Introducing - Leverage To Grow Your Church

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I am very excited to announce that the Leverage Course is nearing completion and I expect it to launch early in October. This course is about leveraging social media and a simple online strategy to grow your church. I developed this strategy and implemented it at my own church and the results have been incredible. God has used these tools to grow our church in every way. My hope is that this content helps you reach people in your community as well. I hope you find this content helpful as you think through what it means to pastor, to reach people and to communicate in a fast world that lives in a social online context.

Knowing your audience is huge. You cannot communicate effectively until you know who your audience is. Deep dive into your target audience and spend some time thinking through their fears, their frustrations, their dreams. What are they hung up on? What hurdles are they facing? What are they worried about this week? Get to it (after you watch this video from leverage.)

5 Reasons Why Comedians Are Generally Better Communicators Than Pastors

Lots of public speakers and business leaders look to stand-up comedians for lessons on how to communicate.  Recently I spent some time with some incredibly high level entrepreneurs as a part of a business retreat my leadership coach invited me to attend.  Eventually the discussion turned to public speaking and audience engagement.  One of the business leaders asked me if I ever listened to stand-up comedians to improve my public speaking.

The answer is yes.  I listen to a lot of stand-up comedy and I don't necessarily listen for the funny content.  (Warning! There is a lot of terrible content in the stand-up world.  This is not an endorsement of that unhealthy content.)   You can learn a lot about public speaking from listening to how a stand up comedian delivers their content and from paying attention to how the audience is reacting.  

While obviously our content is life giving many preachers struggle in the delivery of their content, sometimes with little self-awareness.  Too often preachers feel like they are "good enough" communicators and stop trying to get better.  The good often think they are good enough.  The great are always looking for ways to get better.  Everyone can improve and there are some great communication lessons pastors can learn from comedians.

Here are 5 reasons why stand-up comedians are generally better communicators than pastors and some takeaways to help pastors grow as communicators. 

1.  Their future depends on it.  Stand-up comedians are absolutely dependent upon audience connection and engagement.  If they fail to connect with their audience, their financial and professional future as a stand-up comedian is in serious jeopardy. They have to connect.  They have to be good.  They have to engage their audience or they are out of a job and can't put food on their table.

Takeaway - Your financial and professional future may not be as dependent on your ability to engage your audience, but make no mistake:  If you want to have a future as a communicator in the church you will have to continue to grow and learn how to engage an ever changing audience in a ever changing culture.  People are still searching.  Don't let poor communication be a stumbling block for a searching audience.

2.  Their audience isn't very forgiving.  Stand-up comedians have to engage an audience that is at a show to be entertained.  This audience has paid for tickets, and those tickets come with an expectation to have an amazing evening of laughter.  Those expectations better not meet disappointment.   When laughter isn't the result of their investment the audience typically isn't very forgiving.  Heckling is a common experience for comedians.  The feedback they get from their audience is honest and even unfiltered by social etiquette.   Great comedians know how to leverage this feedback to get better.

Takeaway - Search for honest feedback.  This is a lot harder for pastors because the church audience is very forgiving and very gracious.  Let's face it you could deliver the best sermon of your life one week and follow it up with the worst sermon the next week and you will still have a line of people telling you the same thing after each of those sermons.  "Great sermon today preacher, really appreciate you bringing the word."  Search for people who will give you honest and constructive feedback.    Don't ask them for encouragement.  Ask them for help.

3.  They can immediately tell if they are bombing.  Instant and honest feedback comes from reading and engaging their audience during the delivery of their content.  A stand-up comedian can tell when he is connecting and when he is losing his audience.  They learn how to pivot to keep or build engagement.  

Takeaway - Pay attention to your audience during the delivery of your sermon.  To do this you have to break away from your notes.  Once you break away from your notes you can really engage and read your audience.  Are they locked in?  Are they drifting?  Have you lost them?  If so learn how to pivot or adjust to draw them back in.

4.  They spend a ton of time with other stand-up comedians working on their jokes and delivery.  Stand-up comedians hang out with other comedians.  They refine their craft over coffee after the club closes.  Often the jokes they are preparing are delivered first to their peers.  They don't just talk about the content of their set, they talk about the nuances of their delivery.  Most importantly comedians appreciate other comedians.  They root for each other and learn from each other and value the unique aspects of their peers approach to a craft they love.

Takeaway - Spend time with preachers who are really good communicators and talk about what works and what doesn't work.  Be engaged with other high level communicators and learn from each other.  Talk about content but also talk about delivery and the nuances to building engagement with a congregation during a message. Be humble enough to ask for help and care enough about others to offer help to others.

5.  They absolutely love making people laugh.  The audience is a comedian's focus and a laugh is their goal.  Content and delivery drives audience engagement but ask a stand-up comedian what their favorite part of being a stand-up comedian is and they won't tell you that it's their jokes.  What drives a comedian is laughter.  They are driven by their audiences's reaction to their content. 

Takeaway - Your content is so important, but sometime you can't filter it by what you like or want to say.  You have to stay absolutely focused on your audience and what God is wanting to show them.  Don't fall in love with your jokes, or your delivery.  Fall in love with watching God use you and your gifts to change lives. 

Navigating the stand-up world is not for the easily offended or the faint of heart.  But when you find a comedian with quality and healthy content, the lessons you can learn from their delivery are priceless and you can use those lessons to improve your communication when you preach.

How do you improve your preaching or speaking?  

Your voice matters.

 

Josh

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The Vlog For Pastors

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Don't Try To Do Ministry Alone

Don't try to do ministry alone. I made a lot of big changes after almost burning out at the end of 2016. One of the biggest changes was my commitment to be a part of a mastermind group. A mastermind group is a group of high level leaders who are committed to helping each other grow. Find a group of leaders outside of your staff who support you and are committed to your development. They will remind you to rest. They point out blind spots. They will help you navigate difficult ministry challenges and you will return the favor.  

Check out the video above to get a quick look inside one of the most important changes I made to how I do ministry.

Subscribe for awesome video updates.

Your voice matters,

Josh

Ps.  Instagram is such a fun place to be right now in the social media world/church world.  Jump over and follow along here.

 

 

How To Upload Videos Directly To IGTV From Your Desktop

Instagram's IGTV is a new feature on Instagram that you should be paying attention to and using. 

If you are unfamiliar with this feature start to explore it by being a consumer.  Learn the ins and outs of IGTV simply by watching IGTV videos.  Follow your favorite creators and interact with content that you like.

Here is why understanding IGTV is important.  IGTV was designed by Instagram to try to compete with Youtube.com on mobile devices.  I think they got pretty close with IGTV.  IGTV is a great mobile video social sharing space and if it catches some momentum it is going to take off with consumers.  Instagram (owned by Facebook) is going to be investing even more resources to ensure IGTV's success.  Now is a great time to be creating content and experimenting with this feature on the Instagram platform.  

A lot of content creators create high quality videos on their computers.  To avoid having to transfer these videos to your phone before uploading to IGTV watch the video above.  Not only will this video save you time, but it will allow you to experiment with IGTV video descriptions which could play a role in future algorithm changes to the platform.

Hope this helps.

Your voice matters, 

Josh

 

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The VLOG For Pastors

Welcome to the VLOG for pastors.  The goal of this channel is to encourage you, to add value to your life and ministry and to provide you with some tools to help you make a difference in peoples lives.  On this channel you will find encouragement, a look into my own personal journey, some "how to" videos (like how to shoot better videos or how to effectively use a facebook boost), and some tools and resources to help you grow your ministry.  I also hope it is entertaining and fun.

I would love it if you would check it out.

The VLOG For Pastors (and church leaders)

Your voice matters.

Josh

Ps. Jump on the mailing list.  I promise I'll only email you things I find valuable. 

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My Post For EDA MOVE: How To Grow Your Audience When No One Is Paying Attention

(Special thanks to EDA Communications Director For The Post Edits)

I don’t know how to say this. 

Most people don’t even know you exist. As a church this presents a problem if you are actually trying to reach people in your community.

The problem isn’t that your doing ministry wrong. It’s not because we live in a post-christian world. The issue isn’t that you are not a good communicator. The problem isn’t that your church doesn’t have the right programing or the right type of small groups. The problem isn’t your budget, attendance, or staff. 

The problem is so much simpler than all of those things. People just aren’t paying attention.

You cannot start to grow a church with unchurched people until you understand that simple fact. 

Grace Free Church has seen rapid expansion, despite being in a tough context for church growth. The journey all started with a simple question God had been leading us to ask.

I'm sharing the question and four lessons we learned from answering that question on the blog today. 

YOU CAN READ THE POST HERE.

Visit EDAMOVE.COM and jump on their mailing list.

Subscribe below for value sent right to your inbox.  

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3 Ways To Improve Your Leadership That You Can't Afford To Ignore

Are you improving as a leader?  Are you content with where you are right now?  Are you anticipating the changing seasons in a tech driven world? Are you prepared for these changing seasons? Do you have any leadership books that have been published in the last 3 years? What resources are you regularly digesting to help you develop new skills?  

Your answer to questions like those listed above, says a lot about your leadership trajectory.  Leading a non-profit full of volunteers in a fast changing world is as tough as it gets and as leaders we need to constantly be growing and developing.  If you want to develop and improve your leadership try the three things listed below.

1.  Put yourself out there.

 There was a time, not too long ago, where I would never have spent time with a group of pastors.  I skipped conferences, avoided phone calls and generally felt like I didn't fit in with all of my other colleagues.  Part pride, part insecurity and part immaturity had me operating as a Lead Pastor in relative isolation and as we all know, that simply is not healthy.  I always stiff-armed other pastors until a few of them ignored my stiff arms and accepted and loved me as I was.  Those men showed me that I was valued, had a lot to offer and that I needed them too.  I am so grateful for these pastors who were loving examples of Christ to me.  I needed them and I still do.  What they taught me was to put myself out there, to use my gifts not just in my own context but to help others.  It is called adding value to others.  Strive to add value to others in every context and it will make you a better leader.  I still want to retreat into isolation sometimes, but I know I continue to grow as a leader by putting myself out there and by being willing to add value to others.    If you want to grow as a leader, abandon isolation and put yourself out there with the hopes of adding value to others. 

So, what are you waiting for, put yourself out there! Send an email offering to help someone, send an encouraging text, set up a lunch with someone with the goal of adding value and learning from the interaction.

2.  Surround yourself with high level, high achieving leaders.

Context plays a big role in your leadership development.  Show me the 5 people you spend the most time with and I can show you where you will be in 5 years.  Sounds crazy but our context is an incredible predictor of our direction.   You probably spend a lot of time with your family.  Great.  You probably spend some time with your staff.  Also great.  Maybe you have a mentor or two.  Awesome.  You probably also have a friend and maybe that friend is also a colleague.  Really happy for you.  Those things a great, but don't stop there.  If you want to become a better leader, surround yourself with other high level, high achieving leaders. Surrounding yourself with high level leaders helps you grow as a leader.  You will learn so much from watching, listening and dialoguing with people who are thinking big and have been down the road a little further than you.    Don't know where to start? 

Here are 4 options:

Go to a leadership conference and develop relationships with others that attend.    If you are in our district this one is an incredible  EDA Leadership Conference.

Join a leadership cohort.  I have wanted to join this one but the dates never seem to line up for me.  EFCA Transformational Learning Cohorts

Join a mastermind group.  A mastermind group is peer mentoring concept used to help members solve problems and accomplish big things with input and advice from the other members of the group.  I have benefited greatly from being a part of one.  There are not a lot of options out there for pastors but if you have more questions about a mastermind group for pastors or church leaders email me (thejoshott@gmail.com).

Find A Leadership Coach.  I have one and his coaching has played a huge role in my growth as a leader.  Having a coach has benefited my church, my personal ministry and my life at home.  If Tom Brady still has a personal throwing coach (Go eagles! ) I am guessing we aren't to successful to seek some coaching ourselves.

3.  Be a Leadership Scavenger. 

Scavengers grab nourishment when ever they can from where ever they can.  They are constantly searching for opportunities to fill their bellies with nourishment that will convert into energy that they can expend on their journey as they survive the changing seasons.  If they don't eat, they die.  Be a leadership scavenger.  Be hungry.  Never stop learning.  Tear what you can apart, dissect it and use what you can apply to your context.  Constantly look for opportunities to grow and learn.  The seasons change so fast in our technology driven world.  Be prepared for the season around the corner by being a leadership scavenger. 

What opportunities can you grab right now to learn and grow from?   Is there a library on your way home?  If so, leave work 10 minutes early and grab a book for entrepreneurs and read it tonight.  Download a leadership podcast and spend your commute listening to it.  What are some questions about ministry you have been pondering lately (if you don't have any, you have been on cruise control for far too long)?  Email someone that question right now!  Maybe they can't help, but just maybe they will have an idea or perspective that could change everything.  Be a scavenger.  

 

Your voice matters.

Just Keep Going (but don't forget to rest)

Have you ever felt like quitting?  Have you ever felt like your effort wasn't producing results (at least not the way you would like to see results)?  Ministry can be frustrating.  There are days where I just feel like packing up shop.

When I start to feel like that the first question I ask myself is, "Am I getting enough rest?"  If the answer is no, I shut everything down, take a nap, get to bed early, or do whatever else I need to do to get some rest.  You have to be resting and taking care of yourself or you aren't going to make it in ministry.

But, if I am well rested, often I need to just persevere.  Perseverance will get you somewhere and sometimes you just have to keep going.  Keep getting better.  Keep putting your content out there.  Keep improving.  Keep working on your team.

Persevere today.

Let the results up to God.

Your voice matters.

Josh

Get The Bigger Picture (and 4 spaces to do it)

I am a part of EDAmove's Multiply Team.  Being a part of this team is an incredible opportunity to hang out with and learn from some of the best church leaders on the East Coast.  I vlogged a trip we all took to Florida for the Exponential Conference.

I learned so much.  Big mission.  Big thinking.  Big conversations.

As a leader you need to be in a space where people can paint a bigger picture for you.  Get outside of your immediate context and spend some time thinking big about your future and your ministry.

Find the room where a bigger picture is being painted and then spend some time there. It will keep you from getting stuck.  

Check the VLOG out here:  How To Get The Big Picture

4 Great Places To Think Big:  

  1. Conferences - Conferences usually bring a ton of energy to the conversation and they serve as a gathering place for leaders who are looking to grow and who are serious about their mission.  Sign up for a conference and when you go meet some people and make some new friends.  Conferences are also a great place to think big vision.
  2. Mastermind Groups - These aren't huge in the church world (yet) but they need to be.  I am in a mastermind group (with entrepreneurs and business coaches).  A mastermind group is a group of big thinkers and big movers who help each other accomplish big things.  If you are interested in being in a mastermind group for church leaders let me know!
  3. Lunch with other big thinkers - You probably have people in your life who are big thinkers. Find someone in your life who thinks big and buy them lunch. 
  4. Staff meetings where vision is on the agenda and "How we have always done things" is not on the agenda.  The problem with staff meetings is the past and the present can often detract from thinking big about the future.  Declare the past and present off limits and start a wide open conversation about what could be.  

Your Voice Matters.

Josh

 

Everyone Should Have A Pastor, Especially Pastors

Everyone should have a pastor, especially pastors.

My friend Joe, who pastors a very large church, reminded me of that recently.  I needed the reminder, but I have known this to be true for as long as I have been a pastor.  

In fact, If I could give any young church planter or pastor or seminary/college graduate going into ministry one piece of advice it would be this: Get yourself 3 or 4 people you consider your personal pastors.

I have four of them, we communicate regularly and they speak into every area of my life. 

One of my pastors is named Chuck Holt.  Chuck Holt is the CEO of Factories Ministries in Lancaster County.  He is a national training facilitator, consultant and keynote speaker.  

I recently recorded one of my phone calls with Chuck.  It was a conversation filled with truth and encouragement and I am sharing it with you.

Here are some of the highlights:

"Relationship rules the day."

"If your content isn't as good as it should have been but, you have a relationship, you're still okay."

"Organizations get so big that they know relationships are the most important thing but they say, we are too big to change."

"People are starving for quality, authentic relationships."

"As you're tying to build a future, build success, build an audience, remember that it's truly not about you... You're the delivery person and you want to deliver the best you can, but it is so much bigger than you...it's really about what God wants to do with humanity...I want to be the best messenger I can be, not because I am cool, but because the message is incredible."

Check the whole conversation out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yKOtlshxwU0

Here are 4 tips to get yourself a Pastor.

  1. Ask someone with some longevity in ministry. You want a preacher who has been around the block a time or two, who has some bumps and bruises, who been to the mountaintop and who knows what the dirt tastes like in the valleys.  Look for wisdom and discernment as character traits.
  2. Be clear about what you are asking them for.  Tell the person you are asking that you are asking them to fill the role of pastor in your life.  Give them permission to speak into every area of your life.  Give them permission to call you on your crap.  Tell them you want to learn from them and you want to be in contact with them regularly (monthly or bi-monthly is recommended).
  3. Don't let the line go dead.  Follow up and say connected.  Ministry can be crazy busy, so fight to get phone calls and meet-ups scheduled.  
  4. Be brutally honest and transparent in conversations with your pastors. Do you want to be a healthy leader and grow?  Do you want your church or ministry to grow?  You need someone who sees the stuff no one else sees.  Let your pastor into your mess.  You will be so glad you did.

Your Voice Matters.

Josh

The Brain And How You Preach (Better)

As pastors we communicate a lot of information.  Teaching is something we do, and if we aren't teaching about Jesus we are probably teaching about biblical leadership.

We teach, but sometimes it can feel like no one is listening.  

We dream of making a big difference for the kingdom in our communities, but wonder if there is life change in our sanctuaries.  

We dream of seeing lives changed. 

We dream of seeing families transformed.

We dream of seeing people step out of the darkness and into the light. 

We dream, but we wonder if any of the information we are communicating is ever getting past the head and to the heart of our audience. 

I'm grateful that the Holy Spirit is the one who does the life change work in people's lives.  Knowing that takes the pressure off, but it doesn't release us from working hard at bettering ourselves as communicators and engaging our culture and audience through how we communicate.

A few weeks ago I sat with my good friend and coach, Wayne Herring, talking about church, life, leadership and the courses I am creating to help pastors and church leaders (the speaking course is available right now).  As we talked, Wayne shared an incredible diagram of the human brain he had created. The diagram is a a tool Wayne created to help CEOs, Business Owners and Entrepreneurs understand how to speak to clients in a way that helps them make a decision, not just process information.   Wayne Herring (herringcoach.com) is a coach for all kinds of highly successful business entrepreneurs, and somehow I snuck into that group!  Wayne also graciously allowed me to share his diagram with all of you (thanks Wayne)!

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Download the full size image here.

On the Line Of Logic diagram the left side of the brain is designated as the Logic Side with the subtitle - How We Process Information.  When you talk about money, technical information, logistics and rational you are speaking to the logical side of the brain.  The logic side of the brain then starts processing the information provided.  This is great if you really want your subject to learn material and be able to understand how something works.  The problem is speaking to the left side of the brain doesn't help someone make a decision.  Speaking to the right side of the brain helps someone make a decision.  On Wayne's diagram the right side of the brain is called the Limbic Side with the subtitle - How We Make Decisions.  When you talk about goals, dreams, why, emotion and depth you are talking to the right side of the brain and you are helping your audience make a decision about the information provided.   Instead of defaulting to the left side of the brain when selling a product or recruiting an investor, business owners should help their clients make decisions by speaking to the right side of the brain.  

As Wayne and I talked about the diagram (honestly I have been processing it ever since) I felt it had strong implications to how we communicate in church. 

When we teach the technical parts of a passage we help our listeners process the rich and life giving information found in scripture.  

When we speak about the why of the passage, when we speak about the depth of the passage, when we speak about the emotion that goes into the passage, we engage the listener's right side of the brain, sinking right past it to the heart and we help our listener make a decision in response to the truth found in the passage.

It's good to process information about following Christ.  It's better to make a decision to follow Christ. 

It's good to process scripture.  It's better to make a decision in response to scripture.

Here are 5 simple and quick adjustments you can make while preaching to help your audience make a decision about the truth they hear in your message.

1.  Talk about the why.  Always.  Why this passage?  Why is this important?  Why does it matter?  Why now?  Why are you speaking about this?  Why did Jesus do that?  Why did Paul say that?  This is so simple to weave in and out of your sermon.  Keep your audience engaged.  Lead them to a decision.  Show them the "Why."

2.  Engage your audience emotionally.  Why are we so afraid of genuine emotion in the church. Fake or exaggerated emotion is just cheesy, don't be that guy or girl, but that doesn't mean you have to excommunicate emotion from your message.  Instead talk about what the characters in the story would have likely felt.  Talk about the emotion communicated in the passage.  Talk about the emotions your audience wrestles with and how this passage speaks to them.  Talk about your emotions in response to the passage.

3.  Lead with the goal of the passage and the goal of the talk.  What do you hope to communicate?  What is the one thing the author of the passage was communicating to the audience.  What do you want your audience to take away from the message?  What would you like to see them do in response to the message.   Set the goal and clearly communicate it.

4.  Speak to the dreams your audience has for their life.  If you don't know what your audience's dreams, desires, frustrations and fears are you better spend some time getting to know them. A lot of pastors think they understand their audience but can't . list their weekly desires, dreams, fears and frustrations.  This is a great exercise to do with your team:  List them out and then speak to them.

5.  Show the depth of meaning found in the passage you are teaching.  What does this mean for life?  For your audience? For our future?  Scripture is so deep.  Instead of rushing through your outline and covering a lot of ground, show the depth off.  Deep is good.  Go deep.

Hope this helps.

Your voice matters, 

Josh

6 Tips For Dealing With Your Public Speaking Nerves

PUBLIC SPEAKING DELIVERY MENTAL TIPS

When getting ready to deliver a talk even the best speakers deal with a flurry of excitement or anxiety. It is perfectly normal to experience these kinds of emotions. The key to dealing with them effectively and translating them into excitement that will fuel your talk is practicing some strategies that will set you up for success. Here are 6 mental tips that will help you maximize the delivery of your message.

1. Preparation. Preparation equals confidence. The more you have prepared the better you will feel and the better you will deliver.

2. Rehearsing. Don’t minimize rehearsing to standing on a stage and delivering your talk to an empty room. You can rehearse anywhere...shower, car, office, restroom, etc.

3. Dump The Presentation. I know some of you love your presentations, but if you are struggling with nerves or anxiousness, your presentations are killing you. Drop the clicker, set yourself free. Never, ever has anyone complained about my lack of PowerPoint slides.

4. Make It About Your Audience. It sounds counterintuitive, but the more you focus on the audience the less they will scare you. Take your focus off of yourself and place it onto them.

5. Visualize The Stage. Don’t make this weird. There is nothing hokey or new age about closing your eyes for a minute and picturing yourself walking up onto a stage without falling all over yourself. Visualizing simple is a way to rehearse with your mouth and eyes closed. Don’t do it while driving.

6. Practice The One Minute Out Routine. One minute out is when you will forget your talk or sermon. One minute out is also when you will forget your main point or where in the world the book of Joshua is found. Don’t panic it is just your anxiety flipping to excitement. Embrace the moment. Take a breath and practice the simple One Minute Out Routine. (The one minute out routine is a part of www.thespeakingcourse.com.  For more information on The One Minute Out Routine or The Speaking Course For Pastors, Speakers and Church Leaders email me at thejoshott@gmail.com of type one minute in the comments.

Your Voice Matters.

Josh

 

5 Social Media Tips That Will Actually Grow Your Church

Our church is growing rapidly because we figured out how to leverage social media to reach people.

As soon as people learn about how our church more than doubled in size in less than 12 months largely through the use of social media, they immediately want to talk about the content we create and use.  What they fail to understand is that content is just one piece of the puzzle. 

It is true that if your content is terrible, social media does more harm for your ministry than it does good. 

It is also true that even if you have high quality, professional content the results from your social media efforts will be extremely limited if you aren't thinking about some other really important aspects to leveraging social media to reach people

The five areas below are absolutely essential to think through with your team before you ever do anything with social media as a ministry or church.

5 Social Media Tips That Will Actually Grow Your Church

The Strategy - Content is great, but strategy is greater.  If you really want to reach your community through the tool of social media you have to think about and develop a strategy. Ask yourself (or your team) "What are we trying to say?" and "How are we trying to say it?".  Clear and simple answers to those questions will help you develop and fuel your online social media strategy.

The Filter - Once your strategy is developed you will need to filter everything you do on social media through that strategy.  No more pot luck dinner announcements.  No more clutter.  If it doesn't fit with what you are trying to say and who you are trying to say it to, don't post it.  Spend some time deleting old content that doesn't fit the strategy you developed.  Filter all future content through your strategy.

The Focus - Social media really works well when you have a razor sharp focus on your target audience.  Clearly define the audience you are trying to reach.  Who are they? What are their fears or frustrations?  What are their dreams or desires?  What obstacles are they facing?  Use your focus on and understanding of your audience to drive your content creation.  

The Content - There is no excuse to put poor content on the internet.  We started leveraging social media with zero budget allotted for marketing and using free tools.  When you put out poor content you turn people off to your message.  Images should be modern and attractive without a lot of clutter.  Videos should be clear and steady.  Find someone in your church who is into photography.  Ask them to take pictures for you.  Get free stock photos at places like pexels.com.  Use free editing software apps like Canva.  There are a ton of tools available for you to up your content game.  Get on google and start searching.  Problem solve to improve the quality of your content.

The Health - If your church is unhealthy, if it does not have a healthy culture, if it has leadership problems, if it isn't focused on loving and reaching the unchurched, please don't use social media to try to grow your church.  Be honest and courageous enough to take a good hard look at the health of your church.  Take a good hard look at your health as a leader.  Don't make excuses, just work on the health and culture of the church.   If you use social media effectively and people show up to an unwelcoming, unhealthy church you actually cause more harm than good.   Your church won't grow.  You will create another barrier between people and Jesus making it harder for all of us to win influence and have a voice with lost people.   Please get healthy before you ever think about using social media to reach people.  Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. Please. 

Hope you found this helpful.

Praying for you.

Your voice matters. 

Josh

thespeakingcourse.com

 

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7 Ways To Start Changing An Unchangeable Church

There are churches that feel unchangeable, but any church can experience change and become a healthy, growing, even multiplying church.

Before we get into how to change an unchangeable church we need to admit something together: If churches don't change, they die.  This is a reality we may try to avoid or ignore but it is very much true.  I know this because I was the lead pastor of a dying church.  Can I just paint a picture for you that too many pastors find all too familiar?  The church I was pastoring was stuck, out of date and resistant to change.  The people who attended this church had great hearts, loved God and loved people but somewhere along the way this community stopped changing, plateaued and shifted into decline.  People told me it would never change.  The average age of the church was 60 and it was located in one of the toughest rural counties (a place I love) in the country.  The church was dying but it didn't die.  Now, a few years later this church is still located in that county, the average age is 35, it is bursting with life, experiencing rapid growth and charting a course to multiply this next year.  The journey has been amazing, fun, frustrating at times and beautiful.  As I look back on the journey I am amazed at what God will do when we are willing to courageously follow him.  

A place that once seemed unchangeable is now a place that welcomes change and values flexibility.  To get there it took an intentional cultural shift that is reproducible in any context and I want to share how we made that shift with you.  

Most pastors feel limited in what they are able to accomplish in a stuck church.  It is easy to get lost in survival mode and be uncertain of how or where to start.  But, in any church, in any setting the place to start can be simple and clear.

Start with creating, defining, and communicating a healthy organizational culture.  

Lets set a goal.  The goal is to become a church that values flexibility.   Flexible churches adapt and adjust and do so with little or no tearing.  Flexible churches are amazing to pastor.  Flexible churches and free to grow and reach more people in an ever changing context.   Flexible churches make your job exciting.  To become a church that values flexibility first focus on creating a culture that accepts change.  Once you have a culture that accepts change you can start to cultivate a culture that invites change.  Once you have a culture that invites change it is easy to transition that into a culture that values flexibility.

Did I lose you?  I'll make it simple.  Move your organization along the stages below toward flexibility.  

Accepts Change - Invites Change - Values Flexibility

Where on this cultural journey is your church?

Listen, if we did it, you can too.  Start to develop a culture that accepts change with the list below, but warning, you will have to lead with courage.  If you can't lead with courage in the face of opposition you probably shouldn't be leading anyway.  If you are worn out maybe it is time to sit in support of someone with the energy to lead the charge.  (Here is how a pastor of 35 years managed that transition ushering in new growth to his church and revitalizing his ministry.)   

Still here?  Good. Let's start to create a culture of change.  If you want to turn a dying church into a healthy growing church this is the place to start.  

7 Ways To Start To Change An Unchangeable Church

1.  Make small changes often.  Ok, you probably can't make the big drastic change to your constitution even though your constitution was written in 13 BC, but you can make a bunch of small changes often.  Small changes are easier for your organization to digest.  Make a bunch of them.  Spread them out and implement them often.  Examples: Tweak the bulletin, change the lighting, adjust the seating, make changes on the website, make small changes on a Sunday morning, during worship, to the music, make small changes in how you communicate.

2.  Stop asking for permission. There are a lot of changes you can make without getting permission from a stuck board or a resistant congregation. Use wisdom and act in love but also be courageous enough to know that as the leader of the organization, you don't need permission for every decision you make.  If you are teaching and want to ditch the podium, ditch the podium.  Your announcement guy will figure it out.  Or better yet ditch announcements.  You don't need permission to buy a drum set and add it to the front of your sanctuary.  If you stop and think about it there are plenty of changes you can start to make without asking for permission.  

3.  Start with the things you can control.  You may not be able to control the power players in your church but you can control you.  Be intentional about what you communicate and how you communicate it.  In fact, be intentional about everything you do and have a strategy for communicating toward a healthy future.  Examples: Change how you preach, change up the sermon series more frequently, run meetings differently,  have more individual meetings with staff and make those meeting shorter, create a strategy and start to implement it before you even tell anyone about it.  

4.  Don't say or listen to statements that include "old way" thinking.  There are statements thrown around church that you should be ignoring and never, ever saying.  Such as: "This is how we've always done it."  "Trust me you don't want to change ________." "We never did it like that before."  "This isn't who we are."  "We don't really do things like that around here."  Have an example to add?

5.  Challenge team members to problem solve by thinking outside of the box. - Don't settle or look for easy answers or old answers or methods.  Get your team to come up with and think through multiple solutions to challenges you face.  Challenge "old way" thinking by asking good questions.  Such as: "What are new options or approaches we could take to address this challenge?"  "What can we do differently to get a different result?" "If we were to change how we did this, what would we change?"  "What is missing or confusing about what we are doing or planning to do?" 

6.  Stay Consistent -  Does that sound ironic in an article about change?  Consistently change things.  Don't allow yourself to settle in and get comfortable.  To change culture you have to be consistent for a long period of time.  Keep changing things.  Don't stop, instead learn how to pivot.

7.  Cast Vision Like a Fly Fisherman -  Have you ever watched a fly-fisherman cast?  It is art in motion.  The heavy fly line creates a loop back and forth casting the fly out just above the water time and time again before finally finishing the cast, landing the fly at the most opportune time and place to move a fish.  Cast vision like a fly fisherman.  Keep throwing the vision out there, over and over again.  Constantly search for opportune times to plant a vision in the best places to move your organization and your people forward toward health.

 

What are your thoughts and experiences?

Be courageous.  God's got this, you just have to follow.

Your voice matters, 

Josh

 

 

10 Things To Remember When You Feel Like You Bombed A Sermon

At some point, if you speak/preach enough you will step off of a stage and feel like you just bombed a sermon.  Everyone has been there and here are ten things to remember so you don't stay there.

10 Things To Remember When You Feel Like You Bombed A Sermon.

  1. God does the heavy lifting, not you. (Philippians 1:6)
  2. His word never goes out and returns empty.  (Isaiah 55:11)
  3. You aren't a good judge of how you speak (good or bad.)
  4. No one remembers the stuff you are afraid they will remember.
  5. You are harder on yourself than anyone else will ever be.
  6. On your worst day you are better than you think you are.
  7. The Holy Spirit isn't hampered by a poor delivery.
  8. Live in the ocean of God's grace, not in the puddle of your own good or not so good work.
  9. Humility is important, embrace the opportunity to live in it.
  10. It is a beautiful thing to watch God use our mess to change lives.  You might not see it, but this is what He does.

Here is one actionable tip to practice when you feel like it didn't go as well as you had hoped:  Just let it go. It's done. God is going to use it.  Learn from it and move forward.

Have anything to add?

Get free resources to help you on your journey here: Maximize

Your voice matters, 

Josh

thespeakingcourse.com

Easy Tools For Reviewing A Sermon

The best leaders work on their own development.

The best leaders are developing other leaders. 

Are you developing the speaking or preaching bench at your church? 

Are you mentoring a young pastor or speaker?

If so, I have some tools I want to give you to make your life easier.  

One of the main reasons I created the Speaking Course For Pastors, Speakers and Church Leaders is so that I can help young leaders develop and steward their giftedness in my church.  I want to multiply leaders.  I want to build my speaking bench.  I want to multiply the church.  

I developed two worksheets as a part of that course that I want to make available to you for free.

The Review Your Talk Worksheet - Is a worksheet you can use to self-evaluate one of your own messages or it is a worksheet you can give to your leaders to have them self-evaluate one of their own messages.  You then can sit down with them and help them process their own review.

The Review Their Talk Worksheet - Is a worksheet you can use to review the sermons/messages of your speaking bench or team.  

Get your copies todayhttps://goo.gl/H7ZGEj  --> (Once you fill out the form you will get two automated emails with direct links to the PDF files.  It is automated to save me time because Parenting and Pastoring gets crazy busy!)

Your voice matters, 

Josh

thespeakingcourse.com

3 Things That Can Kill Vision And Direction In Your Church

People follow vision and direction.  

Has your church plateaued? Note: A new person trickling in once in a while doesn't count as growth. 

Has your church been in decline? Note: Decline isn't measured in seasonal or short term attendance drop off.  Instead, decline means a sustained decrease in more than one area of your church. Are leaders leaving and finances dwindling? Is attendance dropping while volunteer recruitment has become next to impossible without tapping the same people over and over again? 

Are you feeling stuck and unsure what lies ahead for you or your church?  Note:  Being stuck can present itself in a number of different ways. Such as:  lack of clarity, unwillingness to consider change, a failure to consider new approaches to ministry.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you aren't alone.  I have been able to answer yes to all of the above at some point in my role as a lead pastor.  

If you answered yes to any of the above questions the chances are one of the big issues you need to start with is a good, long and honest look at the vision and direction in your church. 

One of my main roles as a lead pastor is to drive and initiate vision and direction.  If you are the person at the top of your organization/ministry that applies to you as well.   Vision and direction needs to be initiated from the top. 

The problem: I'm not perfect and neither are you.  Ministry can highlight our insecurities and imperfections.  Sometimes ministry can just be down right tough and exhausting.  There are things that can get in the way as we try to find, initiate or drive vision and direction for our church and organization.

Here are three things that can kill vision and direction in your church.

  1. Pressure.  "I don't want to do it, but I will."  Pressure can become a driving force in our ministry in many different ways, but when it comes to the vision and direction of the church, it will sideline you.  Pressure becomes an unhealthy driving force when:  You give in to the power players at church who want the church to serve their agenda.  You are making the easier decisions instead of the right decisions.  Too many voices are considered in an attempt to please others.  
  2. Desire. "I want to."  You can easily lose your direction and vision when you put your desires and preferences above the needs of the church.  Desire becomes and unhealthy driving force killing your vision and essentially your church when "I" statements grab too much space in your heart.  Here are some examples: I want to have a big church.  I want to be a lead pastor.  I want to teach every week.  I want to retire in this town.  I want to be the most important person in the organization.  I want to write a book. I want to ___________. Seeking God's direction and casting vision is a constant removal of self.  I know you would never say those things out loud, but don't let them steal your heart's attention away from God's direction.  What if the vision and direction for the church should cost you your role at church?  What if God has something better for you?  What if the vision and direction of the church is bigger and better than you can imagine?  You will never be insignificant if you keep seeking God's direction.
  3. Fear.  "I am afraid to."  This one is so tough and it is the most common driving force that sidelines vision and direction.  The fears that pop up run deep.  Financial fears -> I won't be able to pay my mortgage if I lose this job. Fear of losing significance -> If I am not teaching every week, who am I. Fear of not having a future -> I can't do anything else if I lose this job.  Fear can be paralyzing, but you can trust Jesus through it.  Don't let your fears drive you to insignificance.  Step out in courage.  Here is a talk about my journey through fear  https://vimeo.com/240025716  You aren't alone.

  

The driving force of vision and direction is always and should always be faith.

You can get back on track as a visionary leader today in 2 simple steps:

 1) Evaluate the 3 driving forces mentioned above.  What pressures, desires or fears have you been wrestling with?  Have they been getting in the way of you initiating and driving vision for your organization?

2) Talk about them with a staff member/colleague/friend/spouse.  Once you start talking about these three driving forces they start to lose their power to push you away from the direction God has for you.

God is going to do awesome stuff through you as you continue to seek his direction for your ministry.  We all drift sometimes.  It's okay.  Realign yourself today.  Start leading with vision and direction and watch health start to blossom in your church.

Place your confidence in God. 

Let's do this.

Your voice matters.

Josh 

https://www.thespeakingcourse.com/

Don't Lose Your Audience - LEVEL UP

This will be really hard for you to hear if you are a good communicator, if you speak most Sundays to a decent crowd, if you feel confident in your ability as a communicator, if you are a pastor but you need to hear it. 

I need to hear it too. Often.

You will lose your audience if you don't continue to level up.

Watch this --->

Here is the direct link to watch it: https://youtu.be/mhTTz5lXUKc

Top 5 ways to level up your communication today:

First, if you aren't comfortable with what you are doing today work on refining it.  Spend some time thinking through what you don't like and then experiment with little tweaks.

Ok here are the top 5 ways to level up:

  1. Hang out with fellow communicators who are passionate about their craft.  There is nothing better than thinking through your process with someone else who is also thinking through their process and understands the complexities of being a communicator.  Be intentional, set aside your pride, set the stage and tell them you want help not just encouragement.
  2. Take an online course.  There are lots of them.  I have one you can start today with instant results: https://www.thespeakingcourse.com/    Carey Nieuwhof is coming out with one.  Eric Samuel Timm has one too.   My course is designed to make you a great communicator especially if you are a pastor or Christian speaker.  I literally packed 15 years of lessons into a sweet course that will have you improving your craft in (literally) minutes. Videos.  Worksheets. Cheatsheets.  The whole deal.  An online course is a way to jump up multiple levels in a very short amount of time with minimal investment.
  3. Join a Toastmasters International Club. My friend Joe (a remarkable communicator himself) has young leaders who are learning how to communicate go to Toastmasters.  It is a great idea to get real time practice and feedback. (If you are out there Joe thanks for the idea.)
  4. Eliminate stuff.  If you are really looking to level up but don't want to invest energy into learning just experiment by eliminating stuff from your routine.  While I think this is the weakest way to level up it still can work for you.  Here is why.  It is easy to become over dependent on notes, tools, routine and settings.  Change it up.  Drop down to one page of notes.  Try and outline or kill your outline.  Through out the manuscript.  Work on memorizing your talk.  Use keywords.  Remove the podium.  Throw out the music stand.  I don't know what works for you at your level with your style but set a goal for how you want to communicate and then experiment with ways to get there.
  5. Study the best communicators in your field.  Don't take notes on what they say, take notes on how they say it.  Watch the best of the best, preferably with different styles of communication and take a lot of notes. Pay attention to their rhythm, how they engage the audience and how enhance their delivery with pace, pause and tone.  Watch their movements, when they move and when they stop moving.  Learn from them and translate those lessons into applications that fit your style and speaking DNA.

Or start fast and free with instant results go here and download the free stuff geared to help you level up : http://www.joshuaott.us/maximize/

By the way the best communicators aren't born that way, they work really hard on their craft and they care very much about their delivery.  They got to where they are by constantly leveling up.  You can get there too.

People who are good at something often feel like they are good enough.  People who are great at something are always looking for ways to get better.

Your voice matters, 

Josh