“In the same way, as you call people to new ways of thinking, relating, and serving, spend time preparing them as best as you can. Honor their questions and concerns; remind them that they are not alone.” – Lead Like Jesus, Day 192
This reminded me of page 58 in Never Go Back by Dr. Henry Cloud:
“Show people the water. Show them how cool and refreshing it is. When they are dehydrated, tell them that water would help them. Tell them how much you would enjoy drinking water together. Show them what it has done for you. Burp loudly. But realize that you can’t make them drink. That is something they will do only when and if they want to. Remember…they are free to choose.”
When you want to change someone’s mind, you can’t hit them over the head with a proverbial stick, especially when talking about social media.
Social media is not well received by most in the older generation, and while Christians post dozens of selfies of themselves in the bathroom or play hours of candy crush, 32,000 Mormon missionaries were given ipads at a steep discount by their church to draw people into their cult through proselytization. The Mormon church recently recognized the internet as the mission field in a time when the traditional Christian church is experiencing a decline in membership or attendance.
In fact, less than 40% according to Gallup, actually attend church. Most, “regular church attendee gets sick or sleeps in. The other reason may be people who tell us they go to church but are worshipping in non-traditional ways, such as small groups, people meeting in gyms or school libraries,” says Gallup via churchleaders.com. While pollsters are saying church attendance is declining, Charisma and other sources indicate church attendance is growing, citing the reasons of conservatism or house churches and small groups. Overall, the Mormon cult has many pluses which make them successful. This is not to say I agree with them or believe that they are Christian in any way. But there are some lessons we can take from them:
1: Mormons make great neighbors, friends, and co-workers. They are always ready to serve, help, and are very dedicated to COMMITTING to their church and family. The Christian church seriously lacks commitment especially in ages 55 and under. David Jeremiah said on a radio show the other day how we are a “multichoice” generation, always wanting to “keep our options open.” How many gatherings in real life have I attempted where people said “maybe,” and never showed up with so much as a phone call or an email or a text? How many don’t marry and instead live together? How many gatherings went ignored without a decline? How many people said, “I don’t know what I am doing yet,” to an invitation for something a few days away? It’s like they are waiting for something better to come along. Why aren’t we the great neighbors, spouse, friend, and co-worker that our Mormon neighbors are to us?
2: Mormons do not put down each other or their other stakes or wards (churches). However, Christians do a great job of cutting each other down in websites such as Sundays are The Worst, and various other blogs around the internet over the years. In this, we can take a lesson and talk directly with the people who have offended us; or shake off the dust, and get a new group of friends, or a new church. Plus, Christians like to leave comments that cut down each other in harsh tones. That’s not to say we can’t be constructive in our criticism rather than judgmental in tone, or disagree with each other on some level while still coming from a place of love.
Some Christians hear the mission call online, but one of our pastors said the other day how Twitter has become a news feed of links, and not a conversation. I have seen both. I describe Twitter to newbies as a national and international conversation. Christian authors on my own news feed appear to only post about their books or other people’s books without appearing to have any serious conversation with other people. We’re scattered with our different motivations instead of united. In fact, a comment on a church Facebook site showed intense loyalty to that particular church as if that church was the only one with an “authentic” sense of community. He reflected a past hurt. The internet is a powerful influence. It has a real, online community of people, but in order for us to be effective in this new mission field, we need to take our internet and social media seriously.
These are some suggestions:
1: Missions organizations can recognize officially the new mission field, send out missionaries online to connect, tell the story of the Gospel, and encourage local church attendance.
2: Church congregations can learn the new technology. Older patrons can use simplified versions of social media like Twitter or have their grandchildren assist them in posting a blog to share the rich life experiences of their past before their story ends.
3: Christians can use their social media time wisely to show interest in other people, pray for them, participate in discussions without feeling defensive if they can’t answer the questions. Write down the questions and ask a pastor. Get back to them with an answer. Or refer that person to someone who can answer it.
4: Talk positively about your church and community experiences. When we are tempted to talk about our hurts, ask yourself, “What can people learn from it? Am I transfering my pain on other people? Or is there a God-lesson coming out of this?”
5: Resist the temptation to call out people online. Confront them. If congregation members are acting badly, talk to your congregation. If someone treats someone badly in a public place, be the friend and say something from a place of love. I’m not saying that abuse stories or testimonies should not be shared. On the contrary, they should, but safeguards must be put in place and the story coming out should be God’s story in your life. This is a lesson I learned as a blogger.
I have a plan in the works which will launch later this year. A new website. A new direction. If you are interested in partnering with me, please stay tuned to this website. You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask to be put on a special newsletter to receive invitations pre-launch on how you can get involved. We can all learn from our past mistakes as bloggers, from life, and humbly admit when we are wrong while celebrating what God is doing in the world and among us.
For those with questions on the cults, I encourage you to go to Christian Ministries International. It’s a great place to start your research. Or ask your pastor.
“God will back His gospel, not some man-made, watered-down message. God will back the exaltation of Jesus, not some muddled, every-path-leads-to-God nonsense. God will back the call to take up the cross and live for Him, not some flesh-pleasing success formula. God will back biblical standards, not some meet-me-halfway, worldly-wise compromise.” – Charisma