Rebuild Better

The kids sat around me in a pool of tumbled wooden blocks. They watched with gleeful smiles as I began to build a tower. How high could I get this tower? As I gingerly set the last block on top, the kids would laugh loudly as the tower tumbled down.

Life is like this. We’re balancing blocks of time on each other until the weight is too much and it comes crashing to the floor. We’re not building for a purpose but rapidly stacking one thing on top of another and our motivations for doing this are a little fuzzy.

Instead, stack your time for a purpose.

  • What are you building?
  • Why are you doing what you are doing?
  • How can you do it better?

When the blocks tumble around you, learn from it and rebuild. Rebuild better.

Youtube: Gen Z Report

Hey, church, missionaries, and church communicators!

Youtube has released their 2022 Gen Z report. Why is this important?

Because we want content for them, too! In any social media platform, engagement is important. Let’s build community together and inspire people to pray, serve, give, and go with our posts.

Gen Z is 18-24 year olds. If you are a mission org, this is a good age to begin to see how God wants them to serve others. Can you use the ideas (or come up with your own) to help move them to pray, serve, give, or go on Youtube?

This interpretation of the report comes from both a mission org and church communicator perspective.

  • “65% of Gen Z agree that content that’s personally relevant to them is more important than the content that lots of other people talk about.” Can we create content in our contexts that are relevant to the questions being asked or searched for by Gen Z? For a church, this is a great jumping off point. You can engage them in the questions that are important to them.
  • Youtube communities are groups that actively participate in a shared identity or interest online.
    • Example was “Flightspotting”. When disaster happens in an area of the world, perhaps we can show videos of people helping with the recovery? Maybe inspire them with personal stories? Short ones?
    • According to a marketing article, National Geographic shows video of beautiful scenery in stories to stop the quick consummation of online content. It causes people to pause and watch. In the Youtube report, Gen Z is looking for videos that help them relax.
  • Is your church a “Superfan” of something? Gen Z videos that follow someone or something and gives a narrative of it is also popular. Watch some of the videos on Youtube to get some ideas of how you, as a church, can get into good discussion with Gen Z on movies, television shows, characters, books, etc.
    • “Growing fan formats include videos about how to start your own K-pop fan channel, while fancam videos — fan edits focusing on individual band members — have billions of views. K-pop labels have even started releasing these videos as official content.”
  • In a church conference I attended in Georgia, they talked about meming the sermon, but how about doing this via video? “63% of Gen Z followed one or more meme accounts in the past 12-months.”
  • Short is better…most of the time, right? How about produce a quick 1 minute or less “complete” soundbite that people can preview and have in the YouTube description the link to the whole version or longer version? People are watching the Sunday services in pieces anyway. What about a several part Bible study? Or a topic that covers one of Gen Z’s questions? “59% of Gen Z agree that they use short-form video apps to discover things that they then watch longer versions of.” Maybe a missionary could produce a Bible Study and have a short form video to give a preview of the study with a link in the YouTube description to the longer version?
  • “People are expressing themselves through metaverse content. In the Middle East and North Africa, gamers live streaming during Ramadan carry their fasts over to their digital avatars.” Missionaries, are you into gaming? Churches, do you have gamers in your midst that can reach out to people through gaming?
  • “90% of Gen Z have watched a video that helped them feel like they were in a different place.” Mission orgs! Are you doing digital prayer walks or ministry tours? Are you sharing video that help them feel like they are there in that place?
  • “69% of Gen Z agree that they often find themselves returning to creators or content that feels comforting to them.” Nostalgia, comfort media, and highly aesthetic “vibe” content. The example YouTube used was a Puerto Rican artist who used 360-video to enable the viewer to “vibe out with him and his friends on a tropical beach.” Church creators can do this with Bible teachings, Sunday School, prayer walks, women’s events, camps, men’s events, etc. Mission org creators can use this to get content from missionaries overseas who are willing to share videos that help transport someone to an area. Maybe a “hang out with a missionary” day or hang out with someone who lives and is native to the area that day to learn about a people group?

Many thanks to MII for having “The Connected Church News” each week which is helpful to both the church communicator and mission org communicator. To read week one of July where this report first came to my attention, click here.

(Pictured: Last week, I was visiting Nutrioso Bible Church in Nutrioso, AZ – 19-minutes from Eager, AZ. I am currently training Grace Church in Chino Valley, AZ, The Outpour in Toccoa, GA, and now Nutrioso Bible Church in digital disciple-making tools and practices).

Tongues on Fire

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. – Acts 2:1-4

What has this to do with social media?

Beth Moore in her James study book said, “You see, the human tongue can be lit by either source: Heaven or hell. God can draw people to the gospel by enabling us to speak in ways they understand or our tongues can cause people to hightail it like their heels are on fire. It can bring comfort or courage, or it can bring destruction and deafness. We do have a choice which fire lights our tongues. Just keep in mind the natural default settings leans south.”

God gave us this gift of social media to use for His Kingdom.

How to Visually Share Your Story

We process information with our emotions. While an artist’s tools are paint brushes, paint, and a canvas or a camera, social media gives us video, photos, and words to help people feel a part of our story. We can learn much from artists when using social media. Social media is a visual space, and often we only use it as a platform to opinionate or as a place to reframe our life in a way that doesn’t reflect our reality. What can we do differently online?  

James Coleman says, “When someone sees one of my paintings, I want them to really feel the place that I’m depicting. And so my desire is that they’re going to want to travel into that painting and become part of it. …” Note the words, “I want them to really feel the place I’m depicting” and “they’re going to want to travel into that painting and become a part of it”.

Rory Feek wrote, “What’s important to you? Don’t answer that…show us instead.” In writing, we say show us and not tell us what is happening in a scene. In social media show us without ego what’s important to you, like the artist with his paint brush or the writer with his words.

On social media, like in person, we all have different gifts. If you like helping people, you can use social media to connect with people you can disciple, share the Gospel with, or empower them to seek better choices and find practical help. If you like photography, you can use your gift to help people focus on positive things or help them see the needs in the community. If you are a writer, you can use your words and visuals to tell a story that may help clarify your friends’ or followers’ thoughts. If you are an artist, it’s more than a platform to share your work, but a place to invite people into your paintings and photography. Most importantly, as a Christian, it’s a place to ask good questions that let other people do the talking.  

Ephesians 4:29 (ESV) says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”  

Rather than reframe our lives to reflect something we are not or to opinionate, instead think of how you can show what’s important to your life. How can I connect with you at church or at the market without having something in common? To find some common ground, we need to ask good questions, post good stories, and be visual.  

Suggestions to engage with others online:  

  • Show how prayer is important to your life.  
  • Show why church fellowship is important.  
  • Show why you love the things you love.  
  • Show vulnerability.  
  • Show what you are learning at church, in your Bible Study, or small group.  
  • Ask questions and listen. Show you are a good listener online.  
  • Use your photography, painting, drawings, graphic design, quilting, sewing projects, writing, etc to invite people into your life on a deeper level.  

And while these suggestions might be helpful, remember that people judge us by our actions. What we post online reflects our heart because that is an action, much like our in-person behavior, and it also reflects on our church, our jobs, and our Christ.  

Have fun and be discerning!  

(If you like this photo, make a donation to Gospel Impact Publishing and send me the receipt. I can email you the high-resolution photo for you to print and frame at home).

Upcoming Social Media Workshop!

A friend shared Proverbs 25:21-22 with me, and it helped me better understand it in light of the whole Bible. It reads, “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.”

RedeemingGod.org said, “Proverbs 25:22 instructs us to give our enemy so many burning coals they have to carry them the way burdens are carried in the Middle East: in a container on the head. Then they can go back and immediately bake their bread without having to wait for the wood to become suitable coals for cooking. burning coals. This is quite different than setting someone’s head on fire.”

“When a person’s fire went out,” one commentary says in the article, “he needed to borrow some live coals to restart his fire.”  

We should use social media to “restart the fires” of those whose coals are cold, even if they are our enemies. This is not an easy task, and the effort has a cost.

Ephesians 6:12 says, For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”  This verse makes it easier to view others as image-bearers of God instead of an enemy or someone that offends us mightily. The cost is in the effort of self-control and choosing our words and battles wisely, and investing our time in others. This means learning about the people we follow on social media, their needs, and how to love and pray them to heart transformation. It also means being patient.

Baptism is just the start of a journey. We forget all the interactions that lead up to that baptism. We also forget the journey that follows to surrendering ourselves to the Lord.

On January 15, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., I am hosting a workshop on “Five Habits to Change on Your Social Media to Transform Your Heart and Community.”

Registration is required. If you want to learn how to restart the fires of those whose fires have gone out, join me that day to learn more. Maybe it will help restart your own fire?

WorldVenture is about engaging the world for Gospel impact through multiple disciples compelled by the love of God and willing to risk all so that people are transformed by God, impacting their families, communities, and the world.

And, God has given us the technology to make meaningful connections with people from all over the world. What’s stopping you from getting more involved in what God is doing?

(This is a WorldVenture event. Click here to register.)

How to Use Zoom For Ministry

Watch this 2-minute video if you have been invited to an online Bible Study, online Prayer, or any church event that is using Zoom.

After you have watched the video, feel free to download this easy to use guide on Zoom. It was created with the help of Lynn Garner, the Digital Prayer Leader, at Grace Church for an online class offered to Grace Church on how to use Zoom. Click here to download.

You can also read this blog at worldventure.com on “Virtual Prayer For the Technologically Challenged”.

Need Your Help!

One-time donations needed for the Gospel Impact Publishing Project

You can help WorldVenture bring tidings of comfort and joy this Christmas.

In 2020, the WorldVenture family came together to produce a Christmas devotional, Simple Christmas, with encouraging, Christmas-focused writings from global workers throughout the world. We did not print the booklet; we only delivered it in digital format.

There was an amazing response to Simple Christmas:

  • 994 downloads of the computer version.
  • 932 downloads of the tablet/smartphone version.
  • 1011 visits to our Christmas page.
  • And we lost count of the responses from individuals and churches sharing gratitude for the booklet.

But there was another response that surprised us… we had numerous requests for printed versions. Some churches wanted to use it to for disciple-making in their communities by including the devotional in their outreach activities. Sadly, we couldn’t fulfill their requests at the time. But this year, we’d like to do so. And we’d like to invite you to help. We have created a new project called, Gospel Impact Publishing.

This year’s devotional, coming out ahead of the 2021 Christmas Season, is called “Every Good and Perfect Gift: Finding Joy in Our Trials” (from James 1:2-4 & 17). Like the previous devotional, it will include contributions from Global Workers all over the world. However, this year’s devotional is set up a little differently to include topic-based, longer form articles to help individuals who are walking through their own trials better connect with Jesus during Christmas. Your financial contribution to the Gospel Impact Publishing project between now and September 1st, 2021 will help cover the printing costs of that devotional for distributing to many in need. And if we receive additional funds beyond the need, those will be used as seed to help fund future development of printed resources that help share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Would you consider making a generous one-time donation to this project?

Go to www.worldventure.com/GospelImpactPublishing and click on the “give” button.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me.

Blessings,

Nikole Hahn

Digital Disciple-Making Coordinator

P.S. If you would like to be kept informed on the progress of this devotional, please sign up for my email newsletter by going to www.worldventure.com/nhahn and clicking “once-per-month email” on the page.

The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel: Lessons in Social Media

The real tragedy in The Vanishing at The Cecil Hotel on Netflix was how internet users became ruthless in their pursuit of “truth.” In this four-episode series, two characters emerge–Elisa Lam and the Cecil.

Elisa was a Canadian, a student, and a Tumblr blogger. She micro-blogged in the same way many of the early bloggers did when blogging was young—transparently, authentically. Her Tumblr was self-expression and connection. This is refreshing, considering that most blogs now are about selling you something. We are led through strange events, including the history of this Skid Row hotel.

Live interviews from a former manager, a former maintenance worker, police, the coroner, psychologists, Youtubers, bloggers, historians, and other “web sleuths” led us through the Cecil Hotel’s dark history and the strange journey of Elisa. The series seemed to present the story similarly to how the public heard the information as it was happening. This is good story-telling, giving us the right ambiance.

When the last episode plays out, and her body is found floating in the water tank, you are left feeling sad for the family who endured the media coverage as well as the victims of assumptions made by people online.

Morbid, a death metal musician, was mobbed online with hateful messages and death threats as people assumed by his music and his stay at the hotel that he killed Elisa. Hundreds of death threats and messages peppered his Youtube account. The Mexican FBI even briefly visited him at his home. This drove Morbid to an unsuccessful attempt at taking his life. To this day, Morbid said in the interview, he has trouble getting back into his art. He says no one apologized to him for the cyberbullying and the pain it caused.

From this, I felt we could learn some lessons from the Vanishing…

  • Hotel Cecil was located in Skid Row and housed people like Richard Ramirez. Elisa Lam was under-medicating as bipolar 1 and hallucinating, acting out, and being strange. No one thought to question her behavior or get help because it was the Hotel Cecil—a hotel where the unknown was an everyday occurrence.
  • Always Google map or Google earth a hotel before staying. Stay on Main, and Hotel Cecil shared the same elevator. It was not two different hotels, just two distinct hotel experiences to gain more business. It was still dangerous for a tourist.
  • The police do not share all their information, and the media is usually wrong or has an agenda.
  • Do no harm. Having a social media platform is a form of power.
  • Don’t obsess over bloggers or any other social media personality.
  • Think of the family of the one who vanished or died. I can’t even imagine how they felt watching all this unfold online and on television.
  • Use social media to connect and help each other.
  • Your words on social media will live long after your time here on earth is over. Make it count.

Some still believe that Elisa Lam’s accidental drowning was some kind of conspiracy. The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel very thoroughly debunked any conspiracy theories. She wanted to see the world, and instead, lost her life in Los Angeles. However, her words on Tumblr live on.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The Anatomy of a Bridge

How to Cross the Divide of Polarization  

The Golden Gate Bridge was built in stages. It wasn’t expedient, and it cost more than $35 million after construction began in 1933 ($523 million in 2019 dollars). Eleven workers died constructing it. It took four years to build. It bridged an almost two-mile section of the bay. Bridges are necessary, costly, and take time to create, much like building bridges between people today.

We Start with the Foundation

All bridges need to be secure at the foundations and abutments. In the case of a typical overpass beam bridge with one support in the middle, construction begins with the casting of concrete footings for the pier and abutments. Where the soil is especially weak, wooden or steel piles are driven to support the footings. After the concrete piers and abutments have hardened sufficiently, the erection of a concrete or steel superstructure begins. – Encyclopedia Britannica on Beam Bridges

The “soil” is you and me. We must prepare ourselves, the “soil”, to construct a bridge or several bridges. It will be costly. It will hurt. Occasionally, you may make someone angry or offend another. God may ask you to do more than you are willing to do or give up more than you are willing to give up. But, the “soil” must be prepared. Bring in some wise counsel, those steeped richly in biblical wisdom.

Proverbs 19:20-21 says, “Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Wise friends are our “supports”, “foundations”, and “abutments”. They are our concrete piers as we seek to build a steel superstructure.

The people I call friends come from many different backgrounds and their experiences help me make the decisions I need to make going forward. However, I start with God as my source of strength and joy, and in my online work, I move ahead in prayer over whom I may meet and the words I need to use at the time.

The Building of the Bridges

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are many different bridge types: Beam Bridges, Arch Bridges, Suspension Bridges, Cantilever Bridges, and Cable-Stayed Bridges, but each one has something in common. Besides a good foundation, the bridges are connected from one spit of land to another, crossing chasm, a canyon, an ocean, or a river. Each bridge operates differently according to how it was built and serve a purpose.

 In a Cantilever Bridge, “each new segment is supported by the previous segment…” We need each other as believers of the Jesus of the Bible. How can we build bridges that support the heavy loads life brings daily? We must love people we meet on their terms, not on how we want to be loved by them. In your online work, seek to…

  • Build something in common with others.
  • Earn their trust.
  • Withhold your opinions where necessary.
  • Listen.
  • Stop judging.
  • Let them get to know you online. Get to know other people online.
  • Be a better version of yourself. 
  • Pray.

A Bridge Often Needs Repair

Now that you have built some bridges that have fostered good conversations, there’s an aging bridge that needs new supports.

  • Apologize quickly.
  • Don’t hold grudges.
  • Forgive and ask for forgiveness.
  • Work together as believers.
  • Grace and mercy. We will all mess up.

Sometimes, bridges are dynamited. Don’t be so quick to dynamite a bridge before the new bridge is constructed and ready to use. In Genoa, Italy, 37 people died when, in 2018, a highway bridge collapsed. According to the New York Times, thousands of collapsed bridges since the early 20th century were investigated for possible poor construction.

Conclusion

Prepare the soil, build the bridge to connect across the chasms that divide, and keep that bridge repaired, so it endures through all kinds of storms and catastrophes. The Golden Gate Bridge was a historic feat that today, some say couldn’t happen in the time frame or the cost of when construction began in the ’30s. Many people online are blaming technology for the divides and dynamited bridges in their lives, but God won’t take our excuses in Heaven that “Google made me do it” or “Facebook made me do it.” We are each responsible for building and maintaining good bridges, but first, let’s prepare the soil.

Go to God today and ask Him to help you identify areas in your life that need changing.

photo of people doing handshakes

How to Create a Digital Report

For context, go to WorldVenture to view the three-part video, How to Form a Digital Team, a video series from WorldVenture highlighting the importance of your church or ministry using your digital platforms for making disciples. You may take this post and make your own out of it. This is okay. Do whatever works for your audience, your team. This video series and this blog post are part of a larger series called, The Church on Mission.

This post goes with today’s resources available at worldventure.com (click here).

The digital report serves two purposes for your online ministry.

  • Shares with ministry leadership both the digital discipleship value and data of the online ministry as observed by the digital team and the exported data or observed data of the online platform you are using for the live feeds.
  • The report encourages the leadership, the congregation, and the digital team to continue with serving online even through what feels like unfruitful periods of ministry.

The data is important, but not as important as showing the digital discipleship value, like comments. Your team may not be techie and your leadership may find more encouragement in the digital discipleship side than the numbers side. You might be a data person, but not everyone can picture people when they look at numbers.

The report can be done in Microsoft Word, Google Doc, or Pages. For this post, I will be using Microsoft Word as an example. A pdf form is accessible here for your use, or email me for the Word format to edit.

You can also create an excel document with just the data, or simply export the data from your social media platform. Pay close attention to the data that is most important to your ministry, like views. The rest of the data is useful for knowing how to post to your ministry or church digital platforms, like days which are popular for posting. Since I encourage the use of personal social media in making disciples online in addition to any disciple-making tools your church or ministry adopts, that data is not so useful to your team.

First, create the folders and sub-folders in your computer with how you would like to organize the reports. Second, open a blank document like Microsoft Word and name it “(name of your church)” with dates of report. You can use the pdf form I have provided which lays out how the report should look.

For Grace Church, we use Monday through Sunday in our weekly reporting.

Note the line, “As read on…” because the views or other data present on Facebook can change by the hour as more people view the page.

Add a line for an update on the Digital Team. As the leader of the Digital Team, you want to encourage the leadership over you to continue to pray for the team in your ongoing efforts online. Also, let them know the dates you are meeting with the team for prayer. It’s okay if members of the congregation or leadership wish to join your weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly prayer and strategy meetings. It’s a great way to bring in new teammates or to encourage more prayer support in ministry.

For this report, my church uses Facebook primarily as their preferred digital platform. Facebook is ideally set up for ministry with groups, Facebook Lives that have a comfortable chat section with newer comments easily found, and rooms that allow for small group meetups by video conferencing. If you are a digital team, you might also include the next sub-section, “Social Media Tips” in case you are helping a church learn how to manage their own digital platform. Otherwise, you can skip that part and go on to the stats.

The rest of the report should be formatted as follows:

  • Start with the Facebook or Social Media subscribers, followers, or likes. Use symbols to show whether the count is up, down, or unchanged.
  • Set up the section for Facebook or Youtube Live Feeds.
    • Separate the services out.
    • Keep Youtube and Facebook separate.
    • If you have assigned digital team members to the service, add their names.
    • How many shares?
    • How many reactions?
    • How many views?
    • How many comments should be followed in the next bullet point of notable or meaningful comments. I normally choose comments that express thoughts of the sermon, how the pastor is connecting with the person, prayer requests or praises, etc.
  • Copy and paste the service section if you have more than one service streaming.
  • The next section should be notable Facebook posts. These are posts that have gotten a lot of reactions, shares, and/or received some notable comments. If there are meaningful comments on these posts, refer to them in the report.
  • If you have one or more Facebook groups, list them here as the pdf indicates: Name of group, purpose of group and group link.
    • List how many members are in the group and use the symbols in Word to indicate up, down, or no change.
    • List group posts, comments, reactions, and shares that are meaningful.

The purpose of the group is to show how the Saturday or Sunday service is connecting with your community and the world. The report must be laid out with a focus on connections. You can include other live streaming ministries in this report. By converting the pdf I’ve provided in Word, you can alter this report to better suit your needs in ministry. Or, again, email me for the Word document.

If you have any questions, please email me.