We had a potential exposure two weeks ago at CityView Pearland. That showcased that we needed to rewrite our protocols. Here’s our updated protocols.
3 Different Types of Communication Cards
Over the last several weeks I’ve talked to several different leaders who have done online church MUCH longer than we have. We learned that churches capture information differently. Many of those leaders recommended 3 different cards to help capture information: a general communication card, a decision card, and a prayer card. These should be used at different times in the online service. Here are the three cards and how our church, CityView, has executed each card.
- General Communication Card: http://cityviewpearland.com/hello
- Decision Card: http://cityviewpearland.com/jesus
- Prayer Card: http://cityviewpearland.com/pray
Using the General Communication Card
- Only use the General Communication Card to capture general information
- The general card should only have the most minimal information to make a good contact with them. Too much information will keep people from filing it out.
- CityView uses the general communication card during the first 20 minutes of the service. We talk about it at least 3 times during the service from the person leading (host, worship leader, preacher).
- In addition to talking about it we post the link several times while the stream is running.
- On Zoom this would be in the chat.
- On Facebook Live it would be on the comments.
Using the Decision Card
- Only use the decision card to capture decisions.
- Refer to this during the preaching and during the invitation time.
- Have the card link listed several times during the preaching time. Not before the preaching time.
Using the Prayer Card
- We use the prayer card during the last 5 minutes.
- We push people to it at the end of our service and run it periodically throughout the whole service in the comments or chat area.
- It needs to be simple for people to submit requests.
Make sure that whatever information you get is followed up on. This is very important to the entire process. Capturing information is only useful when it is used.
Is it just me or does it feel like the news can ONLY report on The COVID-19 Virus. I see some election coverage, the occasional Lebron dunk, and a few other small news stories, but almost everything, and I mean everything is about the Coronavirus or what the panic surrounding the Coronavirus has caused. Frankly, it’s overwhelming to hear it talked about all the time and I imagine that those who tend towards anxiety are pushed to the edge of panic daily, if not over the edge.
I’m a doctor, but not a medical one. My degrees are in Bible and Leadership. So, I’m not going to offer a medical opinion. (If you find yourself with crippling anxiety in life I urge you to seek the common grace of doctors who are there to help). There are enough opinions going around. Instead, maybe I can weigh in on the levels in which I have some experience. One biblical passage comes to mind over and over again as I talk to people who are dealing with anxiety:
 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (ESV)
Let’s take these verses and develop a system to face our anxieties when they mount up against us.
- Don’t Worry about ANYTHING… PRAY about EVERYTHING
- SHIFT your thinking from worry to good
- Rest in God
Don’t Worry about ANYTHING… PRAY about EVERYTHING
We’re told to not worry. Not like some people who just tell you to chill out and don’t offer you any help or comfort. Instead, we’re told to not worry, but pray. Our worries and anxieties are supposed to be an ALARM CLOCK that wake us up to the reality that we aren’t in control, but we know the One who is. Whenever you worry, find yourself anxious, find your mind wandering about COVID-19 or anything else. Take it to the Lord. Every day that it happens. Every hour that it happens. Every minute that it happens. Even, every second to second. Don’t worry about anything… pray about everything.
SHIFT your thinking from worry to good
In order to change our output, anxious feelings, Verse 8 says to consciously change our thinking. We should think about:
- Whatever is true, don’t tell yourself lies or half truths. Think about truth. Remind yourself of truth. Christian, when you’re anxious remember facts, remember scripture, remember that the God of the universe knows your name and loves you.
- Whatever is honorable, think about things that are honorable. Think about the accomplishments of others, the opportunities that surround you, the ways you can do good to others.
- Whatever is just, think about justice. Think about how you can help others get it. Think about how you can serve others who need it.
- Whatever is pure, don’t allow yourself to be sucked into impure thoughts as a way to temporarily fix the anxiety you’re feeling.
- Whatever is lovely, spend your time thinking about God’s creation, the beautiful things that are in your life.
- Whatever is commendable, think about ways to commend somebody. What if instead of worrying you complemented somebody else or encouraged them instead? You might find that you’d turn the anxious fervor you find yourself in, into an opportunity to encourage someone else.
Rest in God
Two promises are made for people who practice these verses.
- The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
- The God of peace will be with you
Anxiety is an alarm clock that wakes us up to the reality that we aren’t in control, but we know the one who is. Practice these things over and over again. Don’t stop practicing. Whether it is coronavirus, elections, market volatility, or anything else rest in God.
I answer this question emphatically when asked, so much so that I don’t get asked very much any more. The question usually centers around a well intentioned leader who is trying to reconcile scriptures that relay the idea of waiting on God (also an important aspect of Christian leadership). My aim here is to not reconcile the two thoughts (perhaps that’s another blog idea) but to help the Christian leader understand that they need to be productive while waiting on God.
15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,
16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. – Ephesians 5:15-17
Did you see the first seven words in verse 16? I did. I put those words in bold. In case you missed it though, here they are again, ”making the best use of the time.”
You are supposed to, as a christian, use time. The Christian is to recognize that they have time, the same amount of time that everyone else has. 365 Days in a year, 24 hours in each day, 60 minutes in each hour, 60 Seconds in each minute, 1000 milliseconds in each second. (Currently, my middle child loves milliseconds so you can thank him for that inclusion). We’ve all got the same amount of time: believer or unbeliever, leader or worker, husband or wife, rich or poor, parent or not, professor or student. We’ve all got the same amount of time. that’s an objective reality.
Where we all differ is what the best is. What’s the best use of the time? As soon as you ask that question a million ideas flood to mind. Exercise, bible study, work, email, family time, date night, finishing a degree, cold calls, networking, planning, executing, sleep, housework, cooking, worship, time with friends, recreation, etc.
The best is decidedly subjective on an individual level, but is definitely calling us to be productive. The key to unlocking the best is wisdom. The best is gospel-centered productivity. We’ve got to discern the best use of our time. That, my friends is a priority question.
The best way I’ve found to think through priorities is to think about roles that I have. Here are my roles:
- Other Ministry
What roles do you have? What’s your best?
Henry Cloud was on the Entre Leadership Podcast on the Ramsey Network. He’s a Christian psychologist and author of many books including Boundaries and Integrity. He was on the podcast talking about the executive functions of the brain and their relationship to leadership. He mentioned 5 categories or buckets.
The categories are:
- Vision – Where are we going?
- Resource/Talent Acquisition – What do we need to get there?
- Strategy/Plan – How do we get there?
- Measurements for Accountability – How do we know if we’re successful?
- Adaptation Systems – What do we need to change based on the things we’re measuring?
His point was that all leadership is contained in these 5 buckets and that big picture organizational leaders need to ensure that all of these areas are considered. The brain operates this way and so should organizations.
I’d agree with his basic assessment. I find it valuable to have quick reference metaphors like “the executive functions of the brain” to talk to others about leadership. Leadership is big, messy, and complicated. Without those quick metaphors these ideas get lost.
I’m on Mr. Mom duty this week, a state I’m in about once a month. My wife works and has to go out of town once a month. These weeks I get exhausted. It made me think through my history with exhaustion.
A state I thought I understood as a teenager after mowing the lawn, trimming, and edging on a Saturday.
Again, There was a time when I was home from college the summer before my senior year where I would work all day, intern at my church until 11pm, and then work midnights at a hospital.
I started ministry at 22 and I thought I was exhausted after an all-nighter (the dumbest idea ever invented) with 100 students.
We were married at 24 and exhaustion stopped being just physical, but also emotional, not in a bad way, but a new way where there was emotional care that needed to be extended to my amazing wife.
Children started coming in January of 2008 and I learned anew what exhaustion meant. Sleepless nights, typical parent worries, and overwhelmed moments.
Planting a church and completing a doctoral degree with an amazing wife and kids and writing a dissertation showed me exhaustion from a different angle.
At 38 exhaustion is something different, it’s emotional, it’s physical, it’s mental. It involves all of those amazing people (wife, kids, church), ministry, complex thoughts, and responsibilities that weigh heavily.
Exhaustion teaches me that I’m limited and I’ll always be limited and I’ll always be limited. God is gracious to grow me through the exhaustion and show me my very real limitations and demonstrate His limitlessness. The problem comes when I don’t recognize my limits and rely on Him.
Today I’m thinking about the message I shared yesterday at CityView Pearland. I was tired, was up all night Friday Night, and was exhausted when I woke up on Sunday. I felt off before preaching, I didn’t feel cohesive in my thoughts and forgot several of the illustrations and applications I was planning to share. I felt it during the message and felt directly afterwards like I’d blown it.
- A couple visiting said they were so glad they were there and were going to go discuss the message right now because it hit them so powerfully.
- Another member, almost always sparing in praise, grabbed me afterwards and said “strong work man, that was a good message”.
- At life group 2 families said they got a ton out of the message, that it was filled with “nuggets”.
- Our Empty Nester life group meets after church for lunch together, they shared how much the message impacted them.
I felt weak, but so much of what I’ve learned in preparing for this series in Judges is that God works in our weakness and through our weaknesses, not through our strength. These verses have been resounding in my head the last several weeks and have never been truer for me.
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1.27, 31 ESV)
I can’t brag about how great a preacher I am, but I can brag about how great a God I serve.
Today, we are talking about time. Stephen Miller Band wrote,
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future
I’ve found no more appropriate way to think about how I have utilized social media in the past.
I like schedules and I calendar almost everything. I know what’s happening and when. The old adage, if you aren’t 5 minutes early than you’re late, is something I’ve taken to heart and amplified a bit (much to my wife’s chagrin): if you aren’t 30 minutes early than you’re late. I’m very organized when it comes to my time. I’ve written on it here, here, here, and here. I don’t like my time wasted.
However, I continually let social media waste my time. One of the biggest discoveries I had after I started the social media fast was how much time I had spent looking at social media. I found my thumb going to the place on my phone where the Facebook App had been countless times a day. It was subconscious. If my thumb is drifting to this nebulous spot on my phone then how much time would I have spent mindlessly scrolling?
We all have exactly the same amount of time in a given day.
- 24 Hours
- 1,440 Minutes
- 86,400 Seconds
If you find yourself lacking in time, here’s an idea: Take a Social Media Break. I promise it will be productive and that it will be good for you. I promise you will have more time.
Remember social media isn’t bad. As I shared in my first post, social media is a tool. It SHOULD be utilized, but tools yield to their master’s desires. Use social media, don’t be used by it. This idea will be the subject of my next post about my social media fast.
On September 24th I posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (which I don’t use much, I know I’m terrible), and LinkedIn that:
Allison Crandall and I are signing off of Facebook/Messenger/Social Media for a while. If you need me you an email me at email@example.com
Allie gave me the business because, “who cares if you’re off social media.” She likes to give me the business (I like it too).
I remember telling her, “I know, people won’t care, but sometimes people ask me questions, etc and it’s kind of like an out of the office email letting people know I’m off and how to contact me if they need something.” I’m a pastor and I utilize social media a lot.
We were both wrong, people cared, they really cared. People freaked out. I don’t have a large following on social media, a few hundred followers on Twitter and a couple thousand friends on Facebook. I don’t know how to check Instagram followers (I know I’m terrible).
Within minutes of my signing off social media, I got 27 text messages, 5 phone calls, and a few emails. The questions and comments continued for the next week. They were:
- Is something wrong? Are you guys okay?
- I want to see the boys. Have someone else post pictures.
- What about Penny?
- How are we going to hear about Penny?
- What’s Penny doing?
(Penny is our dog. She’s a corgi. She’s a puppy and… terrible, but we love her. She has her own Instagram, which I’d post here, but you know… I’m terrible and don’t know what it is exactly).
My favorite question was from a very serious, but paranoid friend: “are you afraid the government and Illuminati are watching you?” I sent a text jokingly back, “aren’t they the same thing?”
The Social Media Social Contract
I’m nobody special. I didn’t understand why there was such a reaction to my signing off of social media. As I reflected though, I think it has something to do with the way that we connect and feel connected. I think, due to social media, we are okay with feeling more physically/spatially/relationally disconnected from others. After all we don’t need to actually keep up with people because we can always pop on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram and see what’s happening in their world.
That’s not an indictment. I enjoyed getting back on Facebook and seeing my cousin’s kids, my brother’s dog, my friend’s accomplishments, etc. Social Media has made it possible to keep up without keeping up. It’s like there is kind of a new social media social contract that says this is okay. People liked keeping up with me from afar. I didn’t know how much the posts of our boys, our thoughts, funny quips, Bible verses, and Corgi pics meant to others. It was only after signing off of social media though that I knew we mattered like that to others.
It got me thinking that maybe I should contact personally (via text, phone call, invite over, get coffee with, etc) those people who I enjoy seeing on social media. I should spend time checking in with them outside the Twittersphere and Facebook universe.
My reflection today is don’t let the social media social contract be the only social contract you have with people.
At the end of September my wife and I took a break from social media. We had a lot of reasons (which I’ll talk about a little over the next few posts), but more than anything we just needed a detox. I was beginning more and more to find this post from Urban Dictionary far too true in my own life.
Social Media can be best described as:
Facebook – I like doughnuts
Twitter – I’m eating #doughnuts
Instagram – Here is a Polaroid-esce photo of doughnuts
Foursquare – This is where I eat doughnuts
YouTube – Here I am eating doughnuts
Myspace – Meet the Up-and-coming band, ‘doughnuts’
Linkedin – My skills include doughnut eating
Pinterest – Here is a recipe for doughnuts
We plugged back in a couple days ago and I thought I’d share a little bit about what I noticed as I took an intentional break from the cultural phenomena known as Social Media.
First Thought: Social Media is a Tool not a Crutch
I don’t think social media is bad or evil or even a giant waste of time (on its own). I think it’s a tool to be used. Any tool that’s overused or improperly utilized can cause problems. Those tools can even destroy. During my break I noticed how I had stopped using social media as a tool and started using it as a crutch for social interaction. Crutches are great tools when a lower extremity is broken or hurt, but when nothing is broken and you’re using one… then there is a problem. I am blessed to have a lot of opportunity for social interaction. I don’t need social media to be the only place where it’s happening or even one of the main places where it’s happening.