Starting November 2 through WorldVenture, I will be publishing a series of videos and blogs called The Church on Mission to help the church and Christian nonprofit make disciples online and reach the unreached.
With COVID19 and prior predictions from notable sources that the church is changing in how we worship and how we gather due to technology and globalization, those of us involved in the digital world want to help the church recognize her ability to reach the unreached, the unloved, and the unchurched.
The first video, How to Form a Digital Team, will include three videos, a PowerPoint for your use, a list of trusted resources for further digital training, and a sample report form to get your congregation and leadership excited about digital discipleship.
The videos go as follows:
Introduction (1 minute)
The Template (3 minutes)
Review and Strategy (3 minutes)
It is designed so the international church leader can tweak it to his or her context in teaching their church congregations to make disciples online. It is also designed for the US church.
The series will be a long one and I will announce new videos and blogs as they are created.
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.
**Support for this supported staff position with WorldVenture: 34%/100% funded. Go here to begin a monthly, quarterly, or annual financial commitment (tax-deductible).
A writer I like to follow posts interesting, even controversial content (I absolutely love his status updates!). In one post, the writer wrote about how he dislikes the word “calling.” Why can’t a calling be to a barista, an auto mechanic, etc rather than noble or glamorous fields like missionary or pastor? Calling is indeed loosely used without an understanding of the word and all it entails.
In my experience, a calling is, “…something that drives you to live in obedience to where God has called you to serve. Callings are not glamorous, require you to die to self in painful ways, being humbled at times by people who are smarter than you, being a life long learner, and drawing closer to God because you are leaning more and more on Him to walk the unknown path. It is being honorable in your calling in words and actions. (my comment in response to the status)”
In looking up “calling” on Got Questions, it said, “Sometimes, God does give an individual a specific ministry, but He always does so in His own timing. Like training before a competition, it takes time to develop the wisdom and skills we need (1 Corinthians 3:2). If God were to give us the mission before the training, we’d try to do too much too soon. Instead, God holds us back, taking time to build our practical skills (Luke 2:52), spiritual knowledge (2 Peter 3:18), and faith (James 2:22). James spoke to this in James 1:2-4: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
The last part of the above quote doesn’t quite sound so glamorous or noble, does it? In fact, it sounds like hell. And why not? If you examine the Scriptures and look at the Apostles, their jobs weren’t glamorous.
I relate to the above quote. My calling didn’t come until the last couple of years. I served in a variety of positions in the church as a ministry leader or sometimes just a follower supporting a leader. In fact, even as I say this, I realize how broad my calling is. My calling is with WorldVenture, but under my title is a variety of duties and lots of creative freedom. Many might call writing a calling.
I remember reading in a book written by a literary agent how writers fall into two categories: glory seekers and (forgot the name now) serious writers (for lack of the actual word in the quote). Glory seekers usually only want a name on the front cover, less the work. If it’s a calling, this writer also said, why aren’t we perfecting our work to publish quality stuff? I agree, but my biggest issue is this–What I do with WorldVenture isn’t glamorous.
It’s hard work, and doubly hard when I face people who lack understanding of social media. When you call yourself a writer, people want to hear more and buy your book. You are selling a product they understand. What people can’t imagine without hearing the whole vision is how social media and the church go together.
I’m interested in partnering with the local and global church to empower their understanding in the use of social media to use it for godly purposes, not for marketing, but for outreach, utilizing their own congregation, to change most of the church in how they use it, and help the creatives who lack technology know-how grasp this wonderful communication tool. I’ve consulted with Christian writers, business people, and churches as well as individuals who simply want to share God’s love and their hearts through different and creative online venues.
In the end, I agree with the writer on Facebook. Calling is too loosely used and little understood as to what it entails. I simply take exception to the words glamorous and noble in reference to pastors or missionaries, but agree that we need to view our jobs that we go to every day in a different way.
Go to your job and be a walking testimony.
Make honorable decisions.
Make difficult decisions well.
Go the extra mile.
Work with humility.
Serve as Jesus served.
And stop looking out after “number one.”
If we are going to name something a calling, a new level of commitment needs to be undertaken whether we call ourselves a missionary, pastor, barista, auto mechanic, writer or church secretary. Are you ready for that level of commitment?
Chandler Bible is located in Chandler, Arizona. I’ve been working with them for nearly a year on and off. If you want to hear the fruit of this, you’ll need to meet with me so we can talk privately on another day. I will be headed to Chandler Bible on Sunday, October 1.
It’s always fun hanging around with people who are just as excited as you are on what God is doing in the realm of social media and technology. I’m always refueled by this. Meanwhile, if you wish for me to visit your church so we can talk technology and your congregation, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Duran is one of those few people who are good at social media. He talks about different subjects with a great tone of voice, putting the responsibility on us to think critically about an issue or a verse, like this one…
Recently, I posted this photo from this site. When discipling, is this wise?
Caption: “Just because all of your friends have bad theology doesn’t mean you have to…”
To the majority of my intellectual Christian friends, this is funny. However, a believer in another country didn’t know what that meant. A pastor responded well, but I wondered if my friend understood what that pastor said? It made me think about what I post on my main newsfeed. In the intellectual community, I understand these terms cause a lot of debates.
I am very careful what I post online these days with my calling in mind. Once in a while, I regret a posting, like this one. It WAS funny to the majority of my friends, but I don’t want the focus of ministry to be on what causes debates or division.
Meanwhile, I need to get back on my Western Seminary Leadership Development courses. It’s been a busy few weeks.
I think this is a great example of how the media may actually be harming the country. Joe Bastardi a meteorologist for weatherbell.com started warning media of hurricane Harvey 1 week before it hit. But because of the media’s hate and obsession with Trump 24/7, nobody mentioned it until 2 days before it hit. Its things like this is why most have lost all faith and respect for the media. By the way, after it hit, that same media slammed the local government for its response. Any thoughts?
Shortly after President Trump was voted in, many Christian and non-Christian middle to left leaning people went on a rampage. Likewise, many conservative Christians began to act like the left-leaning Democrats they complained about. In all this political soup, I wondered when the church would see we needed to put our desire for others to know Christ above our desire to talk about politics and get into debates?
In this post, my husband was making a point about how powerful our words are and how they can sway people into action. This is why Hitler had a book burning festival. He knew the power of words. He used them himself. History has shown the effects of the power of words. They can influence to peace or violence, racial equality or division, and love or hate. People are swayed by story in video or picture form with few words. Even my high school’s slogan said the pen was more powerful than the sword.
The church has a challenge: Be a part of the changes in technology or be left behind. Leadership can inspire the use of Social Media and technology by sharing more positive stories about it. They can be examples themselves on how to use Social Media well. They can lead the church congregation to representing Christ online instead of their favorite political candidate. We need to act like a Christian online as well as in the face-to-face world. The two are no longer separate.
I want to inspire the church to become involved in technology and social media. Ask me about it. I’m happy to speak to your church or ministry group on the subject.
V leaned toward me, her phone in the palm of her hand, showing me pictures and videos of her recent church short term missions trip to Guatemala. She shared deeply what God had done in her through the trip and how her team members were right by her side at a crisis moment. It so reminded me of Honduras.
Short term trips do as much for the people of the country as they do for the team. When you go on a short term trip, you return home different. The people leave footprints in your life that never go away. V wanted to keep in touch with some of the leadership and team, and had collected a few email addresses while in Guatemala. At this point, the conversation went from friend-to-friend to a social media class to learn how to use her seldom-used Facebook in a global way.
Privacy is an issue for V for reasons I won’t go into, and as the afternoon sunshine gave way to monsoonal wind, rain, and lightening, we nearly closed down Starbucks. V had both her tablet and phone as I taught her how to copy and paste links, create statuses, edit photos, and share her faith without revealing personal information. She even shared her story in a Facebook Live video, being okay with it being public.
The next step was walking her through inviting her Guatemalan friends to “friend” her on Facebook. She used Google translate to type out her message to them and copied and pasted the Spanish text into the body of the email. While Google translate is wonderful, it is always best to learn the language of the culture you wish to reach.
V is not just a dear friend, but an avid prayer support. You read my story about P, and now you are learning about V. Both attend the same church. Imagine if every church member shared their faith with their “Oikos” online, took the time to mentor people online, and shared statuses that reflect their face-to-face personality, inviting further conversation? The church would be powerful, indeed. This is partly what I do. I am a trainer of those who wish to be more than spectator Christians.
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We gather around our devices. P has both her laptop and phone, ready to learn. We drink lattes and talk about our memories and life lessons learned.
She laughs when she talks about graduating in 1968. “You weren’t even born yet!”
I listen. That’s perhaps the most important tool in a Social Media Consultant.
As she shares about her life, I am making mental notes. How can she share her faith? How can her personality shine online? What is her learning curve? How can I help her succeed? What obstacles do we need to overcome? This is how ministry works–I meet with people and have a conversation. Sometimes, the conversations happen online via Zoom or Skype, but like today, it is face-to-face over lattes away from the craziness of downtown Prescott and the Fourth of July activities.
We cover topics such as photo editing, linking the photo to the micro-story she is telling, and teach how to do certain things on the phone and laptop.
“You’ve got to make it a habit.” I can’t say this enough. “You’ve got to work on this an hour a day until it’s like second nature.” The biggest problem with people learning how to use social media isn’t always the technology; it’s creating a new habit. When the habit is created, you can choose when to use social media and when to abstain. You have control over how much time you spend on social media; the device doesn’t control you.
My husband and I talked later and we both agreed that people find it easier to share negative stories about social media rather than get involved. The church is changing. The message isn’t changing, but can if good people do nothing to correct the misinformation online. As I sat typing this blog, scrambling for more inspiration, Seth Godin once again becomes an influence:
He wrote in Creating Discomfort that even projects you launch that should be welcoming are often missing an important point: “…this is going to make (some) people uncomfortable.”
What I do with WorldVenture is still new to a lot of people. Yet, I join with a few hundred others to pioneer a new movement. I’m determined to close the gap between young and old, to mobilize the church to get online, and to show that the Bible is good enough even if the context in which we share the message is re-framed.
Every month I send emails out to gather support. Not everyone will see the vision I have and embrace it as eagerly as my current partners and friends. It’s an art to write authentic emails that wrap my vision around the vision God has placed on a church I am contacting. Social media affects every church and ministry and every person whether they want it to or not. With 3.2 billion people on the internet out of the 7 billion worldwide, the church should jump at the thought of using a tool that is free for online evangelism, missions, and discipleship. This is not always the case for whatever reason.
Let me go over four myths:
Only Church Leadership Should Do Marketing Ministry: A medium church has a staff of 5 people. Your church has 350 attendants. Typically, unless you are a mega-church, your administrator or pastor doubles as social media marketer. How many people in your congregation make up the 1.57 billion people on Facebook? Why aren’t you training them? What do you train them on? How do you create a team of missions/evangelism-focused individuals who can be mentored by experienced past or present pastors or missionaries? Merely posting announcements is not good enough. You must engage the people on your page. You must use social media to talk to people and teach your congregation to talk to people.
“I Only Support (Insert Your Favorite Denomination Here).” While I do not agree with denominational prejudice, you should look for someone in the field of social media and technology to support or consider pioneering the use of technology and social media who is in your denomination whom you can support. Consider your neighborhood? Does your church have a strong presence in it? Or is it dwarfed by other belief systems? Implement a social media strategy. Consider this part of planting churches, running ministry, and doing church.
“I Hate Smart Phones. No One Has Conversations Anymore.” The church is great at publishing stories that scare people away from using social media. We are experts at why we shouldn’t use social media, but most who talk against it are barely using it (if at all). The conversations are happening. They don’t look like the conversations you have; different isn’t necessarily evil. Granted, balance does need to come back into the online and face-to-face world. Who will show an example of that balance if you are not going where the conversations are happening?
“I Don’t Need a Missions Course; I’m Not Going Overseas.” Social Media is global. Unfortunately, some of the missions courses aren’t packaging their courses to be applied domestically and internationally. Americans can offend another culture online and be blocked if they don’t learn about that culture first like missionaries do. Who are the people groups in your area? Have you searched that information online, taken a long drive or a walk in your community, or taken a course at a university or college to understand how many of the students come from other countries?
Support is secondary as to why I want to talk to your church. Your church’s hopes, dreams, and vision are mine, too. What I do is as important to you as it is to what God has me doing. Let me talk to you even if support is not available. Church isn’t about self-service. It isn’t about your programs. It isn’t about the music. Our passion for those things should be less than the passion to reach the lost with the truth and love of the Gospel.
The creative possibilities are endless with how a church can use social media to put into practice the vision that God has placed there. What are the barriers and how can they be overcome? What is stopping you from being more strategic online?