August 04, 2009

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Shopkeepers or Shepherds? Many people have the mistaken notion that ministry is all about meeting needs. Jesus met needs, so we must meet needs, it is often said. To our great joy, this challenge to meet people's needs places us on common ground with our peers in the business world, finally giving the pastor a shot at credibility in the "secular world". After all, a good entrepreneur is simply trying to create, distribute, and sell goods and services that meet people's needs. Without thinking twice, we rush to every business seminar or management book looking to learn ways that we can become better at "meeting people's needs". The pastor becomes a shopkeeper, discovering more "needs" his people have and inventing more programs and ministries to meet those needs. The trouble is, the list of needs and the accompanying programs or ministries to meet those needs is endless. There are loads of "good" things that a church "should" be doing. The larger the church, the more things they are likely to attempt. This is how so many churches become program-driven, burdened by the many entrepreneurial start-up ministries they now have to maintain with a burgeoning staff and swelling expenses. None of this is evil. In fact, that's just the trouble: it's good, and in many situations it works. (What "works" means and whether or not we should run ministry through a filter of pragmatism is a massive subject for another post!) But it has the unintended consequence of turning Christ-followers into Christian consumers and shepherds into shopkeepers. Perhaps so many church folks act like consumers because we treat them as such. To be sure, managing people, resources, and ministry efforts are part of what a pastor must do. Even Jesus had to assign tasks to the right people and taught us to be good...
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Why Twitter Is Better Than Facebook Turn on any news show-- even a sports news show-- and you'll hear fully-grown, well-groomed anchors talking awkwardly about "tweets". A little of a year ago, when I first started "tweeting", nobody-- including me-- really understood the point of telling everyone what you were doing at any given moment of the day. Now, all of a sudden, it's how freedom-loving Iranians are telling the world of their plight and how diva NFL receivers sound off about their contracts. Twitter is just mainstream enough that professional athletes are "tweeting" on the sidelines or during halftime; yet it's not mainstream enough for owners and coaches to really understand it-- hence the reason many teams have banned their players from "tweeting". I don't claim to be a Twitter expert or power-user. Neither am I ignorant about it's dangers to our already narcissistic culture. I am not sold out to this little tool. I know it's a fad and a year from now we might be atwitter with something else. Still, as I've considered how Twitter is different than Facebook, and the power hidden in this simple social media device, I thought I'd take a stab at the reasons I think Twitter is better than Facebook: 1. Twitter Is Concise 140 characters is all you get. So, an update is short. In fact, it's not really best for soul-baring, like the "OMG, I'm so depressed because my boyfriend just broke up with me" kind of nonsense you read in your Facebook newsfeeds. It's not even best for ranting about world issues or vague political jabs. Because of the character limit, Twitter ends up being very specific, particular information. Or links to it. The character limit applies not just to updates but also to direct messages to another Twitter user. Imagine if Instant Messaging didn't...

Glenn Packiam

Lead Pastor, new life DOWNTOWN, New Life Church, Colorado Springs, CO. Author and songwriter.

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