One of the things about blogging that seems to be true is that the more you read, the more you write. I suppose it’s true for other forms of writing too. I’m certainly finding it to be true myself.
One of the reasons I haven’t blogged much in the past two months is that I haven’t been reading many blogs in that time period. There are lots of reasons why, but I can certainly see the truth of the statement. Lately, I’ve been reading blogs again and find myself with more to say. Huh.
Here’s a snippit from an interesting post I read the other day, from Craig Groeschel:
When I meet people from our church, they often tell me more with their words than they realize.
They almost always say one of two things:
- “I go to your church.”
- “I love our church.”
People who respond the first way generally just attend the church. People who go the 2nd route tend to be the church.
The spiritual connection: Are we attending or being church?
One of the interesting things about our recent super series titled People Matter was the daily devotional. We asked people to limit their devotions to 500 words or less. Having a cap on the text forced people to get to the point—to trim the fat and leave the meat.
I find that I use lots of unnecessary words. I’m trying to be better at self-editing, especially on long emails or letters. Trim the fat and keep the meat. I believe people are so over-exposed to information that they’ll thank me for it. (Unnecessary aside: please don’t actually thank me for short emails.) Whenever possible, I like to follow the five.sentenc.es way of doing email.
As a church, we probably need to “trim some fat” from our communications. The extra words can sometimes cause the message to be lost. We’re working on it, by the way. We’re still working with a consultant to improve our communications strategy. It’s an incredibly long (and sometimes frustrating) process. But I think it will help us communicate more effectively.
So here’s the theological question: Are there areas of our life where we need to “trim the fat” to better communicate the Gospel?
St. Francis of Assisi thinks so. He wrote:
Preach the Gospel at all times and when necessary use words.
By the way, this post has 228 words, including these.
You may or may not know, but we’re in the process of looking at some renovations and repairs for our wonderful campus. I’m serving on the Renovations Team as much of our work will involve the youth space at church. One of my major roles on the team is communicating information about the project to the congregation.
One avenue we’ll be using is a special blog set up for the project. I’m working on the design right now, but I’m curious to know what should be on there. So here’s a question for my blog readers:
What sorts of information would you expect to see on the blog?
The blog will mostly be pushing information out, though we will have comments turned on for most of the posts to allow people to ask questions or give feedback on what we’re doing. I expect many more people to read than comment, however.
There will also be other mechanisms outside the blog for giving feedback and getting information about the project. This will only be one part of the effort.
I like this verse about guarding our soul from Joshua 23:11 as paraphrased in The Message:
Now, vigilantly guard your souls: Love God, your God.
Vigilance is so important to our daily lives. It’s easy to let small things creep into our lives and take over. I think about it in our financial journey, and how easy it is to slip into old habits. Really, it’s important for any daily discipline. Another great passage from 1 Corinthians 10:12 as translated by the ESV:
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.”
Without keeping constant vigilance over our lives, we may find ourselves on shakier ground than we supposed. Whether it’s our finances, our relationships, or our spiritual habits, we need to be vigilant. We need to watch for the pitfalls and old habits we used to practice and keep them from resurfacing.
Interesting experience today. A strut went out on my car. Long story short: it cost $900 to repair. I heard the number and immediately panicked. I panicked because that’s been my learned response to unexpected bills for about 10 years. How were we going to pay for this?
It was a silly response I guess. We actually have the money to pay for it with cash. It comes from our emergency fund, which we set up as part of our financial journey these last 8 months.
The problem is that for years this kind of thing overwhelmed me. It was as if the spirit of fear had come over me. It felt like three years ago when we would have had to pay for this on credit and not known what to do when that bill came due.
As we talked about it, Jaime said we might have to relearn our emotional responses to situations like this. We no longer have to be slaves to the spirit of fear because by the grace of God, we are living in a way that we don’t need to panic about these sudden expenses.
In Christ, we have the Spirit of Power, not the spirit of fear. Sometimes, though, it takes a while to let go of the learned “spirit of fear” response and trust in the Spirit of Power instead.
Seth Godin had an interesting post on meetings yesterday. I know lots of churches that are drowning in meetings. I’m thankful we don’t have nearly as many at First Trinity. It would be interesting to try some of his suggestions. If you lead meetings, you give it a try and let us know how it goes. 🙂
You’ve probably heard of the cult game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. The game is to start with an actor and try to connect them to Kevin Bacon within six steps. For example, Humphrey Bogart can be connected to Kevin Bacon in 2 steps. It’s a fun game to play, especially if you like movies.
I got a call this past Friday from a man who was very concerned that people who visit our church blogs can click through to inappropriate material within just a few clicks. I was getting ready for the Famine, so I wasn’t able to spend a lot of time talking about it with him. My best guess is that he’s talking about clicking off our blogs to another website, on which you click another link and end up at inappropriate material. I’ve often seen this with YouTube, which links to videos at the end of the one you’re watching.
He’s right about this, of course.
In trying to find an example of an actor/actress connected to Kevin Bacon, I couldn’t find one with more than two steps to connect them. The Internet and inappropriate materials are equally connected. I imagine if you tried, you could find inappropriate material within two to three clicks of any website.
So what’s a church to do? I suppose one alternative is to stop using blogs, which seemed to be the implied solution in this phone conversation. We could also stop using the newspaper (which has any number of inappropriate ads), watching television or movies (for obvious reasons), or even talking with people, who may introduce us to someone who uses inappropriate language.
Or, maybe, just maybe, we don’t work at building a better wall, but equipping people with some better armor. Instead of isolating ourselves, we live in the world, but not be of the world. Instead of abandoning new forms of communication, we can use them to bring light to the world.
So surf responsibly, friends.
I’m involved in an interesting discussion on a DCE email discussion group I participate in. The discussion started around the question, “How do we measure effectiveness in ministry if not by numbers of people coming?” Numbers are easy to measure: they are either up or down.
It’s not a perfect measurement, however. There could be lots of people not coming, but growing spiritually through other means. Or people could be coming for the wrong reasons. We could probably up attendance 200% by offering $20/week for everyone who comes to church, but is that really spiritual growth?
We like to think of spiritual growth at First Trinity as steps on a journey. What’s the next step in your spiritual life? Where do I go from here?
If spiritual growth is a journey, how do we measure it?
What if there were a personal spiritual assessment tool? A PSAT if you will. The tool would have questions that you answer in numerical form (scale of 1-6 style), but also include room for comments. You would take the test now, and again in a year, theoretically measuring your progress in journey.
Let’s say we’re developing the tool. Here are some questions I’d love to hear your thoughts on:
- What areas should the assessment cover? (Example: Prayer life, Worship, Serving others)
- What specific questions would you include?
Sound off in the comments!
Made it home late last night and then spent the day getting ready for preaching this evening. I’m thankful to be home from Atlanta and enjoyed sleeping in my own bed again. I don’t sleep so well on the road. I’ll write more about the conference soon, I’m sure, but for now you can see my updates about the conference over on my Twitter.
I leave in about 40 minutes for Catalyst. I’m especially interested in Seth Godin and Craig Groeschel. I was hoping to hear Mark Batterson, but it seems he’s only doing a lab session, which we aren’t participating in. Maybe I’ll run into him at the conference sometime. I’m not sure I’ll be able to blog about it, but Sue and I are considering tweeting the event. You can follow mine or Sue’s or both.