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.

3 Ways to Cope with Online Negativity #Christian

As we walked the lakeside path, she said, “Maybe I’ll get off of Facebook after all this is over.”

This comment followed my own on the political climate online.

“Don’t get off Facebook.” And I shared some ideas of how to shine a light as a Christian. We can provide better ways for discussion, like not name-calling, making issues black and white without considering someone’s background or story, and doing our own research online, looking at both sides and verifying facts from opinions. Nonetheless, the negativity is a problem online. Here are three ways to cope with it all:

  • Take breaks from it. Balance your online time and your face-to-face time. Take walks. Get coffee with friends.
  • What is your friends’ or followers’ stumbling blocks? Posting something that may end up cutting off communication is not productive. How important is that topic? Can it be re-worded? At WorldVenture, we encourage online discipleship. Will that topic impede this goal? Coping with the negativity means not taking part in it. With a nation divided, we must think like missionaries online.
  • Don’t neglect prayer and your morning Bible readings. No online discipleship effort can be done without serious prayer. Keep up on understanding who God is by reading His Bible.  His Word in our hearts will keep us strong through any Facebook or social media storm.

Boundaries and Balance

Our work schedules aren’t easy. My husband is also a light sleeper. A Facebook conversation captured my attention at a time of night when we were brushing our teeth, turning off the lights, and about to head to bed. I paused in the kitchen, looking at my tablet, praying, struggling between balance and boundaries.

“Are you coming to bed?” He said after he poked his head around the corner.

“I can’t.” I gave a sigh after I said this.

It reminded me of something someone said about children. You don’t choose the quality time; they do. Time zones or life events can mean instant chat, video conferencing, or an email. I try to keep some kind of normalcy during this transition time with my husband, like getting dinner ready by 6:30 pm when he gets home after a 12-hour day or stopping work by 5 or 5:30 pm so we can have some together time before bed. But sometimes, like that night, some conversations can’t be re-scheduled.

Serving in this field means establishing good time-management, balance, and making sure two factors aren’t neglected–God and my husband. Serving in this transition period means raising support on top of a full-time job, active ministry, and being a wife.

Thankfully, a current financial supporter has upped their support and I am now at 35% support. I have a long ways to go before I reach 100% support, but I celebrate each percentage because that means I am closer to reaching my calling.

To become a monthly, quarterly, or annual financial partner, click here. Or click here to learn more. 

Morning Devotional: Serving in Bad Environments

Disclaimer: Not a Bible Teacher. Random thoughts from my morning devotions. 

Reading 1 Samuel 2

From Got Questions:

  • The author of 1 Samuel is anonymous.
  • Written from c. 1100 B.C. to c. 1000 B.C. One hundred years of history.
  • The role of Judges are removed and a unified nation under kings begins. Samuel is the last judge.
  • Two kings are anointed: Saul and David.
  • The child, Samuel first prophecy was one of judgment on the corrupt priests.

In 1 Samuel 2, I read Hannah’s prayer. As I moved to the next portion of the chapter, I learn about Eli’s Wicked Sons.

2 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord. 13 Now it was the practice of the priests that, whenever any of the people offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three-pronged fork in his hand while the meat was being boiled 14 and would plunge the fork into the pan or kettle or caldron or pot. Whatever the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is how they treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15 But even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the person who was sacrificing, “Give the priest some meat to roast; he won’t accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.”

16 If the person said to him, “Let the fat be burned first, and then take whatever you want,” the servant would answer, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”

17 This sin of the young men was very great in the Lord’s sight, for they[b] were treating the Lord’s offering with contempt.

I wonder what it was like to serve among corrupt priests? In the Got Questions synopsis, I read this verse from 1 Samuel 15:22-23:

“But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king’” (1 Samuel 15:22-23).

Were there any priests not corrupt? What temptations did they face? 

I am thinking, too, of how we serve at work or in the church. What temptations do we face to take shortcuts or make bad decisions out of pure exhaustion and low morale? If we don’t get what we want, do we say, “No, hand it over now; if you don’t, I’ll take it by force.”

What did you learn from reading this chapter? 

Meanwhile, I am praising God with this video. Sing with me.

 

 

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.