Archives For social media

Short & pithy

Ben Reed —  November 29, 2012 — 1 Comment

I’ve found Twitter a great spot for short, pithy statements. I love the challenge of boiling an extended thought down into 140 characters.

And I love the interaction I have there. For me, it’s been a great hub for ministry and ideas.

But one thing I don’t love is that once a tweet is sent, it’s got a shelf life of ~2 hours. After that, it’s buried under a pile of equally awesome pith. Never to be found again.

“Just repeat the good ones so they’re not buried anymore!” said someone who’s not actually on Twitter. That’s a Twitter no-no. That’s what the spam-bots do, right? Creativity and originality is prized. Not repetition.

But I thought I’d bring back some of my favorites. Partly because it’s good for me to remember the context for why I wrote these. Partly because there are many of you I’m not connected with on Twitter. (you can follow me HERE…if I don’t follow you right back, just message me and I will)

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4 years.

Hard to believe I’ve been hacking at this blog for so long. It was a bit rocky at first, but I think I’ve found my voice and my niche in the blogging world. I’ve formed real friendships, fostered off-line ones, challenged, and been challenged. I’ve grown immensely through the community that’s continuing to grow here.

4 years.

Still growing.

image credit: CreationSwap user Bokeh02

In this 4-year process, I’ve learned some truths. Some that are personal. Others that are more general.

7 truths in 4 years

1. I love writing.

I gain clarity through writing. My thoughts make better sense to me when I can extrovert them through writing. In fact, I’ve found that when my blogging frequency decreases, clarity around key ideas and issues I’m dealing with decreases as well.

My challenge to you: Find a way to communicate. Hone your craft and hone your ideas through some sort of open forum publicly.

2. Writing impacts people.

I know, I know…this isn’t revolutionary. Words are powerful. I’ve tried to become increasingly cognizant of this truth, knowing that words carry weight in incredible ways. This causes me to pause before I ever hit “publish.” I reread, re-pray, and edit more thoughtfully with the understanding that real people with real struggles in real communities can be profoundly impacted as God uses words to change hearts.

My challenge to you: Write thoughtfully. Write a lot.

3. Sometimes I get it wrong.

I never try to let “I might be wrong” keep me from writing. In the early days, I did. I was hesitant that I’d put a thought out there and completely miss the mark. And you know what? I did. Quite a few times. :) But I’ve learned that “I might be wrong” is never reason enough to not write.

My challenge to you: Wrestle with tough concepts. Challenge your readers. Challenge yourself. If you get something wrong, admit that you did and move on. Or delete the post and act like it never happened. :) Getting it wrong is better than not getting it at all.

4. Authenticity is king.

My favorite posts to write, and the ones that get the most interaction, are the ones where I share personal stories and personal details. Those are the glue that help people stick to the truth.

My challenge to you: Be the best “you” you can be. The best “you” is always better than being who you think others want you to be. God’s created you uniquely, with unique gifts, talents, and passions. We need you!

6. Evernote is my best friend.

I use it constantly. I’d be a terrible blogger without it. Seriously, this is where my ideas go initially, where they’re fleshed out, and where they find their substance.

My challenge to you: Capture every idea that crosses your mind, and find a way to store those. Having a wealth of ideas is invaluable on days when ideas are dry.

7. There are blog posts around every corner.

Sometimes blog posts have cropped up out of meetings, at Starbucks, at the golf course, or at the beach. Other times, they’ve happened at the gym, or while running. Yet others have happened while preaching. I’ve learned to constantly have my eyes open, which has made me a better observer of life.

My challenge to you: Observe life. Live in the moment. Enjoy every gift, large and small, that God gives.

Question:

I’d love to get a better handle on the readers here on Life & Theology. If you’re a reader, whether regular or sporadic or a first-timer, leave a comment below with your name and the city where you live. 

 

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There are lots of social meda “rules” that form over time. Just as with any product or service, usage often determines the unspoken set of ground rules. And if you’re not careful, those “rules” can pigeon-hole you.

And nobody likes a pigeon hole. Well, nobody but pigeons.

image credit: CreationSwap user Paule Patterson, edits mine

Whether you’re a pastor that’s a casual user or a power user, a rookie or a veteran, there are certain rules that you should adhere to. Rules that will help you with engagement…and help you not come across as

1. Completely out of touch with culture.

2. A self-centered self-promoter.

3.  A person that others unfollow when they read your updates.

So here are 6 rules that every pastor should break daily with social media.

6 Rules Pastors Should Break

1. Only quote the Bible

We know that you’re in love with the Bible. We get it. But there’s got to be more to who you are than random quotes from Scripture, right? Didn’t Martin Luther say anything good? CS Lewis? Can’t you come up with anything worth saying that’s at least remotely original? How about reading your Bible and applying it…and making that an update?

2. Keep up your “professional pastor” persona.

You’re not a walking Christian zombie, are you? You don’t only read Christian books, only watch Christian movies, and only eat at Christian restaurants, do you? There has got to be more to you than the Christian subculture. Building relationships with those outside of the faith isn’t going to happen if you’re tweeting YouTube videos out like this one, of Michael W Smith from the late 80s. Gotta love the vest. I think the song should’ve gone, “Nobody knew I could rock a vest like this…”

3. If you’re frustrated, complain. A lot.

Twitter can become a megaphone for you to voice your complaints about a lot of things: culture at large, politics, “other” pastors, or even your own church. Complaining doesn’t become you, though. In fact, Paul urges us

Don’t grumble about each other, brothers and sisters, especially on Twitter… – James 5:9 (additions mine)

 4. Never update during “work” hours.

Give people an inside peek into who you are and what you do during your normal day. A behind-the-scenes, if you will. Social media can be a great voice for Truth and engagement throughout your week. Don’t have time to update during your work day? Schedule updates when you’ve got a few minutes.

5. Never share personal information.

Bologna. Share who you are. Share what you value. Talk about your family. Talk about your struggles. Share your pain. Your joy. Your victories.

6. Only follow other Christians.

If pastors want to bring hope to the hurting, grace to the downtrodden, and Truth to the places where people engage, we’ve got to track along with those outside of our Christian bubbles. And here’s a freebie for you…nobody judges your theology by who you follow on Twitter and Facebook.

 Question:

Do you interact more on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or on your blog?

 

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image credit: Creation Swap user David Lindner

Social media junkie,

It’s okay that I didn’t read your latest status. Really, it is. I’m not offended that you’ve written it…but don’t assume that I read it.

There’s so much information available today, I’m a bit overwhelmed. I’d love to say I have time to read everyone’s updates, but I don’t. And I think that’s okay. Even though you’re my friend. My good friend. Most of what you write I genuinely care about.

But it’s okay that I didn’t read your latest status update.

Because I didn’t read your latest status:

  • I can be genuinely surprised about the news in your life next time I see you.
  • We can have a conversation about the little things, and the big things, in your life.
  • We can laugh together, until we cry, over something hilarious your kid just did.
  • I can look you in the eye and tell you I appreciate you, rather than clicking “like” or ReTweeting your update.
  • Not reading your update allowed me to be engaged in playing Legos with my son.
  • Unless you’re going to offer me a bite of that burger, I don’t want to hear about it.

Keep posting on Facebook and Twitter. This is no indictment. Just don’t assume I, or anyone for that matter, read it all.

Signed,

 

 

Ben

 

 

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Speaker and author Jon Acuff (StuffChristiansLike & JonAcuff.com) opened Catalyst West 2012, speaking to this year’s theme, “Be Present.”

Sometimes in your life, it’s easy to focus on what’s “next” to be disconnected from what’s “right now.”

At these points, we can hear family and friends tell us, “I wish you were here.” Instead of being present, we find ourselves distracted, seeking to please others rather than enjoying the people in front of us.

3 Ways to be Sure you Remain Present

1. Don’t get lost in the comparison game.

This is hard. You see this at events, when you hear what other people and organizations are doing, and you wish you could be more like them. You never do “fair” comparisons, either. You compare yourself to the best of the best. What we often do is compare our “beginning” to someone else’s “middle.” The Enemy loves when we get lost in this comparison game, making us feel “entitled” and “deserving.”

2. Be smart about social media.

In some ways, we’re all becoming reality TV stars in our own little world. When Jon went on vacation, he disengaged from social media. And in the process, he was able to be present for the vacation, rather than just a documenter. It’s time to be present…not time for everybody around you to say, “Please pay attention.”

3. Quit listening to the voices.

Nobody’s internal voices are ever positive. You think they’re your friends, but voices of fear and doubt are foes. Voices of fear and doubt want to take us away from being “present.” 90% perfect and published is always better than 100% perfect and stuck in your head.

“Who are you to do that?” is often a voice we hear. One of fear’s greatest goals is isolation. Fear fears community.

What if the reason that God is silent is because He’s planning your party? (Re: Prodigal Son)

Jesus was always present

1. He was available.

He had long, slow dinners with people though he could’ve been teaching tens of thousands every evening.

2. He rested.

Jesus rested, so why do we think we don’t have to? Isaiah 30:15: “In repentance and rest is your salvation. Quietness and trust is your strength.” We’ve rewritten this, because it’s hard to yell this at people. We’ve rewritten this to say, “Efficienty and repentance” or “productivity and repentance” instead of “rest and repentance.”

3. He knew his role.

We often get confused about out roles. We put too much pressure on ourselves…pressure that God doesn’t even put on yourself. God’s not surprised or disappointed by the size of our ministry. Proverbs 21:1: The king’s heart is in the hands of the Lord.” Some days, water moves rapidly. Some times itit slows down to go deeper. And water doesn’t ever get to talk back to the water maker and give suggestions. It just gets to be water.

Question: What is your biggest source of distraction right now?

 

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Photo: Creative Commons User: Polježičanin

Information isn’t the most important thing anymore. We live in a world where content isn’t king.

Right content is king.

Today, you can turn anywhere and find any answer to any question you can come up with.

Message ChaCha and within 60 seconds, you’ll have your answer. From a real person!

“Google” is a verb used in common language.

Information is abundant and around every corner. You can have nearly every major newspaper delivered wirelessly to your Kindle.

Our culture is on information overload. The answer is not found in more information.

The answer is in curating the right information.

Which explains the success of sites like Take Your Vitamin Z, Monday Morning Insight, and Between Two Worlds. This generation is not just looking for more information. We’re looking for the right information.

  • I don’t just care to go to a movie because it’s a big-budget blockbuster. I’ll go because someone I trust has recommended it.
  • I won’t read your book because a big-name publisher has printed it. I’ll read it because someone I trust has reviewed, or recommended, it.
  • I won’t watch a TV show because a television network pubs it. I’ll watch it because someone I trust encourages me to do so.
  • I won’t buy a product because an advertisement sells me, but because you, whom I trust, “sells” me on it.

Trust is rooted in relationship

And there are a few things you can work on to build trust in others. You can build the same trust you’re looking for in others.
  • Social media interaction helps engender trust.
  • Real, offline relationships help engender trust.
  • Consistently helpful information engenders trust.
  • Honesty engenders trust.
  • Vulnerability engenders trust.

If the next generation of writers, communicators, and leaders wants to be effective, they’ll learn to develop trust, not just rely on content. And trust is rooted in a relationship.

In a culture of information saturation, we’re looking for a reason to follow someone’s lead.

Pastors:

Are you finding this to be true in your church?

 *Photo Credit: Creative Commons user Polježičanin’s

 

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A site you’ve got to visit

Ben Reed —  September 29, 2011 — 33 Comments

iStock photo user: Arakonyunus

I’ve done this before (HERE), and I want to do it again.

I want to help one of your friends pub their site.

In the comments below, tell us about a blog (or a site) that you read that you think we should know about. Tell us why you love it. Tell us what they’re doing to make a dent in the internet. Tell us why, if we’re not reading it, we’re missing out on some of the best that the internets has to offer.

Don’t nominate yourself. That’s silly and selfish. If you nominate yourself, I’ll delete your comment.

I’ll choose one of the sites you mention in the comments and write a full-length post about them and why the readers here at Life & Theology should immediately head over and join in that community.

Sometimes all a site needs is a little publicity. That’s what I want to do.

And I’m just trying to practice what I preach. I think that social media is at its best when people are being truly generous. (see what I mean HERE or HERE or HERE)

So go ahead and leave a comment. Tell us about a site we can’t live without.

To jump straight to the comments, click HERE.

*Photo credit: iStock Photo user Arakonyunus

 

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Insulting promises

Ben Reed —  August 30, 2011 — 13 Comments

image via RadioManKC

I’ve seen this a lot on people’s blogs, and frankly it bothers me.

Sorry, life has been busy and I haven’t had time to blog…

And then it’s often followed up with a promise

I’m going to be blogging every day for the next 289 days, that’s my commitment to you!

And then, 12 days later, I read yet another apology on their blog.

I’m not going to start with an excuse like that.  Because when I start with ‘Sorry…it’s been a busy season…’ I insult just about every reader of my blog. Because what I’m saying is, “I’m much busier than you. Because I assume you are checking my blog every day and are shaking your fists at me, foiled once again because you were hoping I’d write another post to fill up your day because you have nothing else to do.  You lazy sloth.  Get a job.”

Ok, so maybe I’m not actually saying all of that…

I’m not going to use those excuses, because you don’t care if I’m busy.  You don’t care how long it’s been since I’ve blogged.  You just want me to write.

And this mindset and subsequent offense happens all of the time in life. Not just on blogs. Check this out.  Maybe you’ve said something like this.

Common insulting excuses

  • Sorry I’ve been slow to respond to your email. Life has been busy.
  • Sorry we haven’t been able to meet. I’ve been really busy.
  • Sorry that I haven’t finished that project yet. I’ve been swamped.
  • I know I told you I’d help you out. I’ve been extraordinarily busy. Sorry.

Likely I’m not any busier than you are.  We’ve all got 24 hours in a day.  And we all make time for things that we value.

When I lead with, “Sorry, I’m busy…” I presume that you’re not also busy.  I presume that my time is more important than yours.   That I’m more important than you, and that your time with your job, your family, your church, and your hobbies isn’t also important.

So I’m going to quit apologizing and just start doing the work.  No promises or apologies or excuses.  Just creating art and forward momentum.

Instead of wasting the time it takes to fill you in on why I haven’t lived up to expectations, I’ll just start living up to expectations.

Question: Am I the only one with a busy schedule?

 

 

 

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Quit sharing

Ben Reed —  August 25, 2011 — 4 Comments

Retweeting to get a Retweet in return may be the most base form of fake generosity that social media has spiraled into.

image via PLR Internet Marketing

(if you’re not sure what a Retweet is, get a crash course on verbiage I wrote HERE)

Here’s what happens.  You notice that I have quite a few followers.  You want my followers to like you and follow you and read your blog. So you read my blog post, retweet what I said about it, and sit and wait.  Just hoping that I’ll return the digital favor.

Stop it!

Twisted Generosity

Generosity gives, expecting nothing in return.  True generosity doesn’t scratch your back so you’ll scratch mine.  And when you give expecting a retweet, you rip the generosity right out of the gift.

And you give expecting the return gesture, you completely miss the point of sharing.  The point of sharing is not to bless the writer of the post.   It’s to bless YOUR followers.  The ones who look to you saying, “What new stuff have you found lately?”

Imagine this crazy scenario.  I give you a nice new gift.  Let’s say I give you a new iPad.  But the whole time, I’m looking over my shoulder, wondering if Apple is going to reward me for purchasing an iPad.  And you’re left wondering, “Did he just use me?”

I like what Dale Carnegie says in How to Win Friends and Influence People:

Let’s cease thinking of our accomplishments, our wants. Let’s try to figure out the other person’s good points. Then forget flattery. Give honest, sincere appreciation. Be “hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise,” and people will cherish your words and treasure them and repeat them over a lifetime—repeat them years after you have forgotten them.

Instead of looking at social sharing as a way of gaining followers, look at it as a way of blessing those who have chosen to follow you.  Of sharing with the world what you’re learning, who’s influencing you, and what’s shaking your world.  The more generous you can be, the more people will cherish your words and treasure them.  But leave a hint of personal gain in your generosity and your followers will sniff you out.

I’m pursuing a more generous social media.

Will you join me?

 

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I recently got an invitation to attend a lunch with other like-minded leaders in Nashville. I was invited by the organizer of the event, because apparently “this is an event you’ll like.”

And I said, “I’ll be there.”

Was the exact same DM (that’s twitter shorthand for a message sent directly to you) sent to (probably) hundreds of other guys?  Yep.

Was it really just a way of getting a bunch of leaders in the same room to promote what they wanted to talk about?  Yeah. (I know, I know…you told us it wasn’t…but be honest)

If I’d gotten the exact same DM from the sponsoring company, would I have gone? Not a chance. *(this is an important marketing tip for churches and businesses.  If I receive an invitation from your corporate account, 99 times out of 100 I’ll ignore it.  Send it from  your personal account and it’ll get at least a second look)

But do you know why I went?

Because I got a personal invite from a real person.

I felt needed. I felt valued.  I felt that this event would be worth my time and effort to attend.

If the parent company had sent the DM, it would’ve felt pushy.  But coming from the person, it felt…personal.

The takeaway

Instead of sending out fliers for your next church event, encourage people to personally ask their friends.

Instead of buying a spot on a billboard to promote your event, encourage word-of-mouth.

Instead of blasting a mass email, encourage people to invite a few of their closest friends on Facebook.

“Personal” is a stronger, more meaningful “ask” than the mass appeal.

Question: Would you be more likely to attend an event if personally invited by someone you trust?

 

 

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