Archive for April, 2010

Thursday Thoughts April 29, 2010

O for a Thousand Tongues
by Charles Wesley, 1740

“O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
‘Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of canceled sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.”

What a great Savior we serve”“not only has He cancelled our sin by His sacrifice, but He frees us from its power in our lives by His indwelling presence! How can we adequately offer gratitude for so marvelous a gift? To quote from another great hymn (Isaac Watts’ “œWhen I Survey the Wondrous Cross”), “œWere the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all.”

What greater praise could we render to the Lord than to “œspread through all the earth abroad the honors of [His] name?” The end result of redemption should always be missions. God’s greatest glory is the praise of His name by sinners redeemed from rebellion”“the more He redeems, the more glory He gets. We proclaim His name both out of gratitude and out of a desire to see His name glorified above all other names. No other act of Christian service is more precious to God.

Posted by Justin Lonas

Better Late than Never April 6, 2010

One of our readers, Dan Simmons, had this to say in a comment  about the church and social networking sites:

“We are looking at putting our church on Facebook…most comments I have received from others are positive, what do you guys think? Do you have any lessons learned, or advice for a chruch doing this? We have a website, but people do not use the blog feature, and I thought we would try FB as a blog and communication tool. Appreciate any help you can offer. Thanks.”

Below is what I wrote back to Dan in his comment. Since we’ve never had a blog post about this, I thought I’d re-post it here. Many others have already written on this (most of them probably with a lot more experience at it than us), but it’s better to be late to the table than to miss dinner entirely.

Facebook and other social networking sites seem to be the “hub” of today’s informal communication. Whereas we used to tell our friends things around the water cooler or over the phone, now we post them to our profiles–as you said, even blogs don’t get much traffic anymore compared with social networking sites. Many businesses have jumped on this bandwagon, using Facebook as a way to connect their customers to each other and draw them deeper into their market with coupons, contests, and special offers. We have our own Facebook page  which hasn’t taken off quite as I’d hoped yet, though it is opening more connections with readers than a totally one-sided model.

For churches, Facebook can be a blessing and a curse. Putting yourself out there definitely can open doors of ministry, by providing visitors and members an easy way to connect with church staff and other members and for you to communicate with members about upcoming events, etc. However, it can easily devolve into pettiness if you aren’t controlling the content of what people post.

I think you should move forward with the idea, but here are a few guidelines to remember:
1) Set the tone. Make the Facebook page feel like an extension of your church, with an emphasis on Christ, Scripture, discipleship & ministry. Get involved because this is a new way to further the cause of Christ, not because it’s “hip” to be on Facebook. Relevance should never be our goal as believers–becoming and making disciples of Jesus should always be our focus.

2) Control the content–gently. You can edit settings to control how much (or how little) you allow “fans” (the equivalent of “friends” for organizations) to post to the page. The best policy is to allow user feedback–that’s what makes Facebook different from a static website–just don’t let it get away from you. Check the page often, and if any comment threads or discussions are going in a poor direction, you have the ability as the page administrator to remove them. You want to facilitate healthy, spiritual interaction through the page, not serve as just another place for gossip or complaining.

3) Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously. You want to make sure that you use your page to impress upon those who visit it that the church (and the pastor) are sinners saved by God’s great grace. Don’t use the page as a platform for moralizing, but turn people’s attention to the Lord. It’s okay to “be real” on Facebook within the context of pointing readers to Christ.

4) Don’t let it stop there. If visitors never make it past your Facebook page to a real interaction with you or members of your church, it’s not doing its job. “Community” is a word that gets thrown around a lot in Church circles today, and Facebook can be a way to create a pseudo-community that makes us feel good without actually accomplishing ministry. Be intentional about pursuing further conact with the people you may meet through the page, invite them to church if they’re local, and certainly take every opportunity to magnify the name of Christ. Used wisely, Facebook and its ilk can provide a great opportunity to move beyond the four walls of the church, but it doesn’t happen automatically.

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