Tag: media

Small Church Issues Covered At SmallChurchPROF.com

SmallChurchPROF.com links to the best news, ideas, insights, and information relevant to small church ministry.  The site features articles in eight categories of interest to small church leaders and members:

  1. Featured. These articles are the latest of the web’s ever-changing content that have application to small churches.  Links to events, people, and issues that are making news or creating conversations are featured here each day.   A recent feature, “What comes after contemporary worship?”, focused on a small church that was re-establishing traditional worship after 15 years.
  2. Small Church News. Small churches and their people make the news, too.  This section curates the best of small church newsmakers and recently featured an article about the CIA shooting down a missionary airplane 9 years ago, killing a young mother and her infant in the process.  “When Mission Trips Go Bad” focused on the plight of 10 Baptists who went to Haiti and were arrested trying to transport Haitian children across the border.
  3. Outreach. A recent article told the story of a Nashville, TN church that uses mixed martial arts to reach young men.  The story ran in the New York Times, so small churches can have a national influence in the mainstream media.  The Outreach section often showcases successful outreach ideas or concepts, such as the post, “How Can We Get Some Young Folks in Our Church” written by Jeremy Troxler of Duke Divinity School’s Thriving Rural Communities program.
  4. Discipleship. This section links to articles that either reflect issues of interest to those seeking to follow Christ as disciples, or specific instances of discipleship in action.  When the Archbishop of Canterbury challenged Wall Street’s greed and materialism, that’s of interest to those seeking to follow Christ’s teaching that you cannot serve God and money.
  5. Leadership. The Leadership category finds the most helpful and insightful web articles about leadership development, characteristics, and examples available.  Some articles come from the business world, others from the non-profit world, or a valuable leadership resource.  All of the links in the Leadership section provide insight into being an effective leader in the 21st century.    Seth Godin’s “Who Will Save Us?” was a recent post revealing the struggles of leaders to adapt to our changing times.
  6. Service. Service tells the stories of churches working to make this world a better place.  A recent link from the local Nashville, TN paper, The Tennessean, revealed that the traditionally isolated Churches of Christ in middle Tennessee were cooperating with other denominations on community ministry projects.
  7. Worship. Featuring creative worship ideas, sermons, and other links pertinent to small church worship, I recently linked to a story about “Dinner Church.” Dinner Church is the nickname a new church start, St. Lydia’s in New York, gives to its combination of dinner and worship, patterned after Jesus habit of breaking bread with the disciples.
  8. Technology. Finally, the most current technology developments, such as the rise of mobile smart phones, Twitter, Facebook, sound systems, video, and even Apple’s iPad, get recognized in this section.

You can bookmark the entire site, SmallChurchPROF.com, or subscribe to each category in a separate feed if your interest runs only to one or two areas.  Simply click on “More SCP Links from Publish2” at the end of each category for access to the RSS feed.

Or you can subscribe to all the articles I link to in both SmallChurchPROF.com and NewChurchReport.com by pasting this link into your feed reader:  http://www.publish2.com/journalists/chuck-warnock/links.rss

I hope you find both SmallChurchPROF.com and NewChurchReport.com helpful to you as a pastor or church leader. I edit both sites, and select all the articles that are featured.  I choose articles to link to that are relevant, interesting, helpful, and challenging, even if I don’t always agree with their point of view.  If you want to suggest an article for either site, please email me at chuckwarnock [at] gmail [dot] com with the link.  The system I use requires that the article be available on the web at a linkable URL.

You can also find me on Facebook, where all the articles I select are also posted.  Or on Twitter where the same thing happens.

Thanks for visiting SmallChurchPROF.com!

Paying Attention to the Outrageous

Hitler_w_youngmenSomebody did it again.  They compared one of our political leaders to Hitler.  It really doesn’t matter who did it because this is becoming a regular tactic for the extremists.  The frustrating thing is they get what they want — publicity.

The media pounce on their pronouncements as though the words they uttered were the first like them.  Bloggers and political sites pick up the refrain — “How dare they invoke the name of Hitler!” The outrage is palpable, and then the next day it starts all over again.

Frankly, I’m tired of it.  I’m tired of pop media personalities cheapening the tragedy of the Holocaust with their self-serving tirades.  If this is what passes for discourse and dialogue in America, we are at a new low.

But I also tell myself we must be on the cusp of change because so many are so afraid right now.  In times of turbulent change, the dividers voices are often the loudest.  It was that way during the Civil Rights struggle, it was that way during the Viet Nam war protests, and it’s that way again.

But I also know that the nascent signs of change in churches are encouraging.   Multi-ethnic congregations are blossoming, and new expressions of church are springing up in unlikely places.  Multi-culturalism is becoming almost as popular a topic among church conference planners as multi-site strategies.  More and more congregations are moving out into their communities, connecting with new groups of people who are helped, and who in turn change the helpers. Just as some courageous churches led the way in seeking justice for African-Americans, and later in seeking peace, these churches are the bellwether for change in our society.

That’s what we should be paying attention to — this new consciousness that I have not seen before in so many churches.  A consciousness of need, but of more than need.  An awareness of our responsibility as followers of Jesus to make a difference in the lives of people around us.  Next week I’m speaking to Duke Divinity School students about rural church ministry.  I’m going to talk about this new thing I see happening because it is unprecedented.

Examples emerge in unlikely places.  A church heals its community by planting a community garden in the wake of a local murder.  Another church reaches out to bikers and blue collar workers, not just for worship, but to help create jobs for them.  Churches feed people now in towns where before that need went unmet.  Kids are given school supplies, and encouraged to come after school for tutoring to an urban church that provides a safe haven until their working-class parents get home.

Change must be on the way because the voices of fear are growing louder and more shrill each day.  That’s the reason I pay attention to the outrageous statements of those publicity seekers.  I pay attention because I believe their outrageous statements carry with them a harbinger of hope, an indicator of impending change.   Let’s hope so, and let’s find a place to bring about that change.

Are sermons dying?

Are sermons dying? I don’t mean is your preaching killing people, but are sermons themselves going the way of the dodo bird — headed for extinction? Worship in most evangelical churches, and that includes many small churches, still resembles evangelical worship in 19th century churches — singing, prayer, offering, preaching, invitation. Charles Spurgeon would be proud. Or would he?

Read Kevin Kelly’s post about Clay Shirky’s talk on media here. Then, watch the video of Shirky’s talk in its entirety — about 8-minutes. You’ll be glad you did.

One of Shirky’s main points is that the main media in our culture — TV — has served to siphon off our collective creativity. Shirky has some fascinating stats on how many hours we watch TV, how many hours it took to do the entire Wikipedia project (which is still on-going, obviously), and how much brain power is out there. He ends with the story of the 4-year old looking for the mouse.

Which brings me back to my question — if our culture is moving toward a producer society where everybody can participate, what’s the future of the sermon? At least the sermon as we know it — one guy or gal talking without interruption for 15-20 minutes, no questions, no comments, no participation.

Or are sermons just a form of message delivery, honed to a fine edge during the 19th century? And, if sermons are just a form of delivery and not inherently indispensable, what will replace them? What message delivery forms will we see in the 21st century? Do powerpoints and film clips imbedded in sermons present us with a new message delivery platform, or are they just the old sermon dressed up in 21st century technology? What would a real 21st century “sermon” look like? Where would it be delivered? What media would carry it? Just asking….

The internet for everyone?

I ran across this site, internetforeveryone.org, which touts “the internet for everyone.” Not hard to figure that out — their reasoning is broadband access enables everyone to participate in democracy and exercise free speech.  Good argument, especially in light of the fact that only 20% of the world has access to the internet.  In the US, only 35% of families with income under $50,000 have broadband access.  That’s one reason we included a computer lab and wifi access in our new community center.

But back to small churches — does the internet figure in your small church ministry, and if so, how?  In our church, only about a dozen families even use e-mail, so the internet is not a big factor for us.  When we tried to do an on-line church-wide survey, we had to print paper surveys and then enter the results on-line manually because so few of our members use the internet.

But, your church may be different.  Do you use email, a website, text messaging, instant messaging, on-line ads, or any other internet services in your ministry setting?  Does your church have a website?  Does your church provide at least the office area with broadband access?  Is is necessary for small churches?  I’d like to know what you’re doing, and so would lots of other small-church folks.  So, either drop me a postcard, or hey, why not comment here!  Thanks.