On Tuesday’s Rainer on Leadership Podcast (episode 93), Dr. Rainer talks about church finances, and presents five things every pastor should know about their church finances.
Infographics. Businesses use them regularly to communicate facts and stats.
But, you and your ministry can use infographics as well. Consider two infographics I created based off of a blog post and a podcast from Dr. Thom Rainer’s website.
The aim is to visualize the content presented into a graphical presentation. The first infographic I produced is based on a blog post, 8 Reasons Pastors and Church Staff Should Consider Bi-Vocational Work. In that article, Rainer presented 8 reasons that I thought could be represented iconographically – using icons. A visual learner will benefit from your content because the visual representation speaks in their language.
The Visual Learner Will Benefit Because the Infographic Speaks in Their Language
If you present your blog post, your newsletter article solely as text, you’re losing so many members of your audience. According to an article in Prime Infographics, 65% of all Americans are visual learners. More than half of the people in your congregation are visual learners. Your words are falling on eyes that are not capable of adequately absorbing the words you’ve written as well as if they had some imagery that helps them learn, because you’re speaking their language.
Another advantage of the use of infographics is that your writing will benefit because you’ll start writing with visual descriptions.
Your Writing Will Become More Visually Descriptive
As you start and continue having attractive visuals developed from your writing, your brain will start becoming more visually descriptive. This will improve your writing skills and help improve your speaking presentation as well. You will become a master at speaking visually and writing visually as you continue using visual communication tools to benefit that 65% of your audience.
This is the greatest reason you should use infographics. Your entire communications process: preaching, writing, presenting, etc., will improve because you’re becoming a visual communicator.
Your Communications Process Will Improve as You Become a Visual Communicator
Remember that statistic? 65% of all American adults are visual learners. You need to learn how to write, how to speak and how to think like a visual learner — you need to become a visual communicator.
When you’re talking about David and Goliath, describe the helmet and sword Saul offered David. Describe the five smooth stones and the stream. Describe the height and size of Goliath compared to the height and size of David. Describe the way Goliath taunted David. Describe the way his eyes opened wide with surprise as the stone hit him in his forehead and he began to fall to his knees, and then face first into the ground.
You’ll learn how to communicate visually — to tell the story — in such a way that your audience will be able to place themselves into the scene… because you’re describing the way those things looked, they’re able to insert themselves into the scene. When they do that — the story becomes vividly clear to them. It becomes real.
So, there are three great beneficial reasons you should be using infographics in your communications arsenal when you communicate with your audience.
- The visual learner will benefit because the infographic speaks their language
- Your writing will become more visually descriptive
- Your communications process will improve as you become a visual communicator
By the way, I mentioned that I created two infographics based on an article and a podcast by Dr. Thom Rainer of Lifeway Christian Resources. The second infographic is based on the Rainer On Leadership podcast, episode 091. In the podcast, he presented 8 Keys to Effectively Leading a Staff Meeting. I decided to use the image of the keys of a piano to produce an infographic that communicates the 8 keys in a way to visually remind you about the different ways to lead your staff meeting.
I encourage you to go to the two posts on my site and download the two graphics. And, if you would like to have some infographics developed, contact me.
During today’s Rainer on Leadership podcast episode, Dr. Thom Rainer offers Eight Keys to Effectively Leading a Staff Meeting. I hope this infographic will encourage you to listen to the 24 minute podcast to learn how you can improve your staff meetings (or your period of evaluation and planning, if you’re a solo pastor).
VOTD: Oh, Be Careful Little Lips, What You Say – Proverbs 26:20
BE CAREFUL: FIRE WITHOUT FUEL
Have you ever seen the movie Apollo 13?
Do you remember the problems they had in the spacecraft on the way to the moon?
An onboard explosion requires shutting oxygen off inside the capsule for a time to extinguish the fire. Among many other issues on that ill-fated, but eventually successful flight.
Or, maybe you remember the horrible bon-fire incident at Texas A&M that forced the end of such a long-standing tradition at that storied school.
Fire disasters, or near-disasters, whether they be bonfires, space craft explosions, or wildfires, require fuel. It could be a cigarette and stuffing in furniture, or gas and wood, or high concentrations of oxygen and faulty wiring.
Or, it could be your tongue.
BE CAREFUL: NO FIGHTS WITHOUT WORDS
Maybe you’ve been a part of, or you’ve observed, a “bar-room brawl.” Or, you’ve seen some stupid “girl fight” on YouTube.
Or, maybe, you’ve been a part of a Facebook tete a tete that went far more public than it should have ever gone?
Have you ever known a fight, of any sort, that did not first start with words?
BE CAREFUL: WORDS AND WARS
King Solomon, the wisest man in the world, collected this wise saying, “quarrels disappear when gossip stops.”
Many a war in the history of mankind began because of words someone used to tear down another person, or nation, or peoples.
That’s really what gossip is: words used to tear someone else down; to verbally damage another’s reputation.
It could be the Hatfields and McCoys, or the Democrats and Republicans, or the Russians and who ever Vladimir Putin decides to pick on today.
STOP THE WORDS, STOP THE FIGHTING
I’m guilty of many of the things I’m speaking of. This verse speaks directly to me.
So, with the wise words of Solomon, we are challenged today to stop the words of destruction. Bring about a peace treaty of sorts with your own mouth. Don’t drop words of destruction.
God is the god of peace and creation. He is a God of love. (Yes, he is also a God who punishes and is jealous, but he instructs us to love, and to show concern for our fellow mankind – let’s let God do his job, and we can just focus on doing ours, ok?)
So, what is it about your tongue that needs to be bridled?
I can tell you that I am seeking a huge bit to place in my mouth to tame my tongue. God has one just for me. I thank Him for giving me my wife, who does her dead-level best to try to keep my words more on the positive side than the negative. But, there are times, that old man in me rears up his ugly head and speaks words of destruction.
God, please help me, and others, learn the truths of that old children’s song: “Oh, be careful little tongue what you say, for the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little tongue what you say.”
Psalm 37:7 (NLT) Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act.
Have you ever been in a waiting room of a hospital? As one who has served in ministry and hospice chaplaincy, I have been in my fair share of waiting rooms.
They’re extremely uncomfortable – even for the most experienced visitor. None of us like to sit and wait for anything these days.
Even our culture is sometimes called the “microwave society.” What once took us an entire day to prepare and cook takes only a matter of minutes from freezer to coming out of the microwave.
Let me ask you a question or two about that meal, if I may. Compared to an identical meal cooked by the best grandmother-cook in the community, which tastes best?
Evaluating those two identical dishes, home-cooked or microwaved, which has better nutritional value?
What about quality of the products used? Microwaved or grandma’s?
So, why is it was can’t seem to get this instruction from the psalmist?
When we think about it, it makes perfect sense… God is not confined by the bounds of time. He doesn’t have to worry about a clock… he is eternal. Time has no concern with God, and God has no concern with time.
Then, again, if we are true followers of the One True God, then, we, too, have no real concern with time. Everything is in His time!
Waiting then becomes an act of worship. We wait because we trust. We know He will accomplish those things. We know he will do immeasurably more than we could ever ask for, hope or dream. We know these things, because He has done them already, and He continues to do them to this day.
What are you waiting on today? Are you patient? Are you willing to wait longer for it? If not, what does that say about you, your faith in yourself and your faith in God Almighty?
Be still. Don’t get so caught up in the hurry-scurry, busy, rat race of this world.
Be still in the presence of the Lord. Understand that in God’s presence, you must first honor Him, give him glory. Respect Him for his power, and ability to accomplish all things, compared to our ability to accomplish nothing without Him.
Be still in the presence of the lord, and wait patently for Him to act. He will act. Let Him do it in His time.
Believe me – a bit of testimony from experience. If you try to rush things, if you try to take them into your own hands and create your dream without waiting on Him to act, things have a way of going terribly bad.
God knows what is best for you, so just be still. Let him wrap his arms around you. And know that He is God, and that He has already accomplished those things in advance for your good.
Psalm 103:2 NLT “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.”
The psalmist recognizes the source of all the good things that have happened in his life, and, in so doing, reminds me to do the same.
I’d be remiss – even sinfully so – if I did not praise His name for all the things He has done, is doing and will do in my life, for as long as he allows me to walk this soil
Yesterday, Teresa (my wife) got great news that her sister received a positive report from her cancer doctor in Birmingham. Dana is profoundly deaf, and is an awesome teacher at the Alabama School for the Deaf and Blind in Talladega.
The short, yet, spunky second daughter of three to Howard and Sue Gilbert knows what it is to struggle since birth. She understands that things other people may think are bad, aren’t always truly bad.
I’ve watched her face the spectre of breast cancer with strength, positivity and courage. And, today, even though I wasn’t there, I watched her celebrate God’s blessings – the truly good things – such as family, and health, and love. She sent a text to her sisters telling the good news, and in that text, she explained that when her mom got the call from the doctor, and than told Dana the news, she “said ‘Praise the Lord and put my ‘I love you’ hand on Mom’s Bible.”
Thank you, Lord Jesus. Thank you for my family. For my health. And for love. And, thank you for my wonderful sister-in-love, Dana Gilbert, for reminding me of that truth, once again.
Before You Push “Record”
Getting Your Podcasting Ducks in a Row
Expert podcasters and broadcasters are able to just hit record and create an informative and entertaining podcast. But, that ability came after many years of practice. As a former radio broadcaster, when I was just beginning, I had to have notes. And spend the time while the music was playing to practice – often times, again and again and again – until I could get the presentation just right.
I had to “hit” the introduction of the song just right, so that when I got to the end of what I was saying, I wasn’t talking over the singing. I had to make sure that I covered all the important information (who, what, when, where, why and how) in such a way that the listener would understand, and if it was supposed to be entertaining, I had to do it in such a way as to entertain.
Those skills do not come naturally – they take time to develop. So, too, does the ability to just ad lib on a topic in one take. So, do yourself a favor – be a “Boy Scout” and “be prepared!”
YOUR PODCASTING SCHEDULE
How often will you put out a new episode? Will yours be daily? Weekly? Monthly?
Big names can get away with producing a monthly podcast and still attract a large audience. Andy Stanley produces one podcast a month in his leadership category podcast. One. And, its on the top of the charts. But, that’s Andy Stanley! Don’t expect to attract a large audience with a once-a-month podcast unless you’ve got a name as big as his already.
Weekly podcasts are useful to your audience, yet, doesn’t put too much of a burden on you as a beginning podcaster. A weekly 30 minute or so long podcast can take quite a bit of time in preparation, recording, editing, writing show notes, et cetera. But, it can be quite rewarding, as well. That’s one of the reasons your church meets on a weekly basis. It’s effective and efficient to manage.
Daily (or Weekday) podcasts are good for reinforcing an idea, subject or topic in the minds of your listeners. You can spend more time on one point of a topic, while reminding the listener of the information already covered. This is good for building relationships quickly, and for training your listener to learn the truths you are teaching.
Before you decide, why not do a test run and see how long the process takes. Realizing that the more you go through the process the easier (and quicker) the process will be, you will be able to determine which frequency you’re best able to serve your listeners with.
If you need assistance in everything but the actual prep and recording (editing, show notes, posting the podcast and show notes, finding appropriate photographic images to go with the posts, etc.) Contact us about our podcasting production services. Our low-cost services will help you maintain your schedule, and we’ll keep you up to date on the latest techniques that will help you be better podcasters in the future.
Remember, if your podcast will be covering current news items specifically geared for your audience, you might want to produce podcasts on a daily basis, at least on a weekly basis. If you’re covering evergreen topics, then frequency is not as much of an issue.
HOW LONG IS YOUR PODCAST?
Decide now how long your podcast will be. A test run will help you get a realistic idea of how long an hour, or half hour will be. When I was in radio, it was difficult to explain to advertisers that you can put a lot of information into a 30 second or one minute long commercial. Then, I’d get them to talk for a timed 30 seconds about their business. Typically, they were amazed at how quickly they ran out of things to say.
Podcasts that are over thirty minutes in length stretch attention spans. It’s typically better to produce more quantity of shorter podcasts than fewer episodes of longer lengths.
Once you get your podcast going, of course, you’ll be listening to your audience. Get their feedback, listen to them, ask questions. They’ll be glad to inform you of your performance and their needs, including the length of the podcast. Just listen.
If you’re a good communicator, and can just run off of an outline, then, by all means, use an outline. But, for the most part, you’ll want to start with a script. It’s good to use a pre-written script to keep you from rambling or doing off-topic. But, your task, as a communicator is to not read the script. Use it as a guide, knowing that the information is there in front of you if you need to glance at it.
If you’re going to be interviewing guests on your podcast, create more questions than you think you’ll need. When working in radio and TV news, I typically had about 10 more questions than I ever needed with a subject. It has paid off with huge dividends.
Sometimes, the interviewee won’t, or can’t speak on a topic – for whatever reason. But, if you find yourself with a shy or non-talkative subject, its better to have an abundance of questions to ask to find something he or she may talk about more freely.
Additionally, you may find that the subject has a little bit more time to speak with you, and you’ll need the extra questions to fill the time. This is especially beneficial, since you can save those responses and use them at a later time.
If you’re using music in your podcast, make sure you have legal permission to use it. Get written consent from the composer, artists and producers to use that music in your podcast. It’s a hassle. So, make sure you cover your bases – it’s not fun talking to lawyers about something you should’ve done in the first place.
To avoid the legal issues you have two options. (Maybe three) First, you can use music in the public domain. These are old songs that aren’t covered by copyright laws any longer. You can search for this information through the Library of Congress’ website.
Second, you can find “royalty-free” or “needle-drop” fee production music. There are several sites on the internet that provide for the purchase of downloadable music files for production purposes.
Third, you can commission someone to compose and produce a piece of music for you.
You’ll also want to make sure if you’re using information that is not original to you, that you credit the creator of the information. Provide a link to that resource, and if you’re using it directly from the original source, make sure you ask for permission to use that information in the way you intend.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT
Get excited about what you’re doing before you begin. Make sure you’re smiling while you’re recording. And, by all means, make sure you have that picture of the one member of your audience in front of you. Talk to that person. Don’t call his or her name out, but just talk to them. You’re listener will appreciate that you are talking directly to them!
There will be frustrations along the way. Especially when you’re just beginning. But, through these difficulties, you’ll learn how to be a better podcaster – and a better communicator. Like any other skill, it takes perseverance and practice. But, it won’t take long before you’re making excellent podcasts – quickly!
Now, you’re ready to begin – almost! You’ve gotten your topics, you’re prepared to record. But, you need to make sure you have the proper equipment ready for the process of recording and editing. Stay tuned!
To help you in this endeavor, I’m asking that you complete the following steps:
Please subscribe to my podcast, and to my weekly newsletter. By doing so, I’ll be able to send you audio and video podcasts to help you learn how to podcast your church.
If you’d like to get a jumpstart on the podcasting movement for churches, download this free e-booklet that will give you the basics of developing your podcast.
If you’d really like to get into podcasting more quickly, purchase the DeKnumi Church Podcasting Manual for $20. You’ll get a manual on how to set up your podcast, how to record it and make it sound professional, and even how to move your podcast up the chartes in the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes and other directories.
And remember, you can be DeKnumi – you can show God, today.
Four Steps to Overcoming Personal Slumps
We all suffer from them. Slumps. Whether its a personal drop in attitude and mental or physical health, or just a drop in your performance level at work. It could be caused by stress, or depression, or just as a result of burning your candle at both ends.
I recall my struggle with a huge personal slump in my life back in 2006-07. I’ve been quite public about it. When I moved to a neighboring state to prepare for marriage and then, a week after I moved, found out my fiancé was cheating on me. That’s about the lowest I’ve ever been in my life, I think. Praise God, He knew about my slump before it even happened, and had a plan far greater than any I had made for myself!
Well, this morning I was reading through my emails, and ran across this great advice for how to deal with slumps in life.
Many of you may know (or not), that I used to work in the broadcasting business – both radio and TV. As a result of that career path, I subscribe to some email lists pertaining to the industry still. I’d like to think that, one day, I’ll be back in that industry on some level, I guess.
At any rate, this morning, at the bottom of one of the e-mails I get, I found a three-point formula for getting back on track when you’ve fallen into a dip. The article was geared toward salespeople, so, I’m going to adapt it a bit for general use.
REVISIT THE BASICS
When you hit a skid, you’ve hit a great opportunity to revisit the fundamentals. One of my favorite illustrations about this topic is Coach John Wooden’s story of teaching his players how to put on a sock. According to the story, Coach Wooden would walk into the first day of practice with some of the top college basketball recruits in the nation, hold up a sock and say “gentlemen, this is a sock.”
Coach Wooden’s teams were so great because he began with the most basic of fundamentals. He wanted them to know how to put on a sock! Why? Well… if you don’t put your socks on correctly, running up and down the court would create blisters on your feet. If you have blisters on your feet, you’re not going to be productive as a basketball player, because you’ll be sitting on the bench recovering.
Chose one basic skill of your ministry, your job, your life and re-learn those fundamentals can be an effective way to re-center your life, ministry or job and reconnect with the effective life you desire.
RECONNECT WITH PEOPLE
We all have loyal friends, customers, parishioners with whom we connect. Except, most of us, during slumps, begin disconnecting with friends and family.
Now is the time to focus on rebuilding and strengthening those relationships. Recall those who have poured into your life, and who have appreciated the times when you’ve poured into theirs.
Those people can provide a boost of confidence, a framework of accountability, and just a comforting presence in your life if you will open yourself up to them. By helping you to focus on those relationships that build up your life, you receive encouragement, and the freedom to take on new tasks will be bolstered through the successful reconnection with those you trust.
Those successes will help you build confidence, encouragement and the ability to take on new challenges as you are serving those around you with love, patience and understanding and they are supporting your life as well.
Top performers in life often break down their daily responsibilities by tasks to see if there are any ways for better time management.
Dan Hill of 48 Days fame stops all activity in the month of November to asses the previous year, and develops a plan to remove the 15% less productive things from his business and replace it with new projects and plans to improve the more productive parts of his business.
Perhaps, this time of a dip in your life is a perfect opportunity to asses the concept of the 80/20 rule’s application to your life.
Take the time to see if any opportunities are there for better time management, better human interaction, better personal development. Is there a better time to have your quiet time? A way to delegate low-impact tasks that eat up your time? Could the hiring of a low-cost Virtual Assistant take some of the menial, day-to-day tasks off or your to-do list and free you for more productive things?
Take the time, during a “slump,” to reprioritize, giving you a plan to improve your impact in life. The development of these plans will also re-invigorate you, and prepare you for a more productive period in your life.
And, I’d like to add one more way to help you come out of a slump.
RESTORE YOUR CALL
Remember the story of Samson? He had been reminded constantly of the vows to which he was to be committed. Yet, early on in his adult life, he started running into slumps. They always seemed to occur when he would allow his human desires – lusts – to override his commitments.
Until one day, when he had finally surrendered his last commitment for the chance to sleep, God’s word says “the Spirit left him.” His strength had been finally taken away by God. Until….
One day, when Samson had had enough time to evaluate where he was in life. When he had understood the source of his major slump in life. From a superhero called by God to destroy the Philistines for their sins to a slave of the very people he was called to destroy, Samson called out to God, begging Him to restore His spirit and His strength upon His man again. And, Samson then destroyed more Philistines immediately following that prayer than he had in all of his life!
Thanks to the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, we don’t have to give up our life for those super victories, we simply have to call out to God, through his Son, Jesus Christ and beg Him to restore our call, renew our strength and refocus our lives for more productivity for His kingdom and purposes here on earth.
So, the next time you hit a dip in life – a slump – let me encourage you to begin with restoring your call, then revisiting the basics, reconnecting with your people, and reprioritizing your tasks.
God bless you, and, let me challenge you to go out there and “be DeKnumi – show God, today.”