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10 Other Things That Drive Someone Else Crazy About Working for a Church

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One my top posts of all-time is 10 Things That Drive Me Crazy About Working for a Church. I had no idea what a nerve I would hit with it when I posted it nearly 2 years ago. It has made rounds around the interwebs and was even featured on The Christian Post. Recently, my friend Tyler Braun asked if he could add to my list.  I gladly obliged, so here are 10 other things that drive someone else crazy about working for a church.

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Quick Update

Posted by | Just For Fun | One Comment
  • Happy Monday! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve done a Monday Mind Dump and I’ve literally been living out of a suitcase. Here’s a quick update…
  • The first leg of my journey was to Nashville speaking with Cynthia Ware at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention on innovation in the church. It was great to connect with friends, meet new ones, and an absolute honor to speak at NRB.
  • I flew back from Nashville to Chicago for about 16 hours before boarding a flight to Orange County for Catalyst West.
  • Catalyst West was incredible. This was my first time going and loved the relaxed nature and smaller crowd compared to Catalyst East. All of my notes from the main sessions are here and here’s an article that I wrote for Pastors.com about the event.
  • While at CatWest, the Center for Church Communication hosted our first Meet Up! It was great to connect with other church communications leaders from the SoCal area and share more about the heart and story of CFCC.
  • CFCC founder Brad Abare and my fellow co-director Justin Wise and I met for an afternoon of planning about the future of the Center for Church Communication, and I have to say I’m very excited about what’s ahead.
  • I made a quick trek back to Chicago before heading BACK to Nashville to hang with my friend Christian do some brand consulting with Oasis Church. There’s some great things going on there and I’m excited to be apart of their journey.
  • Also, I managed to squeeze in a quick trip to Birmingham, Alabama, while I was there to see Hillsong United on their AFTERMATH tour. Having seen the United team a number of times, I have to say this was one of the best. With new songs and fresh mixes of some of their favorites, United led us in an amazing time of worship where God’s presence was so evident.
  • On Wednesday I did a webinar with Anthony Coppedge and the team at Fellowship One on Proactive Communication for Churches. Read more and check out the audio.
  • For some reason I’ve been reading A LOT lately… I’ve recently finished Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment, Poke the Box by Seth Godin and The Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuck. I’ll be reviewing all three shortly, but if you want my unbiased opinion, Thank You Economy is a must-read for church communicators. Last year my pick was REWORK, this year it’s Thank You.
  • I am continually amazed at God’s way of orchestrating things. When Jack Dorsey, co-creator of twitter, spoke at Catalyst West, he said, “It’s not important to be lucky but to cultivate an awareness when fortunate situations arise.” I don’t believe in luck but have faith that we we live our lives in obedience to the Spirit of God’s leading in our lives that God will place us in circumstances and situations that are beyond our comprehension [in a good way!]. I’ve had a few of those moments lately and have decided that there’s no better way to live life but then to be led by the whispers of God… listening for His voice, being led by His Spirit and seeing His presence in our everyday lives. So, back to what Jack said, I think that we need to cultivate an awareness of when God is speaking to us and to be willing to respond. I’m in awe of how God has brought some crazy connections together in my life and am excited to see what happens next.

Top 10 of 2010

Posted by | Just For Fun | One Comment

Well, since it’s that time of the year for lists…

This year over 200,000 people visited this little blog… thanks for reading, I’m blown away! I posted exactly 189 blog posts [about 1/3 of which were conference notes!], but only 10 could make the Top 10 of 2010!

#10 Decisions
All of our lives are marked by moments of decision. In this post I shared about a step of faith I took in making a decision to leave Park staff without having another job. Fortunately, God provided and I start the new adventure next week!

#9 Stop Speaking in Tongues
It’s not what you think I mean, I’m a charismatic kid at heart. However, many churches are speaking in tongues, using language that’s hard for people to understand. In this post I share some ideas on how to make sure you’re clearly communicating and not leaving people scratching their heads.

#8 What Happened to Wonder?
As my friend Blaine Hogan says, “the artist is the new pastor.” In this rant I share some thoughts on the loss of wonder in churches and the role the arts will play in saving the  Church.

#7 REWORK-ing Church Communications
I was honored to do a breakout session at the ECHO Church Media Conference inspired by this post where I shared ideas to help church communications directors rework the way their churches communicate. You can read notes from the session here or grab an audio copy, along with other great content from ECHO 2010 here.

#6 No One Cares About Your Church
Again, the contrarian in me. Synopsis: People don’t trust advertising and definitely don’t like the church, so why do we try and market the Church? I argue that we have to earn the right to be heard. This article was also republished by Catalyst.

#5 Delivering Happiness :: Q&A with Tony Hsieh, Jason Fried, and David Heinemeier-Hansson
As a part of the Delivering Happiness Tour, Tony Hsieh from Zappos.com made a stop at the 37signals offices in Chicago to do a Q&A with 37signals’ Jason Fried and David Heinemeier-Hansson.  I was one of 37 lucky people who was able to sit in on the Q&A and I was sure to take some notes! There’s some great insights here on office culture, hiring, customer service, and more.

#4 Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit Notes
Ok, so this isn’t an individual post but a collection of all of my notes from the Global Leadership Summit. I was honored to serve with the Willow Creek Association team helping to lead social media and blogging for the Summit. There was some great content from people like Bill Hybels, Jim Collins, Christine Caine, T.D. Jakes, Daniel Pink, and more!

#3 Announcing OUTSPOKEN
Probably one of the big highlights of the year for me personally was announcing the collaborative book project I’m heading up called OUTSPOKEN: Conversations on Church Communications. Over 60 church communications leaders from around the globe are contributing to one of the most comprehensive books on church communication. Release date is Spring 2011!

#2 10 Things That Drive Me Crazy About Working for a Church
Let me be clear: I LOVED working for a church but in this post that was inspired by my favorite book of 2010, REWORK, I shared some of the things that drove me crazy about working for a church. This post went on to be featured on the Catalyst blog, the Christian Post,Monday Morning Insight, and even garnered a counter-post from Tim Stevens of Granger Community Church.

#1 A Different Kind of Demonstration at Gay Pride
With over 106,000 views, 27,000 Facebook “Likes”, and over 1,000 tweets, this post took the prize for #1 by a long shot. In this post, I shared the moving story of a group of Christians who took the streets with during Chicago’s gay pride with a different message… an apology. I also wrote a follow-up to this post, Church Communications Lessons from the Gay Pride Demonstration.

It’s been an amazing year, that’s for sure.

I’ve had some amazing experiences and opportunities and am thankful to have had you join me along the way. Thanks for reading, Liking, commenting, tweeitng, and sharing!!

2010 has been a great year and I am so excited for what’s ahead in 2011!

Be Inspired, Don’t Imitate

Posted by | Church Communications, Principles | 8 Comments

I’m continuing in my Reworking Church Communications series today, a blog series for church communications inspired by the book REWORK. If you need to catch up, check out: No One Cares About Your Church, Forget Your Mission & Vision, Stop Speaking in Tongues, Know Your Real Competition, and Constraints Are a Blessing.

One of my favorite TV shows right now is Hoarders on A&E.  It’s fascinating [and sad] to watch how people can let things accumulate around them and consume their lives. On a recent episode a woman had spent away her entire life savings buying designer handbags. At risk of having her home foreclosed on, her family intervened. They hoped by cleaning and reselling the over $350,000 worth of designer purses they could help save her home. As a team of appraisers began sorting through the huge collection they began to notice something unsettling… all of the purses were fakes. While they had Gucci, Prada, and Coach all over them, they were indeed imitations. The $350,000 collection only ended up being worth about $1,200.

It’s very easy to copy in our world today.

With a few keystrokes you can copy content, images, ideas, and code and repurpose them as your own. While it’s easy to do I’m fairly convinced that in most instances it’s not the right thing to do.

When we were all infants we learned to speak by imitating our parents. They would repeatedly say “ma-ma or da-da” until we could fumble our way to saying “mom and dad.” Imitating allows us to learn but eventually we need to find our own voice and begin telling our own stories.

In the church space especially we oftentimes think that because we are “all on the same team” that we can borrow, steal, or adapt content from one another and it’s ok. Well, it’s not. Some churches like LifeChurch.tv are incredibly generous by sharing everything they create, and many churches offer videos, media, and other things they’ve created for a small price that is invested back into their ministry. Having resources available like these is incredibly valuable for churches who don’t have the ability to produce videos, media or graphics. However, when you are consistently copying, borrowing, adopting or adapting ideas from other places you can lose the true sense of who you are.

In REWORK, Jason Fried shares some great ideas on why copying is such a bad idea. He says that copying skips understanding, and understanding is how you grow.

“You have to understand why something works or why something is the way that it is. When you copy and paste, you miss just that. You just repurpose the last layer instead of understanding all the layers underneath. So much of the work an original creator puts into something is invisible. It’s buried beneath the surface. The copycat doesn’t really know why something looks the way that it looks or feels the way that it feels or reads the way that it reads. The copy is a faux finish. It delivers no substance, no understanding, and nothing to base future decisions on.”

Strong words but they are so true.

When I first started in church communications I learned by imitating. I wrote to over 100 churches that were listed in Outreach magazine’s Top 100 issue and asked them for examples of what they were doing with their printed communications. I created an idea file and pulled from it for a few years as I was learning my way. Eventually I found my own aesthetic and voice and didn’t have to rely on others to create. From there, I took a posture of being inspired.

I think there is SO MUCH we can learn from watching other churches, organizations, and businesses. We need to learn from what works, we need to take notes and we need to be students… but we also need to understand that every church has its own story to tell and its own voice that needs to be heard. God has embedded something unique in each one of our churches that we are meant to bring to bear in the life of our communities.

When we copy what worked somewhere else we can be hindering what God wants to do through us right where we are. The Church is made up of people and people are all different with unique stories, needs, and experiences. Every church is different, requiring your creativity and insight to know how to communicate most effectively. Open source is great, learning from others is invaluable, but every church has a unique audience and importing what worked somewhere else might not translate in your context. You learn the most by doing things yourself.

The heart of the matter as it relates to copying for me is this: the first sentence of the Bible tells us we serve a creative God. God’s creativity is seen in the world around us. If we are made in His image then we have that same creativity inside of each one of us. We shouldn’t have to rely on other sources but simply look to the Source and find inspiration, creativity, and wonder.

Imitate as you are learning to find your voice… be inspired as you grow and mature… but don’t copy + paste. God is more creative than that and you have better stories to tell than someone else’s.

Avoid the temptation to copy + paste and commit to doing the hard labor of creating. Ask God to let you see your congregation and your community through His eyes. Listen to the stories being shared around you. Watch for the signs of what God is doing around you. Create from a place that is inside of you as God’s Spirit leads. Let the words you speak [or type], images you create, stories you tell, and things you craft be ones that bring life and light to the world around you. You can’t imitate or fake authenticity and originality, and that is what it takes to truly connect with others.

Jason Fried offers a simple way to determine if you are copying: if someone else is doing the bulk of the work you’re copying.

Control + C and Control + V makes things much easier to lift and adapt, but just as the Hoarders team discovered, imitations are just plain cheap. Be inspired, don’t imitate.

Monday Morning Mind Dump

Posted by | Just For Fun | One Comment
  • I only have three more Monday mornings at Park. That’s crazy.
  • Brooke Fraser was AMAZING on Wednesday night at Lincoln Hall. If her tour is coming to your neck of the woods you owe it to yourself to go!
  • Brooke is a worship leader at Hillsong and has a very successful career as a singer/songwriter. At her concert there wasn’t a worship set or any mention of church, God, or Hillsong… but she truly ministered to the crowd that was there. She, through the songs she wrote and the words she shared, proclaimed the Gospel. It was beautiful. <soapbox> I  really believe that’s what Christian art is meant to look like… Christians doing their art in public places, pointing people to the Creator, God. Not using religious words or by creating propaganda, but by using their gifts and talents to speak an unspoken message that causes people’s hearts to see and respond to the beauty of Christ that is glorified in what they create. </soapbox>
  • I drove home to spend Thanksgiving with my family. Thanksgiving was also my birthday, so it was fun to celebrate, even though the bakery got my name wrong!
  • Last week I shared a post on 27 things life has taught me so far. Check it out in case you missed it!
  • On Friday I celebrated “Friendsgiving” with some friends here in Chicago. I have been blessed with some amazing people in my life, and that was what I was most thankful for this year.
  • CatchPhrase has some VERY random phrases in the “Everything” category, but I still love it.
  • My friend Dawn Nicole Baldwin will be sharing ’5 Ways Social Media Can Kill Your Brand’ with M2LIVE on December 2. It’s FREE! Check it out!
  • Jason Fried from 37signals did a great talk at TEDx Midwest on “Why Working at Work Doesn’t Work.” If you haven’t read REWORK [or even if you have] it’s worth watching to consider the way you work. LOVE IT.

  • In other news, I HAVE A JOB!!!!!! I’ll share more about it soon, but I WILL be staying in Chicago and won’t be working a church. I will be helping to serve the Church.
  • Angry Birds will be feeling the Christmas spirit soon.
  • Fast Company did a great article on Willow Creek. Check it out. Also, Willow Creek is looking for a marketing manager for the Leadership Summit. This is a fantastic opportunity to be a part of the largest Christian leadership conference that reaches over 120,000 leaders in 70 different countries in 30 different languages! Details here.
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