6 Ways to Undermine Your Influence on Social Media

6 Ways to Undermine Your Influence on Social Media

You probably see it every week. Leaders who undercut their influence by something they’’ve posted online. Sometimes they blow it completely through one or two dumb moves. Sometimes you end up thinking “I’’m not really sure I want to follow them anymore.” But you’’re not exactly sure why.

Loss of influence can be subtle, but it’s real. And it’s so easy to do, if you’’re not careful. Because of constant— exposure, social media makes influence easier to gain and that much easier to lose.

Almost every ministry leader is on social media today. So is almost everyone they lead. The opportunity to squander your influence is that much higher. Often, we do it without even realizing it. How do leaders undercut their influence on social media? Here are six subtle ways I’’ve seen it happen.

1. Portraying a life everyone suspects isn’’t real

It’’s so tempting to portray a perfectly manicured life. But everyone knows your marriage isn’t perfect and that your kids aren’t really as magnificently brilliant or wonderfully behaved as you let them on to be.

Bragging has become an online staple for many. Whether it’s kids’ awesome report cards, your house that can almost look like glossy mag/Pinterest/cable TV, or the selfie you and your spouse took on your date night.

But dig a little deeper and you’d discover:

  • You tweeted the two A’s, on the report card, but not the C’s.
  • The house only really looks showcase when you hold the camera at just the right angle just before sunset and as long as the dog doesn’’t photobomb the shot.
  • The selfie was taken a half hour after the fight ended.

We’’ve all been there. What’’s the key to building authentic influence online? It’’s being real.

You probably don’’t want to disclose every high or every low, but you do want to share a slice of everyday. The truth is most of us are pretty average. And average resonates. People want to know you’re real. Because if you are, they can relate to you. Oh, and God has a habit of using ordinary people.

2. Overdisclosing your struggles

So portraying a perfect life underdiscloses your struggles. But does being real mean you should overdisclose them? Not in the least.

When you overdisclose your struggles, you help nobody. When you talk about your long list of problems or what’s wrong with the world, you can miss the fact that you’re not in a conversation with anyone on those issues. You’’re just pulling a dump and run.

These three rules have helped me figure out when to talk about something publicly and when not to. Just because you need to tell someone your struggling doesn’’t mean you need to tell everyone you’re struggling. Tell a friend, and keep your phone in your pocket.

3. Posting when you’’re emotional

Nothing good happens when you’’re angry. When you’’re emotional, you rarely say things you’re proud of later on. So please don’’t tell us about it.

Sometimes you see emotional status updates.” I don’t know about you, but it makes me think the person just wants someone to take the bait and ask what happened or, more sadly, that the person doesn’’t have anyone to talk to.

If you start throwing some store that didn’’t process your return well, some leader or some other victim of your anger under the bus, it makes us wonder what you’’re saying about us when we’’re not the room.

If you’re angry, process it. Don’’t tweet it. Go to sleep. Wake up the next morning and my guess is your anger will be gone. Your status update won’’t be though. Unless of course, you never published it. Much smarter.

4. Playing politics

When ministry leaders jump into partisan politics, they lose influence. I’’m Canadian, so I realize I’’m likely suspect on all fronts here. But God isn’’t a Democrat or a Republican. He’’s God.

As a ministry leader, I’’m called to lead all people. Even the people I disagree with.

When you play politics online, you squander your influence. So I don’’t. We have people who vote in every direction at our church, which I think means we’re being the church.

5. Say something publicly instead of privately

You’’ve seen those status updates:

  • Some people are impossible to deal with!”
  • “I wish people would just….”..
  • I can’t believe that this person…

It’’s easier to say it publicly than it is privately, isn’t it? Absolutely. For all of us.

But great leadership demands that difficult conversations happen privately, not publicly. Talk to the person you’re upset with, not about them. Go direct.

6. Talking only about yourself

Who i’s your social media about? Is it all about you? Are you talking with others? Showcasing something bigger than yourself? Celebrating others?

We are all narcissists in one form or another, but social media has given us a platform to take self-indulgence and self-absorption to a whole new level. We are in the middle of the rise of the selfie-generation. With it comes a curse: a life devoted to self ultimately leaves us alone.

If you want to leverage influence well, spotlight others, even the people you lead.

A lot of us admire Donald Miller, but one of the things that makes his work so great is that he so often showcases others. He even redesigned his blog to feature many writers. I love that. Don’’t make it all about you. Your influence will grow.

How about you? What do you see that undercuts influence?

Reposted with permission. The original article can be found here.

Using Research to Structure Your Marriage Ministry

Using Research to Structure Your Marriage Ministry

by Matt Engel

Marriage Ministry can often be based on our best guess as church leaders. After all we understand the married people in our church and community, right? Maybe. But what if we don’’t?

While on staff at Mission Community Church in Gilbert, AZ, we decided to take a more calculated and targeted approach.

As we researched the community’’s desires and demographics, we gained data that drastically impacted our approach. One of the top things the data uncovered was that the average age was 39——and our ministry was not reaching our target group. Our research also unearthed that marriage was the top priority in the community and that marriage was the key topic that could draw unbelievers to our church. The unchurched didn’’t want to come to church to know God, but they did want to gain practical advice for their marriage. What a staggering statistic!

So the first task for our marriage ministry was to scale and sustain a ministry to meet this opportunity. The philosophy behind everything we created was offering the right couple the right information at the right time. Our previous approaches towards pre-marriage, enrichment, and crisis were only hitting a minority of our church and community.

As we continued to measure and improve couples’’ marriage health, we could cultivate continued buy-in and not worry about who was engaging because we were constantly adjusting our model to continually improve.


One of the easiest things we did was send out a survey to over 750 couples who attended our DateNightPhx event, and asked everyone for a ranking of environment, content, and current health of relationship. This was the quantitative side. Then we also asked for personal stories. The feedback we got off this began the cascade of changes we implemented in other areas of our ministry.

For example, we had people say that they didn’’t want to be separated from their spouses when going through courses, and they wanted to have more fun versus feeling beat up. They wanted a little content, but more fun. That is why we decided to go with a 51% fun, 49% content in our efforts.

Throughout all of our programming, we asked people who were both in and out of the church what they wanted or thought and delivered on that, instead of forcing something they didn’t want to happen. We tried to find out WHAT they wanted to happen and helped make THAT happen——and stopped assuming we knew it all.


This means we had to be willing to live in unknown unknowns. Let me explain. Picture a pie chart with three basic categories: the smallest piece on the chart is the KNOWN KNOWNS——for example, I KNOW my eyes are green.

The next piece slightly larger is the KNOWN UNKNOWNS, for example, I KNOW I DO NOT KNOW how to perform brain surgery.

The largest piece of the pie and maybe the most important is the UNKNOWN UNKNOWNS. An example of this is our willingness to listen, learn, and adapt as we begin to fill this piece of pie.

When we live in the UNKNOWN of UNKNOWNS, it frees us up from locking into one pattern! This piece of pie is where true learners live, and the investigation and constant monitoring and tweaking for continued improvements happens.

Don’t force or expect everyone to be in the same boat nor have the same desire. Leverage an approach that includes constant feedback and room for adjustments. Understanding who our people are and providing vision and direction is the one constant. People want to be known and empowered.



Matt Engel formerly worked as a Senior Director at Arizona State University, and then as Marriage Pastor at Mission Community Church in Phoenix, AZ. Matt is currently the Executive Vice President of Operations and Data Intelligence at Relationship Enrichment Collaborative.

How to Customize MP Monthly Using MailChimp

How to Customize MP Monthly Using MailChimp

by Robert Carnes

Email is an effective way your church can communicate with married couples. That’s why we created MP Monthly—a ready-made monthly email newsletter. It’s full of wise advice, dating tips, and conversation starters.

One option for sending out MP Monthly is to upload the pre-made template  into MailChimp and send as is. But what if you want to customize the template specifically for couples in your church? We’re so glad you asked.

Upload the Images

One way to customize the MP Monthly Ezine is by recreating the template within MailChimp. This starts by uploading the image files.

  • Download the MP Monthly zip file from your Strategy Pack.
  • Inside the folder is a subfolder labeled Images
  • In MailChimp, navigate to Templates from the main menu
  • Click on the Content Manager button in the top right
  • Drag and drop all of the image files from the MP Monthly folder into the MailChimp window
  • This will automatically upload these images into your media library

Start a Campaign

With the images successfully uploaded to the library, it’s time to create a new email campaign.

  • Navigate to Campaigns in the MailChimp menu
  • Click the Create Campaign button in the top right
  • Name the campaign and select Regular as the campaign type
  • Select your audience and write a compelling subject line
  • Read this for full details on setting up a new campaign

Recreate the Content

Now it’s time to recreate the content of the email from the template provided. This will allow you to fully customize the email you create.

  • Select a Basic One Column template
  • Click Next to Design the content
  • Return to your MP Monthly zip folder and locate the HTML file
  • Open this in a web browser (eg. Chrome) to preview the email template
  • Using MailChimp’s content blocks, recreate the structure of the sample email
  • Copy and paste the text from the HTML email into the text blocks
  • Add image blocks and browse your media library for the files you previously uploaded
  • Recreating the email in this way allows you to customize the content to fit your needs
  • Feel free to edit the text, add your own images or change up the layout

The Advanced Method

There is another way to customize the MP Monthly email, but it requires knowing how to read and edit HTML. This way is quicker, but much more technically complex.

  • Follow the instructions for uploading the zip folder as a template
  • This automatically creates the content of the email for you
  • However, the only way to customize is by editing the HTML code in the right panel
  • Pro tip: use the find text feature to locate the code that corresponds to the template; then edit like you would normal text

Congratulations! You’ve successfully customized a MP Monthly email using MailChimp. You’re one step closer to improving marriages in your church.


Robert Carnes is an editor/writer on the MarriedPeople Team.

Reaching Couples in their Inbox

Reaching Couples in their Inbox

by Tim Walker

Want to reach couples in real life? For many, that means hanging out in their inbox.

It’s where they get the notice that a bill is due.
Or that they need to bring $20 for the latest thing/event at school. (Why is it always $20—and so often?)

But what if you put something fun in their inbox? No, we’re not talking about all those “cute” emails your grandmother forwards everyone. But what if you put something in their email inbox that helped couples connect, laugh, dream, or just escape?

What if you gave couples go’s and do’s that they could actually go and do? That’s the mission of MarriedPeople Monthly, a resource that’s part of the Strategy Pack or can be purchased individually.

Every month, a new “issue” of MarriedPeople Monthly is available to subscribers either through a weblink or downloadable HTML files that can be loaded into an email management system like MailChimp or Constant Contact.

MP Monthly is also mobile-friendly. Couples can easily read the content together in a shared moment at a coffee shop, doctor’s office, or during dance or baseball practice.

But like other MarriedPeople resources, how/when/what you use is up to you. And also like our other resources, our MarriedPeople partners are taking the content and doing some awesome things.

Here are some of the ways just a few of our MP partner churches are showing their genius with MarriedPeople Monthlly:

“We utilize MailChimp and our list for the MP Monthly is specific to anyone that has attended any of our MP events. We’ve also created a FB group for our married folks in the church and community that people can request to be added to the list.” —Chris Fedorcek from City Light Church

“We post one part of the monthly on our church Facebook page every Monday and have our servant team share it. #MarriedPeopleMonday
We have also had each person on our servant team email the content directly to a group of couples they pray for each month. It builds a sweet connection and mentor potential.” —Josh Fortney from Pathway Church

Stephanie Porter from Eagle Rock Baptist Church used MP Monthly in a unique way. She breaks up the content into four different pieces, and sends it out each week branded as MP Weekly. Stephanie can help prompt couples to stay connected every week.

Couples are busy and many are on the go constantly. MP Monthly is something that many of them can take with them, and it gives them a way to use technology to reconnect.

Smart leaders like Chris, Josh, and Stephanie are finding ways to reach of their communities where they are. We think you’re really smart, too! You know the couples in your church better than us, and how to reach them in their everyday lives. So what do you think is the best way for you to use MP Monthly to reach them?

Post your ideas below.

3 Ways the Church Can Approach Marriage When Working with Millennials

3 Ways the Church Can Approach Marriage When Working with Millennials

I am passionate about Millennials and marriage? Why? I did not come from the fairy tale story. I have seen my share of pain, disappointment and dysfunction. I am a Millennial who is part of that 50% who come from a divorced home.

I too feared marriage and when I finally met “the one,” I remember praying to God, “Please help me not screw it up.”

Just like you, I grew up hearing many fights, seeing lots of pain and catching a lot of tears. Marriage in my home was not pretty but despite all of that, I knew that it was God’s best.

So, I made the plunge and got married and in all honesty, I have never had a regret. Fortunately, Justin and I had family and mentors in our life who let us sit back and see covenantal marriage lived out. They set great examples of marriage and how it should reflect the very heart of God. The church really has an opportunity to meet a generation right where they are and BE the church.

Here are three approaches that pastors and church leaders can take that could help change the perception of marriage among the Millennial generation:

Approach Marriage Holistically

Changing Millennials perception of marriage starts with healing from the inside out. Think about it, 50% of Millennials come from divorced homes, which causes many to be simply repelled and fearful of the institution. Churches today can create a safe community that models Godly marriages and relationships that bring healing where there is brokenness.

The church should begin working with young couples as soon as love blooms while they are dating or engaged. Millennials value mentorship making it a great opportunity for the leaders to guide, support and equip these couples for successful marriages. We have seen religion fail to keep marriages together, but when there is a community of support and open communication, marriage and Godly relationships can thrive.

Approach Marriage Authentically

Did you know that church leaders are in the modeling business? Your role is to model a Godly (not perfect) marriage in an authentic way that changes the negative perception that Millennials have towards marriage.This means that you must make YOUR marriage a priority by investing in your spouse.

Take your spouse on dates, romance the heart, leave sweet notes, clean the kitchen (we call that Chore-play in our house) and keep falling in love and pursuing your spouse.

Approach Marriage Intimately

Another way to approach marriage that can help change Millennials perception is by having genuine conversations about sex and sexuality that embodies grace and truth. Sex has been perverted in the world and ignored in the church.

The church needs to talk about sex! God designed sex to be holy, pure and intimate not perverted, dirty and disingenuous. If the church does not lead in the conversation about sex than the world will.

The church must seize the moment to prepare, equip and encourage the next generation of couples for strong marriages because families matter, marriage matters, and the church can lead the way.

Jennifer Murff is the president of Millennials for Marriage. She is also a graduate of Dallas Baptist University and Regent University where she hold a Doctorate of Strategic Leadership with an emphasis on strategic foresight focusing on millennials and the future of marriage at Regent University’s School of Business and Leadership.

Reposted with permission. This article originally appeared here.

Using Social Media to Promote Date Nights

Using Social Media to Promote Date Nights

by Tim Walker

Most couples know they should date. But the reality of schedules, children with stomach viruses, money, and just the thought of the same old thing quickly become deterrents. After a while, you just quit trying.

But time alone between couples is important. It keeps them connected. It reminds them of why they got together in the first place. It’’s also why we include four Date Nights in our MarriedPeople Strategy Pack. And why we create these date nights to be fun and memorable moments for a couple, not a therapy session.

So how do you get couples to move from “we should do this,” to “let’’s actually do this”? How does the church promote Date Night for couples. Why not harness the power of social media?

Here are some tips and ideas to make a date night a trending topic with the couples in your church:

•Save the date

Set a date on the calendar that will be the official “Date Night” for your married couples. Since we provide four dates a year, that means, wait for it . . . setting aside four dates on the calendar. Not everyone will be able to go out that night, and may need to set a substitute date, but by making a night an official date night, you are showing that it’’s important. And you’’re giving couples a marker on the calendar to work around and hold sacred.

To ensure that couples save the date (in more ways than one), send out an evite or email blast with the Save the Date dates.

•Feed the buzz

As the event draws closer, create a lot of buzz online. Post messages to Facebook, send tweets via Twitter, post images to Instagram to build some excitement about Date Night. Here’s an example of something you may want to tweet:

Don’’t you and your spouse need some serious fun? [insert date] is the night to make it happen.

•Before leaving the house

Once you distribute the Date Nights, you can encourage couples to find some place new to try with smart phone apps like Yelp or Urban Spoon. You can also let them know about special deals in the area through sites like Groupon or Amazon Local.

•Out and About and offline

Unless otherwise instructed in the MarriedPeople Date Night PDF, while on their date, encourage couples to stay offline. We want them to connect with one another, and not the rest of the virtual world.

•Post Post-Event

Send out an email or post online encouraging couples to upload photos from Date Night using #mpdates. Post the pics to your church website, blog and/or Facebook page. It’’s a great way to show what fun date nights can be, and a great promo for your next “date night.”

These are just a few ideas of how you can utilize social media to create some buzz around date nights.

What are some ways your church has used social media to promote date nights?


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