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Dana Byers | Minimalist & Church Online Thought Leader
Many of you are probably like me. You dressed your kids up and last night and walked them around the neighborhood to go trick or treating last night. Maybe some of you even dressed up. While it’s common to don a disguise on Halloween, some of us adults put on disguises when we shouldn’t. Do any of these inappropriate costumes sound familiar to you?
* Miss I-Won’t-See-A-Doctor-About-That (values everything over her health)
* Mr. Know-It-All (the expert who learns from no one)
* Mrs. Mom-Of-The-Year (gets her honor roll athletes everywhere on time and dinner in the oven at the expense of her sanity)
* Mr. Success (gains the world but loses what really matters)
Don’t be caught wearing any of these disguises. We like you just the way you are.
Grit is good. Last February following an ice storm my SUV was stuck at the bottom of our driveway. We’d put salt-grit on the driveway over the previous 3 months of snowfall but that day, for some reason, I was stuck.
Maybe you’re stuck right now. You’re doing something (raising kids, running a large firm, losing weight) that’s gone well for some time. But you don’t find it so easy at the moment.
No more spinning your tires. Get some grit.
“How can I start moving forward again?” you ask.
If you’re being literal, go to central London. Salt-grit is stored in yellow containers along the street and spread out to allow pedestrians to walk safely.
Do you have any invisible deadlines? You know, the type of constraint you’ve put on yourself that no one else is holding over your head but you? Here are a few invisible timelines I’ve known people to have:
* I can’t be single after age 30.
* This company must be profitable within 24 months.
* My baby should be sleeping through the night by 6 months of age.
* God, please let my children give me grandkids before I’m 60.
* By this time next year, I’ll have received a promotion and a raise.
Get the picture? Be brave and ask God to reveal any areas of your life where you’re putting pressure on yourself to achieve something that doesn’t have to fit a specific time frame.
Awhile back my friend Jason shared 7 questions with me. I casually thought that it’d be a good idea to ask some friends to answer them for me “someday”. But the more I thought about the questions, the more I wanted to know their answers.
I asked an online friend I’ve known for a few years but not met face-to-face, a former co-worker with whom I’ve traveled, and my husband to answer them for me. WOW. Their answers gave me insight and perspective I simply didn’t have at the time. What a gift!
Here are the questions.
: What do you think is my greatest strength?
: How would you describe my style?
: What do you think I should let go of?
: When do you feel that I am at my best?
: What do you wish I were less of, for my sake?
: When have you seen me looking my most fabulous?
: What do you think I could give myself more credit for or celebrate more?
Whom do you know well enough to provide you honest answers to these questions? Ask them today. (TIP: Offer to answer the questions back for them if they’d like.)
I know you probably spend a lot of time online like me. You’re likely ministering to people via the Internet and working or catching up with family online every day.
But, I’m curious…where does your local community happen every day? Do you have the pleasure of knowing neighbors, taking part in a sports league, or participating in a hobby that connects you to a unique group you wouldn’t likely intersect in church or at work? There’s something truly special about this kind of connection.
I love my local church and enjoy volunteering with parents at my kids’ school. But some of my favorite community moments happen every weekday morning and afternoon at the STOP sign at the end of my street. My neighbors and their kids meet my kids and me down there to catch the school bus. Dogs and little ones in strollers are welcome. Some of us carry a cup of coffee to keep warm on Fall days. All of us greet each other warmly and pick up yesterday’s conversation where we left off…discussing hobbies, trips, parenting, weather, and work.
These people keep an eye on our home if we’re gone. These people walked my son from the school bus to my front door when I had surgery last year and couldn’t get off the couch. These people love to give my kids snacks on a hot July afternoon and listen to me drone on about my life at the STOP sign every day. These people walk by and love on my dog when she’s outside, even if we’re not around. It’s not unusual for me to find these people (the kids, mostly) hanging upside down from the large tree in my front lawn. These are my neighbors.
What’s your STOP sign? And how have the people in your special community blessed your life?
Not long ago I reviewed the past 30 tweets and Facebook comments I’d made. It was like taking a long, hard look in the mirror. I’d used a lot of exclamation points. It was funny to discover, but it really got me thinking.
If you’ve met me in person, you know I’m generally an upbeat person though I wouldn’t say most sentences I speak are exclamations. There’s an uncertainty about posting any type of comment online and wondering if it’ll be perceived correctly. We throw our ideas out into the great big open internet and wonder if we’ll be misunderstood. In an effort to avoid it, I think a lot of us (including me) overcompensate.
Have you ever stopped to think while typing a tweet, Facebook update, or prayer that it’s difficult to know how your comments will be perceived?
I wonder what’s thought of us if we use way too many exclamation points!!!!!!!!!!!
Are we rude if we rarely communicate emotion?
At what point does using smileys regularly become annoying to our online friends?
What do you do to be understood when face-to-face interaction isn’t possible…without going overboard on emoticons or using dramatic punctuation?
Here’s a true statement that most of us believe but don’t live out:
GOD’S STRENGTH + YOU = SUPERNATURAL RESULTS
This map is a visual example to me of the statement above.
(CLICK TO ENLARGE)
In March of this year I was praying to connect to a few church leaders around the world who are as passionate about global evangelism as I am. On April 1 I published “The Art of Online Ministry” as a means of helping people who began asking me questions about launching online churches. Now we’re partnering with one or more teams in each country that has a blue pinpoint on the map above. Today we have over 200 partners with whom we’re sharing content, resources, and/or equipment.
The funny thing is, my dream keeps growing and changing as I live it out. No matter where you live, I am eager to help you. Check out our community page to have questions answered by other online ministers, apply to receive equipment, or download my ebook or some of our partner resources at BlueDoor.tv.
Imagine what God will do in your life when you begin living out the dreams He gives you that are greater than your current strength and influence can accomplish!
Don’t be like the creepy guy in high school who wanted you to wear his class ring moments into your first date.
Recently I attended a new online church that’s based in America for the first time. The message was excellent, and I was moved to share a comment in the chat room. But…when I tried to type a comment I discovered I’d have to register a new account to participate. Suddenly I forgot what I’d wanted to say and was a little put off…and I’ve been part of The Church for decades now. Imagine if someone who is far from God were met with a registration form. I bet she’d close the experience widow just like I did, perhaps never to return.
The irony here is that church online critics say it exists for lazy people and that community really can’t occur via online evangelism. My experience over the past 5 years – starting at LifeChurch.tv then planting online churches in other languages through BlueDoor.tv – is those accusations are totally false. People want to talk with you and discuss what’s being shared in your online messages. They have questions. Your online church might be the only honest attempt a person makes at seeking God. Don’t turn them away and risk ruining the opportunity for community by asking them to give you information before interacting.
It’s been explained to me before that some online churches require registration as a means for opening the door to relationship with casual attendees and not letting them slip away without contact. I say if you’ve launched an online church to add peoples’ names to a registry or e-mail list you’ve missed the point. They may never attend your local church. I encourage you to plant spiritual seeds in their lives when they give your message the time of day and leave the rest up to God.
The bottom line is registration signifies commitment, and that’s asking a lot from the people for whom I believe online church exists. Let’s all consider changing our platforms or processes in order to lower the barriers to entry for our church online attendees.