Missions is….using Social Media for Edification instead of your Experiences

I have a love/hate relationship with all social media…Facebook especially

  1. I love the opportunity to gives to easily communicate with family and friends
  2. I hate how it tends to take up lots of my time
  3. And more than that, I hate how it encourages communication thats about my experiences

Facebook (and all social media for that matter) is meant to easily share our experiences or thoughts at the press of a button. Now there’s nothing wrong with sharing experiences, especially if you live overseas like me. But it’s easy for all online communication to be about what’s going on with you.

In my humble opinion this is dangerous since as your experiences or funny stories get lots of likes or comments, you begin looking for more stories or experiences that will get responses. Over time, this will lead to online communication that is geared only to getting attention online.

the true danger with this is our communication both online and in person should be for edification, or drawing people closer to the Lord. Not how many likes or comments we can get.

This may seem to be a small change to online communication, but trust me it isn’t. Making our goal education forces us to ask questions before sharing a post:

  1. Is what I’m sharing just trying to boost my own self-confidence with others likes or comments
  2. Is what I’m sharing gong to start drama (a political statement)? (I do occasionally post on political issues, did a few weeks ago, but its quite rare for that to happen since Facebook is the absolute worst place to have a political discussion)
  3. Will this draw others closer to God?
  4. And will I regret sharing this in an hour?

Edification also affects the material we share itself:

  1. It focuses on Scripture instead of my own opinion
  2. It gives God glory instead of myself
  3. It helps and encourages fellow Believers in their spiritual walk
  4. And it displays a humble, but honest presentation of Gods truth

I am not saying we can’t share personal opinions or experiences online. But social media and its ability to reach many people is a gift from God . Do we really want to spend that gift sharing out funny experiences (what I often do) instead of Gods truth? The door of religious or personal freedom online seems to closing slowly, I don’t want to waste it on things that don’t matter.

So friends let me urge you in love….

Make your Facebook feed about the glorious Gospel of Christ instead of your experiences or political views.

That is the only thing that truly matters

Missions is….Admitting Something Isn’t Working

Last week was a day filled with “island storms”, which is when the rain will come, and then quickly pass in less than ten minutes. It’s particularly easy to get caught in one of these since they come up with little warning.

I was caught in one without an umbrella so ran to find shelter at a nearby school. Looking out at the pouring rain I had to admit it reflected my discouraged mood pretty well.

God has created me as someone who loves being busy. This fits well into ministry since there’s always something else to accomplish. Yet lately things have been less busy than usual. This is mostly due to the large amount of cases of COVID that affect large groups, and encourage personal safety.

I totally agree with this since following protocol is absolutely necessary. But it can be frustrating when doors of ministry close.

Watching the rain yesterday morning I said verbally what my heart knew……

This isn’t working.

believe it or not, thats actually a very hard thing to say! Admitting my way of ministry “pre-COVID” no longer worked meant going back to the drawing board, and creating something completely new.

To be honest, part of me wanted to keep trying to work out the ministries before COVID because that was more comfortable. I was more interested in personal comfort than being effective.

Thankfully in that moment the Lord reminded me that being effective (accomplishing His work) is more important than how I felt.

A few moments later I walked home in a slight drizzle…the act symbolic of my decision to find a form of ministry that works during COVID.

It is difficult to admit something “isn’t working” but that brings glory to God.

  1. Because you are allowing Him to close and open doors of ministry
  2. Because if the door is truly closed by God, you cannot open it in your own strength
  3. Energy expended on these ministries is wasted time
  4. This realisation draws us closer to God, as we seek His will
  5. The Lord in this situation will call us to take a step of faith, depending on Him
  6. And a life of comfort never truly satisfies

Sitting on my kitchen table is a piece of paper filled with scribbled notes that came during a time of brainstorming and prayer. That paper is foundation of new ministries, and brings anxiety. But it also brings hope, because as I take a step of faith, I know that the Lord will do His work.

Missions is…..Ocassionally being a Jerk

Every year around thanksgiving I get a shipment of one or two “Christmas barrels” 1. Among the items received, I usually get new “bible club dollars” (shown above) and large bags of Jolly Ranchers candy.

those items are used to reinforce good behaviour during bible lessons, or reading programs. Children receive dollars as they obey, and usually the one with the most dollars gets a jolly rancher.

I do give out more than one sometimes, and on rare occasions give one out to each in the group, but try to focus on giving only one to the best behaved2.

There is a simple reason for this

the behaviour we reward is the behaviour that will grow

It’s interesting to notice how much we reward poor behaviour without even meaning to. For instance, often its the student who always talks or mis-behaves during class to gets the teachers attention. The child who always does what they are supposed to is very rarely recognised.

Of course, the good grades they receive are recognition in itself, but many well-behaved students will develop bad habits because it brings them attention. I am not saying a teacher should let the students behave however they want, but the students who never cause trouble should be honoured.

To help emphasise good behaviour I use a variation of the rules from Child Evangelism Fellowship

  1. Sit up
  2. Look up
  3. Listen up
  4. Hand up
  5. And zip up 3

it isn’t uncommon for one of the kids to not follow a rule (talk constantly) and then expect a jolly rancher when we are done. Though at times I have mercy on them, usually they don’t get one so the correct behaviour is strengthened.

This means occasionally there are tears…..but interestingly those tears disappear after they realise I’m still not giving out a reward.

it is true I am sort of being a jerk (someone being very hateful) by not giving everyone a jolly rancher. But saying “no” and meaning it develops character.

Last week I visited a family with two sisters and a brother. The youngest girl who is five didn’t pay attention to my story even after her brother and sister asked her to stop talking. When it came time for a reward, she didn’t get one, and immediately burst into tears.

Because I loved that child, and wanted her to develop the right habits, I refused to give her one.

This week I came back, and she again didn’t pay attention to me, more interested in playing a game on a phone. When it came time to give out a jolly rancher I wondered what would happen.

Her sister got one, and she didn’t say a word…..

Not one tear……

Not one frown….

Because she knew that she didn’t deserve one.

It doesn’t feel good being a jerk sometimes, but it glorifies God when saying no develops christian character.

  1. They come in a discounted price over the holidays, and that begins in November
  2. I focus on effort since it’s easier for some children to sit and beg quiet than others.
  3. They aren’t allowed to say shut up

Missions is….Emphasizing Physical and Spiritual Health

Last week I switched gears from a mentally challenging College class, to a physically challenging community based ministry. This physical challenge was intensified because a friend had borrowed my car, so I walked everywhere.

thankfully the Lord gave strength to meet the physical challenges of last week. But it was an important reminder for me of a lesson I’m still struggling to learn.

your physical health is almost as important as your spiritual health

Being in the ministry means you’re on the front-lines of spiritual warfare. This demands you take very good care of yourself spiritually using disciplines such as Bible reading, prayer, memorisation, and fellowship with Believers.

The sad truth is I do a very good job of keeping myself in shape spiritually, but struggle sometimes keeping myself in shape physically.

It’s not that I don’t want to take care of myself physically. But bad habits are hard to break:

  1. Like eating unhealthy meals
  2. Or not eating regularly (and then eating too much later)
  3. Not taking the proper vitamins or supplements
  4. Or putting off “strength training” 1.

the problem with this is poor physical health can affect my ministry almost as much as poor spiritual health. It doesn’t matter how much I want to do a job if my body has run out of energy!

The simple truth is Christians must have a complete view of health that not only has a desire to do the work of God, but also has the energy and mental clarity to do the work of God

With the Lords help I am establishing healthy habits to combat my old ones:

  1. Cooking proper meals ahead of time
  2. Carrying vegetables or nuts for a quick snack
  3. Planning out short cat-naps during the day
  4. And making strength exercises part of my daily routine

Through this process the Lord is teaching me that effectiveness comes as my spiritual and physical health work together.

It is possible for God to use someone who is out of shape, but He can do much more through someone who is disciplined physically.

  1. I need to add muscle onto my body

We Need Church More than Ever

Earlier this week I began a series of posts on ministering effectively during COVID. Part one, which emphasises the importance of following safety protocols, can be found here

Last Sunday morning for the second time since the Coronavirus pandemic began, we cancelled church. Both times this was in response to the Prime Ministers asking churches to hold off services for one weekend in order to cut down on large crowds.

This Sunday we will have church

  1. There will only be one service
  2. We will sanitise
  3. Everyone will wear a mask
  4. And a limited number will attend
  5. But we WILL have church!

An important part of ministering during COVID is strictly adhering to protocols because it reflects on our public testimony. At the same time, we defend with all of our might the gathering of the local church.

There is a simple reason for this….we need church more than ever before

Now saying “church is important” does refer to the service itself. But specifically I’m referring to the preaching, and teaching that takes place during church. This explanation of Scripture is always important of course, but more needed today.

Almost all of us have had our faith shaken by COVID. At times so many things are going wrong it can be overwhelming. Preaching and teaching gives us perspective.

  1. It reminds us of Gods character
  2. It reminds us of our standing before God through the blood of Christ
  3. It reminds us that God has a sovereign plan for EVERYTHING
  4. It reminds us that we aren’t alone
  5. It reminds us of our eternal home in Heaven

Though this can be done online, there is something about being near your brothers and sisters in Christ that makes it special. Gathering together while following proper safety protocols brings a deeper attention and focus to what is being said.

In a deeper sense, hearing Scripture proclaimed takes our eyes off of ourselves and puts them on our Heavenly Father, as well as Jesus Christ our Savior.

Though finding a way to do church “safely” is difficult, its absolutely necessary

Because we desperately need church.