In this podcast, Samford University’s Social Media Manager, Charissa Carnall, joins host Nils Smith and shares her journey as one of the early adopters of social media. Having worked as Global Community Management Lead at Western Union, a Fortune 500 company, she recalls the struggles of introducing social media, and learning the importance of branding, authenticity, and being relational on different platforms in the process. Charissa and Nils also discuss valuable insights and strategies for ministry leaders today.
Whether you’re a blog writer, a social media strategist, a small business owner, or a small group leader, engagement is what you’re looking for. Engagement is the Holy Grail of sales, marketing, and e-commerce, and it is no different for the church. No matter if you’re trying to reach more people in your community or grow the people in your pews, leaders must find ways to increase engagement if they hope to fulfill their God-given mission.
For the past two or three years, Leadership Network has been pointing churches toward the use of data as a means of increasing engagement among its members and future members. A growing number of pioneering church leaders have participated in our Engagement Accelerators in order to learn to leverage data effectively to address mission-critical opportunities and obstacles in their churches and communities. These premiere experiences have produced some remarkable results!
For those of you still sitting on the sidelines wondering how to dip your toes in the data-informed waters of church engagement, we have an opportunity for you that launches next week!
The Engagement Mini Accelerator is a 6-week, online experience designed to help church leaders understand how to use first-party data to make better decisions that increase engagement in their churches. Understanding and responsibly utilizing first-party data – the data you already collect and own – is the starting point for all leaders on the path to becoming data-informed. Our online Mini Accelerator will help you and your team get started on that journey with a simple yet highly insightful data experiment guided by our team. Throughout the six weeks, you will:
Learn to use data – Understand how to use first-party data to make better decisions in your church.
Know the value of engagement – Appreciate the strong correlation between engagement and the future of your church.
Build a customized plan – Develop a unique plan to take engagement in your church to the next level.
The cost of the 6-week experience for your team is $299. There are only a few spots left and we launch next week. Click or tap the button below to learn more and reserve your spot today!
“The gospel of self-reliance is always bad news because it always leads to more anxiety.” – Steve Cuss
Does anxiety get in the way of your ability to be an effective leader? Is your inability to notice when you and those around you are anxious keeping you “stuck” in chronic unhealthy patterns? In Managing Leadership Anxiety, from Leadership Network NEXT/Harper Collins Christian Publishing Book Series, pastor and spiritual growth expert Steve Cuss offers powerful tools to help you move from being managed by anxiety to managing anxiety.
You’ll develop the capacity to notice your anxiety and your group’s anxiety. You will increase your sensitivity to the way groups develop systemic anxiety that keeps them trapped. Your personal self-awareness will increase as you learn how self gets in the way of identifying and addressing issues.
Managing Leadership Anxiety offers valuable principles to those who are hungry to understand the source of the anxiety in themselves and in the people with whom they relate. Readers will be empowered to take back control of their lives and lead in mature and vibrant ways.
The following is an excerpt from Managing Leadership Anxiety: Yours and Theirs
I believe leadership anxiety is generated when we think we need something in any particular moment that we don’t actually need.
When I began as a hospital chaplain, I would get anxious walking into a room because I believed I needed to know what to say or what to do. As much as I believed I needed that, it wasn’t true. As I progressed in my awareness, I was able to walk into a room not knowing what to say, not even knowing what I was walking into, because there was a larger truth at work beyond what I believed. I believed I needed knowledge to be okay; I believed I was required to say just the right thing to make things better. As I dug in deeper, I later learned that I believed I had to appear smart to be okay, so when I didn’t know what to say, I was managing my own feeling of inadequacy rather than connecting with the people in the room.
The greater truth was that God was present in those situations; God was in the room before I walked in, and God would guide me. I did not, in fact, need to know what to say. The more I depended on needing to say the right thing, the less effective I was as a chaplain.I was managing my own anxiety rather than paying attention to God. What is this dynamic, and why did I believe I needed it so strongly? Of course, I write in the past tense, but I still get anxious today in leadership contexts, and much of the time it is because the situation is putting pressure on what I think I need that I do not actually need. The situation is also blocking my capacity to notice and trust God in those moments.
Anxiety shrinks the power of the gospel because it presents a false gospel—one of self-reliance rather than reliance on God. The gospel of self-reliance is always bad news because it always leads to more anxiety. But if I can learn to notice it, eventually name its source and triggers, and move past it, I encounter the actual good news of Jesus, the gospel of grace, which always leads to freedom. The consistent witness of the New Testament is that freedom and life come when we deny, crucify, and are wary of something inside us that shrinks the gospel. What is it inside us that gets in the way?
Order your copy of Managing Leadership Anxiety: Yours and Theirs today.
After growing up in Perth, Western Australia, Steve eventually moved to the United States for where he married his wife Lisa. Together they have two sons and a daughter. He currently serves as Lead Pastor of Discovery Christian Church in Broomfield, Colorado, where he has been since 2005. He holds a Master of Divinity from Emmanuel Christian Seminary and has a varied and accomplished ministry background.
“Talking about it brings transformation faster than just reading about it. Before MLA was a book it was a class where people interacted, shared stories, tried things, made changes. The video course starts where the book leaves off and gives a group a way to interact with the book together in 12 sessions. It has everything you need including facilitator guide, schedule, templates and pdfs as well as the videos.”
Ministry/Vocation – Co Founder and Author of The Alternative, Producer
Why commit to becoming an LN Associate –
Leadership Network has been a crucial in pushing the church forward and continuing to reach more people for Christ in new places, and in new ways. As a young leader, it’s truly an honor to sit and learn alongside so many others as well as continue to push the conversation forward and pioneer new ways the Church can reach and impact the world.
What do you envision your contribution to be for churches –
I want to help the Church strive for authenticity in its approach. Doing this means we all have to be in tune with what Christ is speaking to us. God is speaking to his leaders across the country and across the globe – downloading new dreams and new approaches in our hearts. Leaders need the courage to follow those dreams. Methods change, but the message never does.
We’ve asked Caleb to share his perspective on engaging the millennial generation. Here’s what he wrote:
Concerts and Communities
A couple of weeks ago the father of a twenty-year-old called me. He asked me something I’ve been asked several times, “Do you know of a place that my son can get involved with?” By place, he means Church. I asked him why he wasn’t involved at the Church they were currently attending, there was a great young adults program, lots of energy, and his son was on fire for the Lord. He said his son just didn’t connect well and was seeking community.
I hear this word all the time, “community”. It’s no doubt that my generation is hungry for authentic community and connection. I’ve often wondered if that has been heightened by the growing number of failing families, by the lack of present fathers, or if it’s just a trend. Over the last few years, I have even noticed the conversation shift from concerts to community, from events to gatherings, from the amount of people attending to the depth of the conversation. Young pioneers that once set out to create the next biggest thing are starting to wonder if the next greatest thing isn’t bigger, it’s smaller. Millennials want a place to belong and they want it to feel organic.
The Church has leaders like Francis Chan and Dale Partridge (among many) who are advocates for smaller organic communities while, on the other hand, leaders like Louie Giglio and Brian Houston have pioneered large gatherings and movements that have helped, saved, and resourced thousands of people across the globe. As the big “C” Church, how do we steward our influence well in large gatherings like Louie and Brian, but also build communities that are retaining young adults like the son of the father who called me? How do we build systems and structures that combine the millennial generation’s passion to be a part of something bigger than themselves, yet also create spaces that are not too big for their gifts and talents. Churches often say, “You Belong Here” or “You Matter Here” But are we really creating opportunity for people to be apart of what God is doing in our communities? I believe it’s less about which side we are on, the large scale outreaches, or the intimate discipleship programs, and more about discovering how we can bridge both sides of the conversation, working together and effectively. Millennials need a place to belong and connect, but they also need a cause bigger than themselves to engage with…
Ministry/Vocation – Founder of The Meeting Place TMP
Why commit to becoming an LN Associate –
Leadership Network has been one of the leading voices and partners to further the mission of the local church. It is an honor to be invited to sit, learn and collaborate with other church leaders to continue serving the body of Christ. By becoming an LN Associate I hope to grow in my personal leadership but also contribute with my unique experiences and strengths.
What do you envision your contribution to be for churches –
I want to see the restoration of true intimacy and love for God back in the Church. A community of believers who are truly living their entire lives for the glory and pleasure of God. I hope to accomplish this by raising up spiritual leaders and pastors to lead these churches.
Will Chung - God Given Assignments - YouTube
Will’s thoughts on engaging the millennial generation are below:
Millennials & Mentorship
Smart phones changed everything for us. If we had any questions, Google had all the answers for us. The phone gave us access to information, when in reality what we really needed was mentorship. We thought information was going to help us achieve
our calling and passions, but what we really needed was impartation from mentors.
I am fortunate and blessed. I have had several older men sit me down and mentor me. These men of God have poured into my life face to face. Not from Youtube and not from Google, but actual time together. My mentors didn’t just teach me how to be a leader but they showed me how to live. Their investment in me is what has made me who I am today.
I attribute all of my success today because older men who took the time to pour into my life. Their goal was my personal and spiritual growth. Their agenda was to see me become all that God has called me to be.
However, for most of my friends, they have never experienced this. More than ever, every time I travel and speak, young people ask me, “How do I get a mentor? How can I find older men and women who will pour into my life?” I found that many of them did not have the same opportunities as I had.
Based on my experiences, I want to share what I believe these older men did for me.
1. They saw POTENTIAL in me. These men of God saw a seed in me. This seed of potential is what they watered and cultivated in me. This potential is what they decided to invest into. I was not experienced or gifted enough to contribute to them in any way. However, they saw my potential and called it out of me!
2. They were PATIENT with me. These men of God were patient with me. They spent time with me for years and not just weeks and months. The two specific mentors that have impacted my life have spent years pouring into me. They saw that I was going to make many, many mistakes. However, they did not use my mistakes against me, but walked with me through it.
3. They were PROACTIVE with me. These men reached out to me. While I did my part in being receptive, I credit much of my growth to their proactive attitude towards me. In many ways, they approached me as a father and not as a teacher. They cared for me. They loved me. As they were proactive in their relationship with me. I received an impartation from them. I learned not
only from what they said, but also from how they poured into me.
Today, we need mentors. Young people need mentors who have gone before them. We are waiting for you. We are waiting for older men and women to make themselves available. The greatest problem for young people is not information and passion, but impartation from men and women who have gone before us.
Founder of Without Walls Ministries/ Frontier Creative OKC
What fascinates me the most about Leadership Network is their heart for the local church. I love how they annually serve hundreds if not thousands of churches through in-person events which include more than 1,500 leaders. They are all about equipping the body and impacting the next generation. One of my favorite things about the Leadership Network is that they invest in the digital space. They have online conferences reaching thousands. I hope to bring my passion for social media and my knowledge of digital marketing to the team.
In a world that is glued to a screen, and fails to keep its eyes fixed on Christ, my hope is to meet them on the screen with the Gospel message. We are currently living in the single largest communication shift since the printing press. My heart is to encourage, equip, and to educate the church on the importance and the power of evangelism through the social media and the digital space in the local church. I would like to see more churches engaged and involved with what God is doing through it. The church must bring the truth of God’s word where the peoples’ eyes are fixed. Look no further than social media.
WHY SHOULD YOU PRAY? - Rashawn Copeland - YouTube
When asked about engaging the millennial generation from his perspective, here’s what Rashawn wrote:
Mentoring into Momentum
Starting them young will change everything.
I recently spoke at a youth gathering at a church in Oklahoma City. After the conference a young man who is currently a senior in high school. Johnny began to tell me how he recently found his way back to God, and how he’s now taking his walk with Jesus serious. Rashawn, I’m just hungry and longing for more,” He exuberantly states.” Rashawn, I have been having so many dreams. My dreams have been crazy but in a good way. I have seen myself doing huge things for God’s kingdom, but I continue to hear the same things from my leaders. “No, and Not yet.” I feel so small to hold such a big dream. I don’t think my pastor is meaning to, but honestly, I believe my gifts are reduced and restricted. There’s no one I can call a role model; I have no one challenging me, nor affirming me.
By the time young Johnny finished pouring out his heart, I began searching God’s heart for him. I simply asked him to take a seat with me let’s talk. He immediately said, “You see, this is the problem. That’s all leaders ever want to do is talk. After almost every conversation I have with potential mentors and my church leadership they always reference me a few books to read, and their favorite lectures to see.” I could hardly believe the passion of this young man. I could deeply sense his frustration.
Here’s what I got from the conversation with him that day.
1). The next generation is longing for genuine mentorship, and not just to be tasked to read a book. Books are really informative, but they aren’t as transformative as genuine face to face affirmation.
2). The next generation is longing to make a positive difference rather than just mere talk. Let’s take our ideas and turn them into items.
Let’s applaud youthful exuberance and not disregard it. Let’s continue to be a church that affirms and activates the gifts and callings within our congregations. God may send you just two, or maybe even twenty-two church planters. And he may send you a flock of Gospel loving entrepreneurs that may start thriving nonprofits. The discovery will only come when we as leaders tap into the untapped potential of our church.
God has enabled and promised to make you a difference maker, as Jesus promised His disciples, God will use you to influence the next generation to make an eternal difference in the world. Mentoring becomes momentous when we encourage, and challenge our young leaders to do “even greater things” (John 14:12.)
How can you bless the world changers of tomorrow, today? Here are two practical things you can do.
1). Openly encourage them by laying your hands on them as a sign of affirmation.
2). Pray for God to continue to bless, develop and deploy them into their unique callings.
What would this look like where you are currently leading? When would you do it? What words will you speak over the young and men God has been calling you to mentor?
Leadership Network is passionate about equipping the body while leading conversations and initiatives facing the Church today. I am so honored to join the team and provide a millennial female perspective. I hope to contribute not only knowledge and experience but passion for women in leadership and the church.
The rise of women in our culture today is at an all-time high and it has been beautiful to see so many women break barriers across so many sectors. Yet our culture’s narrative has been that ‘as woman rise, men must be put down and shamed on our way up.’ My heart is to see the women of my generation rise up, but not of this world. I desire that they be rooted and grounded in the truth; united, not divided with the Body of Christ, and women who pull others up with them as they are elevated.
Monica on We Are Unveiled - YouTube
Below, Monica shares her perspective on engaging the millennial generation.
I’m a small town girl from Hereford, TX. If you know where that is, then you know that we have more cows than people. I’m also a daughter of second-generation immigrants from Mexico and Spain. Growing up, I learned a lot about hard work, character and what it means to be a woman of faith.
As a minority and a millennial, I have watched and personally wrestled with the mostly accurate stereotypes on our generation. The entitlement, laziness, lack of respect, inability to commit, and the handful of other things you’re thinking.
I never imagined that the Lord would burden my heart so much for my own people and grace me with the gift to love them and influence them into their true identities as His children. But here I am, writing to you about one of the areas I am most passionate about seeing God redeem in this generation.
We live in a day and age where the rise of women is all around us. The old phrase, ‘anything you can do, I can do better’ has never rung more true with the female voice. From Nike commercials featuring women who are brave to be called ‘crazy’, to Bumble, where women are now empowered to make the first move on a guy, to the Kardashians who have build multi-million dollar empires all centered around a skewed body image. The list is endless but the underlying message is the same.
Women today can do anything a man can do.
As a woman rises, a man must fall.
Time’s Up- Women have the power now.
This world is opening up so many doors for women in leadership; in roles and positions that most women have never been in before. Women in my generation are seeing this and gaining a hunger to rise up like never before. They are seeing a world full of opportunities and are distracted. I see my generation full of passion to join in on the rise in women but are doing so at the expense of their true identities.
We are influenced by culture; letting the world tell us what a woman is vs. what the Word of God calls us to be. What’s worse is I’ve watched many of my friends and colleagues leave the church in search of a place where they can truly “grow as a woman today.” It’s all a lie, but the enemy won’t win.
I believe that if we as a church body begin to bring these women into our Churches as leaders, into our business’ to be groomed, and into our homes to learn, we will see a shift in who and what defines a woman today. We need a fresh wind of true identity for women. Our generation needs the church to be the ones to empower us BEFORE culture does. Woman empowerment is using your platform to disciple women by showing them who they truly are in Christ. My hope is that together we can change the story on Women Empowerment.
In this episode, Nils Smith and Nick Runyon are together to talk about one of the most confusing, overwhelming, yet exciting topics today–cryptocurrency. Nils and Nick address questions about why blockchain technology should matter to nonprofit organizations, especially churches, and share its advantages and disadvantages to a church’s mission, and more.
Share your thoughts using the hashtag #SMCPodcast.
Leadership Network is convening and accelerating some of the most influential churches in the nation. I just wanted to join where God is already moving while bringing my unique perspective to the table.
I hope to contribute by diversifying the network, normalizing discipleship, and emphasizing the importance of Sunday to Monday.
A Simple Way to Disciple Millennials | Grant Skeldon - YouTube
We’ve asked Grant to share his perspective on engaging the millennial generation. Here’s what he wrote:
Make the Commission Great Again
Over the years, many leaders have become frustrated with millennials because they’re not as cause-oriented as they were sold to be. I remember someone once complaining to me, “Millennials aren’t activists. They’re slacktivists!” (Someone who’s an activist…..only on their computer.)
I see his point. Young people can talk a big game, but not always back it up. Still, young people do have a higher propensity toward causes than generations before. But what many leaders don’t understand is this: Millennials aren’t drawn to causes. They’re drawn to cause communities.
Communities, Not Causes
Millennials don’t volunteer as individuals. They volunteer as groups. It’s not unheard of, but it is rare that I meet a young person who faithfully serves alone for a long period of time. For example, here are some causes everyone jumped on:
Remember when everyone was looking for Kony?
Remember when everyone put ice buckets on their head?
Remember when everyone was rocking LiveStrong bracelets?
Yet you probably won’t see anyone jumping on them today. Why did they stop?
Was Kony captured?
Is ALS no longer an issue?
Has cancer been cured?
No. The need hasn’t gone away, but the community has. Therefore, the millennials have too. I think we can all agree that one of the most well-known activists to ever live was William Wilberforce. When your cause takes more than 25 years to accomplish and successfully puts an end to the British slave trade, you’re no slacktivist. But what many forget is that Wilberforce didn’t
accomplish this alone. His community was crucial.
He joined the Clapham Sect, a diverse community of pastors, mathematicians, brewers, writers, artists, and members of parliament. It was a joint effort. It was a cause community. When things got tough—when their cause wasn’t trendy, when they had nothing going for them—they had each other and their convictions. Sounds a lot like the disciples and the early church.
If young people are looking for a cause community, they should look no further than the church. The church is the hope of the world. It’s the only institution Jesus built. So why is the world’s most cause-oriented generation not connecting to the world’s most cause-oriented organization?
I think they’re neglecting the cause-oriented organization (the church) because the organization is neglecting its cause (discipleship). Christ called us to make disciples of all nations, but the reality is most Christians don’t disciple anyone. Only 17 percent of Christians say they meet with a spiritual mentor as part of their discipleship efforts. It doesn’t sound like Jesus’s last words have been our first priority.
In Jesus’s last words, he gave us the Great Commission to go and make disciples (Matt. 28:18–20). I know there’s a lot of talk these days about making America great again. But what Christians really need to do is make the commission great again. (I may or may not have a red hat with this on it.)
The church doesn’t have a millennial problem. It has a discipleship problem.
Making disciples is the core of what the church needs to be about. I believe it’s our failure to do this that has turned off many millennials to the church. It’s not because the church played the wrong music or the pastor didn’t wear skinny jeans or have a big enough social media following. It’s because many churches stopped taking discipleship seriously. Instead of inviting young people to the same exciting and demanding adventure that Jesus called his disciples to, many churches effectively invited them to join a club and maintain the status quo.
The church can no longer bank on just providing content as their main commodity, because this generation can google content all day. In our digital world, the seeming value of content is at an all-time low. This is affecting colleges, the publishing industry, and even the church. You don’t need to go to church to get content. Millennials can live-stream a message, download a podcast, or watch a YouTube video. But there’s still no app for genuine connection and life-on-life discipleship. That’s what the church can provide that the world can’t.
I’m not saying discipleship is easy. I’m just saying it’s worth it. The Great Commission needs great attention, not mere spiritual finger-crossing.
Again, we don’t have a millennial problem; we have a discipleship problem. And if we don’t fix it, then millennials will be the last of our worries. Because there’s already another generation on the way. So what we prioritize over the next 10 years will either make or break the American church.
If they want a cause, let’s give them one. Instead of obsessing over how to reach millennials, let’s invest in how to mobilize them. Let’s disciple this generation so they can disciple the next.
“Christians have a bad reputation in this arena, and sadly, in many cases it is well deserved. We do not have a good track record of showing love and pursuing justice for LGBT+ people who have commonly suffered ridicule, condemnation, rejection, exclusion, discrimination, and even violence.” – Bruce Miller
In a time when sexual norms are changing rapidly, how can a local church be a place of grace—a loving community for all kinds of people—where everyone can flourish and disagreements are overcome in a Christlike spirit while at the same time stay true to biblical standards?
In a way that appeals to pastors and lay leaders alike, Bruce Miller’s Leading a Church in a Time of Sexual Questioning, from Leadership Network NEXT/Harper Collins Christian Publishing Book Series, offers a biblical theology of sexuality and provides practical wisdom for how a church can approach ministering to, and alongside, people who identify their sexuality in diverse ways: LGBTQ+. Here is a church-tested program full of wise pastoral insights to help church leaders think through day-to-day decisions, such as how to handle baby dedications, small groups, who can serve, membership, baptism, retreats, the Lord’s Supper, weddings, funerals, teaching, hiring, and caring for those caught in sin. If you are a leader who is facing any of these challenging issues and decisions, then this practical, grace-filled book is for you.
The following is an excerpt from Leading a Church In a Time of Sexual Questioning:
As church leaders, we’ve all sat across from someone in the middle of a difficult, even heartbreaking situation.
“Pastor,” in tears, “my daughter just came home from college and told me she thinks she is a lesbian. We don’t know what to do.”
You know these stories. And you have tried to help as best you could.
“Pastor,” with downcast eyes, “I’m over thirty and not married. Am I doomed to a life of singleness?”
You have tried to encourage her.
“Pastor,” in anger, “my son just put on Facebook that he is gay and dating some guy—for all the world to see. We are so ashamed. People will ask me about it. What do I say?”
You have seen this pain and given your best spiritual guidance.
“Pastor,” in confusion, “a seventh-grade girl told her small group she is bisexual and has a crush on another girl in the youth group. Should we let her come on the overnight retreat next month?”
You have counseled this youth pastor and sought wisdom from your leaders.
“Pastor,” in hope and trepidation, “my partner and I would like to dedicate our beautiful one-year-old daughter, Charis. Would the church let us do that?”
You have wrestled with how to show grace and stand for truth, and you have agonized over potential perceptions of the congregation and the meaning of a baby dedication.
“Pastor,” with evident frustration, “it has been more than a year since my wife and I have been intimate, and I have no idea what to do. Do I have to stay married to her?”
You have offered all the solutions you know to try.
“Pastor,” in fear and concern, “I think one of the children’s workers is gay. Should we let him continue to volunteer in our children’s ministry?”
You have prayed hard over how to appreciate the servant’s heart of this dear children’s worker while being sensitive to your church member’s concerns. You’ve also worried about the precedents you might set no matter what decision you make.
It would not be hard to list dozens more “Pastor, . . .” questions like these that test our spiritual discernment on how to lead our churches well through this time of sexual questioning. If you have been in church leadership for long, you have already had to address complicated, sensitive, and soul-wrenching issues arising out of sexual differences, orientations, and dysfunctions. These come up in youth groups, small groups, children’s classes, newcomer classes, and leader meetings.
Our responses to such sexually charged questions are amplified, and potentially become explosive, in our combative public discourse. As church leaders, we are keenly aware that our church could face a lawsuit. We also fear that the social media backlash from Facebook and Twitter could be almost as damaging, especially if we put our response in writing. It might be picked up by a reporter who smells controversy, and before we know it we are on the local news. You know someone in the church will get upset no matter what stance you take, and even a well-intended conviction to protect your church could transform into a backlash against your church.
For more Grace-Filled Wisdom for Day-to-Day Ministry, order your copy today.
A native of Dallas, Bruce and his wife, Tamara, have five children and 6 grandchildren. His other books include When God Makes No Sense: A Fresh Look at Habakkuk; Sexuality: Approaching Controversy with Grace, Truth and Hope; Same-Sex Wedding: Should I attend? Same-Sex Marriage: A bold call to the church in response to the Supreme Court’s Decision; and Big God in a Chaotic World: A Study of Daniel. Bruce has also authored, Your Church in Rhythm and Your Life in Rhythm and co-authored The Leadership Baton.