We have too much stuff, but we buy more.  We have too much debt, but we spend more.  Then the Christmas season comes along and throws our spending into hyperdrive.

This Christmas spend less and give more.  First, ask God to reveal to you people in need.  Secondly, create a budget that covers your expenses but gives room for random giving.

Here are several ways to Bring Hope This Christmas -

#1 – Leave a Generous Tip

#2 – Bake Cookies for Neighbor

#3 – Haul Away Dead Christmas Trees

#4 – Donate Clothes and Toys

#5 – Giveaway Cash to Those In Need

#6 – Visit a Lonely Elderly in Nursing Home

#7 – Write or Email a Heartfelt Note

What other ways would you add?

Thanksgiving is a great holiday. I find that this holiday provides a great time to refresh and recharge for the final push of the year.  I must admit that I have not always maximized this time.  Below I have tips to help you not MESS UP Thanksgiving.

1. Work more than you rest.

It is okay to STOP and REST.  Your body and mind need rest.  You have been going hard for almost an entire year. Twitter, Email, Facebook can all go on hold.  Put down the phone and step away from the computer.

2. Talk more than you listen.

More than likely you will attend many social gatherings over the holiday with friends and family.  Please do not be the one who talks more than listens.  You know this person …  The one obsessed with using the popular pronoun “I” over and over again.

3. Spend more than you give.

Black Friday.  Need I say more.  It is called Black Friday.  The color black reminds me of death.  Do not blow all the money you earned on what retailers call “great deals.”  Set a budget and buy only what people need and want.  Not just what they want.

4. Eat more than you need.

I am a fan of great food.  But I am not a fan of bloating and heartburn.  Limit your portions and select one dessert to consume.  Do not fall into the trap of looming around the dessert and leftovers.  Step away.

Practice these tips and you will not ruin your Thanksgiving.

Oftentimes my task oriented style of leadership creates conflict with team members.  My default is to close the office door and put projects over people.  Many times I fall into the trap of believing I will be judged by what I do, not who I am.

“People are opportunities, not interruptions.” - Hans Finzel

Signs of a Person Who Puts Projects Over People –

  • You find people interrupting your work annoying.
  • You are secretly insecure.
  • You are driven by accomplishment and acknowledgement.
  • You prefer to work alone, not in a group.

If we consistently neglect people to complete projects, they will feel we do not care about them.  At the end of the day nothing is being accomplished if we do not place a healthy emphasis on people.  After all, what is Christian leadership all about?  People or projects?  The only way we will influence people is by giving them access into our life combined with a genuine interest in their life.

How do you balance projects and people?

As a young leader I am quickly learning a valuable leadership principle.  That lesson is … what I focus on is what get’s done and ultimately shapes who I become.  I am attempting in each area of my life to stay laser-like focused on what is most important.  I believe many organizational leaders lack the ability to stay focused.

For most leaders the real problem is the lack of a compelling future vision. Andy Stanley defines vision as “what could be and should be of the future.” Creating a picture of where you want to be in X amount of years from now is not something you stop and do in a workshop; it’s something you capture reading a magazine or going on a jog.  A hint of “what could be and should be” suddenly and dramatically hits you like a “ton of bricks.”

All of the questioning, praying and thinking finally brings the vision to light.  You identify what you are uniquely wired to do while on earth.  You receive a glimpse on how you can contribute value.  You clearly see how you want to be remembered.  It is powerful.  It is refreshing.

However, life is busy and it is difficult stop and think about “what could be and should be.” It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the day-to-day life demands. Unless you have a view of where you want to go and who you want to become you’ll wrestle through each day.

Questions to Help Guide Your Thinking:

  • Have you spent unhurried time thinking about “what could be and should be” for your life, marriage, and leadership?
  • Is the vision big enough to inspire you and others?
  • How do you evaluate the vision?
  • What areas of my life need adjusting to accomplish the vision?

The inspiration for the memorable blue bird that’s come to represent San Francisco-based Twitter Inc. did not come from the company’s founders, or even a award-winning design firm. The logo idea was presented by the users. After the 2006 launch of the micro-blogging site, people started referring to their individual messages as “tweets.” Hence, the use of the blue bird as the company logo.

“The best thing we did was listen to how people were using the site and how they considered the brand,” says co-founder Jack Dorsey.

There are many different ways to craft a logo, but it’s essential that the end result is unique and accurately represents the organization.  Here are five tips when developing a logo mark.

  1. Don’t worry about communicating exactly what the organization does. Capturing the heart and soul of an organization is more vital than communicating what they do.
  2. The size matters. A logo may be reproduced in a variety of sizes. Consider how the logo will look printed on everything from business cards to writing pens.
  3. Consider the target market. The logo must resonate with your audience.  It will not matter if you like it, if they do not.
  4. Must evoke instant positive emotion. Within our fast-pace you have only a few seconds to grab persons attention.
  5. Don’t change it. Small occasional tweaks are fine, but once you’ve developed your logo, it’s best to keep it. Brand recognition takes time.

I work with a talented group of designers to make the above a reality for churches and for-profit organizations. Contact if interested.

Child Sexual Abuse has reached epidemic levels across our nation. Not a day goes by that we don’t read or hear about a newly publicized case of abuse. According to the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, over 1.5 million children are sexually molested each year in the United States. Reported victims have been as young as six months old.
Child molesters will continue to exist in our society. They can strike any church, including yours, regardless of your size, wealth, denomination, or location. They may volunteer to work with children in your nursery, Bible Study Classes, or student program. Some of the major church insurers have experienced more than 100% increases in sexual abuse claims.
Although the topic of sexual abuse is difficult for many churches to discuss, there is too much at stake for your church to ignore the issue.
Why should your church be concerned?
  1. You care about your paid and volunteer workers and want to prevent any false accusations against them.
  2. You want your tithes and offerings spent on ministry and not legal fees and litigation.
  3. You want to safeguard the mission, vision, and reputation of your church.
A single incident could:
  • devastate and divide your congregation
  • result in massive media attention and your community could begin to associate your church with the incident
  • ruin the reputation of your church and ministry that has taken years to build
  • result in enormous legal liability
  • harm many
Most important, and far more tragic, is the emotional trauma to the victim and their family. It is heartbreaking to imagine that an innocent child could become the next victim of sexual abuse and it could happen at your church.
Your Church Can Reduce the Risk of Child Sexual Abuse

Your church can significantly reduce your chances of a child sexual abuse incident by implementing a simple preventive program. Not only will you reduce the likelihood of an incident happening, you will reduce your legal risk and liability exposure.
Develop & Implement a Prevention Plan

It is important for a plan to be put in place that will ensure the safety and security of infants, children and youth. The plan will also protect your workers from false accusations that could be brought against them. Your prevention plan should include:
  • Selecting and screening workers
  • Worker supervision
  • Training of workers
  • State reporting obligations
  • Responding to allegations
State laws vary so you will want to consult with a professional who understands these laws before you begin your plan.
This is a guest post by Patti Mallott of Upright Ministries. Patti consults churches on many issues like the above.

Nailing down a new church name is on of the most important decisions you’ll ever make as a church planter. Not only does your church name serve as a first impression of your church, it serves as the heart of your brand. Remember, branding is about bonding. You want a name that resonates with your audience.  A name that is memorable and inviting.

I recommend this three-step process when identifying your church name.

#1 – Brainstorm.

Invite the right people to the meeting.  Invite potential church partners and those you trust and will help (not hinder) brainstorming.  Start by asking these questions.  After everybody is on the same page, open up the session for people to share church names.  Remember, this is not a time to edit or challenges names.  Simply communicate any word or phrase that comes to mind.

Conversation Guiding Questions:

  • Who are we?
  • What do we do?
  • How are we different than other churches?
  • Who is our potential audience?
  • What are they looking for?
  • What adjectives would you apply to your church?
  • Are there any metaphors or symbols that come to mind?

#2 – Evaluate.

Now it is time to narrow down your list to 5 names. Oftentimes, I provide people in brainstorming a marker and instruct them to put their initials by their Top 5 names.  After evaluating names, appraise the names on your brainstorm list using the following criteria. Strike any name that you can’t answer “yes”.

  1. Is it easy to say?
  2. Is it easy to spell?
  3. Does it resonate with your audience and culture?
  4. Is it legally available?
  5. Is it, or some logical form of it, available as a URL?
  6. Is it interesting or unique?
  7. Is it descriptive? If it’s not, that’s okay. You can always add a tagline or byline for description.

#3 – Feedback. Present your shortlist for feedback to as many potential church members as possible. Don’t simply hand your list to family and friends.  Be strategic.  Identify people within your community that fit your target audience.

Finalize a name based on your personal opinions and the feedback of others. Try not to second-guess yourself.

What other steps would you add to the process?

Albert Einstein says, “I have no special gift – I am only passionately curious.” Leaders are learners. Learners are leaders. Learning requires humility. Below you will find statements crafted to help you evaluate your willingness to constantly learn and become a more effective leader.

  1. You do not have a coasting mentality, a status-quo approach. Rather, you want to learn and grow, to stretch yourself to be all that we can be for God.
  2. You value an appetite to learn more than a degree. Besides, there is a difference between a school and an education.
  3. You have the discipline to pursue learning.
  4. You listen more than you talk. You ask a lot of questions.
  5. You are alert and “on the look out” for learning opportunities.
  6. You welcome feedback and evaluation.
  7. You surround yourself with other continuous learners.

I leave you with a quote by Abraham Joshua Heschel, “The school is a sanctuary … learning is a form of worship.”

How do you continually grow and learn?

I had the great pleasure to work alongside leaders of WoodsEdge Community Church in redefining their missional strategy.  That time was exciting and very rewarding. What is more rewarding is that WoodsEdge is still aligning themselves with that strategy in everything they do.  Their missional strategy is Love Jesus, Journey Together and Bring Hope to the World. This coming Christmas their communication efforts will be centered around Simple Christmas.

Love Jesus = Less Me, More Jesus
Journey Together = Less Hurry, More Time
Bring Hope = Less Spending, More Giving

Brian Mann (Creative Arts Pastor) produced a phenomenal short video communicating the heart of this emphasis.  If you would like permission to use this video and additional promotional files, please email me.

Due to the Internet boom, marketing has greatly evolved.  Outbound Marketing (TV ads, billboards, direct mail) are no longer relied upon to learn about churches, organizations, products and services.  Inbound Marketing (search engines, social media, etc) have given people alternative ways for finding and researching brands.  The new marketing communication — Inbound Marketing — has become a two-way dialogue, much of which is facilitated by social media.

Additionally, Inbound Marketing is a great way to market a product or service as it much cheaper.  In most cases, churches have a very limited marketing budget.  Through the Internet, churches can effectively use Inbound Marketing tools to increase awareness.  Below are stats from the infographic below that will help churches and organizations decipher which marketing method is best for their culture and community.  Choose wisely.

  • 44% of direct mail is never opened. That’s a waste of time, postage and paper.
  • 86% of people skip through television commercials.
  • 84% of 25 to 34 year olds have clicked out of a website because of an “irrelevant or intrusive ad.”
  • The cost per lead in outbound marketing is more than for inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing focuses on earning, not buying, a person’s attention, which is done through social media and engaging content, such as blogs, podcasts and white papers. This content is interesting, informative and adds value, creating a positive connection in the eyes of the consumer, thus making him more likely to engage your brand and buy the product. So it costs less and has better a ROI.
Excerpts from Mashable article by Lauren Drell

This infographic from Voltier Digital highlights the differences between the two kinds of marketing.