Coffee with the Preacher, Uncategorized

Why a digital church makes sense to me?

WAYS THE CURRENT APPROACH TO CHURCH SEEMS BADLY OUTDATED TO ME

You open the doors to your church every weekend hoping more people will come (or in some cases, hoping somebody comes) only to discover that, with few exceptions, more people rarely do.

That appears to be especially true as churches reopen in the midst of the coronavirus.

It can get discouraging, and many leaders wring their hands over what to do and how to respond.

Even once-growing churches hit plateaus and stumble into decline, and we wonder why it’s so hard to gain traction.

One of the reasons so many churches struggle these days is that the way we do church is badly outdated.

Culture is changing rapidly, which means people are changing rapidly. If you want to reach people, that probably also means you need to change your approach rapidly.

There’s a huge difference between changing the message and changing the method.

In the church’s case, the historic message doesn’t change. But the methods have to.

Here’s why: if you don’t change your methods, eventually no one will hear your message.

I have a sinking feeling if we sat down with young adults and asked them why we do things the way we do, we’d hear an earful.

As the pace of change accelerates around us with every passing month, here are ways the way we do church appears ever-more outdated.

If you don’t change your methods, eventually no one will hear your message.

1. MAKING PEOPLE GO TO CHURCH

The idea of only doing church in a ‘box’ on Sundays is an increasingly stale idea.

In the (very near) future, people won’t go to church. The church will go to people.

As desperately as church leaders are trying to encourage people to return to church, the disruption of 2020 has only accelerated that trend.

Not sure what that means?

Think about how much your life has changed in the last 15 years.

Quick example: Let’s say I want to buy a specific wooden monitor stand for my LAPTOP (which I do). I have two options.

Option 1: Travel to store after store looking for what feels like a needle in a haystack (I want a walnut one), realizing, in the end, I likely need to go to a major city to find it) I like, b) fits my particular computer size and c) is in my price range. (Not factoring in, of course, a lot of phone calls, a day of lost travel time and tons of gas money).

Option 2: Browse Amazon and walmart.com from my phone, order the monitor and have it shipped to my house next day.

Which would you choose?

Exactly.

Despite a welcome and thoughtful backlash against technology and what it’s doing to our minds (and souls), the internet is still not going away anytime soon.

There was a day when going to church was the only option you had if you wanted to be part of a local church.

A century or more ago, you lived in a village or city or on a farm, and you made the trek into town or over a few blocks to hear the local preacher. It was also a chance to connect relationally and socially. Honestly, for many people a century ago it was a highlight of their week.

The car gave people mobility, so we created bigger suburban churches to which people drove.

As a result, our entire model for the last century or more has been built on people going to church as though it was a destination and physical place.

But back up the timeline earlier than that, and you realize that the church going to people is not that innovative. Entire denominations and movements were premised on bringing the church to people (think circuit preachers or even the Apostle Paul).

Now, of course, we have the internet. Which most church leaders still seem to ignore as a serious tool for ministry.

So many churches remain stuck in the idea that the only way you can access the Gospel is to come to our building at a set hour every week.

Want access beyond that? Not sure how to help you.

Too many churches operate an analog model in a digital world.

Churches that want to reach people will bring the church to people, through:

This made me smile!

A great social media presence

Messages available anytime, anywhere in multiple formats (web, social, podcast)

In-home gatherings

Practical help/advice/encouragement for everyday life (like the Parenting strategy, spiritual growth, singles, marriage, etc)

Partnerships in the community with other organizations that are making a difference (which not only does good, but takes you out of your box and into where the people you’re trying to reach gather)

Ironically, when churches begin to go to people, it makes people also want to go to church.

Because you went to them, they will want to come to you.

It creates a reciprocal, daily relationship. Whatever you do during the week builds on what happened on the weekend. And whatever you do on the weekend built on what happened during the week.

But most churches still only want people to come to them. That clock is ticking…fast.

When churches begin to go to people, it makes people also want to go to church.

2. SEPARATING THE ANALOGUE AND DIGITAL WORLDS

If 2020 is the year where (finally) the digital becomes real for church leaders, the question becomes what to do with it.

Strangely, most churches still separate what they do digitally and what they do in the real world.

Most of us weave seamlessly between our digital and real lives, texting someone one minute and sitting down for coffee with them the next, emailing someone to follow up on the meeting we just had, and video chatting someone we’re hanging out with Friday night.

Too many church leaders still think of their:

  • Email list as a ‘newsletter’
  • Social media as an announcement and PR venue
  • The physical world as the ‘real thing’

You know what the digital world is? It’s relationship.

It’s a friendship. And like all good friendships, it doesn’t fit in a programmatic box.

your guest services team should take noticed as to a huge shift in the last year where almost everyone visits in person has watched online for weeks or months before they set foot in a building.

I go to places and people who never set foot in a church tell me they watch messages online.

They don’t see it as separate.

Church leaders who do, lose.

Conversely, leaders who see the analog/digital life as seamless will be in much a better position to reach people who live like it’s seamless, because it is.

As a leader, start to see the analog/digital life as seamless, because for more people.

3. IGNORING TRUE COMMUNITY

Is there any irony in the digital explosion around us? Of course there is.

The more connected we become, the more disconnected we feel.

The church should embrace technology as a way to connect, but also realize that as people connect more digitally, they feel increasingly isolated and removed from each other.

What people hunger for most is community. And no one should be better at community than the local church.

The challenge, of course, is that we’re not all that great at community.

Too often our ‘fellowship’ is shallow, or we fight a lot.

What’s missing in far too many churches is love. The very thing for which we should be known.

Churches that become great at cultivating true community will have a long line of people wanting to be part of it.

The more connected people become, the more disconnected people feel.

4. CREATING A 100% DOWNLOADABLE OR FORGETTABLE EXPERIENCE

Yes, the church will become more digital, more location independent, more remote. Sermons can be consumed on a run, on a commute and while cooking dinner. I get that. That’s a good thing. You should be able to download snippets of what your church does so you can be present in peoples lives.

But you need to facilitate experiences that go beyond that.

If your entire church experience is 100% downloadable, why would you gather? It’s often in the gathering when people move beyond themselves and experience something transcendent and life-changing.

Ironically, the constant consumption of content leaves people hungering for greater community, greater experience and greater transcendence.

Churches that facilitate those kinds of experiences are seeing momentum. Churches that don’t find it far harder to gain momentum.

One of the best questions you can ask as a church leader is “If people show up on a Sunday, have we left enough room for them to encounter God?” That can be done through music, through prayer, through silence and even through the way you preach. It’s a posture as much as it’s programming.

Too often, people show up at church hoping to find God. Instead, they find us.

Don’t let people show up to your church only to find you.

This is one of the highest value points of a church that gathers: you share in something far bigger and far better than any of us and all of us.

And of course, you can create a similar outcome digitally.

5. BEING MEDIOCRE

One of the challenges most leaders face is trying to do a great ministry on limited resources.

Since we’re all hyper-connected, it means many churches try to imitate larger churches in what they do, often with limited success.

While you just don’t have the talent, skill or ability to pull off what a church 10 or 100x your size does, that doesn’t stop many from trying.

The result is usually mediocrity. Add the restrictions in with social distancing, masks and the challenges of coronavirus and that complicates things even more.

Years ago Jim Collins asked a great question that should still haunt every leader: what can you be best in the world at?

How would you answer that?

Just because you can’t be great at everything doesn’t mean you can’t be great at anything.

The key is to isolate the principles or points that resonate most.

You may not be the best preacher in the world, but what aspect of your preaching connects best?

Your stories?

The way you make the complex simple?

How you handle scripture?

Your relatability?

The personal connection you create with your audience?

Discover what connects best and develop that. 

Musically, you may not have a great band…but do you have a

Fantastic vocalist?

Great keyboardist?

Solid guitar player?

Good DJ?

Focus on what makes you great.

And no, you don’t have an unlimited budget, but meaningful connection with other people is free. So is kindness. So is hope.

Stop being mediocre at everything.

Pick a lane, and go deep.

You can branch out from there.

In an age where people create amazing art, design, products and services from home-based businesses, mediocrity is no longer an effective strategy.

If you found this interesting give me shout out as to how we can growth together.

Education Matters, Uncategorized

Why Education Matters – “Parents are the Key” Angela Woods

It is an understatement to say that the Coronavirus pandemic has caused us to change many aspects of our daily lives.  These changes are clearly seen in our school systems locally and nationally. Because schools in North Carolina have been closed since early March, parents and other family members have become teachers without the benefit of formal training. Despite the hardships brought about by the physical closings of school so early, the Coronavirus has reminded us that education matters and it starts in the home, not the school system.

Parents may forget how instrumental they are in their children’s education.  I remember as a child seeing my father sitting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper to stay informed about local, national, and international events. He and my mother would often discuss the articles they read.  Our house was always filled with books including encyclopedias, a thesaurus, and a dictionary.  I recall the excitement of bookfairs in elementary school.  Despite not having a lot of money, my parents made sure we were able to buy a few books.  Saturdays were the best because we had our own library cards and would spend the afternoon finding and reading books.  My parents encouraged us to learn and to excel at learning.  They reminded us that we were smart and could not be held back by race or sex.  Although we played sports, our sports performances were never more important than our academics. 

The expectation and encouragement from my parents propelled me to attend the College of William and Mary and UNC School of Law.  As a licensed attorney, I am required to take continuing legal education classes yearly.  Learning should continually be a part of our lives. Parents/caretakers have an opportunity to make sure their children have a great foundation upon which to build.  Because of my foundation, I am running to be the next district court judge for Cleveland and Lincoln counties in the November 2020 election.  I agree with Marian Wright Edelman that “Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.”  With so many issues we are facing in the world, parents/caretakers’ roles in the education of their children is an investment for our community and the world.  I encourage parents not to be weary in well doing because in due season you shall reap if you faint not.  Galatians 6:9. Education matters and your role in the education of your child is essential for the success of our community and world.

Attorney Angela Woods

Uncategorized

Beyond the Walls

Mark 1:41 (KJV)
41  And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.

If we are going to help someone who is suffering we need to get beyond the 4 walls of the church.

Jesus went where the hurting lived, worked, and socialized. Jesus understood their pain.

people today need a touch from another brother or sister!

Uncategorized

Changes are Coming

William Thompson Ministries will be making a directional change.

For the past two years the ministry has been reaching out to churches and other groups. The new direction of this ministry will be reaching out to individuals to help them better their lives and their individual ministry.

Our goals will be to Equip believer on how to be effective with an active ministry, that is result driven with measurable results. A ministry that will Engage with people.

1 Samuel 2:35 (KJV)
35  And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

What is the new approach: William Thompson Ministries will now be a mentorship program. A person’s mentor is someone who gives them help and advice over a period of time, especially help and advice related to their calling to serve our God.

  • Principle 1: Consultant. This is the most obvious role for a mentor to play.
  • Principle 2: Counselor. Listen. …
  • principle 3: Cheerleader. In addition to giving constructive feedback and advice that a mentor can give, I will also provide support and enthusiasm.

In other words I got your back if you need a mentor.

Uncategorized

Does socialization make a difference?

Hebrews 10:25 (KJV)
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

The word of God gives us understanding to why social gathering is important.

First, it is important to God

Secondly, it is important to your wellbeing

Thirdly, it makes this world a better place

When it comes to the senior population church gathering meet an abundance of needs.

The Health Benefits of Older Adult Socialization

Older adults with a fulfilling social life tend to avoid many of the physical, cognitive and emotional difficulties that seniors who are isolated encounter. There are a number of important ways that socialization can improve senior health, as explained by LiveStrong

  • Reduced stress. Older adults who are socially active handle stress better. This leads to important increases in cardiovascular health and an improved immune system. 
  • Longer lifespan. High levels of socialization in seniors help increase longevity. 
  • More fitness. Older adults with diverse social supports are more likely to exercise regularly, which leads to a host of physical, mental and cognitive benefits. 
  • Reduced risk of depression. Consistent socialization reduces the likelihood that seniors will experience the depression caused by isolation and loneliness. 
  • Less anxiety. Similarly, senior socialization reduces levels of anxiety as well. 
  • Greater self-esteem. Socialization helps seniors maintain their self-esteem and sense of worth. 

The Cognitive Benefits of Senior Socialization

(such as thinking, reasoning, movement skills, and remembering)

Just as importantly, socialization can provide a tremendous boost to a senior’s cognitive health as well. Positive social interactions on a consistent basis help keep seniors stimulated, mentally sharp and intellectually engaged. 

Not surprisingly, the improvements in these cognitive areas can help prevent general cognitive decline, including memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Importantly, when these social interactions include exercise groups, the benefits of both are increased significantly. 

As you can see, the upshot of all this is that healthy socialization leads to an increase in the quality of life seniors experience on a daily basis. Now let’s have a look at some of the obstacles to socialization that seniors often face. 

6 Ways Seniors Can Cultivate a Healthy Social Life

For many older adults, continued socialization doesn’t happen on its own. Strategies, commitment and diligence are often required. Here are 6 ways that seniors and their loved ones can cultivate a healthy social life: 

  • Build and maintain positive relationships with grandchildren
  • Do volunteer work (this has the added benefit of keeping us busy and engaged during retirement). 
  • Take advantage of community resources such as senior centers, religious organizations and the events at independent and assisted living facilities. 
  • Organize social activities on your own and include seniors who might be experiencing isolation or loneliness. 
  • Help maintain a sense of purpose by caring for a pet, church attendance or the pursuit of hobbies and interests. 
  • Loves ones: Ensure that older adults have adequate transportation to and from social activities. 

Five Reasons Why Having a Social Life is Significant

Social distancing has become a new by-word in the past few days. The banning of large gatherings, including churches, and the closing of many establishments where people gather are common. Empty shelves at the grocery store are a normal sight. And there is the expectation that things will get worse before they begin to improve.

So I say to children, nieces, nephews, grandchildren do as much as you can to keep your older love ones active.

As a young adult there are reasons for socialization.

1. It provides a balance

Your future career will be your livelihood, so doing well in school will always be a priority. But it is also important to take a break from doing work and have a night fulfilled with fun and making memories. Having a social life does not mean that you have to neglect your academics. It is a matter of knowing how to balance both.

2. Forms good relationships

Meeting new people is a part of life. Every person that you encounter, serves a purpose in your life. Whether you know what that purpose is or not, it really does not matter. You meet them for a reason. Since being a pastor, I have formed life-long friendships and professional relationships with my other pastors. By forming this great bonds with people it is preparing for the work force of the “real world” where am going to serve.

3. Expands your brand

For the the field of communications specifically, your name is your brand and your brand is everything. It is what separates you from everyone else. When building your brand, remember to educate yourself on how you can be your most marketable self. By having a social life you are already prepared. Since your life has balance, and you have formed good relationships these social skills can bleed into the professional world. By this time you will be a pro, because of your experience.

4. Connects you to humanity (social awareness)

Serving God through others, you were a well-rounded individual.  One of the mistake that most individual make is spent too much time trying to reach a level of education at the cost of not having a social life.

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5. Broaden your horizons

Having a social life increase your knowledge and helps you become more worldly. Traveling, dining and exploring other cultures with family or friends helps you think and learn more about yourself and others. By seeing other cultures or religions that are not your norm it broaden your horizons.

Having a social life early broadens your horizons, connects you to humanity, helps expand your brand, aids you with forming good relationships and overall assists with placing balance in your life.

Uncategorized

Part V: What brings about hard-heartedness?

BIBLE READING: Hebrews 3:7-19

KEY BIBLE VERSE: That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today you must listen to his voice. Don’t harden your hearts against him as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested God’s patience in the wilderness.” (Hebrews 3:7-8)

Hard-heartedness is the result of failing to obey God’s Word. In many places, the Bible warns us not to “harden” our hearts. This means stubbornly setting ourselves against God so that we are no longer able to turn to him for forgiveness.

The Israelites became hard-hearted when they disobeyed God’s command to conquer the Promised Land (“when they rebelled,” see Numbers 13; 14; 20; and Psalm 95). Be careful to obey God’s Word, and do not allow your heart to become hardened.

We must put forth a conscious effort to listen to what God is saying.

There is a difference between hearing and listening. The main difference is that hear is to receive or to become aware of a sound through your ears whereas listen means to make a conscious effort to perceive the sound. The difference between hear and listen is similar to that of see and watch.

Hear – Meaning and Usage

We use hear to say simply that a sound came to our ears. Here, we do not make an effort to receive or understand the sound; we are not paying attention or waiting for the sound. So hear means simply to become aware of a sound.  We always hear sounds, noises and voices around us, but we don’t actively pay attention to them.

Hebrews 3:15 (KJV)
15  While it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

1 Samuel 3:10 (KJV)
10  And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.

Uncategorized

Part IV: What brings about hard-heartedness?

BIBLE READING: Mark 8:10-21

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Jesus knew what they were thinking, so he said, “Why are you so worried about having no food? Won’t you ever learn or understand? Are your hearts too hard to take it in? ‘You have eyes—can’t you see? You have ears—can’t you hear?’ Don’t you remember anything at all?” (Mark 8:17-18)

Hard-heartedness is the result of persistent resistance to God. The Pharisees had tried to explain away Jesus’ previous miracles by claiming they were done by luck, coincidence, or evil power.

Here they demanded a sign from heaven—something only God could do. Jesus refused their demand because he knew that even this kind of miracle would not convince them.

They had already decided not to believe. Hearts can become so hard that even the most convincing facts and demonstrations will not change them.

Pastors, Prophets, Teachers, Bishops, and Elders need for God to open their eyes to what God is doing. I understand what a stimulus does but when it is a God thing the efforts of man become useless.

God has sent the signs already to us Hosea 4:6 spoke of.
6  My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

His people need not fear. Just as the three Hebrew boys said:

Daniel 3:17-18 (KJV)
17  If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.
18  But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

 Not my will but thy will be done!

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Part III: What brings about hard-heartedness?

BIBLE READING: Exodus 11:1-10

KEY BIBLE VERSE: Although Moses and Aaron did these miracles in Pharaoh’s presence, the Lord hardened his heart so he wouldn’t let the Israelites leave the country. (Exodus 11:10)

Hard-heartedness is the result of deliberate rejection of God. Did God really harden Pharaoh’s heart and force him to do wrong?

Before the ten plagues began, Moses and Aaron announced what God would do if Pharaoh didn’t let the people go.

But their message only made Pharaoh stubborn—he was hardening his own heart.

In so doing, he defied both God and his messengers. Through the first six plagues, Pharaoh’s heart grew even more stubborn. After the sixth plague, God passed judgment.

Sooner or later, evil people will be punished for their sins. When it became evident that Pharaoh wouldn’t change, God confirmed Pharaoh’s prideful decision and set the painful consequences of his actions in motion.

God didn’t force Pharaoh to reject him; rather, he gave him every opportunity to change his mind.

In Ezekiel 33:11, God says, “I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people.”

I believe that God is calling the nation to repentance starting with the leaders.