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Final Thoughts to Communicate Better

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Well, what an adventure we’ve partaken.  I hope these tips have been helpful over the past two weeks.  If you haven’t read week one, or two—feel free to click the links to catch-up.   I love communicating and casting vision.  If you’re like me, you get extremely excited at the opportunity to connect the dots for people in their journey of faith, life, work, and family.

God has given you the opportunity to speak Truth in people’s lives.  No matter where you are, or who you are, we all possess leadership and influence.  Leaders, influencers, you are creating space for people’s own self-discovery.  Be present in their life and help carry them to a being of learning and betterment.  Don’t neglect your ability to lead, because if not YOU then WHO?   If you’re not going to communicate vision and hope, are you going to wait idly by for someone else to carry the task?

Harness your gift and your strengths that make you uniquely you and simply be.

Be present

Be real

Be hopeful

Be alive

Be a visionary

Be a light

Be a prophet

God has called you to this moment in other’s lives—Be there.

So,the final three thoughts.

1. Be a prophet 

Repeatedly, God tasks the prophets of the Old Testament to listen and obey. Their voice brought light into darkness, order into chaos, and life into death.   We as leaders are prophets; we have the opportunity to share Truth to people.  Don’t flee a people group because they’re different (See Jonah), or have a different experience than you.  Learn from them; see them as worthy of your calling.  Don’t be afraid to have a prophetic voice in your communication.  Speak of the injustice that marginalized people experience. Raise a banner of hope for those without a voice.  Make the space for God’s voice to be heard through your willingness to be a prophet. Listen and obey and your communication will be more authentic for it. Prophets of the Old Testament never had it easy. They often communicated things that Israel had to hear, but didn’t have the humility to receive it. There are words you have been given to say, regardless of your platform—use them.

2. Prepare

Oh, please prepare.  Do the proper work and research for your topic.  Attempt to memorize as much of your notes or manuscript as possible.  I usually spend one entire week prior to speaking trying to memorize as much of my manuscript as I can.  It doesn’t have to be verbatim, just learn the general ideas of what you’re attempting to speak.  Have your major points locked in your head and the general line of thinking for your points.   If your manuscript is organized well, it should be easy to memorize.

3. Pray

It’s so simple, pray and ask God to prepare your heart to speak. I am guilty of forgetting to pray before speaking and I notice a difference in my heart’s preparedness to articulate vision.   Before I get on stage, I ask God to anoint my mind to think clearly, my heart to be open to the Creator’s prompting, my eyes to see people as God sees them.   Making this a discipline in your communication not only prepares your mind, but it connects you to the author of all things Good.

 

Stay tuned for more communication tidbits in the future.  I’ll be writing more often about the topic.

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How to Prepare Your Site for the Easter Rush

Easter is around the corner, and as you know, most churches see a surge of first-time visitors for the occasion. Your church may, and should, take advantage of a number of ways to advertise your Easter services like social media, Google Adwords, direct mail, and word of mouth. But, one of the most common ways for people to find a new church any day of the year is extremely important for Easter too. It’s your website! Here are some tips to help you get your site in shape and ready for the Easter rush.

Make a great first impression
Your homepage is the first page most people will see on your website, so use it to its fullest potential. A few weeks prior to Easter, place information about your Easter services in a prominent place on the homepage. If you have a spot for an image, create a simple and inviting graphic about your Easter Sunday events and include service times for the day. The goal is to make it fast and easy for your visitors to find the basic details.

Map it out
On a contact us page or a page specifically for new visitors, include your address and directions to your location. Or, better yet, embed a Google map. This will help visitors find your facility quickly. Bonus tip: If you’ve already embedded a map on your site, verify that it is working correctly! You never know when your mapping service has made a change, making your map inaccessible.

We love kids
For kids, visiting a new place can be intimidating, especially when there is a buzz of activity like you’ll see at church on Easter Sunday. Help parents prepare their children by filling them in on your kids programs for the day. Don’t spell out every detail, but on your new visitors page, give basic info on classes and what kids will do during their worship time. Giving this info upfront will help parents and kids ease any nerves before the morning arrives.

Tag Team
With the additional traffic to your site just before Easter, don’t miss out on the opportunity to promote other spring events. Do you have small groups starting soon? Or is there an upcoming sermon series that shouldn’t be missed? Include your announcements for future programs on your homepage now. Hopefully the extra eyes on these announcements will lead to greater engagement in your ministry!

What do you do differently with your site around Easter?

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3 MORE WAYS TO COMMUNICATE BETTER.

 

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Okay, we should be honest: whether you’re a pastor or new to a faith journey with Jesus, there is one concept that rings true for all of us in communication, “What you say is whom you portray.”  For pastors and leaders, this portrayal is of Jesus Christ and the legacy that He left behind in his life. When we are pragmatic and calculated with what we say, we are caring for the platform that God has entrusted to us. It is incredibly important that we spend time working on the craft of communication because it matters.  Your words can literally catalyze movement and vision. It can give those without purpose—purpose. Moreover, it can bring life to the lifeless.    Words are important, with words the Earth was created.  With words, Jesus spoke healing and hope into both Jews and Gentiles. We have a unique opportunity as communicators to be the mouthpiece of a shifting tide of Kingdom living, here, now, today.  Therefore, I wanted to give you three more ways to communicate better. If you missed the first post of a three-part series, you can catch-up here.

 

1. Start with the End

I know it seems counter-intuitive, especially when crafting a talk, but it’s important to start with the end.  Starting your talk with what you want people to leave knowing will guide your preparation to a definitive conclusion that supports the meat of your talk.  By supporting the bottom line of your talk, you’re giving clear purpose and answering the “why” question.   Far too often, I hear communicators failing to answer the “why” in their talk, and it leaves people wondering what the last half-hour was even about.  It is virtually impossible to cast proper vision without answering the simple question of “why.”  This is why I start with my bottom line at the top of my manuscript and notes because everything should lead out of what I want people to leave knowing.

 

2. Say Something with Everything

One of the biggest traps of communication is thinking that it has to be done with words.  However, some of the most prolific communicators are those that can harness all communication mediums to convey an idea.  There was a time where the Church was the center of creative arts.  The church harnessed its large influence to commission artist and thinkers.  Walking into an ancient cathedral could knock you off your feet because it was communicating a richer truth of a creative God.   We have lost a sense of creativity in our churches and it must be recaptured.  We can do this in practical ways from the stage, we can use: music, films, photography, or motions.   I suggest utilizing the stage as a canvas, create sets that help support a series or a talk and change it out frequently.  Create a team of creatives to help you execute what you say both on stage and off stage through art installations.

 

3. Get Feedback

This is a tough one for communicators, especially pastors and leaders.  I get it; you already receive a ton of feedback on your communication.  Many of us have been on the receiving end of an anonymous email or nasty side comments that leave us vulnerable, hurt, and demoralized.  Seeking feedback can be difficult because of the fear of one more negative comment being made.  Leaders, I am with you.  With that said, I want to encourage all of you to find two or three people you really trust, those that you can depend on to give you HONEST feedback.  Don’t pick people that will pander to you, but those that will give you loving critiques.  I have three people in my life that I run every manuscript and every post-sermon podcast through for feedback.  This seeking out feedback has made me a better communicator and has revealed areas in which I need to grow.  Learners are growers. When we learn, we are taking an opportunity to better ourselves and we are honoring our gift.  People that you trust and love probably love you back.  If they love you, they will have your best interest in mind when giving you feedback.  Thirty minutes is all the time you need to really sit down with a few people and get their opinion.  In my most recent time of feedback, I was actually liberated.  I know that sounds weird, so let me explain.  I was told, by a trusted friend, that I relied too much on humor to make myself more comfortable with speaking.  They were right, I used humor to make people like me.  My use of humor was not to better the communication, it was for selfish gain.  I learned from that trusted friend humor is best used to support the sermon, not to support my need for listeners to like me.  As I did, we can all learn and be better for it.  Find those trusted friends, create a committee or a creative team to help you prepare and debrief talks.

 

I’ll be back next Monday for the final installment of this series; I hope you check back for the final tips.

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5 Worship Songs That Should Be On Your Playlist

In every season of life there are worship songs that are deeply etched into our hearts. These songs encourage, empower, help us to reflect and meditate on how good God is in spite of everything going on around us. I’m continually finding new songs that speak to me right where I am in life and although I’d like to think they are written just for me, I’m pretty sure these artists (and God) have a larger audience in mind for their music.

Here are 5 new(ish) worship songs that you need to load onto your iPod (iPhone, Android, mixed tape) immediately.

71g3eFEbMoL._SL1500_Come As You Are
by Crowder
Album: Neon Steeple
Spotify / Rdio
iTunes
Sheet Music


this_is_living_ep_coverSinking Deep
by Hillsong Young & Free
Album: This Is Living Now EP
Spotify / Rdio
iTunes
Sheet Music

Love-Ran-Red_AlbumJesus Loves Me
by Chris Tomlin
Album: Love Ran Red
Spotify / Rdio
iTunes
Sheet Music

Cover_i_will_follow-2015He Knows
by Jeremy Camp
Album: I Will Follow
Spotify / Rdio
iTunes
Sheet Music
wwnbs-official-cover-artJesus We Love You
by Bethel Music
Album: We Will Not Be Shaken
iTunes

And, just in case you love YouTube.

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The Power of Patience

Patience…just writing that word makes me feel guilty. I am the consummate “do as I say, not as I do” person, when it comes to patience. I can’t think of a time in my life, where patience wasn’t a battle for me.

This struggle wasn’t birthed out of being a spoiled brat, who got everything he wanted growing up. It isn’t spurred on by other people at all. Impatience simply seems to be part of my DNA. That’s not a copout. I’m not off the hook. I just realize that I have an addiction for getting things done and want everyone around me to be the same way.

There are pros and cons to this dilemma…

Certainly a pro is that I get a lot of stuff done. I mean a lot. You’ve heard people say “I get more done by 9am than most people do all day!” That’s me. I don’t let things sit, fester, and atrophy. I push, I execute, I drive. (Just saying this is making me energized. I know, I’m a freak)

Another pro is that I inspire and energize people around me. My wife, my kids, my staff…all can feed off the driving force I bring to the table. Finding a new gear and getting more done than they thought possible.

BUT, it’s not all magical and alive with the light of a million fairies! The opposite side of that proactive drive is impatience and control. The ugly truth is that “drive” often looks like impatience and arrogance to others. Just because I’m wired to “get it done now” doesn’t mean that everyone else is or even should be.

Though there have been many positives in my life that have come out of being proactive (promotions at work, leadership in church, a thriving family), there have also been a lot of missteps, damaged relationships, etc. I’ve learned the hard way that leadership at home, at work, at church…centers on patience.

Patience and grace. These words have been used interchangeably in my life. People have had to show me an extreme amount of both. As if that weren’t enough, God, my creator, has shown me more patience and grace than I can ever quantify. I’m literally in debt to Him and can never repay Him fully. The only thing I can do to honor God in all of this, is show other people the same patience that God has shown me. Hopefully in that gesture, I model Christ and His strength in my weakness.

So, the journey continues. I may never be a person that others call “the patient guy” but hopefully I can become a man that others are inspired by, pushed to be better by, and see gracious leadership from.

How about you? Do you battle with patience? I’d love to hear your story…

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