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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

De facto Lying, or Why People Don't Trust You

Seth Godin brings up a great point, that often people may distrust what we say, not because we have been dishonest with them, but because someone else has.

The reason that people don't believe you isn't that you're a liar. The reason we don't believe you is that the guy before you (and the woman before him) were unduly optimistic hypesters and we got burned. We believed, we leaned into it and we got stuck.

If you catch yourself making a promise that's been made before, stop. Don't spend a lot of time and effort building credibility with this sort of promising, because it doesn't pay off.
I think that a lot of times we are tempted to make promises in church. We promise that a program will be effective. We promise that people we start coming because we start using PowerPoint or have more contemporary music or a program for children. But then if our program fails, if our hype isn't realized, if we fall short of our expectations, then we look like we're liars.

What if we adopted an attitude of experimentation? What if we made it acceptable to try different things looking for something that will work, knowing that many attempts will fail? What if we didn't have to make promises?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Holiday Recovery

There's something about the flow of the holiday season that leads me to be far less productive during this time of year. I really want to be accomplishing things, but the tryptophan from the turkey seems to last until about the third week of the new year.

If the same is true for the members in our churches, should we back off of the preaching during December? Should we give people space to slack off for a month or so? Or should we help to re-focus and re-frame this time of year as not about us and what we want?

I'm not sure, what do you think?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Happy Thanksgiving! I'm going to take the rest of the week off to spend time with friends and family. I hope you enjoy your holiday.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Pressure to Perform

Preaching can be an exhilarating experience where I get to stand and share the moving, life-giving, transforming words of God to his people for his glory. I love those days where things seem so clear and the message nearly leaps from my mouth. It's good.

Then there are those other days. Those days where I struggle to think of what I should say. Those days where the Scriptures are loathe to give up their mysteries to me. Those days when I feel like I'm performing more than preaching. It's not so good, then.

I don't want my support of using images to feel like an additional pressure piled on already beleaguered preachers. I feel you. I know how it goes. God says: "You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." But notice that he doesn't give us a time frame - he doesn't tell us how long the seeking will last. He just tells us to seek.

How do you seek God? How do you deal with the pressure to perform?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Windows at 25 years old.

In late November 1985 Microsoft released a graphical shell to its popular Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) called Windows 1.0. Paul Thurrott offers a great look back at the early years of Windows and how the computer market transformed from a landscape of endless possibilities with several companies driving innovation to the one we have today where Windows is the dominant force in the industry with Apple having a solid minority.

With the shift from a text-based interface to a graphical interface (largely driven by Apple, Amiga, and Atari) computers became more accessible and understandable to the average user.

I've been using Windows machines for about the last 17 years. How long have you been using Windows (or Mac, or Amiga)?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Slideboom and iSpring

I recently learned about which is a website that converts PowerPoint files into flash movies which means they retain audio, video, and animations. This is quite an improvement over which only retains the basic slide layout.

I also learned about iSpring which is a plugin for PowerPoint that allows you to convert to Slideboom right from the PowerPoint software as well as to easily integrate flash elements into your presentation.

What tools do you use to share your presentations?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Emotional Connection over Visual Alacrity

Over at Sticky Slides is a great blog post about the need to connect with people emotionally. The point is that we use images for the purpose of evoking emotions in our audience. His example is the Hemingway six-word story: For sale: baby shoes; never used.

The emotional reaction from those six words is, perhaps, too complex to be conveyed by a simple image.

How can you create an emotional reaction to drive home your point?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Leonid Meteor Shower Tonight

I thought I would point you to one of the best visual shows around - a meteor shower. Tonight and tomorrow night just before dawn will be the peak of the Leonid Meteor Shower for this year. If you have clear skies and can get away from city lights you can enjoy a fantastic show.

How can nature help to tune us to God's presence?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Don't Do Too Much, You're Not Superman.

Will Mancini blogged about the Tyranny of More. He highlighted six myths that churches buy into regarding what they're doing and how they can be effective in their context.
STRATEGIC MYTHS: Saying Yes to the Wrong Things with Good Intentions
MYTH #1 Since Larger Churches Do More, We Should Do More to Grow Larger
MYTH #2 More Options Will Attract More People
MYTH #3 Designated Funds Alone Justify Something New
PASTORAL MYTHS: Failing to Say No to the Wrong Things with Good Intentions
MYTH #4 Starting New Ministries Honors the Passion and Gifts of my People
MYTH #5 More Programs Will Meet More Needs
MYTH #6 A Good Leader Involves More People in Decision-making
We need to hear this message. Churches don't need to be the clearing house for every activity. Piling on more and more programs won't make us better at reaching lost people with the good news.

This applies to presentations as well. We don't need to add more to the visual aspect of our churches just because we can. We need to add with purpose for a goal.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Location Based Services (e.g. Facebook Places)

Media Salt blogged recently about how churches can use location based services in their ministry. Facebook has their "Places" feature, and there are several other services like Gowalla and Foursquare. The services all have the same basic idea - that you check into the places you go. Many times there is some incentive to check in like a coupon or freebie.

So, how should churches use this technology? It seems like offering coupons (10% off your tithe?) and freebies might be slightly on the consumeristic side of things. One suggestion from the comments of the Media Salt post was to add a tip to the site listing for a nearby hospital with an offer for prayers. No word on if there have been any takers.

The main issue I see with location based services is that they are driven by a consumer model. This is a marketing scheme designed to drive customer traffic. I hope we aren't inviting customers to church to consume.However, I do like the idea of allowing people to share their location and to connect with other people around what they're doing.

What do you think about location based services? What has your experience been with them?

Friday, November 12, 2010

Negative vs. Positve

Psychology Today reports that our brains have a "Negative Bias" that causes us to weight negative experiences more than positive. "Your brain is simply built with a greater sensitivity to unpleasant news. The bias is so automatic that it can be detected at the earliest stage of the brain's information processing."

What this means is that we need approximately five positive experiences to balance one negative experience. As we preach and teach it can be tempting to be negative, because we get a reaction. Hell-fire and brimstone preaching works . . . to a point. We can push the negative buttons and get a quick response, but it's not sustainable.

We need to balance our preaching and teaching with about five positives to every negative. If you need to confront sin in your church, then do it, but don't forget to call out the good things your church is doing as well. I have to confess, I needed to hear this a long time ago. I'm sorry for my over emphasis on negativity.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the guns fell silent. The peace treaty was signed to end the Great War. The War-to-end-all-Wars was over. So for over twenty years we celebrated Armistice Day on this day, at this hour. But then a second world war erupted. Millions more people died in combat and as innocent civilians. The War-to-end-all-Wars hadn't. So now we call it Veterans' Day to celebrate the worthy and honorable sacrifice of the men and women who have fought for our country.

But what if we continue to celebrate Armistice Day? Not as the end of wars, because that hasn't happened . . . yet. We need to celebrate the hope. We hope that conflict will become unnecessary. We hope that the brave men and women who have fought and died for our country will be honored through peace. We hope that wars will cease and peace will reign.

We hope in Jesus.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Less is More (part 3)

Five slides for $10 million. That averages out to $2 million per slide. Tim Young, over the last year, has raised all this money to start three different companies. Most of that time he used just five slides in his presentations.

His rules for presentations:

I always follow a few simple yet critical rules for slides:
1. Faces, faces, faces. It’s all about the faces (a little ode to Dave McClure). In your slide deck, remember to use the faces of your employees. Do not just list a bunch of employee names. Remember that investors are investing primarily in a team of people. Make sure to feature them and reinforce it.
2. Keep it simple and the less text the better. I try not to have more than one point or key message per slide. Anything more and you will see people picking up their Blackberry.
3. Make sure your slide deck communicates a story. Sure, the product and team are great, but you want to share the journey and offer the investors a ride.
4. Never read your slides. The potential investor is trying to understand who you are and how well you can sell your vision. Reading from your slides removes all passion from the presentation.
5. Slides should have supporting data only. Remember what you say is what counts the most; not just what is on your slides.
and most importantly:
6. Slides can’t look into peoples’ eyes. You can. Your eyes help sell your vision, passion, enthusiasm, and most importantly, the journey you want to share with the potential investor.

How can you apply this to preaching with PowerPoint on Sunday?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

God in Architecture has an article about how modern architecture can be used to evoke awe and reverence.
If you’re building something for a god, you’d better build it right: big, audacious, slightly intimidating. The Stonehenge arrangers knew it in 3,000 BC; so did the Pantheon planners, the erectors of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia, and Antoni Gaudi, whose sinewy Sagrada Familia in Barcelona is still under construction, more than 100 years after workers first broke ground. When it comes to impressing a supreme being in a bid to get saved, we clearly like to take things to the extreme.
While I'm not so sure about the theory that sacred architecture exists to try to impress God enough for him to save us, I do think it's important to consider the stunning visual spaces that have been used for worship throughout human history.

That is until more recently in human history . . .
College Street Church of Christ, Waxahachie, TX 1964
For some reason, we decided that the appearance of things ceased to matter. The visual element of our sacred experience was removed from the equation with bland buildings and mediocre architecture. I can see the same design used to build a Church of Christ in Vancouver, Washington and in Livermore, California (and likely all across this country). We stopped caring about any aesthetic value to a place of worship.

How can we re-affirm God's creative impulse in us? How can we learn again to appreciate

Monday, November 08, 2010

Becoming a Slave to the Minority

Seth Godin recently blogged about the 2%. You know, that tiny fraction of people that will never by satisfied with what you do.

If you have fans or followers or customers, no matter what you do, you'll annoy or disappoint two percent of them. And you'll probably hear a lot more from the unhappy 2% than from the delighted 98.
It seems as though there are only two ways to deal with this: Stop innovating, just stagnate. Or go ahead and delight the vast majority.

This sounds all too familiar from my experience in ministry. Why is it always the vocal minority that seems to rule a group. It's like a one-ton bull being led around by a few ounces of brass in its nose. I can't help but wonder if this might have been what James meant when he talked about the power of the tongue (in James 3:1-12). What if the evil that he sees in the tongue is, in part, the evil of complaining to no good end? What if the body that is ruled by the tongue is the body of Christ? How can we tame this restless evil?

Seth says: "Sure, you can try to minimize the cost of change, and you might even get the number to 1%. But if you try to delight everyone, all the time, you'll just make yourself crazy. Or become boring."

Is your church a slave to the minority? Are you willing to "alienate the 2%" for the sake of the kingdom and the lost?

Thursday, November 04, 2010


Here I sit in the north park blocks of Portland. I'm surrounded by the noises of the city: construction, shouting, traffic, and leaf blowers. I feel peace here.

Where do you feel peace?
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.4

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

How to Use Presenter View to Avoid Boring Slides

This video condenses a lot of what I've been saying into just seven minutes. They use humor with excellent advice about presenting to drive home their point. The short of it is the: if you need all the extra information attached to your presentation (perhaps to turn in a report at the end of the presentation) then put the extra stuff in the "Notes" field so you can keep the slides simple and powerful.

How helpful is a video like this? What would you think if I started producing some videos for this site?

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Mobile Blogging

This post is coming to you from my mobile phone (a Samsung Epic 4G). I'll make the short point that we need to consider how we can use all means and technology to communicate. I can post a blog from my phone, how can I preach with these tools?
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.3

Monday, November 01, 2010

Resonate a New Book by Nancy Duarte

Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations
and renowned presentation expert has recently published a new book: resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. I just picked it up and I'll get you a full review shortly, but I wanted to point out that it's not just about how to make a good PowerPoint presentation, but about how to communicate in a way that is visual, and connects with your audience in a powerful, emotional, impactful way.
Forbes’ Bruce Upbin managed to boil it down to forty-six words: The conclusions are: Don’t be too cerebral. Tell stories. Figure out what the audience cares about. Create common ground with them. Move back and forth between opposing ideas to create energy. Deliver facts but put them in context and make them shocking if possible. Find inspiration anywhere you can.

(Note: book links are affiliate links and earn me a small commission on any purchases).