Why I Am Going to the Hydrate Conference

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They Hydrate Conference is taking place March 4-6, 2013 at the Stevens Creek Church in August, GA. I am not in any way affiliated with the conference, I have not been asked to write this, and I have no idea if they even want me writing this (it might do more harm than good). The lineup and themes of this conference look great and I have realized that I don’t want to miss it. I am not necessarily trying to convince others to go as much as I am just discussing my own reasons. Perhaps, some of what I say will resonate with you if you are debating on attending.

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Why Your Church Might Not Need Podcasting

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Earlier this week, Josh posted about “Why Your Church Might Not Need Live Streaming”, in which he laid out several items that each church needs to consider as they decide whether or not to begin/continue live streaming their service. Today, I want to write on a related topic – weekly podcasting. Many churches and pastors are podcasting the audio to their sermon, allowing people from all over the world to connect with their church’s ministry. But like live streaming, I believe that some churches are beginning this without first considering its full implications.

To begin, I should say that I like podcasts and even church/sermon podcasts. There are several that I subscribe to and at least two or three that I try to listen to on a regular basis. When I begin a weekly preaching ministry, I imagine that podcasting will be part of it in some form or fashion. I am not saying that a church should not podcast – I am only saying that a church and a pastor should consider the implications of podcasting before undertaking the task. While not being an exhaustive list of issues, I am going to outline three questions that church leaders should consider about podcasting.

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Why Your Church Might Not Need Live Streaming

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Live streaming has become a church buzzword. I’ve been to a lot of churches, from mega to tiny and one thing that I’ve continuously heard from pastors is “We have live streaming!” About two years ago there was this influx of churches joining USTREAM — it was the “answer” for so many.The way they could share the Word across not only their town but the entire world! They were able to spread the Gospel to places it had never been spoken of before. At least that’s the idea; the problem with live streaming is that too many churches are relying on it for reasons that they shouldn’t be. I’ve compiled a list of 3 reasons why your church might not need it:

1. You’re doing it wrong. One of the biggest reasons for doing live streaming is that it’s cheap! We know churches love cheap. And if a media person, pastor or laity can go to their lead pastor and say “We can do this without spending hardly any money.” I’d say it’s about a 99.99999% chance that the lead pastor says “Lets do it!” Since it’s so cheap many have the mindset that it doesn’t need much maintenance or that it doesn’t
really need to look very good. I’ve seen way too many churches that live stream with cheap handheld cameras you could buy at Walmart. You’re doing it wrong. If this is going to be a tool for worship and outreach then it needs to be done in excellence. My rule of thumb when it comes to the use of any technology in church is: If it isn’t effective, don’t do it.

Hearing the Voice of Younger Ministers in the Church of God

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This is a speech that I prepared and offered (in part) on the floor of the 2012 Church of God General Assembly. This issue was put before the body on whether or not to lower the age requirements for those candidates seeking to become an Ordained Bishop in the denomination. Currently, if a candidate is under the age of 30, he must wait an extra three years to attain the last rank of ministry than those who are 30 or older. The proposed measure would eliminate the three extra years that younger ministers would required to make.
The measure passed the General Council but narrowly failed the General Assembly. While it might seem to some as a small matter, I truly believe that it is indicative of our denomination’s attitude towards younger ministers and its posture towards hearing their voice and accepting their ideas. I felt strong enough about the issue to give a speech on the floor of the General Assembly. I wrote this entire piece, knowing that I would not be allowed to offer it all due to time constraints. I have decided to put it here in full. I would love to hear feedback and conversation about the speech. 

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Circles of Christian Understanding: God

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Last week I wrote about this series I’ve had on my mind for a while now. This post is about the first circle in what I like to call Circles of Christian Understanding.

Now before we jump in let me just say that these circles and the sequence by which they appear are for new or “young” Christians — we’ll call them Rookies, just because I don’t feel like saying “young” Christians throughout this entire post. Also, I’ll speak candidly at times knowing that there are an incredible amount of new Christians falling away from God. We cannot act as if this isn’t the case.

When it comes to understanding God, many Rookies have an advantage over seasoned Christians — Veterans. I say this for the simple fact that seasoned Christians need to do a lot of reevaluating in their understanding; while Rookies get to see and experience God anew.

Church Leaders and Social Media

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Over the last few months, I have become increasingly frustrated with much of social media, especially Facebook. To be clear, I am on Facebook (as well as other social networking platforms) and as a product of my generation, it is difficult for me to imagine not having a presence on Facebook. But despite my presence there, I have been very frustrated at the level of interaction, discourse, relationship, and civility that I have witnessed lately. It has caused me to spend some time reflecting on what my role as a minister and pastor will be on social networking sites. I see many pastors on Facebook and Twitter, but I see many that are not doing well (there are others I believe are really getting great milage out of their online presence). Overall, I think that many ministers are entering social networking without having critically reflected on all of the issues that such raises.

Personally, I really do not know what my roles on social media will be as I continue to transition into church leadership – I have seen many things on these sights (my ministers and non-ministers alike) that give me great concern. But this concern has led me to a time of reflection on some of these issues, even to the point of choosing social media and ministry as the topic of some recent research and writing in school (some of this post is adapted from that). As opposed to laying out various “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots” of social media and ministry, I have laid out four areas that I believe the minister needs to give care to and spend time reflecting on concerning his presence on social networking.

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iPad Apps I Use Most In Seminary

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One thing that I want to do with this blog is share those resources that I have found most helpful. In interest of this, I decided to put together a list of iPad apps that I have found most useful during my Seminary education. Pretty much none of these are unique in that they are helpful only to the seminarian  but together, they have helped me profoundly in staying organized and caught up on my work. Most of these apps are going to be pretty popular, run-of-the-mill apps; however, I hope that I can better explain how I specifically am using them for my Seminary education.

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Introduction: Circles of Christian Understanding

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So the other day a friend of mine & I were talking about Christianity – reflecting on how some people say that they’re Christians, but don’t seem to act it out in public. It’s something we’ve all seen and thought before, a simple observation. We began exploring why people do this and I had what I would call a small revelation.

When someone becomes a Christian they don’t think about how one day, maybe a week, month or year from now they’ll be going through the motions of Christianity. They’re excited about this life change that’s just occurred in their lives and this God that died for them.

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Martin Luther King, Jr. – Pastor and Theologian

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Remembering a Pastor and Theologian

Today is the day that we as a Nation set aside to remember the work, accomplishments, and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King is someone who I have the greatest amount of respect for. Still today, he stands as a premier example of someone called to the prophetic tasks of leading a people for societal change, confronting the church of its own injustices, and calling an entire nation to a collective self-reflection on its treatment of its own people, prompting that nation to better live up to its own self-identified founding principles of liberty and equality.

There is no doubt that he accomplished much by his giving of speeches and sermons; his leading of many protests, marches, and other forms of nonviolent resistance; and his interactions with politicians and leaders. While it is impossible to truly separate different areas of Dr. King’s vision from one another, I want to mainly focus on some of his more theological convictions, convictions which clearly informed every other facet (ethical, rhetorical, practical) of his vision and approach. In all of the ways that we remember him, it can sometimes be easy to forget that he was a pastor – serving at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama –  and a theologian, holding a Ph.D. from Boston University. When I hear and read the words of Dr. King, I clearly hear the heart of a pastor and the mind of a  theologian shining through.

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