Wordless Groans

I took a run yesterday after work around the lake. Runs help me cope with this journey. I pray and my heart expresses what it cannot verbalize. It reminded me of Romans 8:26-27,

“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” 

I spend a lot of time in prayer these days. God has gifted me with this sense of powerlessness and acceptance. This morning I am struggling to put into words what is on my heart. There is so much work to be done to help the church understand online discipleship, accept it, use it well, and reach across the age and cultural divide that I feel overwhelmed. What is obvious is how this journey is not one to be done independently of the church or missionary organization.

In reflecting on this, I came to WorldVenture, not to start my own thing, but to partner with them to work with already established ministries/churches/workers and empower them to use social media, VR, and any other new technology that appears on the technological radar to share Christ through the friendships they discover, often cross-culturally and to unreached people groups. Being authentic, real, is important as online marketing tends to put the goal ahead of the person. To make disciples online is to think outside the box and get out of your comfort zone, investing your dollars and time in people online and face-to-face, not simply hitting the like button as if that’s enough. Likes are like a “How are you” as the person is heading out the door. I think we have a lot of great jump-offs from traditional ministries and churches that are doing great things with online discipleship.

Imagine how powerful the stories will be when we engage the traditional church in non-traditional ministry, especially cross-culturally? Change doesn’t come overnight. It comes with the blood and sweat of extreme effort and time. It takes education, allaying unfounded fears, and empowering people with knowledge to serve. Before one jumps to conclusions about a technology, we need to get to know it, how it works, and the positive and negative of it in order to use it well. Meanwhile, I embrace this powerlessness because I anticipate what God will do through me, through others, and definitely what He is already doing through technology.

**Learn more by clicking here***

At Glacial Speed

Seth Godin inspires me. In his post on July 6, Glaciers Get a Bad Rap, he reminded me that the best plans are focused and driven, going at glacial speed.

“But the speed isn’t the point. The fjord near my house, surrounded by huge cliffs, was formed by a glacier. Not because it was slow, but because it was large, clearly directed and relentless.” 

Social media is a new field. It requires a relentless and clearly directed focus and a lot of patience. Since I started raising support in March 2016, I’ve only managed to get to 37% support (give or take–waiting for a support to come through). I’ve developed great relationships with people and others have expressed to me how they see social media differently now.

If you want to learn more, email me. I would love to talk about it in the face-to-face. Projects are being developed as we speak, but like the glacier, slow and steady will get results. Meanwhile, I work a full-time job while I raise support, and God is doing so much with the little time I have between that and family.

 

**To learn more, click here**

How to Make Conversations #SocialMedia #Christian

In the face-to-face, our conversations are often about the food we eat, the places we went, and our health issues. Or, it’s about the vacations we experienced. Social media has the same conversations; we’ve forgotten how to contribute and make those conversations count like in the face-to-face world.

You can start with, “How are you?” But, “good” or “fine” is all you’ll get for minimal effort. Sharing memes can be good conversation starters if they are true and if you create a lead in the status update to push for a long conversation. It’s often best to observe what others post and jump into that conversation. The point is to build on what we have in common and commit to long-term trust building.

Too often we use social media to post our opinions, but not our questions. Social media has a lot of opinions and too little room for questions. Social Media and face-to-face can be used in collaboration for meaningful friendships that can lead to Gospel conversations (if only we make the effort).

**Support me monthly so social media becomes meaningful again. Click here**

Are You Making Disciples Online?

More than once, missionaries and pastors have said, “We can’t do it all.” A pastor leads a congregation of 300 plus. Stats often say there is one missionary for every 200,000 to 400,000 people. Another said, planting churches is slow. Most churches have some sort of social media where they ask for volunteers, advertise church services, or share Scripture, but how many have engaged and mobilized their church congregants to serve online with the support of their church and missionary organizations? Are you making disciples online?

International students are swarming into our country. Refugees and migrants are streaming over our borders. The harvest has never been more ready. I’m glad I’m not the only one saying this: The church needs to train their congregation like missionaries to serve online and in the face-to-face world. We need to move away from our prejudices of social media and go where the people need to hear about Jesus through our relationships with them.

Because our pastors can’t do it all. Our missionaries can’t do it all.

But the way our country is doing social media is sending the wrong message. Can we tailor our profiles for a particular people group? Can we focus on praying for and learning about a people group, seeking them online? Can we practice self-control in what we post?

This week I’ll be posting my review of Hope of Nations by John S. Dickerson. It’s a book every Christian must read. Meanwhile, I am striving to change how we use social media, working in unity of spirit for the greater goal of sharing about Christ to every tribe and nation on earth. Even I have idols that must be tossed for a God who deserves my obedience.

*Consider becoming a financial partner by clicking here to learn more. This week I am at ICCM conference in Hannibal, Missouri.*

5 Ways to Train Your Teen on Social Media

NEW RESEARCH: 5 Stats on How Teens Use Technology by Lifeways’ Chris Martin says,

“We misunderstand teens constantly being on their phones as vain, self-interested, or as a sign of their unwillingness to have real social interaction with people in real life.”

Depending on the generation of the people I speak to, it is common to find memes or other statuses that claim this about teens. Social media is just another tool for communication, like the telephone before it became a smartphone. Several personal stories back this article up, but instead of relaying anecdotal stories, I encourage you to read the above article. After reading the article, think about how you can encourage your teen to more intentional online discipleship of others in their peer group.

Here are five Ideas on how to train your teen on social media:

  • When a teenager gets his first job, he undergoes job training. In the same way, create a training process that is fun with some accountability to teach them how to post and interact intentionally. Have weekly discussions with him about the effectiveness of his postings.
  • Be the example as a parent. In the above article, it states, “…an unrealistic view of others’ lives as the biggest issues with social media.” A person’s public life must be the same as their private life. One person said to me how some people post online as if they are better than others. Their photos and statuses paint a picture of, “Look at us. Look at what you are missing out on.” Reflect your faith well.
  • Reduce bullying. Bullying is a problem made even more painful by the reach of social media. However, reducing bullying begins with parents and role models. How do we react or respond to people who disagree with us politically or morally? Teens see this.
  • Disciple your Teen. What are they learning in Bible Study? How can they learn to express this with their peers online? Tap into their artistic abilities with Instagram. Let them visually express what they are learning.
  • Marketers and Teens have much in common. “About 45% of teens cycle through this process constantly throughout the day. They can’t get off their phones because if they do they will fall behind, miss out in inside jokes, the latest gossip, and other meaningful social interactions that, if missed, could ostracize them.” The article talks about being online as work for the author. I feel the same way. Every marketer takes breaks. Teens should, too. They can adopt some of the same tools as marketers to save time.

Meanwhile, using social media can be a way for your teen to understand other cultures. Encourage them to learn a second or third language. Teach them online safety as well. While teens can connect with their peers in ways adults can’t, they are also vulnerable. I pray for parents and role models of teens because our fast growing technological world means exposing them to online dangers.

3 Things to Consider When Posting on Social Media @WorldVenture #SMtips

This week, I began to serve at least a small portion of my new job description as a Digital Engagement and Disciple-Making Coordinator with WorldVenture. Crafting social media posts are a time-consuming and thoughtful endeavor. Here are 3 things to consider when posting for an organization such as WorldVenture:

  • Disciple-making doesn’t just happen in the face-to-face world. The definition of discipleship is a Christian who teaches and trains. I like to use the word mentoring, too. When you disciple someone, you are mentoring them. Creating posts for social media means understanding the influence of social media and using that post for more than marketing a missionary organization. A post can influence someone to serve, to change, to read the Bible more, or even to become a believer. Follow that up with immediate communication on a post, and you start to build relationships online.
  • Don’t narrow your vision. A lack of vision at your church and organization can truly limit your scope of reach. Even people who are techies like me can become too focused on just the technology. Face-to-face must accompany online efforts. Teamwork and unity among believers are important. Speaking of teamwork…
  • Christian business and Christian ministry need to work together, not in competition. Some competition in business is healthy, but without angel investors and mentors, a Christian business person will struggle. Christian ministry should never have competition. Churches should help someone find a fellowship of faith even if it is another church. A ministry should name their organizations to encourage working together, not an attitude of, “We are doing it better than anyone else.” God is a creative God. We feel like we are dreaming big, but God’s plans are bigger than anything we can imagine.

Bottom line: If churches partner with their missionary organization for training and missions and evangelism, imagine the reach of the Gospel then? That’s what I’m working on with WorldVenture–a way for churches (small and big, house or regular church) to get help in training their congregations and staff in cross-cultural ministry. The world is already here. Immigration, refugees, and international students have flooded the American landscape. With just 7-20% of the 70% measurably practicing their Christian faith in America, we are in desperate need of God. We are also in desperate need of people willing to think outside the box when it comes to missions. Of course, the question becomes, do we even need to use the word, Evangelism anymore? So many people are from other cultures, and with access to other cultures online, it feels that everything is missions.

Thoughts? 

**Support for this supported staff position with WorldVenture: 34%/100% funded. Go here to begin a monthly, quarterly, or annual financial commitment (tax-deductible). 

Hashtag Trends on Twitter 6-9-2018

I picked out Saturday’s trending hashtags to help you find the conversations that may help with fostering online friendships. A hashtag is like a keyword to group all the conversations around that hashtag in one place on Twitter. It’s handy. Email me for more ideas about hashtags and conversations.

#BestThingAboutThe70s

Build a relationship online by starting a conversation using this Twitter handle.

#SaturdayMorning

A variety of Saturday morning thoughts on Twitter. Scroll down and find someone to have a conversation with.

#AMJoy

AM Joy with Joy Reid. Conversations pop up on various topics.

#NationalRoseDay

A clever use of a hashtag to promote a wine. Still, you could jump in on these conversations.

#SatChat

Conversations on Saturday. Join one.

On Building a Relationship

A co-worker at the day job sent me this link from Bored Panda. A co-worker of the IT person at a large company asked the IT person to watch and take care of her plant while on vacation. What ensued was a hilarious series of photographs from the IT person (go figure!) that made news on Bored Panda. It made me laugh, and you know what? This kind of stuff is a relationship builder. 

Imagine if we chose to use social media to build relationships in funny and creative ways instead of tearing others down? Speaking to people in their context and in their culture so they understand, even laugh, or learn to trust that we aren’t going to tear them down. If we teach others through our own actions that people can disagree and still hang out, social media ceases to become a tool for darkness.

I’m sure the IT worker’s colleague will never forget those photos. 

3 Ways to Use Twitter

Giselle Aguiar of AZ Social Media Wiz says, “Yeah, some people may “hate Twitter”, but it is a great tool to get exposure. People hate Twitter because they don’t understand Twitter. Twitter is like a never-ending news ticker. It’s what happening right now in real-time. At any given moment on Twitter, one can see what’s trending – what thousands of people are tweeting about.” 

I like to call it a giant chat room. It’s easier, I think, for older people than Facebook. She writes about trends, like #ThursdayThoughts, #TravelTuesday, etc. For instance, if you follow Grace Baptist Church‘s Monday Motivation blog, I would encourage you to share a response using the trending hashtag #MotivationMonday. Your response can spark a reply from someone else. Perhaps someone from another country? 

Here are some definitions for Twitter:

  • Retweet: A cute way to say you repeated a status someone else posted. You would hit the tail-chasing arrows to do this. You can retweet without sharing anything or retweet with a comment.
  • Reply: Self-explanatory. Hit the thought bubble and reply to that person.
  • Heart: Twitter’s version of a Facebook like.
  • The weird symbol with three points: You can share a tweet to another social media or copy a tweet.
  • The envelope: That’s how you direct message or private message someone on Twitter. Useful for bringing public conversations private to keep trolls away.

As a believer, what is the best way to use Twitter?

  1. Communication. You should use this to communicate with people who need to know the Lord. It can be used privately or publicly. You can lock down your Tweets so you can choose who sees your Twitter wall.
  2. Discipleship. Intentionally follow a few people who are open to friendship. Build trust. Speak truth into that person’s life. Walk with them through the tough times. Help them come to know Christ and learn how to share that new faith.
  3. Learn Something New. Follow some organizations that help you use Twitter or other social media sites better. Blogs and videos get shared on Twitter. It’s a great way to learn new things. Use discernment.

Personally, in the last couple of years since my appointment with WorldVenture in 2015, I’ve chosen to stay away from politics. Because I work with many different people from different political parties, I’d rather not have my views become a stumbling block to a good relationship with Christ. If you were to ask me, I would tell you in a kind way what I believe or why I made a certain choice, and in person over a coffee or by video conference.

Twitter and other social media are a communications tool. If the church body uses it right in partnership with a missionary organization, Twitter can be a powerful way to share the Gospel with the unreached, the unloved, and the unchurched worldwide.

To learn more, go to www.worldventure.com/nhahn

 

3 Ways We Are Limiting Ourselves

When someone like Bill Gates presents a list of books he is reading this summer, people pay attention. More importantly, his choices influence others towards his worldview. The church, in general, according to some sources are losing its influence on the world. This trend can change, but only if we stop limiting ourselves.

Fast Company wrote,

“One of the world’s most revered painters and thinkers was largely self-taught and didn’t let the technological restrictions of 500 years ago limit his conjectures about how the world around him might work.” Bill Gates suggested a book about Leonardo DaVinci. Recently, a pastor at a local church shared his own book suggestions.

Pastors and people like me are expected to share what they are reading, even our faith journeys through reading the Bible, but as I explore digital discipleship and talk to people about supporting WorldVenture by supporting my position within WorldVenture, I find unusual roadblocks in sharing the vision of digital discipleship.

  • People get an opportunity to share their faith and, like handling a hot potato, try to give it to someone else more qualified quickly. Maybe they doubt their own capabilities and lack some confidence? My typical response: Trust in the Holy Spirit to give you an answer in your conversations. There’s no harm in saying, “Let me get back to you on that.” Come to the conversation as a learner, too. Learn together. Friend them online. You don’t need to have all the answers right now.
  • Ageism. A recent article about Liv Tyler reported how she feels like a second-class citizen in Hollywood. The roles for top movies go to much younger actresses. 32 and 38-years of age are considered “old” according to that article. Age and how people view age affect even the church. Our Senior Adults hold a special place in my heart. We are quickly losing their wisdom as the age gap widens between them and the younger crowd. Social Media gives our Senior Adults an opportunity to remind their grandchildren and “spiritual children” about their faith journeys and that God is indeed real and alive. When the topic is brought up about social media, many back away from it. Social sites like Facebook and Instagram are not just a way to see what the others are doing, but a chance to interact, share our faith and have real conversations. Refrain from automatically hitting the share button. Share your story. Be you. Be personal. Learn how to be discerning in what you share.
  • “We’ve Always Done it This Way Before.” In the article by Fast Company, the quote that struck me the most was how Leonardo Da Vinci, “…didn’t let the technological restrictions of 500 years ago limit his conjectures about how the world around him might work.” Many digital discipleship programs are showing up on the web. The church doesn’t lack the opportunities to learn digital discipleship, but many, many ministry leaders all share the same roadblocks to mobilizing their church. Social media is polarizing. People go from anger to apathy regarding its use in missions and evangelism. I’m interested in teaching our partner churches, allies, and individuals to team up with their church and have their church team up with WorldVenture (or other missionary organization) for a massive movement of discipleship–unity in one purpose. Teaching the solid Christians within the church, mobilizing the retired missionaries to think about serving from home using that knowledge they have gained, and connecting those who know a second language. Don’t limit yourself. Continue to live with hands open to whatever and wherever God leads you.

Bill Gates shares his summer reading list. A pastor or worker may share their reading list, thus creating solid, online conversations. What about sharing your reading list this year? What about sharing what you are learning to tease out some conversation about tough topics? The world is changing. Church and missionary organization should work together for greater results. Tap into the knowledge of social media experts and start with the small stuff.

Your first step should be in prayer.

**If you feel led to support this work, please go to this link to start your financial partnership today. You can also use the contact form here to send me a message and arrange a meeting to talk more about this supported staff role. I am only at 34% support. I cannot serve this new role with WorldVenture without full funding. Help me and you help WorldVenture and its workers. Contact me for a full list of duties this new role has for me to do.