Dressing The Inner Woman

Women put a lot of effort into their outer appearance. When I try on a new outfit in the dressing room, the mirror tricks me into believing I really do look great in it, but the mirror at home will tell a different story. The right outfit gives us confidence, but it will never dispel the voices in our heads that say we’re not good enough. That’s where we need to work on our inner woman and study Scripture.

Using the right words in our heads is as important as what we write online, in our journals, or for devotional pieces like this one. We will read them again and again, the words imprinting upon our hearts, and Facebook will remind us of posts from a year or more ago.

Proverbs 18:21 ESV says, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.” The previous verse talks about making a living off words. This verse speaks to the power of words. Words can help another person find the confidence to serve or totally crush someone from their full potential. Likewise, the words we hear in our heads about ourselves are not valid. When I feel anxiety or put myself down, I must confront those words. Jesus loves us so much as women, and women were the first witnesses of the empty tomb.

We are creatures that crave deep connections. It’s no wonder that most women are active on social media. Our words matter to ourselves and others, whether in person, online, or in private conversation. That’s why it’s so important to pay closer attention to how we dress the inner woman. Go ahead, fix your hair, perfect your make-up, and wear an outfit that exudes confidence to people around you, but don’t forget your heart.

 Start the day reading Scripture and write something positive on your social media. Let this imprint your heart so it’s more than just surface confidence that radiates from you, but the light of our Lord instead.

Self-Control On Social Media

“A soft answer [online] turns away wrath, but a harsh word [in reply to someone online] stirs up anger.” – Proverbs 15:1, emphasis mine. Read James 3:3-6, too.

Tossing those words out there online that you feel in the moment without thought has consequences. In any situation, self-control is the one thing we have a choice in, but online it’s easy to just put words out there in the name of ministry, truth, or whatever we are using to justify our actions. Even as I write this, I know I have regrets in some of the words I once used online.

Grace to those who put their foot in their mouths and say the wrong thing. May we also learn forgiveness to those who hurt us deeply with words. The tongue is so hard to control, but used wisely can open doors or heal an injury.

📷 Prescott, AZ

How To Effectively Communicate

Content Marketing Institute published 15 Digital Content Mistakes That Can Hurt Your Brand. I work with missionaries and churches in online communication. I picked a few items from Content Marketing’s list to connect ministry and secular marketing. While we do marketing, we must always consider it ministry to establish a genuine relationship with people.

First, you are the brand. Whether it’s a church or missionary, or a Christian non-profit. It is who you are. For ministry purposes, that’s how we define our own brands. It is how we differentiate ourselves from others.

“To instantly leave a memorable impression on your target audience, so they slowly but surely become familiar with your company and ultimately buy from you.” (coschedule.com on Brands)

Promotional Content

“The 80/20 rule has been cited as the effective social media content ratio. Focus 80% of your posts on informing and entertaining your followers, while just 20% should be about your business. Similarly, the five-three-two rule says for every 10 posts published, five should be curated from others’ content, three should be original to your brand, and two should be personal and fun to humanize your brand.”

Simply put…

  • Informing and entertaining can be about your ministry, Scripture, fun photos, cultural immersion, etc. Give value back to your audience. How can you minister to them? How can you minister to your community online? Be generous with your time. Teach and inspire!
  •  20% a call to action to give or about events.
  •  Share or screenshot and share and tag other content related to your brand, your area of ministry, or something valuable to your audience. Paraphrase and sum up another person’s post, tag, or share a link. Subscribe to news events in the area of your service to paraphrase mostly positive updates to your newsfeed.
  •  Three original posts about your brand. This is content you create from scratch.
  •  Two fun things that are personal. To build friendships in person, you find something in common. Do the same online.

Ultimately, the rule is not solid, Content Marketing says. Don’t feel you need to stick fast to this rule, but it’s a good guide, especially if you need to be more creative. Study your data online to know what your audience wants to see from you. Never listen to an expert if your data says to do something different. Do what works for your audience! Do what works to grow a new audience, too.

Emailing

Following along the lines of knowing your audience, typically once a month for churches and once a week to once a month for individuals, is a good guide for email communication with your audience. Larger organizations will have different schedules.

Even if you still need to go to the field, you must keep your name in front of people. Draw on your creativity to decide what to send out to foster solid friendships, or enroll in similar newsletters to see what they write and how they frame their stories. Below is what is true of communications between missionaries and their partners:

  • 76% expect consistent interaction with a brand. Even though this is a secular market, I have found this to be true with missionary and partner relations.

Stay Away From Controversial Subjects

If you don’t wish to get boycotted, get an angry email, or want to keep relationships with people, be aware of trigger points with your audience. Content Marketing says to bring up highly polarizing and emotional topics only if it has something to do with your brand. And when you do, make sure you have researched the subject and keep a steadfast, calm, and loving tone online.

Once something becomes a debate, you’ve lost. Even if you win the battle, you’ve lost the war. You’ll get farther respecting the person as an image-bearer of God than with your self-defensiveness and anger. What is the most important thing your audience can take away from you? Is it because you care about them or your cause?

The Battle To Be Heard

My email accounts have hundreds to thousands of emails in them. The subject line is the most essential part of your email. It’s what will stand out from all your Best Buy, Hobby Lobby, and Hotel emails. It’s also an art form. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a few times to get the subject line right and to see your open rates increase.

The commercial open rate is about 30%. It reaches a different audience than your social media, website, and direct mail. In Church Communication, we always say to use everything to get your information in front of people. Be the email they want to open! 

Why It’s Not Their Fault

We make about 35K decisions a day. What words to post, actions to take, and whether to love or hate your job (among other things).

The decisions are your responsibility. Ultimately, those decisions have rewards or consequences. You can’t blame other people for the wrong decisions. Others may have influenced those decisions, but that is still your decision.

Your decisions may or may not have an impact on other people.

If you have a bad attitude, it will eventually affect the quality of your work, your relationships, etc. If you love your job, the work shows it. If you choose to honor your spouse inside and outside the home, your relationship will flourish.

Practice having a better outlook and attitude.

  • Be generous with your time.
  • Be generous with your money.
  • Do more than expected.
  • Do quality work at work no matter what.
  • Do the right thing according to the Word of God.
  • Don’t let the world crush you.
  • Prioritize what God would have you do that day.

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. – Matthew 16:24

📷 Scholtz Lake

Rebuild Better

The kids sat around me in a pool of tumbled wooden blocks. They watched with gleeful smiles as I began to build a tower. How high could I get this tower? As I gingerly set the last block on top, the kids would laugh loudly as the tower tumbled down.

Life is like this. We’re balancing blocks of time on each other until the weight is too much and it comes crashing to the floor. We’re not building for a purpose but rapidly stacking one thing on top of another and our motivations for doing this are a little fuzzy.

Instead, stack your time for a purpose.

  • What are you building?
  • Why are you doing what you are doing?
  • How can you do it better?

When the blocks tumble around you, learn from it and rebuild. Rebuild better.

Youtube: Gen Z Report

Hey, church, missionaries, and church communicators!

Youtube has released their 2022 Gen Z report. Why is this important?

Because we want content for them, too! In any social media platform, engagement is important. Let’s build community together and inspire people to pray, serve, give, and go with our posts.

Gen Z is 18-24 year olds. If you are a mission org, this is a good age to begin to see how God wants them to serve others. Can you use the ideas (or come up with your own) to help move them to pray, serve, give, or go on Youtube?

This interpretation of the report comes from both a mission org and church communicator perspective.

  • “65% of Gen Z agree that content that’s personally relevant to them is more important than the content that lots of other people talk about.” Can we create content in our contexts that are relevant to the questions being asked or searched for by Gen Z? For a church, this is a great jumping off point. You can engage them in the questions that are important to them.
  • Youtube communities are groups that actively participate in a shared identity or interest online.
    • Example was “Flightspotting”. When disaster happens in an area of the world, perhaps we can show videos of people helping with the recovery? Maybe inspire them with personal stories? Short ones?
    • According to a marketing article, National Geographic shows video of beautiful scenery in stories to stop the quick consummation of online content. It causes people to pause and watch. In the Youtube report, Gen Z is looking for videos that help them relax.
  • Is your church a “Superfan” of something? Gen Z videos that follow someone or something and gives a narrative of it is also popular. Watch some of the videos on Youtube to get some ideas of how you, as a church, can get into good discussion with Gen Z on movies, television shows, characters, books, etc.
    • “Growing fan formats include videos about how to start your own K-pop fan channel, while fancam videos — fan edits focusing on individual band members — have billions of views. K-pop labels have even started releasing these videos as official content.”
  • In a church conference I attended in Georgia, they talked about meming the sermon, but how about doing this via video? “63% of Gen Z followed one or more meme accounts in the past 12-months.”
  • Short is better…most of the time, right? How about produce a quick 1 minute or less “complete” soundbite that people can preview and have in the YouTube description the link to the whole version or longer version? People are watching the Sunday services in pieces anyway. What about a several part Bible study? Or a topic that covers one of Gen Z’s questions? “59% of Gen Z agree that they use short-form video apps to discover things that they then watch longer versions of.” Maybe a missionary could produce a Bible Study and have a short form video to give a preview of the study with a link in the YouTube description to the longer version?
  • “People are expressing themselves through metaverse content. In the Middle East and North Africa, gamers live streaming during Ramadan carry their fasts over to their digital avatars.” Missionaries, are you into gaming? Churches, do you have gamers in your midst that can reach out to people through gaming?
  • “90% of Gen Z have watched a video that helped them feel like they were in a different place.” Mission orgs! Are you doing digital prayer walks or ministry tours? Are you sharing video that help them feel like they are there in that place?
  • “69% of Gen Z agree that they often find themselves returning to creators or content that feels comforting to them.” Nostalgia, comfort media, and highly aesthetic “vibe” content. The example YouTube used was a Puerto Rican artist who used 360-video to enable the viewer to “vibe out with him and his friends on a tropical beach.” Church creators can do this with Bible teachings, Sunday School, prayer walks, women’s events, camps, men’s events, etc. Mission org creators can use this to get content from missionaries overseas who are willing to share videos that help transport someone to an area. Maybe a “hang out with a missionary” day or hang out with someone who lives and is native to the area that day to learn about a people group?

Many thanks to MII for having “The Connected Church News” each week which is helpful to both the church communicator and mission org communicator. To read week one of July where this report first came to my attention, click here.

(Pictured: Last week, I was visiting Nutrioso Bible Church in Nutrioso, AZ – 19-minutes from Eager, AZ. I am currently training Grace Church in Chino Valley, AZ, The Outpour in Toccoa, GA, and now Nutrioso Bible Church in digital disciple-making tools and practices).

How to Visually Share Your Story

We process information with our emotions. While an artist’s tools are paint brushes, paint, and a canvas or a camera, social media gives us video, photos, and words to help people feel a part of our story. We can learn much from artists when using social media. Social media is a visual space, and often we only use it as a platform to opinionate or as a place to reframe our life in a way that doesn’t reflect our reality. What can we do differently online?  

James Coleman says, “When someone sees one of my paintings, I want them to really feel the place that I’m depicting. And so my desire is that they’re going to want to travel into that painting and become part of it. …” Note the words, “I want them to really feel the place I’m depicting” and “they’re going to want to travel into that painting and become a part of it”.

Rory Feek wrote, “What’s important to you? Don’t answer that…show us instead.” In writing, we say show us and not tell us what is happening in a scene. In social media show us without ego what’s important to you, like the artist with his paint brush or the writer with his words.

On social media, like in person, we all have different gifts. If you like helping people, you can use social media to connect with people you can disciple, share the Gospel with, or empower them to seek better choices and find practical help. If you like photography, you can use your gift to help people focus on positive things or help them see the needs in the community. If you are a writer, you can use your words and visuals to tell a story that may help clarify your friends’ or followers’ thoughts. If you are an artist, it’s more than a platform to share your work, but a place to invite people into your paintings and photography. Most importantly, as a Christian, it’s a place to ask good questions that let other people do the talking.  

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  

Rather than reframe our lives to reflect something we are not or to opinionate, instead think of how you can show what’s important to your life. How can I connect with you at church or at the market without having something in common? To find some common ground, we need to ask good questions, post good stories, and be visual.  

Suggestions to engage with others online:  

  • Show how prayer is important to your life.  
  • Show why church fellowship is important.  
  • Show why you love the things you love.  
  • Show vulnerability.  
  • Show what you are learning at church, in your Bible Study, or small group.  
  • Ask questions and listen. Show you are a good listener online.  
  • Use your photography, painting, drawings, graphic design, quilting, sewing projects, writing, etc to invite people into your life on a deeper level.  

And while these suggestions might be helpful, remember that people judge us by our actions. What we post online reflects our heart because that is an action, much like our in-person behavior, and it also reflects on our church, our jobs, and our Christ.  

Have fun and be discerning!  

(If you like this photo, make a donation to Gospel Impact Publishing and send me the receipt. I can email you the high-resolution photo for you to print and frame at home).

Upcoming Social Media Workshop!

A friend shared Proverbs 25:21-22 with me, and it helped me better understand it in light of the whole Bible. It reads, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

RedeemingGod.org said, “Proverbs 25:22 instructs us to give our enemy so many burning coals they have to carry them the way burdens are carried in the Middle East: in a container on the head. Then they can go back and immediately bake their bread without having to wait for the wood to become suitable coals for cooking. burning coals. This is quite different than setting someone’s head on fire.”

“When a person’s fire went out,” one commentary says in the article, “he needed to borrow some live coals to restart his fire.”  

We should use social media to “restart the fires” of those whose coals are cold, even if they are our enemies. This is not an easy task, and the effort has a cost.

Ephesians 6:12 says, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  This verse makes it easier to view others as image-bearers of God instead of an enemy or someone that offends us mightily. The cost is in the effort of self-control and choosing our words and battles wisely, and investing our time in others. This means learning about the people we follow on social media, their needs, and how to love and pray them to heart transformation. It also means being patient.

Baptism is just the start of a journey. We forget all the interactions that lead up to that baptism. We also forget the journey that follows to surrendering ourselves to the Lord.

On January 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., I am hosting a workshop on “Five Habits to Change on Your Social Media to Transform Your Heart and Community.”

Registration is required. If you want to learn how to restart the fires of those whose fires have gone out, join me that day to learn more. Maybe it will help restart your own fire?

WorldVenture is about engaging the world for Gospel impact through multiple disciples compelled by the love of God and willing to risk all so that people are transformed by God, impacting their families, communities, and the world.

And, God has given us the technology to make meaningful connections with people from all over the world. What’s stopping you from getting more involved in what God is doing?

(This is a WorldVenture event. Click here to register.)

How to Use Zoom For Ministry

Watch this 2-minute video if you have been invited to an online Bible Study, online Prayer, or any church event that is using Zoom.

After you have watched the video, feel free to download this easy to use guide on Zoom. It was created with the help of Lynn Garner, the Digital Prayer Leader, at Grace Church for an online class offered to Grace Church on how to use Zoom. Click here to download.

You can also read this blog at worldventure.com on “Virtual Prayer For the Technologically Challenged”.