If you want to know the best church technology conferences to attend in 2021, you’ve come to the right place. Our specially curated list includes both in-person and virtual events that feature renowned Christian thought leaders and practitioners from across the globe.
Church technology can help you stay connected and relate with your church members and the world more effectively. While some church leaders shun technology, these conferences will help demonstrate to you why it’s worth embracing.
Best Church Technology Conferences List
These conferences are great for teaching you how to leverage the latest church tech trends to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ wider and farther than ever.
The CFX event is focused on equipping churches for a changing ministry landscape by becoming more technology savvy. It cuts across the board from leadership, management and communication to event production and facilities management. It is aimed at all church leaders from pastors, executive pastors and church staff, to technical artists and operations managers.
You can also access the events through live streaming on platforms like Facebook and video calls with the exhibitors.
Price: $425-$705 onsite depending on preferred sessions
Location: Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC)
LDI is a conference and trade exhibition for various live design professionals across the world. It has over 16,000 members drawn from sectors like corporate events, houses of worship, concerts, and theme parks.
Attendees will learn about the latest technologies, interact with industry experts, and nourish their creativity. The conference is a great fit for filmmakers and innovators interested in how church tech systems work for effective and productive church communication.
Location: Willow Creek Community Church, South Barrington, Illinois
The FILO Conference is for anyone involved in technology at their local church. It’s great for church staff working in audio or lighting, technical artists, music directors, creative directors, and worship pastors to anyone else who works with technical artists.
The event encompasses the FILO Conference, FILO podcast, FILO Coaching, and the FILO Blog. The event will live streamed this year to accommodate those who are unable to attend due to COVID-19 restrictions.
SALT is all about using technology creatively as a vehicle for God to communicate powerfully and intimately to His people. The conference is aimed at nurturing a technical and creative arts community and combines workshops on creativity with powerful talks and inspiring moments of worship. The 2020 edition of the SALT Conference was a virtual three-day event. Since plans for the 2021 edition are still underway, interested attendees can register for email updates on their sign-up page.
Price: Free online streaming, $97 for replay access
That Church Conference focuses on enabling Christian digital communicators to tell stories. Attendees will learn about church communication and practical marketing strategies, covering topics such as communications, technology, social media, marketing, and design.
Top-notch speakers and Christian practitioners including leadership coaches, media producers, creative strategists, ministry consultants, communicators, pastors, and directors of communications will grace the event.
Interested attendees will have the opportunity to stream the two-day virtual event for free or access a paid replay.
You can buy a Replay Pass at only $97 per year to view all the 5+ years of conference sessions.
Thrive exists to create experiences and resources that encourage and inspire people everyone from church pastors to school students.
The Thrive Conference features four mid and pre-conference breakouts through which attending churchgoers will gain inspiration on topics such as creative communications, preaching and speaking, worship and production, among others. Oh, they’re seriously fun too.
Location: Our Savior Lutheran Church, Tacoma, Washington
The Christian Musician Summit is for you if you are a Christian songwriter, worship leader, indie artist, church leader, gospel musician, or church technician. The summit has been running since 2003 and seeks to improve the skills and talents of musical individuals for the glory of God.
Attendees are provided with practical sessions and resources to improve their skills and inspire talent for God’s glory. Workshops and performances are held by top industry musicians and there’s a real festival atmosphere.
Let Us Know How You Get On
Attending one or more of these conferences will provide you with plenty of knowledge and opportunities to network with other leaders in the Christian community.
Let us know how you get on and if there are any we missed off the list that you think are worthwhile to attend.
We live in an era where church technology resources are an essential part of any successful ministry. Statistics show that these resources can help churches and their staff members in many ways. These include enhancing worship, improving church communication, and automating administrative tasks.
Many people tend to associate technology with entertainment. Pope Francis once noted this among his congregants when they were using their phones to take photographs instead of concentrating on his sermon. Church leaders should set an example on proper usage of these resources in educating and strengthening congregations.
In this article, I’m going to share ten church technology resources you can use to guide your adoption of church technology.
Pushpay is a template that offers various important church technology resources for church leaders including:
On-demand Pushpay University lessons for church leaders
Tips on planning and managing church budget
Church management software
Custom-branded church Apps.
It is the 21st century and Church leaders should take full advantage of church technology resources to enhance their worship services. Are you looking to set your church up with a website but don’t know where to start?
While a leader’s primary source of wisdom will always be the Bible, those who embrace other sources of knowledge have more tools and context for its interpretation, and case studies for how best to apply biblical teaching in a modern church leadership role.
When searching for church leadership books there are a lot to choose from, but not all authors have the strong theological education and discipleship experience to provide instruction on church leadership.
So how do you find the best books for you and your leadership team without reading through the entire bookstore? The humble book review is here to help. In this list, we bring you some of the most iconic Christian leadership books that teach different approaches to the unique challenges of pastoral ministry.
Best Church Leadership Books
1. Spiritual Leadership: Principles of Excellence For Every Believer by J. Oswald Sanders
Part of the Sanders Spiritual Growth series, this book is best read by church leaders looking to enhance their leadership in the spiritual and physical realms to lead their congregation or church community better under the strong guidance of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
The book draws from the Scripture and has elaborate examples of charismatic servants of God like Nehemiah, Moses, Paul the apostle, and Charles Spurgeon. While Sanders recognizes that natural leadership attributes are a gift from God, they are only truly effective when used to bring glory to God. As such, church leaders keen on enhancing their leadership abilities should check out this book and draw from its teachings on topics such as:
The one major requirement of true leadership
The cost of true leadership
Tests of leadership
How to reproduce good leaders
The attributes of quality leadership
The criteria of quality leadership.
The key principles of true leadership
2. The Emotionally Healthy Leader: How Transforming Your Inner Life Will Deeply Transform Your Church, Team, and the World by Peter Scazzero
This is part of the eight books in Scazzero’s Emotionally Healthy Spirituality series and is best for church leaders looking to enhance their inner life to make more impact in their leadership in the church and the world at large.
The book shows church leaders how they can build a satisfying Christ-led inner life and focuses on key areas such as overcoming stress, planning, decision-making, team building, influencing other people and nurturing a healthy culture. It is geared toward helping you become a holistic individual with the proper emotional health required to lead as a Christian.
The book focuses on some key areas such as:
Helpful tips on facing your shadow, leading others whether you are married or single, slowing down, and embracing new beginnings out of different endings
Elaborate assessments meant for leaders to gauge their leadership health
Practical, tried, and tested ways for equipping leaders both at local churches and internationally all over the world
Core issues of unique Christian leadership.
3. Who Moved My Pulpit?: Leading Change in the Church by Thom S. Rainer
This 160-page church leadership book is a good choice for ministers, pastors, lay leaders, and other key leaders in the church who are struggling with understanding and managing change in a fast-changing world. As much as change is inevitable and is beneficial for the development of a church, Christian leaders need to know how to embrace such change to ensure both they, and the entire church, remain spiritually healthy.
This short book will cost you a few hours of your time to read or listen to but it will be a gem in your journey with church leadership, especially where changes are frequent and intensive. It will equip you with some of the following key points:
Knowing where change is coming from
Knowing why changes are happening
Finding out how you should deal with the changes while still following God all along
Being ahead of change to ensure your church remains true to its timeless calling while still serving opportunities in the new era
How to change approaches to reach a fast-changing culture.
You can also check out Rainer’s other bestseller, Autopsy of a Deceased Church: 12 Ways to Keep Yours Alive.
4. Canoeing the Mountains: Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory by Tod Bolsinger
Sometimes as a church leader, minister, or pastor you may find that the tables have turned and you are leading in a cultural context that is way different than your expectations.
You may realize that, at such times, your training holds you back rather than carrying you along. This celebrated book by Tod Bolsinger changes such scenarios for you and illuminates your leadership path with practical insights for reimagining effective leadership.
In a fast-changing world, you will need more than just canoes to conquer the mountains of modern-day Christian ministry. I like Bolsinger’s book as it leads the reader into finding new navigational tools to be able to conquer the hardships of ministry.
The book now has a study guide that helps you formulate ways to lead in Christianity with courage and confidence. The most important thing to do when you find yourself in a different cultural context is to adapt to new ways of leadership, and this book will help you do so drawing from Bolsinger’s extensive pastoral experience.
5. Courageous Leadership: Field-Tested Strategy for the 360° Leader by Bill Hybels
If your zeal is to do your best to effectively lead your church in spreading God’s message of hope to bring change in the world, then this is the right book for you. As a leader, you have the potential to positively change the world by bringing believers together and nurturing their spiritual gifts to help non-believers become devout followers of Jesus Christ. This book will show you the right tools to use to achieve this noble responsibility.
The one major aspect I like about the book is that it draws heavily from Hybels’ personal life experiences, through which he brings out important life principles with compelling first-hand stories. Hybels explores the challenges, tasks, and tools of your true calling. Among other things, he helps you to:
Discover the power of a vision and turn it into constructive action
Discover your leadership style
Walk with God and stay put in your God-given course
Develop other leaders; and
Make the best of the spiritual gift of leadership in you.
6. Leading Change Without Losing It: Five Strategies That Can Revolutionize How You Lead Change When Facing Opposition by Carey Nieuwhof
Leading Change Without Losing It is part of Nieuwhof’s The Change Trilogy and is a good fit for the church leader who has encountered opposition while trying to bring about change.
As a leader you try your best to bring change into an otherwise disoriented world, but this is often met by opposition and you have to equip yourself with means of navigating the change itself as well as the opposition.
Nieuwhof’s book helps you bring about change without losing it through the following five strategies:
Determining the people who support or are opposed to the change and why
Deciding where to put your undivided attention
Developing the questions that will inform your course of action
Learning to attack problems rather than the people fronting them
Persevering right up to the crucial breakthrough.
Other church leaders will find this book a gem as they try to navigate the uncertain waters of bringing change in the ministry and leaving a positive lasting legacy in their churches and beyond.
7. In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership by Henri Nouwen
At only 107 pages, Henri Nouwen’s In the Name of Jesus is a short read. It’s aimed at church leaders curious about discovering Nouwen’s unique approach to Christian leadership as not just the effort of church leaders but also that of the entire church community.
Nouwen believes that the best way to determine the success of leadership is to consider the “communal and mutual experience” rather than the ordinary consideration of the effectiveness of the leader only. This unique approach posits that leadership without the community is impossible since, as Christians, we are all collectively called by God into enjoying a common experience.
Church leaders, pastors, and ministers will find this book a game-changer amongst the broad outlook on matters of church leadership as they now have to factor in the contribution of the congregation in shaping leadership.
It is not enough to recognize that, as a leader, you have the responsibility to lead. It is important to know and understand the role your community plays in how effective or ineffective your leadership turns out.
8. The Motive: Why So Many Leaders Abdicate Their Most Important Responsibilities by Patrick Lencioni
Patrick Lencioni’s approach to major leadership lessons using simple fables endears him to scores of readers across the world. The Motive is one such fable that Christian and business leaders can look to for tips on examining their true motivation for taking up leadership.
While it calls for utmost honesty to oneself, not many leaders would be able to fully discover the true motivation behind their zeal to lead. Lencioni presents us with practical ways of examining ourselves to see what spurs us into leadership.
By following his actionable tips, as leaders we are able to avoid the loopholes that kill our church communities and eliminate the pitfalls that cause hurt to the very followers we are serving.
Lencioni uses plot twists and dialogues to bring us to an unexpected and equally enlightening resolution, coupled with simple life lessons from the fable and practical advice drawn from his theory on leadership and life in general.
9. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
This bestseller is part of Sinek’s Start with Why series. It explores, in depth, the idea that leaders need to determine the reasons or motives that drive people into joining a movement or service. For the leader, the Why part would include assessing oneself to determine the reason you are involved in leadership.
This is a must-read leadership book for examining the real-life motivations that guide people into different lines of action. He also draws comparisons between major world leaders who, although from different backgrounds, exhibit similarities in their manner of thinking, acting, and communicating. Sinek names this aspect The Golden Circle.
The Golden Circle offers a system through which movements are led, organizations built, and people inspired. Sinek provokes us with several questions, such as why some people command greater loyalty from both employees and customers. The same methods can be replicated in church situations.
10. Next Generation Leader: 5 Essentials for Those Who Will Shape the Future by Andy Stanley
Church leadership will soon become obsolete if churches fail to invest in leadership development to bring up a future disciple team from the youth ranks. In this book, Andy Stanley notes that missional mandates can be instilled in the youth to prepare them for leadership roles in the future through equipping them with the five basic characteristics:
Andy Stanley shows us how the future crop of leaders can be mentored through practical advice and approaches to:
Maintain stable moral authority
Discover and tap into one’s strengths
Enlist the help of leadership coaches
Harness one’s fears.
At only 176 pages long, this is a must-read for all church leaders who realize the importance of nurturing the next generation. Just like a robust country thrives on how best the youths are trained, a healthy church calls for an equipped young generation.
Looking for the best church leadership training in 2021? Join us to explore and rate leadership training programs that will to help you and your teams build stronger church leadership strategies for your congregation.
The Arrow Leadership Program for church leaders is divided into Team Development, One-on-one Coaching, an Executive Leaders Stream, and an Emerging Leaders Stream. All these modules are structured differently to serve the unique needs of different levels of church leadership. The program offers various resources including small groups, the monthly Sharpening Leaders blog, leadership tune-ups, and free downloadable tools.
The Emerging Leaders Stream launches virtually on March 19, 2021 and runs through June 18, 2022 at $5,500, with a partner pricing option available.
The Virtual Executive Stream for senior church leaders launches on June 25, 2021, and runs through August 26, 2022 at $9,250, also with the partner pricing option available.
The Tyndale University church leadership program features a certificate and diploma course. Christian leaders are expected to complete four units for the certificate, and eight units for the diploma course. Students who have completed the certificate can obtain a diploma by studying four more units at the diploma level.
Some of the topics include Bible Interpretation and Survey of the Old and the New Testament.
Dr. John Johson of Western Seminary offers a free online course for advanced pastors on pastoral care and leadership focusing on preaching, leadership, and Biblical theology. A succinct 17 hours, this audio and video course equips you with the skills and knowledge required to be a good leader, nurture good leaders in the local church, grow from conflict, and relate well with the members and church staff.
The Institute for Mindful Leadership has been running this training program for over 15 years with custom offerings to organizations, in-person workshops, and retreats. The program is aimed at equipping leaders with greater resiliency and more capacity for excellence.
The program currently has an online course for February, a workshop for March, and an upcoming retreat whose dates will be released soon.
This course is best for beginner leaders starting their biblical leadership journey and looking to benefit from excellent ministry training for spiritual influence in the church and beyond. Leaders on the program have full lifetime access to the course materials and get a personalized certificate upon completion.
We love the low cost of the program as it is affordable for most leaders at only AUD 30 per month.
This leadership training focuses on ensuring people in the church leadership pipeline are fully equipped for church administration and religious leadership, with topics such as Nonprofit management, developing leadership styles, church fair trade stores, church websites, running small groups, and volunteer management.
The courses are offered on an on-demand basis across Canada and the U.S.
Peter Scazzero shows you how to transform from an ordinary to the executive pastor your church needs by improving your emotional intelligence and well-being. You’ll be able to develop a new vision for healthy church leadership, integrate your personality with your calling, and lead the transformation of your church staff.
You’ll also draw inspiration from one of Scazzero’s bestseller leadership books – The Emotionally Healthy Leader.
Equipping Leaders International focuses on training that covers local church leadership, church rejuvenation, church planting, and administration of Christian schools. It seeks to equip pastors with formal training required for the effective running and management of the rapidly expanding churches.
The course covers the effects of hindrances such as corrupt governments, Western dependence, limited opportunities for ongoing education, and economic poverty to ensure that leaders can still bring glory to God through their service.
This program aims at producing a holistic church with high capacity ministry leadership across the board from pastors to lay leaders and other general church staff. The training focuses on mentoring church teams to enhance their competencies, gifting, and discipleship with a renewed passion for outreach to bring more people to God.
The training is best for leaders looking to enhance both themselves and their entire church by developing a united church as per the teachings of Ephesians 4.
The Dallas Theological Seminary offers free Christian courses on church leadership skills and other aspects through their podcast and weekly emails. Key topics include suffering, racial reconciliation, repentance, and walking with God through church leadership.
Finding the best church leadership training for yourself or church staff doesn’t have to be an uphill task if you consider insights from our list. There’s at least one training suitable for your every Christian leadership need!
Are you a church leader who wants to connect with others to share knowledge and best practices? Apply to join our exclusive community of church leaders and access to a private, moderated forum with other lead pastors.
Planning to upgrade your church website in 2021, and looking for inspiration? Look no further than our list of the top 21 church websites.
We compiled this list based on how engaging and intuitive the website design is for site visitors.
Our Comparison Criteria For The Best Church Websites:
So how did we compare and compile this list of the best church websites? These rankings are based on a snap judgment test. The average web user forms an opinion in about 50 milliseconds based on many factors: structure, colors, spacing, symmetry, amount of text, fonts, and more.
So this is the test we’ve used – we tested each of these websites as if I were a new visitor in the area looking for a church. Ultimately though, we’re evaluating the church website design and user experience. We estimate how easy the website makes it to:
The Elevation Church website is clean and simple. They’ve got stacks of content, but they draw you in with the primary call to action to watch their latest sermon and service. We love how easy they’ve made it to get involved with quick links to Giving, Groups, Volunteering, Outreach, and their e-Fam. They make it really easy for newcomers with their ‘New here?’ call to action which takes you through to easily digestible content for newcomers, and a way to engage their VIP program – which is really just a form, but it feels good!
The website is simple and appealing to the eye with attractive videos playing in the background. The site has several resources in the form of tutorials, and it is even easy to watch the last Sunday’s sermon right from the homepage.
The site invites you to their next online session with an option to mark it on your calendar for ease of remembrance! From their homepage, there’s a link for giving with several options like online giving, mobile phone giving, cash and checks, and Amazon Smile.
The website has a simple layout with lots of links to a wide range of learning resources and the Hillsong Store. The church has a college that runs in various locations across the globe and online. The store is a good Christian book resource suitable for newcomers and the long-time Christian faithful alike.
For newcomers willing to commit to Jesus, the site has a link to a prayer that you can say and then fill out the form below to connect to the Hillsong Church either online or at a physical location.
4. Glow Church – Best church website for Christian podcasts
What we like:
The homepage enlists some basic links to podcasts, giving, prayer requests, and connection options. The podcasts are available on iTunes, SoundCloud, and Spotify to offer new visitors a variety of ways to access them. Giving is easy based on your location in Australia or through their online giving platform. You can also use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum for giving!
It’s easy to connect with the leadership when you fill in the prayer and request form, join connect groups, or visit their online campus, which is the major item with a call to action on the site.
5. All Souls – Best church website for downloadable sermons
What we like:
The website is simply designed with easily accessible site controls for every church service, involvement in the church community, giving, upcoming events, and past sermons.
The site welcomes users to the sermon library where they can download MP3 versions of past sermons for free. There are different ways to give, and the site has downloadable copies of financial accounts for the past years!
Website builder technology: Endis church website builder
The website has a lot of links to different functions, but the most eye-catching is the primary call to action for visitors to watch the services online through their Church at Home feature. We also love the straightforward links to options like pastoral support, online courses, connect groups, giving, and the latest podcasts that are accessible right from the homepage!
The website has a very simple design with a minimalist approach. New visitors are invited to access the free online courses on theology, marriage, and bereavement. You can also stay fully connected through their social media platforms and monthly email newsletter, HTB Snapshot. The giving platform offers you over seven ways to give depending on your preference. You’ll find a detailed navigation menu at the bottom of the homepage.
This is a New York church community that currently hosts online services each Sunday under four unique service times, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. The main call to action for new visitors is to join the community Morning Prayer sessions each weekday to pray together through the previous Sunday’s sermon. You’ll find the links to giving, church calendar, podcast, and social media in the navigation menu at the bottom.
9. C3 Toronto – Best church site for sermon playbacks
What we like:
What meets your eye on the site are large blocks with various links to access playbacks for the previous Sunday’s sermon, connection options for newcomers, online giving, and podcasts. You can further connect with the church by filling out their Online Connect Card and following them on social media.
The website has a detailed navigation menu with controls best suited for the existing church members. The UX makes it easy for you to access upcoming events, Bethel Store, downloadable podcasts, and Christian music. You can also stream some of the online church services via Bethel.TV for free.
The most outstanding feature that draws the eyes of new visitors to the site is the ‘Come As You Are’ clarion call inviting people from all walks of life to join the church community, which they describe as a ‘Family of all sorts’. New visitors can join the online church Sunday services as well as weekly life groups. There’s a link for giving options and downloading free MP3 versions of the latest sermons.
The Reality Church London has a simple but high-quality website design with basic action links to connect groups, giving, and resources like the latest sermons. New visitors can easily join the men’s or women’s Bible study sessions that take place online.
The website strikes a lasting first impression as it opens to a homepage with a lively video background with high-quality Christian videography. The weekday and Sunday service times for their two locations are listed. New visitors can choose between joining the online or in-person sessions. The Life Groups are in nine categories and users can request advice on the best ones to join as a newcomer.
Perhaps the most basic church website design, the Isla Vista Church website has a simple layout with direct access buttons to giving, latest sermons, church podcast, and weekly calendar. New visitors can receive regular church updates via text once they register for the same through the SMS number provided on the site.
The website opens to a full-screen video background on the homepage and has large blocks with links to life groups, world events and updates, different church locations, and giving options. New visitors can join the online services or opt to either join in-person sessions with or without prior reservations.
The website is simply designed with very little text and plenty of open white space. The header menu displays basic links to giving options, the latest sermons, and church contacts. Potential visitors can use the ‘New Here?’ call button to access groups, a connection card, and even contact the church through the chatbot.
The website opens to a video background with a call to watch the latest sermon. From the large blocks, new visitors can link to groups and giving statements for the previous year. The giving and Flatirons Academy links are accessible at the bottom.
The website combines the latest design trends like video background with colorful static images and large blocks inviting visitors to access various options like streaming church services, registering for upcoming events and blood donation drives, and giving. First-time visitors can watch a series of past sermons and podcasts via the resource center once they click on the ‘Watch’ call to action button under the First Time Visitor banner.
The website has a simple design with a pleasant color scheme and high-quality photography. I love the colorful interplay when scrolling through the large banners with links to giving, past sermons, prayer requests, upcoming events, locations, and the next steps to take as a newcomer to nurture your faith with the church.
The website opens to a video of the latest service playable right on the website. I love the eye-catching large banners with links and action buttons to different options like planning a first-time, in-person or online visit, registering your child for the Children’s Ministry, connecting with Gateway groups, Gateway Essentials store, and the online Equip Library. The site offers text in both English and Espanol.
Church leadership conferences are a great way for leaders to unwind from daily church life tasks. They are an opportunity to recharge, refresh, learn, collect resources and connect with other like-minded leaders.
These conferences have many benefits, and that is why church leaders set aside time every year to attend them. Some leaders choose to bring along other church staff so that they can learn and grow together.
In this article, we will share the ten best in-person and online church leadership conferences of 2021.
Best Church Leadership Conferences List
This a selection of the best church leadership conferences you can attend in 2021.
Dates: May 5, 2021 Price: $79 Location: Cincinnati, OH 45221, United States
This is a one-day annual leadership event targeting leaders attending individually or in small groups. The event is meant to inspire and help pastors better their leadership roles and attracts over 100,000 visionaries every year.
LeaderCast’s mission is to create confident and infectiously inspired leaders who spread their impact on others. They cover every aspect of what it is to be an effective leader.
The conference can be attended virtually, but you can still connect with other leaders in your area to enjoy the classes by leadership experts.
Thousands of church leaders from different places meet in Dallas, TX to be encouraged by God’s vision, refreshed among other servant-leaders, and get equipped with leadership roles to advance God’s ministry.
It is a three-day conference with a pre-conference workshop to give you personal training and an opportunity to learn from other ministry leaders.
Breakout sessions will equip and resource you in many areas. Ministry overviews, leadership developments, and culture-relevant topics are just a few areas that will be featured in the talks.
All attendees receive all breakout session audios, podcasts, and resources at no additional fee.
Dates: Available on request Price: Free Location: Online
Catalyst aims at empowering upcoming and existing leaders who love the gospel and want to be great revolutionaries in their churches. The Catalyst was purposely founded to strengthen and empower new crops of leaders across the globe.
It aims at unifying, challenging, and equipping these leaders with various traditions and church originations. Leaders who attend benefit from world-class mentorship from business leaders and celebrated biblical teachers coming from diverse backgrounds.
Catalyst is an online program available on-demand for leaders who want to benefit from both business and church leadership mentoring.
Dates: Available on-demand Price: Free Location: Online
The Association of Related Churches (ARC) Conference’s main aim is to help leaders, pastors, and future church planters build a relationship that can help local churches to prosper.
The ARC strongly believes in equipping leaders with proper leadership skills through sharing life experience stories. The conference focuses on sharing each others’ stories of love, perseverance, trials, and adventures that have shaped them into who they are.
This conference is available on demand. Christian leaders seeking to benefit can get more information from the ARC website about their conferences.
Dates: February 18, 2021 Price: $49 Location: Dallas, TX
The C3 conference is a one-day event of intensive coaching, teaching, and learning on ways to advance the church. At the C3 conference, experienced leaders answer tough questions on how they have maneuvered the challenging leadership journey.
This is an online conference and leaders can host other church staff for a watch party.
Dates: October 19-20, 2021 Price: $49 Location: Vista, CA
North Coast Training is a two-day practical tool for pastors and other church communicators. With break-out sessions and keynote speeches, your team will acquire knowledge and inspiration for foundational leadership and team building.
There will be both pre-conference and break-out sessions. Tickets are affordable at only $49 with lunch included. Church leaders are encouraged to bring along their teams to benefit.
The Exponential Conference is among the largest church-planting annual gatherings for church leaders. It offers church leaders an opportunity to meet with other God’s people and connect with other planters.
Attendees can choose from over 200 workshops aimed at specific planters’ needs. This conference will be a 3-day event aimed at educating and inspiring planters on their leadership roles.
Exponential Conference also has a provision for those who can’t afford both time and money to attend. Regional conferences are offered close to your homes. This is a great opportunity for those who would wish to bring along their teams.
That Church Conference is a two-day nonprofit online event for pastors and church leaders aimed at helping digital communicators enhance their communication and reach a wider audience through the gospel.
Attendees benefit from lessons by real practitioners. Topics covered include marketing, social media, technology, and communications.
Those who wish to benefit can either choose to sign up and watch live for free or buy a Replay Pass to watch later.
Dates: August 5 & 6, 2021 Price: $169 (individual), $149 (2+ attendees) Location: Great Hill Baptist Church, Austin, Texas, US
The Global Leadership Summit brings together thousands of growth-minded leaders from around the world.
You’ll experience highly interactive sessions that will leave you re-energized and with a clear vision. Business experts and church leaders will give talks on various faculties including:
Improving workplace civility
You can choose to attend either in-person or online.
Let Us Know Your Favorite
Church leadership conferences offer leaders an opportunity to learn and benefit those they lead. Congregations are encouraged to support their leaders and other church staff to attend these annual gatherings. Let us know if you have a favorite from the list above or if there are any you’d like to recommend. Experienced running a church? Interested in sharing knowledge and collaborating with other leaders? You can apply to join our community of experienced Lead Pastors here.
I am writing about church planting…still. It is one of my favorite subjects. But I need to tell you something: though there is great pleasure and satisfaction in starting something new, it does not happen without sacrifices and challenges.
Even the most enthusiastic and optimistic church planter will have to, at some point, recognize and deal with the problems that arise in church planting.
So what would some of those problems be? Well, let’s start by looking back at the early church—the church plant of all church plants! With both physical growth and increasing diversity, the first apostles certainly experienced some start-up-like growth issues. For example:
Tensions between Jews and Gentiles (Acts 6:1-7)
Disagreement about circumcision (Acts 15:1-2)
Disputes about responding to political leaders (Romans 13:1-7)
Controversy about dietary choices (Romans 14:1-4)
Lawsuits between believers (1 Corinthians 6:1-7)
Twisting the Gospel (Galatians 1:6-10)
Disunity between believers (Philippians 2:1-4)
These alone don’t paint the full picture of what a church planter might have to face, but the personal experience of the apostles as the original church planters (see 1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:3-10), might cause some to rethink before agreeing to the job and embracing the call!
Putting aside the topic of modern-day apostleship for now, what we can say is this: the nature of church planting is apostolic. Without a clear sense of calling, both the sacrifices and challenges required of the task might end up overwhelming any would-be church planter.
And so, we can see from the early church planter’s experiences there are inevitable problems and challenges in church planting. Some will be the same as those others faced, some will be unique to your particular situation and circumstances.
However, here’s what you need to remember: there are going to be good problems and there are going to be bad problems. Good problems are about growing. Bad problems are about growing, too. Often, the only difference is how you see them, and ultimately how you handle them.
Inspiring an Army of Volunteers
There is one challenge in particular that I want to focus on: building a church planting team with volunteers. Unlike the world of business, where making money is the goal (therefore people can be hired as well as fired), the majority of the church is made up of volunteers.
In business, employees are paid for their work, enticed with benefits packages and often rewarded for exceptional performance. Of course, there are rewards in the church—usually through opportunities to serve and lead. But, generally, church workers are expected to serve faithfully regardless of rewards.
This notion comes out of a shared understanding and expectation that each volunteer is ultimately serving Christ, not man or mammon, because of their deep sense of thankfulness for God’s forgiveness through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice on the cross.
A Noble Cause
A volunteer workforce that continues to offer itself willingly needs to believe that they are giving themselves to a noble cause—that is, something that is greater than themselves, expressing both moral and spiritual excellence.
I might put it this way: a noble cause is a stirring call to do something selfless with your life, resulting in something good for others. Without this belief—without this conviction—then sustained work from a bunch of volunteers is unlikely.
While they might remain as members in “the club”, they may pull back from their commitment and willingness to serve. Remember, disengagement happens long before people leave altogether. Some people stay for years while disengaged. Other motivators keep them showing up: fellowship with their friends, loyalty to the brand, or perhaps having nowhere else to go.
When a noble cause seems no longer attainable, or is something they cannot be part of, then uncertainty undermines the conviction that once motivated the giver to give, the server to serve, and the worker to do the work that is so badly needed.
Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This idea is a simple one: people must be inspired. Vision inspires, both motivating the heart and stimulating the mind. Without it, people literally lose heart and begin to look for other things to give their lives for.
To be able to see—and to see clearly—is a gift. Combine that with another gift—leadership—and people will be ready to be led. When the vision is well articulated and participation is invited (not just needed nor demanded), the volunteer army engages willingly in the mission. Not just a noble cause to give one’s life for, but believing that the sacrifice will make a difference.
Powerful vision and strong leadership give reason and purpose to those who want to serve.
Fear, Guilt, and Shame
There are, however, other motivators—powerful forces—that cause people to serve: fear, guilt, and shame. Tragically, these are the very things that we, in the Church, should be free from.
Unfortunately, because these three—fear, guilt, and shame—evoke such powerful feelings, they can be used to try to motivate people. The Bible teaches that fear, ultimately, has to do with death and damnation. In Hebrews 2:14-15, however, it says of Jesus,
“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”
With regard to guilt, the Bible teaches that this is the feeling we experience when convicted of sin, that is, separated from God because of our fallen state. This speaks not only of our actions but of the state of our hearts and minds, too.
Oddly, although feeling guilty is not pleasant, when the feeling is absent it can lead us to believe that everything is OK when perhaps it is not. The condition of leprosy is an illustration of what happens when we have no sense of guilt. The ghoulish loss of limbs characteristic of a leper results because they have lost the feeling in their extremities and can no longer detect or heed the pain warnings.
Guilt is a strong feeling and, although it can be both true and false, true guilt functions as a warning to tell us that something is wrong that God wants to make right! This is what the scriptures say about this:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” – 1 John 1:9
“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” – Romans 8:1
Simply said, guilt is about sin. When it leads us to repentance, then God not only forgives us but also cleanses us, that is, makes us holy again. Condemnation is no longer ours to bear. Not because it was unfounded or unfair, but because God’s son, Jesus, died for our sin, thereby fulfilling God’s demand for a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
And, finally, there is shame. Shame is a painful feeling of humiliation and embarrassment. It comes from knowing that you have done something wrong or foolish.
Adam and Eve were perfect in all ways while they were in the garden in relationship with God. When they did the one thing that God warned them not to do, their sin caused them immediately to feel shame, and so they went away and hid themselves from God (Genesis 3:8-10).
Biblical shame is a consequence of sin; but as with guilt, God promises to remove our shame when we turn to Him in repentance and faith.
“As Scripture says, ‘Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.’” -Romans 10:11
If intrinsic motivators are not powerful enough, then volunteers will cease to work. And if the things that motivate are not found within individuals, then they must come from without.
It is a fact of life that leaders lead and those who don’t lead tend to follow. It is also true that there are more followers than there are leaders. Therefore, great things can and will be accomplished when leaders continue to motivate those who follow, as well as when those who freely choose to follow have the conviction and determination to do so.
So what does this all have to do with church planting? Well, a church plant is not unlike a start-up in business really. In the beginning, there must be someone, usually entrepreneurial in profile, who has both vision (an idea) and conviction (determination) to make something happen.
This person not only believes that it can be done but, more importantly, they believe in themselves to do it. Mix in a good dose of ambition and what you have is a highly motivated individual who is likely to need others (employees) to see his or her dreams come true!
This is not much different from the church planter/pastor who has a vision from God to plant a church and believes they have been chosen by God to do it. They are usually highly motivated, enthusiastic, ambitious individuals who want to inspire others to join them in the new church they are starting.
Some do it through selling a fresh exciting vision, while others are able to recruit volunteers just through having a charismatic personality. When the two come together—that is, an exciting vision communicated by a capable, convincing, magnetic leader—it results in people wanting to be part of it.
That’s a good start, but usually the real test of a volunteer’s commitment comes after the works begin…when days turn into weeks, and weeks turn into months, and months turn into years, and things may not be going as planned.
More is required from the same people who have been doing all the work, as well as faithfully giving, with the promise that when the work grows a little bit more then there will be others to share the work. (Just an aside: having a larger team does not change the 80/20 principle, that is, most of the time 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people, no matter how many people you have!)
This brings us back to motivation. When volunteers are tired and perhaps feeling a little disillusioned, they tend to need a little more motivation from the leader they have been following. In the business world, the promise of added reward for extra effort is not as common as you might think.
More often than not, it is the “performance evaluation” that subtly intimidates employees by highlighting “areas of needed improvement”. The ultimate fear is failure to perform resulting in dismissal, that is, “You’re fired!” This doesn’t happen in the Church, not with volunteers anyway.
Oh, yes, there are times when people are asked to leave and, in extreme cases, excommunicated; but rarely is there a performance evaluation, let alone the setting of clearly articulated measurable goals.
The temptation, at this point, is for church planters/leaders to play the “servant card”. The argument goes like this: “If we don’t hire people to work, then we can’t fire them if they don’t. And so, we have to find some other way—some compelling way—to motivate the volunteer staff.”
So, they play the servant card! What’s the servant card? Simply, they tell people that God has called us to serve (which He has). But this reminder is not usually used to inspire, but to make individuals feel obligated. It plays on fear, guilt, and shame rather than God’s love, mercy, and grace.
Again, the idea is that because of what God has done for you, you must now serve him. Rarely articulated but clearly understood: it is payback time! The motivation to serve, which must be understood in leading a volunteer army, should come from a heart that’s so overwhelmed by gratitude that serving is a delight and a joy.
For any thank-offering to God to be holy, it must be freely given. When we are made to feel obligated to serve then our offering is payment. We remain as servants rather than become the children of God. We find that God’s “unconditional love” has conditions. We haven’t received a free gift from God, after all, but one with strings attached.
This is a real problem in the church. There wouldn’t be as many books written on the subject of planting and growing healthy churches if it wasn’t. But this is what I want to leave you to think about, especially if you are about to plant a church:
When it comes to motivating God’s people to serve, the focus must always be that we’ve received a gift that none of us deserved: God’s love, mercy, and grace. The key is thankfulness, not a sense of obligation.
The Privilege of Leadership
But when it comes to leadership, we must always understand it as a privilege. The privilege? To lead God’s people into their destiny and purpose as the Body of Christ, believing that God, as He has promised, will build His church as you serve in rest and faith.
Believers must never be seen as a resource to get the job done, but as sheep that have been entrusted into your care to shepherd. After all, together with them, you are the Church, the Children of God, the Body of Christ, a Kingdom and Priests of the Most High God!
Technology is rapidly changing the way churches are welcoming people to worship services and sermons.
“Whether you are joining us in person or online, we invite you to experience our services and be a part of the Lakewood family.” This is how the nondenominational Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas, welcomes those who visit the church’s website. On March 15, 2020, 4.6 million worshippers accepted this invitation and followed the church’s live streaming service.
When the Covid-19 pandemic started wreaking havoc across the world at the beginning of 2020, church services had to be suspended in many parts of the world in compliance with government regulations. If this was a time to panic for many other businesses, the story was different for streaming platforms, businesses offering streaming software, and social media companies.
In this article, I focus on the 10 biggest live streaming churches. I will also look at the reasons the number of live streaming churches is growing. The article also identifies the software these churches use for video streaming of their Sunday service or any other services for that matter.
Churches Have Always Embraced Technology
Even though sermons on platforms like YouTube, Facebook Live, and Zoom may be gaining traction because of Covid-19, churches have been embracing technology for some time now. Before churches could live stream, many recorded their sermons and distributed them either for free or for a fee. Others had their Sunday services aired by major broadcasters.
An article published by TheGuardian.com tells the story of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, and how it was already embracing basic software by 2008.
The Guardian reports that, as far back as 2008, the church was already using software to track children in church and register them for Bible studies. Congregants could also “go online to request counseling on a variety of spiritual and personal matters.”
In 2009, Daniel Terdiman wrote an article for the technology website Cnet.com entitled “Technology and the megachurch.” He starts his article with a question: “If you’re in charge of what is thought to be one of the most powerful, influential and important megachurches in the United States, if not the world, how do you make sure that your message is reaching the largest possible audience?”
The answer to Terdiman’s question comes easily for Brady Boyd, the lead pastor at the New Life Church: “technology.”
In case a one-word answer was not sufficient for Terdiman, Boyd extends his answer: “Churches have to stay current. We’re in the communications business.” Adding, “The whole purpose of a church is to communicate a message of truth … We have to stay informed, and we have to realize that most of the world is rapidly advancing in their ability to communicate.”
Why Churches Are Resorting To Live Streaming
Churches have always been conscious that technologies like video streaming could assist them in reaching bigger audiences. This is a view also acknowledged by the Japanese electronics manufacturer Panasonic. According to Panasonic, “Producing an immersive, remote worship experience can also extend the reach of your church beyond the local community and give congregants the opportunity to view missed services through on-demand video.”
Like all other sectors of society, churches realize that the consumption of messages is mostly happening online. This is a reality noted by commentators like Matt Binder, who writes for the digital media platform Mashable.com. The headline of his article tells the whole story: “The live streaming boom isn’t slowing down anytime soon.”
Referring to the future of worship services after the pandemic, Binder quotes Eli Noam, a Columbia Business School professor. Noam asks some pertinent questions: “If a church, for example, continues to Livestream services after the pandemic, will the elderly, sick, and people with children just find it easier to attend virtually? Will people participate in more services because it’s easier to attend from the comfort of home?
Binder quotes Noam saying, “Maybe the churches will be emptier but people’s religious lives will actually be enriched.” Adding, “This [live video] is not temporary; the temporary situation [pandemic] is the accelerant .”
Live Streaming Software For Churches
If the need for real-time church service broadcasting is growing, providers of church streaming software, streaming solutions, and technical support have not been left behind. Here are some of the live streaming service providers that make it possible for both large and small churches to live broadcast their sermons and services.
Boxcast: Live Streaming Software For All Worship House Sizes
If there is one video streaming service I see in every list of the best church streaming software, it’s Boxcast. Boxcast’s promise: “Whether your congregation has 1,000 members or 100, our features and plans have been crafted to meet the needs of both first-time broadcasters and seasoned streamers.”
You can live stream on the Boxcast free trial for 14 days before deciding whether the live streaming software is for you. If you decide that it is, pricing plans start at $99/month and go all the way to $999/month.
Wirecast: Best Church Streaming Software For Beginners
Describing the Wirecast video streaming service, the Director of Music Ministries at Fredericksburg United Methodist Church, Don Doss, says, “Yes, it’s true that the ‘BIG’ churches have all the cool equipment, but it’s also true that some smaller churches with smaller budgets can now produce quality video with the help of Telestream’s Wirecast software.”
Wirecast comes with a free 30-day trial limited to two Rendezvous guests and does not permit ISO recording (an isolated recording of one camera in a multi-camera production). The service has two paid plans for both Mac and Windows: Wirecast Studio ($599) and Wirecast Pro ($799).
“Whether you’re a Photoshop expert or technology isn’t your friend, we’ve got you covered. Create beautiful graphics with our built-in editor.” This is how the developers of Propresenter market their software.
Among the several features, you’ll find on Propresenter is the ability to record your screen for further editing, switch video outputs, and capture and output audio. The service also presents live streaming tutorials on its website.
Propresenter has a free version, which is not designed to be used in front of an audience. The HoW (House of Worship) plan starts at $399 per year for a new account or $275 per year when renewing.
Dacast: Best Live Streaming Solution For Churches On A Budget
Visit Dacast.com, and you will realize that this live stream software promises every feature and functionality a live streaming church service needs. The service has 24/7 support, high-quality live streaming with top-tier CDNs, an all-device HTML5 player, VODs and live video integration, and customization that allows users to monetize their videos.
Another valuable Dacast feature is that it allows you to set up multiple bitrate streams using Wirecast video or vMix broadcasting software. These multiple bitrate streams ensure that your live streams can be watched on different devices and internet connections with varying bandwidths.
Dacast has a free 30-day trial. Paid plans start at $39 a month.
vMix: Best For Building A Custom Live Production System
vMix is a software video switcher and mixer that also functions as a live streaming software that works on Windows. Some of the software’s features include “LIVE mixing, switching, recording and LIVE streaming of SD, full HD and 4K video sources including cameras, video files, DVDs, images, [and] Powerpoint.”
The vMix software is customizable, based on the user’s production needs. All these features can be enjoyed on a free 60-day trial. Paid plans start with the Basic HD, which costs $60, and go all the way to the Pro plan that costs $1200. The software’s developers say that “Each purchase does not expire and includes Free Version Updates for one year from the date of purchase.”
“Video streaming simple enough for a church plant, powerful enough for worldwide ministry.” This is how Churchstreaming.tv advertises its service. The software makes it possible for a church service to be broadcast to various sources like YouTube, Facebook, or Apple TV.
Churchstreaming.tv also frees bandwidth with real-time transcoding. The streaming solution allows for plugins that make it possible to customize viewer layout by embedding navigation links.
Churchstreaming.tv has a free 30-day trial. Paid plans are based on the number of hours you need per month, the resolution, and video storage capacity. The plans start with the basic plan at $79/month. The Advanced Plan is the most expensive at $139 a month.
If your church is still new and wants to use free live stream software, the best place to find this is at Open Broadcast Software (OBS). Even though OBS is free, it compares well to other church streaming software out there. For example, it doesn’t restrict the number of scenes you can seamlessly switch between using custom transitions.
The OBS project is sponsored by several tech giants, including Facebook and YouTube.
mimoLive provides professional live streaming tools for live streaming to Apple products, including Mac, iPad, and iPhone. The software promises “an all-in-one live switcher, video encoder, editor, and streaming software for Mac. It enables you to switch multiple cameras, insert presentations, add graphics, overlay lower-thirds, social media comments, transparency with green screens.”
mimoLive’s 14-day free trial allows you to test drive the product. If you like it at the end of 14 days, you can get the Studio License at the cost of $699 per year or $69.99 per month.
StreamShark: Best For Churches That Want A Month-To-Month Solution
The developers of StreamShark say that they “understand the pressures involved when live streaming.” Consequently, they have designed a workflow that aims to “ease the burden on the stream operator.”
StreamShark’s leading features include instant stream archiving, real-time statistics showing viewer engagement, and live DVR rewind that allows viewers who join late to rewind and see areas they have missed.
StreamShark’s pricing starts at $199 per month, and the most expensive plan is $999 per month. The advantage of using this software is that you can cancel your plan anytime.
To show how easy the developers of TruthCasting believe their software is, they say, “If you can count to three, then you can live stream.” The software can be used whether you’re streaming from a webcam or a professional video camera.
You can also use any encoder to send your video to the streaming platform. As long as audiences have an internet connection, they can view videos broadcast through TruthCasting on any device, wherever they are.
TruthCasting offers a 15-day free trial. Churches with less than 2,000 members pay $39.95 a month to broadcast. YouTube and Facebook Live add-ons are available at $10 per month.
10 Biggest Streaming Churches
Here are some of the biggest streaming churches I found on YouTube. To determine how big a church is, I looked at the number of subscribers it has on YouTube.
Lakewood Church & Joel Osteen
Together, Lakewood Church and Joel Osteen (its pastor) have 2,202,000 subscribers on YouTube. According to Osteen’s YouTube channel, “More than 10 million viewers watch his weekly inspirational messages through television, and over 60 million people connect with Joel through his digital platforms worldwide.”
Lakewood Church’s live stream goes out every Saturday at 7 pm and Sundays at 8:30 am and 11:00 am CST. Apart from delivering the message to its 304,000-audience on YouTube, Lakewood Church also uses Facebook Live.
The work of Elevation Church is evident in its mission statement: “Elevation Church exists so that people far from God will be raised to life in Christ.” This Church does not seem to only target those far from God with its live streams; it’s also connecting those far from the church or each other.
The Elevation Church’s YouTube channel has around 1.99 million subscribers. The church’s YouTube worship channel has 2.85 million subscribers. It uses Vimeo and Comcast Technology Solutions as its video hosting solutions.
The mission of Hillsong Church is “To reach and influence the world by building a large Christ-centered, Bible-based church, changing mindsets and empowering people to lead and impact in every sphere of life.” If Hillsong’s online following can be used to assess how well the church is living up to its mission, then it’s clear that the church is succeeding.
With 409,000 subscribers on YouTube, Hillsong says that it has a global audience of 150,000 every week. Its video hosting platform is YouTube and Vimeo.
Saddleback Church’s motto is “one family, many locations.” With 389,000 subscribers on YouTube, this is a motto that the church seems to be living by. Its YouTube channel has more than 53,930,000 views.
Saddleback Church uses YouTube and JW Player as its hosting services.
Life.Church has a dedicated online service. The church has a message for those searching for meaning, connection, community, truth, and answers: “This is where you’ll find it.” Through its streaming service, Life. Church invites everyone to “come to join a community of people from around the world who are discovering answers, truth, and what it means to belong.”
According to Life. Church, has more than 90 online services every week on five platforms, accessible on any device. Its video hosting service is YouTube and Wistia.
With its live streams, Bethel TV calls itself “your front-row seat to all that God is doing at Bethel.” The church invites all to “Watch anytime, anywhere.” This is an invitation that 296,000 people have already responded to on YouTube, where it has more than 33,500,000 views.
Bethel TV’s hosting platform is JW Player.
International House of Prayer
The International House of Prayer‘s (IHOPKC) mission statement reads, “The IHOPKC community exists to partner in the Great Commission by advancing 24/7 prayer with worship and proclaiming the beauty of Jesus and His glorious return.”
A church that uses 24/7 to describe anything certainly needs some streaming service. This is what IHOPKC is doing using its YouTube channel that has over 296,000 subscribers.
The VOUS Church says that it has a simple mission: “to bring those who are far from God close to him.” The church has a dedicated team called the Crew Live that live streams to the church’s 194,000 YouTube subscribers.
REVERE is a community of worshippers with 181,000 subscribers on YouTube. The church says that Christianity experienced a massive shift a generation ago when “The formality of corporate worship gave way to ‘intimacy,’ and we were forever changed.”
Putting together a worship team is an important task. You are essentially creating a worship ministry that will take the local church on a journey with the Holy Spirit into the heights and depths of the presence of God.
Think of this “bike analogy”: You can’t steer a bike unless the bike is moving. If the bike is staying put, you can move the front wheel back and forth, but that bike isn’t going to move! There needs to be pedaling and momentum to get the bike to steer in the direction you want. In the same way, our worship team needs to be moving and going forward as we lead worship.
Also, if there are parts of the bike that are not working properly or cohesively, that bike journey is going to be tough, and you may not get far. Likewise, for our worship teams, if everyone on the team is an expert at their instrument and has amazing skill, but they don’t have purity of heart, humility, or integrity, that team won’t be able to take the church anywhere.
Or the opposite can happen. They may have hearts pure and ready for worship, but they continually play wrong notes or sing off key. This can be a major distraction for church worship and cause a lot of road bumps along the journey.
We have to remember something important with our worship teams. Not all worship team training is about the musicianship. Although playing the right notes or electric guitar riffs is important, we need to also talk about the non musical aspects of the worship team, like our passion and spiritual growth.
Leading your local church in worship is a sacred, holy responsibility that God has entrusted us with as we partner with him. Whether you are a worship pastor, back up vocalist, electric guitar player, bass player, or on the visuals team, the church is led into the Presence of God not just by that person’s instrument, sound, and skill, but more importantly, their heart.
Non Musical Training
Here are three tips for non-musical worship team training.
1. Be Encouraging
Encouraging your worship team can be super powerful. As you know, Sundays can be draining, and even preparation throughout the rest of the week can be hard or discouraging.
A weekly email or text out to the team might seem like such a small thing, but it could be a huge motivator to them. Be genuine in your encouragement, even pointing out specific things that you appreciate about the team.
For example, my team has a WhatsApp group chat where we send encouragement to each other and funny worship YouTube videos. It’s been a great tool to keep the team connected and encouraged throughout the week.
Creating a culture of encouragement will be an asset, not only for your team, but for the wider church. This culture of encouragement can be a great foundation for the worship team. If members are feeling encouraged and loved, this will help the team in their growth.
When the team feels encouraged, this will also help them to receive any training or correction with love. Your team should never feel like you are judging them, especially in this very vulnerable area of worship. Applaud the efforts you see in them, and make sure that you balance your critiques with lots of love and encouragement.
Tell them often that you’re proud of them when they take steps in the right direction.
2. Instill Passion In Your Team
This can be a tricky thing sometimes. How do you train your worship team to be full of passion? The first thing to do is to teach what the bible says on “expressive worship”
Psalm 47:1 – “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.”
Psalm 63:4 – “I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my hands.”
Psalm 95:6– “Come let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.”
Psalm 149:3 – “Let them praise His name with dancing and make music to him with tambourine and harp.”
It’s also important to encourage your team to feel “released” in their worship. Continue encouraging them to feel free to worship expressively, even right before the team is about to go on stage.
It’s also important to model this. Your team should be able to look to you for what’s appropriate for the platform. Make sure you’re walking the talk.
Another great training tool is to record your Sunday morning services. We once set up an iphone to do a wide shot of the stage, and afterwards as a team we did a playback and watched it together. Many musicians were surprised to see how “miserable” they looked; they had no idea what their faces looked like.
Often you won’t need to point it out or say much. The goal is that they see the difference between what they think they are projecting and reality. This often is enough for them to change on their own.
3. Foster Spiritual Growth Among Your Team
If the members of a worship team do not have a healthy relationship with God, they will not be able to effectively lead worship – no matter how incredible of a musician or singer they are.
The best thing you can do as a worship leader is lead by example. Dedicate yourself to spending time with God and His Word daily. Your worship ministry will be inspired by your faith and joy, and you can begin mentoring them in this area.
Other ideas for sparking spiritual growth in your team:
Start a devotional with your team
Spend time at your rehearsals praying for the church and each other
Spend a good chunk of your rehearsal time worshipping; you can’t lead people where you haven’t been
Start a team night once a month where you not only spend time learning new songs but spend time as a team praying and worshipping together
Here are some notes on training both instrumentalists and vocalists.
Getting a great rhythm sound from part-time musicians can often be challenging, especially if you have a band where instrumentalists are changing every Sunday as the schedule changes.
Here are some practical skills you can work on as a team to help you get to the next level.
Make sure everyone is listening to each other when they play.
All players need to develop a good sense of time. Practicing with a click track can really help. If you don’t have access to click tracks, there are online metronomes you can use.
Decide which instruments will be the lead sound on the different songs you practice, and run through those songs, choosing a different instrument each time.
Each instrumentalist should learn or know how to read a basic chord chart.
Practice playing by ear.
Regularly give the team new songs to listen to and learn. This will help them grow in their playing and stay challenged.
Practice how to play spontaneously. This will help in the flow of your Sunday morning worship, and with transitioning between songs. It can be as simple as deciding on a 4 chord progression.
Investing time into your vocalists is so important. Sometimes we tend to focus on musicians only as they do carry a lot of musical responsibility. When we focus on training our vocalists to sing with excellence, they will be more equipped to lead with confidence and sing from their hearts.
When you work with vocalists, here are some skills and abilties to consider working on:
Correctly singing harmonies and melodies
Properly listening to and blending with other voices
Staying on tempo without rushing or lagging
Breathing in the same place
Holding notes the same length
Memorizing the lyrics and enunciating properly
Singing into a microphone properly
Body language, like smiling when singing
Vocal warmups they can easily do at home
Lastly, make sure to encourage singers to still worship as they sing, which is of course the most important part!
Having someone you have mentored rise up and become a worship leader themselves has to be the most amazing thing. It’s my absolute favourite thing to see.
Mentoring a team member to become a worship leader takes time. It also takes commitment on their part and yours. But I can’t say it enough — it’s absolutely worth it.
Raising up worship leaders is a major part of strengthening your worship ministry. There are 4 major steps in this process.
1. Find Team Members With Potential
Always be on the lookout for team members who may be potential worship leaders. Do they have strong musical talent? Strong leadership skills? A strong worshipper with a heart for serving God? If so, encourage them to think about or try worship leading.
2. Give Them A Song To Lead During Rehearsals
Find a song that they love to sing, and have them lead the song during rehearsal. This helps them get the feel for leading a song and gives you an opportunity to observe.
Then, when they become comfortable with that, encourage them to lead the band during worship rehearsal, and encourage them to lead the team like the worship pastor would, to see their comfort level and ability.
Once you feel that they have become confident in song leading, it’s time to get them to lead people. Organize a service for you two to co-lead. Invite them to work with you on building a worship set list. Get them to welcome everyone or to pray. This will help the church get comfortable with being led by a new worship leader.
4. Let Them Lead
Finally, let them lead. Be gracious with their mistakes. Understand they may be nervous, but let them lead. Encourage them to go for it, and remind them that you are there to jump in if they need help.
This whole process may take a few weeks, or a few months, but be patient. Also, don’t wait until you are absolutely desperate for a worship leader. You don’t want to rush this process either.
Other Worship Team Training Resources
Here are some worship tutorials on how to lead and play Hillsong’s worship songs. You can also check out this great training course from Bethel Worship on how to thrive as a worship team.
Shane & Shane started a worship training website with additional tutorials, and there’s also some great podcasts out there for worship leaders.
Make sure to check out my article on holding worship team auditions as well, if you’re looking for new members to join your team.
So why should you bother developing a church communications plan? In short, it’s because the good news of the gospel is at stake.
Let me explain.
We all know the gospel is ‘good news.’ But news like the gospel, as good as it is, cannot be called ‘news’ in the first place without also having hands, feet, and mouths planning to communicate it (c.f. Romans 10:14-17).
Here comes the local church: the planner, articulator, and communicator of the message that Jesus Christ laid down his life for those who couldn’t earn God’s love (c.f. Romans 5:8).
Local churches communicate, inside and outside of themselves, in ways that are creative and distinct from one another. But regardless of any creative differences, each church needs to consider how to develop an effective communications plan.
If it doesn’t, the gospel–the news to be communicated–may itself be at stake.
What is church communications?
Church communications are the ways in which a local church expresses and makes known its mission and message.
Internal and External Communications
Church communications can both internal communications and external communications.
Internal church communications are typically within and on behalf of the local church, who makes its messaging known to its own people, like:
and church members.
Internal people embrace and advance the mission and the message.
But church communications is also understood by way of external communications, when the church makes known the right message, beyond itself. This could be by way of evangelism or outreach, to the de-churched, unchurched, and so on, using:
For the local church, people are the mission (c.f. Matt 28:19; 1 Chron 16:24; Matt 9:35-36). So, having people inside the church reaching people outside of it is also an ‘ends’ of the communications plan. People reaching people.
The internal and external forms of church communications require a little further thought and explanation. They can be discussed separately only in theory because in practice they are highly dependent upon each other.
For example, let’s say a local church’s goal is to increase outreach and evangelism. This is a communication channel we probably think of as external.
Yet, the best way to ramp up outreach could actually be by addressing an area not outside, but inside–like improving internal church software to better communicate the vision and how this goal is going to be achieved and addressed through ministry.
My local church has just upgraded to the new Planning Center software. This suite of products has helped us keep-on-top-of everything from what’s going on in a ministry team all the way to first-time follow-ups with guests.
It has also been super helpful for scheduling and registering people in church events, like Christmas and Easter, which are especially complicated to plan, communicate, and manage during COVID!
Each church needs to wrestle with the degree to which its internal and externals communications plans are linked. But it’s hard to think of a good external communications plan without there also being a robust and cohesive team working together behind-the-scenes, with the right tools.
So, church communications require integration and a blended value approach. This also relates to the church’s overall goals, objectives, and strategy.
How to develop a church communications strategy
The best church communication strategy uses multiple mediums to reach its intended audience with an integrated, foundational idea or message.
“Most communications experts will tell you that your best media strategy is one that relies upon a blend of several media to reach your desired audience.”
If your goal is to do this online, Brady Shearer’s YouTube video is super helpful in this medium. In particular, his rule #3 highlights what we will pick up below.
Here are 5 steps you can ask in order to develop an integrated communications strategy:
Step 1: Who is the target audience?
A blended church communications strategy first identifies who is being communicated with. This makes sense when talking about the mission and message of the gospel because, in the end, the intended audience of the gospel is everyone (c.f. Rev 7:9).
Jesus Christ came into the world so that everyone would come to know and experience his love (c.f. Ps 67:2; John 3:16; and 1 Tim 2:4). As we discussed above, the local church owns this communication.
Step 2: Why this target audience?
This is your opportunity to refine your audience. In the case of the gospel, “everyone” is far too large a demographic for any single, local church to bite-off-and-chew on its own. So, with this step, you can ask why or why not this person or group of persons.
“Everyone” has different habits, preferences, and areas of interest, meaning that reaching them with one medium or one strategy in isolation of others is literally impossible.
So, understanding that local churches can rely upon one another, and we can see the capital “C,” universal Church working across the globe.
Also, understanding that there are different mediums through which different people can be reached helps you know why one audience can be targeted and another cannot.
After asking the question of why your audience can become more focused and narrow.
Step 3: What to communicate to them?
This is where you clarify your medium and message. The gospel message itself isn’t brand spanking new. But it can be thought of as old news that brings new life in new ways.
So, answering what to communicate is more a matter of what emphasis of the gospel is on display. You can figure that out be addressing these questions:
What truth or truths of the gospel are being articulated or supported by this communication?
How is Jesus revealed by what I am saying or how I am treating people with what I say?
Where is there room for new life to be brought into this medium?
Step 4: When to communicate with the target audience?
The “when” we see in the Bible can be called an “occasion.” It can be reactive or proactive. But the best time to communicate is proactive.
If the Apostle Paul’s writings teach us anything, it is that local churches in different areas of the world work together and, at the same time, focus on specific messaging to specific people on specific occasions (c.f. Gal 1:6-9).
We see biblical authors writing towards a “future” of things that will happen on planned or foreseen occasions. Some examples of this include the Prophetic literature in the Old Testament, but also how believers in a community should behave in the New Testament (e.g. see Gal 5-6 for proactive communications).
Step 5: How to communicate with the audience?
This can be called a ‘Big Idea.’ In his book, The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication, Justin Wise suggests that each church needs to develop a “Big Idea” that is “foundational,” from which every other act of communication flows from the base of a pyramid.
The “Big Idea” that informs strategic communications is developed, for Wise, by receiving life and being breathed on by God the Father. This is no trivial point. Unless the reason why we are communicating is important enough to communicate and empowered by the one who ‘communicated’ life into being, then it doesn’t have much hope of success.
But Wise also gets practical too. He suggests that a “Big Idea” can be formed by approaching the question: “What objectives are we trying to accomplish as a community?” This is integrated not only by things “to do” but by an identity “to be.”
Examples of church communications
Let’s look at some examples of how a local church can use the integrated communications strategy. Pretend that the ‘Big Idea’ of this example is “to spread the worship of Jesus in the city of ‘XYZ’ by increasing the depth and breadth of disciples.”
Church’s Website Strategy
Church websites are a hugely important aspect of any church communication plan. This is the online medium through which first-time guests learn new information about your church, its mission, its message, and its “Big Idea.”
Daniel Babcock suggests in his blog that these people want to join the community, but prefer not to engage right away. If this is true, the website should very quickly include the information you want them to know about the “Big Idea” and how it is directly supported.
This is especially the case because the average website visitor views, says Babcock, only 1 or 2 pages of the website for a very brief amount of time. So brevity is key.
With our “Big Idea” above, the church website should have an about page that states the “Big Idea” explicitly, making available information about small groups that exist. It should also share how the mission relates to what Jesus wants in city “XYZ.”
Look at this good and simple example of the landing page at www.life.church. It uses images and banners to point new people directly to areas about the church’s mission.
Any information on the website that doesn’t relate to the ‘Big Idea’ shouldn’t be on the website.
Social Media Strategy
The “Big Idea” approach translates directly to your church’s social media strategy, content, and messaging. In the book, Social Media Strategy, Keith Quesenberry suggests that:
Social media big ideas must be unifying but also interesting and engaging.
So, how does your church make your message unifying? Well, your social media strategy can support your “Big Idea” by having some specific objectives, like:
Building Awareness: of your mission and message. (i.e. telling people you run small groups in the city).
Increasing Engagement: with your church’s communications and community (i.e. showing fun events and activities that are happening in your city that you are engaging with).
Raising Conversion: having non-members of the community see, hear, and respond. (i.e. asking for a response with questions or offering prayer or items that require action).
Sharing Vision & Values: see people adopt your message and encourage others to do the same. (i.e. reward and encourage people who are loyal to your mission and message).
These objectives help you target a focused subset of the demographic of “everyone” (discussed above). Each objective relates to the “Big Idea” but can be employed on its own with dedicated social media posts at different times.
Here are some examples of Instagram screenshots from theway_vancouver. They do a great job integrating building awareness and sharing vision through integrated communications.
Social Media Best Practices
This is how you can make your big idea interesting and engaging! Some best practices of how to roll out your engaging “Big Idea” on social media include:
Use interesting pictures: the background, lighting, and colour of a photo are important.
Tie the description to the photo: Far too often a video or picture isn’t related to the description or objective of the approach. The post becomes less interesting and engaging when it isn’t unified with itself!
Use a social media calendar: your church can leverage events in your city and culture by posting about how the “Big Idea” relates to that time. (i.e. if your big idea is “to spread the worship of Jesus” then on something like ‘Valentines Day’ you could post about how worshipping Jesus is the ultimate form of love).
Subscribe to social media management software: all of the above best practices can be challenging to employ manually, say if you’re sharing with a team manually in a google doc. Hootsuite is an excellent platform for scheduling this automatically. Check Hootsuite out here.
It identifies the target audience, highlights the message, and the medium. All of which are tied to the integrated approach described above.
If you found this article helpful, you can check out how to leverage church metrics here. Monitoring and measuring metrics are a very helpful way of knowing whether your social media best practices and objectives are unifying, interesting, and especially, engaging!
What do you think?
Are you looking to develop a church communications plan? If so, how are the above insights helpful? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.