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Moving On

This is the 777th post on BeDeviant.com. It’s also the last post on this site. There are also 777 words in this post. After seven years of actively posting, sharing, thinking, challenging and changing, I’ve decided to bring this journey to a close.

There are lots of reasons behind this decision, but I’ll briefly share three main ones.

Reason #1: Different Interests

It’s no secret that I’ve left my job working at a local church and joined the team at Monk Development. I’m also able to work with wonderful human beings like Charles Lee, Brad Abare and Tim Schraeder on a regular basis.

After graduating seminary, I realized very quickly that I did not want to be a local parish pastor. That might seem like the epitome of irony, or even that my experience at sem was negative. Quite the contrary, in fact. Bethel helped me to see, in fuller detail, the cost of being a pastor in the 21st century church. After graduating I quickly came to the conclusion: I am not a pastor.

Many of you reading this are, in fact, in pastoral roles. I cannot tell you how much respect and admiration I have for you. I’ve been in your shoes at one of the largest churches in the U.S. and can say, unequivocally, you have one of the hardest jobs on the face of the planet. The pressures, the demands, the struggles—you are most certainly gifted with a strength straight from God’s hand!

That said, BeDeviant.com was an online dialogue of the struggles I was facing as a pastor. The frustrations, fears and anxieties that I faced working for a church. Since I’m no longer on church staff, those struggles, thankfully, have disappeared. With that, most of my writing material has gone with it!

My focus is much more specific now, dealing primarily with web and online ministry. Rather than trying to continually morph BeDeviant into something it was never created to be, I decided it was best to simply stop the train.

Reason #2: Too Divisive

I was afraid this day would come because of the subject matter on this blog. My main intent through the years has been to challenge, but sometimes that’s difficult to do faithfully.

BeDeviant, by its very nature, causes eyebrows to raise. That can be a good thing until it isn’t. In the past 12 months, I’ve been asking the question if being divisive is what I want to be about. The answer, thankfully, is no. My intent, obviously, has never been to create conflict, simply reflection. Unfortunately, that hasn’t always translated well.

Some of  you have been hurt, angered and frustrated by the things I’ve written. I’m sorry for that. BeDeviant.com was started with the idea of challenging people to think differently about their relationship with God. I think BeDeviant has served its purpose in doing that, but at a price. Shutting this site down is me saying, “Holy Spirit, I trust you to challenge people where they need to be challenged. When appropriate, use me.”

Being a unified Body in this day and age, is more important than ever. I want to work towards doing that. I’ve tried to do that in the past few months, but moving in a direction is what’s need to make that happen more fully. Please join me!

Reason #3: Falling Flat

The traffic on this blog has plateaued for the past 12 months. I don’t think it’s reactionary to look at that and say, “This may be as high as the ceiling gets here.” If you know anything about blogging, you know that there are certain “niche” markets to get in to. I’m afraid the “Lutheran-postmodern-ex-pastor-theologically-generous” niche is all dried up :).

That’s not to say the only reason that I write is for traffic, but the amount of time and energy that goes into writing a blog like this is, in a word, substantial. There are so many of you wonderful people who have read this blog since its inception and I cannot thank you enough for it. Your emails, notes, tweets and encouragement blesses me more than I can say. But sometimes, “You gotta know when to fold ’em.”

So, What’s Next?

I’ll still be blogging. Quitting that would be next to impossible. I’ll be at JustinWise.net talking about blogging, social media, productivity, and my life (on occasion). I want to share what I’m learning in the space with all of you. I’d love it if you joined me or grabbed the RSS feed.

You can always reach me on Twitter as well. @JustinWise for those who don’t know!

Words cannot express what our conversations through the years have meant. I’ll simply wrap things up by saying “Thank you!”

May God bless you and yours.

Peace,
Justin

Building the Kingdom with Social Media

If you’re at all interested in the field of social media and ministry, you know the metrics that we use to measure success aren’t the same as the marketplace.

  • Churches don’t measure sales.
  • Ministries don’t generate leads.
  • Faith organizations can’t necessarily (primarily) focus on goods sold.

So how, then, do we measure results in social media and ministry? Well, that’s what Monk and some of our partners are setting out to do. I’ve written up the details over at JustinWise.net, suffice to say it’s a survey we could use your input on.

If you:

  • Work at a church that uses social media,
  • Go to a church that uses social media,
  • Use social media yourself

You need to take this survey! Like I said, instructions are over on JustinWise.net. Check it out and let me hear  you holla!

Top-of-Mind Mondays

  • This is the last week of active posting to BeDeviant.com. It’s been a wild ride, but it’s time for newer, deeper interests! Have you ever needed to transition out of something that was good but not great?
  • CWC was this past weekend. Did anyone here go to it?
  • I had to knock down a bird’s nest by our door three times. Poor little guy kept building it on top of one of our porch lights. Can’t have that birdie flying into the house. Shoo, bird!
  • Just learned that my hometown, West Des Moines, is Forbes.com’s number one best place to raise a family.
  • My wife and I just got into Glee on Netflix. Why did it take me so long to find this show?
  • John Daker with subtitles.
  • I hope you’ll be continue to read my blogging efforts. I’ll be moving permanently to JustinWise.net. It just makes sense. I don’t work in a church anymore, I’m a dad, a husband, and I wear sweater vests. The “deviant” title just doesn’t fit anymore.
  • Palm Sunday > Easter might be my favorite liturgical season of the year. Tradition seems to be a four-letter word anymore, but the ritual of Holy Week, attached to the Spirit, is a powerful tie to the Church Universal. Does your church celebrate Palm Sunday?
  • Found some old books while sifting through seminary stuff. Two books that forever changed my life: With Christ in the School of Prayer and In Over Our Heads. If you want to get the gist of my seminary education, order and read these two books. Multiple times.
  • What’s the latest and greatest in your world, deviants?

Caption Please!

You’ll Be Getting a Steal of a Deal

If you’re a deal-chaser, I’ll level with you: You’re about to get a steal.

Along with Tim Schraeder and Kem Meyer, I’ll be teaching at Exponential this year. We’re each leading individual sessions during the actual event, but we’re team-teaching a session at the Expo precon that you will definitely want to be a part of. Kem and Tim are there to teach you what’s up. I’m just there for the eye-candy (SNAP!).

I can assure you that this will be an ultra-intimate setting where you will get top-tier content from me, Kem and Tim. If you’re going to be at Exponential, you won’t want to miss it. I swear you’ll be kicking yourself later if you do. Like, right in the face.

The details break down like this:

(more…)

Caption Please!

I Refuse to Believe

I refuse to believe in a God that would cause the Japan earthquake. Or the Haitian earthquake. Or the Indian Ocean tsunami. God weeps with Japan, Haiti and Southeastern Asia.

I refuse to believe in a God that enjoys sending people to a place of torment and punishment. God is the restorer, the renewer, of all things. To be uninvolved in that renewal is the choice to not be.

I refuse to believe that we, as humanity, have any ability whatsoever to discern someone’s eternal future. We do not know what transpires behind the veil between this world and the next.

I refuse to believe that any amount of self-initiated “purity” is enough to cleanse me from sin. It’s not. And never will be. No matter what they tell you (it’s what nearly drove Martin Luther insane).

I refuse to believe, after having a son, that God is ever mad at us (as New Covenant believers). Disappointed? Sure. Mad? Never. I repeat: Never.

I refuse to believe that the Bible is always prescriptive. The Bible chronicles the story of God interacting with his people. Sometimes those people do and say dumb things that need to be avoided, not followed.

I refuse to believe that God does not intend for women to be preachers and teachers. I have met too many gifted, Spirit-filled women who possess the unmistakable preaching/teaching gift to believe that it was not placed there by God himself.

I refuse to believe that God doesn’t want us to think.

What do you refuse to believe?

Caption Please!

Web and Social Media Strategy for Your Church or Ministry

I’ll level with you: I’m doing something new.

I left my job in parish ministry last week and began to work full-time in the field of social media and ministry. While continuing my role at the Center for Church Communication, I’ve really started to dig in to what it takes to be effective with social media as a church and/or ministry.

That work is taking place with the good folks at Monk Development. Up to this point, those of us in the faith social media world have gotten good statistics on why we should be using social media in our faith organizations, but we’ve never really seen what is effective.

That’s about to change.

At Monk, we’re on the cusp of some breakthrough concepts and insights that we can’t wait to share with your and your team. We’re already starting to partner with churches and denominations around the country to bring them more of the what of social media instead of just the why.

The why has been covered. We’re interested in bringing value to you and actually showing you and your organization how to go about putting together a strong social media presence.

If you’re at a point where  your church or ministry is ready to pull the trigger on a website redesign, web or social media strategy or starting an online community for your congregation, please get a hold of me. I believe the information and practical strategy that Monk can bring to you will bring your church/ministry communication and organizational clarity.

Like I said, hit me up if this is of interest to you. Otherwise, check out what we can bring to your table. You keep focusing on building the relationships. Let us focus on the technology. Sounds like a good deal, yeah?

Let’s Hang in Louisville

In my entire 30 years of existence, I have visited the state of Kentucky exactly once.

Once.

And that was to attend the wedding of my cousin. (I can literally hear the jokes formulating in your brain.) This was the same trip that led to the unfortunate #KYwedding hashtag debacle. In my innocence, I wanted to catalog the trip with the state’s initials (KY) and what we’d be doing there (wedding). Some of you were kind enough to point out the obvious problems with this Twitter nomenclature. Moving on…

From what I saw in Kentucky, I liked it. I liked it so much that I’m heading back in the middle of May to speak at the Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit. I’m teaming up with Drew Goodmanson from Monk Development to give what I believe will be a transformative breakout session. Here’s the scoop:

Low Cost, Big Reach: Harnessing New Media to Grow Ministry Impact (Drew Goodmanson, Monk Development; Justin Wise, Deviant Media Group) Are you capitalizing on the social media revolution? Is your Website designed for high-impact on potential donors and volunteers? Are you maximizing the use of mobile technology to reach out to key publics? Learn how harnessing New Media can take the impact of your ministry to unprecedented levels of impact and influence.

I’d love it if you would consider joining the conference to not only attend the session, but get in tune with God’s heart for adoption. You can find the site here. Also, read up on some of the other breakout sessions that’ll be going at the same time.

The real question is: Have you ever been to Kentucky?

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