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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

Adult Bullies (and How to Defeat Them)

Sarah Palin recently called Kathy Griffin a 50-year-old bully. Seems Griffin has made a career out of harassing Palin and her kids, pushing the family around in the press and mocking their troubles. Griffin has even vowed publicly that it was “Willow’s [Palin's 16-year-old daughter] year to go down.” Classy.

Building one’s self up.
Tearing another down.

That sounds like the work of a bully to me.

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Top-of-Mind Mondays

  • Whew! What a bender. I was at Catalyst West last week—my first time ever. What a great event! Although, I think I was more inspired by the relationships I formed with new people. Did you miss it? Check out my friend Tim’s notes. He’s, like, a pro.
  • Speaking of Catalyst West, I found a new (to me) worship artist, John Mark McMillan. Awesome. He led worship on Thursday, but I’m pretty sure he was super sick. I could have sworn he ended the set early to run backstage and hurl. Can anyone in the know confirm or deny?
  • Speaking of worship artists, I’ve been humming this song since the live performance of it at CatWest.
  • The closer you get to doing what it is you want to do, the more people will try to bring you down.
  • Most of us live in a constant state of anxiety that we aren’t doing what we’re created to do. When we see people who are moving into their calling, conviction rises up and we must demonize that person to stay sane.
  • I’m selling my iPad if you’re interested. 64 GB with case and AppleCare included. All for a cool $574 OBO. Interested?
  • I still can’t get over this clip of Lady Gaga when she was still Stefani Germanotta (she’s the one in the black dress).
  • I’ll be headed down to Kansas City next week to scope out locations for the next Social Media Summit. Stay tuned….
  • Is SEO DEAD?
  • Made a switch in plans. The wife and I are postponing our NYC trip for the 99% Conference to head out to Cultivate instead. It’s too important to miss. Coincidentally, I now have a 99% Conference ticket for sale. Any takers?
  • What’s the latest and greatest in your world, deviants?

Top-of-Mind Mondays

  • Is anyone going to Catalyst West this week? I am. Can’t wait. First trip to Irvine EVER. Want to know why I’m really excited? Go here.
  • Rob Bell has gone rogue. Or at least that’s what his critics (read: Calvinists) want you to believe.
  • Lady Gaga becomes more intriguing to me as the days go by. She just released her video for “Born this Way” exclusively online. (Note: This is not for the faint of heart. Use extreme discretion before watching.)
  • Here’s a thought: If you speak more highly about yourself than the community who surround you does, you’re headed for a fall. Get some perspective.
  • I married a very good woman. My wife is all the things I never knew I needed: Smart, sassy, organized and fun. Here’s to you, my Sweet.
  • Des Moines was host to capitalC, led by Chris Kretzu from Gateway Church here in Des Moines. I appreciate Chris’ desire to the see the Church (hence, “capitalC”) in Des Moines come together, free from the fetters of denominationalism.
  • Just had a conversation with Tim Schraeder about a potentially game-changing project we want to bring to CFCC. It’s fun, fresh and will get you in touch with some of the brightest minds out there. Stay tuned.
  • Speaking of bright minds, I’m helping my friend, Drew Goodmanson, gather some data for how people use (or don’t use) church websites. Can you take a look? It’s a short survey and will you have you on your way in no time.
  • My car has been in the repair shop for three out of the past four weeks. It’s almost comical at this point. For those wondering, it’s a Saturn VUE. There’s a reason why they went out of business.
  • Sometimes I feel guilty for buying almond butter that costs $11 per jar. Then I eat a spoonful of Justin’s (not me) Almond Butter and the guilt vanishes. This stuff is like almond crack.
  • Get to know Sam Mahlstadt. If you don’t know his name yet, you will. Soon. In fact, he may come knocking on some of your doors soon, and very soon.
  • Watch this. Right now.
  • What’s the latest and greatest in your world, deviants?

Best of the Week, v.8

I wanted to turn your attention to some of the posts, highlights, lowlights and everything in between that this week has offered. Buckle up, get ready, it’s time for another edition of “Best of the Week!”

  • Best social media post of the week: Chris Brogan tells us, as gracefully as possible, why we aren’t as successful as we think we should be. He’s right on the money, FWIW.
  • Best ministry post of the week: Rhett Smith tells pastors to stop bleeding all over the congregation. Leading ≠ barfing uncomfortable information all over your people. Nor is it “authentic”.
  • Best survey of the week: A friend of mine, Drew Goodmanson, put together this short survey to take a look at how churches use their websites. We could use your input!
  • Best new website of the week: Timely.is posts tweets for you at the most optimal time, according to the click-rate of your last 200 tweets.
  • Best food court proposal of the week: This gentleman thought it was a good idea to propose in front of a Sbarro. You can guess how this one ends.
  • Best meltdown of the week: Tim Floyd loses it at a UTEP game. He used to coach for Iowa State. Go ahead, Timmy!
  • Best news of the week: Amazon Prime now includes access to Amazon Instant Videos. Free shipping and free movies. Not bad.

The Brain Can Only Absorb What the Butt Can Endure

I like pro football. It feels right. I enjoy lazy Sundays with games on in the background while I roughhouse with my son. My wife will occasionally gasp and say, “be gentle!”

Oops.

Football commentators usually fall into one of two categories for me:

  1. Enjoyable
  2. Loathsome

There’s not much wiggle-room in between.

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Celebrities Need Love Too

I had this idea.

What if, for one day, we used the power of social media for good. What if we all sent the same tweet to a selected celebrity and let them know that they are loved? What do you think would happen?

I got this idea after I sent the following to Katy Perry:

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A Guide to Staying Up with the Times

I love my office. My online office, to be more specific.

Every Wednesday afternoon, the virtual doors get opened to get some fresh air in the place. The social web can get down right stuffy if you don’t stop every once in awhile to breath deep.

I open my doors to chat about anything that’s going on in the world, but people mostly end up asking about social media, pop culture or blogging. Yesterday I got an interesting question, so I thought I’d share the answer with all of you.

The question was:

Last year I started helping with [a youth ministry] with a focus of looking at culture and God together. I’ve been having trouble finding materials that aren’t outdated (TV shows, movies, music, news, etc). Any ideas on how I can find more topics?

My answer:

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Flattening Your Church

Martin Luther changed the course of human history by leveraging technology to spread God’s Word. He used moveable type to get Scripture into the hands of all people–not just the professional clergy of the day. It led to the Protestant Reformation that, I think it’s safe to say, we’re still feeling the effects of today.

In my opinion, we’re about to enter into a period of history in the church that’s going to make Luther’s reformation look like tea party. Welcome to the flattened world.

I want to invite all the deviants in the house to join me tomorrow for the M2 Live Webinar where I’ll be the featured presenter. I’ll be sharing some thoughts on how the web is flattening the church and what that means for those of us in ministry. We’ll be looking at:

  • How human communication is changing as a result of the emergence of the social web.
  • What those changes mean for the way churches communicate.
  • What a typical church member will look like in 10-15 years
  • Practical take-aways that you can implement immediately for your ministry.
  • And a Q&A session at the end to tie-up any loose ends!

I’d love for you to join me. The event is being held by the amazing M2 Live ministry and will be moderated by Sean McAtee and Matt Carlisle. These guys have been great to work with and I’m really looking forward to the experience.

If you want to get a feel for what these webinars are like, you can check out the archives from past presenters such as Tony Steward, DJ Chuang, and John Saddington. Otherwise join me tomorrow for the M2 Live Webinar from 10:30-11:30 am CST.

SOLID.

Gaga Shows Grace

Fred Phelps and his Westboro Baptist crew aren’t Lady Gaga fans. They recently showed up in St. Louis to protest Gaga’s Arch City show:

The anti-gay protesters from Westboro Baptist Church stood outside the Scottrade Center over the weekend, where they picketed the pop star/gay rights activist’s ongoing Monster Ball Tour with signs reading “God Hates Lady Gaga.” Angry at Gaga’s outspoken support of gay rights, the protesters denounced Gaga for using her art form to teach “rebellion against God.”

Members of the Westboro Church have protested the “PokerFace” powerhouse before, but when parishoners brought their controversial views to her live show, Gaga fired back.

How did she fire back? With Twitter. And with grace. From Gaga’s Twitter feed:
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