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Midweek Ministry Links

March 29, 2011 — 1 Comment

I’ve been neglecting this blog – would love to hear your input on two posts I’ve written recently on other blogs:

Brian Barela has a great post on Giving Away Your Ministry. Would love to see more people  join the discussion on that post.

Do yourself a favor and start following Tullian Tchividjian (Billy Graham’s grandson) on Twitter. Consistently brilliant Christ-centered insight.

Here’s a great blog post by him on Preaching the Gospel to Yourself.

I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking.

Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation, but Christ’s external substitution.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of me and my performance and more of Jesus and his performance for me.

Two other great Christ-Centered Tweeters are:

Those three men are reason enough to get on Twitter!

Church Relevance just released their list of the Top 200 religious blogs

My favorites from the list:

Although much thought should be given to what and how much we consume online (input), I think it’s worth taking a few moments to think through how to maximize your online output.

If we’re going to take the time to communicate online (and I DO think it’s worth the time), we need to think through how to do so effectively.

Below is a compilation of recent posts from across the web on how to communicate better via Blogs, Twitter and Email.

Here’s to maximizing our use of online communication for the sake of the gospel!

How to become a better Blogger:

State your premise in your lead paragraph

Make the posts short.  (less than 500 words)

Use short paragraphs. I try to stick to 3–4 sentences. If it’s more than this, the content looks too dense. Readers will give up and move on. (Notice how newspapers usually follow this rule.)

Get your own unique URL

How to find legal, quality graphics

Get on a regular writing/posting schedule.

Work on your titles. A great title drives visits, but also informs us as to what we’re going to learn.

End your posts with a question

Make it easy to comment [which is why I stopped using Captcha as a spam blocker. . . which leads to the next helpful post that walks you through . . . ]

How to become a better Tweeter

I try to share ideas, articles and thought provoking content.

I must make every effort to have all my tweets add value to my followers’ lives.

I will try to minimize trivial things like, “I’m at the airport”, “I’m at McDonalds”, “I love pasta”

Shoot for a 20-1 ratio. I want to post 20 or so helpful resources or bits of information for every post in which I ask for help solving a problem, supporting a cause, or touting one of my company’s products, etc.

How to communicate better through Email

Technology creates a vacuum that we humans fill with negative emotions by default.

In other words, if an email’s content is neutral, we assume the tone is negative.

In an effort to be productive and succinct, our communication may be perceived as clipped, sarcastic, or rude.

One (surprising) solution: Use emoticons more often 🙂

Communicate “action steps” first, not last.

A good rule of thumb is to strive to keep emails to one line or less.

Never “reply all” (unless you absolutely must).

What other tips/links do you have on how we can communicate better online?

photo courtesy of nathan makan

Midweek Ministry Thoughts

January 26, 2011 — 3 Comments
  • Just had a thought today: It seems like so many students nowadays study abroad, what if we actually promoted (at our weekly meeting) the idea of STINT-ing while studying abroad. One of our sharpest girl leaders is doing that next year in Buenos Aires. Usually, students studying abroad means losing a key leader for a year and them not walking with God for a year. But I could get really excited about it if we were SENDING them out to the world. What do y’all think? Is that a workable idea (to STINT and study abroad concurrently)?

  • Benson Hines has a great post on investing a disproportionate amount of time investing in training (and I would add, raising up) small group leaders.

  • I’ve recently started following a bunch of students on Twitter. It’s been so good for understanding their world. And an easy way for me to connect with them quickly via responses to their tweets. When I see them at Cru I feel like I really know them (as opposed to them just being another freshman whose name I can’t recall).  And it has led to the next idea. . .

  • During our weekly training time, we often have students share what God is doing across campus. It’s always my favorite part of the gathering. And students get to hear and be challenged by their peers. It makes it feel like everyone is passionately representing Christ (“I’m not alone repping him my little dorm). We recently (OK, today) just started using our ArkansasCru twitter account to broadcast what God is doing all across campus so that daily students (who follow us) can hear what God is doing and be spurred on (and praise God). Up until this point we’ve just used it (and we hardly use it) to spam tell everyone when we have events. Three examples from today (from three freshmen!):
  • RT @Brittonwilson My prayer journal entry just now was crazy sloppy & it makes me really happy! Excited about praying for my lost friends!
  • RT @modern_mafia: Gotta love it when God answers prayers right after listening to a speaker talk about the importance of prayer
  • RT @nikimangan: Just spent 2 hours filling out an intense application to spend 3 weeks in Ethiopia this summer with @arkansascru! So excited!

Weekend Links 1-21-11

January 21, 2011 — Leave a comment

This article has an interesting prediction on Twitter and Facebook.  I tend to agree:

Twitter and Facebook are no longer both general social networks.

My prediction is that Twitter will become a platform where you can connect with some people in their professional lives, and Facebook will continue to be the platform where you can connect with most people in their personal lives.

This is fun and interesting – The United States of Surnames (via Alltop)

National Geographic has put together an interesting map showing the popularity of surnames in different parts of the United States. Each surname is color coded to indicate origin and the font size relates to number of people with each surname per state.

Great thoughts from Ben Arment – It’s Okay to Say No

Who doesn’t love a good infographic? I thought this one was interesting – Fed Ex vs. UPS – (via Challies)

And since, like me, you haven’t watched any soccer since the World Cup we’ll end with this – some unfathomable soccer ineptness:

I like Twitter about 1000x more than Facebook.

Like Brian Barela quoted on his blog: “Twitter makes me like people I’ve never met and Facebook makes me hate people I know in real life”.

I use it as an all-in-one:

  • Feed reader (letting me know when my favorite blogs update)
  • News Aggregator (NYTimes, CNN, CollegeFootball)
  • Devotional (gospel-centered content throughout the day from guys like @PastorTullian and @PaulTripp)
  • Leadership-Developer (short bursts of leadership genius from the likes of @MichaelHyatt or @ScottBelsky)
  • AND Friend-updater (the one feature Facebook is good at)

But when I link to my blog in my Facebook status I get 5x more traffic then when I just get the word out via Twitter.

Matches up pretty well with this interesting Fast Company article: “Facebook Is Worth $2.52, Twitter Only 43 Cents” and the fact that Facebook has 5x as many Users (and I have 5x as many “friends” there!).

A primary reason why Facebook continues to dominate?  Ease of use.

Have you ever tried to explain Twitter to someone new?  What are hashtags? What does RT mean?  What’s  Where’s the insert photo button?

37Signals blog states it well:

Some serious flaws are holding Twitter’s usability back. A collection of hacks that were initially cool and clever among the geekset have turned into de facto features. Why should users have to know what a URL shortener is? Why does attaching a photo to a tweet require third-party tools and diminish your character count?

Related back to college ministry. . .

What are we unknowingly doing that prevents new people from understanding our ministry and wanting to “Sign On”.  
What do we need to do to make our ministry, in the words of 37Signals, “easier to use, easier to explain, and easier to expand”?

To Start:

  • Hashtags = getting rid of insider Christian lingo
  • URL Shortener = Bulit-in ways to help students take the next step (clear map of what it looks like to get involved past the weekly meeting)

What would you add?

photo courtesy of abraham.williams via flickr

I’ve been thinking recently about  the irrational gravitational pull that the internet/iPhone exerts on my life.

I wake up in the morning and immediately check my email, daily websites, and Twitter.  Then throughout the day I spend every free second (at a stoplight, between appointments) on my iPhone catching up on Twitter/Blogs/etc.  I am enthralled by what Søren Kierkegaard called the “passing moment”.  He insisted: “all moral elevation consists first and foremost in being weaned from the momentary”.

I read an article this past week with somewhat parallel insights from John Mayer on why he quit Twitter:

“Has any artist, since they’ve begun to give you daily insights into their life created their best work yet? Are the best writers of our time on Twitter?

Those who decide to remain offline will make better work than those online. Why? Because great ideas have to gather. They have to pass the test of withstanding thirteen different moods, four different months and sixty different edits. Anything less is day trading. You can either get a bunch of mentions now or change someone’s life next year.”

Over 200 years ago, for Kierkegaard it was not Twitter but the Daily Newspaper!  Such an applicable thought for our modern world:

“On the whole the evil in the daily press consists in its being calculated to make, if possible, the passing moment a thousand or ten thousand times more inflated and important than it really is. But all moral elevation consists first and foremost in being weaned from the momentary. There has never been a power so diametrically opposed to Christianity as the daily press.”

So, put down the blog and go listen to Josh Harris’ sermon – 
Self Control in a Wired World

Very convicting for me – “A little web surfing, a little Facebook, a little folding of the hands around the smart phone and spiritual poverty will come upon you like a robber.”

Hearing that sermon is the first time I really understood how essential Wired Self Control (self-denial) is to following Jesus.

For the record, I think Twitter, Blogs, iPhones, et al are invaluable for leadership, effectiveness and efficiency.  Just trying to find the balance!

photo courtesy of guccio at