opportunities

Of Lost Opportunities

From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.Read Ephesians 4:11-32

Originally, I was looking for verses online around the topic of “reeds blowing.” In my mind, I visualized social media campaigns and the people who are susceptible to follow them like reeds being blown by the wind, or as it states in Ephesians 4:14, “Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” Social Media campaigns are like that. We click, we share, and we vent, even to the sacrifice of shutting down conversations with others or rupturing friendships.

In seeking the right verse for an image I was creating, I decided to read the whole chapter of Ephesians 4. David Guzik breaks it down to 3 subtopics: “A Call for Unity Among God’s People,” “The way God works unity: through spiritual gifts of leadership in the church,” and “Putting off the old man, putting on the new man.”

How does this look on social media?

  • “Walk worthy of the calling with which you were called” (vs. 1) – Answer the temptation to yell online, insult others, or use trigger words with Trapp’s saying to Satan, “I am a Christian.” The Bible exhorts us to walk as a believer, not act like the unbelievers. This includes postings online. Let’s not shut down conversations unnecessarily. This is to the benefit of the reader or listener who may not know Christ. It may even be to our benefit, too.
  • Keep the peace. Bear with one another. We need to forgive each other so we can work together for a greater purpose. People will post status updates we disagree with, join a political party we don’t like, or support causes that frustrate us. Keep the peace. Change happens when one or both parties listen to each other. Change happens inwardly as the Holy Spirit guides us.
  • We all have a role to play in face-to-face and online. People like to use the Spiritual Gifting verses as a reason not to do something. With probably half (or more) of a church congregation online, the Christian is already exercising one of his or her gifts in some way online. Most congregants post out of boredom or with a political agenda, but what if we posted more intentionally with someone’s eternity in mind? To keep a conversation from shutting down, a lot of self-control is exercised, even a giving up on being right happens for the sake of a person coming closer to the Father.
  • Being silent online is not an acceptance or rejection of a cause. It is not weak. A person can’t listen to others if they are busy talking all of the time. Silence allows for speaking the truth in love. May we “grow up” into Jesus.
  • The chapter ends on a note of forgiveness. Church is messy. People are messy. We’ve all offended others and been offended.

Two people recently shared with me how they went off Facebook. The stress of the online vitriol was too much. It made me wonder how many non-Christians felt this way and went offline or to other networks. I also wondered how many opportunities are being lost because we can’t see the forest for the trees? During these turbulent times, it distresses me to see the lost opportunities as well-crafted social media campaigns blow us like the wind from one issue to another. In between the gusts of wind are notes of normalcy and people in pain.

Here is a video on how to serve online in times of turbulence. If you do this challenge, would you message me on your progress and how it changed your perspective or helped others?

What Social Media Needs…

“As social media ramp up in the majority world especially, many in the West are finding themselves increasingly disillusioned. Some are convinced that nothing good can possibly come of social media usage based on the fracturing and division it brings, especially amid recent political differences. While Facebook has unprecedented potential to bring people, ideas and groups together, it just as equally can degenerate into a soapbox that rarely changes anyone’s opinions.” Facebooking the Unreached

As I finished reading Facebooking the Unreached and the Media Impact Report, I am no less convinced that social media and technology in all its forms are capable of reaching the unreached. I could talk about the barriers I have encountered, but instead will share what this kind of ministry needs…

  • A teachable spirit.
  • Bold courage.
  • Humility.
  • Faith to walk the unknown and face fear.
  • An understanding that the culture has changed and the world has changed. Time for grieving what was and for stepping out into this new frontier is now. In the words of one of my pastors (paraphrased), “The good old days are not here yet. When Jesus comes, then it will be the good days. The good days are coming.”
  • People willing to learn how to write emotion and show emotion. Social media is a visual story. It’s an open canvas with unlimited possibilities of expression.

Church leaders only need to make the connection of the online world and Biblical application, adding how to reach people online via even Facebook, in a consistent manner in spite of how the congregation may feel. Over time, if the leader is the example online that he wants of his congregation, the congregation will eventually follow. What we need online are people who can…

  • Exercise self-control (A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.Proverbs 25:28).
  • Get to know their audience so they understand trigger words which may shut down communication. Say the same thing a different way. (Romans 14:13, “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather determine this–not to put an obstacle or a stumbling block in a brother’s way.)

The quote above accurately portrays the West (that’s us, by the way) and their use of social media. Some are disillusioned because they only need our leaders in church and our missionary organizations to help us get a better grasp on this tool and use it more intentionally.

This is Marketing: A Commentary

“The way we make things better is by caring enough about those we serve to imagine the story that they need to hear. We need to be generous enough to share that story, so they can take action that they’ll be proud of.” – Page 19, Seth Godin, This is Marketing

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See by [Godin, Seth]

When I first became a writer, intending to build a reputation so I can sell books, the words, “self-promotion” made me and every Christian writer cringe. Our beliefs call us to serve others, and early on, I worked at using the online world in that manner. Now, I am a Digital Engagement and Disciple-Making Coordinator with WorldVenture, and see marketing differently (which is why I was impressed with this book). This is Marketing by Seth Godin touches on the meaning of discipleship, even if his worldview isn’t like ours.

Skillfully, he uses the words we understand touching each sphere of need from non-profit to for profit. Marketing is about what the customer wants and what our product will do for them. “They want the way it will make them feel.” More than once, he hits on telling stories. “Stories that resonate and hold up over time. Stories that are true, because we made them true with our actions and our products and our services. We make connections. Humans are lonely, and they want to be seen and known. People want to be part of something. It’s safer that way, and often more fun. We create experiences.” An organization works for and with the marketer.

My take-ways:

  • Use your online life to influence others—make their lives better, listen to their stories, and help them find a different path through the visual story of your faith.
  • Think about the hopes and dreams of the people who follow you.
  • If you are a missionary raising funds, invite your people on your journey with you.
  • To influence, start small. Don’t aim too big. When one area is influenced, move on to another area, and another, and care.
  • People pay for interaction. Churches and missionary organizations should train their people to intentionally engage for free.
  • “The people you seek to serve—what do they believe? What do they want?”
  • Good stories connect us to our purpose and vision. Good stories help us celebrate our strengths as we recall where we came from and look ahead to where we are going.
  • What I am trying to say, Seth Godin said it better, “I see a better alternative; come with me.”
  • Emotional labor. Do it.
  • “Map and understand the worldview of the culture we seek to change.”
  • It talks about how to build trust.
  • Create tension in a respectful and generous way to usher in change.

This is not a Christian book (that will become apparent), but he brings the humanity into marketing.

“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” (Hebrews 6:10)

Let’s serve online.