Book Discussion: The Downfall of American Christianity

The first police cruiser pulled up in front of the park, followed by another police officer striding across the lawn. Two men lay beneath a tree, curled around their belongings, on top or near their own human excrement. I sat on the park bench across the way with the book, Hope of Nations opened in front of me, distracted by the scene unfolding. At the encouragement of both police officers, the two men eventually stumbled off in two different directions. It’s not exactly Mayberry here.

Every day there are real-life illustrations of Hope of Nations’ sentence on page 24, “A post-truth society is the only logical end of a post-Christian society.” Some of the points he brought up so far:

  • American college professors prefer not to hire Christians.
  • Journalists are not reporting news through the lens of ideologies.
  • Both Democrats and Republicans are struggling in a “truth-based war of ideologies” within their own parties.
  • Experts say America is 70% Christian. His sources indicate there are actually only 7-20% of meaningfully active Christians in America.
  • Most people don’t know the history of Christianity.

But, it was his chapter of 1938 Germany that struck me the most. On November 9, 1938, the Night of Crystal exploded in Germany. Formerly peace-loving Germans burned 260 synagogues, destroyed 7,000 Jewish-owned businesses, and mobs of architects, professors, brick-layers, etc murdered dozens of individual Jews. Wilhelm, Corrie Ten Boom’s brother saw Nazi Germany coming because he understood the power of ideas. Christians need to understand the power of ideas and see what they read through the lens of ideologies. 

At this moment in time, the power of ideas stream through your social media, manipulated by people schooled in marketing and communication. All have an agenda, even the groups we agree with politically. However, Christians can take back that power by making the Christian ideology more important than their own agendas through online sharing of the hope we have in Christ with people who don’t have a relationship with Him.

But first, are we someone people can trust? Are we discerning in what we post? Do we exercise self-control in how we respond or react online? Are we researching what we post before we post? Don’t take this lightly. If we always post or send information that later becomes disproven by other websites, how can people trust what we say when we talk about Bible verses and Christ? This went through my mind as I sat in the park, reading this book.

Watching the second man stumble away from the tree, a slave to his next high or his next drink, I wondered what decisions and circumstances brought him there? If Hope of Nations says only 7-20% of Christians are measurably active in their faith, and growth of Christian ideology in the future will be the result of births, not conversions, it’s urgent the Church body step up in this age of social media and technology. Thom Rainer said it on his blog that real church growth happens when a church is focused on evangelism. Otherwise, he said, it’s just a recirculation of the saints going from church to church.

Let’s change this. 

Learn more about what I do and how you can support a missionary organization: Book given by the publisher to review. 

Book Discussion: Hope of Nations by @JohnSDickerson

“They (Oxford Dictionary) noted that our society now defines truth by feelings rather than by facts.” John S. Dickerson “Hope of Nations”

Reading books on culture and being in culture helps a person serve online. I rarely read introductions in a book, but this one is necessary. When Dickerson spoke about a parent bringing his child to a bondage sex fair in California and how morality has shifted, becoming skewed, I see that every day online (in Facebook groups most notably). The past solid Christians are aging out of influence. Dickerson’s generation will see a rise in brutality and violence.  What can we do now?

  • Read the Bible. Seek to understand and apply it both to your online and face-to-face world.
  • Explore why you feel a lack of urgency for your community and the world to know Christ.
  • Audit your social media. Is it an accurate depiction of you and your faith walk? Are you having real conversations with people online? Or are you hitting the share button more than the comment button? Are you reflecting Christ in your responses or reactions to others? Are you expecting unbelievers to live as believers? Are you thinking like a missionary?
  • Living out your faith is being different than your culture. Are you allowing sin in your life? Are you understanding who God is and seeking His face?
  • It’s the little things, too, that make a difference. Unbelievers do acts of kindness. You could say it’s a trend. What makes our acts of service and kindness different than others? What makes us different?
  • Serve online. God has given us this great tool to further love others. The church is still grappling with social media and feels a love/hate relationship with it. Add to this the marketing tactics used by Christians to sell a product, like cloaking a number to make it look like a local one, is not a good testimony. Jesus doesn’t need marketing help. He needs us to live in obedience to His calling in our lives. Reflecting this online is powerful.
  • Make time for people you don’t know on and offline.

I stopped reading this book for now because you can’t read a book like this without a highlighter. More blogs on this book later! 

*Book given by publisher to review. 



Book Review: A Song Unheard

Reviewing books is a great way to begin conversations and build relationships. While I’ve cut back on my book reviewing, I am still registered with a few sites to review books to refill my creative tank. 

A Song Unheard by Roxanne White is part of a series called Shadows Over England. It begins with an unlikely heroine, Willa Forsythe–a thief with an innate ability to hear music and play by memory.

The era is World War I. A mysterious man only known as V pays her to give him information. Until near the end of the book, no one knows if V is with England or Germany. For Wila, it’s another dangerous job that pays well so she can survive on the streets, cashing in on her abilities as the best thief in England. She justifies lying and thievery because she doesn’t steal from children or those in need; only from those with enough money to spare. She’s not as bad as other thieves, or so she keeps telling herself.

When she meets her mark, a refugee Belgium violinist named Lukas, to steal his fathers cypher, she encounters other interested parties; namely, a German spy who threatens her life and a man whose loyalties can be bought. Things aren’t black and white anymore. Complicating things is how her heart begins to soften towards Lukas as he shares himself with her and brings out a better version of herself. Discovery of the cypher will challenge Willa’s morality and strip away everything she thought was right.

A Song Unheard is an excellent story.

*Book given by publisher to review. 

Re-Thinking Social Media

When you’re so sure you’re right that you’re willing to burn things down, it turns out that everyone is standing in a burning building sooner or later.Seth Godin (emphasis mine)


I am reminded every day that businesses, missionary organizations, churches, church plants, advocates for adoption and foster kids, and those against human trafficking need people like me who understand social media and make it work for them. In the spirit of collaboration and partnership, I am always checking my motivations and words. The Gospel is too important for it to be all about me or my ministry. That’s why I love Facebook groups that encourage this kind of collaboration, like Church Communications, AR/VR, etc. That’s why I began a group to encourage a change of narrative.

For the Christian, Social Media is about serving online.

Change the inner narrative, you change a person’s whole perspective:

“But the things which proceed out of the mouth come out of the heart…” Matthew 15:18a


The Struggle of Self-Promotion

Self-promotion was the biggest emotional struggle within the minds of Christian writer friends in 2007. Publishers required (and still do) writers to promote their work online. At that time, blogging was more about being real and creating community. Having to self-promote felt cold and against our worldview. When I attended writers groups, I encountered a lot of self-promotion. I recalled this when I read this week’s chapter of Called to Create by Jordan Raynor:

As we saw in the previous chapter, following God’s call to create replaces our motivation to make a name for ourselves with motivation to create in order to reveal God’s character and love others.

We wrote to glorify God. Our heart was to connect, to pray for each other, and cross-network through guest blogging. Most of us made peace with self-promotion because we made it about Jesus. Our blogs bloomed into mini-ministries. It was about the books we read and how what we read impacted our daily lives. We weren’t shy about sharing our emotions. But, as the glory days of blogging faded, and marketing took over with content written to get noticed on Google, some writers lost their way.

There’s a danger of becoming too focused on creating a work around making a name for ourselves.  I loved how Called to Create spoke about famous people who built their careers to make monuments around their name. They worked to glorify themselves. In this culture of negativity, can we find ways to #RedeemSocialMedia and use the web strategically and authentically, making sharing the Gospel a priority?

“Generally speaking, entrepreneurs attempt to figure out where the world is going, and leverage those trends to considerable financial gain,” Blanchard said. “Could our aim [as Christian entrepreneurs] be for more? Disrupting negative cultural trends and encouraging positive emerging trends with innovative, transformative, gospel-minded ventures?”

Business Versus Missions: Is There a Division? #Christian

WorldVenture hosted two Hackathons with Code For The Kingdom during the past couple of years. I participated in both and mingled with business people, missionaries, churches and regular working people. During those weekends, we worked together in creative endeavors to solve world challenges with technology.

In the last Hackathon, I assisted a businessman with his idea, helping to expand it. While I didn’t quite have the time I thought to fully review his manuscript for the ministry, his idea had merit. These are just two of many examples where not all the church is against business as missions or work having merit. So, when I began reading, “Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk,” I felt the divide between business and missions.

“Over the course of my career, I have thought a lot about this issue and discussed this topic at length with friends inside and outside of the world of entrepreneurship. It seems clear to me that the church has bought into a false storyline about work that says work is inherently bad and meaningless unless it is “full-time ministry.” Before we discern the calling of entrepreneurs specifically, we must first combat this thinking with biblical truths that give us a much more hopeful and meaningful storyline for all work.”
― from “Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk”

One of my leaders who recommended this book said she felt encouraged by it. The ministry God has me doing empowers creatives and entrepreneurs to partner with the church to serve in outreach to their global communities in line with or in addition to their daily jobs or business responsibilities. Most of what I do involves entrepreneurs and creatives. In fact, WorldVenture is such a fantastic organization that their vision includes creative people and ideas that are non-traditional in their paths.

In light of that leader’s response, I was inspired to think how I can encourage the church to embrace the creatives in their congregation. Because Social Media is a creative environment, it is ideal for photographers, artists, musicians, writers, etc to embrace this communication tool to share the Gospel through the relationships they build online and the stories they tell.

You might have noticed how marketers are embracing the idea of story telling to sell more products or services. Some religions other than Christianity are embracing story telling and marketing to attract the indecisive to their belief system. It seems a lot of Christians are hesitant about using this communication tool. Maybe some are wary of it or afraid? Maybe it just feels so big that it is like looking at a blank piece of paper and wondering where to start?

As a worker with WorldVenture, I want to mobilize the church to serve online as well as face-to-face, recognizing that social media is global and the world is different now. Whatever you feel about technology, the church needs to embrace it and train their congregations to use it in godly ways.

Don’t you train an army before you send them out into the battlefield?

When I read this chapter, I was less than thrilled, because the churches I have met or know do see that sharing the Gospel at work in honoring ways is part of being a Christian, and using your creativity in the arts can also bring about interesting conversation. If the church is going to share the Gospel in their communities, entrepreneurs, missionaries, church staff and regular workers (even ones less than thrilled about their employment) need to be unified in their causes. But then I focused on the last few words of that quote, “…meaningful storyline for all work.” All work, including the people who serve in churches and in mission organizations that depend upon the generosity of others to do their work.

Meanwhile, I will continue to read this book. Stay tuned for future blog posts. My leader’s response reminded me that I need to make sure my volunteers, group leaders, and those participating in ministry are encouraged in all their efforts and feel supported.

Creatives and The Church #SocialMedia

 Called to Create: A Biblical Invitation to Create, Innovate, and Risk by Jordan Raynor is a new book on my Kindle reading list. Inspired by Roots Writers and Social Media Critique Group’s leader, Sherry Rossman, I bought it. In my field, creatives are necessary.

“God created us to be co-creators with him, to do ‘the things that God has done in creation–bringing order out of chaos.’ to create new things for the good of others. God is calling us to be entrepreneurial.” 

Social Media is a field for creatives by creatives. The church can’t expect that new communication methods will conform to traditional ways of evangelism or missions. It is the vision of this ministry to help the church gather its most creative and solid Christians to help them reach out into their communities through art, photography, story telling, and visual outreach. In doing so, the church will grow if leadership inspires this new movement among their congregations. An accidental extension of this movement means, crossing the generational gap by partnering your youth group with your older congregant members so both learn something.

Your older members learn technology so they can serve online. Your youth learn the stories of the older person’s past and forms a bond through mentoring.

On January 9, 2018 at Desert Springs Community Church in Goodyear, Arizona, Southwest Church Connection is hosting a workshop for pastors in the Phoenix area. You can RSVP here. Come, even if you think you understand social media, and perhaps I can refresh your creativity online. Come, even if you aren’t online and your congregation is older. Coaching is available.

RSVP here. 

Ralph Winter: Outspoken, Focused, and Fearless

The Ralph D. Winter Story by Harold Fickett (Kindle Version)

While the book tended to enthusiastically go long on Winter’s theories towards the end, I closed the last page inspired to persevere in my own field. The Ralph D Winter Story was written by a friend of his who lovingly shared about Winter’s life. How did it inspire me?

  • “He had to grow into his own identity, see its usefulness, and then embrace it despite what others might think. This took a long period of acting on what he did without seeing the big picture.” As I raise support to serve in this new field, I am stepping into the unknown and wondering what this will all look like when I am at 100% support. Right now, God is moving the pieces in place, and while I wait, I am serving at a day job where God has placed me. It is my intent to serve them honorably so they succeed. I am learning a lot in my day job. While working the day job, I am talking to numerous people about what I do with WorldVenture. This often gets a variety of responses. The reason it takes so long to raise support is because of people who need help seeing the vision more clearly on what a social media ministry may look like and how it can help the church.
  • “That was who Ralph was. After a lifetime of zeroing in on this elusive identity, he used virtually every moment of his last years to live it out without compromise, and without regard for the consequences.” A ministry that compromises on total obedience doesn’t succeed. Keeping the vision ever in front of me, I intend to get to 100% support so I can put myself fully into this work. My husband says, I am catching up on wasted years. This is true. I want the rest of my life to reflect the growing faith in the Lord and to share the hope and joy we have in Jesus with others. This will be done on a variety of media and in the face-to-face world.
  • “Ralph’s sense of life as a spiritual battle deepened.” Winter pursued the theory of evil intelligent design following his wife’s death to open up conversation with those who believe in intelligent design. What he meant by this was to pray against the evil of disease. If an intelligent designer like God created the world, what if Satan uses “intelligent design” to create the viruses, diseases, and death in the world to fight God? In my own journey, I could share stories on what I felt was evil targeting us as we worked to serve with WorldVenture more strategically and whole-heartedly. This new direction in my life is different from any other program or act of service.
  • Conflict and disagreement will happen, even in the best of organizations. Winter had his conflicts. He was outspoken. His theories weren’t always welcome, and his mannerisms were said in the book to offend people. In Guatemala, a nurse didn’t welcome his ideas on cross-cultural communication. She followed closely with traditional approaches. What if the church explored the creative side of evangelism and missions and supported this financially, prayerfully, and actively through implementation? We can support solid truths by simply changing how we share those truths.

No matter what obstacles I face, I am praying Matthew 4:19 (CEB) for the Lord to continue to show me HOW to reach those with no hope, no joy, and no future with the Good News of the Gospel. A former pastor once said that a person coming to love the Lord is a “supernatural miracle.” We must first serve on our knees, before we serve with our hands.

Support this vision by clicking here. Or to schedule an appointment with me, leave a comment or use the comment form here to connect with me. It would give me joy to share the full vision with you.

How to Build Up Your Marriage

Joining WorldVenture has brought challenges to our otherwise great marriage. Even good things can become a negative if not handled correctly.

  • Because my audience is global, time differences mean making a determination whether I interrupt my evenings to message the person or speak to them in the morning. Some conversations are unavoidable, demanding my undivided attention. Or a text conversation becomes an intense moment of prayer as I carefully tap out a reply. As a worker with WorldVenture, my husband is getting used to my unusual schedule. He’s learning the furrowed brow and tense voice doesn’t mean the conversation is negative; it means I am focused on using the right words to maintain the friendship while speaking the truth. It doesn’t mean I am stressed.
  • Meetings after my day job are frequent, whether it is with WorldVenture, another organization, or people wishing to learn how to serve online. He knows my day doesn’t stop until 5 or 6 pm in the evening. Or I come home and work in the office to get caught up on weekly duties.
  • Sunday mornings are for serving in our church. For me, I am working the comment section of our church’s live Facebook video to pray for community outreach and share it to various groups.

In the past, we’ve talked about how dangerously close ministry gets to our home. The world is full of violence and anger, and those of us in the United States are not immune. People on social media consider it their right to react badly online and we’ve talked about the what if questions. Because of these and many more challenges, I readily embraced Pastor Guy Deckard’s 2018 devotional idea.

A family that studies together, prays together, and stays together. We’ve already bought the journal to share between us, and I plan on blogging my journal live as well as sharing Pastor Guy’s blog link here, too.  Serving on our knees, digging deeply into God’s Word, needs to happen first before we serve with our hands. Strengthening our marriage through God is important even as we serve to thwart the devil’s plan and participate in what God is doing in the world.

Meanwhile, please consider partnering financially with me so this work in technology can continue strong in 2018. Click here to learn more.


Thoughts on Ralph Winter and His Life

“Of the three faculty members and those who would join them, Winter was the person most involved in new initiatives during his time at SWM. His ideas rarely sparked interest in or involvement from the greater Fuller community. There were just too many of them (ideas)!” (The Ralph Winter Story; location 1322; by Harold Fickett)

I still recall when Andy Andrews said, “Read as many biographies as possible.” What he meant, or what I interpreted from that, was how much you learn from history. In reading, The Ralph Winter Story, I am encouraged as a ministry leader with WorldVenture.

Ralph Winter used his creativity to make massive changes to global missions. He didn’t find his calling until late in life (like me!). While I don’t compare myself with someone of his stature, I do find encouragement in reading his life story. He is quoted a lot in the Perspectives course.

In trying to carve new roads to missions, I felt I needed to understand Ralph Winter’s life story.

A quote from his friend, Trotman is now on my Facebook profile:

“Don’t do what others can do or will do if there are things to be done that other can’t do or won’t do.” 

Winter’s struggles to establish new thought processes in missionary work wasn’t always welcome. In one situation, his wife, Roberta clashed with a fellow nurse, Ruth, in Guatamala. Ruth insisted that medically trained missionaries, “…should decide what medical work should include.” Winter and Roberta studied the culture and noticed how the tribal people went to Shaman’s for medical and spiritual advice. To this people group it was strange to separate medical advice from spiritual advice, and Winter or Roberta had observed how often they came to the medical clinic to get marriage advice. However, the author states that Ruth was more traditional and fought them. The book asserts Winter found a way around that obstacle.

Winter had so many ideas and this meant that his creativity had him serving in many different kinds of projects at the same time. In fact, the book suggests his parents may have worried about his constant so-called “lack of focus.”

Tony, my husband, worried for a time about this. Since becoming a believer in 2002, I wrote skits for Solid Rock Christian Fellowship, directed dramas from the stage, ran a women’s tea and coffee for four years (randomly inviting people from the directory to my house which oftentimes meant women meeting other women they didn’t know attended SRCF), a prayer ministry, and helping in set up and take downs of SRCF’s third service. I also had author aspirations and wrote two novels during this time. One received a partial manuscript request from an agent and the other wasn’t fully ready before it was submitted by request to a small publisher. All of this was training for where I am now. Winter had a weakness, too.

With so many ideas, he didn’t fully commit to learning the language the mission board asked him to learn. The downside to having so much creativity is spreading yourself too thin. Winter didn’t really have a job. He got his education through the GI Bill, lived at home, got married, served as a missionary, and had odd jobs. Again, I am not finished reading it yet so I have not learned his whole story. Steady employment may have come later. 

With a full time day job and working active online ministries, I am always careful not to do so much that the ministries I have worked hard to build fail due to lack of attention. This is why I read books about people from the past so I can learn from their mistakes and find encouragement in their struggles.

Would you consider financially partnering with me as I serve to empower the church to do more than market their programs, but reach their communities, even on a global scale? Click here to learn more.