Power of Prayer and Online Community

Dear, can you come up here?

That’s what my husband, Bill, said last year on the day after Christmas. I went upstairs to our bedroom and found him shaking and unresponsive. After screaming down to our son Zack to call 9-1-1, I did CPR (thank goodness for educational tv). Thankfully, within minutes our bedroom was packed with life-saving EMTs, leaving my sons and me watching in the hallway.

The cardiologist in the ER said something that I won’t ever forget…

He is very lucky to be alive

…lucky that we were home at the time, that EMTs had responded so quickly and that the heart attack had occurred in the back of his heart.  She couldn’t imagine how he had survived this massive heart attack.

I knew something our cardiologist didn’t, my husband was covered in prayer support! While the EMTs worked, I called some immediate family to spread the news and pray. I texted my pastor (who then was my boss and was finally out of town having some family Christmas time) and he passed the news along to staff and more prayers were on their way. And I also jumped online to update my twitter and facebook statuses, “Please pray. Hubby’s having chest pains, paramedics are here.”

Because of the situation, I didn’t see the responses to my online prayer request for several hours. But what I saw blew me away. My prayer request got an overwhelming response of prayer from friends and followers, and they shared my request with theirs friends as well. We had hundreds praying for us. My online small group was praying as well. I received many offers from online friends across the country to come and help. Wow! In my most alone hours, too exhausted to talk or receive a hug, I found comfort in online support of wonderful friends, many of whom I’ve never met. Of course, our church family jumped into action as soon as they heard. We had meals delivered, prayers, support in the waiting room through a 5-hour open heart surgery. I am still overcome when I recall the love and support we received.

Bill and I celebrated 25 years together a few days ago! I want to thank all my on and offline community of prayer support, and include you in our celebration! I know that your prayers made a difference. I am thankful for a loving God who hears us!

Yes, Life Change Happens Online

My online group leader, Tony Steward, posted this powerful video on his blog last night. A wonderful example of how God is using him to minister to people online.  I wanted to share it with you in the hope that we can begin to promote the viability of using technology and online community as an avenue to love on people and share the Good News that has impacted our own lives.  Thanks, Tony, for your leadership in online ministry!

For those that are about Jesus, and following him, this is just an encouragement for you to move in love everywhere you can. See video here.

The Reason Your Church Must Twitter – A Review

It’s not news if you know me that I’m a fan of Twitter.  In fact, I’d say Twitter was the smartest thing I did in 2008!  So, when Twitter friend Anthony Coppedge gave me the chance to review his e-Book, “The Reason Your Church Must Twitter”, I grabbed it!

Let me say it here, this book is brilliant!  With vision like his, Coppedge is a huge asset to churches who will listen.twittercover_small

Twitter has advanced ministry connections for me on a personal level, but Coppedge goes further and proposes using Twitter as the next mass communication tool for your congregation. Twitter can be set up to your cell phone. Messages go right from your fingertips to their cell phone. Imagine every group in your church receiving the messages intended for them in an instant. No waiting until they open an email, “if” they open it.

But Twitter can be used as more than just a ‘megaphone’, Coppedge contends that Twitter can also be leveraged as a conversation where the congregation is privy to the nuances of the pastor’s day to day experiences. “This “humanizing” of a leader is often a missing element in the connection between the church leadership and its congregants. Especially in larger churches where it is unlikely that a personal connection can happen, Twitter can personalize the pastor, or other staff with whom they are connected.

The simplicity of Twitter makes it possible to connect with your volunteers more often, and more conveniently. As any leader knows, connection with volunteers is key! Who wouldn’t want a tool that makes it so easy? “My experiences have brought me to the conclusion that ministry leadership staff should spend a good 20%-30% of their time each week connecting with volunteers in order to build strong relationships.”

Speaking of simplicity, Coppedge has included an in-depth chapter on how-to get started on Twitter.

Simply brilliant!

Look for “The Reason Your Church Must Twitter” to be released tomorrow, Friday, January 16th! It’s a steal at $5.   And for $5 you can share it with your volunteers!

twitter me

It’s no secret that I love twitter. And I am not alone! Twitter use grew by over 700% in 2008. So, my question…

Have you tried twitter yet?

If you don’t know why you should twitter, you need to see Scott William’s

50 Things Twitterers Like About Twitter!

See what all the buzz is for yourself. It’s easy to start, just go to twitter.com and sign up for an account today. I know you’ll be glad you did. If you already tweet, be sure to share this list with your friends who don’t.

New Year. New Idea!

I needed something to challenge me in my bible reading time this year.  So I decided to use YouVersion.com’s One-Year Reading Plan to keep me on track.  But to make it more interesting, I invited my small group coaches along for the ride. Then I thought, “Hey, this would be a great way to start 2009 for all of my friends!” So I threw the challenge out to my tweets on Twitter, facebook friends, and friends who I don’t see online.

How about you, would you like to join us? Check out the One-Year Rading Plan.  It’s free and fun. You can read the daily verses, and even comment on them privately or publicly… if you want.  What a great tool! Check out YouVersion today and join us.  If you go, follow me, and I’ll be sure to return the follow. Let’s start 2009 off right together!

Internet Campus Blueprints

blueprintsHave you ever started a building project only to realize that you don’t have all the tools or equipment necessary to do the job?  The best place to begin to look for help is from someone who has already successfully built something similar.

Is your church considering launching an Internet Campus? Looking for some answers from seasoned veterans in online ministry? Then it’s critical you stop by Tony Steward’s blog for the Internet Campus “Starter Kit” today! Tony is the Online Community Pastor for LifeChurch.tv.  There’s a great discussion including some uber-practical questions, comments and answers to things you may be wondering about.  Also a step-by-step plan on how to get started. Join the discussion now.

Just as there are many ministry models and programmatic methods in the Church today, they way that church can be conducted online has many possibilities. That said, most people when they ask the question, “How do we start an internet campus?” are asking it from the angle of a new program (or program extension) they are considering launching. Honestly that is a great starting point, but the reality of the internet is that it is both a broadcasting channel and a gathering point. And as churches start Internet Campuses people will come for the broadcast and stay for the community. If a church just pushes their video and is never present and accessible virtually to the people who gather, they act rude and self-centered without even knowing it.