Free Church Media! You don’t have to steal anymore!

Church Growth, the Right Way I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours. I work with The Malphurs Group to equip churches to break through barriers,and maximize your impact for Christ. Download my free guide and learn 10 simple secrets that will help keep guestsfrom leaving through the back door (and even help attract higher numbers of first-timers). Yes! Send It Now I’ve been in your shoes. I know it’s hard. I know that pulling off excellence in church every single week is difficult and expensive.  Churches, especially church plants and smaller churches, don’t have enough time, budget, staff, or expertise to produce high-end stuff in-house each week. So I get it, it’s easier to take a short-cut. But sometimes our attempts to save time or money inadvertently lead us to an ethically treacherous place.  Most often, this happens within the realm of intellectual property, and so we don’t think of it as stealing.  We think of it as sharing. I’ve been where you are, walked in your shoes, and rationalized the same way. Even in creating this website–a place designed to help church leaders train up, heal up, and pump up so they can have their maximum impact–there’s a temptation to want to use great stuff on the web. But just because it can be downloaded for free doesn’t mean it’s yours to use for free. Having walked this journey, too, I think that most of us in church want to do the right thing but get confused by what’s legal and figure since it’s “all for Jesus” it doesn’t really matter. Here’s why it matters: using intellectual property without... read more

10 Ways to Increase Community Outreach

Church Growth, the Right Way I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours. I work with The Malphurs Group to equip churches to break through barriers,and maximize your impact for Christ. Download my free guide and learn 10 simple secrets that will help keep guestsfrom leaving through the back door (and even help attract higher numbers of first-timers). Yes! Send It Now Community outreach is the “proof side” of the gospel. In the introductory pages of Rick Russaw’s book The Externally Focused Church, he boldly states that evangelical churches that are truly awake shift to living out “the proof side of the proclaimed gospel.” Yet far too often, even big churches with big rooms, big lights, big music, and big crowds lose touch with genuine community outreach. Churches perpetuate the fallacy that as long as their services are close to full, they are reaching our community. On the other end of the size spectrum, there are many smaller churches that have gone into self-preservation mode. They exist as a “holy huddle,” losing touch with the neighborhood that surrounds them. I grew up in a church like this. A once vibrant, transformative church lost touch with reality and the ever-changing landscape of the neighborhood where it was planted. As the needs of the community changed, the church didn’t. Eventually the church dove into a protective state, clinging to its exciting history as justification for its unshifting present strategy. The church drained itself of its evangelistic lifeblood and replaced it with formaldehyde–giving the church an appearance of being alive but, in truth, being long dead. This is harsh. I know. But we need to hear... read more

What to Do When Vision Leaks

Church Growth, the Right Way I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours. I work with The Malphurs Group to equip churches to break through barriers,and maximize your impact for Christ. Download my free guide and learn 10 simple secrets that will help keep guestsfrom leaving through the back door (and even help attract higher numbers of first-timers). Yes! Send It Now  “Some leaders believe that if they fill people’s vision buckets all the way to the top one time, those buckets will stay full forever. But the truth is, people’s buckets have holes of varying sizes in their bottoms. As a result, vision leaks out.” – Bill Hybels, Leadership Axioms   I don’t know if you’ve ever heard Bill Hybels speak before, but the man loves buckets. I must have heard three or four different messages from him that included some sort of a bucket analogy. But, I have to admit, this is one example where it truly works. Those of us who serve on church staffs are fully immersed in church culture every moment of every day. So when our church decides on a vision, staff have smaller “holes” in their “buckets” and so vision leaks much more slowly. It still leaks. Have you ever spoken with a burnt-out pastor or staffer who has lost touch with his passion? Vision has totally leaked out of his bucket. But for those who are outside of the day-to-day ministry grind, vision leaks even faster. Hybels continues from the quote above: “You or I could deliver a mind-blowing, God-honoring, pulse-quickening vision talk on Sunday that leaves everyone revved up to go change the... read more

5 Steps to Great Church Guest Follow Up

Church Growth, the Right Way I'm Scott Ball, a strategy and leadership consultant for churches like yours. I work with The Malphurs Group to equip churches to break through barriers,and maximize your impact for Christ. Download my free guide and learn 10 simple secrets that will help keep guestsfrom leaving through the back door (and even help attract higher numbers of first-timers). Yes! Send It Now You are losing guests out the back door of your church every week. This is the unfortunate truth about every church. Even churches that are knocking it out of the park every week lose guests out the back door. Why? Because not every person is going to want to come back for a second time. But here’s an encouraging reality… The vast majority of your first-time guests are looking for a reason to come back. Let that sink in for just a minute. Think about everything that had to happen for a guest to visit your church for the very first time. They checked out your website, and liked it enough to come. They maybe downloaded or streamed a sermon, and liked it enough to come. They figured out if the location and service times worked for their family rhythm, and liked it enough to come. Their friend begged them for weeks to check it out, and liked them enough to come. Your church has already overcome the vast majority of barriers to getting a first-time guest in the door. Now they’re looking for a reason to come back. They liked you enough to come once, and now they’re searching for a reason to come a second time. Most people who visit... read more

Why Teams Fail

Teams have a lifespan that is often way too short. The glory days. The wonder years. Camelot. Utopia. The three-year span where everyone worked together, communicated, found their niche, talked through problems, focused on the future, and hit performance goals out of the park. If you’ve never had a season in your ministry like that, I’m sorry. Because it’s a beautiful thing. It really is. When a team is hitting on all cylinders, it’s glorious and exhilarating. But often times, things fall apart. For no obvious reason at all, a team that was working just fine a year ago has totally run off of the rails. People are quitting, they’re backbiting, they’re contentious, they’re gossiping, and they haven’t hit their performance goals in far too long. What happened? True teamwork is hard to achieve but easy to lose. Several years ago, my wife and I were driving home from vacation. The summer sky was clear; the highway wasn’t too busy. It was a beautiful day and everyone on the road seemed to be driving along in rare summer-driving bliss. No speeders or traffic weavers; no semis going too slow or left lane hogs. But in my rearview mirror, I suddenly noticed an SUV that took a slight turn. Perhaps the initial jerk happened because of a dropped coffee or to change the song on the radio. But then the driver made that irreversible mistake: overcorrection. The SUV swerved out of control, hitting the barrier in the median and made three full flips. Several cars stopped and emergency crews made their way to the scene. A once serene drive took a sudden,... read more

The Shortcut to Build Team Unity

“I am praying for them… that they may be one.” – Jesus Unity is the most foundational element to the long-term success of any team. From the disciples in the early church to the staff at your church today, teams that lack unity will lack longevity. There’s no way around that fact. This past week, I had the joy of attending my first annual meeting with The Malphurs Group. This was a particularly different year for TMG as three of us have officially joined the group in the last year. Note: any time you add or subtract team members, the dynamics fundamentally shift. As a result, whenever you onboard new staff, it’s critical to return to the fundamentals of the organization so everyone is on the same page. This is exactly what we did last week. For all of the old hats, our journey through the mission and vision of TMG was a healthy refresher. For those of us who were new, it brought a wave of enthusiasm as we “caught” the vision for what we aim to do for churches and leaders. This isn’t the primary point of this article, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t tell you this: the entire team at The Malphurs Group, from top to bottom, is not only talented but fully committed to our mission of equipping churches to break through barriers, and maximize their impact for Christ. I’m not saying this because I’m on the team; I simply couldn’t recommend more highly a consultant group. Having now spent the time to get to know each of the consultants’ and staffs’ hearts and passions,... read more

Before Green Beer: The Real Saint Patrick

“Patrick’s mission was unprecedented and widely assumed to be impossible.” This is the real Saint Patrick you’ve never heard of. Before green beer, leprechauns, parades, and four-leaf clovers, there was a faithful Christian leader who ushered in a second-era of church planting that wouldn’t be seen again for centuries. The reality is that apart from Patrick’s confession, there is very little historical record of what the real Saint Patrick accomplished in his day. However, scholars have dug and discovered a story that is nothing short of inspiring. The storyline of the real Saint Patrick, in summary, goes like this: Patrick was born into a wealthy family in northern England. His ancestors were celts, but his family had long-been Romanized. His grandfather had been a Roman Catholic priest, his father was a deacon. At the age of sixteen, Patrick was captured by Celtic pirates and taken to Ireland where he would work as a slave for six years. Patrick’s nominal Christianity inherited from his family became very real to him during his enslavement. His life was transformed by prayer and faithfulness to the gospel message he had learned as a boy. Patrick received a vision at the age of twenty-two calling him to barter his way onto a ship and escape his bondage for freedom. The story here is unclear, but it is likely that he trained for ministry in both France and England, and perhaps even Rome. Eventually, Patrick made his way back to England and became a faithful parish priest for many years. Then, at the age of forty-eight (well past the life expectancy of the day), Patrick receives another vision. In... read more

Election 2016: Where Is God and Where Are You

Editor’s note: When I asked my colleague Tim Abraham to write what God put on his heart, I never expected a piece on politics. And this isn’t a site about politics. It’s a site about leadership. That said, journey through this wonderfully written piece by Tim and you’ll see why this isn’t just relevant to Christians in general but leaders in particular. Those of us who want to lead well in our churches must understand what it means to navigate politics in 2016: all eyes in your church are on you. We would all be wise to learn from Tim’s thoughts here. Enjoy. Politics and religion—the two topics that either extinguish or ignite conversations. With the continued rise of social media and the devolution to the one-minute news cycle, ignited conversations continuously combust into uncontrollable wildfires.  The fires’ wake leaves scorched remains of divineness, destruction, and decay on our social and individual levels. The toll of the 2016 presidential election process—in only its middle stages—looks more like the dark, scorched earth after General Sherman’s march compared to the bright, shining light Lady Liberty represents.  Prominent voices from all spectrums of politics and religion attempt to resonate louder with words of critical analysis, calls to action, criticism and admonishment, and a cupboard of anything else. Christians are not above these actions, immune to their implications, or free from their fallout.  So, we must ask:  In this tumultuous political and spiritual time, how are we to follow Jesus and share His gospel, all for God’s glory?  Said differently:  How will God work in us and through us so we may mature in our relationship with... read more

The Four Sources of Suffering

Across all nationalities and all generations and all religions, suffering is the common human experience. For the past couple of days I’ve been writing a message that I’ll preach soon on the relationship between glory and suffering, but before I could get past suffering to talk about glory, I needed to tackle the question everyone asks: Why do we suffer? If God is so good, if he is so powerful, why do we suffer? I’ll tackle this quite a bit in the message when I preach it (Note: if I get a recording of it, I’ll link here later). But since the topic has been on my mind all week, I wanted to write about this question in more depth here. Religion has long sought an answer to the cause of suffering and long sought the ability to end suffering. In fact, Buddhism, one of the largest religions in the world, is built strictly on defining suffering and its end. But all religions have attempted to define suffering and root out its cause because it encompasses so much of the human experience: sadness, depression, anger, fear, pain, loss, confusion–all of these emotions are connected to suffering. One could argue that the average human life is comprised far more of suffering than the absence of it. As believers, where does Scripture tell us suffering comes from? The Bible actually identifies four sources of suffering: 1) Our sin. In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve committed the “original sin” which condemned all flesh to be not only inheritors of sin but active participants in it. Regardless of where you land on the... read more

How to Get More Volunteers at Church

“We need more volunteers.” If you’re in ministry, you have either said that sentence or heard it more times than you can count. Every ministry in every church has struggled at one time or another with having enough volunteers. Which leads to a critical question: whose fault is it that churches are chronically short on volunteers? There’s no easy answer to that question; certainly not one that doesn’t offend someone. But here’s the truth: as a leader, you’re the only one that can change the situation. Blame doesn’t matter, only a plan for moving forward. A few months ago, I talked with a leader who serves on a church staff as their assimilation director. She coordinates all the greeters and takes in all the connection cards each week. Additionally, she’s the first point of contact in transforming guests into regulars, regulars into volunteers, and volunteers into leaders. The reality is that many of the high-level leaders at her church began as volunteers in her ministry… as a greeter. In fact, her own position at the church was the evolution of her role as a greeter first, then a greeter’s coach, then part-time, then full-time staff. This is the power of a leadership pipeline in action. A chronic lack of volunteers is evidence that leadership development isn’t a high priority in your church. There are circumstances when this isn’t true, but those are the exceptions and not the rule. On the whole, when a church or ministry places a high value on leadership and has a crystal-clear leadership development process, volunteers abound. In the last week, one of my colleagues at The Malphurs Group told me... read more

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