Taking Our Churches Back

This Blog is primarily a response to the question, ” HOW CAN WE KEEP THEM THERE ONCE WE GET THEM THERE!!!???”

The short answer is, “…by feeding their passion“. But to understand what that means and know how to do it, will take time for all of us. And it will take all of us working together filled with the Holy Spirit for it to work; we can’t do it without each other and we definitely can’t do it without the Holy Spirit.

 

The first thing we have to do is identify the problem before discussion a resolution. There are MANY problems but I personally feel they can all be summed up in one statement: Our churches have been hijacked.

 

The Body of Christ is the most powerful force on this planet because it has been empowered by the Holy Spirit of the Creator and Savior.  Naturally, that makes us the most important target of anything in this world that is not of God. We have innumerable enemies cunningly working against us and by and large in this country they have succeeded until now. Most of us probably don’t know it. That is no accident. But the purpose of this document is not to discuss how we are losing our place in the world. This document is all about how we are going to take it back.

 

Taking our Church Back via Social Media: 

 

The internet caused the largest and fastest social change in our history since the resurrection of the Christ.  While most of us have been impacted in the way we live our lives by this technology, we are only reaching part of the distance to the radical new possibilities this technology will create (and the concerns that we need to look out for).  The internet has become a tool that allows all mankind to communicate with each other regardless of location.  This powerful communication tool is becoming the primary way we receive information.  This information, unlike that from most pulpits or news outlets, is not controlled or altered by large moneyed institutional interests.  As a result, there is an increasing level of information and transparency. While this power to share information is increasingly obvious, it differs from the old ways in two fundamental ways:

 

 First, this communication form is bi-directional, allowing communication between anyone on the internet and anyone else instead of going to sit in a pew and listening to whatever is told to us or sitting in front of the television/ radio.  The second difference is built on the first; the internet is inherently about communities of people with common interests not unlike ‘church’ groups.  The internet can facilitate for the first time in history relationships with minute by minute dialogue without the need for physical interaction, although I am not suggesting we replace physical interaction. Rather we are supplementing it!

 

It is our responsibility and privilege as Christians to minister to souls in need. Not only to give them the Gospel, but to also introduce them to the Holy Spirit that will teach them how to live a better life and make better decisions; to manage their money and their families. By and large the Church is ignoring this medium and the opportunities to do Kingdom work more efficiently are passing them by. Simply put, all we need to do is MINISTER to the Christ’s followers and MENTOR them into leaders.  That is our mission.

 

Turning Millions of Christ’s Followers into Leaders

 

The Mission

I will summarize the premise of this Mission approach here because it is essential to defining our Unity in the Spirit while using the internet and mobile media.  A great Mission is successful because it has a large number of passionate “Followers” which ultimately become the Mission’s ‘Leaders’ or evangelists. I certainly understand that most of this is defined in the Bible in regard to our mission as Christians.

 

What I am proposing here is ideas that are NOT laid out in the Bible but are directly related to what the Christ told us to do. There is no mention in the Bible on how to specifically use today’s technologies.  So these are my personal thoughts based on my deep understanding both of what the Bible says  and how these technologies work and can be used for communication.

 

As REAL Christians with a mission, we have four basic goals::

              1.     Create more informed Followers;

              2.     Feed the passion of existing Followers;

              3.     Turn Followers into LEADERS;

              4.     Unite LEADERS who are intentionally divided!

 

Our mission is very different than trying to sell a product but some ideas cross over from the business world to the soul-nurturing.  This Mission recognizes that the ‘sale of the ‘product’ (Truth in Love that brings Salvation) is the result of having passionate ‘Followers’ who act and have the same objectives which are outlined in the Bible. Passionate Followers, (if we feed their passion regularly) will follow Christ for a lifetime and many will become leaders in the cause of Freedom and Truth in Obedience. This is a huge paradigm shift. But it is nothing more than what Jesus said to Peter:

 

John 21:15  So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

Joh 21:16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Joh 21:17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

 Joh 21:19  This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, “Follow me.”

 

But let me briefly define another meaning of “Follower” to those who may not be familiar with Social Media. A Follower is someone who expresses interest; clicks on a button because they want to be notified if any new information or material is available. It is someone who has asked for or given their permission in receiving tweets, or videos, emails, or Event Invitations, etc. It is NOT in any way shape or form to be compared to a religious following, or subscription to any belief system, doctrine, or statement of ‘faith’. 

Social and mobile media allow us to deepen the bond between the Follower and the Mission.  But remember there is a thin line here, because while it is indeed our missions, our callings, our purposes etc. it is ultimately the Will of God not the will of us. It is the work we share with the Holy Spirit in us to get out the message of Him Who sent us. While pulpits efficiently distribute information and entertainment content, it is impersonal and not always true.  People do not have a relationship with a ‘preacher’, televangelist, a writer, or a guy on the big screen. But it is a personal relationship that is at the heart of a Follower- a personal Relationship through the Holy Spirit.

Most activists, preachers and politicians treat the internet like a mainstream medium, which potentially goes to anyone.  They are simply trying to connect with as many ‘listeners’ as possible hoping to sway, or to entertain them with no thought of secondary communication. Perhaps it is just the gift of evangelism at work/ fault here. I know that based on my certain gifts I naturally ignore certain things outside of my perview.  But we need to GROW past this primary form of communication and concentrate as much if not MORE on the secondary.

The goal then of secondary communications with Followers is to deepen the relationship with them, and inform them.  So we need to understand the Followers and their needs.  We also want to grow the number of Followers but NOT for the simple desire of growing the number of Followers. If we grow our numbers faster than our ability to equip them then we are defeating the purpose.   We want to understand people who have interests common to our already established Followers and empower and educate them to be filled with the Spirit so they are doing the work God has set before them!  For Freedom loving Christians this is very easy. EVERYONE on this planet except for about 1% of its inhabitants want to be Followers- there are just some of them that don’t know it yet.

Our job as ‘Kingdom Warriors’ is partly about numbers, true. But not impersonally and not separated from Spiritual growth.  The numbers we should focus on are 1. The number of Followers we know that need Spiritual Guidance and 2. The number of Followers we can add through the work of the Holy Spirit who need salvation.  Followers do not become Followers because they saw a sermon or DVD or a couple YouTube videos. Becoming a Follower is a process over a period of time which is different for different people. Today’s social media tools allow us to help with the process of relationship deepening in ways that were not previously available over the internet. The beautiful thing about true leadership is that it is a gift- we really don’t have to do any of the work there. God does all the work and we just have to be willing vessels for the Holy Spirit.

Also with the internet and social media we have a plethora of Truth we can share in 2 seconds. Your first reaction may be, how can I get this information?  How do I know where to look?  It is a huge world wide web of links and our time is limited.  One aspect of the emerging technologies is aggregation; the ability to combine or ‘roll up’ all of our ideas a a single or fewer locations.  Many of these ideas and other Followers have one or more web sites, social media sites, etc. that are already putting out information and truth in different forms and already have followers themselves. We just need to ‘poke them’, introduce them our tribe if you will. That has been my primary behind-the-scenes role for the last 4 years. I have been connecting the Leaders to each other.

But sometimes they become bogged down in their day to day processes and slowly become unknowingly arrogant.  They not only do not ask all the right questions, but simply stop asking questions at all because they feel their information is all they need to succeed because they forget to listen to the Holy Spirit.  But the key to growth and Truth dissemination is change which is directed by asking the right questions and utilizing available technologies always willing and able to drop the status quo and be open for the Holy Spirit to change our direction.  What we don’t know becomes the unified goal of all the leaders searching for truth. And when a million people who know most of what can be known start looking for the unknown, imagine the possibilities!

New internet technologies have allowed activist and Followers to interact and have allowed the formation of active online communities. A great example of this is the Survivalist/ Prepper communities. The value of a Follower which is engaged and with which we have dialogue is hundreds or thousands, and perhaps millions of times more than a casual Sunday encounter that is limited to the allotted 5 seconds of conversation.  It is this ability to engage and have dialogue that is the key to utilizing the new communication paradigms. The survivalist community model I think is very similar to our own mission- we are seriously dealing with the survival of a nation and its Constitution! Parallel to that is the coming apostasy of the Church. Even though Jesus told John it would happen, we STILL have a Christian obligation to get the Church BACK on the right path and be prepared ourselves while preparing others and allowing the Holy Spirit through us to show others how to have that same  relationship.

The words “Social Media” imply relationships and we are trying to build strong ones with as many people as possible.  Relationships are not built with a single contact. They are, as stated, built in steps.  To do this we need to know the steps to becoming a Follower then a Leader, and how this must shape our communications and strategies.

This is a great way to REDEFINE what we are used to doing as Christians; instead of counting BUTTS IN CHAIRS, count relationships and monitor the progression through the steps. This is much more true to the Bible than counting tax-exempt dollars to decide how many butts are necessary to be ‘successful’.

 

 

These stages of Follower development are very much like those which build any human relationship.

       1.       find

       2.       like

       3.       engage

       4.       join

       5.       lead

 

First, a person must find us.  This is the main purpose of any mainstream marketing.  It is an attempt to be noticed.  Where the mainstream church fails, is that there is no way to move directly to the next phase, liking.  There is limited ability for interaction. So now what?

This is very important: People find things that they are already interested in.  It is virtually impossible to get noticed if there is not already interest unless there is Divine Intervention.  Not only do we have to get past this filter in seeking Followers, but we have to have a compelling and truthful enough message to allow us to build towards the second phase, getting liked, with very little time to do this.

For example, the unified message can have a prominent mention of a special event or landing page on a website with information specifically relevant to the Follower that will then take that person to the next step in the relationship building process, i.e. a call to action, to DO SOMETHING.

One of the keys to successful marketing for decades was the ‘call to action’.  It has always been difficult for anyone to take time to DO SOMETHING.  We are surrounded by calls to action, even thousands sometimes per day. 

What has changed is that the response to a call to action is much easier- we are generally one click away from a response.  Another change is that the call to action can be much more specific and personal. To respond by commenting on an post involves having a relationship with the web site/ FaceBook and the people that frequent it.  This is much more powerful than a ‘church’ bulletin.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. We sit on the shoulders of giants before us in the search for truth and freedom. But at least we need to stay current without losing those foundational necessities.

But…How shall they hear without a preacher?  

Being heard is the key to being ‘Liked’.

So we have been found.  The next step is being liked.  The natural human instinct is to talk about ourselves and why we are so wonderful. But people like people who listen to them talk about themselves. We should never be talking about ourselves when trying to build relationships. We should be listening to others.

The internet through social media allows us- the Mission/ the Movement- to listen.  People, who comment on a blog post, reply to Twitters, make a comment on a forum etc.,  all have the sense that the community of which we are part are listening and are interested in THEM.

Being a member of a community leads to personal involvement on a regular basis.  This can only take place if we have the physical AND virtual places where there can be dialogue with other community members which leads them to regular fellowship. And LEADERS will automatically start creating their own relationships.

A Leader will be responsible for forming and developing a community without being led because of the Spiritual Gifts they have.  They will DESIRE be responsible for developing a community for which they serve as a hub.  There is no head to this Body other than the Christ over the conglomerate of all the leaders. like the founding fathers of our Church and iour country intended. This community of freedom-loving Christian Americans is its own Leaders who are constantly interacting. People motivated by their personal passion are the life blood of internet communities and the catalyst for internet communities. The same should be said of members of the Body of Christ.

As an example, while there are millions of people that have posted to Wikipedia, there are only approximately 500 that spend many hours editing and organizing the information submitted to make it clear and useable.  These super users have been empowered through the tools which Wikipedia has made available.  500 people manage content that is used by 400 million people per month. With technologies, the Church too is moving in the same direction but we are just so divided (intentionally). This is how the Holy Spirit can use us to Take Back our Churches via Social and Mobile Media.

We all generate thousands of personal contacts every month (unless you live in front of a computer like me).  Yet we do not get contact information from the people we touch, nor do we otherwise engage them.  We approach them with a last century mode of thinking. 

We need to develop and empower the largest number of these leaders by giving them tools such as web space, submission tools, encouragement, information, support, high level access to information and encouragement.  These volunteers are ultimately the strength of communities on the internet and in local assemblies.  They are an invaluable resource gifted by the Holy Spirit that must be actively developed and actively supported and FED.  

There are numerous ways to reach out to Followers. And most Leaders will initiate this because they are natural-born Leaders endowed with Spiritual Gifts. They just need to be made aware of their Gifts and callings. The Holy Spirit wants to use us to ‘wake them up’ from their slumber. Also, there is an even more powerful way to engage Followers.  It is to organize global groups that actually meet face to face on a regular basis not in the same locations AT THE SAME TIME AND WITH THE SAME AGENDA!

We have the ability to now engage Followers throughout the world. Remember the True Church is a Global player on a Global stage. And the whole world has always been watching us. Until social media the world thought about American ‘churches’ whatever they were told to just the same way that our mainstream media tries to tell us what to think about other countries’ Christians. But it isn’t working any more. We are winning this information war because of the commitment of these Spirit-filled Leaders and the internet.

Commitment is about spending time regularly with our Followers and our community.  It is about membership to a Kingdom that is invisible and dedication to a vision and a lifestyle explained in the Bible and lived out by being filled with the Holy Spirit.  We need to embrace our Followers, who mostly stand alone today, and bring them actively into our community.  To do this we need to develop a social infrastructure which harnesses the ability to communicate easily and personally called the Social Media (web 3.0).  This goes far beyond the mainstream/ church mentality we have today, and beyond resources.  We need to interact with and engage our Followers and potential Followers.  We must solicit and support their contribution of time and content and encourage further interactivity.

The goal is to allow the Holy Spirit through us to invite millions of Followers globally and engage them in a personal fashion frequently. The social internet is in fact a network of people with many contacts.  These interconnections allow information to propagate like WAVES through the ocean with only a modest number of connections, but within a few iterations reach a very large number of people.  The following arithmetic shows that it will only take six people in a row to be able to connect personally with anyone in the world: 

 

“Six Degrees of Separation”—roughly, the notion that anyone can form a chain of  personal contacts leading to any other person, with no more than six links in the chain. —Joe Kissell http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six_degrees_of_separation

 

This is the power of social media. Interaction of communities with links can propagate a single conversation to a very large group, with only a small number of conversations in every hop.  The communication trail is personal, rich and inclusive.

 

This powerful new technology, properly used can take help build a much larger Follower base and shower this much larger pool of Followers with dialogue, PASSION and constant Spiritual achievement, not the least of which is LIBERTY AND FREEDOM IN CHRIST FROM GOVERNMENT TYRANNY. Just think and meditate on how these idseas could change America.

 

There are 3,141 counties and county equivalents in the 50 States and the District of Columbia. That’s really not a whole lot of workload to unite and empower only 3 thousand people. So if we could reach just one of those people in each county, and those people reach out to just 500 people directly or indirectly, the equation would look like this- 500 X 3141=1,570,500 people. But let us say, that each of those 3 thousand people all had the exact same task list, the exact same resources, the exact same schedule and calendar, the exact same desire to be a willing vessel for the Holy Spirit.  

 

What if all of those almost 2 million people were PASSIONATE about Positive change and Unity of the Body of Christ in the Holy Spirit at the exact same time? Does anyone else believe in the power of thought? If not, then you don’t believe in prayer. I would hope that ‘prayer and fasting’ would be a regular occurrence on that calendar shared by 2 million people. And they could receive a text message and email reminder, instead of hearing it on Sunday radio but forgetting before the next advertisement is over. Or hearing it from the pulpit and forgetting about it before they get to Cracker Barrel.

 

What if someone catches wind of a big deal that should be prayed about immediately or may not EVER be covered by the corrupted media? They just pick up their phone and post the announcement, and immediately 2 million people, who are not just ordinary citizens alone- they are also Spirit- filled community leaders of a movement bigger than anything in history since the Holy Spirit began His Work at Pentecost know what to pray for! We are one Body, which is what Christ intended for the church. This is nothing more than ACTING LIKE IT.

 

Now let us also assume, that these people are Holy Spirit-filled, completely non-denominational and completely non-partisan who are simultaneously part of a concerted effort to remove that which divides us. In other words, actively seeking out others to show them that we love them and that we are on the same team and SOME of our differences are ok. Of course we will have to leave some to their own devices, but MANY are seeing the light and we have a lot of momentum. I don’t know what this awakening is, but no one who is filled with the Spirit can deny that it is going on.

 

What if these 2 million people all were willing to offer their expertise at no charge to any event, meeting, marketing endeavor, etc? Because out of these people would be plenty of IT experts, caterers, light and sound resources, artists, celebrities, singers, PR experts, organizers, webmasters, owners of mainstream equipment and cameras, writers, photographers, bloggers, real estate owners and renters, computer programmers AND WHATEVER ELSE you can think of!  Starting to sound a lot like the church we see in the first few chapters of Acts, isn’t it?  And we would all be united, not everyone off doing their own thing, and once we got the Church back on track we could concentrate on getting Federal Government back in line.

 

One of the reasons for choosing SharePoint and using Microsoft is the old 80-20, 90/10 problem with churches. Building it is complicated and tiring, but once you get all this in place and iron out the details, plugging people in will be a cinch.

 

 

 

When I used to manage restaurants, I built what I called “S.M.A.R.T.” lists and put them at every work area. They were checklists of everything that needed to be done before we could close up shop.

 

 

 

Before I made those lists and posted them in lamination so they could be reused, you can imagine how many people came to me every 5 minutes and said “what’s next?”.

 

 

 

I can see great benefit in having similar lists for churches in all the classrooms, the A/V area, the stage, the Awana office, the kitchen, by the alarms, under the thermostats for AC, by assistants’ computer for quick-reference on how to be an admin, at the connections desk, at the kid-check computer, and even to take home or print out to help the technically challenged. See where I am going? Like I always say, think of everything as a list, but add another dimension to it that includes CHECKlists. Some lists are fluid and dynamic but many lists are static for the most part, changing very rarely. Static lists can be printed out and anyone who can read can easily serve in the Kingdom and receive the blessings of doing God’s work.

 

 

 

The minister can’t do what he needs to do (and we can’t do what we need to do, and others can’t do what they need to do) if everyone is running to the leadership asking “what’s next?”. As leaders, I think one of our many focusses should be setting OTHER people up for success. That is where most of my focus is in this blog. SharePoint, the people management, Awana inventory, barcode scanners, organizational charts, lists, the website, et. Al…

 

 

 

When you are finished with all this setting up of how things are done and what needs to be done, we will begin to break the cycle of churches in America and focus our energy solely on God’s work.

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