My favorite Bill Hybels Quote

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One of my favorite quotes from Bill Hybels.

I was cleaning out a file cabinet this morning (what a way to spend a day) and came across my notes from a talk by Bill Hybels of Willow Creek given to an evangelism conference.

I share them here as a pointed reminder about considering our life and witness.

Three ways to repel a seeker:

  1. “In your face Christianity” — the pushy Christian forcing spiritual conversations at the wrong time. The conversations tend to be one sided, with the Christian not even listening, but marching through an agenda.
  2. “Holier than thou” — holding to “my life is better than yours” “you are a sinner and i can’t hang out with you” “I’m better because I’m not like you” etc. This may manifest itself in all sorts of other ways.
  3. “Cosmetic Christians” — skip deep, hypocritical, and unchanged deep down. This is the salt that stings, or the light that glares.

Three ways to attract a seeker:

  1. Costly Christianity — you live your faith even when it costs. People see how important your faith is.
  2. Compassionate Christianity — love demonstrated. Christianity is not all about right doctrine, but demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ as well.
  3. Consistent Christianity — being real, authentic and consistent.

Bill Hybels has influenced me

BecomingaContagiousChristianUpdatedI was once the obnoxious in your face evangelist, but I’ve changed.

Becoming a Contagious Christian helped me change my approach to personal evangelism and now I teach these same principles in my materials throughout the US and Latin America.

I have made them my own, rephrased them to suit me, and these principles are integrated into the DNA of the evangelism style I teach.

Let me ask you this?

As you spend time with the Lord today, ask Him to show you how your life reflects the gospel and your impact on seekers.

Does your life help or hinder the advancement of the gospel?

 

Mothers Day Church Greetings that Honor All Mothers

Mother’s Day can be really awkward at church.

Being sensitive not only to to your members, but also your first time visitors, you’ll want to remove as many of those awkward possibilities on Mothers Day.

Out of a noble desire, church leaders desire to honor mothers and celebrate motherhood with announcements, particular prayers focused on mothers day, and even a sermon related to the qualities of an awesome mom.

How will you give a church welcome speech that would honor mothers?

Ideas to Honor Mothers at Church on Mothers Day

If you are looking for ideas to honor mothers at church, or ways to honor mothers at church, consider some of the awkward emotions that will be present on Mother’s Day.

Mother’s Day brings mixed emotions

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My wife and children

For many, Mother’s day is an awesome celebration of life and joy’s of being a parent.

My wife is an awesome mom to our kids.

Mother’s Day is a joy.  (We get to celebrate it twice each year because of dual nationality).

But Mother’s Day is also a mixed bag for myself and my friends.

My mother passed away from cancer in 2013.  Mother’s day is a mark of my own grief.

My friend’s husband died suddenly in February 2015 while in his 40s.  His mother is grieving the death of their only son.

My friends struggled with infertility for years.  Every mother’s day is a reminder of their struggle.

My friends had unexpected miscarriages and grieve their unborn.  Mother’s day is a day of grief.

My friends have had their children fall into addictions, rebellion, and walking away from the Lord.  Mother’s day always seems to remind them of how they “failed” in raising a godly child.

Some mothers chose abortion and live with the reminder every Mother’s Day of what “could have been.”

As you can see, Mother’s Day can be a mix of emotions.

How to publicly Honor Mothers Day in your Worship Service

You can honor Mother’s Day by preparing your church for that morning.  (Make sure even the bathrooms would make your mother proud).

Pastors – Refresh a vision for welcoming visitors so that your congregation does not fail to welcome the visiting mothers that day.

There are plenty of Scriptures for Mother’s Day that you can use in your church welcome speech.

Church Welcome Speech Ideas for Mothers Day

But Amy Young writes some phrases (in Shout Out To Mom) that you might want to consider sharing in that welcome speech.

I put them all here:

  • To those who gave birth this year to their first child—we celebrate with you.
  • To those who lost a child this year—we mourn with you.
  • To those who are in the trenches with little ones every day and wear the badge of food stains—we appreciate you.
  • To those who experienced loss through miscarriage, failed adoptions or running away—we mourn with you.
  • To those who walk the hard path of infertility, fraught with pokes, prods, tears and disappointment—we walk with you. Forgive us when we say foolish things. We don’t mean to make things harder.
  • To those who are foster moms, mentor moms and spiritual moms—we need you.
  • To those who have warm and close relationships with your children—we celebrate with you.
  • To those who have disappointment, heartache and distance with your children—we sit with you.
  • To those who lost their mothers this year—we grieve with you.
  • To those who experienced abuse at the hands of your own mother—we acknowledge your experience.
  • To those who lived through driving tests, medical tests and the overall testing of motherhood—we are better for having you in our midst.
  • To those who have aborted children—we remember them and you on this day.
  • To those who are single and long to be married and mothering your own children—we mourn that life has not turned out the way you longed for it to be.
  • To those who stepparent—we walk with you on these complex paths.
  • To those who envisioned lavishing love on grandchildren, yet that dream is not to be, we grieve with you.
  • To those who will have emptier nests in the upcoming year—we grieve and rejoice with you.
  • To those who placed children for adoption—we commend you for your selflessness and remember how you hold that child in your heart.
  • And to those who are pregnant with new life, both expected and surprising—we anticipate with you.

How NOT to publicly Honor Mothers Day in your Worship Service

If you want to create awkwardness on a Sunday morning, the best thing you can do is to ask mother’s to stand up, or stand up and come forward for prayer.  That is just as bad as making first time church visitors to stand up

You will create instant questions in the minds of women in the congregation:

  • I had a miscarriage and have no living children – do I stand?
  • My only child has died – do I stand?
  • I have a strained relationship with my son who won’t speak to me – do I stand?
  • I’m not married, but am pregnant – do I stand?
  • We are expecting our first born – do I stand?

Of course you want to pray for mothers, and honor mothers on mothers  day.

I would suggest you honor them and pray for mothers as a group, without making them stand up, raise their hand, receive a flower, or any other public identification that will create those questions of awkwardness.

Let me ask you this?

If you could add a line to the list to honor mothers on mother’s day, add your comment below.

How Google will bury your church website

YourChurchWebsiteOn April 21st, a new update from Google will bury your church website from search listings if your website isn’t ready for their new requirements.

It won’t matter if you’ve had your domain since the beginning of the Internet age and had a church teenager put a basic website together with iFrames.

If your church website is not up to Google’s new requirements, they will bury it.

Your potential church visitors will not find your website (nor see these 2 important web pages).

Your potential new members will not locate your church under Churches in your town.

But you can fix your church website so that visitors can find your church from their mobile devices and computers.

Is Your Church Website Mobile Friendly?

This is the criteria that will affect your church website rankings:

Is your church website friendly to mobile devices?

Can a person use your church website without having to zoom in to tap a link, read the text, or accomplish other simple tasks?

My friend Paul Steinbrueck , using the term Mobilegeddon, writes

Google will start factoring mobile-friendliness into its search ranking algorithm on April 21. Google itself has called the update “significant,” bigger than the Panda or Penguin updates.

Websites that are not mobile friendly will be penalized.

Google will not drop your church website from it’s search engine.  You won’t see your website deleted from their searches.

But it will be booted further and further down in the rankings.

Being mobile friendly is one of over 200 signals that Google will use to determine where your website will appear in it’s listing.

Google decides what mobile friendly looks like.  If Google’s automated bots think your website is not mobile friendly, your website will be penalized.

In the past, mobile friendliness was a minor criteria.

Now, it is a “significant one.”

Can my church website be fixed?

Paul goes on to write:

If you have not started working to make your website mobile-friendly by now, it’s unlikely you will get it done by April 21.

But all hope is not lost. Unlike other penalties that took weeks to resolve and remove, Google says the mobile-friendly factor is updated in real-time.

That means as soon as your website is mobile-friendly your mobile search rankings will improve.

You may not get it done before April 21, but the sooner you start, the sooner you will recover.

Even in recent weeks, I’ve seen church websites that are not mobile friendly.

The church I visited on Easter Sunday in 2015 is horribly useless and looks like something designed in the early 1990s with frames and awful colors.

Depending on the complexity of your website, the fix may take some time.

Option 1: Talk with an Church Website Expert

If you are HTML dependent for every page, you’ll need to work at making the coding changes necessary to make your website mobile friendly.  That is beyond what I can write here.   In fact, Paul gives you an invitation to talk with someone on his team:

If your website still is not mobile-friendly, don’t freak out. But don’t curl up into a ball or put your head in the sand either. Move forward. Decide as soon as possible whether you’re going to make your current website mobile-friendly or get a new website. Decide as soon as possible who is going do the work.

If you’re not sure about these decisions and would like to talk them through, schedule a free call with one of our experts.

Tell Paul’s team I sent you.

I’ve known Paul for several years from OurChurch.Com.  You can find him on

I’ve done a webinar with Paul, plus an interview on Church Websites (though recorded in 2009, it still has some good conversation starters)

Option 2: If you use a CMS, change your Church Website theme.

If you use a CMS like WordPress or Joomla on a self-hosted domain, you can search for a mobile friendly theme.

I personally use professional themes for WordPress from the Genesis Framework by StudioPress.  All of their themes are mobile friendly.   I have personally found that using WordPress to manage the content on my site to be the way to go.

A theme change (or new setup) for your mobile friendly website is not that hard.

You can change a theme in less than 2 minutes after you find the one you want.

Most of the work will be involved in making sure that all your content and sidebars reappear in the new themes.

I have had to change a few WordPress themes on some of my other website to make them mobile friendly.  It took me a few hours to make sure everything transferred into the new theme that I bought from Genesis.

Option 3: Use a Church Website service that does it all for you.

Here is one solution to turn your clumsy embarrassing church website into a awesome front porch for your visitors to come and see you before coming to see you.

Sure, you could do it free in WordPress or Joomla, but has anyone fixed your church website site in 10 years?

Clover Website is one solution to a church website that works.

I subscribe to a email list of church administrators and this one has been highly recommended in that list.  You can read those recommendations here.

We just switched to Clover Church Websites Sites last month. Our Youth Pastor maintains it and loves it. They even have a live person that answers the phone if there are any questions!

Definite limitations due to the fact that they’ve designed it for easy use by non-web designers but the benefits, in my opinion, far outweigh the limitations. We haven’t been backed into a corner by any of the limitations.  Most have an easy work around.

Your church website should not embarrass you.

Look into Clover for your church website.  This is an affiliate link which will benefit our ministry work in Latin America.

Read here if you need to convince your leaders about getting a church website.

Note: Links to Ourchurch.com, Studiopress, and Clover.com are affiliate links.  Any purchases made through those links will benefit our ministry in Latin America.

Confessions of a Church Shopper #7: An Easter 2015 Church Visit

Easter Church Visit 2015

It was Easter Sunday.

We attended a traditional church in a mainline tradition.

It was the traditional service, one of 3 main services on a Sunday morning.  Full robes were worn by the hand bell team and the full choir.  The pastor wore a suit and tie.  We sang the awesome hymns of Easter accompanied by the choir and full organ.

We were an invited guest.

A first time visitor invited us to join them on their second visit to the same church.

A Good First Time Church Visit.

This church gave our family a good first time experience.

  • Greeters were friendly.
  • Smiling ushers gave us a bulletin, though we sat ourselves without much problem.
  • During passing of the peace  we were greeted with smiles and handshakes.
  • It was clear the musicians and singers loved to sing the awesome hymnody of Easter.

The church had helpful aids for the congregational signing.  They had large screen that showed all the hymn words.  The call and response liturgical readings were on display as well as the communion liturgy.

A leader shared the logistics for how to proceed to the front to receive communion, which made it easy for us to participate.  Since the juice was served in little cups at the communion stations, a basket was there for convenient disposal.

The people in the choir, the lead liturgist, and the pastor all seemed genuinely thrilled to be there.  As they sang, it’s clear that worship is personal for them, not just songs to sing that are supposed to be sung on Easter Sunday.

The sermon was a clear telling from the Bible and methodically walked through the passage.  The pastor’s preaching ability is clearly a strength of this church.

What could have helped the first time church visitor.

1.  Don’t launch the service with an apology.

The opening liturgist called us to worship with an apology for not being someone else.

As a visitor, I don’t know who that someone else is, and I didn’t find his name in the bulletin.   While every long term attendee might know that you were the unexpected morning leader, just lead, don’t start with an apology.  It creates an “insider” feeling that leaves your first time visitor confused.

You are in the role of liturgist for the morning.  Step into it and enjoy it.

2. Fix lack of signage from rear parking lot to the sanctuary entrance.

This church has 3 different sanctuaries.

Given that it was Easter Sunday with very high attendance, we had to park in the farthest lot.

To find the sanctuary, we followed other people walking where they knew.

There were not enough signs to let us know where the entrance was.

We have been to other churches that had clear signage at every turn.

From our spot in the parking lot, we had to make 3 or four turns to find the front door.  Signs at each one of those turns would potentially ease a first time visitor’s concern about finding their way.

Take your own sign audit and see if you need to add a sign or two.

3.  Explain Christianeese

During the service, my friend asked,

“What is the doxology?  What does it mean?”

On high attendance days, consider your first time visitors who may not know what some of your liturgical words are.  You may have an explanatory paragraph for terms that are not common now.

4.  Invite your first time visitors back.

We left as anonymous as we came.

The was no process to register my attendance, no card to fill out, or no attempt to tell me what next week’s sermon was about.

I will not receive a follow up letter in the mail to invite me to return.

I will not receive a follow up invitation to a special gathering for new comers.

I will have no way of knowing what sermon topic is coming the following week to give me a reason to consider coming back.

I think the church missed an opportunity – an opportunity to invite us to come back next week.

Consider this short webinar on visitor assimilation and learn some ways to start putting a system in place to follow up with church visitors.

Let me ask you this?

What did you do to give a welcome to your guests on Easter Sunday?

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Conference: Black Mountain, NC Listening Evangelism April 22-26 2015

PRMI Gates at Community of the Cross“You’ve taken the stress out of evangelism.”

Thus shared a participant at a recent Listening Evangelism Dunamis.

Do you need to reignite your passion for evangelism and learn a simple and natural evangelism model?

“I learned that I could do this” . . . . Participant in Enfield CT.

Register for the Black Mountain, NC Listening Evangelism here.

Effective Evangelism Training

The Evangelism Dunamis in the Power of the Holy Spirit emphasizes

  • learning God’s vision for evangelism, and
  • developing a passion for personal evangelism.

This evangelism conference also seeks to help you with practical evangelism skills in cooperating with the Holy Spirit.

The course uses a lot of the principles we teach about cooperating with the Holy Spirit and conversational evangelism, based on Philip and Ethiopian Eunuch.

We cover topics like:

  • Motivations for Evangelism
  • The Role of the Holy Spirit in Evangelism
  • Practical Evangelism Skills
  • Spiritual Gifts in Evangelism.

Video Testimony

(Feed readers may need to click thru to post to see the video)

Dates / Location for the Evangelism Dunamis conference

  • April 22-26, 2015
  • PRMI Community of the Cross
  • 3227 N. Fork Left Fork Black Mountain, NC 28711

Cost: A Love Offering

The event at the Community of the Cross has no registration costs, but a love offering will be received during the event.

PRMI is a faith ministry that is supported solely by the gifts of supporters and participants in our programs.

Offerings will be received at the conference to cover meals, administrative costs, expenses for the leadership team, and to help extend the vision of the Dunamis Project to others.

Participants are responsible for their lodging arrangements.

Testimonies from the Evangelism Dunamis

  • “I liked how the Holy Spirit was allowed to move.”
  • “The scriptural foundation is very valuable.”
  • “There was an atmosphere for healing prayer to take place.”
  • “The ministry is so authentic. So helpful!”
  • “The lessons built confidence in me as to how the Lord is leading me.”
  • “The whole atmosphere was safe and loving. No pressure. Everything is explained and low-key .”
  • “There is a good balance between teaching and lab time.”

Register for the Black Mountain, NC Listening Evangelism here