How much time do you spend on your yard?

It is absolutely dumbfounding to me how much time and money American’s spend taking care of their lawn.

According to the article ‘Statistically Speaking: Lawns by the Numbers,’ we spend a whopping 30 billion dollars keeping our grass green and trim. The reason we are so focused on the yard is quite simple. It’s what everyone sees when they drive by! Really, if we all took care of our lawn like we did our garage or basement, I suspect it wouldn’t look quite so nice.

As much as we try, people tend to make judgement calls by what they see. People’s perception is their reality, even if their perception is false. So we spend a lot of time making sure our lawns look nice (among many other things) so people will have a good perception of us.

What bothers me about this is that many ministries forget to take care of their “other” lawn. I’m talking about their virtual lawn – the church or ministry website.

Sometimes I am really embarrassed when I see some church websites. Often, it is the equivalent of an unkempt lawn with weeds sticking out everywhere, shrubs that are way overgrown and tall grass in places that should have been trimmed with a weed wacker long ago. No church would want to leave their front lawn in that condition on a Sunday morning!

What’s even more scary is that some church leaders either don’t care or don’t realize their website needs help. So the many virtual guests who ‘visit’ the church each week stop by, take one look, and put the pedal to the metal. They figure, “If that’s what the front lawn looks like, there’s no way I want to stop by for a visit!”

I HAVE TO BE HONEST. This really, really, really bothers me. And it’s why I started my own website business several years ago – to specifically help local churches and ministries with their virtual presence. I believe your church website holds one of the keys to increasing guest attendance each week!

MY OFFER TO YOU

I would love to have the chance to give you my opinion of your church or ministry website. I promise to be honest with you (no gimmicks and no tricks.) I’ll tell you if I think it looks great or if it needs a facelift, an overhaul or a funeral. If it needs a facelift, I’ll make some recommendations. If it needs more, I’ll let you know and also give you a quote for what I would charge to fix it for you.

Please consider taking me up on the offer. You have nothing to lose!

Get Your .church Domain While You Can!

A couple years ago I remember my wife and I discussing the idea of picking up a particular toy for one of our gradeschool kids for Christmas. We looked it up and saw that there were a few available. The problem was that we hadn’t decided if we wanted to get it or not. So we waited. And we missed our opportunity. A few days later, they were out of stock and we were hard-pressed to find it anywhere at the price we could afford. It was a serious bummer.

Believe it or not, YOUR church is likely in that same place.

You have a very UNIQUE opportunity to get something for your church, right now, that may not be available later. This past July, the ‘powers that be’ in the internet world, released a new web domain to the public. A web domain is the last few letters of your website, after the dot. So .org is the domain of my website here: www.waynehedlund.ORG.

What’s cool is that you can now get a .CHURCH domain. And if you’re quick, you can get “JUST THE RIGHT ONE”. I suspect some of you still don’t get why this is cool. Let me give you a couple of examples of real churches I know of right now. 

Current Web Address (as of today) Could Actually Be:
www.elimgospel.org www.elimgospel.church
www.elimgrace.org www.elimgrace.church
www.lovejoy.org www.lovejoy.church

 

By adding the .church domain, you are pretty much giving your community the literal name of your church. It looks professional and sounds good. 

What about all the people who are used to our current web address?

Not a problem. You can still keep your current web address. Many people don’t realize it, but you can actually have SEVERAL web addresses and have them all point to one real address. So you could own www.yourchurchname.com, www.yourchurchname.net and www.yourchurchname.church all point to www.yourchurchname.church. If anyone typed in any of those three, the web will automatically redirect them to the one you prefer. 

Why do I have to hurry?

It’s pretty simple. Eventually, a lot of churches will also figure this out. If they have the same name church as you’re church and they get the .church before you, then you missed it. After all, you probably don’t want to have your website named: www.elimgrace2.church! 

So if it’s still available, you should grab it up before someone else does. For all that matters, you DON’T EVEN HAVE TO USE IT right now if you want. Just get it so nobody else can snatch it first! This is called ‘Brand Protection.’ With an entire globe having access to .church domains, there’s a good chance someone, somewhere beats you to it if you don’t leap soon.

How much will it cost?

It will probably cost you between $20-$30 for the first year. After that, you might have to pay as much as $50/year. Hopefully, those prices will get lower as time goes on. But if you wait until they’re ‘lower’, you still might miss out.

Where do I go to buy it?

As of the time of this writing, 1and1.com is offering a special discount, allowing you to get your .church domain for $19.99 for the first year. I recommend you check them out at www.1and1.com/church-domain.

What do I do next?

After you’ve bought your new domain, you’ll want to talk to your web programmer or someone in your church who understands this stuff, and ask them to set it up for you. It’ll be up to you how much you want to promote the new domain name or not. For instance, do you want to replace all of your promotional material with that new name? Food for thought.

Here’s another idea for you. If your whole website is in need of an upgrade anyway, perhaps it would be a good time to give your whole website a facelift. Check out my website services, created specifically to help churches with their web presence, at www.tlsites.com.

Why I Began Offering Web Services

laptop-supportOver the years I have had the distinct honor of working with some absolutely amazing pastors and ministry teams. As I got to know them more, I became increasingly impressed with all that they were doing to fulfill their respective purposes; each and every one of them making a difference in their communities.

At the same time, I often noticed a major problem. I found their website to be grossly inadequate and out of date. I am very discouraged when this happens. In today’s culture, the website is usually the first place guests and prospective clients visit. It determines how interested they will be in pursuing the ministry or services they are searching for. In cases like these, people’s first impression of the organization are always way off the mark.

Attempting to address the issue usually didn’t help. It’s one thing to tell a pastor or leader they should really get their site updated. It’s another thing altogether to expect them to get it done, despite their deep desire to do so. The fact is, websites are often forgotten or neglected because leaders already have too many irons in the fire. It can be very overwhelming to try to figure out what to do to get the website fixed.

So I decided to offer a solution. I began TL Sites (the TL stands for ‘Transforming Leader‘) to offer web services to churches, ministries & small businesses who are struggling with developing & maintaining their organizational website. I and my team take pride in each website we develop and are committed to ensuring our clients are truly happy with their new website.

I’d love it if you’d visit the TL Sites website to explore options for you and your ministries website! If you have any questions at all, feel free to let me know.

THERE ARE ONLY A FEW DAYS LEFT TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF MY SPECIAL OFFER TO TRANSFORMING LEADER READERS! Click here to learn more.

      

Special Offer for Your Church Website

first-impressions-matterHi readers and Transforming Leader fans. I wanted to let you know about a special offer I am extending JUST TO YOUR LOCAL CHURCH. I’m not advertising this offer in any other location.

For the next month, I’d like to offer you a ‘website rebuild’ or a ‘website build from scratch’ for your local church at a discounted rate of $650. That’s a $200 savings for web rebuilds and a $350 savings for brand new web builds. Keep in mind that there is always an additional fee of $175 that goes towards 3 years of web hosting with Bluehost for all of my clients (unless your church website is already being hosted by Bluehost). 

To take advantage of this offer, just sign up for my web services by following this link – and don’t forget to say, “I’m a Transforming Leader.” in the comments section (That’s code for – I want a special deal!).
Note: I offer an even better deal for churches who signup to join the Elim Fellowship Network of Affiliated churches. New approved applicants may receive a new website for $350! Click here to learn more!

To learn more about my web services for local churches and non-profits, visit my website at www.tlsites.com. You can also check out some of my former clients to see what their website looks like and read what they think by going to www.tlsites.com/portfolio.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Wayne

Announcing New Website Services!

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It has long been my hope to help local churches transform their outdated, clunky websites into something easy on the eye, relevant, and perhaps most importantly, Guest Friendly. Today, I’m pleased to announce that I finally can.

Transforming Leader is very happy to now offer website services for local churches!

I believe your church website is a very important part of your ministry. Unfortunately, most churches fail to give it the attention it needs. It used to be that churches had an excuse, but that’s not true anymore. Website management has become easier to do every year, and shouldn’t require experienced programmers. Your staff should be empowered to update pages, create events, upload videos & sermons and a whole lot more.

With that in mind, we are offering to rebuild your church website using the popular WordPress web platform, including coaching & instructions for accessing & updating it upon completion. 

The new website will feature a customizable home page with sliding banners, image boxes and custom widgets for special events, sermons and more. It will also come bundled with an events calendar, a built-in media section to showcase sermons, an image gallery, staff profile pages and a blog. 

For a one-time fee of $850, we will design a brand new website for your church. 

Please note:
  • This price does not include the costs associated with web hosting. Click ‘What You Need to Know’ below to learn more.
  • Additional features may also be included at additional rates.

Note: Transforming Leader is partnering with Elim Fellowship to provide this offer to anyone who signs up as an Elim Fellowship Affiliate Church at a greatly reduced price. Click here to learn more!

Current EF Affiliated Churches are also eligible for special rates on this offer.


   

Leveraging Technology for Ministry

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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

The Internet is a Mission Field

I ran across this great little video today (90 seconds) that challenges us to include social media and the internet in our creative outreach strategies. How about your church? How’s your website look to guests and those in your community? If you’d like some genuine, unbiased feedback, send me an email. I’ll look it over and give you some thoughts to consider.

You also might want to check out this article by the good people over at Willowcreek entitled, “Your Digital Front Door“.

Internet: A Mission Field from Resolute Creative on Vimeo.

 

I Love What I Get To Do . . .

This short video clip (3:30) by the people over at Youth Specialties does a fabulous job of telling a story that is engaging and moving. The story happens all the time in ministry (or it should). Little touch points here and there that eventually lead to a powerful and transforming God moment.

So often we don’t even realize how often we are touching another’s life. We reach out, speak kind words, say a prayer, and then move on. It can be easy to forget how much God uses each and every one of those moments. What a great privilege and responsibility we have!

The closing line in this video sums it up great – “I Love What I Get To Do!” I hope you do!


If you can’t see this video, try clicking this link.

 
 

Should Your Church Have A Blog?

A few weeks ago I posted several articles about the benefits of creating a blog for your church or specific ministries within your church. As an avid blogger I’ve determined that this tool has a TON of potential to increase communication, build momentum, and align ministries with vision.

That said, it may not be for everyone. I ran across a post by Eric Dye over on www.churchm.ag the other day that I think makes a great addition to what I’ve already written. So I’ve included links to my posts below, as well as a link to Eric’s post on his blog. Enjoy!

  • Tumblr vs Blogger
    My friend, Josh Cummings, challenges my belief in Blogger by recommending Tumblr instead.

In 2011, 300 million websites were added to the Internet. The volume of digital data floating in the sea of the Internet is creating a tsunami of information that is completely overwhelming. The World Wide Web has seeped its way into our lives and taken root like no other piece of technology ever has before. We find it at home, work and play. It’s on our computers, tablets and smartphones.

It. Is. Everywhere. So, should a church even bother adding to all of this noise with a blog of their own? Heck, yeah! Read More Here!

Get Permission To Post Guest Speakers Online

A few months ago we hosted a guest speaker at Elim Gospel Church. Before the message he approached me and requested that a certain portion of his message be excluded from the live broadcast and media posts on the web. Since we knew about this in advance, we had time to create a special image which we posted on the live stream during that portion of the message. At least once a year I have received requests like this. Often, the content of the message is such that public access could compromise a ministry or relationship.

This is why we have made it standard practice to ask before posting, recording, or selling anything from a guest speaker. About 90% of the time it’s simply a formality, but the remaining 10% of the time your guests will feel honored and know that they are cared for.

It’s very simple to do. My friend, Stephanie Zeller, has created a great form on her website which you may  download and utilize just for this purpose. Simply ask all guest speakers to complete the form in advance of their messages and honor any special requests made when they hand it in to you.

Don’t wait – download and begin using it this week!

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