Archive for October, 2011

@maurilio:

52

The Christian Ghetto and Social Media

“Every good idea must have a similar, but yet inferior Christian version.”  Unfortunately, I think that’s a sad reality these days. I have lost count of the times I was asked if my company, The A Group, could help a church or ministry to create a Christian version of Facebook. Seriously.  Should every church have its own alternative to Facebook? For some un-Biblical reason, we Christians find the need to abandon our culture and gather together in what I call the  “Christian Ghetto.” The Christian Ghetto is a place where you go to hang out with your Christian friends, fill up a website with Christian pictures and Christian videos of lots of happy people, bad preaching and youth camp promos. There’s not much witnessing and shedding of light in the ghetto since everyone is already convinced and the place is way too bright as is. I understand the need for…

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6

How to Buy Designer Clothes on a Budget

The retail price is never final. I learned that lesson early in life from my father who is a master bargainer. But I didn’t know that I could take my third world bargaining skills into the heart of the first world fashion district in Manhattan. This is a fashion post, sort of. I hear from guys or their wives who want to buy a designer jacket or suit but don’t have the budget to afford it. Here are a few tips to get you into the nicer clothes you thought you could not afford. Set your budget before going shopping. Much like buying a car or something expensive, you can get caught “in the moment” and end up spending your children’s college fund in new clothes. It’s easy to do. Don’t ask me how I know it. Find a locally owned high-end store. The reason I prefer to shop in…

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26

How to Screw Up Christmas 5 Different Ways

Christmas Eve is a great opportunity to reach those outside the church that often goes unused. I’m usually arguing with several pastors during this time of the year. Seems like every year I have to convince a Senior Pastor that Christmas Eve is a powerful and great opportunity for outreach. Catholic churches have known this for centuries. Evangelicals are just now waking up to it. Here are the top 5 mistakes churches can make when planning their Christmas services. Give the staff Christmas Eve off. That’s a critical mistake that a lot of churches make. Christmas Eve is a great opportunity to reach out to people who want to connect with God and their families and who are looking for an opportunity to do so. Done well, your Christmas Eve service could be one of the best attended service of the entire year. If you are in ministry, working on…

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6

Uniqlo: A Lesson on Brand, Retail and Business Strategy

This past weekend I happened upon Uniqlo on 5th Avenue in Manhattan. I must confess, I didn’t know anything about the brand, but after shopping in its brand new 90,000 square foot flagship store, I have become a fan. I’m enthusiastic not because I like their clothing, which I do, but because in a time where retailers are struggling to “make it,” Uniqlo seems to have figured out what we want. The best way I can explain the brand is by saying that Uniqlo is for clothing what Ikea is for furniture, but with better quality stuff. Uniqlo started in Japan and was once a men’s clothing store. Now it’s making a play as a global brand. Here’s what I think these guys have gotten right from a branding, marketing and business model. They design and produce their own clothing line. They are not competing with everyone else for the…

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6

The 5 Average: What Impact Your Closest Friends Have

Someone said you are the average of the 5 people closest to you in every area of your life. That thought has stayed with me for a long time. Could it be true? Think about the 5 people whom you are the closest at this point in life. Where are you financially, physically, spiritually in relation to them?  We grew up hearing about the dangers of peer pressure and not getting “mixed up with the wrong crowd.” People have a way to affect us negatively as well as positively, and in my experience, no relationship is strictly one way. Not for long, anyway. So we influence those around us as much as they influence us. For the sake of this mental exercise, let’s then assume we ARE the average of the five people closest to us. What are the implications not only for where we are currently in our life…

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19

The Problem with the Fake Blog

“And let’s also add a blog to the new site design,” he said as if it were an afterthought, which I was sure it was. Knowing his propensity for delegating, I probed further, “That’s great. How often are you planning on blogging?” “Oh, I’m not going to write the blog myself, ” he said assuredly, “my secretary is going to take care of that.” Unfortunately, I find myself having this conversation with Pastors and business leaders more and more often. What ensues is usually a long argument about what a blog should or shouldn’t be. Here are some thoughts on the matter: Your blog should be your voice. It’s telling your story or the things you’re passionate about. No one else can do it for you. Are you sure you want your assistant speaking for you? If you have a corporate blog than, it’s a different matter. You can even…

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14

Churches and the Dangers of Line Extension

Churches cannot grow  strong using a side-door strategy. Side doors are everything else a church does besides teaching the gospel and helping  people grow in their faith. Somehow along the way, church leaders have decided that music concerts, recreation programs, cafeterias, schools, bookstores and even quilting groups were church-worthy pursuits and a proliferation of side-door ministries began to show up in large churches. At the end of the day, none of them, I’m convinced, can grow and keep a church healthy. If the world of marketing, we call this problem, line extension, or the adding of products and services to a brand until it’s diluted and ineffective. A while back I visited a church that reminded me of the dangers of line extension. What started as an outreach ministry of the church years ago, suddenly began to take a life of its own and became a huge resource and energy…

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5

Fall to Winter Looks for Guys

Some of you have asked me lately what are some looks that can easily transition from Fall to Winter. I have put together options that would work for most men and are not too “out there.” While these are expensive name brands, you can find similar options most any place. Just take the inspiration from the designers and go hunt for a bargain. If you look hard, you’d be surprise of the stuff you can find at places like T.J.Maxx and Stein Mart.   What’s your favorite look in this collection?

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24

The Authenticity Trap

Authenticity is the new oratory device of the day for Christians. Self disclosure and complete openness have never been so popular among evangelicals. The days of leaders who spoke from a strong tower of knowledge, holiness, and utter discipline seem to be numbered. Over the past decade I have seen a communication shift that takes speakers and authors from a place of strength and knowledge alone and puts them in a more honest, imperfectly human dialogue context with their audience. I have personally enjoyed this shift. It resonates with my fallen nature and helps me to know that even those whom I admire struggle like I do. Lately I have been concerned with the inevitable abuse of the authenticity device. As the pendulum swings from the bully pulpit of years past into the self-disclosing conversational approach of our social-media rich environment, it continues past center into what I call the…

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22

Google and Search Engines are Ruining our Lives

Google and search engines are ruining our lives. I’m convinced of it. Sure, we can now find everything we want to know about any given subject by typing a word and hitting search. Now wait. We don’t even have to finish typing the word. Magical internet search engine elves anticipate our search criteria and fill in the rest of word or phrase for us, most of the time with eerily accuracy.  What’s so wrong about that? Well, the instant retrieval of exactly the information we search for is convenient for sure, but it is doing away with a part of my past I wish I could still have: serendipitous discovery. I remember looking through the card catalog and pouring through stacks of books in my college library in search of a book and finding authors and titles that were not even on my radar, but due to the “analog” nature…

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