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A Simple Formula For Church Administration (via Jared Olivetti)

At Gentle Reformation Jared Olivetti offers a formula that seeks to narrow the gap between communication practice and communication desired outcomes.

The formula is: Information + Inclusion = Importance & Involvement
So before we start pointing fingers at congregation members for not showing up to work days or not “buying in” to the latest ministry, it may help to re-examine how well the leaders are informing and including in every possible way they can. Often, by examining and evolving in these areas, we will see involvement increase as people understand how valued they by their church family.

Read the rest of the explanation here.

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Making Church Communications More Efficient (via Jonathan Howe)

Jonathan Howe writes about communication strategy for church, the necessity of effective communication, and how more is not always the same thing as better:

I would suggest that instead of being concerned with simply communicating more, churches should be focused on communicating more efficiently and effectively. These four steps will help your church determine what efficient communications look like in your context.

  1. Determine what works best for your people. There’s no one-size-fits all communications plan for any church. Different churches need different methods of communication. If you listen to your congregants, ask for their input, and pay attention to what seems to resonate with them, you can determine what you should stop doing, keep doing, or start doing.
  2. Don’t be afraid to try new methods. Unsure if your congregation would respond to an email newsletter? Try sending one per month for a few months and see what the response is. Find champions for new technology in the church to help you spread the word about the benefits of different communications methods.
  3. Be persistent, but not stubborn or wasteful. Give a new communication initiative a few months before throwing it out. But don’t be afraid to kill something if it doesn’t take, even if you like it, or if you want people to like it. Don’t stick with a communication method just for your own benefit or pleasure. If it isn’t working, don’t continue to waste time and energy on ineffective communications.
  4. Use tools that foster efficiency. Software—both online and computer-based—is widely available for communications. You have templates in Mailchimp, design templates for Canva, and social media auto-schedulers like Buffer and Hootsuite, dedicated social media apps for on-the-go posting. Use tools that work for your workflow and messages. Finding the right tool, or even a better one, can make a huge difference in the efficient use of your time and your message’s effectiveness.

Red the whole post here.

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What Great Listeners Actually Do (via Harvard Business Review)

A friend of mine highlighted this article from Harvard Business Review.
It’s packed with helpful content.
The conclusion:

We suspect that in being a good listener, most of us are more likely to stop short rather than go too far. Our hope is that this research will help by providing a new perspective on listening. We hope those who labor under an illusion of superiority about their listening skills will see where they really stand. We also hope the common perception that good listening is mainly about acting like an absorbent sponge will wane. Finally, we hope all will see that the highest and best form of listening comes in playing the same role for the other person that a trampoline plays for a child. It gives energy, acceleration, height and amplification. These are the hallmarks of great listening.

Read the whole post here.

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Improving Our Listening Skills

I struggle to be a good listener.
My mind usually wants to offer some story of my own, or articulate a conclusion I’ve reached about what I’m hearing.
This video has some helpful instructions that need to be revisited over and over again.
The people who made this have made other videos. I have not watched any others yet, so this isn’t a commendation of all their releases.

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Taming The Tongue In An Age Of Instant Expression

This week’s article for Mount Gambier’s local paper.

If you mention Sony’s recent decision to stop producing blank tapes for Betamax video recorders to people of a certain age (usually male) you may get a response that includes the aggrieved observation that Beta was the better video recording system than VHS.
You could pity those of us who feel that way. Not only are we still bitter about the outcome of being on the losing side of technology war that was done twenty years ago, but during all the time the two formats were striving for public support we had to endure the frustration of our obviously superior choice of technology being ignored by the majority of the public. These are the trials of being an early technology adopter.
Adding further insult to injury, one online news portal chose to report the situation with the headline ‘Sony is finally killing its ancient Betamax format’. The format was forty years old. ‘Ancient’. Ouch.
I was on the wrong side of a technology war that apparently predates modern history.
Technology is developing at faster and faster rates. Even before the DVDs that replaced videos have been completely usurped by Bluray both are being made obsolete by streaming.
Just as technology is changing at faster and faster rates, society is being changed at a similarly frenetic pace as we keep up with new tech. Ten years ago what is now called social media barely existed. Now, through a growing variety of means we’re in more frequent contact with more people than ever before.
Our engagement with each other has been transformed. Not only are we finding out more information more quickly, but, as the name social media implies, we are expected to respond.
Once when we communicated our thoughts and feelings we’d need to travel, or write, take the time to pick up a phone and dial. Events were a bit more distant, reactions a bit more measured. Not every thought or response was shared with everyone all the time.
One of the proverbs of the Bible states ‘The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.’ Another says ‘When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.’ The immediate nature of social media seems to demand judgment and comment instead of listening and reflection. It seems to thrive on outrage rather than contemplation.
Jesus understood that our words are a window into our soul: ‘the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them.’ It’s not so much the external going into us that is the problem, but the way we respond that shows what’s going on inside.
Perhaps you’ve responded to others in a way that has shocked and disappointed you. Maybe you thought you were better than that.
Jesus helps us look within and take responsibility for any darkness we find there. He wants to help us be free from that darkness so we can relate to each other in ways that will build our neighbors up, not judge them or tear them down.

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Lost Pig Story

This Vodaphone ad from New Zealand is pretty cute.
Meet Keith and Piggy Sue.

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Communicating Grace And Response To Generational Cultures Of Work And Dependence

I was talking with some friends this morning and we considered the challenge of communicating the Gospel in a multi-generational context.
By multi-generational I mean some folk grew up believing that you work for whatever you get, and you don’t accept help from anyone.
Others have grown up believing that help and support should be forthcoming from every agency and group in society.
Of course this isn’t purely a generational issue, there are people of any age who want to trust in their own efforts and those who expect the support of others.
These two philosophies both bring their own strengths and weaknesses to society.
(And notice how I haven’t characterised this as an older/younger thing, that’s not the point.)
The presence of these two beliefs in one congregation means the Gospel is being communicated to two very different cultures.
One is less interested in hearing about help, but wants to do things.
The other is happier to depend on help, but doesn’t automatically desire to be active.
One group you want to respond to the ‘done’ of the Gospel and trust Jesus’ work on their behalf as the sole reason God accepts them as righteous.
The other group you want to respond to the implications of the Gospel’s ‘done’ living as those who are loved by Jesus in their activities of obedience to His commands and their service to others.
The challenge to preachers is to include both the ‘done’ and the response, and do so in a way that both groups can rest in the Gospel of salvation, and be encouraged to take up their crosses and follow Jesus.

Knowing that doesn’t make it easier, but being aware of a challenge helps us to respond to it.