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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

You Down With CFCC?

For the first time ever, the Center for Church Communication will be holding a CFCC Meetup at Catalyst West. I’ll be there. Tim Schraeder will be there (worth the price of admission alone!). CFCC founder Brad Abare will be there. TRIFECTA!

Would you consider joining us? If so, check out the details for the meetup. We’ve got a sweet location (Irish pub! I’m 2/54ths Irish!), great company and all the time in the world (well, from 5:30 until this guy shows up).

Of course, if you can’t make this one we have a plethora of other meetups that we’d like you to consider. Check out the growing list here.

Some of you may be asking, “What is the Center for Church Communication anyway?” I’m glad you asked. Here’s part of our purpose statement:

We are made up of passionate change agents, experienced comm professionals and thoughtful instigators; advocating for communicators to find their place in the church—and helping the church get through to their communities so that churches know who they are and are unashamed to tell others.

We identify, resource and celebrate the next generation of church communicators, encouraging them to focus their tenacity and talent for excellent communication, so that churches are sought out by the communities they serve.

If that doesn’t motivate you, I don’t know what will. Tim and I were recently named as co-directors of CFCC and couldn’t be more pleased to bring along as many people as possible for the ride!

Make plans to join us at Catalyst West or one of the other meetups. While you’re at it, take a look at CFCC’s online presence:

Hope to see you there!

 

Change Your Mind

I read this over on the SAMBA blog and it really struck me. It’s about changing our minds. Allan writes from a business perspective, but what he’s saying has applications across the board. Namely, for leaders of churches.

One of the scarcest traits, rarely found, is the ability and willingness to be persuaded.

Strangely, while most people individually will agree on it’s value, I think societally we’ve deemed it a sign of weakness. We seem to glorify those who remain steadfast in their positions and “stick to their guns” no matter what, instead of those weak willed individuals who are sold on an alternate idea and “flip flop”.

I think this stems from the experiences we’ve all had of being manipulated, and more importantly manipulating others. We know both feelings all to well and they shape us.

The truth is this apparent vulnerability is one of the greatest strengths one can possess. True leaders know this. True leaders don’t care about the perceptions. True leaders change their minds.

How many leaders do you know that willingly change their minds based on what those around them are saying? Unfortunately, not many. Add to this the “God called me to do this!” language and you have on your hands a stubborn, arrogant leader who now, apparently, has God’s backing. *shudder*

I think there’s being focused and there’s being headstrong. Often times I think leaders–especially church leaders–confuse the former with the latter.

Do you know of any great church leaders in your life who are able (and willing) to change their minds? Who are they and what have you learned from them?.

How to Plant a Church

Church planters have it rough:

  • Little to no dough.
  • No people.
  • Solo staff, so they wear many hats.
  • No guarantee of success.

To top it all off, they have people who make weird (but funny) videos like this, mocking their plight. I found the following a little angry, but humorous nonetheless. And hey, if you can’t laugh at the fact that nearly every church planter has some form of facial hair, you’re probably taking yourself a little too seriously.

Enjoy (and have a great Friday!):

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The Artist as Pastor

The following is a post from Blaine Hogan. Blaine, amongst other things, is an artist, a pastor and an incredible dancer. Enjoy!

How much time have we wasted trying to make ‘bigger and better’ or ‘slicker and sweeter’ messages instead of just being the messengers?” – Play Time: Finding the Freedom to Imagine and Explore by Betty Spackman, author and installation artist.

Awhile ago I was asked to submit a proposal to a publisher for a set of short films. As I sat down to write the proposal, I became acutely aware of the fact that what I was creating was very quickly going to be turned into a product. All of a sudden I was thinking about demographics, marketing, target audiences. Before I could even get started I was paralyzed, knowing that what I was writing would be subject not only to the scrutiny of my own creative process, but also to whether or not the publisher thought she could sell it. Sitting at my desk, I knew I had a choice. I could write what was inside of me. In other words, be the messenger. Or, I could write for the publisher, giving them something that might not be from my heart, but I knew they could sell.

I thought to myself, certainly there must be a place that lies somewhere between these two extremes.

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Why I Go to Conferences

I love going to conferences. Fresh off the heels of STORY, I’m convinced now more than ever before that conferences are a vital part of leadership development and training.

I know everyone doesn’t agree with me. Some people see conferences as a huge waste of time and resources. “We should be working!” they say.

That’s why I loved getting this question from reader Rachel recently:

I’m curious… I see a lot of bloggers get together for big events and what not.  I’m poor and live far away on a vast peninsula, but are these things worth going to?  I mean are they worth the financial investment?

Simply put, she’s asking if conferences are worth it. The travel, the hotels, the money, the time–does it all pay off? Or is it just an excuse to get out of the office for awhile?

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How to Brand Your Church Using Social Media

I hold weekly online office hours on Wednesday afternoons. A set-aside time where I open up the virtual doors of my office and say, “Come, child. Let us discuss the matters of life.”

Anything is fair game, but mostly we end up talking about blogging, social media and velociraptors. Yes, velociraptors.

At any rate, a question came through from a reader who asked,

Do you have any PRO TIPS for branding a church plant?

I liked the question because I don’t think enough church planters think this through before they start. Frankly, I don’t blame them for not putting design and branding at the top of the list. With Bibles, budgets and buildings to be worried about, design slowly sifts to the bottom of the list.

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Flattening Your Church Webinar Now Live

If you missed it, I was fortunate enough to take part in the M2 LIVE webinar last week while at the ECHO conference in Dallas. We talked shop for 45 minutes:
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3 More Reasons Why Leaders Quit Your Organization

Ron Edmonson wrote an article for Catalyst recently that’s still making me think. The article’s titled, “7 Reasons Leaders Quit Your Organization“. You should read it. Now.

Ron was spot-on with his reasons. You can tell this is a guy who has been down the road a little bit and doesn’t want young ones to make the same mistakes he sees the people around him making. I appreciate his wisdom and willingness to identify the elephant in the room. His list was great in and of itself, but I wanted to add a few of my own reasons why leaders quit organizations.
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I Have No Idea How I Got Here

Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you look around and think, “I have no idea how I got here?”

In college I was part of a student-run news station called UNI-TV. In one of my less-than-stellar moments in life, I decided to dress up as Cupid for our Valentine’s Day special. My “costume” consisted of nothing more than heart-shaped sun glasses, the word “Cupid” drawn on my chest, and a “diaper”–white gym shorts rolled up entirely too short. Don’t believe me? Here’s visual proof:
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