The Sunday morning gatherings at New Life will be broadcast live on our website starting September 12th. This means people can join us live around the world and experience worship with us via some really cool and really inexpensive technology. There are lots of positives and some negatives about live-streaming that we have discussed as a team.
- Watching on the web is not an equal substitute for attending live. Face to face, person-to-person interaction at church is super important and cannot be dismissed in favor of watching from home.
- The technology is great, but it is really expensive to make the sound quality on the web equal to the live gathering. Lower your expectations in that regard.
- Live streaming is a great opportunity for people who are looking for a new church to preview our service before actually attending.
- It is a great resource for our missionaries and military members stationed around the world to stay connected to their local church.
- On heavy snow Sundays, the three of us who make it to church can sing and speak while the rest of you watch. I promise I will not sing unless absolutely necessary.
What do you think about the services being live-streamed? How can we take maximum advantage of this great technology?
Twitter and Facebook provide huge opportunities to have conversations, to share ideas, to promote products and events, and to share the random thoughts of everyday life. Pam and I are realizing more and more, though, that we have to be super careful about our posts because they can be misinterpreted and misquoted.
Not long ago, I posted a comment about the number of tattoos on the Denver Nugget players. It was just a little late night sarcasm, but it prompted a lot of angry responses from people who also have tattoos. I regretted sounding judgmental because that is not who I am. Last fall, after the Cowboys lost an early season game, I made a derogatory remark about Head Coach Wade Phillips and a wise man in our church kindly corrected me. Since those two posts, I have tried to use a bit more wisdom and discretion in what I put online for all to read.
Since Twitter allows for only 140 characters, we often cannot fully explain what we are thinking, thereby leaving a lot of room for misinterpretation. Here are some rules I try to follow.
1. Don’t post about things that happen in the bathroom. Enough said.
2. Don’t post when you are angry or hungry, especially when you are both.
3. Don’t post stuff that points out physical or mental deficiencies in others.
4. Don’t post stuff about movies or songs that contain material that others may find offensive.
5. Don’t overhype an event. Promotion is fine, but hype is not classy.
I cannot tell you how often I have had to delete something I was about to post because it broke one of these rules. I have never regretted a deletion, but I have regretted a number of posts. I love social media and have made a lot of connections with people that I would have never met otherwise. Like any good thing, it can become a snare if we are not wise with its use. What are some of the rules you follow with social media? What are some of the mistakes you have made that the rest of us could learn from?
I love church. I always will. Call me an idealist, but I still believe that Jesus meant for us to live life in a big messy family, to love one another when we are not that adorable and to be in covenant relationships even at the risk of our own hurt.
For me, church is not a gym membership to be used whenever I feel motivated and abandoned as soon as the new, more modern gym opens up down the street. Church is family. It is not a building, a corporation or a weekend meeting that we are compelled to attend out of habit. It is grandparents hoping to leave a legacy, families trying to thrive, single moms hoping to survive, students searching for truth and children being in awe.
Pam and I have belonged to five churches in 21 years of marriage and each time we left one, it was to move to another city to serve another body. We don’t church hop because we don’t hop from one family to another. If we become a part, we stick and we serve, even when things get tough.
We believe the local church is the best expression of God on the earth, so we give our time, our talents and our money to help the church. We complain to each other in private, but at the end of the day, we are loyal to the bride Christ left behind. We are convinced that lovers of the bride will get the chance to heal the bride. Cynics will never be a part of the solution.
The church will be here long after I am gone and has endured a lot more pain than I have encountered. Miracles, redemption, forgiveness, hope and healing happen in church. Even when she is broken, the church is still the product of men and women who have sacrificed much and surrendered more. Jesus gave everything for her. I love church. I always will.
Last week, the elders agreed to move forward and secure a building for phase one of the Dream Centers. We are actively meeting with local commercial realtors and ministries and should have some space soon to open a medical clinic and maybe space enough to begin offering ministry to our military families who are struggling. There are still several large buildings that could be donated to us, but while we pray and wait, we want to take a small step to launch.
Also, I want you to know that the Dream Centers will not be an exclusive ministry of New Life Church. It will be led by a coalition of churches, ministries, business leaders and military officials, all who have a desire to pastor our city. New Life will certainly lead the way, but it has always been my desire to see a group of people work together to meet the greatest needs in our city with no one caring who gets the credit.
Notice that I mentioned Dream Centers, plural, not singular. Many people are under the impression that only one big building will house all the ministries, but that is not the case. There will be multiple sites around our city with multiple outreaches all operating under the umbrella of the Dream Center board. One central location is not sufficient to meet the staggering needs of our city.
So pray that we will launch soon, even if it is a small space. Pray for the resources, both financial and human, to begin well. Pray for a coalition of servant leaders to rally around this God idea. Most importantly, pray for thousands of people to rediscover the dream that God has placed inside of them.
People sometimes quit praying for the same reason they quit a diet. It is really difficult and it seems to take too long. No one starts a diet and wakes up two days later able to wear their skinny clothes. The same is true oftentimes with prayer. Sometimes there is an immediate answer, but most often it takes weeks, months and even years to see the breakthrough.
I was reminded this morning in our prayer time that it is easy to get discouraged and tired after praying for such a long time without the big miracle happening. This is why the psalmist wrote:
“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music.
Psalm 57:7 NIV
This is my prayer today – “Father in heaven, help me to remain steadfast, unmovable, and unshakable. Help me to pray and believe and not lose heart or grow tired. Help all of us to keep praying until we are skinny.”
It’s amazing how little I know about what is happening at New Life and I am supposed to be the leader. I think this is true about a lot of leaders, not just me. It is easy to encase ourselves in our office and forget to look below the water line of the ship. So, from time to time, I ask a few people on the staff how everyone is doing. I’m not asking for them to relay the latest gossip, but I do want to know what I don’t know.
This week, I asked someone about the morale of the staff. This trusted person told me there was a concern we were going to lay off some people because another local ministry just laid off some of their staff. I would have never known this if I had not asked. We are not considering lay-offs, instead we are preparing for a season of growth and increased ministry. I’m sure this rumor would have died a slow death on its own, but I got the chance to kill it quickly because I asked the right question.
I am not a proponent of chasing down rumor fires and putting them out. That would exhaust me and keep me from my primary purpose. I realize there will always be a handful of misguided opinions on a staff our size. What I do suggest is that from time to time, we peer below the water line to make sure we have not run aground on something that could have been avoided by a more attentive captain.