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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!

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…)

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?

Join Me For a Free Social Media Webinar for Pastors and Ministry Leaders

Hollow out your schedule for Friday afternoon. You just got plans!

I’ll be leading a free webinar in partnership with Monk Development this Friday at 11 am PDT; 1 pm CST. Here’s the description:

Just what is “social media” anyway? Why has it taken the online world by storm? In this webinar you’ll learn why the social web is absolutely crucial to communicating with the next generation. You’ll learn how the up-and-coming generation communicates and why you need to be in those channels, contributing your story to the social media flow. We’ll focus on the “why” and the “how” of social media. If you’re confused by terms like “tweet”, “like” and “blogging”, this webinar is a great place to start in getting a social media education! Join blogger and social strategist Justin Wise to uncover the basic principles of social media and why you need to be integrating it into your ministry work flow.

Hurry up and get yourself registered. Space is limited.

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?

Social Media Shepherding for the Church

The Twin Cities are home to The Nook (home of the “Juicy Nookie“!), Bethel Seminary (my alma mater), Kevin Hendricks (editor extraordinaire) and the Social Media Shepherds.

While the Juicy Nookie won’t get you anything but a bad case of heartburn, the Social Media Shepherds meet monthly to offer churches direction on communications and social media, and act as a sounding board among churches. Not a bad endeavor, as most churches need quite a bit of guidance in this area fraught with challenges (hence the “shepherd” metaphor!).

One of the challenges churches are facing in the digital age is how to organize all those people in an online setting. What does it look like to be the Body of Christ both online and off? Described as a “group for those who love Jesus and social media,” the Social Media Shepherds meet monthly to strategize different ways to bridge that gap in the church between offline and online. Not a bad bunch to surround yourself with, if you ask me!

Their meeting this Friday will feature The Table Project, a new social platform for churches and ministries that launched in late February. If you’re in the Twin Cities, head on over to Luther Seminary at 7:30 a.m. on Friday, April 18th. Look for Greg or Amy and tell them Justin at BeDeviant.com sent you!

Want to know more about the Table Project? Check out this primer video and get excited:

PS – I’ll be making a pit stop at the Shepherds’ April gathering. More details to come, but stay tuned to this site and their Facebook group or Twitter feed for more info!

Top-of-Mind Mondays

  • What a weekend. I know they say the Bubonic plague has been dealt a deathblow by modern medicine, but try telling that to my family. Our house feels like a petri dish. Is there such a thing as “house wash”?
  • Lots and lots of changes coming around the corner. You’ll be the first to know, right here!
  • Speaking of changes, Carlos Whittaker and his family are moving to Nashville. I feel like a cool dude because I had the inside scoop after Carlos visited the DeMo last month. Love you and yours, bro!
  • I love it when people get humbled. Myself included.
  • My friends Dave and Sarah Eickelberg just launched a new blog, 1CupAwesome.com. It’s a foodie blog and, yes, it is awesome. Congrats guys!
  • I cannot wait to read this and this and this. Bedside reading materials for months, yo!
  • I’ve talked about this before, but you must do yourself (and your sleep schedule) a favor and download Flux. If you’re in front of a computer within an hour of going to bed, it’s most likely affecting your sleep schedule. Flux changes that by altering your screen coloration based on your geolocation. Simply put, it takes away the light waves that make your brain think it’s time to wake up!
  • Lil’ Jon just became my favorite person on Celebrity Apprentice. When commenting on whether four- and five-year-olds know what “be yourself” means, he said “They don’t know who the !@#$% they is!” Classic. I laughed.
  • You must listen to this interview with author Sherry Turkle. It was on Wisconsin NPR a few weeks ago and it’s really eye-opening in terms of our use of technology. Sherry seems level-headed enough to know that no-technology isn’t an option, but she also provides fair critique of our general habits.
  • We’re getting our house mitigated. No, it’s not a law term, it’s to boot out the radon that’s building up in our basement. If you live in the Midwest, check out this post.
  • What’s the latest and greatest in your world, deviants?

Use Twitter Search to See What’s Happening After the Japan Earthquake

Japan was rocked this morning by an 8.5 earthquake early this morning US time. (More specifically, the coast of Japan was rocked by an earthquake, thus triggering a Tsunami warning.) This is the fifth largest earthquake since they started recording them in the early 1900s.

One of the most effective ways to see what’s going on in real-time on the ground in Japan is by using search.twitter.com. Here’s how:

Go to Search.Twitter.com/Advanced

We’re going to need to big-gun parameters to narrow our search down to the actual location where people are being affected.

Use the “Places” and “Dates” Parameter to Search for Japan Earthquake

Narrow your search down to Sendai, Japan, the nearest large city to the earthquake’s epicenter. There was 300 dead by the initial rumble and subsequent tsunami waves.

Set the date to March 10, 2011. This will ensure you see all the tweets starting from when the earthquake hit.

View Results of People Affected by Earthquake

You may want to utiilize the “Language” parameter or translate the tweets once the results show.

You can see that people in the area most affected by the earthquake are tweeting pictures about the devastation:

Sending out signals that they are okay:

And even searching for people they care about:

Use Twitter to Pray for People in the Japan Earthquake

Most of the people who read this blog pray in some fashion or another. You can even use Twitter to stay up-to-date on how people are praying for Japan. Simply follow the #prayforJapan hashtag and you’ll see lots of results like this:

Stay up to date. Stay informed. Use Twitter to shrink the world and be aware of how people on the other side of the world are being affected! Also, if you want to donate for the victims of the Japan earthquake, head over to The Move Project and donate, courtesy of Dwolla.

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.
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