EMAIL IS DEAD

File this one under “Continuing Education.”

As most of you know, in 2013 I resigned my beloved church of 14 years and relocated across the country to my ancestral homeland in order to focus on writing. Then, six months ago (March 2016) The Lord made it clear to me and our church that I was to pastor again.

What I have learned is that things changed while I was away.

I don’t mean away from Texas, I mean away from day-to-day ministry.

One of the things I have learned, the hard way, is that email is dead.

email-marketing[1]

When I was in Port Orchard, we relied upon email for almost everything. It was efficient and cost effective. I think my love for email was bias. When I arrived in Port Orchard in 1999, they were very much in the technological word of 1985–One computer used only for printing the bulletin, no internet connection on site, and certainly no email database. I was opposed early on with the typical “What about people without a computer” and I told them that “We will still use snail mail for those folks if they request it, but soon everyone will be using email for just about everything.” I think people 30 and under view email the same way I think of a fax machine–as something akin to an abacus. Nevertheless, it is hard to let go of a beloved method.

I was right, of course. Right up until I left email was our primary mode of communication. It was more vital than our website, the app we built, Facebook, Twitter, or text messaging. We had email distrubition lists for every group, sub-group, and ministry in our church. It was wonderful. It was easy. It worked.

That is not the case in my new environment. True, some of that might be location, but I suspect it is a cultural shift. Almost no one emails anymore. Most people don’t check their email more than weekly. The only thing email is useful for now is to send a document–and the only way that works is if I send the person a text message saying, “I sent you a document, check your email.”

Email is dead. Text messaging is alive and well.

This fall will find me trying to figure out how to be non-intrusive about the use of email and communication, particularly with worship guests. Again, for the past decade my modus operandi has been to send guests an email first thing Monday morning. That will not work anymore. A phone call is, I think, a little too pushy and needy. But a text message, that seems to be the zeitgeist of the age.

Just text me, everyone says.

Text messages fit our desire to absorb information quickly and move on. With our phones we don’t have to log in, clear spam, or use an bulky app. It is intuitive. It pops up on the screen. It waits until I’m ready to answer it.

This is different for me as a minister. In 2013 text messaging was certainly around, but it was something we mostly did amongst close friends and family. Remember? It would never have crossed my mind to text a receipt to someone, to text a customer service issue, to text a stranger, to text a business, an airline, or anyone I didn’t know very well. But that has changed, dramatically.  We text everyone all the time about everything.

I wonder how the Apostle Paul would have used text messaging . . .

 

THE MARRIAGE JOURNEY

Today I have a special treat.  My long-time friend 
David Richardson is guest blogging for me.  
You can CLICK HERE to head over to 
David’s blog page, or you can click on the 
link in my blogroll on my homepage.  I told 
him he could blog about whatever he wanted to, 
and this is what was on his heart.  Thanks David 
for a great post with important reminders 
for us in our relationships.

Twenty two years. That’s how long Lara and I have been married. We started our marriage fresh off the heels of graduating from college. Now we’re on the verge of sending our oldest child off to college. Time sure flies!

Lovebirds!
Lovebirds!

We’ve learned some lessons along the way. I’d like to share them with you today because maybe some of the things we’ve picked up along the way will help you with your own marriage. Of course, we know there is plenty more to learn. But here is what we’ve gathered to this point about being husband and wife:

[1] Work at it. Good relationships don’t just happen. They demand effort on the part of the husband and the wife. Lara and I have had to learn new skills, hang in there during the not so easy times, and work on better understanding each other. I’m seeing that marriage requires intentional effort.

[2] Communicate. Communicate. Communicate. We see that it’s vital to share honestly with one another our thoughts and feelings in a healthy way. Men cannot read the mind of women, and women cannot read the mind of men. That just doesn’t happen. The phrase “I shouldn’t have to tell him/her” is one you might as well forget using. Unless your spouse is a mind reader, yes you do have speak up and communicate. How can your spouse know there is a problem if you don’t communicate? How can your spouse know to take care of a need in your life if you don’t communicate? See my point. You and I both have to speak up if we want good marriages.

[3] Forgive. I’m not a perfect husband. Far from it! I have failed Lara some along the way. And she has let me down at times too. We’ve realized that we are fully capable of wronging each other, and that puts us at a point of decision. Either we can stay mad and grow bitter at one another, or we can forgive. I’ve come to see that forgiveness means we bypass bitterness and refuse revenge. In other words, we say what needs to be said, let it go, don’t stew over it, and choose not to inflict a hurtful payback on one another. Has your spouse hurt you? Let me encourage you to do something: Forgive her or him as God has forgiven you.

[4] Seek counseling. It’s ok to sit down with a counselor and talk through issues. I will unashamedly tell you we’ve done that before. And it was good for us. A counselor helps a couple talk through issues that maybe they would not discuss on their own. If your marriage is struggling, and you just can’t seem to fix it on your own. reach out for help. It’s a smart thing to do.

[5] Put your spouse first. Selfishness destroys marriages. The biggest regrets I have so far about my marriage all go back to the times when I’ve been solely focused on me. That has never worked well. So I’m seeing that marriage requires I focus on caring for her. And, at the same time, she focuses on caring for me. The same is true for you and your spouse. You both have to put each other first. And this only works if both of you do this. It can’t be the sort of deal where one is putting their spouse first and the other is not. Both parties have to be on board with this.

[6] Look to God. I don’t want to sound preachy here. But I will say that having God in our lives is what has saved and improved our marriage. God is loving, forgiving, and patient. Because we look to Him, He helps us love, forgive, and hang in there with each other. I don’t know if we’d still be together if it wasn’t for God. We need Him as individuals and as a couple. So do you! Through Jesus Christ, you too can have a relationship with Him that helps you in every area of your life, including your marriage!

I enjoy my marriage now more than I ever have before. Really, I do! It’s not perfect. No marriage is. But it is a good union between two people who are willing to work at it, get real, forgive in the midst of failure, look out for the needs of each other, and seek help from above.

I wish you well in your marriage. Hang in there with that special someone you looked at and told “I do.” With God’s help, you can make it. And even better than that, you can enjoy it too!

I WOULD LEAVE FACEBOOK, EXCEPT . . .

I thought long and hard, at least 6 minutes, about whether or not I would write a blog putting my two cents into the Facebook rearrangement.  After all, I’ve already written about FB in the past.  At first I wasn’t going to because everyone else was complaining already, jumping ship to the new Google social network, falling back to Twitter only and in general bellyaching (me included) and I just didn’t want to get lost in the noise.  No doubt many people will just stop FBing altogether.

I would be one of them—I could live without FB—except.  It is the “excepts” which get in the way.  Each of these excepts are very important to me, and in all seriousness trump my own personal needs.

  • Except . . . FB provides a mass communication model that has something intangible which is lacking in either regular old-fashioned email or Twitter.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it is definitely real.  It is something like inertia—or momentum.  Even with all the buggy changes to format and security stuff FB still has that “contact everybody at once” feeling.  To use a New Testament idea, FB has become a digital synagogue; where everyone meets and sees each other.  To use a 1980’s idea, FB is the digital shopping mall.
  • Except . . . Friends.  I do not have thousands and thousands of friends, but I do have a lot of friends—people in the real world, who I am able to see how their lives are and be somewhat in community with.  I’ve worked hard to collect these friends and throwing them way in a fit of anger seems, unfriendly.  I like my friends and without FB I would lose something of the relationship.  Now, if we ALL jumped ship to Google’s new site or Twitter, then okay but I doubt we all would.
  • Except . . . Twitter.  In the last few months I’ve gotten to know Twitter better.  When I opened my first Twitter account I shut it down almost immediately because my mind just didn’t understand Twitter.  However, lately I’ve been playing with it more and getting more comfortable with it.  Yet I know, Twitter doesn’t have the automatic “oh, I understand it” factor that FB has always had and I am kidding myself I think I will connect to the same number of people through Twitter that I can FB.  I approximate 80% of our church is on FB while less than 5% are on Twitter
  • Except . . . Maybe FB knows something I don’t know.  I’m not a big fan of the new layout, but my perception is that there is a reason for it.  Yeah, I complained yesterday a bit, but the more I think about it I must keep in mind that FB has 500 million+ users, many in other countries.  Maybe the new layout fits the needs of non-English speakers or other cultures better.  This is the “Why” Question.  They must have a reason—a good one, I hope.
  •  Except . . . Ministry is easier with FB.  Through FB I can do several ministry things in a short amount of time.  I can contact my small group.  I can publicize information.  I can pray for people (BTW, in case you’re wondering, I’m very confident prayers typed onto a FB message are heard by God too), discover needs, and follow-up with real world situations.  You can say—well, that is what email is for but I rebut, we did that for years and email just doesn’t work as well as FB.  I get instant feedback from FB in ways I never got or get from email.

 

In addition to these, I could also argue that, well, it shouldn’t really matter that much, now should it.  If people get this hot and bothered over the lay-out of a website that helps us leave silly posts about what we’re eating or play on-line games about farms and mafia; perhaps our lives are out of whack to begin with.  Face it, FB just doesn’t matter enough to be angry about.