How to Wait on God

Around this time of year in the Northern Hemisphere, as the days grow shorter and colder, those changes trigger a hormone in leaf-dropping trees that sends a chemical message to every leaf that says, in essence, “Time to go! Let’s part company!” – From here.

Like abscission cells that act like scissors to leaves on a deciduous tree, creating a hormone that pushes away the leaf from the tree little by little, I, too, am pushing away things in my life that get in the way of learning what God is wanting to do in and to my life. Why did it take me becoming a worker with WorldVenture for me to see God more clearly? Why doesn’t every Christian put themselves through journeys like this to push away things we cling to (no matter what our age) and grow better?

Fall is a symbol of change. Recently, I just finished reading “Peace Child” by Don Richardson. On page 273, he writes, “One of the beliefs which the Sawi had inherited from the distant past was the belief that it was unwise to attempt anything their ancestors had not previously sanctioned.” Change was difficult for the Sawi people even after they became a Christian, but their response to building a bigger meeting house was, “If we think only of ourselves, we can, of course, make do with a smaller building…” In deciding to build it, they said, “It will be a house of peace in which former enemies can sit down together at the Lord’s table, and a house of prayer for the tribes around us who are still without God’s Word.” (emphasis mine)

I’m also reading a new book recommended by both my husband and Wayne at GBC by Andy Stanley called, “Visioneering: Your Guide for Discovering and Maintaining Personal Vision.” It’s like it was written for me. Visioneering goes into the story of Nehemiah and the wall.

On page 22, it says, “So what did he (Nehemiah) do? Nothing. He did absolutely nothing. He didn’t steal away across the desert in the night. He didn’t fabricate a reason to leave Persia. He didn’t even share his burden with other concerned Jews. But neither did he allow his daily responsibilities to distract him from the burden that had gripped his heart. No, Nehemiah knew what so many of us have a hard time remembering: What could be and should be can’t be until God is ready for it to be. So he waited.” (emphasis mine)

This is a rich period of waiting and learning. The vision still needed work in 2015 when I was appointed by WorldVenture, and when I received my new job description from WorldVenture, I knew THIS was where God wanted me in the first place. Like the tree that sheds its leaves, I had to push away a beloved ministry I managed since 2012 and close another ministry to accept this one so I can take another obedient step in God’s direction just to wait again. The theme of waiting is familiar now since my appointment. Social Media is too new of a field for people to recognize it. People naturally fight change and cling to comfort and sameness. But if a tree doesn’t shed its leaves, ” …they wouldn’t grow new ones.” Growth comes from waiting, shedding, and growing.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. – John 15:1-2

How to Not Cause Panic on The Internet

On the tails of Facebook’s security breach, someone started a hoax that caused nation-wide panic and reminded me of Elf Bowling.

Elf Bowling began in 1998. Like Solitaire, we all had it on our computers at home and at work. In 1999, a hoax went around insinuating that, at midnight on Christmas Day, a hidden virus would infect every computer Elf Bowling was installed on. I still recall the panic I felt with my colleagues as we hastily dumped the game off our work and home computers only to realize we were duped. An unconfirmed rumor at the time suggested a competitive video game company created the hoax to drive profits away from the popular Christmas game. Passing on rumor does have consequences.

The Facebook hoax began with a message that said, “Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually. PLEASE DO NOT ACCEPT A NEW friendship FROM ME AT THIS TIME.”

Let’s explain why this hoax caused nation-wide panic.

“Hi….I actually got another friend request from you which I ignored so you may want to check your account.” This first line says the person who sent it received another friend request. When a person sends this to one or more of their friends, they are saying, “I received a friend request from you or someone acting like you on a duplicate Facebook profile,” when in fact, the person didn’t receive any requests. When a person sends this to someone they know on Facebook, it’s easy to take it at face value because we trust our friends.

This part of the message caused nation-wide panic. Numerous Facebook statuses began populating my newsfeed stating people had been hacked. This last part made one person uninstall their Facebook messaging because so many people did exactly what the last part of the message said, Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too….I had to do the people individually.” 

Thankfully, I only received three forwarded messages. Others received far more, and it reminded me of Elf Bowling’s hoax because this hoax followed the recent Facebook security breach as if the hoaxster intended to discredit Facebook and cause people to delete their profiles. We need to take care what we forward to others.

If we are building relationships online, we need to act with discernment in what we choose to forward. Ask yourself these questions before forwarding an email or Facebook message:

  1. Is it true? If not, don’t send it. To check out a forward, do a Google search. I used, “Facebook Hoax” and, because it was the latest news, this particular hoax popped up. You can put in a few words in the story you are reading to see if anything will pop up on Google.
  2. Does the person you send the forward to like forwards? If you don’t know, have they ever responded to your forwards? If no, don’t send it. I once sent a group message and received irritated responses. I haven’t sent a group message since as I understand it annoys my Facebook friends. It’s all about knowing your audience.

In case you get messages like the latest Facebook hoax, send a text to your friend to verify if she sent the message. And, if anyone sends a message similar to this, and it asks you to forward it to all of your friends, don’t do it.

To kill this hoax, many, including myself, replied to statuses and posted our own statuses alerting everyone to this hoax so the forwards would stop and people’s phones would no longer vibrate with messaging notifications. Remnants continue, but for the most part, it is slowly fading, but like all forwards, I’m sure it will re-circulate with different words to see if resurrection is possible.

We can all fall for hoaxes once in a while. It happens. Don’t be hard on yourself if you did it. Learn from it and continue using your online profile to build relationships that open up to Gospel conversations.

As far as Elf Bowling…

I still miss Elf Bowling. Once it was deleted from our work and home computers in 1999, we all mourned the loss of the file. Between phone calls and projects, it built relationships between employees as we laughed together.

 

 

Serving Vs Marketing

Your Church or organization’s Facebook is more than just an extension of your bulletin. Make it a rich experience that offers value in the way of inspiration, content that helps someone navigate life, discover who they are in Jesus, and personalize it with stories of what God is doing in and through your congregations. Your Facebook page is not about marketing, but about serving.

Mobile Ministry Forum has it right. In an article called What You Need to Effectively Use New Media by Dr. Frank Preston, one quote made me nod vigorously,

“The research theory that underpins this is what is called the use and gratifications model. This theory states that people are limited by both cognitive capacity and time and therefore will only consume media that fits their needs in their timeframe. Since consumers have a limited attention span, then they quickly forget the message if it is not immediately applicable to them. This is what is called “recency and regency” (recent time and importance) of a media message. By nature, New Media is data driven. Every step in the process needs to be measured and evaluated. If a person “hits” on your media (listens, buys, tunes in, lands on your page, goes to your Facebook, etc.) it is because they want to. (emphasis mine)”

That’s what I’m trying to do as I revamp how WorldVenture uses their social media. Even though I work a full-time job to pay the bills while I raise the capital to take on my new position with WorldVenture full time, I am doing a small part of my job description–coordinating their social media and working with our workers globally to tell their stories.  Social Media is all about digital discipleship. What I discovered was how many of our worker’s newsletters come with snippets of wisdom and inspiration from a point of view most of us will never experience. Marry that with nice graphics and put it on social media and it’s not surprising how people take to it.

The data are people, not merely numbers, who are looking for something. We can’t put that data into a box away from our emotions. We have to care. We have to love even the trolls who pepper our posts with ugliness. That’s why I see every person as real and give each person my time. But there are too many people, and no one can run a Facebook page and expect to do digital discipleship alone.

There are 500 plus workers and appointees with WorldVenture. How many people are online in your church congregations or ministries? Why aren’t you training them to use Social Media to do more than just hit the share button, and instead, share their life experiences with people hungry for the Gospel? Some simple things you can do right now with your Facebook page:

  • Reply to comments as meaningfully as possible. If people left you comments, they deserve a response because each comment is a gift.
  • Don’t just post content to fill space. Who are your followers? What do they need?
  • Follow up with people. Do they live in the area? Can you foster good relations, maybe make a new friend, and meet them for coffee in the face-to-face world?
  • Can you help connect them with a church or ministry who can help meet a need in their life?

Whatever you feel about social media, it is here to stay and will continue to evolve quickly. We can either adapt or become obsolete. It can nicely partner with face-to-face activities, but like our friendships in the face-to-face life, it will take some effort and prayer.

*Help WorldVenture get a digital worker by financially partnering with me here*

 

 

How to Listen in Conflict

 

Remember playing tug-of-war? Two teams tugging at each end to get the other team to cross the line in the middle? That’s how I felt this week. I felt like the rope. How do you practice discernment when you feel like the rope?

  1. Pray.
  2. Listen first to each side, carefully weighing and sifting through the facts. Put aside your emotions.
  3. Be careful of opinions. They may be the wrong ones.
  4. Be kind and compassionate.
  5. You don’t have to take sides, and when you do have to make a decision, go back to number 2.

Romans 12:18-19 comes to mind,

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

This week I learned how to be a peacemaker. I learned to listen better. These lessons I write on my heart and it will take me into ministry when I am fully funded. God is using this season in my life to teach me things I’ll need when serving in ministry.

To become a monthly financial partner (it’s tax deductible), go here. Create a partner account and choose my name as the person you’d like to support. I would love to have you on my team. 

Where Are The Good Followers? #SocialMedia #Christian

Image result for letters to the church francis chan

According to “Cairnway,” 1,246 paperback books with leadership in the title were published in 2017. “Counting all formats, Amazon offers 57,136 books with the word leadership in the title.” In a Google search, I found only a few articles or books on being good followers. Most of the time, leadership takes precedent. It’s what you hear in church. Based on a 4-day devotional from the Youversion app on Francis Chan’s “Letters to The Church,” I bought the book, hungry for being in awe of my position as a member of the Body of Christ. And this chapter set me down on my knees.

In fact, I posted on my Facebook, “I love this book, but I am not reading it from a spirit of trying to find someone else to blame; I am learning to be in awe of being a member of the body of Christ and to help bring about a spirit of unity by supporting, leading, and doing away with my own sense of ego, pride, and competition.” Too often, we hit the share button because we want someone else to see it. The lesson is for them, not for us. I want to learn Jesus’ version of leadership. (John 13:1-17).

Francis Chan says,

“Imagine how difficult it would be to coach a team where each player refuses to follow because he or she has a better plan than the coach. Welcome to the American Church in the twenty-first century. Let’s exercise some humility.”

My biggest struggle is getting rid of my sense of competition, especially when you are raising support to only have to work one full-time job. I’ve encountered people who believe they are the only ones doing it right. That attitude is in the name of their ministries, their words, and even in their defensiveness. To maintain a sense of unity, I seek to work with what is established and help others succeed in their ministry goals. In some situations, I become a leader; in others, I become a follower. Once upon a time, I hated how teachers would force me into group work. Now, I see value in collaboration, but don’t hold too tightly to your ideas as a leader. God is such a creative God. He dreams bigger than we do.

A good follower of Christ and a good leader is aware that people are always watching. With social media, this is acutely true. The more notoriety you get (like Francis Chan), the more critical and the more encouraging the comments. Chan struggled with so much criticism and flattery. As a Digital Engagement and Disciple-Making Coordinator with WorldVenture, I can understand that pressure, but not to his level. On an individual level, a person must show their faith and life online and treat their social media as an extension of their face-to-face life. They should be one and the same. You can, with social media, be both a leader and a follower. The church needs good followers.

It became quickly clear to me in 2014 how social media will play a big role in missions, but only if we can mobilize the congregation to follow. Francis Chan pastored a megachurch before God took him out of the country. In this first chapter, he talked about wanting people to live holy lives. Too many people had no interest in applying the Bible to their lives at his megachurch. They would come to church every week and go home without appearing to show the fruit of belief in their lives. He wanted his church to become groups of people who challenged each other to action (and they did!).

In 2014, I saw more than half of the church on social media platforms like Facebook, and I asked God, “What if we trained those people to reach unbelievers, the unreached, and to learn another culture, even a language, to become digital workers? What if each church had a digital team that grew every year that supported the mission and vision of their church and likewise, supported missionary organizations? Missionary organizations that also help to provide training material to support a church’s mission goals and their own?” I also saw over-worked pastors and missionaries and communications staff that didn’t just do communications, but a hundred other jobs. Most churches and missionary organizations do not have the budget to support someone trained in communications. Sometimes, churches and missionary organizations only see their social media as a marketing tool, rather than a tool that can be used for digital discipleship. Francis Chan said, “Another issue we saw was how everything had grown to be very dependent on one person.”

Right now, I am training a non-profit on social media and digital discipleship. A ministry is only as good as the heart and drive of its people. If all leadership has to do is provide relevant content and lead, the digital teams become a powerful tool to saturate the world with the Gospel. This alleviates the pressure of having to do everything. Lastly, Francis Chan says this,

“After giving a very strong rebuke to the church of Laodicea for being lukewarm, Jesus simply asked them to open the door. Before you get overwhelmed by all tht is wrong with the Church, rememeber that He is not placing an insurmountable burden on your shoulders. He is asking you to fellowship with Him and join Him in what He is doing. We should be filled with faith and anticipation…”

You are the church.

You are also online.

How to Schedule Me as a Speaker

The rest of the year looks clear if you need a speaker. I am open to come anywhere in the United States from Saturday to Sunday to meet your church and share the vision of how God wants me to serve with WorldVenture. This visit won’t cost you anything. However, I do ask for the following:

  • A table to put out my material, including giving material. I am support-based which means I am also raising support to fund this vision. Currently, I am working a day job until I have raised the funds. The trip to have me speak would cost you nothing.

I usually encourage a congregation to utilize social media to support missions and their church and incorporate the vision of your church into my vision so the whole picture is presented. If you have any questions, please email me: nikolehahn (at) thehahnhuntinglodge.com.

Roots Writers and Social Media Group

We have our new website up and running. This writers group has no fees. It is set up as a small group to encourage the writer to become the best Christian leader he or she could become, honing their writing skills to learn how to use the power of ideas to make disciples, not just readers and fans.  Go to this website to view and learn about us: www.rootswriters.cafe.

What is Coordinating?

Managing or coordinating someone else’s brand on social media is time-consuming, especially when your intention with its social media is ultimately digital discipleship. Recently, I posted a comic by Calvin and Hobbes. It went like this:

Hobbes: “Do you have an idea for your project yet?” 

Calvin: “No, I’m waiting for inspiration. You can’t just turn on creativity like a faucet. You have to be in the right mood.” 

Hobbes: “What mood is that?” 

Calvin: “Last minute panic.” 

Interpretation is up to the reader.

For me, it verbalized what coordinating social media is like when your posts are dependent upon content from people all over the world. My goal is to post twice a day each week. This requires being on social media to scavenge for stories that reflect the WorldVenture story and appeals to the reader. Social media is a tool in the belt of any worker for discipleship, influence, mentoring, etc. My efforts follow daily prayer.

This week, I focused on Venezuela. Because it has been in the news, getting our workers’ stories in front of it means the story has the potential to trend without paying for advertising dollars. Case in point: When a church posted the word Starbucks on their social media, their organic reach was higher than just talking about coffee. WorldVenture is a non-profit. If we can save ad dollars by sharing our workers’ stories around trending topics online, we can help our country and our world understand missions, be more attune to more biased news stories, and grow a compassionate heart. Because WorldVenture is a non-profit, I am considered a supported staffer.

A supported staffer is the same as a worker who must raise the monthly support to do the work needed for a nonprofit like WorldVenture. We aren’t going anywhere outside the country unless for specific assignments, and our work is now, rather than later. This means I am both appointee and worker; unfunded and still serving in some capacity in the job description while working a full-time day job.

I am also a pioneer that believes digital discipleship is the way to go and train nonprofits and churches in Christian ministry to utilize their volunteers and congregations to serve online rather than do what they’ve done historically–leave it to the pastors and missionaries to do the outreach and the 20% who do 80% of the work in church. In serving with WorldVenture, I am also revamping their social media usage little by little to use it as digital discipleship among other things.

“Last minute panic” is a constant state for me. Maybe it’s not really panic as it is a tension to work with the varied schedules across the globe, sensitive areas, and coordinating blogs, social media, and digital discipleship on a weekly basis.

Meanwhile, after my overnight trip to Indiana, I have time freed up to focus again. If you would like to have me fly out or video conference in to talk about what I do, please email me: nikolehahn (at) thehahnhuntinglodge.com. Help me get exposure or even consider support. Help me mobilize the churches to serve online. Go here to learn more: www.worldventure.com/nhahn or here to give monthly www.worldventure.com/give.

About Detours

 

Detours are inconvenient, but always adventurous. Traveling down I-65 towards Frankfort, Indiana, construction detoured me down highway 39. Farms and old homes lined the highway. Cornfields stretched for miles, the pattern broken only by barns and silos or clumps of trees. Some homes leaned a little and others were totally collapsed behind a row of corn. I was on my way to Antioch Church in Frankfort, Indiana to stay at someone’s home so I could speak at their church the next day and meet a community of believers.

My hosts were wonderful! They live in a firecracker warehouse. As a camper, hiker, and backpacker, I embrace adventure in all its forms. The more interesting the place, the more interesting the stories. I’ve slept in a church on the Navajo Reservation and heard the snap of a mouse trap in the middle of the night. Sleeping in a firecracker warehouse made me grin, and the generosity of my hosts warmed my heart.

Their home inside the warehouse was comfortable. Every effort to make me feel welcome was in the details even down to the hotel-sized shampoos and soaps. Wherever God brings me, I try to find the joy in the journey. Like when I drove to church in the morning, the fields looked different. Mist lay low over the cornfields. The light was different.

When you talk about social media to a country church like Antioch, you examine their website and Facebook presence. Antioch encourages a daily prayer routine. In my 11-minutes, I encouraged each one to think about how to use social media to encourage a daily prayer routine. Handouts were given to remind them of ways they can serve the globe and their community online. Their closest city is Indianapolis.

Indianapolis is 50% Hispanic and has one of the largest Burmese Refugee populations according to this website. We talked about where to find them on Facebook. More importantly, we talked about how the church will be where mission movements will happen thanks to technology. Small churches like Antioch can use social media to reach the unreached.

On my way back to Indianapolis International Airport, I took highway 39 again to I-65 and paused on this detour to snap a picture of a bridge over Sugar Creek. My role is a bridge, connecting people with technology and ministries that can help them realize the possibilities in missions. All media movements begin with prayer.

How to Make Healthy Habits Online

Strategy, marketing, and all the ugly words we associate with the secular world make it difficult for the church body to embrace media. How do we turn our online habits into healthy habits and use strategy? Tony Whittaker wrote, Why Bother with Strategies for Lausanne Media Engagement Network, and he says,

“Some people might ask, “Why do we need evangelistic strategies at all? Surely we are just called on to preach the gospel, plain and straight, and leave God to do the rest?” Even the words ‘communication strategies’ may seem to imply worldly marketing methods rather than a dependence on the power of the gospel through the Holy Spirit. There are a number of answers to this very reasonable question. The Word ‘preach’ does not just mean ‘one-way verbal communication’ – as in a sermon or evangelistic address. It has a much broader sense – ‘to effectively communicate’. If the receivers have not understood the message, real communication has probably not occurred. The word ‘communicate’ also has a root meaning that helps us: that of ‘communing’ or interacting over ‘common’ ground.”

This article effectively outlines what that strategy should look like and gives ideas. All strategy employed must begin with prayer. My prayer has always come from Matthew 4:19 of the CEB when Jesus promises to show us how to reach people. Marketing or strategy are simply methods used to get information in front of people in a format they can understand so a conversation can happen. Social Media is built around relationships. How can we build relationships with people if we don’t show them some common ground? People in ministry aren’t the only ones who should pay attention to strategy. Everyone is capable of learning new things and should seek to understand the communication tools marketers and ministry partners use. Because each person has a social media profile, each person can prayerfully determine the audience they wish to reach, but don’t be a preacher.

Communicate. Talk to people. Converse. 

An article about Google search terms years ago reminds me daily that God is asking us to serve outside the walls of the church. In that article, the writer said suicide was a term searched from midnight on. Maybe some of us ought to take the night shift on social media and learn to listen, armed with resources to give when the moment calls for it?

Sometimes, I think the church needs to re-learn how to make a conversation. Like in church when someone asks in passing, “How are you?” to which “fine” is the expected answer, a reaction or like shouldn’t be the only responses online. How you converse or respond to someone is up to you, but social media allows us to have conversations at any time of day or night.

In either case, you are online whether by boredom or just to see the grandkids’ photo. You’ve developed a habit with your phone. Let’s make your online habits healthy:

  • Are you talking or preaching? Are you listening?
  • Are you preaching to the choir or are you making a difference?
  • Is your social media a pulpit for your favorite political party?
  • Are you aware of trigger words with people you are friends with? How are you using your words online? Do you know the people you friend?
  • Do you pray for a people group? Is your social media friendly to that people group or religion? Your social media can connect with them personally.

If communication shuts down because of a disagreement, your opportunity is lost. Do everything possible to keep that line open. How you post online is really determined by who you have friended, where they are from, and what they believe. Social Media is known for its dark side. Ask the Lord to show you HOW to follow Him and HOW to build good friendships online so we allow God to shine a light through it.