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Monday, May 24, 2010

Blog Break

We are packing to go to Ireland for the summer. Once we arrive I should resume normal blogging, but at this point I don't really have the time.

We are working through WWOOF to learn organic farming. I'll post some of my own pictures in the future, but for the next two weeks or so, I'm going to be getting ready to go.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Could Your Church Survive if there were No Sermons?

A couple days ago Don Miller asked this question on his blog.

Well? What would happen if your church decided to not have sermons for a month? Would people still learn? Would they learn better? Would they learn less?

Sometimes when we take something away we learn its value more.

So, what would happen if you didn't preach for a month?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Rules for Better Presentations

Over at Ministry Tech they published some great rules for better presentations. Below are his four rules and a little detail on the last one.

1. Don't use built in slide templates
2. Use one simple and concrete image that illustrates your point
3. Reduce the number of rectangles on screen
4. Use the rule of thirds.
Where the lines intersect are the “sweet spots” of the image. The human eye likes balance and will naturally go to these spots in an image. Place imporant elements of the image (faces. eyes, key objects, text, etc…) as close as you can to these “sweet spots”. The results will be that the eye moves smoothly through the image. It doesn’t feel chunky or choppy. People are no longer distracted by the layout. Instead they can focus on your message.

Great advice that is much needed. What would you add?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Feminine Voice

Too often the church is dominated by the masculine voice, especially in preaching. Now I'm not trying to start an argument about "women's roles" in the church. That's not my point.

Instead of consistently using sports and war metaphors in sermons, we should expand our voice to include things that might be more applicable and understandable to the female portion of our audience.

This requires thinking with a feminine voice and hearing a feminine voice. Ask your wife about examples. Ask the ladies in your church for examples. Flip through a good magazine aimed at women (I have to specify "good" here because there is so much filth) like "Real Simple" to see what examples are coming up.

Also look for gender neutral examples as much as possible. Let's just say that it would be bad to illustrate a point with a sports metaphor and then say: "And for you ladies, that would be like being in the kitchen and . . . "

How do you preach with a feminine voice?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Rhythm is important to what we do. I find that if I sit down to write this blog or to work through a sermon, it matters what time of day I do it. It matters what I've done before and what I'm doing afterward. The act of creating is a rhythmic thing. It involves my mood and my thoughts and my body.

Think about your mood when you write the best sermons. What puts you in that mood? What time of day do you usually feel that way?

Think about your thoughts when you do your best work. What leads your thoughts that way?

Think about your body and your location when you work well. Do you need silence? Do you thrive on being outside?

What is the rhythm of your work?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Office 2010 Web Apps - initial impressions

I sat down at my computer and thought I would do a quick review of the new online component to Microsoft's Office suite. I had heard through the tech news that it was released last week and I wanted to give you a look at it. Oops.

The first sign that something was wrong was when I searched for it and I saw the result: "Office Web Apps - download to use" Um, why would I need to download anything for a web application?

So the second thing that I found out, is that I can use some of the online component with Office 2007 (without having to download the 2010 beta), but when I clicked through, it told me I needed to be using Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Safari - no Google Chrome support. I used my IE emulator extension in Chrome and got in.

I clicked to start a new presentation - and it opened my desktop copy of PowerPoint. That's not a web app!

I did some more reading around and I've discovered that the Microsoft online solution is really only designed for those who already have Office installed on their machine and it only provides online storage and collaboration options. For me this is basically useless, but that's just for me.

I'll post more as I know more.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Be Wary of Unintended Emotional Connections

If you are one of the people who owns (or owned) a Windows computer, you've probably seen the Blue Screen of Death at some point in your life. Basically it means that your computer has failed completely and has to be turned off to recover at all. 

So, even though the color combination of white text on a blue background should be soothing, according to the colors that are there, the experience of most people will be to associate this color combination with aggravation and frustration. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Learn Some Color Theory

There is a good article here on some basics of color theory. Last week I posted about how color can be interpreted differently in different cultures. But how should those emotional interpretations be used in your presentation?

If you are using a color like red or orange, you probably don't want to make that your background color - even if it communicates the emotions of your work, it's can still be overwhelming in large quantities (except when it's not).

Any color used to exclusion will become overwhelming and lose its impact. Be judicious in your color use to maximize the emotional impact.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Microsoft's Upgrade Path

I'm not sure if I should fault Microsoft or the people using their products, but there is a huge problem with the upgrade timelines in the wide world of MS. I know several people who just made the switch from MS Office 2003 to 2007 and within a few weeks the boys in Redmond are going to drop the next version (2010 - original naming scheme here, guys).

If people are one full version and three to seven years behind what you're doing, then there is a fundamental disconnect. I know most people would talk about upgrading software when they upgrade their computers. They would also say that it takes three to seven years for MS to get a program to run with stability. Good points all.

Where is the disconnect between you and your church? What can you do to close that gap?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Why Does the Church Listen?

Even if I figure out my motivation for preaching, there needs to be a good reason for the church to listen. What do my words change? Do they come to hear some encouragement? Do they come to hear some challenge? Do they come to be condemned?

At different times in the past, different things have been true. Preaching hellfire and brimstone used to be the way to go, but now it's not very popular.

Now, the church may listen for all the wrong reasons. They may want to feel warm fuzzies in their belly and you may need to rebuke them. How do you craft a sermon that engages them to listen for warm fuzzies while still delivering the needed rebuke (with love)?

Why does the church listen?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Microsoft Office 2010 Online Coming This Week

A quick note to let you know that the next version of Office will include an online component and that will be launching this week. Stay tuned for more. You can find a review here.

Why Do You Preach?

The 'why' of things is as important as the 'how' of things. There has been a lot of focus on this blog on the how of preaching, but I want to spend a bit of time on the why.

On Sunday I remembered my call to preaching. It's not something I can contain or avoid. When I read scripture or books or just about anything, my brain moves to figuring out how to preach it. When I hear the context of a congregation or a person, I think about what a sermon would look like to address those issues. So, for me, I preach because I feel called and equipped to preach.

Why do you preach?

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Color in Culture

Over at Slides that Stick they point out that it's important to take into account the culture of your audience when selecting a color for your presentation. If you want to represent eternity to a Western audience you would use black, but for a Japanese audience you would use green.

I think the most important thing here is to avoid being offensive, though. We wouldn't put a picture of a baby with a black background because of the death and mourning connotations. But that same picture in South America would be inappropriate with a green background, or with a white background in a Hindu setting.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

PowerPoint 2010 Preview

Microsoft Office 2010 is coming out very soon (currently scheduled for June 15th), so I thought I would highlight some of the features in the new version of PowerPoint.

The video below is pretty impressive considering that it was created entirely using the new version of PowerPoint. They added in some new transitions and effects that will be really helpful in narrowing the gap between PowerPoint and Keynote.

I also really like that within the program you will be able to crop video to the length you want to show and have a fairly robust photo editing solution. Those two things will drastically speed up my ability to create presentations.

Which of the new features are you most excited about?

Monday, May 03, 2010

Anger With God

"My soul is in anguish. 
       How long, O LORD, how long?" Psalm 6:3

Too often in church we neglect the "negative" emotions. We show up and we're supposed to be happy and praise God. We like to sing songs that praise God and talk about how good he is.

But what about when he's not? What about when deep sorrow comes?

The Psalms are filled with the songs of people who are crying out to God in lament, sorrow, and even anger. It's ok to be angry with God. David did it, Elijah did it, and you can do it too.

As a preacher you set the tone for the church and what they think is alright. Show them that it's just fine if they're angry with God. Use stories of loss. Take a video of someone who would like to share about their disappointed with God.

How else could we empower people to express anger with God in healthy ways?