SOCIAL MEDIA & Archbishop of Canterbury, warns against ‘alternative facts’ online & launches “social media guidelines” for the church. #GoodModel

by Alex Hern, The London Guardian Newspaper, 7/1/19.

The archbishop of Canterbury has said “there is no such thing as an alternative fact” and called on Christian social media users to engage with an attitude of “truth, kindness and welcome” online.

Speaking at Facebook’s London office to the social network’s European head, Nicola Mendelsohn, Justin Welby expressed his concern at how “savagely social media can be used”.

“Look at any article, and then look at the comments below it and very quickly you find stuff that is just poison,” he said.

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In an effort to counter the problem, the Church of England announced a set of social media guidelines, a first in the organisation’s history, built around the three precepts – truth, kindness and welcome – articulated by the archbishop.

“When you’re talking on social media, put the truth out. There’s no such thing as an alternative fact: there are opinions, and there is truth.

“When you are expressing an opinion, do so with kindness. And be welcoming: don’t throw out stuff, tweet or post things, that is a shut-out. That’s not the point of social media. It is social media.”

The Church will be following the guidelines in its postings on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere. Welby said: “We don’t want people to lie, to act with cruelty, or to use religious jargon in a way that ontologically results in some epistemological confusion – to use some religious jargon… it’s the golden rule that Jesus Christ talks about: treat others as you would like to be treated.”

A livestream was broadcast to an online audience of 300, a small group compared with the larger crowds who tuned in to watch the archbishop leading bible studies when Facebook Live was a newer platform. The select audience may have missed Welby apparently coming down on the side of reform of Britain’s upper chamber of parliament, when he said that, sitting in the House of Lords, “you just think: why am I here?”

Read more here … https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/01/church-of-england-publishes-social-media-guidelines

Here are the guidelines:

Our community guidelines have been created to encourage conversations that reflect our values. They apply to all content posted on the national social media accounts run by the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York.

Social media is a very public way of enabling us as Christians to live out our calling to share the good news of Jesus Christ. One of its many joys is that it is immediate, interactive, conversational and open-ended. This opportunity comes with a number of downsides if users do not apply the same common sense, kindness and sound judgement that we would use in a face-to-face encounter.

While written specifically for all users who engage with the Church of England’s and Archbishops’ national social media channels, these guidelines are built on universal principles. They are a resource for Christians, people of other faiths and people of no faith. Dioceses and local churches across the Church of England are welcome and encouraged to adopt them.

By engaging with the Church of England and Archbishops’ social media accounts, you agree to:

  • Be safe. The safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults must be maintained. If you have any concerns, ask a diocesan safeguarding adviser.
  • Be respectful. Do not post or share content that is sexually explicit, inflammatory, hateful, abusive, threatening or otherwise disrespectful.
  • Be kind. Treat others how you would wish to be treated and assume the best in people. If you have a criticism or critique to make, consider not just whether you would say it in person, but the tone you would use.
  • Be honest. Don’t mislead people about who you are.
  • Take responsibility. You are accountable for the things you do, say and write. Text and images shared can be public and permanent, even with privacy settings in place. If you’re not sure, don’t post it.
  • Be a good ambassador. Personal and professional life can easily become blurred online so think before you post.
  • Disagree well. Some conversations can be places of robust disagreement and it’s important we apply our values in the way we express them.
  • Credit others. Acknowledge the work of others. Respect copyright and always credit where it is due. Be careful not to release sensitive or confidential information and always question the source of any content you are considering amplifying.
  • Follow the rules. Abide by the terms and conditions of the various social media platforms themselves. If you see a comment that you believe breaks their policies, then please report it to the respective company.

How will we respond to people who breach our social media community guidelines?

The Church’s and Archbishops’ Communications teams may take action if they receive complaints or spot inappropriate, unsuitable or offensive material posted to the national social media accounts. This may include deleting comments, blocking users or reporting comments as appropriate.

Who do I speak to for further advice?

If you have a safeguarding concern, please follow the policies and procedures on this page or use this contact form.

 

Read the guidelines here … churchofengland.org/guidelines

SOCIAL MEDIA & Going to church in virtual reality: examples, ideas & cautions

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D.,  I once was skeptical about the depth of community that could be created online. But having taught graduate courses online (as well as onsite) for over 20 years, I’ve come to believe online community can be very personable and deep.

And so, I’ve come to see online churches as another campus or venue through which to spread the Good News. Granted, it still has its weaknesses as does every type of venue, but it also has a potentiality that the strategic leader must not overlook.

7 weaknesses I have identified of online venues include (but also often occur in live venues):

  1. Hubris that comes from being personality-driven
  2. Focus on receiving and not giving
  3. Accountability eclipsed by entertainment
  4. Technology drives expenditures
  5. Disenfranchised continue to be marginalized/ignored
  6. Reconciliation takes more effort
  7. Spiritual transformation is downplayed

Recently I had the opportunity to pull together speakers for the annual conference of the Great Commission Research Network. These were speakers who had experience leading online churches. You can find more information from the conference at these links:

SOCIAL MEDIA & Questions to stimulate discussion on how churches can more effectively utilize social media.

SOCIAL MEDIA & #NathanClark the leader of one of the nation’s first online communities tells the best thing a small church can do to connect & minister online

In addition one of my students from Kingswood University in Canada has started a church with her husband that includes an online service. Find more info about their multiplication strategy here: SOCIAL MEDIA & How a Toronto church plant uses gaming site Twitch to create online bible studies & community

Finally, here is a good video from CNN that gives a introduction to online churches.//fave.api.cnn.io/v1/fav/?video=us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme&customer=cnn&edition=domestic&env=prod

You can also view the CNN video here: https://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2018/11/13/going-to-church-in-virtual-reality-beme.beme

ANGER & Don’t tweet or reply when you are angry. Instead do what Abe Lincoln did: vent pent-up rage by writing it down … then put it aside for 24 hrs.

by Carmine Gallo, Inc. Magazine, 11/6/18.

…when Lincoln was angry at a cabinet member, a colleague or one of his generals in the Union army, he would write a letter venting all of his pent-up rage. Then–and this is the key–he put it aside.

Hours later or the next day, he would look at the letter again so he could “attend to the matter with a clearer eye.” More often than not, he didn’t send the letter. We know this was Lincoln’s tactic because years after his death historians discovered a trove of letters with the notation: never sent and never signed.

Lincoln practiced this habit for three reasons. First, he didn’t want to inflame already heated passions. Second, he realized that words said in haste aren’t always clear-headed and well-considered. Third, he did it as a signal–a learning opportunity–for others on his now famous “team of rivals.”

In one example, Goodwin recounts the story of Lincoln patiently listening to his secretary of war, Edwin Stanton, who had worked himself into a fury against one of the generals. Once Stanton was done venting, Lincoln suggested that he vent on paper, and write a letter to the general. It must have been quite a letter because it took Stanton two days to write. He brought it to Lincoln who said, “Now that you feel better, throw it in the basket. That is all that is necessary.” Stanton wasn’t pleased, but he took Lincoln’s advice…

Read more at … https://www.inc.com/carmine-gallo/its-easy-to-fire-off-an-angry-tweet-or-email-take-abraham-lincolns-brilliant-advice-instead.html

SOCIAL MEDIA & #NathanClark the leader of one of the nation’s first online communities tells the best thing a small church can do to connect & minister online.

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Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Nathan Clark is the online minister of Northland Church in Orlando, which was one of the nation’s first churches in the nation that embraced online community.  Here is what I learned from Nathan’s presentation at the Great Commission Research Network annual meeting Oct. 19, 2018 at Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, FL.

How does a large church do online ministry?

Large Church (300+).

In a large church, you can stream your Sunday service.  Northland Church does, and its megachurch stature means it can offer a level of followthrough and excellence that makes the streaming of worship work.

  • Use a live chat with church counselors to interact with the watchers during your live services.
  • Make your goal to get people into a face-to-face experience.
    • There are churches in the neighborhoods of almost all online watchers.
    • Create a system to connect online watchers to connect with Christians in their local community (which Nathan calls an “offline church.”
    • To connect people to a local “offline” congregation, Nathan suggests three steps:
      1. “We tell people to look around for people that exemplify the fruit of the Holy Spirit, ‘the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23).
      2. Go to them and hang around with them.
  • Ask where they go to church and go with them.

How does a small church do online ministry?

Small Church (300 or less)

  • A small church should not try to stream their Sunday service.
    • According to Nathan it is too expensive.
    • The support and followthrough needs to be trained and extensive.
    • And the overly large territory you will reach (potentially hundreds of watchers) is beyond the person-power and financial ability of a small church.
  • Instead a small church pastor/leader should …
    • Check Facebook 30 minutes every day.
    • Call people on the phone if you see they have a need.
      • Don’t just like their post or tweet, that means very little – only that you noticed.
      • Instead, talk to them on the phone and pray for them.

SOCIAL MEDIA & How a Toronto church plant uses gaming site Twitch to create online bible studies & community.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Here is how Waypoint Church in Toronto, CA uses the gaming site Twitch to create community and online bible study.

When we first felt the call to a start a new church in the city of Toronto we knew right off the bat that two things were going to play a major factor: space and time. In a big city find a place to meet is hard. Most shops do not have the room for people to just hang out. Not to mention that you could spend up to 30 minutes traveling to a church, or meeting place. Because of this geographical need, we said we would want to take full use of media. Our first idea was to start podcasts, which can be found on our website. With over 80 hours a week in transit alone, it is a great way to connect with scripture.

Our second idea was to have online bible studies, where people could interact. Ask questions, make comments, really dig deeper into the subject being covered. Of course we want to have groups meeting in person, but that is not always possible. Our first Waypoint (a group that meets to study scripture) will be taking place on Twitch, a gaming network. Each week we will be going deeper into the passage or topic talked about in that weeks podcast. It is a great way to interact and dig deeper. Our hope is that we will have people engaging in the faith and leaning more and more how they can be transformed by the power of Christ.
So if you know someone who would be interested let them know they can join us on Twitch starting October 23rd @ 7:30pm EST.

SOCIAL MEDIA & Questions to stimulate discussion on how churches can more effectively utilize social media.

PANEL HANDOUTS:

GCRN 2018 Great Commission Research Network, Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando, Oct. 18, 2018

Praxis Meets Theology: A Panel on Practicing Reconciliation Electronically.

Moderator: Bob Whitesel DMin PhD, McGavran Award recipient & former GCRN president, Consultant/coach at ChurchHealth.net

Schedule: 

3:00 – 3:45 PM panel is interviewed

3:45 – 4:15 PM praxis groups study application questions speakers provided

4:15 – 4:30 PM minute break for snacks

4:30 – 5:00 PM praxis groups report on application ideas

Questions for discussion in praxis groups. Each group pick one or two to report after the break.

Questions by Clyde Taber, http://visualstory.org, Projects Worked On Damah Film Festival, “Jesus: Fact or Fiction?” DVD, the_Oracle CD Rom, Magdalena: Released from Shame (feature), Creativity Summit (event), Visual Story Network. Roles / Skill Sets Producer, networker

What God story do you have from the last week? How can you share it in the world of social media?

Questions by Matt Cruz, using Facebook and social media, his videos of witnessing and encouragement reached over 60 million people in less than one year. Doors began to open for Matt to travel and share his radical faith all over the United States by co-founding the RiseUp Movement.

How can you use live applications in social media for prayer, daily edification, teaching, witnessing, healing, or deliverance for disciple making purposes?

What ways can you build relationship online?

Questions by Dr. Jan Paron, her work reflects experience in urban ministry and leadership, diversity, strategic planning, grant writing, children and adult literacy, teaching children of poverty, differentiating instruction, and curriculum development. Currently, she is a dean and professor with the All Nations Leadership Institute. She was one of the Institute’s founding members.

In what ways can you use social media applications to support spiritual transformation? 

In what ways can you use social media applications to meet needs of non-churchgoers?

Questions by Nils Smith, Chief Strategist of Social Media and Innovation at Dunham and Company. Over the past decade he has been active online in maximizing web resources to further ministries through: Social Media Consulting and Conference Speaking, Co-Hosting the Social Media Church Podcast, Creating courses in the Church Technology Guide, Social Media Church University, & Amplify Social Media Academy. Helping to optimize churches and ministries in search results using Searchable Church.

Download the handout WHITESEL PANEL Handout.

#GCRN18 #GCRN #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork

SOCIAL MEDIA & Don’t forget to get a ________.church URL for easy access by seekers. Thx @djchuang: “always thinking digital first”

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel:  Since my colleague D. J. Chuang made me aware of the availability of ________.church URLs I have suggested them to my clients and clinic attendees. Here is a testimony from one of my Kingswood University graduate students.

Begin forwarded message:
Subject: ffw.church
Date: August 22, 2018 at 10:20:42 PM EDT
To: “Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D.” <bob@churchhealth.net>
Dr. Whitesel,

I wanted to write and let you know that I’m doing all I can to put all I learned from your class into motion.  I turned in my Capstone Project and now I’m engaging people with a whole new perspective.
I want to share with you our newest technological invention for our church.  We now have a “.church” website.  I wanted to share this with you.  I must have said check out ffw.church a thousand times at church tonight.
It is truly exciting.
www.ffw.church    

Respectfully, 

Garry W. McClendon
These URLs are available through the typical domain services (such as GoDaddy, etc.).

SOCIAL MEDIA & Should churches follow Gen Z into virtual spaces? Experts say yes – if they are willing to commit time, money & staff.

by Jeff Brumley, Baptist News Global, 6/19/18.

…Data recently released by the Pew Research Center shows Facebook rates fourth behind YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat among young people.

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So, should churches with strong Facebook presences follow younger Millennials and the up-and-coming Gen Z into virtual spaces a lot of ministers have barely heard of?

Experts say yes – if they are willing to commit time, money and staff resources to the effort. Leadership must also recognize they may be venturing into territory where hoped-for results, like boosts in attendance, may be elusive.

Simply opening an Instagram or Snapchat account isn’t enough. Ministers must study the platforms and how they work, said Bob Carey, chairman of the department of communication and new media at Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, North Carolina.

Read more at … https://baptistnews.com/article/churches-must-count-the-cost-of-pursuing-youth-on-social-media/#.WypkvhYpDDs

#GCRN18 #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork

SOCIAL MEDIA & Many Church Services Are Now a Sea of iPhones. And Clergy Members Think That’s Great.

by Ruth Graham, Slate Magazine, 6/12/18.

… Until recently, many churches were that rare 21st -century phenomenon: the organically analog space. In the early years of the iPhone age, they remained tucked away in purses and pockets, and it was vaguely taboo to peek at them during the worship service. But walk into most churches on Sunday morning now, and you’ll quickly see how much that has changed.

…The most significant shift is the rise of the Scripture app, which for many Christians has replaced hardback or leather-bound Bibles that often approach 1,000 pages. YouVersion, a free non-commercial app that has more than 1,000 languages and translations, was one of the first free apps available when Apple’s app store launched. The app has now been downloaded more than 323 million times. (Other scriptures have their own apps: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Gospel Library app includes Mormon teachings.) YouVersion founder Bobby Gruenewald says he developed YouVersion because he wanted an easy way to read the Bible during the course of the day. But it soon became obvious than many people were using it during worship services. Usage more than doubles on Sunday mornings, Gruenewald says, and new installations of the app spike then, too. “Initially there was a bit of tension,” he recalled, when pastors were prickly about seeing people using their phones in the pews. But in recent years, he said, the complaints have mostly stopped.

… Some clergy members now actively encourage phone usage. “I feel like if the church isn’t using technology, we’re telling Gutenberg, ‘We don’t want your printing press,’ ” said Jim Keat, the associate minister of digital strategy and online engagement at the Riverside Church in Manhattan. He spends Sunday morning live-tweeting events at the church, including snippets from the sermon and prayers. Keat dismissed the idea that phones are problematically distracting to churchgoers. He pointed out that people have been tuning out in churches long before phones existed. And technology, unlike idle daydreaming, can be a vehicle for tuning in, too. People who have stayed home for any reason—illness, shyness, fear, pain—can use social media to peek inside the church doors and be reminded of what’s happening there.

Read more at … https://slate.com/human-interest/2018/06/many-church-services-are-now-a-sea-of-iphones-and-clergy-members-think-thats-great.html

SOCIAL MEDIA & How, in the words of #Luther, it increasingly “curves us inward on ourselves.”

“Social Media and Sin” by A. Trevor Sutton, The Martin Marty Center, University of Chicago Divinity School, 4/4/18.

…Religion may offer an important explanation as to why this social media platform is so problematic both for society and for individual well-being. Human depravity, original sin, and concupiscence are perennial themes, for example, within the discipline of Christian theology. Augustine and Martin Luther are known for describing the human condition as incurvatus in se (“curved inward on oneself”). Rather than living a life that is aligned toward God and others, human sinfulness directs our life inward, toward self-justification, self-gratification, and self-aggrandizement. The notion that sin has warped, twisted, maimed, and ruined human goodness is as ubiquitous in theology as Facebook is in modern life.

The burgeoning field of user experience design (UX), when put in conversation with the theological notion of human depravity, helps to put the problematic nature of social media into sharp relief. A central concern within UX is user-centered design. As the name suggests, user-centered design advocates for designing with end users in mind. That is to say, technology is designed to acknowledge and accommodate the needs and wants of the user, as designers seek to maximize user experience by creating products that are built around the user’s desires. User research is responsible for nearly all the design decisions at Facebook. In fact, there is an entire department at Facebook dedicated to Human Computer Interaction and UX. Teams of people at Facebook are thus dedicated to researching, and finding ways to capitalize on, the individual behaviors, thoughts, and impulses of users.

Donald Norman, a formative figure in user-centered design, has recognized how designers actually aim to facilitate human sinfulness through that which they design. In the foreword to a book by Chris Nodder, Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation, Norman writes: “But why should design be based on evil? Simple: Starting with evil means starting with real human behavior … And good design results from good understanding.” Norman’s point is rather simple: good design understands users, and it must therefore also consider the depravity of users.

This means that, according to user-centered design, human sinfulness ought to be accounted for and perhaps even exploited when creating products for the digital age. According to Nodder, designers must ask themselves the question: “how do we influence behavior through the medium of software?”

Theology recognizes that human hearts are curved inward, inclined to boast, and always looking for opportunities to prove their own self-righteousness. Human-computer interaction, UX, and user-centered design recognize that social media platforms should be designed to meet the wants and needs of real human users. Putting these two concepts in conversation with one another reveals why Facebook can be so dangerous. Facebook’s technology is designed to accommodate, encourage, and exploit human depravity. The “Like” button on Facebook is not there by chance; the “Like” button was created to satisfy our deep longing to be liked by others, lauded for our accomplishments, and acknowledged for our righteousness…

Resources

– Allen, Mike. “Sean Parker unloads on Facebook: ‘God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains’.” Axios. November 9, 2017.

– Murphy, Mike. “Why Apple’s Tim Cook doesn’t want his nephew to use social networks.” MarketWatch. January 22, 2018.

– Nodder, Chris. Evil by Design: Interaction Design to Lead Us into Temptation. Wiley, 2013.

– Wong, Julia Carrie. “Former Facebook executive: social media is ripping society apart.” The Guardian. December 12, 2017.

Read more at … https://divinity.uchicago.edu/sightings/social-media-and-sin

#GCRN2018 #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork

 

SOCIAL BULLIES & The Death of Civility in the Digital Age …

By MARK OPPENHEIMER, The New Republic Magazine, March 6, 2018

Last October, the morning that the Harvey Weinstein story broke in The New York Times, I published a short, stupid piece in Tablet titled “The Specifically Jewy Perviness of Harvey Weinstein.” I compared Weinstein to the sexually obsessed Alexander Portnoy, the narrator of Philip Roth’s 1969 novel Portnoy’s Complaint, “a grown man whose emotional and sexual life is still all one big performance piece.” I suggested that having grown up a schlubby Jewish kid in Queens, feeling like an outsider, might have stunted and distorted Weinstein’s sexuality—basically, given him something to prove, particularly in the presence of stereotypically hot Gentile women.

There was a lot wrong with the piece, which I wrote in about twenty minutes in the hour after I read the Weinstein story. It was analytically inadequate, making an analogy between Portnoy, a fictional fetishist and pervert, and Weinstein, a real-life sociopath, a comparison that had the effect of underplaying Weinstein’s crimes and diminishing real women’s suffering. I was wrong on the facts, too, for the rolling revelations of the ensuing days showed that Weinstein was an equal-opportunity predator, happy to degrade and devour Jewish women, Gentile women, African Americans, etc., whoever and whenever.

In the week to come, I received one of those public Twitter and Facebook shamings that writers now expect as an occupational hazard. Hundreds or possibly thousands of people, including close friends and professional colleagues, wrote or shared critiques of my piece; wondered in public what had become of me; lamented my decline (which had the strangely complimentary effect of suggesting that I had some status to lose, which few writers ever really feel they do). “This is a sick, disgusting and rapist viewpoint on Weinstein’s behavior,” said one person on Twitter. “Oppenheimer’s analysis is equally as vile as Weinstein’s behavior,” said another. “Fire him.” I got offline almost immediately, but I gathered from friends that as my old cohorts were upbraiding me, enemies were embracing me. I was praised by white nationalist Richard Spencer and David Duke, whose website ran a piece titled, “Major Jewish Mag Admits Weinstein is a Jewish Racist Who Wants to Defile White People and White Women.”

The day after the piece ran, I published a short apology. “The analysis I offered was hasty and ill-considered,” I wrote. “I take this as a lesson in the importance of knowing as much as one can about a given story, and in taking the time to think and feel things completely through before opining.” I’ve written a lot of pieces that have offended people but that I’ve stood by; but I wished I hadn’t written this one. So in one respect, I was grateful for all the feedback. When I do bad work, I want to be called on it, and to have a chance to own my mistakes. But I did wonder whether there was a better, more constructive way to have the same conversation…

A week after the blowback had driven me offline, I gingerly limped back onto the web. I found that some well-wishers had stepped in to plead for mercy. Lay off him. We all make mistakes. These were the most painful for me to read, because they came from people who had believed in me, and whom I had let down. One old college friend of mine, now an Orthodox rabbi, wrote a Facebook post that began with a line from Psalm 149, recited every day in shacharit, the Jewish morning liturgy:

“The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.” It reminds me of the importance of patience, of not rushing to judgment, of taking time—both because compassion is better, and often harder, than anger, and because justice and fairness are best-served when achieved deliberately. Mark Oppenheimer has been a friend of mine for twenty years. He rushed and did something stupid and offensive (not criminal, just stupid), a mistake he has admitted. The world, it seems, has rushed to condemn and disown him. Would that we could all slow down a bit. It’s the only way we’re going to survive.

Re-reading that defense of me four months later is, paradoxically, rather cheering; the attacks feel like a lifetime away, while the tribute, the public announcement of affection from a man I like and admire but seldom see, feels very lasting. If I hadn’t written something offensive and stupid, and come in for a communal drubbing, I’d never have known how loyal the rabbi felt toward me. We simply aren’t that closely in touch. If not for this whole episode, the next time he praised me on Facebook might have been on hearing news of my death (hopefully so far in the future that Facebook will be a thing of the distant past). And he wasn’t the only one to emerge from the mists of time and tap me on the shoulder, offering consoling words or a virtual hug. That week, I probably got two dozen text messages or emails asking how I was holding up.

Part of me wanted all the well-wishers to just cut it out, since their messages were what kept me from forgetting about the controversy altogether. Friends of mine who have also been mobbed online have reported the same bittersweet experience: You go offline to preserve some sanity—to continue to function as a spouse, a mom or dad, a competent employee—and just when you have pieced together two or three hours during which you haven’t thought about the shredding of your reputation, your phone buzzes and—before you think better of it—you read the incoming text: “oof—twitter is the worst! u okay?”

I was okay, mostly, but for one very bad night. After my wife and children were all asleep, I found myself under some blankets on the sofa, trembling, worried that the wheels would come off and I’d lose everything. The chain of events didn’t seem so implausible. If one colleague or student at Yale, where I teach, decided that my internet post really was “as vile as Weinstein’s behavior,” and called for my firing, would the responsible department chairs and deans have the fortitude—in the days after those first Weinstein revelations—to point out that I had never actually done anything like what Weinstein had done, not even close? And if I were fired from my teaching post, and then the freelance writing work dried up, what would I do for money? Or health insurance? What of the mortgage, not even remotely paid off? And what would the shame of being unable to provide do to my composure as a husband and father? Unemployment destroys families. For about an hour, it all seemed precarious and fragile…

Read more at … https://newrepublic.com/article/147276/death-civility-digital-age

COMMUNICATION & 6 Ideas That Will Increase It in Your Church

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D. and the 2017 Missional Coaches Cohort, 2/1/17.

  • Tips for  General Communication
    • Intentionally tell the story of your entire church & its people- what is the common ground that makes you call Powell home? How do you communicate the same to your congregation & your community?
    • Streamline and prioritize your message. An average person sees 14,000
      advertisements per day- make yours have an impact!
    • Develop “communication guidelines” that all ministries use for communication.
      • Include appropriate language
      • No Christian-ese, using “youth” or “students” exclusively, etc.,
      • Watch length, graphics, font, etc. to create a streamlined experience.
    • Create a timeline of when information needs to go out, so that announcements do not overlap or become cluttered. Know how often your church (and all its different ministries) are sending information out.
    • Check your engagement analytics regularly to gauge effectiveness during culture shifts. A person needs to hear something 7-12 times in a variety of ways before they “get it.”
  • Bulletin
    • Choose the most important items that the congregation needs to know
    • Make them visually appealing and uncluttered, especially new guest information
  • Social Media
    • Utilize your social media platforms regularly (schedule posts ahead of time)
    • Use social media for story-telling instead of solely marketing. This makes your web presence more appealing and informative to a new guest.
      • eg. Feature posts from a past event,
      • or member experience,
      • or “behind the scenes look” instead of marketing for events.
    • Engagement goes up (and more people are made aware of your church) when people who are already connected share posts from your page- so make your posts “share-worthy!”
    • Engagement rates are 18% higher on Thursdays and Fridays, and higher
      engagement occurs when posts/emails are made/sent in the early afternoon.
  • Group Texting
    • Group texting services (such as “EZ Text” or “Remind”)
    • Are great ways to keep “insiders” in the loop on sign-ups, short reminders, volunteer opportunities, etc.
  • Email
    • 66% of marketing emails are opened on mobile devices. Is yours mobile-friendly?
    • Keep the subject line short & catchy (30 characters or less)
    • The average person will spend 2-3 minutes opening emails on their mobile phone at a time- less is more!
  • Church Calendar
    • Be sure the church calendar is easily found (digitally preferably) and up to date.
    • Check language to be new guest friendly (times, locations, descriptions, etc.)
    • An online calendar should be available to everyone (but only editable by a select few).

© Bob Whitesel DMin PhD & MissionalCoaches.com #PowellChurch

CHOOSING A CHURCH & Americans look for good sermons, warm welcome

Choosing a New Church or House of Worship, by Pew Research, 8/26/16.

About half of U.S. adults have looked for a new religious congregation at some point in their lives, most commonly because they have moved. And when they search for a new house of worship, a new Pew Research Center study shows, Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.

Fully 83% of Americans who have looked for a new place of worship say the quality of preaching played an important role in their choice of congregation. Nearly as many say it was important to feel welcomed by clergy and lay leaders, and about three-quarters say the style of worship services influenced their decision about which congregation to join. Location also factored prominently in many people’s choice of congregation, with seven-in-ten saying it was an important factor. Smaller numbers cite the quality of children’s programs, having friends or family in the congregation or the availability of volunteering opportunities as key to their decision.

Perhaps as a result of the value they place on good sermons, church leadership and the style of worship services, many people – even in this age of technology – find there is no substitute for face-to-face interaction when seeking information about a new religious home. Fully 85% of those who have looked for a new house of worship say they attended worship services at a church they were considering, and seven-in-ten say they spoke with members of the congregation or to friends or colleagues about their decision. Looking for information online may be growing more common, especially among young people and those who have looked for a congregation recently. But online information still appears to be far less important to potential congregants than experiencing the atmosphere of the congregation firsthand.

The single most common reason people give for having looked for a new congregation is that they moved: Roughly one-third of adults say they have searched for a new place of worship because they relocated. By comparison, fewer people say they sought a new congregation because of a disagreement with clergy or other members at their previous house of worship (11%) or because they got married or divorced (11%). About one-in-five adults (19%) volunteered that they have looked for a new congregation for some other reason, including other problems with a previous church, changes in their own beliefs or for social or practical reasons.

These are some of the key findings from the fourth in a series of reports based on Pew Research Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Study. The study and this report were made possible by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which received support for the project from Lilly Endowment Inc. The first report on the 2014 Landscape Study, based on a telephone survey of more than 35,000 adults, examined the changing religious composition of the U.S. public and documented the fluidity of religion in the U.S., where roughly one-third of adults now have a religious identity different from the one in which they were raised. The second report described the religious beliefs, practices and experiences of Americans, as well the social and political views of different religious groups. A third report drew on both the national telephone survey and a supplemental survey of participants in Pew Research Center’s American Trends Panel to describe how Americans live out their religion in their everyday lives.

Read more at … http://www.pewforum.org/2016/08/23/choosing-a-new-church-or-house-of-worship/

SOCIAL MEDIA & Online reviews of churches are growing, here’s how to react to them.

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Larry Osborne once told me he likes “to get the bad news first,” constantly roaming the halls of his megachurch in Vista, California to talk to the average person and find out how they’re doing. Today in the electronic world of online reviews, church leaders should also be tracking what people are saying about their congregation online. In the business world online reviews have been able to make or break companies. And, the way things are headed there will be an increase in online reviews of churches. Read this article to understand the important aspects of online reviews and how to respond.

5 Unusual Ways Online Reviews Can Make or Break Your Company

Think online reviews don’t matter? Think again.

by Sujan Patel, Inc. Magazine, 8/10/16.

What’s more valuable to your business – a customer who purchases $50 worth of product, or the positive review left online by a customer?

With the power of word-of-mouth amplified by the web, and the impact customers can have on a business by leaving reviews, there’s significant value in customer reviews. Both positive and negative have the potential to dramatically impact your business.

According to a study from Dimensional Research and Zendesk, 90% of customers surveyed claimed that positive reviews influenced their buying decisions. A whopping 86% said their buying experience was influenced by negative reviews…

Here are some ways I recommend approaching reviews – both positive and negative – to have a measurable (positive) impact on your business.

1. Reviews in Organic Search

A simple search query can make or break your business – and customers are searching every day. When you type in “BRANDNAME Reviews,” what kind of results do you see for your business?

… I recommend tactics like creating a testimonial page on your website optimized for “Brand Reviews.” I also recommend:

Read more at … http://www.inc.com/sujan-patel/5-unusual-ways-online-reviews-can-make-or-break-your-company.html

SOCIAL MEDIA & A list of church apps for mobile smartphones #DJChuang

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: For insights on social media, as well as the growth of the Asian American community in North America, follow my colleague, D. J. Chuang’s insightful blog. The following is a recent article.

by D. J. Chuang, posted in church internet and tagged apps mobile on July 22, 2016 (updated 1 day ago)

With so many people with smartphones, there are now so many church apps too. Most church apps have custom branding & design specific to a church; common features include: sermons, events, announcements, church info. Less common features: Bible, prayer, social. Some vendors focus on just developing customized church apps; other vendors have church apps along with other services they provide. In the mix are all kinds of different features and a variety of pricing models.

List of church apps

List of church apps + other services

My personal opinion is a good church mobile app must have online giving that’s easy to use baked in (aka frictionless). And for that, I’d recommend eChurch by PushPay as the platform to look at first; they have excellence and high-touch customer service. [disclosure: I may receive a small referral fee if you’re a satisfied PushPay customer.]

Read more at … http://djchuang.com/2016/list-church-apps-mobile-smartphones/

MARKETING & 5 Common Pitfalls in Non-Profit Marketing

by Roman Kniahynyckyj, JULY 11, 2015.

lw_5_pitfallsWhen it comes to increasing donations for your non-profit organization, begging, pleading and coercion are not the answers. In fact these techniques are more likely to turn potential donors away. Here are some solutions to addressing common pitfalls to avoid in online marketing for non-profits…

1) Not Being Social...Pick one channel. Facebook is probably a good place to start. Setting up a social channel isn’t the end though. You may not have a lot of people interacting with you but when someone does ask you a question or comment on your page it’s important you respond appropriately…

2) Not Telling a Story.  Sharing a heart felt story about how donations have been used offers a powerful trigger for other potential donors… Help your website visitors understand and envision the impact of their donations. The more personal stories and long term community impact you can show the more likely you’ll keep people reading and move them towards a donation.

3) Not Creating A Wish List… Creating a non-profit wish list is a useful way to do this. Remember, any ‘ask’ must have a solid rationale for it – if you are asking for a new office computer make sure you let folks know your current computer is almost obsolete or is having trouble running the latest software.

4) Not Offering Social Proof.  In addition to showing where the money goes it’s important to show how the money already raised is being put to work. One of the best ways of offering this sort of social proof is through infographics that can be shared. Infographics are the perfect way to present a variety facts, figures and ideas in an easily digestible format…

5) Not Making it Insanely Easy to Donate.  If your website visitor has to click more once to get to a donation page from any page on your site they’re clicking too much. You will certainly have some visitors landing on your site ready to donate. If someone is ready and willing to donate don’t make it a challenge for them.

Read more at …
http://www.business2community.com/non-profit-marketing/5-common-pitfalls-in-non-profit-marketing-01273107.  (image: http://cdn.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/lw_5_pitfalls.jpg.jpg )

SOCIAL MEDIA & How Frequently Should Churches Really Post On Social Media? • #djchuang

by Jeremy Smith, 5/23/15, author ofBy The Numbers: A Longitudinal Study on the Digital Ministry of America’s Largest Churches

There is this notion floating around which has gained ground that a magic number exists for how frequently a church should post on different social media platforms to get the best reach every day…

I decided to take this into my own hands and evaluated 12,253 social media posts in December 2014 on three different social media platforms from the 100 largest churches in America in 2014. I assume that these churches are looking to innovate, pioneer, and devote resources to reaching people digitally. Here is what I found:

  • Not a single church posted every day of the month and the average church posted about 3 times a week.
  • 27 churches posted a frequency of at least once a day, 6 of them at least three times a day, and 1 church reached more than five times a day. The average was once a day.
  • Only 20 churches tweeted a frequency of less than once a day whereas 18 churches tweeted five times a day and 2 churches as high as 12 and 16 times a day. The average church posted three times a day…

Read more at … http://djchuang.com/2015/frequently-churches-really-post-social-media/

TRENDS & What Are We Looking For? Top Google Searches & Ways the Church Can Respond #LifeWay

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “LifeWay Research has looked at the top 10 Google searches and suggested how Christians can address each one. Google searches tell us in what people are interested and what questions they may have about those topics. Read this helpful article with suggestions about how the church should respond. Below are the top three searches and LifeWay’s advice for Christian leaders.”

3. Ebola

Why were people searching? The deadly disease became an epidemic in West Africa before isolated cases spread to the U.S. and other Western nations.

What can the church do? Thank God for the work of missionary doctors, nurses, and other Christian medical-relief workers who risked their lives to fight the disease, many of whom were named as TIME‘s Person of the Year. Christians can also work to empower the people in those nations to improve their medical care and societal structures.

2. World Cup

Why were people searching? The 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw Germany capture its fourth championship in the world’s most celebrated soccer tournament. The final match between Germany and Argentina was the most watched soccer match in American history.

What can the church do? We should recognize the growing impact soccer has in our nation, which is due in part to the influx of individuals from other soccer loving countries. The world is coming to us.

1. Robin Williams

Why were people searching? The famous actor and comedian committed suicide at his home this past August.

What can the church do? Be more open and honest about mental illness, including its presence in our pews. Our mental health issue offered numerous resources and help for those looking to minister to the 1-in-4 Americans who suffer from a mental illness.

Read more at … http://factsandtrends.net/2015/01/23/what-are-we-looking-for-top-google-searches-of-2014/

SOCIAL MEDIA & Checking email outside of office hours risks relationships, psychologists find

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Do you find yourself checking your email after office hours? I used to, but then came upon research that shows doing so is detrimental to your family relationships and your relaxation. Read this important article and shut down the email app after business hours.”

Read more at … http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/11331293/Switching-on-outside-office-risks-relationships-psychologists-find.html

SOCIAL MEDIA & 300 years after his birth, Whitefield has staying power with evangelicals

(RNS) Future evangelists — most notably Billy Graham — followed a pattern set by Whitefield of making the most of the media available in their time.

Whitefield (pronounced WIT-field), who was born in England 300 years ago on Dec. 16, 1714, is regarded as a catalyst for the First Great Awakening. Here are five reasons why he remains a potent influence and a cautionary tale for U.S. evangelicals:

1. He was the master of mass media.

“A major part of his success is that he mastered the new media of his day,” said Thomas S. Kidd, author of the new book “George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father.” Whitefield’s sermons and theological thoughts were spread broadly through newspapers, journals and prolific letter-writing.

Unlike many journal-writing Puritans who came before him, Whitefield chose to share his journals publicly.

“It’s like celebrities using Facebook,” said Michael A.G. Haykin, director of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Future evangelists — most notably Billy Graham — followed a pattern set by Whitefield of making the most of the media available in their time.

2. He had his critics.

Media coverage of Whitefield wasn’t all favorable, but it expanded his fame beyond the thousands who sometimes heard him preach in churches in England and in fields in New England.

“Between 1739 and 1742 total output of colonial presses doubles and the whole new half is all Whitefield: It’s all Whitefield or anti-Whitefield,” said Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University, which held a symposium on the itinerant evangelist in November.

Actors felt threatened when Whitefield, an actor-turned-evangelist, decided to build a church called the Tabernacle in London just down the street from the theaters.

“He’s lampooned in really popular plays, the most famous being the ‘Dr. Squintum’ play, which is just a total sensation in Britain,” said Kidd of Whitefield, who was cross-eyed after a childhood ailment.

He had rotten eggs, turnips and stones thrown at him and once was saved from a stoning by his beaver hat, wrote Kidd…

Read more at … http://www.religionnews.com/2014/12/16/300-years-birth-whitefield-staying-power-evangelicals/

#GCRN18 #GreatCommissionResearchNetwork #GCRN