That Church Conference: What I learned about using social media in a Church environment

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A few months ago, I was forwarded a church conference suggestion by a co-worker, and I thought, “Meh. What the heck…”

YOU GUYS. How highly did I underestimate the divine appointment that this conference, nay, this COMMUNITY was.

Communication and social media gurus from all kinds of different churches and businesses shared their wisdom and passion with us. Inspiring us to reach more people for the kingdom than we ever could with just our buildings.

Big picture: Social Media is not a megaphone to shout noise at people, it’s a telephone to connect, relate to, and draw in people. And if we’re not listening to people, we can’t minister to people. As a church, we have the amazing opportunity to reach millions of people via our online presence. If we choose to engage, we can get people’s attention that might not have thought twice about church, or really needed to hear that particular message that particular day.

The choppy waters of the 2D world is a new place for most of us, and we’re trying our best to leverage it for the gospel.

I can’t even tell you how great it was to sit in a room of like-minded people, all hungering for direction as we navigate our ships through the cumbersome channels of social media communication and digital strategy. The good news is that we’re all in this together. We’re offering lifelines and navigational tools to help pave the way. And even when we fail at it, we’ve got people around us to offer support and prayer.

If you’re looking for more practical things, email me at meagan.ranson@242community.com and I’ll give you ALL MY NOTES or go to That Church Conference next year. It’s worth all the things.

A Story of Mercy

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Mercy: (especially of a journey or mission) performed out of a desire to relieve suffering; motivated by compassion

Walking through a tough season of pain, disappointment, and loss, I am feeling jaded and worn. My hallelujah is tired. I am tempted to draw a line in the sand of my faith and say, “I can’t go any further. I might even take a step back. This is TOO MUCH.”

But God is waiting in my doorway, standing on my doorstep, just waiting for me to open the door. He hasn’t left, and he hasn’t yelled to be let in. He’s just…waiting. I look out my windows at Him and contemplate the person that disappointed me. Who didn’t answer me when I called. I am angry at Him, and I am unsure of our relationship. How do I act if I let Him in? Can I hear what He has to say?

But then He sends people to me that I do trust. He softens the blow and heals my heart even though I’ve kept him standing on my doorstep. They tell me that He is waiting for me to show Him my brokenness. That if I would let him offer me mercy, He wants to relieve me of my suffering and fill me with the only things that can fill this hole in my heart. Faith, joy in suffering, and hope.

I unlock the deadbolt.

Unable to stop thinking about the storm swelling under the surface, I tell Him, “I’m not ready to let you in yet. But I’m here. I am still here.” I pull a chair up to the window and talk to Him through the door.

I ask a lot of questions, laced with distrust and anger. He listens.

I stop asking. And open the door a crack.

He reaches around the frame and holds my hand.

All he offers me is comfort. Reminders of his love for me. He tells me that His heart breaks too. That I am brave. And that the mercy of redemption is always on the table, and He is always sitting at it.

He stills sits on my doorstep, but my door is cracked a little. We are talking now. Maybe we’ll laugh some too.

But I’m not hiding anymore. My shades are not fully drawn. I’m letting the sun in, even when my skin cringes at the exposure.

{God, thank you for never withdrawing your mercy. Thank you that you never take mercy off the table for me. Help me to take it today and offer myself to follow you.}

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3 Things About How God Speaks To Me

God said some big things to me today. BIG and CLEAR were these things, and I love how He talks to me. But I know that the idea of God talking to us can sometimes be very confusing. It tends to get blown up to this enormous mystery that only certain people seem to understand. But how I feel God talks to me is SO SIMPLE.

(But simple does not always mean easy.)

Now, I am not a genius. I am not a theological expert. I only speak from a place of experience, and of trial and error. Note that the “error” part is still a part of path that I am walking, and I am certain always will be.

That being said, I think that God talks to us often. I know He talks to me way more than I am listening. And sometimes, it takes big things and a lot of wandering to make me hear what He has to say.

But when I do…

1.) It sounds like my own voice. 

I’ve never heard an audible, out-loud voice booming from the heavens. Usually, it’s just a thought. When I was a teenager, Gods voice sounded like a teenager (albeit a wise one) and now his voice sounds like a 20-something. He uses my language. He doesn’t speak in King James or use language I don’t understand. He is exactly who I need Him to be, exactly where I am.

2.) It often repeats itself.

When I see/hear the SAME thing over and over again, I start to pay attention. Sometimes it’s the meaning behind the same song, a phrase that different people keep saying, a scripture that seems to be everywhere I look. When something is repeating, it’s not coincidence, it’s God talking.

3.) It comes with peace, not confusion.

If the above two are happening, but I have a sense of confusion and not confidence, that’s not God. I know because HE SAID SO. Paul told the church at Corinth “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace” and since 2 Timothy 3:16 says that all scripture is God-breathed (meaning God spoke it), we can believe it to be true. God’s character doesn’t change, and His character is PEACE, not chaos or confusion. Anything that resembles the latter can be ignored.

There’s no formula or science behind hearing Him. HE WANTS US TO HEAR HIM. As a human, I like to overcomplicate things, but it’s just not that way. Thank goodness.

I also believe that God speaks to people differently. Like I said before, He is exactly who you need Him to be, exactly where you are.

How does God speak to you?

Humans Are Incredible

I spotted this video that went viral on Facebook today, and (I know I’m emotional) it brought tears to my eyes. Three strangers outside of a Kroger started jamming on the spot, and it SOUNDS AMAZING.

I follow this blog called, “Humans of New York”, the first of many replications, and I am constantly reminded of people’s crazy stories, talents and lives. Strangers that you pass by on the street have complex stories weaved with heartache and love and struggle. Seeing their faces tied to excerpts of their stories usually leaves me in awe of the human race and how diverse we are.

Also, that we’re never alone.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this on Sunday’s, when I’m volunteering at church. How everyone that walks through those doors has a different story, and a different reason why they are there. In the sea of people, there are so many questions, so many tears that have been cried or anger that hasn’t been released, or forgiveness that hasn’t been had or freedom that hasn’t been found. The single mom whose ironically been singled out by her community, the confused teenager who has no idea who they are, the overwhelmed Dad who feels like a total failure.

SO MANY STORIES.

And that is why I want to look at people with open arms and to be able to say, “I have no idea what it is like to be you, but I’m sure it can be tough, and I’m sure you fail at it, but I’m also sure that you are freaking amazing.” Because, you are.

The talent of these three totally random guys, is shake-your-head-in-amazement wonderful. And we might never have gotten to see the beauty behind the rags so to speak, had they not let us. There is beauty in all of us, God DELIGHTS in us (it says so in Zephaniah 3:17), because we are all wonderfully made. (David talks about that is Psalm 139:14.)

So I love to see the beauty shine through, and to soak it in. Because that stranger on the street, the nameless person sitting next to you in church, or the dude with a guitar outside of Kroger…sometimes, you just don’t know.

P.S. If you want to check out Humans of New York, you can find it here:

https://www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork?fref=nf