Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Church newsletters: threat or menace?

Looking for advice on church newsletters? Here's a reprint of the article I did for pastors in the the North Pacific Union Conference. (And if you'd like to see NPUC's website for pastors, then click on the title of this post.

Three tips for church newsletters:

1. Keep it short. That way, you’re more likely to keep doing it. My advice: one page for news, with a church calendar on the back.

2. Keep it legible. Your church members won’t read it if they can’t read it. That means 11-point type (12-point is better for older eyes) and no fancy fonts. (And if you’re using more than three fonts, you’re working too hard.)

3. Keep it helpful. You want it to be something your church members will stick on the refrigerator because they keep referring to it. Your calendar, for instance, should include sunset times, birthdays, board meetings, school vacations and early releases, plus (in a multiple church district) just who is preaching where. (And when it comes to news, don’t forget a monthly summary of just how your church’s budget is doing!)

Bonus: I use MicroSoft PUBLISHER for my newsletter; with a little modification, its template works pretty well. But one thing I don’t use is a lot of clip-art; IMHO, more than one or two “clips” on a page makes it look trashy.

Super double-bonus: You can eliminate the problems of church members finding "typos" or mistakes in your church newsletter by announcing that anyone who finds a "typo" will type the next newsletter.

Monday, August 27, 2007

I cannot even imagine what a $70 million building project would be like.

Interesting article in Tacoma's newspaper about the latest megachurch in the area.

The Christian Faith Center boasts an attendance of 8,000 every week on two campuses (Everett and Federal Way) -- the pastors (it's a husband and wife team) commute between services by helicopter.

And all this in one of the least-churched states in America. (But you'll notice how long it took them to get where they are today.)

(Click on the title of this post for the link.)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Why do I have this sudden craving for donuts?

From BurgerKing comes "the Simpsonizer" -- a free website that allows you to see what you'd look like if you were a character on the Simpsons. Just download a photo, fiddle a bit with accessories, and . . .

Well, I'll let you be the judge. But myself, I think this has some real potential for church directories.

(Click on the title of this post for the link.)

Welcome to Orygun!

I once attended a workshop on church growth by Lyle Schaller that began with these words: "Is anyone here from Oregon? Sorry -- nothing I say here is going to do you any good; Oregon is just that different."

And if you'd like to get a handle on how and why Oregon is "just that different," here are some suggestions:

Friday, August 17, 2007

Advice for young seminarians

Okay, so you've made the move to beautiful downtown Berrien Springs, and you're looking forward (more or less) to spending the next few years at the Seminary (a.k.a. "the Cemetery"). Here's my advice.

1. You're a student again. Get used to it.
Yes, I know: for the last year or so, you've been an adult with a REAL job (and all the rights, reponsibilies, and respect that came with it). Now you're back in school and they're treating you like a kid again -- like some brainless adolescent who doesn't know the difference between heilsgeschichte and a hole in the ground.

So . . . what's your point?

My advice? Sit down, shut up, and try to remember that humility is a virtue.

2. If you're married, then try to stay that way.
With all its faults, the Seminary does provide you with friends, structure, and purpose (even if is only to survive that class in Hebrew). Your spouse, on the other hand, gets none of these things; all they know is that they're living a long ways from friends and family on an income that's just barely adequate with a spouse who's busy all the time.

What's wrong with this picture?

My advice? Don't wait until you're through Seminary to "make it up" to him or her. Make time for your spouse right now.

3. Take the money you'd spend on books and use it to travel.
No offense to my colleagues in teaching, but the best part of Seminary is the part that isn't Seminary, i.e. those long, lovely vacations between semesters. Add the fact that you're not going to get that kind of spare time again until you retire and . . .

What does this suggest?

My advice? Buy just enough books to get through your classes, and start planning that road trip ASAP. (And don't worry -- whatever books you don't buy now will still be there when you graduate and return to the pastoral ministry . . . and when that days comes, you'll be able to deduct them from your taxes as a business expense).

4. Meet, greet, and repeat.
No matter how good your teachers may be, the most interesting people in your classes will be your fellow students. On your right: an evangelist from Tanzania. On your left: a hospital chaplain from northern Italy. Sitting behind you: a youth pastor who works with street kids in the inner-city of Chicago. And the guy in front of you who always comes late to class?

Okay, he's clueless -- you can ignore him.

Seriously, the Seminary is your chance to find out just how high and how deep and how wide and how seemingly weird the work of God around this world can be. So take some time and get to know the people who are taking classes with you. It's like I always tell people: "Make all the friends you can in school, because you're going to be using these people for the rest of your life."