Friday, May 26, 2017

6 Basic Email Observations from Leading a Team

By Eric Geiger

Few things are as lamented as email and staff meetings. And yet, both are very important in communicating, in ensuring execution, and in keeping work moving forward. They are, however, lamented for a reason. Poorly led meetings and poor email practices waste immense amounts of time and energy. Here are six basic email observations from leading a team:

1. Those who complain about too many emails are often the ones who send the most. If you want to read less email, send less email. That is what the leadership team at International Power discovered. By reducing the number of emails they sent, the emails they received dropped by 64 percent. If you send less email, you will be reading less email because some of the emails you are reading are responses to emails you are sending.

2. Succinct and brief is best, most of the time. An email that does not look long on your desktop screen reads extremely long on a phone, which is where more and more people read their emails more and more of the time. Still, there are times when major decisions need to be clarified and communicated and brevity is impossible.

3. For large group emails, use BCC. If the email is information, such as meeting notes or a request sent to a large group of people, use BCC. Because one person replying can grow and multiply and hit a lot of inboxes.

4. For emotional conversations, a face-to-face conversation is better than email. If you think you are saving time by sending an email, you are not. Just add all the follow-up conversations and side conversations and you will find a conversation in person is the best use of time. And it is the best approach for actually caring about people.

5. Answer emails in an expedient manner. For those who report to me, the general rule is 24 hours—only because work can slow if emails are not answered quickly.

6. Don’t reply to all FYI emails. An email that says, “This is just an FYI,” does not always require a reply. You can let yourself off the hook about always needing to reply to those.

12 Ways to Recognize Volunteers

By Chuck Lawless

Most of our churches would be in trouble were it not for volunteers who serve faithfully every week. “Volunteer” is probably not the best word, since legitimate church membership assumes a willingness to serve – but I think we still should recognize those who serve well. Here are some ways to do that:
  1. Commission them at the beginning of the year. Make a big deal about praying over and supporting volunteers, and you’ll likely have more folks ready to sign up.  
  2. Write thank you notes. Few church members expect a handwritten thank you note from another church leader. Surprise your volunteers by sending a few thank you notes each week.
  3. Give them a coffee gift certificate. This gift isn’t that expensive, and even non-coffee drinkers can find something to drink or eat.
  4. Provide child care for a “date night.” Most volunteers will appreciate the opportunity to spend a night out with their spouse.
  5. Cater a volunteer appreciation meal. The payoff will be worth the expense if you do it well.
  6. Pray for a “volunteer of the week” each week. Introduce a different volunteer weekly, and pray for him or her publicly.
  7. Send birthday cards to the volunteers. I’m almost certain the card will be a pleasant surprise, as not many churches do this option.
  8. Send a “thank you” note to the volunteer’s spouse. Most of us could not do all we do were it not for spouses who support us, walk beside us, and sacrifice for us.
  9. Celebrate with a volunteer family picnic. Give your volunteers’ families a day of fun and relaxation, and your volunteers will feel affirmed.
  10. Enlist a photographer to take a family photo for each volunteer. Many families never take the time to take pictures together. Encourage them to do so with this gift.
  11. Sponsor a “Christmas in July” stocking stuffer event. What’s different is that the stocking is electronic, and the stocking stuffers are emails of appreciation. Imagine receiving dozens of affirmations halfway through the year!
  12. Call 2-3 volunteers a week. A handwritten note is great, but a phone call could be even better – especially in today’s world where few people use their phone to actually talk! A few verbalized words of appreciation can go a long way.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

What Does Open Enrollment Mean?

By Dwayne McCrary

Six Details to Include in Your Church Staff Bios

By Jonathan Howe

When we talk with first-time guests about church websites, many of them share their surprise that the website fails to include bios or any information other than a name for the church staff.
I have to admit, I’m surprised when I see this happen as well.
Staff bios help guests—and church members—relate better to those who are charged with the spiritual care of a congregation. While they don’t have to be exhaustive, there are a few items to consider including in each church staff member’s bio.
  1. A current, professional photo of the staff member. The number of church staff pages that just list names and nothing else puzzles me. Photos help people identify with the church. Having a professional photo that is current for each staff member communicates that a church cares about details and doing things well.
  2. Information about what their job entails. With the growing number of unorthodox job titles in churches, there is often confusion over what area of ministry a staff member relates to. For example, a “creative arts director” could work with the worship ministry, the media ministry, the communications team, or all three. Provide clarity for each staff member so that someone can easily identify to whom they can direct questions or ideas.
  3. How long they’ve been at the church. It’s not an essential item, but it is helpful. Knowing how long a staff person has been at a church provides context to visitors and members. There is a catch with this approach though. If you say “Joe has been on staff for 12 years,” then you have to update it every year. Try a format like “Joe joined the staff as student minister in 2005” instead.
  4. Social media profiles. I understand that many people still do not have social media profiles or want them shared. But consider providing at least some social media connection if at all possible. Each staff member could pick the one social media platform they prefer and use it. Or you could list all available platforms. The specifics don’t matter as long as there’s at least some way to connect with the staff other than email.
  5. An email address. Other than a picture, this might be the most important part of a staff bio. Contacting a church staff member should be as easy as possible. And email is the best way to allow for that contact to take place without providing too much personal information.
  6. Personal information. If any of these could be considered optional, it would be this one. However, like a picture, personal information (likes, dislikes, alma maters, spouse and kids’ names) helps people better relate to the staff. So if it’s possible, then include it.
What else does your church include in its staff bios? What would you add to this list?

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources as well as the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Announcing Pipeline 2017: Succession at Every Level

Pipeline Leadership


Pastors overwhelmingly agree that developing leaders is crucial to the success of their ministries. But did you know that less than 30% of pastors actually have a plan in place to develop their staff? And only 1 in 4 churches require leaders and volunteers to attend training?
There's a big need among churches: the need to develop leaders. With this in mind, we set out to create a conference that would help churches practice leadership development rather than leadership placement. In 2016, we introduced the Pipeline conference to meet this need.


Last year's conference and coaching days sold out. Ensure you don't miss a thing and take advantage of Early Bird pricing by registering today. Click below for details.


Monday, May 22, 2017

Announcing LifeWay Women's Summer Online Bible Studies!

We know many of you look for new ways to get in the Word of God during the summer months. Schedules are crazy, you may be out of town several times, and the kids are home all day. That’s why we offer flexible online Bible study options, and we love having you study with us!
This summer, we’re offering two Bible studies for you to choose between (or you can do both!). We’re going to study Entrusted by Beth Moore and Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler. For both, all you need is the Bible study book and you’ll get to watch the entire video teaching free of charge!
Entrusted takes you through 2 Timothy as Paul urges his son in the faith, Timothy, to not be ashamed to fulfill God’s call on his life. Through this walk through Paul’s last letter, you will see that God has a plan for you and a gifting to carry the gospel message He’s entrusted to you to the ends of the earth. Be empowered to live as the mighty servant you are!
Steadfast Love is hot off the presses! This study teaches you how to worship our God Most High in all seasons—deserts, storms, folly, etc. As you study Psalm 107, you’ll see that each season is an opportunity to reveal the anchor of your soul and to learn to know the true Anchor, the God of steadfast love, even deeper.
Here are the details:
  • The Entrusted online Bible study will be six weeks long. We’ll begin studying on June 15 and will post a new session each Thursday morning at 5am CT (barring any technical difficulties). All other details and registration can be found here.
  • The Steadfast Love online Bible study will be seven weeks long. We’ll begin studying on June 14 and will post a new session each Wednesday morning at 5am CT (barring any technical difficulties). All other details and registration can be found here.
We hope you’ll join us for a study this summer. We always love to see how God uses study in His Word to impact your lives!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Christ-centered parenting focus of ERLC efforts

By Tom Strode
Christ-centered parenting will be the focus of a two-pronged effort in August by the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
The ERLC's 2017 national conference -- "Parenting: Christ-centered Parenting in a Complex World" -- will be held Aug. 24-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville.
At the conference, the ERLC will unveil a new, small group study in collaboration with LifeWay Christian Resources -- "Christ-centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues."
ERLC President Russell Moore expressed his excitement about both projects.
"Many Christian parents feel lost in a rapidly transforming culture," Moore said in written comments for Baptist Press. "Our aim for this parenting focus is to encourage and empower parents to shepherd their children in the Gospel, within the context of the local church. It takes more than a village to raise children; it takes the church of Jesus Christ.
"My hope and prayer is that these new resources would point us toward becoming cross-shaped, kingdom-oriented families," Moore said.
The commission's fourth annual national conference will seek to help Christian parents apply the Gospel in rearing counter-cultural children by addressing such issues as sexuality, pornography, technology, media, sports, school, adoption and foster care.
In addition to Moore, the keynote speakers will be:
-- Sally Lloyd-Jones, author of The Jesus Storybook Bible.
-- Crawford Loritts, senior pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga., and author.
-- Andrew Peterson, musician and author.
-- Jen Wilkin, Bible teacher and author.
-- J.D. Greear, senior pastor of The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and author.
-- Dennis Rainey, president of FamilyLife and author.
The conference's speakers will address topics in plenary addresses, short talks, panel discussions and breakout sessions.
Registration and further conference information is available at The conference's plenary addresses will be live-streamed at
The first ERLC National Conference, which was held in 2014, focused on applying the Gospel to homosexuality and marriage. The 2015 conference was about the Gospel and politics, while last year's event was on Gospel-centered cultural engagement.
'Christ-centered Parenting' study
The ERLC's "Christ-centered Parenting" study is designed to equip parents to guide their children of various ages in facing today's difficult cultural challenges. It will address the following topics in six sessions: Gospel-shaped parenting; human dignity; identity; sexuality; relationships; and technology.
Each session will include a 30-minute panel discussion on video hosted by an ERLC staff member to be followed by a group conversation. The panelists -- all parents -- will be Moore; Wilkin; Ray Ortlund, lead pastor of Immanuel Church in Nashville; Trillia Newbell, the ERLC's director of community outreach; Ben Stuart, Passion City Church planter in Washington, D.C.; Jackie Hill Perry, poet and rapper; and David Prince, pastor of preaching and vision at Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky.
The study guide includes articles for participants to read between sessions, plus information sheets divided into six age categories of children. Moore and Phillip Bethancourt, the ERLC's executive vice president, are the authors of the study guide, with contributions from other ERLC staff members.
The guide, published by LifeWay Press, will be available for purchase through LifeWay.
Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on... [Expand Bio]

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Spring/Summer 2017 LifeWay Kids Updates

Check out these Spring/Summer 2017 Kids Updates... - We are excited about our new URL that will direct folks to all of our "training" resources. Housed under Kids Ministry 101 is the Blog, Podcasts, Video Training, and other resource links. We will continue to use the page to keep all of our training related helps "under one roof." (Look for a new "Gospel-Centered" Kids Ministry training video series releasing this month on Kids Ministry 101).

Christian Standard Bible - The CSB translation has released with several options for kids either already released or coming soon. Check out this link for the most up-to-date releases:

CSB in LifeWay Kids On-Going Resources - CSB is now the primary translation in Bible Studies for LifeExplore the Bible, and The Gospel Project. This mid-year change (started with the spring release) has caught some by surprise but we want to make sure you know of the change should you be asked. The most effected of the three is Bible Studies for Life (verses actually printed in Leader and Learner pieces) but the other two have replaced HCSB with the CSB in their packs. Here's an article that might help you:

Gospel-Centered Kids Ministry - This new book by Brian Dembowczyk released on March 15. This quick read will help to clarify the "Gospel-Centered" strategy and how that can be implemented in a Kids Ministry. A copy of that book has been ordered for you and will be shipped soon. Meanwhile, here's the link to the current ordering page:

Best of LifeWay Kids Preschool Worship DVD-ROM.  A compilation of preschool music videos and live lyric videos from various LifeWay Kids brands.  Includes PDFs of devotionals for kids, curated from LifeWay Kids devotional magazines.  RELEASE DATE: APRIL 15, 2017.

Best of LifeWay Kids Children’s Worship DVD-ROM. A compilation of elementary kids music videos and live lyric videos from various LifeWay Kids brands. Includes PDFs of devotionals for kids, curated from LifeWay Kids devotional magazines. RELEASE DATE: APRIL 15, 2017.

"Going Vertical" NEW Preschool and Children's Editions of TeamKid (the first time preschool and children's TeamKID are one the same theme - "Going Vertical" is the next step in helping kids grow closer to God. "Going Vertical" will help kids understand the makeup and message of the Bible by answering big questions kids have like, "Is the Bible Important?" "What makes up the Bible?" "What's the message of the Bible?" " How do all these stories fit together?" "How do I read the Bible?" Going Vertical will progress through the Bible in 36 weeks, emphasizing major books, stories, and truths of the Bible. RELEASE DATE: JUNE 1, 2017.

Christ-Centered Parenting: Gospel Conversations on Complex Cultural Issues - A six session, video driven study written by ERLC leaders, Russell Moore and Phillip Bethancourt designed to equip families to be conversant in the cultural issues that children face each day. This Adult Ministry Publishing is scheduled to RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 1, 2017.

Go & Tell Kids: Mission Trip VBS - This conveniently packed "grab and go" backpack includes a flip chart with teaching pictures (and other teaching aids) for Preschool and Children's Bible study sessions, crafts, recreation, and "rally times." Also included is a flash drive with files for administration, teaching, promoting, clip art, coloring pages and more. (Note: there is no music or video in this resource). RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 15, 2017.

ETCH Family Ministry Conference - Early Bird rate of $275.00 (individual rate) $225.00 (team rate) expires on May 31, 2017.

To learn even more go to...