Three Steps Every Communicator Should Take to Prepare.



For some of the more seasoned communicators these steps will be elementary, however certainly a good reminder. For those of you that are just starting your call to ministry, I find these steps helpful in my preparation. I hope you find them helpful too. Communication is your opportunity to creatively connect the dots between people’s experience and faith, so do it justice. So here are three steps every communicator should take to prepare a talk.

  1. Do your homework. 

Pastors, I beg you—please do your homework.  Spend time with your talk; let it stew in your brain for a few days (at least). Read as many secondary sources as you can get your hands on for your topic, read, read some more, read commentaries, listen to music, and watch movies on your topic.   You should never write your talk the day before you’re giving it, that doesn’t do justice to creating space for God to communicate through you. Be ahead of your sermon by at least one week, meaning you should have your sermon written the Sunday before it is given.  This will allow you enough time to make major edits and to rework areas that simply don’t work.


  1. Manuscript

There is nothing worse than hearing a communicator that hasn’t thought through the implications of her or his words.  Clearly lay out what you’re attempting to convey by crafting the single most persuasive thing you want to leave your audience thinking and go from there.  By starting at the end, you know the direction of your talk.  Write exactly what you want to say so that you’re not deviating from the point of your talk.

I realize that some of you are great at speaking off-the-cuff and sensing the movement of the Spirit. However, I’m willing to bet that this is not a gift of a majority of communicators. For those of you that have a habit of sensing God calling you to add points to your sermon at the last minute, I would recommend resisting the urge to edit while communicating. Trust that God has illuminated in advance, what he wants your congregation to hear.  Don’t get yourself in trouble because you haven’t thought through what you’ve added last minute (this includes terrible jokes).

  1. Outline and Memorize

Congrats, you’ve made a manuscript now shrink it to an outline and start to memorize key points.  By outlining your talk, you’re assuring that you don’t lose your voice.  Far too often when reading directly from the manuscript we start reading instead of communicating for understanding.  I’m very guilty of this, but I’ve come to realize that it’s a crutch for our own comfort.  Memorize key points and transitions from your talk, it will help things flow nicely and you can walk away from your outline and make stronger connections with your audience.   Don’t just say it–show it.

What have you found helpful when preparing a sermon or talk?

I’d love to know for my own communication habits.

4 Ways to Thank Moms This Year

mothersdayEach year, on the second weekend in May, we take a day to remember our moms. Since Mother’s Day falls on a Sunday, there is always pressure to incorporate thanking moms into your service. Thankfully, it’s not difficult to tell moms “thank you” for their hard work (certainly a lot easier than everything they do for us). Here are 4 easy ways to thank moms at your church this year.


Standing Ovation

Here’s a new take on the traditional Mother’s Day service act of having every mother stand. This year, why not have the rest of the congregation stand and give moms a standing ovation? It will give moms a chance to be recognized for everything they do, while not be singled out in front of the church.

Note: Sometimes churches attempt to recognize the newest mother or mother of the most children during the service. While some moms may be okay with being recognized individually, most seem to be more comfortable being recognized as a group during church services.


A Sweet Treat

While some churches choose to give a gift to each mother during the service, many moms prefer a gift straight from their kids. A sweet way to thank moms in your church is pass each child a flower or tin of chocolate to give to their mom after church. Your kids service can focus on the importance of moms and give the kids an easy way to thank her! If you need more kids ministry Mother’s Day ideas, be sure to check out this brand new curriculum by Playback Media!


Themed Service Media

Another great way to incorporate the celebration into your service is by using themed media.  There are many inexpensive collections that include countdowns, motion backgrounds and still backgrounds that you can use for announcements, worship, and sermon slides to thank moms. Here are just a few:





Mother’s Day Videos

One easy way to recognize mothers in your service is to use a Mother’s Day Video. There are many types of videos to choose from – here are some of my favorites.


Motherhood by Skit Guys Studios, shows what it means to be a mother in a silly and sweet story of a family.


In Her Steps is a simple, but touching video that follows the steps through a child’s life.


Titles of a Mother says “thank you” to moms through a diverse group of grandmothers, mothers, and children.

These a just a few of the outstanding Mother’s Day videos. Many producers put out some of their best work for this holiday, so I’d encourage you to check out the bestsellers on WorshipHouse to find one that best fits your church service. Many of them are also available in Spanish!


3 Fonts To Communicate Better


Every year there are popular trends that emerge in design that change the way we communicate. These trends make communication easier and clearer as we share the message of God to millions through different platforms including websites, handouts, and through lyrics or scriptures on a screen. However, it’s not just about the words we use… but the font we choose. (Did you see what we did there?) Some typefaces make us look edgy, some traditional, and some just make our slides easier to read, eliminating distraction as we share the message of God. And sometimes, the best new idea is to go back to an old idea.

Here are three typefaces that you need to start (re-)using now, not only to show that your church is cutting edge, but to better communicate your message.

comic_sansComic Sans

Made popular by elementary school teachers everywhere in the 80s, Comic Sans has been inspiring fun and lightheartedness for years. Their students have now grown up and they expect the fun and familiarity to follow them on their journey. Engage them right from the start by making your worship slides even more appealing and relevant to Generation X.


Nothing says cutting edge and “We’re Hip and Relevant” like redoing your sermon series and scripture slides in Papyrus. Giving it that traditional feeling of the Biblical days but staying current in the 21st century is how your Church can stay ahead of the curve! Don’t give Mediterranean restaurants and day spas an exclusive on this typeface. Take it back and remind people that our story was set in the East.


For youth ministry only! Am I right? Your kids will feel empowered, strengthened, and above reproach when you present the face of your ministry in the bold type of Impact! For extra credit, rename your Youth Ministry “IMPACT”, and say it with Impact. Blow their minds. Do you want to make a lasting impact? It’s in the name, y’all.

The silver-lining? All of these are virtually free because they’ve been on your computer since the beginning of time.

Tools for a Great Easter Gathering (Student Ministry Edition)



You’re busy and Easter is upon us! I thought I’d give you a few tips to create a great Easter Gathering.  Maybe this will put some time back in the margins for you and give you an opportunity to do some self-care or simply spend some time going to a basketball game at the local high school.

I assume since this is an Easter gathering—you will be talking about the Resurrection of Christ.  I highly recommend picking songs that will lead people to reflecting on past talks about the death of Christ and to ponder the magnitude of the resurrection.  The Resurrection is a topic that gets confusing for students, because of the amount of theology that is often included, so using songs, videos and other objects can be helpful in illuminating the idea.  We will get to the sermon a bit later in this blog post.  However, I wanted to start by giving you an idea first for a mixer, a game, songs and then finally, I’ll leave you with an idea for a talk.

Typically, I plan a service like this (feel free to move the order or add things relative to your context and church culture):



Host welcomes and explains the mixer.



Host comes back up to explain game.





Mixers are great because they get everyone involved.  Let’s be honest with one another, we all have that kid in our student ministries that is picked for everything.  A mixer gets everyone involved and gives you an opportunity to make some kid a hero.  When you have a winner of the mixer, bring her or him on stage, and give your students an opportunity to celebrate the winner.  When a student is celebrated, that is a WIN in student ministry.

Mixer Idea

Where My Peeps?

Create a list of nouns that are pop-culture relevant.  Place those words on stickers or printable labels and pass them out to each student as they walk in the door.  DO NOT LET THEM LOOK AT THE STICKER NOR ASK A FRIEND TO TELL THEM WHAT IT IS.  Once everyone is in the room and has a label on their back, play some music and have them go around and ask “yes” or “no” questions about the word on their back.  The object is to guess what label is on your back before anyone else.  Each student may only ask 2 or 3 questions per person until moving on to someone else.  I have created a list already, keep in mind that this list was created for a church I was working at in Chicago so some of the stuff may not be relevant to your context.  The winner gets a box of peeps (gross), make sure you use this as another opportunity to make a kid feel like a HERO.  Bring the student on stage and have everyone applaud them.


Get that Jelly in my Belly.

Call up four people to fish jellybeans out of a bowl of whipped cream.  Have two sitting in a chair doing the fishing and have two lying down on their back in front of them. The person that successfully gets the most jellybeans in their partner’s mouth wins!


For the first song, I will have the band play some pop-culture song that is relevant to the talk that evening.  I know for some contexts and church cultures this is a taboo and there is some credence to forgoing the use of secular music in your service, if this is the case.  However, I found that it is a great way to break down walls and barriers that students often associate with Church.  Students that are new to the notion of a faith journey often have dogmatic misconceptions of what a relationship with Jesus entails.  By playing a song from pop-culture you’re allowing space for their misconception (and walls) to crumble, and their heart to soften to a relationship (with both you, the leader, and more importantly Jesus).

So here are some songs and charts I’d use.


These lyrics are perfect for a talk on resurrection.  I’m sure you can find TAB somewhere.

Come Alive by Foo Fighters.




This song makes me want to boogie and worship, I call it “boworship.”

This Is Living (feat. Lecrae) by Hillsong Young & Free


(acoustic version)



This song is so emotive and points to Jesus’ empowerment of his people through the resurrection.

On The Throne by Desperation Band





This song captures the Easter message so well, “Over everything, our redemption—God with us.”

God With Us by All Sons & Daughters




Finally the talk; It’s an obscure concept to explain that Jesus is risen from the dead both physically and spiritually, that then He appeared to His followers (first Mary Magdalene), proceeded to have an entire meal of food and finally ascended to the right hand of God (according to Luke’s account).  The Resurrection is the catalyst of Christian empowerment; it is also all about movement. Matthew’s account leaves us with a lovely cliffhanger at the end while quoting Jesus, saying “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”  Those words at the end of Matthew are the crux of the resurrection.  While, in verse 18 of Matthew 28, some of the disciples doubted, Jesus continued to draw near to them calling them towards their goal of “making disciples of all nations.” This is the purpose of the resurrection, that we are gifted with the sweet spirit of Jesus that leads us to pursue others, the same way that Jesus continues to pursue us with the Resurrection.  The labels that we bring to the empty tomb–those we place our identity in, “lost, broken, unworthy, failure, too young, ugly, overweight, unloved, child of a single parent, hypocrite, loser” are suddenly replaced with the empowerment of Jesus. For us, as followers we are allowed to be who God has designed us to be, “known, loved, cared for, missional, peacemaker, dweller, justice bringer, alive, and risen.”  To bring this point home, I would hand out nametags and have students write one word describing how they really see themselves and to then place it in their pocket.  At the end of the sermon, have them scratch it out and rename it with an adjective that describes how God sees them.

To bring this point home, I would hand out name tags and have students write one word describing how they really see themselves and to then place it in their pocket.  At the end of the sermon, have them scratch it out and rename it with an adjective that describes how God sees them.  I hope this gives you some ideas for a sermon on the resurrection.  What are some verses you’ve used?  What games help set up an eggcelent (see what I did there?) student ministry gathering?

EDIT:  I love using a bumper video before a talk, I particularly like this one.


Signs of the Time: Say More

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Aesthetic communication is all around us.  Just so we’re on the same page, aesthetic communication is communication without the articulation of words.  This style of communication can include, but not be limited by, theatre, crafts, art, painting, sculpture, dance, graphic design, special design and staging. As you can see, there is a large gambit included in communication.  It seems that in a majority of church cultures, particularly in the United States, they are missing the mark on communication as a whole.   We miss filling in the gaps for those that are listening to what our churches are communicating.  Because churches are often the loudest voice in a community, or at least have that potential to be, it’s important to hone in on exactly what we are saying.  I’m going to offer a few suggestions.

Have a design strategy.

Sit down with a branding specialist and come up with solid branding vision for your church.  I know that it’s expensive, I fully understand that. So, if your church doesn’t have money in the budget for that—come up with some sort of written document that ensures that all programs, ministries, and written communication are using the same letterhead, font, and color motif.  Make sure that your church has a modern logo that captures the DNA of your organization’s values and ethos. This document ensures that all print and digital media is uniform in look and clean.  While you might be thinking, “this is absurd” keep in mind that churches harness influence by their ability to communicate Truth. By having excellence in branding, it helps highlight what we’re attempting to say.

What does your building space communicate?

Our buildings are communicating, in fact—they are shouting to those passing by exactly what you value. Have you ever thought about how many people drive by your church building? It’s daunting to think of the opportunities we have to exemplify our Creator simply by what our building says.  I’d suggest that most of us find value with our eyes.  I am not alone when saying that I totally judge a book by its cover.  If I’m walking through Target and I see a brand with clean lines, and clean logo—I want to buy it.  So is true with restaurants.  I’m telling you–and maybe I’m vain–but a TOP TEIR CHEF can create a masterpiece for my mouth, but if the aesthetics in the restaurant doesn’t match what I’m about to eat, I’m not going to like it as much.  Our space says what we value.  When a guest arrives at your house, you attempt to clean; you want things to be in order.  When people walk into your home, you want them to feel as though you were expecting them and accepting them.  Our church buildings are no different.  We must create space for hospitality in the cleanliness and good design.  Our signs on the street must match the vision of our organization.  In addition, our worship spaces should create a distraction-free connection to God.

Ew, paper bulletins.

Paper is so 1993.  I’m going to be honest—it’s not being a good steward of our resources when we print on paper, nor are we caring well for our environment.  How much money is your church spending on paper? I am willing to bet that if you flipped through the pages of the bibles of your parishioners or looked in the backseat of their car you will see at least two bulletins.  Don’t even start looking in the trash cans after church; you will see how much paper being wasted. The truth is that announcements will stick more if you utilize social media and you cast good vision from the stage.  Clear communication and vision are essential to framing the events in your church.

Try doing experiments with me, sit down and intentionally craft out your announcements. Use slides and software like ProPresenter to have announcements streaming as people are walking in.  Don’t pass out a paper bulletin and see if your congregation attends events anymore or any less.  Make sure you give yourself a good runway to sell the event, don’t sell an event that is happening the next day, trust me then men’s pancake breakfast committee will be bummed.

Do you have an idea for better communication? I’d love to hear.  We can all learn together and be better for it.