Right Now Media: How to Use It

We spend too much energy following the news and writing angry comments on social media. If we spent that energy a different way, how could God use us to change the world? In a book I am reading by Clarence Thomas, My Grandfather’s Son, he learned that to help others, he needed to be in a position to be helpful. If our heart is sick, how can we help others be well?

Right Now Media is available on ROKU and your computer. Our church offered this to its congregation. I spent the first night going through Psalm 119, then listened to part of Francis Chan’s series on Mark. In exploring both ROKU and the site on my computer, I see so much potential for church members to make disciples.

Here are some initial suggestions: 

Whatsapp Chat Bible Study

  • Ask people to join you in a chat Bible Study on Whatsapp.
  • Create a group within Whatsapp. Whatsapp is secure.
  • All of you with an account on Right Now Media can choose a series to do together.
  • The leader posts each episode in the group each week and with reminders to watch to encourage participation.
  • The group watches one episode a week on their own time.
  • The leader opens it up for comment on WhatsApp.
  • The group leaves their thoughts and questions on it for discussion.
  • Whatsapp allows video, text, images, and even calls.
  • Don’t forget to download the study guide from your computer.

Right Now Media Video Conference Bible Study

  • If you log into Right Now Media on the computer, you can start a video conference virtual meet up to watch the same episode together and discuss it.
  • You can also do this on Zoom.
  • Don’t forget to download the study guide from your computer.

You don’t need to be a Bible scholar to lead a Bible Study. All you need is a desire to follow Jesus even into new areas of thought or to share some real hope with your neighbors. Making disciples is simply conversation. In doing this as a new habit, God will help your heart heal and refocus you during these interesting times.

I’ll be praying for you.

photo of people doing handshakes

How to Create a Digital Report

For context, go to WorldVenture to view the three-part video, How to Form a Digital Team, a video series from WorldVenture highlighting the importance of your church or ministry using your digital platforms for making disciples. You may take this post and make your own out of it. This is okay. Do whatever works for your audience, your team. This video series and this blog post are part of a larger series called, The Church on Mission.

This post goes with today’s resources available at worldventure.com (click here).

The digital report serves two purposes for your online ministry.

  • Shares with ministry leadership both the digital discipleship value and data of the online ministry as observed by the digital team and the exported data or observed data of the online platform you are using for the live feeds.
  • The report encourages the leadership, the congregation, and the digital team to continue with serving online even through what feels like unfruitful periods of ministry.

The data is important, but not as important as showing the digital discipleship value, like comments. Your team may not be techie and your leadership may find more encouragement in the digital discipleship side than the numbers side. You might be a data person, but not everyone can picture people when they look at numbers.

The report can be done in Microsoft Word, Google Doc, or Pages. For this post, I will be using Microsoft Word as an example. A pdf form is accessible here for your use, or email me for the Word format to edit.

You can also create an excel document with just the data, or simply export the data from your social media platform. Pay close attention to the data that is most important to your ministry, like views. The rest of the data is useful for knowing how to post to your ministry or church digital platforms, like days which are popular for posting. Since I encourage the use of personal social media in making disciples online in addition to any disciple-making tools your church or ministry adopts, that data is not so useful to your team.

First, create the folders and sub-folders in your computer with how you would like to organize the reports. Second, open a blank document like Microsoft Word and name it “(name of your church)” with dates of report. You can use the pdf form I have provided which lays out how the report should look.

For Grace Church, we use Monday through Sunday in our weekly reporting.

Note the line, “As read on…” because the views or other data present on Facebook can change by the hour as more people view the page.

Add a line for an update on the Digital Team. As the leader of the Digital Team, you want to encourage the leadership over you to continue to pray for the team in your ongoing efforts online. Also, let them know the dates you are meeting with the team for prayer. It’s okay if members of the congregation or leadership wish to join your weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly prayer and strategy meetings. It’s a great way to bring in new teammates or to encourage more prayer support in ministry.

For this report, my church uses Facebook primarily as their preferred digital platform. Facebook is ideally set up for ministry with groups, Facebook Lives that have a comfortable chat section with newer comments easily found, and rooms that allow for small group meetups by video conferencing. If you are a digital team, you might also include the next sub-section, “Social Media Tips” in case you are helping a church learn how to manage their own digital platform. Otherwise, you can skip that part and go on to the stats.

The rest of the report should be formatted as follows:

  • Start with the Facebook or Social Media subscribers, followers, or likes. Use symbols to show whether the count is up, down, or unchanged.
  • Set up the section for Facebook or Youtube Live Feeds.
    • Separate the services out.
    • Keep Youtube and Facebook separate.
    • If you have assigned digital team members to the service, add their names.
    • How many shares?
    • How many reactions?
    • How many views?
    • How many comments should be followed in the next bullet point of notable or meaningful comments. I normally choose comments that express thoughts of the sermon, how the pastor is connecting with the person, prayer requests or praises, etc.
  • Copy and paste the service section if you have more than one service streaming.
  • The next section should be notable Facebook posts. These are posts that have gotten a lot of reactions, shares, and/or received some notable comments. If there are meaningful comments on these posts, refer to them in the report.
  • If you have one or more Facebook groups, list them here as the pdf indicates: Name of group, purpose of group and group link.
    • List how many members are in the group and use the symbols in Word to indicate up, down, or no change.
    • List group posts, comments, reactions, and shares that are meaningful.

The purpose of the group is to show how the Saturday or Sunday service is connecting with your community and the world. The report must be laid out with a focus on connections. You can include other live streaming ministries in this report. By converting the pdf I’ve provided in Word, you can alter this report to better suit your needs in ministry. Or, again, email me for the Word document.

If you have any questions, please email me.

photo of people doing handshakes

Introducing The Church on Mission

Starting November 2 through WorldVenture, I will be publishing a series of videos and blogs called The Church on Mission to help the church and Christian nonprofit make disciples online and reach the unreached.

With COVID19 and prior predictions from notable sources that the church is changing in how we worship and how we gather due to technology and globalization, those of us involved in the digital world want to help the church recognize her ability to reach the unreached, the unloved, and the unchurched.

The first video, How to Form a Digital Team, will include three videos, a PowerPoint for your use, a list of trusted resources for further digital training, and a sample report form to get your congregation and leadership excited about digital discipleship.

The videos go as follows:

  • Introduction (1 minute)
  • The Template (3 minutes)
  • Review and Strategy (3 minutes)

It is designed so the international church leader can tweak it to his or her context in teaching their church congregations to make disciples online. It is also designed for the US church.

The series will be a long one and I will announce new videos and blogs as they are created.

Please be praying for this series.

How to Choose Better

Yesterday, I wrote a piece for WorldVenture, How Social Media Can Help You Live Deeply. In researching this article, I came across Proverbs 13:20,

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Who do you allow in? It’s certainly not my Facebook profile that determines whom I let into my heart. That’s just my living room with my Facebook Page being the front porch. However, what you read on your friend’s posts and your own newsfeed does saturate your heart, and most times with a lot of angst. It’s like a song on repeat. This is why learning your privacy settings and tools are important.

On Facebook, you can snooze someone for 30 days or choose to unfollow them completely without cutting that connection. I wish other social media sites had similar tools. With the people who text you or with people that you regularly meet for coffee, they are harder to Snooze or unfollow.

Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, says part of Proverbs 13:20, reminding us to choose the people we let into our heart carefully. Wise friends will lead us closer to Jesus, hold us accountable for our decisions, and even speak the truth when we least like to hear it. Proverbs 13:20 finishes with, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.

Who are those companions of fools?

  • They are the ones who enable us to live a way that leads us farther away from the person God wants us to become;
  • who say take another drink or use that drug even to your harm;
  • or people who can’t handle you when life falls apart;
  • or people who take advantage of another’s vulnerability to get something in return.

Not everyone can be that wise friend. Some people are built with bigger shoulders than others to catch the tears.

On Facebook or social media, it’s okay to have many friends or followers, cutting the connection only if it becomes toxic. But, your close friends should be the wise ones who help you choose better and bring you closer to Jesus.

How to Fight Off Wolves

“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.– Matthew 7:15 

The internet contains more than 50,000 sermons. How do we discern between the Word of God being preached and what our online Bible Study last evening called, scoffers?  

A scoffer is someone who looks after his own interests, denies Christ in words and/or actions–a wolf in sheep’s clothing. In this age of media, here is how to be a more discerning believer as per Gaye Austin’s online teachings (in her words):  

  1. ACTION 1: Verify—write down what is being said.  
  1. ACTION 2: Clarify—write down what is said from both points of view; ask if it violates one of the cardinal doctrines: virgin birth, the inerrancy of Scripture, etc.  
  1. ACTION 3: Pray for understanding and insight. In John 14:26, Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would bring to their minds what Jesus taught. If we are anointed with the indwelling Holy Spirit, can He not do the same for us?  

According to a Lifeway Study, only 32 percent who attend church regularly read the Bible every day. It’s not a church building that will bring people closer to God, but it can be the church people who make disciples starting with spending time with the Lord and learning about Him through the Bible. Then, sharing your knowledge appropriately in the face-to-face and online.  

That includes… 

  • Being active on your church’s Facebook or Youtube Lives. Not just checking in. Sharing your thoughts on the sermon. Engaging others online with love.  
  • Sharing what you are learning in your daily or weekly study of the Bible and allowing others to challenge you or ask you questions. To help you bear the challenges, come at sharing what you are learning from a position of humility. Afterall, most of us are not theologians. Our desire to learn the Bible is to draw closer to the Lord. Our pride should not get in the way.  
  • Use social media as a tool to help you get into good disciplines. It is not whether we should limit our time online, but how we use it. If you are scrolling and sharing out of habit or boredom, you are not using your time well.  
  • Allow margin in your day-to-day schedule for God-appointments (online and face-to-face).  

How do you discern out of the more than 50,000 sermons shared online what is God’s truth and what is fluff or self-promotion?  

Read your Bible and pray.

Then, be a part of God’s plan of transformation in yourselves and in other people by using your social media differently and invest time in other people’s lives online and in the face-to-face.   

How to Love Others in 5 Not-So-Easy Ways

Sitting in the coffee shop, sipping ice tea on a hundred-degree day across from a new friend, I was reminded again of Proverbs 27:17: As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. We talked about love. The topic of love has been on my mind lately.

Over social media, people use the Bible to try to emotionally blackmail another person to agree with or to comply with choices the other party is not in agreement with. This isn’t love. Love is determined by the motivation of the speaker. The Bible uses many examples on what loving your neighbor looks like. Then, you learn about the different Greek words that describe the different kind of loves that are mentioned in the Bible, like Agape.

Got Questions defines Agape love as that which, “…involves faithfulness, commitment, and an act of the will.” They use 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 as an example. I have even heard Agape described as sacrificial love in other articles.

 The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman, published in 1992, on how to express love “…in your spouse’s language”, reminded me that each of us has a love language and won’t recognize love unless expressed to us in that language. It doesn’t only apply to spouses, but friends, neighbors, and even strangers. If we want to love others like Jesus, following His example is important, and understanding what the Bible says about it is necessary. It’s also important to understand who your neighbor, friend, or even the stranger is when trying to love them. Social media makes that easy (and hard) to do.

I recently read a Tweet about a man who reconciled with his friend after a four-year shut down in communication. The original argument was over politics. He wrote at the end of his tweet, “FOUR years lost.”

Loving others is not easy, and it takes sacrifice, like Jesus. When you Google “love your neighbor scripture”, this link comes up. When you read the Bible in context and you see all the love verses together, Clarity happens, and the truth confronts your spirit. Because you love the Lord, obedience is the next step. There’s nothing natural about it, either.

How do we love our neighbors, friends, and strangers when both face-to-face and online relationships are tough right now?

  1. Count Others More Significant Than Yourselves (Philippians 2:3): The relationship comes before your preferences. As a leader, I am learning John 13:1-17, when Jesus washed his disciples feet. Yes, I want to be that kind of leader, that kind of friend, and that kind of person. The word honor comes to mind. I want to honor others before myself, and this can be done without sacrificing my values or the relationship. In practical ways, some suggestions might be to ignore thoughtless online remarks, let another person know privately or publicly that you prayed for their request, be a good guest instead of a demanding one, and always give more than you receive out of the sheer joy in being generous. Look for ways online and face-to-face where you can serve a need or even a want. Everyone likes to receive that unexpected card or gift in the mail. Don’t be too proud to pick up a broom.
  2. Unity for The Gospel: In reading Philippians 4, two women had a quarrel in the church. Paul implored them to, “…be of the same mind in the Lord.” Both women needed to recall that the Gospel that they had in common was more important than the quarrel. Much work can be accomplished if our differences can be resolved. What gifts were we given to serve the Lord? How has the Lord prepared us for the work He has for us? It goes on to say in the chapter to “Show a gentle disposition to all men” (online and face-to-face).  
  3. Learn About Your Friends. Lurk on their profiles. Study your friends. Learn about how they need to be loved. For some, it is gifts. For others, acts of service. Respond accordingly. How can you use your own social media to help them rejoice? How can you practically help them? Have no agenda in the realm of friendship. Invest time in online and face-to-face conversations. Where possible, avoid phone calls, and instead use video calls so you can see each other’s facial expressions.
  4. Speak Truth if You Have the Relationship: We don’t have the right to speak into someone else’s life unless that permission is given. Build the friendship first, and you build trust. Cherish that trust. Put the Gospel first above any other “truth”. Respect the other person in your choice of words and tone. It’s advisable online to use emojis for facial expressions.
  5. Forgive. The divide and anger are so thick one could cut it and serve it on a plate. Forgiveness is essential for our souls, to be reconciled with each other, and it is also a process, depending on the sore point. But, it is worth the effort to forgive, if not for our own sakes.

This love thing is really a struggle. If we ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”, we must know the answer to that was: the cross.

Now, what?

4 Ways Harriet Tubman Inspired Me

A Commentary on Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton

“’The Lord told me to do this. I said, ‘Oh Lord, I can’t—don’t ask me—take somebody else.’ But Tubman also reported that God spoke directly to her: ‘It’s you I want, Harriet Tubman.’” (pg. 82)

Harriet Tubman was a missionary, and not your typical missionary. Harriet was a fugitive slave with the Underground Railroad who later served as a spy with the Union Army. She didn’t choose to become a “missionary”, rather she was chosen. In fact, many who knew her would say God chose her for that role. Through her lifetime, she encountered many of the same issues and situations missionaries face when answering a calling.

Harriet Tubman oftentimes raised her own funding. Even in her later years, William Seward (United States Secretary of State, 1861-1869) was visited by Harriet many times for donations to her various projects. Harriet was generous to a fault so much so that William Seward said, “You have worked for others long enough…If you ask for a donation for yourself I will give it to you, but I will not help you to rob yourself for others.” During her time as an Abductor for the Underground Railroad, she often spent the summers working at a resort to save up money for her trips into slave territory to bring more slaves to freedom. Between this and her later years of championing the causes of women and the elderly, four things occurred to me:

  • Our support is dependent upon churches and individuals. We raise up capital to serve in the role we feel God has chosen for us. Like Harriet, our roles may involve public speaking or other influential people advocating for our cause to get more funding. Perhaps, we may even publish books or writings to build up awareness of our causes with this act helping us to raise further funds.
  • False narrative was a problem back then, too. In some of the accounts in the book, enthusiastic abolitionists wanted to showcase what was happening in a way that would emotionally tug at people’s souls, causing them to give more. Near the end of Harriet’s life, when she needed more money, an author wrote a biography of her which was an exaggerated work. It sold and provided some extra cash for Harriet.
  • Other lessons from Harriet’s life, such as her adoration of John Brown, remind me to stay obedient to the Lord. John Brown was an extreme and charismatic abolitionist. He even made his own manifesto to create his own country and planned a battle in which he died. Harriet wanted to join him in that battle, but she reported that God didn’t want to her to go. Harriet’s work might have been compromised and her life prematurely ended had she joined John Brown in that battle.  
  • When Harriet discovered John Tubman’s remarriage, the rage became a more practical anger. John refused to see her. “She did not give way to rage or grief, but collected a party of fugitives and brought them safely to Philadelphia.” (pgs. 82-83). Right now, we live in an age of rage. Instead, we ought to look at practical ways to process our emotions during this time of history. Harriet didn’t spend her time complaining about John or wallowing in self-pity. She did something whether through service or donation.

As Supported Staff with WorldVenture in Digital Disciple-Making, I’m finding ministry a practical outlet for the uncomfortable time we are living through. I can’t change the circumstances we are living in (social unrest, worldwide shut downs, etc), but I can change how I act, how I serve, and instead process that grief and discomfort through helping and encouraging others online. Even my financial partners have taught me about generosity in that I hope to live a generous life myself no matter the circumstances.

Thank you, Harriet Tubman, for living a courageous, selfless life and for loving others well.

3 Ways to Make Room for God

“Since I cannot govern my own tongue, tho’ within my own teeth, how can I hope to govern the tongues of others?” – Benjamin Franklin

Taking a stand doesn’t mean being the loudest person in the room, especially on social media. Follow God in making a positive impact in your community and stick close to Him during this time. Trust Him.

I know it’s hard with everything going on to feel like you have no control over what is happening in the world, and that speaking out gives you a feeling of control. But, like this flower, you can bloom. We’ve been so blessed as a country to live in a prosperous nation, and maybe now we see the reason why we are here? It’s been so easy to live here versus other parts of the world (from what I read). I wonder sometimes, as we chafe against what is happening, why we still want our old habits?

Let God use this time to change you into a new creation and set aside the old. On this 4th of July may we look at ourselves and see what God wants us to do going forward (and not the God we have invented for ourselves, but the God as represented in the Bible). Maybe it’s time to start a new Bible reading and prayer habit?

Here are 3 suggestions to help you form new habits:

  • Get up earlier than your normal hour if your day is full. A story from missionary history reminded me that spending time with God means rising early for some people. When my work schedule changed after I started a new job, I continued rising at the same hour each morning to make sure my relationship with the Lord wasn’t neglected. Maybe you are an evening person? Stay up late. Perhaps your lunch hour works best for you? Bring your Bible to work.
  • Use Your social media to stay accountable to your walk with God. The first sentence in this blog was, “Taking a stand doesn’t mean being the loudest person in the room.” This followed a quote from Benjamin Franklin. What you write on social media is what you are and reflects your heart. The posts online can either make you bitter or you can start controlling your dietary intake of what you read. Keeping your heart healthy means learning how to use social media in a way that benefits both you and your readers, followers, and friends. Perhaps share what you are learning on Sunday, in Bible Study, and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the Bible online. Be discerning in whose answers you accept by comparing the answers to what you are reading. Commentaries can be helpful in this.
  • Bible apps are wonderful. You can fit them on your phone and your phone can fit in your pocket. Grab a bottle of water and take a walk with God. Find a quiet place to sit and read a chapter. Ponder that chapter. Focus on it for the rest of the day. What did you read? What did you just learn about Bible history? How can you apply it now? What did it mean then?

Take care of your heart during this time and make God a priority. Talk to Him. As Benjamin Franklin said, you can’t control what others post (or how their posts make you feel), but you can control what you post.

*Picture taken on a trail in Arizona.

humility

Why Your Social Media Strategy Should Include Humility

“How we think of the people we work with and for. Our willingness—or lack of willingness—to consider their well-being, not simply focusing on how they can benefit us. Of meeting them at their point of need rather than our own. Of treating people like Jesus treats people.”Lead Like Jesus, Humility

The pressure of having a social media platform and being a “voice” or what some call an “expert” puts me as a Christian in an awkward position. Digital ministry needs more humility, not more experts.

Since COVID19, several “experts” online have divided the world. In some ways, each of us with a social media platform are suddenly experts in everything and we are leaders. When I received the Lead Like Jesus devotional in my email this week, I was struck by the above quote. To put into social media speak, here’s how I would re-write it:

  • We must admit there is more to leadership than we think, and to ask for wise accountability in our lives as we serve on social media. Ask a couple of people to hold you accountable to how you act online. My pastor is one of those people as is my husband and a mentor.  
  • Consider the well-being of those in your social media list who follow your posts. What do they need to hear? How can you serve them? Don’t focus on how they can benefit you. Listen to their voices. How is God calling you to serve them?  
  • As you gain knowledge and experience online, help others who may struggle with technology use their social media in the most beneficial ways possible to transform their communities.

Just today, I was reading a report put out by Visual Story Network. In it, I was struck by how people in digital ministry need a help center as they experiment in digital discipleship. Another part of the report shared how their supervisor directed them to the training and how only 15% implemented a media strategy immediately following the training. What struck me about the report is how we need to help each other. There are no experts, but you do have some people with more experience than others, especially in social media and marketing.

Asking for help, getting quality input from those you’ve set as accountability partners in your life, and learning how to listen online are important steps in digital discipleship. A drive fueled by a deep desire to share the Gospel with people and see them transformed through Christ should motivate you to serve. Everyone seems like an expert in something on social media. How many are humble on social media?

Suggestions for Serving:

  • Lead your efforts with prayer.
  • Accept correction and understand your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Study your social media follows and friend list. Pray for them.
  • Help your church by serving with them online.
  • Study both secular and Christian marketing sources, but ask yourself, “How will this help me make disciples and share the Gospel?” Adapt what you learn to your context.    
opportunities

Of Lost Opportunities

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Read Ephesians 4:11-32

Originally, I was looking for verses online around the topic of “reeds blowing.” In my mind, I visualized social media campaigns and the people who are susceptible to follow them like reeds being blown by the wind, or as it states in Ephesians 4:14, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Social Media campaigns are like that. We click, we share, and we vent, even to the sacrifice of shutting down conversations with others or rupturing friendships.

In seeking the right verse for an image I was creating, I decided to read the whole chapter of Ephesians 4. David Guzik breaks it down to 3 subtopics: “A Call for Unity Among God’s People,” “The way God works unity: through spiritual gifts of leadership in the church,” and “Putting off the old man, putting on the new man.”

How does this look on social media?

  • “Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (vs. 1) – Answer the temptation to yell online, insult others, or use trigger words with Trapp’s saying to Satan, “I am a Christian.” The Bible exhorts us to walk as a believer, not act like the unbelievers. This includes postings online. Let’s not shut down conversations unnecessarily. This is to the benefit of the reader or listener who may not know Christ. It may even be to our benefit, too.
  • Keep the peace. Bear with one another. We need to forgive each other so we can work together for a greater purpose. People will post status updates we disagree with, join a political party we don’t like, or support causes that frustrate us. Keep the peace. Change happens when one or both parties listen to each other. Change happens inwardly as the Holy Spirit guides us.
  • We all have a role to play in face-to-face and online. People like to use the Spiritual Gifting verses as a reason not to do something. With probably half (or more) of a church congregation online, the Christian is already exercising one of his or her gifts in some way online. Most congregants post out of boredom or with a political agenda, but what if we posted more intentionally with someone’s eternity in mind? To keep a conversation from shutting down, a lot of self-control is exercised, even a giving up on being right happens for the sake of a person coming closer to the Father.
  • Being silent online is not an acceptance or rejection of a cause. It is not weak. A person can’t listen to others if they are busy talking all of the time. Silence allows for speaking the truth in love. May we “grow up” into Jesus.
  • The chapter ends on a note of forgiveness. Church is messy. People are messy. We’ve all offended others and been offended.

Two people recently shared with me how they went off Facebook. The stress of the online vitriol was too much. It made me wonder how many non-Christians felt this way and went offline or to other networks. I also wondered how many opportunities are being lost because we can’t see the forest for the trees? During these turbulent times, it distresses me to see the lost opportunities as well-crafted social media campaigns blow us like the wind from one issue to another. In between the gusts of wind are notes of normalcy and people in pain.

Here is a video on how to serve online in times of turbulence. If you do this challenge, would you message me on your progress and how it changed your perspective or helped others?