5 Ways Churches Should Be Different Post-Pandemic

Everyone is speculating about how life will be different after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed. It’s the same for those of us in church leadership. Articles are being published daily about how churches will be changed as a result of this experience. The idea of getting “back to normal” is no doubt a misnomer, and we agree things will never be exactly the same. Here are five areas of church life I believe every church should pay special attention to once things are “back to normal.”

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Marriage as a Cornerstone of Life, Not a Capstone

I read two articles this week that included the topic of marriage. The first was titled, “More millennials think it’s a priority to buy a home than to get married or have kids.” The second one was about the passing of Shirley Boone, the wife of entertainer, Pat Boone. The two had been married for 65 years.

These stories bring to mind more than the obvious conclusion that views of marriage have changed since the 1950s. No doubt there are fewer couples, even among those who profess faith in Christ, who believe in waiting until marriage before living together. That’s a real problem the church needs to do more to address. But that’s not the point I want to make in this article.

I’m equally concerned about the growing belief that marriage should be postponed until certain milestones of life have been accomplished. I first heard this idea shared at a conference session led by Florida pastor, Jimmy Scroggins. He suggested that marriage should be a “cornerstone” of our lives rather than a “capstone.” What does that mean?

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How to Communicate an Idea to Leadership

As the leader of a creative team, many, if not most, of the ideas we develop come from members of the team, not from higher leadership. As part of the senior team, I have the unique position of seeing and representing both the creative perspective and the organizational perspective. I hope these thoughts will help creatives when presenting an idea “up” to leadership.

As part of the process, you should consider the PURPOSE behind the idea, then PLAN to make your presentation, and finally, the best way to PITCH the idea.

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5 Ways Leaders Can Promote Church Health

For church leaders, every time we turn around there’s a new book, blog post, conference, or podcast on church health. There are so many resources for leaders to build healthy churches, yet it seems so few churches are truly healthy.

Whether it’s leadership struggles, budget shortages, or declining membership, many churches have a hard time achieving health.

Sure, health is measured in many ways. What constitutes health for one church may not be a factor for another. And it’s even possible for a church to exhibit health in metrics like growth and giving yet behind the scenes the staff culture is anything but healthy.

I’d like to present five factors that I’ve seen contribute to the health of the church I serve. These are not meant to be inclusive of all health factors, but they cover a lot of ground toward overall health.

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5 Principles for Peace in a Worried World

As a devotional, this post is outside of the prescribed categories of my blog. But since I shared this message in our staff chapel at Brentwood Baptist a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d let it pull double-duty. I hope it’s an encouragement to those who read it.

Philippians 4:6-9 (HCSB)
6 Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. 9 Do what you have learned and receive and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

I would characterize myself as a recovering worry-wart. As a “high C” personality, I can easily find myself over-analyzing all facets of a particular situation. I walk through every possible scenario in my head, every possible outcome, and I can tend toward a pessimistic view of those possible outcomes. Just ask my wife. I’m very analytical. And you may agree with me that when healthy analysis becomes “analysis paralysis,” it can look an awful lot like. . .worry.

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How should a leader exert power?

In the church, as in any organization, leaders exert power to achieve objectives. Power struggles seem to be one of the most common causes of dissension in the church. Such dissension almost always leads to ill-health and sometimes to decline. The way in which a leader uses his available power is one of the keys to organizational health.

There are two types of power available to the leaders of any organization: personal power and institutional power. Many church leaders have not learned the cost of depending on personal power nor the benefits of leaning on institutional power. 

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The Fallacy of the “3 Cs” in Hiring

There’s been a lot written about the “3 Cs” of effective hiring – character, competence, and chemistry. While these may be a good check-list, among other best practices for hiring, I believe one of these three can be misconstrued if we’re not keenly aware of the influences that affect its misinterpretation.

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The Lost Art of the Thank-You Note

The digital age has brought many benefits to interpersonal communication. But I think most of us would agree that much has been lost as well. There’s some general consensus that social media has changed our relationships with others, and not necessarily for the better.

One of the casualties of digital communication is the traditional thank-you note. It’s largely become a relic of past sincerity and etiquette. But should it? Unlike other forms of communication that have gone reasonably by the wayside, I think the traditional thank-you note is one that needs a revival. This is particularly true in church life where you need to be sure to acknowledge the generosity of your volunteers and leaders who serve and give faithfully on a consistent basis.

I’ll argue that a hand-written note, sent by snail mail, is far superior to saying thank you in an email. First, not many people send hand-written notes these days. When one is received, it demonstrates a level of thoughtfulness and intentionality that’s not conveyed in an email. Second, it’s more personal. When you’ve handwritten a note, the recipient knows you didn’t just cut and paste copy from a thank-you template you’ve saved in a file. Third, it’s special. Since not many people receive hand-written notes these days, yours will likely be appreciated and remembered more than all of the digital communication they received that week combined.

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What I’ve Learned About Trademark Registration

You may not have thought much about legal protection for your church logo or other “brands” you’ve developed as part of your church’s ministry initiatives. But understanding the implications of copyright and trademark protection so that you can make an informed decision is an important part of church communication management.

Given a few of our church’s more externally-focused initiatives, we’ve taken the extra step of registering some of our trademarks with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). A quick disclaimer: the information in this post is certainly not meant to be taken as legal advice but rather to share what I’ve learned through this process. Please consult an attorney for thorough legal counsel on this subject.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between the terms “copyright” and “trademark.” Copyright refers to works of authorship, such as literary, dramatic, and musical works, as well as artistic works such as poetry, novels, songs, computer software, and architecture.  In order to be copyrighted, these works have to be “tangibly expressed,” or “published.” A trademark, on the other hand, is a brand name. It may be expressed in a word, phrase, symbol, and/or design that identifies and distinguishes it from another source that may provide similar goods or services.

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Tips for Effective Use of IMAG

My experience using image magnification (IMAG) in worship began way back in 1994. I started serving that year at one of the largest churches in America, First Baptist Church of Orlando. Two years earlier, the church had purchased a new in-house television system, complete with a rear screen video projector, in its 5,000-seat worship center. The brightest video projector available at the time, a GE “Talaria” was installed.

As I recall, it produced a whopping 2,500 lumens, less than a quarter of the brightness that size room calls for today; and a skilled technician was required to “tweak it” about once a month for it to maintain a decent image. But, despite the primitive nature of the new technology, I was fortunate to have been one of the early adopters of the use of IMAG in worship. There wasn’t a lot of precedent at that time, so we were breaking new ground.

With today’s much brighter and much cheaper video projectors, IMAG has become common in many, if not most, houses of worship. Of course, a minority of churches use projection for the live “re-imaging” of the worship leaders and the preacher with a video camera, the practice for which “image magnification” got its name. But the projection of song lyrics, Scripture, photos, videos, and other supporting graphics is now a staple in the realm of worship technology.

Whether your church is using video projection from a single source for graphics and video, or from multiple sources, including live camera re-imaging, here are a few tips I’ve learned over the years about effective use of IMAG in worship.

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