Monday, August 31, 2009

3 Reasons Twitter is On the Verge of Breaking Big... Or... You Know Dying Completely

Tonight I was out with some new friends talking about the virtues of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites when I said this sentence, "I have the feeling Twitter is here for the long run. I think it will really start to break big soon."

Booting up my computer I see this article pop up on Tech Crunch: Why Don't Teens Tweet? We Asked Over 10,000 of Them.

The article is good. You should definitely open it in another window and read it. But the conclusion of the articles is

-SPOILER ALERT!-

"Most teens don’t use Twitter because it doesn’t enable them to do anything they can’t already do elsewhere, which is the same reason most adults don’t use Twitter. It has nothing to do with any teen-specific concerns like texting plans or safety. It comes down to something more simple: delivering value beyond Facebook and MySpace — a competitive moat that Facebook is bridging one move at a time, from the Everyone button to the acquisition of FriendFeed to the centrality of the stream itself."
Which tells us that...

1. Twitter Does Not Offer Anything Sufficiently Unique


Immediately the thought came to mind, "How do people describe Twitter to the non-twitter user?" Almost universally I've heard, "It's like updating your Facebook status, but you only get 140 characters to do it."

And the crazy thing is, Twitter seems to be aware of this fact, as evidenced by the Twitter App on Facebook that lets you update your Facebook status via Twitter. So it's no longer "like" updating your Facebook status; it IS updating your Facebook status.

If the marketplace really views Twitter in this way, then as much as it pains me to say it as an avid Twitter evangelist, I'm afraid Twitter needs a course correction before it finds itself marooned on the shores of the ever-growing borders of Facebooklandia.

But if it becomes marooned like FriendFeed did, the Twitter bosses probably wouldn't mind too much considering Twitter would go for far more than the $50 million FriendFeed cost to Facebook.

2. Businesses ♥ Twitter... and are Confused by Facebook

You see, Facebook isn't all a bed of roses though. As far as I can tell Twitter has given brands something that Facebook has yet to deliver: a reliable means to connect businesses with their consumer base.

You might say, "But Facebook has pages!" To which I say, You're right, but the pages interface is weak and pages offer little means to connect with users without coming across as spammy.

Consider this:


Zappos
Twitter - 1.2 million followers
Facebook Page - 2,200 fans

Google
Twitter - 1.4 million followers
Facebook Page - 37,000 fans

Southwest Airlines
Twitter - 530,000 followers
Facebook Page - 76,000 fans

Twitter offers businesses a relatively easy means to connect with a passionate base and Facebook does not. If Facebook wants to put the death nail in Twitter it must become more business-friendly.

3. The Twitter Business Model Still Not Clear
Last year Facebook brought in $300 million in revenue, but Twitter has only recently developed a revenue stream and stands to post only $4 million profits. (By comparison, DigitalWorshiper.com has produced precisely $0 since Q1 2008.)

This does not indicate that Twitter lacks a bright future; it just means the future is not clear for Twitter yet and right now, Facebook is laying the financial smack-down.

So is Twitter on the ropes? Probably not yet, but I think Twitter will need more than five smooth stones to take down the Facebook Goliath.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Wireless Electricity is a Game-Changer

I've always said that the greatest invention of my life will probably be the development of widespread wireless electricity. Imagine no more batteries (or constantly recharged batteries). Imagine your iPod never running out of juice. Imagine your laptop being truly wireless all the time.

Eric Giler, CEO of WiTricity may have the solution.



As for that "bundle of wires" beneath your desk; wireless electricity will really only get rid of about 3-5 of the wires (monitor, CPU, and peripherals), but the vision for mobile devices is brilliant!

My next big idea? Contact lenses with a HUD that gives you information on demand. Or even does something like this.







Tuesday, August 25, 2009

5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again - Part 5

5. Create a Christian Alternative for Every Facet of Life

A long time ago, there were Christians in the world. Do not be alarmed! They were in the world, but they were not of the world. We modern Christians have learned the dangers of being of the world so well that we have taken ourselves out of the world completely. Let's run down the list shall we?

We work at Christian businesses,
watch Christian movies,
listen to Christian music,
hang out at Christian coffee shops,
go to a Christian mechanic,
shop at Christian stores,
eat at Christian restaurants (shout-out, Chick-fil-a!),
read Christian books,
wear Christian clothes,
only drink things Christians should drink,
only say words Christians should say,
have Christian friends,
work out at Christian gyms,
visit Christian websites,
listen to Christian podcasts,
show our kids Christian television (while we watch Lost),
attend Christian day cares (assuming your mother is a heathen and thus, works. (totally joking there.))
go to Christian schools (or for the truly pious, homeschool)
go to Christian colleges,
play in church sports leagues
go to Christian dances creative movement classes,

But there is one place that we have not been able to successfully Christianize, and I think you know where I'm going with this. Why do we have to commute every morning with the world? Isn't that a temptation to sin? I mean, how am I supposed to be Christlike when everyone is cutting me off in traffic? Can't they see my Christian bumper sticker and know that I'm really in a hurry because Jesus needs me to get somewhere soon no matter how many pedestrians have to be hospitalized? I'm on a mission from God!

That's why I propose Christian highways. It would be like the HOV lane, but instead of having to have another person in the car, you have to have at least 5 Christian bumper stickers and a minimum of 2 must make a joke about people going to hell.

I propose we call it the HOmM lane for "Heaven on my Mind." Or maybe the "Fastlane to the Father." That way we can be a witness to the lost people around us and never have to interact with them again!


This is part 5 of the 5 part series "5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again." In order to dispel any confusion out there, these posts were satirical. I have nothing against any of the Christian cultural things we do, we just need to step outside the bubble sometimes when we're not on mission trip in a foreign country and notice that there is a dying world all around us.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It Should Work Correctly Now


I know what you're thinking, "He spent a month 'changing' the design only to land back right where he started?" Well, that's kind of the case, but I fixed some of the coding that was giving the template problems before and I kind of like this template the best of those that I've found, so I'm sticking with it.

Let me know if it ever freaks out and I'll try to stay on top of it.

(Image source - Flickr user Carlos.Guerrera)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Design Changes Still in the Works

I've been working on this when I have time for about a month, but I'm still not happy with this blogger template because it won't allow me to add gadgets on the side-bar. So now I'm looking at another template.

I know it's not cool to constantly be shifting the layout around, but the limitations of blogger combined with my complete lack of web-design skills necessitate the amateurish approach to this.

Don't worry, I'll keep updating, but the aesthetics may be lacking until I get this worked out.

In the meantime, subscribe to the Digital Worshiper feed so you won't miss anything again.

Update: I'm even more dedicated to this now because my wife saw me tweaking the site in FireFox and she said, "That looks much better than it's ever looked. Usually the words are all jumbled at the top." Knowing she uses IE I realized there is a problem between browsers. Chrome was also making it look funky.

Sorry for the jumbled mess it's been the last few weeks. I will get a new layout up soon and will get it all tested so we won't face this problem again. (Hopefully!)

5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again - Part 4

4. Only Speak in Sentences that Can be Cross-Referenced in the Bible (And Say the Reference)

The best part about this approach is that it actually accomplishes two Christian life-goals at once: 1) Making yourself look far more biblically literate than anyone else in your church
2) Never having to share the gospel again.

This one takes some practice, but I promise it will help you never speak to another non-Christian again, if you just think about a few common circumstances in which you will need to draw upon your superior biblical prowess.

Example 1: You've wrapped up the 2 and a half hour service at your church and spent the next half hour dissecting the worship leader's choice to sing the alternate tune to "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." Now your friend says, "Hey it's 1:30 and I'm getting hungry. You want to go grab some lunch?" A normal person might say, "Yeah I'm starving, let's go to that new Mexican place." But you're not a normal person, so you reply with, "Man does live by bread alone. Matthew 4:4."

For bonus points, just use the King James Version.

Friday, August 14, 2009

5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again - Part 3

This is part 3 of the 5 part series "5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again." Here is parts 1 and part 2

3. Use a Deceptive Tract (Bonus: Leave it as a tip at lunch!)
Have you ever seen those tracts that looks like a $100 bill but is actually a gospel tract? You will need a bunch of these because non-Christians love it when you trick them into reading your paraphernalia.

For bonus points you can leave it in the place of a tip at Sunday afternoon lunch because the waitress is clearly a sinner in need of salvation, or she would have asked off on Sunday to go to church.

She also really likes it when she glimpses a $100 bill on the table where a tip should be only to discover that the Jesus who she blames for her bad lot in life has just had His followers come into her restaurant and refuse to pay her for her hard work.

Don't get me wrong; tracts are great, but I think they need to be used properly. Leaving one as a tip in a restaurant doesn't cut it. Saying something cute like, "I gave the waiter eternal life! Isn't that enough of a tip?!" is just ignorant and cheapens the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. And if the waiter was already a believer before you came in the restaurant, your tract didn't provide them with eternal life; it ripped them off to the tune of 20% of your the cost of your meal. And if they weren't already a believer, the odds that they actually read the tract are slim.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again - Part 2

This is part 2 in a series, so don't forget to read yesterday's post.

2. Only Attend Church-Sponsored Events
We Christians have discovered that the way to meet non-Christians is by having a well-known Christian speaker come to your church, like the fictitious Reverend P. J. Underwood, known for his brown tweed sports coats, characteristic mustache, and his five hour sermon series on Leviticus chapters 1-3. (If there's one thing that draws people to your church, it's the book of Leviticus.)

If Rev. Underwood is unavailable, you can always have a Bible Study. And make sure you call it a Bible Study when you invite the community to it. We wouldn't want to have to set up any more folding chairs than we would on a normal Sunday morning.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again - Part 1

I saw that a church in my area is having a one-day evangelism training coming up in a few days and it got me thinking. Is the church's lack of evangelism due to the fact that we don't know how to do it? Or is it, as I suspect, that most Christians don't know anyone who's not already a Christian? Just in case there are some Christians out there who still associate with people who aren't saved, I thought I would give them some helpful tips on how to avoid sharing the gospel ever again.

1. Only Consume Christian Media
If there's one sentence that will kill a good conversation with your non-Christian friend it's this: "No I never saw the evil Lord of the Rings trilogy, but did you see Fireproof? It was soooo good." The odds that your non-Christian friend saw Fireproof are about as slim as your Christian friend having not seen Braveheart.

Are you confused by the multiple station memory buttons on your car radio because there is only one Christian station in your town? Have you ever found yourself using the terms "Kirk Cameron" and "good actor" in the same sentence without employing the phrase "is not?" Do you only watch TV shows that were on 15 years ago because somehow time cleanses those programs and wholesome-ifies them?

Then you are on a good track to never share the gospel again.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of "5 Ways to Avoid Sharing the Gospel Ever Again"

Monday, August 10, 2009

LifeChurch's Vision for Digital Missions

Craig Groeschel is speaking on LifeChurch.tv's vision of digital missions this week. If you're at all interested in Digital Worship, and I hope you are, make an effort to visit one of their online experiences this week.

One of the things Craig always says is, "In order to reach people no one else is reaching, you have to do things no one else is doing." This idea fits perfectly with Gary Hamel's talk at the Leadership Summit last week. In case you missed it, go read my notes on Gary's talk and I think you'll see what I mean.

A few facts from his sermon:

  • 1.8 Million downloads of YouVersion, the iPhone Bible developed by LifeChurch staff.
  • 1 of every 27 iPhones in existence has YouVersion on it. WOW!
  • The chat room for their online campus translates text on the fly to the local language. Brilliant!
  • LifeChurch.tv bought Google ads for church online and discovered that people don't Google "church online" very much, but a lot of people do Google things like "naked ladies," so they bought Google ads for terms like "naked ladies."

If you can't make it to one of the online services this week though, I've included the notes from this week's message below.

Update: I guess the Google ads worked because near the end of the service a group of trolls who claimed to be from 4chan (to which I refuse to link) decided to come to church. As a friend of mine said, "LifeChurch still has a few kinks to work out in its live chat."


BEHIND THE CURTAIN—1

DIGITAL MISSIONS

MISSION: TO LEAD PEOPLE TO BECOME FULLY DEVOTED FOLLOWERS OF CHRIST. 45 Then (Jesus) opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. 46 He told them, "This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. Luke 24:45-47

WHAT IS THE CHURCH?

1) CHURCH IS A COMMUNITY OF BELIEVERS.

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

2) CHURCH IS CALLED TO BE OUTWARDLY FOCUSED.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nationsMatt 28:19

Church: ekklesia (ek-klay-see'-ah); called out ones.

3) THE CHURCH’S MESSAGE NEVER CHANGES BUT ITS METHODS MUST CHANGE.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb 13:8

TO REACH PEOPLE NO ONE IS REACHING, YOU HAVE TO DO THINGS NO ONE IS DOING.

NEW WAYS TO TAKE THE GOSPEL TO ALL NATIONS

1) YOUVERSION.COM

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. Rom 10:17

2) FREE MESSAGES TO ANYONE WITH INTERNET.

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. John 8:32

3) CHURCH ONLINE.

For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them. Matt 18:20

One year ago:362,000 digital touches cost 32 cents each.

Last month:880,000 digital touches cost 8 cents each

Immediate Applications:

1) Go to www.youversion.com for instructions on how to download the Bible to your phone.

2) Visit www.lifechurch.tv and worship with people from around the world at Church Online.

3) If you’d like to give to Digital Missions, go to www.lifechurch.tv, click on your campus, then click on “give” and you can help impact lives around the world.

Discussion Questions:

1) Did you have any experiences with church growing up? How has your vision of the church changed?

2) How did you come to Christ? If you’re not a follower of Christ, why are you not?

3) How can you use youversion.com, free messages, and Church Online to minister to someone you know?

The Leadership Summit - Gary Hamel


Gary Hamel (Ranked #1 Most Influential Business Thinker in the World (WSJ))
Manage Differently Now
Takeaway (for me):

Are you changing as fast as the world around you?
Churches aren't losing market share to the world due to ignorance. It's apathy.
Organizations lose relevance when the rate of internal change lags behind the rate of external change.
Don't be a prisoner of precedent.

The world is becoming more turbulent fast than businesses are becoming resilient.

"Success is often times a self-correcting phenomenon." <-- Love this!

Conquer Denial
Every organization is successful until it's not dismiss rationalize mitigate confront Most of what we do today is rendered irrelevant by the future Learn from the successful deviants Challenge your orthodoxies - Compare you churches to others in the area (what are we all doing identically?) - What hasn't changed in your church in the last 3-5 years? Idea: Open-source sermon - let everyone contribute to it beforehand

Consider Alternatives to top-down structure: Look at Gore's (makers of Gore-Tex) structure
- Leaders arise naturally in the corporation. (How do you know you're a leader? Call a meeting and see if anyone shows up!)
- Anyone can say "no" to any request at any time
- Peer reviews are actually peer reviews and determine employment variables

Mobilize, connect and support!
Example: Linux, Wikipedia
Consider the challenges of producing an operating system that is open source, or a browser (Firefox), or an encyclopedia.
We will not get better at changing lives until we get better at changing churches.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Leadership Summit Notes - Bill Hybels


Speaker: Bill Hybels
Leading in a New Reality
Main takeaway (for me): Leaders must be willing to make and lead their ministries through major adaptations in the new challenges that the economic crisis will continue to bring us for years ahead.

Hybels began with the illustration of a ship's captain looking over the wave reports and deciding whether to make a voyage. If the waves are relatively small and consistent, then he will go out. But if he sees a rogue wave on the charts he will not. The economic collapse was the rogue wave that hit all organizations last fall.

All organizations are affected by an economic rogue wave.
The normal we all knew and loved has left the building.
Leaders know that these rogue waves force new creativity.
These draw something out of us that calm seas never teach us. Storms require constant attention at the helm.

4 Lessons Learned Through the Economic Crisis

1. Philosophical
"Let's be the Acts 2 church to one another."
I don't think anyone is coming to church looking for a mild dose of God.
Told stories of Willow Creek increasing mercy-type ministries to people within the church and community.

2. Financial
Being the Church in an economic downturn is actually complicated. Revenues are down, but needs are increasing. How do we manage this?
Jack Welsh "Cash is king." (He made a joke where he corrected Jack saying, no "Jesus is king" but explained what Welsh meant financially.)
Healthy cash reserves give leaders what the need most: Time
Many church boards have never discussed their financial strategy beyond, maybe, the budget.

Told an approach Willow Creek uses. 3 buckets A, B, and C. All programs and budget items are written on slips of paper. If we lost 50% of our budget what would we drop? place those slips into bucket C.

If we lost 75% of revenue, what would we drop? Bucket B

What would we never ever stop doing? Bucket A

This is a way to prioritize your programs and budget, and it helps staff understand why choices are made the way they are.

If staff reductions are needed
- Give MONTHS of notice
- Give CLEAR and ACCURATE reasons (if it's financial, say so. If it's performance, give feedback and direction before termination, but explain WHY.)
- Be generous in severance

Simple budget
50% Salaries
15% Ministry Budgets
15% Facilities, debt, utilities
10% Gifts
10% "Winds of the Spirit" ready to go where the Spirit leads

During tough economic times people WANT to hear about money from God's point of view
People will still give even in a recession if the vision is white-hot

3. Relational
Hab. 3:2
God consistently works through people who are fully his.
Are we developing back-up people for the key leadership positions? Are the right people in those positions to start with?

4. Personal
My life is unsustainable. The pace at which I'm doing the work of God is destroying God's work in me.
Leaders need to be replenished daily. The best think you can bring your team is a "full bucket" every day.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Leadership Summit Short Update

What a great day! I heard some fabulous speakers and took tons of notes that I'll share with you later tonight. Thank you to the great people at Willow Creek and Chase Oaks Church in Plano, TX for hosting us. I can't wait to get back and see what God has in store for us all tomorrow.

Check back later this evening and I'll have more specific details about the things God stirred in me during the Leadership Summit!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Roman Catholic Church in England Concerned About Overuse of Social Media

Reuters has this story in which the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England expresses concerns that social networking and email may contribute to major social disorders and even suicide.

Vincent Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster said,
"I think there's a worry that an excessive use, or an almost exclusive use of text and emails means that as a society we're losing some of the ability to build interpersonal communication that's necessary for living together and building a community."
I wonder if this same discussion took place when print media gained in popularity. "These books are going to isolate people. Excessive use will keep them from hearing the stories told aloud. People may never leave their homes because of these books, and social relationships will begin to decay."

I doubt it, but it seems like the same argument if you ask me. What do you think?

Bonus: I'll be at the Leadership Summit August 6-7. If you're in the Dallas area and are attending the conference send me a tweet and let's try to meet up.
http://twitter.com/gabesmith
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