Church Planting and Discipleship @jd_payne

My mentor introduced me to J.D. Payne’s blog, Missiologically Thinking: Equipping the Church for the Multiplication of Disciples, Leaders, and Churches.  JD Payne’s latest blog made me click. It’s not often you see a statement like this: Church Planting is not the Single-Most Effective Methodology.

You must read it. Click on the link above and read the whole thing.

But this! This is where you need to pay attention:

“And someone somewhere is going to say, “The single most effective evangelistic methodology under heaven is planting new churches.” And everyone is going to assume that because all of these churches were started, we are making wise contributions to the Great Commission. When you hear these things, be a wise Kingdom steward and remember the Great Commission (Matt 28:18-20) and how churches were planted in the New Testament (Acts 11:20-26; 13-14; 1 Thes 1:2-10). Then ask, “How many people came to faith and how many sheep were shuffled around in the Kingdom to plant all these churches?” (emphasis mine)”

Thom Rainer said the same thing in 7 Reasons Why Evangelism Should be a Priority in Your Church:

“Look at the data. Measure almost any group of churches today versus thirty years ago. You’ll likely find that only one person is being reached with the gospel for every forty to sixty church members. You will find that conversions have declined precipitously. And where you find numerical growth, you are more likely to find that the growth is transfer of Christians from one church to another. That’s not evangelism. That’s sheep shuffling. (emphasis mine)”

Social Media is as polarizing in the church as alcohol. I’ve heard all the objections (I think) and the ones who are for social media only think of it in church-only terms, like marketing or denominational discipleship. The most common objection is lack of vision. As you can see in the above quotes, two totally separate experts agree church growth in most cases is due to sheep shuffling. People move. People hate the church they attend and leave it for another. At a church communications conference, I sat at different tables and learned about different communications people on church staff who had trouble getting leadership and/or congregations involved in social media. Some said their church was dying.

If only one person is being reached with the Gospel for every forty to sixty church members, why aren’t we teaching our church members how to use social media in more authentically strategic ways? And who are those people we haven’t reached yet? The International Student population is at an all-time high. Refugees live in our country. People migrate here all the time. The harvest is not lacking. This is where WorldVenture comes in.

I partnered with WorldVenture to become a supported staffer with them so we can work with our partners, allies, and church partners to understand other cultures, use social media in ways that bring a full harvest, empower our workers in the field with knowledge, and help partners, allies, church partners, and workers use their own social networks to be part of Social Media as global outreach.  If more than half of our church population is online, why aren’t we training them?

Let’s ponder that a while.

The supported staffer position is not filled yet because I am not at 100% funding. Will you consider supporting and partnering with me in this pioneer movement? 

Being Creative IS resting!

Rafter 11 is an unusual cafe in Prescott Valley, Arizona. Olive and balsamic oils line the walls. Rich dark wood, comfortable chairs, and an outdoor sitting area make this ideal for a place to meet a friend, but not a great place to bring a computer or a book to do some light work in the afternoon. On the dark counters, glass domes cover baked goods.

We ordered our coffee drinks and found a table nearby.

“My husband says I work too much.” I laughed and continued talking. “But being creative IS resting.”

I told her a story about the day I chose to experiment and do nothing. To truly rest and not have a computer in my hands. Rest according to other people’s definitions.

“I was so exhausted,” I said after I talked about lacking energy, getting a headache at the end of the day, and feeling unproductive. “When you take a rest day in relation to exercise, there’s something called active rest. You are walking, but you aren’t trying to run a tough, 3-mile uphill workout. You are active, but not pushing it.” 

People knit.

People do crafts.

People do something while on their day off.

When you enjoy what you do, how can it be called work? But this is not the first conversation I’ve had on this topic. Rest for me is creating something. Or maybe it’s mindlessly pulling words together or using a drawing program to just draw without any agenda. A study I found one day said we aren’t more productive just because we put in more hours. In fact, just the opposite was true.

People rested and were more productive during work than if they put in hours of overtime. How you spend that time you are given is up to you. You decide on the priority of a project based on the effort you put into it.

Roots Writers and Social Media Critique Group

“Roots Writers and Social Media Critique Group is about online dicipleship. It’s a movement for writers to return to the roots of why they write. We live in an age where the power of ideas is far mightier than the sword. Since the invention of the printing press in 1440, Christians have access to more people than in any other time in history via social media and technology, including unreached people groups. Roots is a global movement, gathering Christian writers that share the same Biblical beliefs as what we find here, together in small group style meetings that are free of charge.  Roots encourage our writers to join other fee-based writers groups for the perks of what they provide. We also work in partnership with fee-based writers groups, not in competition with them. 

The writers of roots meet to pray, encourage, and give and receive positive critiques of their work whether that work is fiction, non-fiction, blogs, scripts, and mini-stories posted online. 

The only agenda we have at Roots is to serve the Lord as called and obedient servants through the gift He has given us in the arts of writing.” 

Roots, formerly with Cataclysm Missions Intl LLC, is now its own site. The site is under construction and is slated to be finished by mid-Summer. This is a movement, not a ministry. It is a movement of digital discipleship so writers focus on the why they write and realize the power of ideas. I co-lead it with another.

Be praying for this movement to take off. We did have an interest from a pastor in another state to start one at his church. If you are interested in creating a Roots Group, stay tuned when the website is complete. 

 

 

3 Reasons Why You Should Get Involved in Social Media

I shared with 50 women at Grace Baptist Church’s Women’s Luncheon on May 5:

  • Pastors of less than 100 congregants are usually bi-vocational.
  • When a pastor says he is part-time, he is being paid for part-time, but working full time.
  • Depending on where you get your data, there is 1 missionary for every 200,000 to 400,000 people. That is a lot of friend requests on Facebook. It is difficult to give that many people (if not impossible) quality interaction.
  • The church is still polarized regarding social media.
  • Average 300-people churches don’t have a large staff. Therefore, it is difficult for one pastor to do both discipleship and run a church by himself.
  • Shared about my new role with WorldVenture. It is not uncommon for non-profit organizations to have their social media person do multiple duties. This supported position is important as my duties focus solely on social media and technology, including mobilizing the church to serve online in missions alongside WorldVenture.
  • A generation gap is widening. In our post-Christian generation, we need our Senior Adults online more than ever.

Here are the main 3 reasons to get involved with social media and technology:

  1. Missions need all of us involved in discipleship. Every Bible-believing church. Every solid Christian.
  2. Lack of discernment and vision is destroying American Christianity. American Christianity is losing influence. With only 7-20% of Americans measurably active in their Christian faith and Bible illiteracy reining, using social media for teaching and discipling is a priority.
  3. People move from different countries. They have retired from missions. They know a second or third language. Family relationships are international. People in church like this are important for online discipleship and sharing of the Gospel.

**To ask me to speak to your church, please email me or leave a comment. You can send a comment through here: www.worldventure.com/nhahn

3 Mistakes in My Blogging Journey

 

In 2015, I ended my blog. For years I built it up as a book review and personal blog site, oftentimes pouring my heart out on the screen, hoping someone might care. I met a lot of people in the blogging community, and some I am still friends with online. Today, I permanently deleted my blog.

Years ago, I had printed off the old blog so the work was not wasted. The old book reviews remain on Amazon. The great articles and guest blogs are gone. More importantly, I began a new brand in 2015 and God continues to expand that vision as a worker with WorldVenture.

Here is what I learned from my first blog:

  • Organize your menu simply. Make it easy to find the articles. I kept re-branding my blog every couple of years, creating a mess on my menu.
  • No Regrets. I have no regrets about any blogs I wrote. The pain was immense. Finding comfort in the Christian blogging community was like breathing in the fresh mountain air. For those considering blogging your heart, consider the people around you. Do you have self-control and boundaries and legal knowledge to blog smart? Will blogging your heart help you with the situation or hinder your healing? Not many Ann Voskamp’s exist today. When the blog became more about writing and book reviews, I should have begun a new blog.
  • Website Name Matters. I called it thewritelife2. I wish I had used my name for easier Google searches or used a name to create a sense of place on the website. But, then I was a newbie at the whole website and social media thing.

To those of you who followed my blog regularly, your friendship inspired me. I hope you are enjoying my new direction.

Anyone Could Have Done It

In a former job, someone wrote on the white erase board a long poem from here. Here is the part that matters:

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it,

And Anyone could have done it

But in the end Nobody always ended up with the task.

Your conversations are online, and when you get the opportunity to share your faith, don’t back away and ask a missionary or pastor to do it for you. Your fear-based response sends the wrong message to the person you love. Afterall, you spent time with this person on and/or offline. A pastor shepherds 300+ and one stat says there is one missionary for every 213,000 people. You established the relationship and they have a connection with you, not with the missionary and not with the pastor.

Do share with your pastor and/or missionary about the situation as much as you are able so they can pray and guide you, but don’t shy from the work of the Gospel. You are capable and braver than you think. Questions can be answered later. I’ve often found it good to say, “Let me get back to you,” on something I don’t have the answer to.

And sometimes, there are no answers in this life. That’s okay, too.

Somebody could do it.

Anybody could have done it.

But, really, your new friends are asking you to do it. They trust you. They love you. You love them. You are not alone as you share your faith with them. Your church and your missionaries are praying with you.

You are brave. You are strong. God is with you.

 

Don’t Close Down Your Facebook

People are asking, “Should I get rid of Facebook?” 

More than once, I observe a Facebook group conversation that begins with a simple post like asking how it is living in a state or sharing an amazing photograph, and somehow it becomes a political argument; a fountain of negativity spewing forth and inspiring reactions.

The difference between reaction and response is defined. Reaction is instant with no time to think. A response comes more slowly as you weigh your words. I encourage myself and others to respond and respond in line with the topic of the conversation thread. If politics isn’t mentioned, why bring it up? In the spirit of friendship, stay on topic, be kind, and start a conversation.

And don’t close down your Facebook. 

Be the light in a dark culture. Have meaningful conversations and pursue those conversations. Don’t give up. Set boundaries with your time online. Because life is too short for the majority of your time to be spent in the virtual. Spend some of it outside.

Like we did today…building up our marriage, loving each other, and worshiping God…

Wise Words on Plodding and Waiting

It is the nature of mobilization to say, “Hey, how about we do this thing we haven’t done yet?” For some, that type of thinking is all fun and unicorns. Others, however, particularly those who are in charge of “what we’re currently doing,” might not be so enthusiastic.

Read More From Missions Catalyst

 

30 Days of prayer to raise my support from 34% to 40% sounds good. Scheduling open meetings every Friday in March is always risky, but I did with hands open to what God wills. Even as I write this, I am sitting in one of those coffee shops with my laptop open and the chair in front of me empty. Yet, as I catch up on email and blogging, I see this newsletter in my inbox from Missions Catalyst.

Notably, this quote strikes me, 

“I want things to happen fast. I delight in the rapid movements to Jesus we increasingly hear about. But I know one of God’s basic units of work is the transformation of the human heart and that usually takes time. As do learning a language, shifting the missional direction of a church, or opening eyes that have by years of habit been closed to certain works of God. We need determination over time.

William Carey, when asked late in life how he accomplished so much, replied, “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.” (Read more.)

It’s that grit, that determination, that helped Carey and so many others live lives that qualify them to be on the “of whom the world was not worthy” list in Hebrews 11. Don’t grow weary of doing good (Galatians 6:9), and don’t give up praying (Luke 18). God will bring about his results through you.”

Plodding is my new word. As I sip a latte, look up expectantly each time the door to the coffee shop opens, I focus on plodding. I answer emails, write blogs, meet deadlines, and go to my day job.

And I dream! I dream of doing only one job. I dream of the new normal. That dream and hope keeps me plodding; that, and seeing the results of this calling as I serve in active ministry. I am learning about God through this plodding, leaning heavily on Him every day, and understanding that this plodding has a purpose.

Building relationships take patience and time. Creating change in the church takes time. Raising support takes time. This waiting and plodding is building up the kind of endurance that I’ll need in the next phase of this journey.

Will you pray with me? 

Let’s Also Make Good Followers, Too

In scrolling down my Facebook news feed, I lost count on how many posts targeted leaders or potential leaders. A great many books and conferences are around leadership, but I wonder how many conferences talk about grooming good followers?

“The headline “Americans no longer want a boss” was seen above a story about a FreshBooks report that says the number of self-employed workers could triple in the next two years.” This came from LVB.com. 

The original article on “Americans No Longer Want a Boss” somehow got lost and deleted in my phone notifications. The above article didn’t go into as much detail as I would have wished, but it matches what is coming from the work force. Somehow, everyone wants to be a boss or a leader (or they want to play more and work less) but where are the good followers–that awesome team of supporters gifted in specific areas that can help the leader in the overall objectives and mission of the company, church, or missionary organization?

Where are the conferences that help create a dynamic work force that encourages each volunteer or employee to treat their places of employment like the mission field?

A conference can focus on the following:

  • Coming to work every day no matter the political climate, work environment, or how you emotionally feel.
  • How to give more back to your co-workers than you receive.
  • Starting the morning with Bible reading and prayer to fortify yourself for the day and to face the day with a “can do” attitude no matter the stress; to pray for difficult co-workers and working situations.
  • How to serve like Jesus in the work place.

Bosses lead the rest of the company forward. Without a good team, a boss will fail. We don’t need Zombies. We need thinking, creative, dependable, and honest workers who can love like Jesus and pursue holiness in their relationship with Him, even if the workplace is miserable.

My magazine is blessed to have such a team. Without them, TRC Magazine would suffer. They are an example of leaders understanding how to be good followers, and followers understanding how to support the overall mission and vision of a company.

 

Like Owning a Truck…

An old saying goes like this, “When you own a truck, you always have friends” (or something like that). Meaning, everyone knows the truck owners in the neighborhood. They are called when a need arises to transport furniture. Bumper stickers on trucks protest: “Yes, this is my truck; No, I won’t help you move.” As a technologist with WorldVenture, I often get asked for help with online marketing. The line between ministry and being helpful is often blurred.

Helping businesses with marketing is a great service, especially if that business is Christian-owned. But this calling is more than about helping a business succeed. With limited time on my hands, I have to make choices. As my schedule becomes tighter, I have less time open to meeting with Christian business owners seeking to learn only marketing, not ministry. With working a 40-hour a week day job and managing various projects and websites, I barely have time to take care of my marriage and myself.

I’m not complaining. I love that I can help another, but now I have to watch the time I use every week. If the business is open to partnering with their church in their church’s mission and vision in connecting with their local and global community, I am eager to help. I am eager to share that vision and help them reach their business and ministry goals.  But like the truck owners, someone has to pay for the gas. 

2018 is going to see some changes in that I must focus on my various projects and websites, helping missionaries, churches, and missionary organizations, and only those who are doing business as missions. For now, I must guard my time to ensure that I am doing what God has called me to do, continue to raise 100% support as I am accountable to WorldVenture, take care of my spiritual and physical self, and take care of my marriage. I can recommend a person who teaches social media for business owners. I have made arrangements to refer people I cannot help to this person.

Thank you for your overall support and understanding of this issue. I’m on Day 4 of 30 days of prayer on my Facebook page. Will you consider partnering with me on a monthly basis as a church, individual, or business? Go here to learn more: www.worldventure.com/nhahn