Category Archives: social settings
The way we interact today isn’t like it was in the old days. Back in the “good ol’ days” people would talk to each other using their mouths and eyes, not their computers, websites and fancy smartphones. The way we connect, communicate and interact seems to be changing constantly at a blinding speed. The minute I catch up with one thing, I’ve already got to learn a new one.
Fortunately for me, I actually enjoy the social media fad. I’m on most major social media platforms. I enjoy connecting with new people and catching up with people from my past. Social media has completely changed the landscape of communication.
I want to speak specifically to those who are involved in ministry for a minute.
You may or may not like social media. It may be something you naturally connect with or you might look at it and be completely baffled as to why anyone would get involved with such craziness. I’m here to tell you something; your ministry needs social media. Trust me, it does the “Body” good.
This is Adam Carriker. He is a former Nebraska Cornhusker, stand out defensive lineman and Blackshirt. He is a current Washington Redskin, right in my backyard. I follow Adam on Twitter and am a “friend” on Facebook, mostly for selfish reasons (to keep up with Husker players). However, this connection would prove to be extremely fruitful.
At our Campus in Haymarket, Virginia, we have a ministry we call, “Grab Your Groceries.” We connect with social workers and guidance counselors in our local schools in Prince William County. Through them, we are able to help provide grocery relief for some of the poorest in our area. We meet very few of the families we serve, but based on our connections, we know the help is going to those who need it most. The schools and families we serve are beginning to trust us more than other social organizations and it’s awesome to watch as they call us up and ask us to help us with different events at their schools. I think we’ve stumbled on to a way to bring Jesus to schools without bashing them over the head with a Bible study or prayer group (but that’s a post for another time).
To help GYG grow, we are planning a huge benefit concert. This is where social media comes back into the picture. I sent Adam a direct message on Twitter, briefly told him about myself and introduced him to GYG. I also was so bold as to ask him to help us out. He responded with a message of his own and the conversation took off from there. I found him on Facebook (to make messaging simpler) and gave him more details. He was happy to help. I asked him to donate cleats, signed by him, that we could raffle off to raise money to buy groceries for the families we serve. He loved the idea and agreed.
No red tape.
No long lines waiting for an autograph at a mall.
But I did make a connection with a professional athlete in the most powerful city in the world. And he is helping us serve the community in his own way. And I couldn’t have done it without social media. Facebook, Twitter and more, have the power to connect you to people around the world like never before. And in this case, it has served to further ministry efforts to provide grocery relief for those who need it most in our area. Social media is capable of some very powerful things.
So, what do you think social media could help you and your ministry accomplish?
In what ways do you utilize social media to your ministries advantage?
Do you see ways that social media can be used to help make disciples?
Thanks, Adam Carriker, for the awesome donation! You’re the man! Go Huskers! And, Go Skins! We will be raffling his cleats at the benefit concert on Saturday, September 10th.
Follow Adam on Twitter here. Check out his bio as well. Maybe he knows a little something about making a difference in people’s lives.
Follow me on Twitter here.
As a heads up, I probably won’t blog every single day for 46 days. Let’s just go ahead and set that expectation up front. If I tried that, I’d probably go crazy.
Oh, come on. Not that crazy!
However, I wanted to make note of a couple of things about my first day without social media.
1) Only one person sent me a txt to ask if I was going crazy or not. Honestly, I’m hurt. I really don’t know if this is a good or bad thing. Oh well. Thanks for the txt to check up on me, Tom.
2) “Your focus needs more focus,” a line from the newer “Karate Kid” movie (I like the original better). In an effort to have more focus, I have a new office area in my bedroom. So today, armed with my new whiteboard of knowledge and wisdom, calendar, new notepad, laptop (minus social media) and a few other goodies, I set out for the day. Well, not to be proud but, I conquered today like Arthur conquered the sword in the stone. Like buttah! =) Don’t tell my boss. I don’t want to get his expectations up.
3) By the time I deleted bookmark folders, apps on my phone and even my new Facebook browser (Rockmelt), I realized how much time I spend on social media. Day one wasn’t even over and I was already disgusted with myself. I enjoy social media, but need to be more disciplined with it. I posted about that awhile back as well.
4) When you replace your social media time with time with God, you will be surprised how much of the book of Deuteronomy you can read.
5) This is obviously a spiritual journey for me. You might not do Lent, might not care about it and it might just not be your thing. But today was great for me. Simply replacing time on Facebook with time being focused on God and realigning myself with Him, was amazing. I was very aware of God’s presence in my life today. Sometimes, I get so wrapped up with the things I think are important, that I drown out what’s most important. I hope all 46 days are like this.
1 down, 45 to go. This is going to be one cool journey.
I have never done anything for Lent. Never fasted. Never sacrificed anything. Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.
I always thought Lent was some weird holiday for Catholics (just being honest here). But it’s more than that. Lent is simply a time of preparation. It’s a 40 day preparation, leading up to the Holy Week (the week of Jesus’ death and resurrection).
I was out running tonight with a group of guys. I get together with them once a week (at least). We workout, run and even study together. It’s a great group. Tonight, we ended up on the subject of Lent. One of the guys in our group basically said, “We should do it. We should sacrifice something for Lent.” So, we decided to go for it.
Since Lent is a time of preparation through sacrifice, we will each be sacrificing something to God for 40 days. Each guy chose something that would be difficult for him to give up. The idea being that it would be something difficult, a challenge, something that would really be a sacrifice. One guy chose sweets, and another chose Mountain Dew.
What about me? I wasn’t sure what to give up. I was stuck.
So I went to my ever faithful wife and asked her what she thought. When I asked her to make it tough, I had no idea how tough she was going to go. Still, it’s a great challenge and I’m going to go forward with it.
For 40 days, I’m going to give up social media! (Isn’t she brutal?)
I’m exempting my blog from this fast/sacrifice. All other social media will go. Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Tumblr, Path, etc. 40 days. All gone. No comments. No posts. No status updates. No picture posts. Nothing.
My goal is to spend the time I would usually be on social media, reading Scripture, praying and clinging to God as Easter approaches.
So, there you have it. Lent 2011 – no social media!
What do you think about Lent?
Will you be sacrificing anything this year?
I opened my mail today and found my own copy of Seth Godin’s latest release, “Poke The Box.” It came from amazon.com a lot quicker than I thought it would. I opened it and began to read. Then I kept reading. Then I read some more. In between a couple of fights, dinner and bedtime, I read some more. Before I knew it, I had read the entire, eighty-four page, manifesto in one sitting. I absolutely consumed that book. Just to keep it real, it was a fairly simple read. However, the content was more than that. It was a great challenge. A challenge and a call to our generation to, “Go.” A challenge to initiate.
In his New York Times article called, “They Weren’t Careful What They Hoped For,” Barnaby Feder used an early example of the term, “slacktivism.” Slacktivism is defined as, “the desire people have to do something good without getting out of their chair (Feder 2002).” In other words, we don’t lack the market to make a great change. We don’t lack the world that needs great change. We don’t lack the resources or the network. We don’t lack the finances or even the avenues by which we can employ a great change. What we lack is the initiative.
I once changed my Facebook profile picture to one with a pink ribbon on it for Breast Cancer Awareness month.
I post links on my Twitter and Facebook accounts that lead people to great articles and stories about grand causes.
I watch videos on YouTube that have to do with great causes and sometimes if I’m really motivated, I click the “thumbs up” button.
All of those things are good, but they don’t require any initiative to actually create a change in the world. There must be more. In fact, there has to be more. Now, I need to actually DO something with what I know.
I haven’t blogged in quite awhile, but I will try to post more of my thoughts on this book soon. For now, I will leave you with one of the quotes from the second page of the book.
Imagine that the world had no middlemen, no publishers, no bosses, no HR folks, no one telling you what you couldn’t do. If you lived in that world, what would you do? Go. Do that.
So, what would you do?
I wanted to “interrupt” this blog to share with you my “Top 5” Super Bowl commercials from this year. Why would I do such a thing? Well, because when I registered my blog at WordPress, I didn’t give you the password. This means, I get to interrupt my blog any time I want for fun stuff like this. Plus, I couldn’t choose just one this year. I liked a lot of them. So, without further adieu, I present to you my “Top 5” favorite, Super Bowl commercials from Super Bowl 45.
#5 – NFL Best Fans Ever!
#4 – Doritos – House Sitting!
#3 – Snickers – Logging!
#2 – Volkswagen – The Force!
#1 – Chrysler – Imported from Detroit!
There you have it. My top 5, favorite Super Bowl commercials from this year.
Let me know what you think.
Which ones were your favorites?
I started a discussion on missional communities last week. Mostly, I just wanted to take time to share some of my thoughts and ideas on them. Missional communities (MC) were first experimented with in the late 1980’s in London. The idea was to create groups of 30-50 who were aligned around a common mission. That mission could be feeding the hungry in a particular area of town. That mission could be to clothe the people who had very little. It could be whatever they believed God was calling them to do. As this idea spread around Europe, it wasn’t until the early 2000’s that the idea finally came to the States. Once here, a few people have been leading the way in “re”implementing this “new” idea.
At the beginning of the year, I began a reading plan on YouVersion to read through the Bible in a year. I chose the chronological reading plan because I wanted to be able to read the Bible more like a story, with everything in order as it happened. I began to read and I came to the book of Exodus. I have started Exodus before. It’s not my favorite book. The first twenty chapters or so are pretty cool. Lots of action, you could even make a movie out of it. Someone should do that. But after that, it starts to get a little boring. So I was a little nervous about being able to get all the way through without faltering. What I found was incredible. As I prayed through the “boring parts,” God began to show me something that I believe is incredible. MC’s are not a “new” idea.
Exodus 35:29 (NLT) – “So the people of Israel—every man and woman who was eager to help in the work the Lord had given them through Moses—brought their gifts and gave them freely to the Lord.
This was an entire community of people, focusing on an area in which they had a passion and were gifted and they used it to complete a work the Lord had shown them through their visionary leader, Moses. They not only did the work, but they “gave them free to the Lord.” From early on, it seems to me that God has had this idea. MC’s are not new, they are a throwback. They are not something to be afraid of, they are God’s plan. A MC gives the average, ordinary, everyday person an opportunity to find fulfillment by using their gifts and talents freely for the Lord. To use the talents they have been given to follow God in the mission of sharing the love of Jesus with everyone they encounter. Being a MC to me is simply a group of people living their lives as missionaries. It is saying, “God has placed me where I am, for a reason. And rather than waste the opportunity, I am going to use all of my time, talents and resources to make a difference for God right where I am. I don’t have to live in a foreign country to be a missionary. I’m a missionary right here. And I’m going to join with others who feel the same way and I’m going to help make a difference right where I am.
I’m going to bring my gifts and I’m going to freely give them to God.
Join the discussion.
I want to hear your thoughts.
What do you think about MC’s?
What needs are right in your backyard that you can see as a mission field?
Is it time to freely give yourself to God by using your gifts and talents to be a part of the solution for that need?
In what ways can you see this concept playing out in everyday life?
Are MC’s a new idea? Am I just crazy? (I will be the first to admit that God doesn’t call this group in Exodus 35 a “missional community.” Based on the way they are structured today, it seems to me that God has been trying to use people as “missionaries” since gifts and talents were first given to them.)
Can’t wait to hear from you.
Today, I sat down to read my Bible. Day 11 of my “Read through the Bible in a Year” plan. The plan starts in the book of Genesis which seems to me to be a pretty logical place to start. I have been blown away at many spots about God’s interaction with man. The relationship God wants to have with us is pretty special. Today I read Genesis 31-33. We’re really starting to get to the heart of some of the Patriarchs and some of the greatest stories of faith in all of Scripture in these chapters. Joseph’s story is just around the corner and I can’t wait to read it again.
I digress. In Genesis 33, there is a verse that reached up and slapped me in the face. I mean that in the best way possible. In this chapter, there is a reunion of two brothers, Jacob & Esau. It’s a beautiful reunion after an ugly break up around 20 years earlier. Jacob had stolen Esau’s birthright and the last time they talked, Esau had committed his life to killing Jacob. Now, Jacob was going back home with his family; wife, children, servants and animals. Their reunion is one of the heart-warming stories of the Bible, full of restoration, forgiveness and love.
Verse 11 really got me thinking. It says…
But Jacob insisted, ‘No, if I have found favor with you, please accept this gift from me. And what a relief to see your friendly smile. It is like seeing the face of God!’
The night before, Jacob had wrestled with “God.” In fact, after the wrestling match, God renamed Jacob, Israel because he had fought with God and men and had won. Jacob, now Israel, named that place, Peniel, which means, ‘face of God.’ To me, that’s fascinating.
This made me ask myself the question, “When people see me, what do they see?”
Seriously, when people see us (followers of Christ) coming toward them, what do they think? Are they excited because we are coming? Do they see us and light up because they know they are going to have a positive encounter with someone when life is tough? Or do they look at us and think, “Oh crap, not him/her again”?
What face do we give to people? How are we helping them see God in the way we live and in the very smile on our face?
Does the waitress go home sad because of her encounter with you?
Does the flight attendant have to send someone else because of your bad attitude?
Do your co-workers dread sitting next to you in a meeting?
What face are we giving God? Because when we say we believe in God and that we are Christians, then we follow that up with anger, bitterness, an unforgiving spirit or a constant frown and pessimism. And when people make that connection, how does that change their view of God?
I have more questions probably than answers, but this verse really got me thinking. I want people to see God in me. When I come into Starbucks, I want the workers to be excited that I’m there. When I walk into church, I want people to see me and feel glad that I work with them. I want friends who are hurting to be able to see me coming toward them and know that they are going to get a dose of encouragement and love. When I come home at night, I want my wife to smile. I want my kids to meet me at the door with hugs. I want them to feel that when dad comes home, when hubby comes home, then so does a piece of God.
Maybe we all need to think about what impression of God we are giving off. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way. But when two brothers, estranged for 20 years, threats of murder the last time they talked, can see each other for the first time and proclaim, “Your smile is like the face of God,” how much more should we be the face of God to people in our broken world.
What do you think?
Examples I missed?
What would you add?
I grabbed my running gear and headed to the track at Bull Run Middle School. Two days a week I run with a couple other men from our campus. Today we were going light, just to loosen up our legs. Flag football is beginning to take its toll on my old body. We decide we’re going to run 8 X 200. In lamen’s terms, we decided to run 200 meters, 8 times. I enjoy Tuesday and Thursday afternoons because I get to work on keeping my body in shape with two other men who have the same goal.
But we don’t run, just to run. This is also our group time. For those familiar with Christianese, you know what I’m talking about. For those who might not be as familiar with weird, Christian lingo, let me explain what I’m talking about. These two guys and I have decided to journey through life together. We don’t force the issue, but when things come up, we are there for each other. We eat dinner, work out, play football and go to church, together. It’s an awesome group.
We line up at the start line on the track. Our “coach” sets his watch and says, “Go.” The three of us take off at about a 75% pace. We get done with the first 200 meters and we try to catch our breath. That’s easier for one of us, but I refuse to say which one. I take the thirty second break we are enjoying to drop a question that has been consuming me for a couple of weeks now. In between semi-deep breaths I manage to squeak out, “Question of the day. What does it look like practically, everyday, to live and be like Jesus?”
Ephesians 4:12, 13 (MSG) – “to train Christ’s followers….until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.“
Thirty seconds are already up. How is that possible? We just started our break, right? We’ll have to answer after the second, 200 meter leg. “Go.”
Second leg is over, time for a thirty second break. In between deep breaths a thought is thrown out. “I don’t know man. That’s hard.” I respond with another question, “Yes, it is. More specifically, what does it look like for me to be like Jesus in my marriage? Or as a father?” Thirty seconds is up. I think our coach is cutting us off too soon. I’m still panting. “Go.” And the third, 200 meter leg, is over. Only five more to go.
In between each 200 meter leg and the sounds of deep breathing, the conversation continues. As the conversation gets deeper, so does the sun. It begins to go down behind the tree line and pretty soon, it’s gone. By the eighth 200 meter leg, it’s mostly dark outside with a few school lights and the stars in the sky acting as guides to our feet on the track. “Go.” The last 200 meter sprint begins. Before long, it is over. All we can hear is the sound of deep breaths. Our breathe showing up in the cold air as we strain to take in more oxygen. The walk back to our bags seems much bigger now than it did before we began. Did someone move our bags? I don’t remember this walk being this hard.
Hebrews 12:1 (NLT) – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Our conversation continues, “Well, when I read about Jesus, He seems so selfless. He didn’t have any self-gratification in His life at all. And I love my toys. So maybe if I want to be more like Jesus I need to be more selfless with my stuff.”
“True. That’s a great point.”
It’s suggested at this point that we stretch out while we talk. We’re old and have to do that now.
“What about our marriages?”
“Well, I guess if I’m going to be like Jesus, I should do things for my wife even though I know I won’t get anything in return.”
“No doubt. That’s a tough one.”
“Sometimes I come home from a long day of work and I’m tired. I just want dinner, a warm shower and to go to bed, but I know I need to spend time with my kids. They need me too. It’s hard to be selfless like Jesus when I’m so tired. I have a lot of work to do by giving my kids the time they need.”
The practical challenges of being like Jesus begin to manifest themselves to us. I will speak for the group and say that none of us are “bible scholars.” We aren’t theologians or philosophers. We are three guys, trying to understand how to be like Jesus in the 21st century. And we are going to do that by doing life together and supporting each other in that effort.
“And just to throw this one out there; what does it look like to be like Jesus at play?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, on the track or playing football. How do we be like Jesus there?”
“Oh man. You might be going too far tonight. We should tackle that next week. I’m still stuck on how to be like Jesus in my marriage.”
“And we haven’t even begun to tackle the thought life yet.”
“Oh man. One thing at a time.”
Three guys, enjoying life and trying to be more like Christ. I’m willing to place money on one bet. My bet is this; had I come into these men’s lives and said, “Hey, we’re going to be like Jesus and this is the program by which we’re going to do it,” they wouldn’t have joined me. The place we are at, as we strive to be more like Jesus, developed out of a relationship strictly born out of where we already were in life.
The conversation moved to one man asking how he could be a better example to his sister. He wants her to come to church so bad. How could he effectively share Jesus with her and how his life had been changed by Jesus? Want to know what I heard, “How can I be an evangelist for Christ?”
The other man in our group is considering going into full-time ministry. I don’t know what’s going to happen with that situation, but I do know it wouldn’t have happened had we overlooked the importance of simply doing life together. Want to know what I hear in his story, “I want to make an eternal impact for Christ.”
And in our group…
…there are no lectures.
…there are no judgments.
…there is no condemnation.
Just three men, trying to be more like Jesus.
Jesus reached out to His disciples where they were. On a boat fishing. Collecting taxes. Walking down the road. I wonder if He were here today, if He would walk onto a track and say to three, crazy men, “Come, follow me.”
Changed lives happen in the course of everyday relationships.
Changed lives happen when Jesus Christ is the foundation of who we are.
Changed lives happened on a boat in the Sea of Galilee.
Changed lives happen on a track in North Virginia.
Mark 1:16, 17 (NLT) – “One day as Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee, He saw Simon and his brother Andrew throwing a net into the water, for they fished for a living. Jesus called out to them, “Come, follow Me.“
How are you meeting people where they are? Who are you coming alongside to join on this spiritual journey? Who are you challenging to become more like Jesus? And in the process, how are you becoming more like Christ?
One of the things I have been praying about recently is that God would show me what He wants to do with His church. In my specific case, His campus. My prayer has been simple; “God, who do you want us to be? What do You want us to accomplish? What can we do to bring You glory?”
As I was doing some reading and studying to try and prepare myself for what God might say, I found my way to 2 Samuel 7. This was a big deal to me because for so long, I have been making the same mistake as David. Prior to verse 5, David makes an assumption that he will be the one to build God a big, beautiful house. He assumes that his plan is right and that God will bless it. In fact, he was so confident, he told the prophet of God, Nathan, about his plan. David has decided that because he lives in such a beautiful palace, there’s no reason why God should dwell in a tent. He wants to build God’s house.
So often I have prayed that way. Have you? I have prayed, “God, bless what I’m doing. We’re doing ‘this’ ministry, bless it. Make it work for You. I’ve read the demographics. I’ve done the research. I’ve prepped the team. Please bless our efforts, so that You get the glory.”
We make the same mistake that David made. He wanted God to bless his plans with the ulterior motive of bringing God glory. He justified making his own plans by assuming God wanted his plan. The church as a whole is in the middle of something similar. Should we be attractional (let’s do a bunch of big events)? Should we be missional (let’s have church in a coffee house)? Can attractional and missional be blended? Maybe we should be more traditional? Maybe we should start house churches? The internet and technology are there. Let’s launch an internet church. Or should we do video church? So many questions, so little time. So many “houses” to build.
I believe those questions must be answered. I believe those questions are legit and shouldn’t be ignored.
Here’s where I believe we get hung up. 2 Samuel 7:5 says, “Go and tell my servant David, `This is what the Lord has declared: Are you the one to build a house for me to live in?'” In other words, we often think we are the ones with the master plan. We read the books, go to the conferences and even wear the right clothes. We begin to believe that we have the plan. We will build God’s house. We will make His name great. He will bless our efforts.
That’s when we must hear the voice of God saying to us, “Are you really the one to build a house for me?” God says, I have this planned out. I know what I want my house to look like. And I even know who I want to build the thing. Our mistake is not that we work hard for God, our mistake is that we look to the wrong source for the plan.
How much different would church be if every single follower of Christ and church leader, went to God to find out what God wanted?
What if we asked God His opinion before we start to build?
How much greater would the effectiveness of the church be if “we” weren’t building God’s house, but we were allowing God to do the building?
How much stronger would the church be if church leaders and pastors were humbling themselves under the hand of God? Fasting and praying for His lead? Waiting on God to make the first move? How much stronger would we be?
The question I want to ask you is this, “Who’s building the house?”
Are you building and hoping God blesses your plans?
Or are you allowing God to lead the way and working where He blesses.