29 October 2010

Intercessions

Posted in Spirituality, Social Media, Church

Praying on Facebook

On most Thursdays I can be found at the True North Coffee Company.  When I arrive I check in with Foursquare, a·location based social media.  On this particular Thursday I checked in with Facebook so I could tag Pastor Mark Huber, our guest for the day.  I had a feeling he might be the only guest, and so I tried to expand the conversation through social media.  Inspired by a recent conversation with another friend of mine, I simply asked in my post, "For what shall we pray today?"  The responses were beautiful.  There were only six, but their were poignant...

28 October 2010

God as Silence?

Posted in Spirituality

silence stone
Photo by Sean MacEntee
In August 2010 I travelled to Chicago for the ELCA conference Follow Me: Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World.  One of the highlights was catching up with my friend and colleague, Pastor Martin Malzahn and  having dinner with Martin and his then fiancee Vanessa.

During our meal Vanessa asked me, “So, what is your image of God?”  While God is, of course, right at the heart of things, and our own image(s) of God are such a powerful influence on the ways we live out our faith, we rarely ask or get asked this question.  For Lutherans, I think, this seems like an impolite theological question - there might be too much sharing involved.

The Bible is filled with various images of God.  In the Hebrew Scriptures God walks through the Garden of Eden, appears to Moses in a Burning Bush, speaks to Elijah in a still small voice.  Jesus is God and an image of God.  So is the Holy Spirit, who appears as flame, wind, and a dove.  Like the Bible, we all have multiple images of God that we carry around, images that help us to relate to God in different ways at different times.

When Vanessa asked her question, I had to pause.  I closed my eyes there in the restaurant and looked into my heart.  It only took a few seconds, though it felt much longer.  I opened my eyes, looked up and said, “Silence.  My image of God is silence.”  The answer surprised Vanessa - and it really surprised me.

14 August 2010

Follow Me: Our Changing Cultural Context

Posted in ELCA, Culture, Leadership, Social Media, Church

In August 2010 I attended Follow Me: Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World, a conference hosted by the ELCA for synod communicators and campus ministry pastors and students.  You can find video, presentation slides, and other resources on the Follow Me webpage.

On Thursday we heard from Presiding Bishop Mark Hanson andPastor Nadia Bolz-Weber from House for All Sinners and Saints(HFASS) in Denver.  The Bishop preached at the opening worship, and then he and Nadia had a conversation about emerging church, pastoral care by text message, Lutheran theology and liturgy, social media, being clear about one's cultural context, and the cultural shifts that the church must engage if it is to be relevant and survive.  A couple things struck me:

In his sermon, the Bishop preached movingly about the Call of Samuel and how his generation of the church must be willing to embrace the role of Eli, who was Samuel's mentor, the one who helped him discern God's voice and will and to follow it.   The Bishop said that he and his generation must embrace and support the young Samuels (pastors and leaders) in the church, asking them, "What is God saying to you?"  This was exceptional both for the heartfelt way he shared it, and because it is something I have rarely heard articulated by older pastors.  Most times the reaction to younger leaders and their approach to ministry is suspicion, fear, and, in some cases, dismissiveness.  In great contrast to this, Bishop Hanson expressed great trust and hope in the younger generations of leaders.  Thanks Bish!

Nadia affirmed this later in her conversation.  When asked about getting young adults (people in their 20's) to traditional church.  She said, "They aren't going to come."  She said the best thing we can do to engage those folks are 1) identify leaders from within that group, 2) give them excellent theological training, and 3) fund them.

14 August 2010

Follow Me: Putting the Pieces Together

Posted in ELCA, Culture, Emerging, Leadership, Social Media, Church

In August 2010 I attended Follow Me: Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World, a conference hosted by the ELCA for synod communicators and campus ministry pastors and students.  You can find video, presentation slides, and other resources on the Follow Me webpage.

On the whole, the Follow Me conference was quite good.  We heard three different and yet interrelated presentations (plus supporting workshops and reflections from Bishop Hanson) on life in a 2.0 world, which is highly connected and interactive, a flat world that puts us in close contact with people of differing believes and convictions, is increasingly secular, in which technology is integrated into all aspects of our living, where there is a deep longing for meaning and community, as well as a word of hope and grace.
Some of my gleanings:
  • Know and love one's own tradition, but be in continual conversations with others.
  • Be grounded in the Gospel and the Sacraments.  Trust that the heart of our Lutheran theology and practice speaks deeply to people who haven't heard it before
  • Seek to deeply understand culture and our particular cultural settings in all their complexity
  • It is essential to understand millennial culture
  • Listen and engage with others with no expectation of conversion
  • Know who you are as a church and be able to express why it should matter to people
  • Practice witnessing
  • When we speak of faith, focus on Jesus and not on the institution of the church
  • Be willing to try, experiment, and fail.

14 August 2010

Follow Me: Social Media

Posted in ELCA, Social Media, Church

In August 2010 I attended Follow Me: Sharing the Gospel in a 2.0 World, a conference hosted by the ELCA for synod communicators and campus ministry pastors and students.  You can find video, presentation slides, and other resources on the Follow Me webpage.

On Friday afternoon, we heard from Andrew Bleeker and Michael Organ, two experts in social media, who were instrumental in President Obama's groundbreaking social media campaign.  They covered many social media basics and best practices.  Here's what stood out:

  • Best Practice: Make sure your online activity is driven by your offline goals. Don't do social media just for the sake of doing it.  Make your activity and choices purposeful, focused, and aligned with your congregational goals.
  • Best Practice: Your social media content should have a clear and distinct voice. Don't do it my committee, or, if you do, be sure the tone, language, and perspective is consistent.
  • I haven't anything in regards to text messaging, but this is a great way to connect with people quickly and directly.  This is also a great way to use Twitter in a way that doesn't require people to have a Twitter account.  Here's how: you can get anyone's tweets sent to you as a text message by texting "follow @[their twitter handle] to 40404.  For instance, here's how to get my tweets:

Get updates via SMS by texting follow prkanderson to 40404 in the United States.

29 June 2010

Google Voice: A Godsend for Pastors

Posted in How To, Social Media

"Should I give my cell phone number to parishioners?"

This a common question among pastors, who need to be available to their members (particularly in case of pastoral emergencies), but who also fear that if they give out their cell phone number, they will get called on their off days for non-urgent matters (and they will).  It's one of many pastoral/personal boundaries pastors have to manage.

A new free service from Google made available to the public this week is a great solution to this pastoral quandary.  It's called Google Voice and I've just started using it. Here's a quick overview:

Here's how to get started.  Go to Google Voice.  (Create a Google account if you don't already have one.)  Once you have an account, Google will ask you to create a Google phone number.  When you've got your number, scroll to the top right of the page and click "Settings".  There you will find a few cool options.

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