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. 

Book Review: The Roanoke Girls

Billed as creepy, The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel grossed me out. In spite of this reaction, I thought it was well-written and reflected a part of our culture the Christian world doesn’t always address (especially in their fiction).

This novel helps us understand what’s wrong with the Roanoke family and why the girls in the family keep disappearing or killing themselves by skillful manipulation of the chapters. The book takes us from now to then and to the different girls in the family history. The family lives in a small town in Kansas and it is as broken and dysfunctional as the Roanoke family. However, the Roanoke family have their own special brand of dysfunctional.

You discover this in the first few pages. Grandpa loves under age girls that are related to him. He’s an incestious pediphile. The book shows us how the girls and Laney (the main character) has bought into his kind of “love.” The book has many twists and turns, showing us how Laney and the other girls really had nowhere to go or any kind of help to escape the nightmare of the Roanoke family.

Laney’s own fatalistic point of view that she can’t escape her family history, succombing to repeating the cycle of her past, should bother you. We know our hope is in Christ and second chances can come by making different choices. So, why should a Christian read this book?

First, it’s a fascintating book, truly getting mysterious as Laney is the only one concerned with her cousin/sister’s disappearance. Allegra leaves clues. Other plot twists begin to happen including an ex-boyfriend who has changed. We find out the psychological trauma Laney is suffering from and how it affects her other relationships.

Second, while this book is peppered liberally with swear words, this is the language of the culture and world we live in. White washing reality is not the answer to raising intentional adults to work in an environment that is troubling to say the least.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel was well-written with a twist you can’t see coming at the end. The end is a happy ending in the language of our world, but as a Christian, I wondered if they got married or were shacking up with each other?

Rating: 4 Stars

*Book given by publisher to review

3 Ways to Really Listen

15039714_10208878571213823_5551806829554199270_oA new book arrived in the mail from a publicist company. I had been looking forward to it. Listen Love Repeat: Other-Centered Living in a Self-Centered World by Karen Ehman. Part way through chapter one I am both ecstatic and defensive.  How do we really listen online and serve in this other world?

Listen Love Repeat talks about heart drops:

“A heart drop is a concept my husband and I learned from our small group leader, Michael. It’s when a person, either directly or indirectly or in a cryptic way, gives you a peek into his or her heart.” (page 15)

This is what I’ve been trying to practice way before this book was published. Heart drops happen online, too. If you want to know what to get someone for Christmas, a birthday, or even a wedding, friend them or follow them on social media. You can discover a whole world about your  new friend by closely following their likes, dislikes, photos, and statuses. The book made me defensive, too. Shortly into it, I am already slapping my forehead in exasperation. On page 17, the book says:

“Our culture is obsessed with self,” it says, and this is true. All one has to do is see the countless amounts of bathroom photos of ourselves. It continues, “We post pictures of ourselves online. What we’re eating. What we’re doing. We’re focused on our schedules, our relationships. At every turn we seem to care about only one thing: ‘What’s in it for me?'” 

Sure, I’m only a bit into this book. The book may point out what I am going to point out now: Those pictures of ourselves, what we eat, what we’re doing, our schedule, and our relationships are bridges to conversation, especially with others who don’t believe in Isa. In our face-to-face world, we are constantly talking about this: our books, our life, what we’re eating, what we’re quilting, etc. Online community is the same way. However, we can get self-absorbed just as we can offline. Technology is just the mirror reflecting how we are in private. So how do we do other-centered living in our new culture since the online world is here to stay and constantly evolving?

There are three ways you can listen to those “heart drops” online:

  • Let them know you are praying for them in private message, text, or comment when you see a status online that is a cry for help, a prayer request, or someone struggling with something. Silently lurking online and praying for them is like someone asking you a question on the phone and you nod in answer. They can’t see that nod. If you want to build relationships with people online and be other-centered, let them know you are praying for them. It shows you care.
  • Live Out Loud. If you spend anytime in the Bible, you know that we aren’t to live in a bubble, ever fearful of letting people into our social media. On the other hand, we should still be discerning. There are real dangers online especially for teenagers. Let your social media reflect who you are in private. Let people see how you live to illustrate what you believe. Go ahead and post what you eat, about your relationships, your favorite books or movies, etc. I would suggest every other status be a question to ask of others on your social media, like what are you having for dinner? If we didn’t talk about our favorite books, books like this one would not sell. Our messages in ministry would not circulate. Show, and sometimes tell, how you are living out your faith.
  • Pay Attention. Pay attention to what people post about what they like or don’t like, what they read, favorite places to go, bucket lists, and favorite restaurants, etc. Gift them with something they would like from listening to their online “heart drops.”

My final review will be posted on another website.

Social Media World: How to be Teachable


The post was up to several likes on my social media. I smiled in the semi-darkness of the living room. My statistics on TRC Magazine were really doing well, too, with people coming from all over the world. Compared to other much bigger and well-known people, it’s barely a blip on the radar, but satisfying. Without my belief in God, memories of being humbled, and knowing that, if I don’t keep my intentions in check, I could end up like other leaders in the online world who built their own kingdom rather than God’s; a kingdom scattered now like broken porcelain around their feet. So what does it look like to be teachable?

Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry by Frank Tucker said:

“House plans are drawn from various perspectives, they are not complete; all perspectives are needed to contribute to the whole. When we apply this concept to an intercultural situation, the people of each culture have a unique perspective on life. We may learn from one-another, but each is only a partial perception of reality and each needs to be subject to modification in openness to the Spirits’ revelation of reality as God sees it. (Location 1090-1091; emphasis mine).”

  • Listen first. It is only our arrogance that keeps us from hearing what the others are saying. Even if we disagree with them, we don’t have a whole picture. Practice listening on social media.
  • Ask questions. I find that, when I don’t have the answer or a complete picture, I ask questions. A teacher once said there are no stupid questions. Asking questions is especially handy when trying to open up a discussion. A person doesn’t want to be told what to think. It is the right question that makes them think further on the subject.
  • Admit what you don’t know. Christians don’t have all the answers. We can learn better together; Leaning on each other, helping each other, and working together is wise.

In A Teachable Spirit by Justin Taylor, he describes Philip and the Eunuch in Acts 8:

“Acts 8 describes a story that might help us think through this. An Ethiopian eunuch — a God-fearing Gentile who served as treasurer to the Ethiopian queen — had made a five-month journey by chariot to Jerusalem in order to worship God. During his return trip he was puzzling out loud over the Isaiah scroll that he held in his hands. And the Holy Spirit appointed Philip to help him understand the meaning of the Bible.” 

The eunuch understood his own insufficiency. A Teachable Spirit urges us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. The article reminds us to be doers of the Word, to wrestle with the Word within ourselves, asking God for meaning, and going to others when we need help understanding it. I’m new to the mission field.

The help of others experienced in the field, rich with Biblical education, and well-versed in more complex issues help me. I am grateful for them. Their encouragement reminds me that what I am building is not my own kingdom. A good strategy is bringing in people from many different backgrounds and experiences to participate in God’s Kingdom so we can be better in the field than the evil out there.

Who are your social media accountability partners? Who are your mentors?