged into a community of unbelievers.
  • Bring energy to your text – not just to your stories.


  • Maximize your studying by minimizing your searching.
  • The Bible is always relevant – people just don’t always realize it. Our job is to show them how it applies to them personally.
  • Keep in mind that pastors are prone to exaggeration because they are prone to motivation.


  • Remember that our mission is to make more people God’s people and that it is God’s truth coming out of your mouth.
  • Give yourself some grace to discover who you are – who has God wired you to be?


Chris Zeigler
Chris Zeigler
Assistant Director
serving the church // to reach the colleges // to change the world

Honoring Guest Speakers (part 1)

This excellent three part series (originally titled “An Etiquette That Honors“) was written by my friend, Pastor Chris Ball. Pastor Chris is a leader of leaders both at his local church as well as Elim Fellowship, where he serves as General Secretary. It is a great honor to know him and share this resource with you!

Pastor Chris BallOver the past 20 years I have had some wonderful experiences, both as a guest speaker and as a host to guest speakers. I’ve had the pleasure of these experiences in the local church and the broader arena, when hosting large conferences.

There is nothing like the joy of celebrating the work of the Lord when the guest speaker flows in the Spirit, leaving a deposit from God and then returns home, having felt that he or she was cared for and had received a blessing, both spiritually and financially, for the time spent in ministry. Stories like this do not happen automatically. In fact, too often, I have heard about negative experiences from either the host or the guest speaker, primarily due to poor planning and/or an attitude which exhibits dishonor rather than honor.

The Bible speaks a lot about honor: honoring the Lord with all your possessions (Proverbs 3:9), honoring your mother and father (Exodus 20:12), honoring those who seem to lack honor (1 Corinthians 12:24), giving double honor for those who labor in the Word or doctrine (1 Timothy 5:17), etc.

I take a risk of being misunderstood by writing an article about an etiquette that brings honor when co-laboring with guest speakers. As one who is invited out to speak, this may seem self-serving. It is my heart, as you read the following material that it will serve to bring glory to God and His Church as we strive to operate with excellence.

Honor is reflected when the following three essentials are functioning:

  • Communication
    The key to an atmosphere of honor is communication. Long before the ministry takes place, both the guest speaker and the host should discuss all details so that every possible area is addressed. This builds an environment where great ministry can take place, because both the host and guest are made aware of their individual responsibilities. The more questions asked and the more details discussed, the more it will serve to eliminate misunderstandings.
  • Cooperation
    Both the host and the guest should look for ways to bring honor to the ministry. Guests should always look to minister under the authority of the host leader. They should be considerate of time and dress code, come with a spirit to serve and bless, and always remember that they are only a guest. The host should look for ways to be a blessing, making life as comfortable as possible for the guest who, most often, is away from home and family. If the spirit of honor is in the minds and actions of both parties, they will be well on their way to a powerful time of ministry that glorifies God.
  • Compensation
    While every minister should be willing to serve with honor regardless of financial compensation, we cannot dismiss the fact that Paul challenged us to show double honor to those who labor in Word and doctrine. Paul is clearly speaking of compensation. Too many times to mention I have heard stories of men and women who have traveled far and wide, left family, and given their utmost to ministry, only to discover that their compensation was far from honorable; in fact, it was dishonoring.

Every host must consider blessing their guest by paying their expenses (including housing, miles, and meals) and compensating them for their labor. Discussion should take place before the event is finalized regarding all the details involving compensation. It is much better to know the details on the front end than being surprised after the event is completed. In short, if a host is unable to compensate a guest, let them know early so they have the opportunity to say yes or no to the opportunity to minister.

You may be saying, “I have a small church or ministry. When I look at these guidelines, I can’t begin to see how I will ever have enough compensation to invite a guest.” Remember, everything begins with ‘communication’. However, be careful not to be passive with these guidelines. There are several ways to work towards having a guest ministry.

If you are leading a small work, consider the following…

  1. Focus on fewer events throughout the year. Work hard to make one event successful, rather than falling short on hosting multiple events.
  2. Consider partnering with a couple of other area ministries to host an event.
  3. Consider fundraising ahead of time so you will be able to store up enough income to provide for the event/ministry.
  4. Don’t be afraid to charge a registration fee for some events in addition to receiving a free-will offering.
  5. In your communications you may be able to arrange a package that will work out with your guest ministry, but remember – this should be agreed upon before the commitment is final.

Someone once said to me, “Whatever happened to serving and trusting God for His provision? Shouldn’t that be the attitude of the guest?” Most guest ministries I know approach ministry with this attitude, and it should be the attitude of all who minister. However, I often caution that this should not give place to poor planning or be an excuse to disregard God’s call for host ministries to show honor to their guests. This article is intended to serve both the host ministry and the guest ministry. Following these etiquette guidelines will bring honor to all parties involved, and ultimately honor God. Let’s remember the essentials: Communication, Cooperation, and Compensation.

Following are some guidelines that will serve to help you in your journey to honor. You may want to consider setting up an event coordinator to handle the details. No matter the size of our ministries, we can all function with excellence.

Like what you’re reading? Click here to read ‘Part 2’ of this article!

Honoring Guest Speakers (part 2)

This excellent three part series (originally titled “An Etiquette That Honors“) was written by my friend, Pastor Chris Ball. Pastor Chris is a leader of leaders both at his local church as well as Elim Fellowship, where he serves as General Secretary. It is a great honor to know him and share this resource with you!

(If you haven’t read Part 1 yet, click here to do that first!)

Pastor Chris BallGuidelines to Honor Guest Speakers

Thoughtful, considerate hospitality extended to a guest speaker can greatly enhance your ministry event. Inasmuch as he/she will bless your audience with their message, you can bless them by facilitating an environment conducive to ministry.

Demonstrate Hospitality

Find out what your guest likes, such as snacks (candy bars, crackers, cheese, etc.), drinks, mints, etc. Have a welcome basket made for them and placed in the hotel room prior to their arrival. If your guest speaker’s spouse is traveling with him/her, be sure to include a special gift for their spouse. If the guest is staying in someone’s home, arrange with the host to assist with meals.

Simple acts of hospitality can refresh a guest speaker and contribute to the success of your event. Here are a few more suggestions to consider as he or she arrives at your services/event:

  • Meet the speaker at the door of your facility or assign someone to meet him/her.
  • Be available or designate someone to help carry ministry materials from the speaker’s vehicle.
  • Place a table in a prominent place for ministry materials or displays.
  • Show your guest where the restroom is located.
  • Go over details of the service and provide a copy of the program agenda, schedule of activities, registration packet, etc.
  • Show your guest where he/she will sit, the path to the podium, where the sound system is located, where audiovisual screens are located, where electrical outlets are located, where light switches are located and where you will be sitting.
  • Designate which microphones the speaker will use. Introduce your guest to the sound and lighting technicians.
  • Be prepared to introduce your guest properly and to promote his/her ministry materials.
  • Discuss timing of a special offering (usually at the close of the service) and who will receive it (normally the pastor).
  • Provide bottled water and mints at the speaker’s podium and at the table/seat where he/she will be sitting.
  • Obtain permission from your guest before recording (audio or video) your guest’s messages/performances.
  • Provide complimentary audio and/or videotapes of the entire event to your guest.

The honorarium is intended to bless the guest speaker above and beyond the expenses he/she has incurred to come and minister.

Consider the following as you determine the speaker’s compensation:

  • Is this ministry my guest’s livelihood?
  • How far will my guest travel for this event?
  • How much time away from family will this event require of my guest?
  • What type of ministry (speaking, music, teaching, etc.) will my guest present?
  • Experts claim that the best presentations require 1 hour of preparation per minute of presentation.
  • How many times will my guest be expected to minister?
  • Cover your guest’s expenses (meals, travel, and lodging).
  • Reimburse the guest’s mileage (use the current Internal Revenue Service’s allowance for mileage when an automobile is used).
  • Inform your guest in advance of financial arrangements (fee, offering, both).
  • Pay your guest speaker before they leave your event. “Check is in the mail” is not serving with excellence.

Like what you’re reading? Click here to read ‘Part 3’ of this article!

Honoring Guest Speakers (part 3)

This excellent three part series (originally titled “An Etiquette That Honors“) was written by my friend, Pastor Chris Ball. Pastor Chris is a leader of leaders both at his local church as well as Elim Fellowship, where he serves as General Secretary. It is a great honor to know him and share this resource with you!

(If you haven’t read Part 2 yet, click here to do that first!)

Pastor Chris Ball

Treat a Guest Speaker Well by Asking Ten Questions

Those with little experience hosting guest speakers may be unaware of some of the courtesies their guests will appreciate:

  1. If your guest is flying, have you asked whether he’d prefer for you to book the tickets or to make his own flight reservations?
    If your guest makes his own travel arrangements, offer to reimburse him as soon as he can send a copy of his receipt/itinerary to you.
  2. Have you reimbursed your speaker for all travel expenses, including incidental ones?
    In addition to airfare or car rental costs, your guest will likely incur out-of-pocket expenses for airport parking, tolls, food, tips, etc. It is appropriate to ask for receipts for these in order to provide reimbursement. If the speaker drives his own vehicle, reimburse him according to the current IRS per mile expense rate.
  3. If you intend to give your guest an honorarium, have you arranged to do so before he leaves?
    When determining the amount of the honorarium, consider not only the preparation and delivery of the messages, but also the amount and value of the time you’ve asked your speaker to be away from home.
  4. Are you prepared to offer several restaurant options?
    Just about everyone has likes and dislikes. If meals will be served in homes, have you asked about preferences, food allergies, etc.?
  5. Have you asked about when your guest would prefer to eat?
  6. Have you given your guest the option of staying in a hotel instead of a home?
    Although some opt for the fellowship of the home environment, nearly all prefer the privacy of a hotel room. The hotel provides the seclusion to study, write, pray, prepare, send email, and more easily rise or retire according to his/her personal schedule. If your guest stays in a home, the most important consideration is a private bathroom. Be sure to show him/her where extra towels and washcloths are kept.
  7. Have you asked if your guest would like to have a car made available while with you?
    Rarely is this needed, and nearly always your guest will prefer for someone else to drive, but to ask is a courteous gesture.
  8. Have you asked what your guest would like to do during the times when he/she is not speaking?
    Your guest may prefer to rest or work, but might enjoy alternatives you suggest. Ask if there are any local sights he/she would like to see, whether bookstores are of interest, or something else.
  9. Have you remembered those left behind?
    Arrange to have a “Thank you for sharing your husband/wife” (perhaps just a card). Sometimes a simple, tangible remembrance can be given to your guest to take to their spouse. Just make sure they have room in their luggage.
  10. Finally, because everyone is different, it’s always a wise policy to ask all of your guests in advance, “Do you have any special requests?”

What can a church expect from a guest speaker?

  1. A guest speaker must come to the host church with the mindset to leave a deposit. It’s better to give than receive.
  2. A guest speaker must always submit to the leadership of the host church.
  3. All times of ministry should be flowing in the same spirit as that of the host church.
  4. A guest speaker should be sensitive to time and schedule. Be on time and ask when ministry should begin and conclude.
  5. A guest should dress appropriately. Ask, never presume or assume.
  6. Inform the host church of audio/visual needs, if applicable.
  7. Seek to connect to the leadership, not just blow in and blow out.
  8. Inform the host church of your needs ahead of time so they can be aware and prepared for your visit.
  9. Send a thank you note after returning home.
  10. Be willing to go the extra mile.

Check out Dan Stevers Mini-Movies and Free Stuff!

I stumbled across another great video resource for the local church today. Hopefully, you’re already aware of the growing list of great video resource sites like and This new site includes some great clips which would be particularly relevant this Easter. Additionally, the owner is offering a page full of some free video’s as well! Finally, if you have any ‘up and coming’ video experts in your church (like some of those teens/young adults), you will find several well made tutorials meant to help the aspiring video experts excel in what they do.

Where could you use these short 2-4 minute clips?
These clips are worth watching more than once. You might consider showing them pre-service, post-service, during the offering, or just prior to the Sunday message.

Check out Dan Stevers at!  
(and look over his free ‘Sermon Graphics Bundle’ right here)

Church Stage Designs Made Simple

Dippin-DotsEvery once in a while I get asked about what it takes to create great stage designs to support sermon series or to just spruce up how things look during different seasons of the year. I’ve been meaning to share this AWESOME resource with you for a long time, and am finally getting around to it.

Years ago, we would sit in our creative team meeting and bang our heads against the table to come up with some fresh, cool looking creative themes for the stage. We did a pretty good job. But half the problem was in trying to figure out how to implement our ideas after we got them, without breaking the bank.

Things changed drastically when we discovered this website. I remember soon after finding the website we were able to create a cool new look for less than $100 using paper plates (the above image uses paper plates and cost that church $95)! Of course, it helped that we had already invested thousands of dollars in lighting over the years. That said, whether you’ve invested in your stage and lighting designs or not, this website is sure to give you a head start in thinking outside the box. Enjoy.

Check out ‘Church Stage Design Ideas’ at!


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