Practicing Hospitality..

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Showing Hospitality for me often takes the form of sharing food with others.

I have half a dozen blog posts that are half written and not yet posted, full of ideas, thoughts, and things I am working through deep down. But, today, as I love my Monday routine (I’m convinced I’m the only person who loves Mondays), I am mulling over “Practice Hospitality” from Romans 12:13.

I have been contemplating the idea of how so much of my life revolves around practicing hospitality. Learning to get good at it, adjust it, improve weaknesses, and identifying the type of hospitality that each person needs.

My job entirely revolves around this idea of practicing to get good at hospitality, and then helping to lead an entire community towards being good at it as well.

Today I am mulling over the order and process of how passages are put together. I find it fascinating is the types of things put together in scripture… Why are these things linked? What is the importance behind why they are listed like they are?

For example, practicing hospitality is listed like this:

so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly:
if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;

if service, in his serving;
or he who teaches, in his teaching;

or he who exhorts, in his exhortation;
he who gives, with liberality;
he who leads, with diligence;
he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be without hypocrisy.
Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.

Be devoted to one another in brotherly love;
give preference to one another in honor;

not lagging behind in diligence,
fervent in spirit,
serving the Lord;

rejoicing in hope,
persevering in tribulation,
devoted to prayer,

contributing to the needs of the saints,
practicing hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another;
do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly.
Do not be wise in your own estimation.

Never pay back evil for evil to anyone.
Respect what is right in the sight of all men.

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”

I do not think it is happenstance that “practicing hospitality” falls in the middle of this, serving as a transition point. The first half of this seems to be talking to believers, for believers, and how to operate with other believers… But, then after practicing hospitality there’s a pretty clear shift in the conversation.

The second half of this depicts life: The good and bad, the ugly, hard, gritty, un-fun, and difficulty of being in real relationships with people. And then, it ends a few verses later with: “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

There are three main points that stand out to me in this passage that seem to be what hinges on overcoming evil with good:

Let love be without hypocrisy
practicing hospitality.
Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

I think the reason I love these, and see them as anchors within this passage is because they point to real relationships. The beauty and struggle, the intentionality, and how authentic relationships are supposed to look.

Let’s be real: Life. Is. Hard.

But, life is easier if we love well, practice hospitality towards one another, rejoice and celebrate, and weep with those around us.

Life becomes less hard, less sucky, and more tolerable, enjoyable, and fulfilling when we travel it together.

We want real relationships, hard conversations, people who make us grow and allow us to fail miserably. There’s nothing quite like deep meaningful relationships to boost our spirits. Life feels a bit more manageable when we enjoy dinners, laughter, and silence with people who extend us grace and mercy throughout hard seasons because it creates a safe place for us to heal from wounds of our past. – Whether they are of our own doing, or at no fault of ours.

Life is hard, but practicing hospitality is important for everyone to learn how to do well; it is a skill that needs cultivation. Each person has their own flavor of hospitality, but most do a poor job of trying to hone their own style of hospitality to convey love without hypocrisy, rejoicing with those that are rejoicing and weeping with those that are weeping.

We must all get better at hospitality.

True, authentic, welcome to the real life of me, type of hospitality; not the fake Pinterest, better homes and gardens, Martha Stewart style hospitality.

The thing I love about this passage in Romans is it also prevents selfishness. Loving without hypocrisy, practicing hospitality, rejoicing with those that rejoice, and weeping with those who weep etc..etc.. prevent us from focusing on ourselves. – We must focus on others.

Life and community suck less when we are focused on others. We stop feeling alone when we enter into the ups and downs of the life of those around us.

People find hope and a place to learn how to be healthy if we live like this passage in Romans calls us to fulfill.

I love that my job requires me to be intentional about understanding hospitality, learning about it, and then creating space to practice it both professionally and personally.

How do you practice hospitality?

What does that look like for you?

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More often than not, hospitality and loving well looks like me freely giving my time and sharing food or drinks with someone!

Social Church Summit

I do not often post informational things or “work” style things on my blog, but I felt like this was a better and more useful Social Media Platform for sharing the content from the #SocialChurchSummit earlier today.

Some of the notes below are directly from the summit, other portions are me expounding on the information to help clarify or adding my own thoughts and recommendations.

Also, this is not a total or complete transcript or notes from every point made. This is a compilation of the ones I found to be the best and most important.

The first speaker was , and he shared about content strategy:

Content must have a solid strategy.

He shared five strategies that they utilized:
Inspiration – Churches have lots of inspiration to share! Scripture, pastor or speaker quotes, theologians etc.. All can be put to graphics, videos, meme’s etc..
Information – Churches have lots of information to share, groups, events, needs, etc..
Communication – Social media is meant to be SOCIAL. Which means things should be shared, retweeted, liked, commented on, responded to etc..
Diversification – Diversify between platforms. Obviously there simply isn’t time to cover ALL social media platforms, but choosing a few to focus on is very important.
Consistency – Posting and sharing on a regular basis is crucial to engage with the people you are trying to reach and connect with, as well as the congregation that already attends your church.

Different platforms need different messages.

“We would never close our church doors, so we would never ‘close’ our social media.” (We should be consistent and open to communicating with people in this way)

Next, the real questions is, Ok, so we must use different platforms, and change the message depending on the platform. How and what does that mean and look like?

Where to say it?:
Start by learning the basics of Facebook, then learn how to adapt that to other platforms.
Start with a Personal Profile. This will be your personal voice and face in the social media realm.
Second is a Page. This will be the corporate voice and face of the organization in the social media realm.
Third is the Groups function. In groups is where community really happens on Facebook.
Each of these are different and serve different purposes.

@seancannell shared about Marketing and Content creation…

“Good marketing won’t make up for bad content.”

Content:

  1. Know your audience
  2. Provide value
  3. Level up your production
  4. Engage your audience – Calls to action

Marketing:

  1. Optimize your videos for discovery – Name things well, tag them with key words, anything that will aid search engines to find your video.
  2. Maximize your social media channels. – Post and promote across several channels.
  3. Don’t just publish videos, build a brand. – Build a catalogue that is strategically tied together so that everything you post builds upon what you have posted previously.
  4. Review your YouTube insights. – What’s working and what’s not?.. What gets lots of views? What is not getting searched? Did a particular tag work well?

What is your Brand? Simply put, it is what people think and feel about your church/ organization.

“Content is fire, Social media is gasoline”

You can learn more about ways to utilize Youtube at your church from: Youtubeforchurches.com

@HaleyVeturis  shared about Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, and how churches can use them effectively.

Instagram is similar to twitter but with images and videos (and no character limit)

  1. This is a fun way to connect with your audience – be sure to Follow Back.
  2. Use quality to get to quantity – Take a bunch of pictures, and post the best one. She suggested Afterlight as an app to use. Personally I also use Picstitch to create collages.
  3. Spread out your posts – 5x per week up to 1-2x a day
  4. Hashtag it. (What is a hashtag?.. The pound sign: #) – Why use a hashtag?.. It creates digital “file folders” for searching, so everyone that used that same hashtag will be added into the same “file”. – Use them to create fun or funny things. #IAmAwesome #- Make everything one word, and no punctuation is useable.

Pinterest is a virtual idea bulletin board. You can create boards for different ideas.

  1. Organize and categorize your boards. For example, “The Word” board she created has typographic scripture.
  2. Provide useful content – The “wisdom” board has content from pastors/speakers/theologians.
  3. Youtube video boards
  4. Connect with your pinners – Follow back
  5. Use strong key words – Be sure to use good searchable keywords
  6. Pin and Repin (aka share)– “Become a curator of great content”

Snapchat is an app that allows you to view videos and pictures for up to 60 seconds at a time before they go away.

  1. Usually the pictures are something you share with a friend throughout your day that is fun/silly/random.
  2. Not for churches or organizations, it is more for individuals.
  3. It is important to note that Snapchat keeps all pictures, and people can screenshot, although you are given a notification when they do.

How do you manage it all? After all, because it is social, you say things, then people respond, and then you have to respond again! Sometimes it can get overwhelming.

Be sure to:

  1. Monitor your time. (Not just with Social media, anything that takes time should be monitored.) Be sure to carve out specific time. – Many spend too much time on Social Media wasting the time that should be spent elsewhere.
  2. Set goals and develop systems for how best to approach social media.
  3. Empower people – It’s suppose to be social and interactive, but you don’t have to do it alone. You will be more successful if you do it together as a team.

Personally I have struggled with absent-mindedly going to my social media sites… So, how do you prevent absent-mindedly going to Social Media? I recommend installing the SelfControl app to help.

FaithSocial is also listed as a resource able to help churches. (They also were a main sponsor of the summit) @mick_twomey 

“It’s important to embrace both your current and future people where they are at.. Online.”

“Too many people are targeting outreach with people who have never engaged with the church before.” – You must switch how your church communicates.

Where are the churches really struggling with social media? – The ones who are struggling tend to because of resource issues. Social Media can be a pretty daunting experience because it takes time and effort to put it together and pull it off.

“Engagement and Effective Growth are tied together.”

Physical presence is critically important, but you have to be more than physical in order to be successful right now.

@djchuang shared some of the churches that are succeeding with Social/digital media:

  1. LifeChurch.TV is the most known church for social media and innovation. – They have a team set aside specifically to develop the missional use of technology. – They are also the ones that created and launched the Bible App Youversion.
  2. Mars Hill Church – Seattle
  3. Crosspoint Church – Nashville
  4. Gateway Church – TX – They also have the Table project, and it is free software for churches!
  5. Community Bible Church – TX

He DJ said that Domain extensions are going to become more popular, and the internet will no longer be just .coms.

I can think of a few other churches that I would add to this list as well, but for now I won’t add to his list.

“It’s all about storytelling – How do I get the message across on this platform?” – @garyvee – If you cannot be the best storyteller, then you need to find someone who does and can be the best storyteller on social media.

His theory and approach to social media is: Delegate a lot of the ‘not as important’ things to other people. And, we spend at least 2 hours a day on things that truly don’t matter as much because we are used to doing them, leisure, habit, laziness etc..

“Your customers are living on these platforms.” – So why would you not engage them here? – My personal perspective is that if you are in ministry (and in business) you do not get a personal view of social media, you are to suck it up and engage at the ‘modern day’ watering holes of the people who need you. Social Media is not about you when you are in ministry, it is about others… Just my personal perspective.

Outreach through In-reach.

Regardless of your personal view of social media, reaching out socially IS real, and IS personal. The more personal and relational you can be with others, the more you will connect and help them also to outreach and more effective.

The sponsors for the summit were:
FaithVillage.com
ARC Association of Related Churches
Media Fusion
Group.com
VanderBloemen Search Group

I hope that this was helpful.
If you have any questions or would like some more personalized help with your social media, feel free to contact me. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @kpbback or my Facebook page: BackIn Consulting

Go to Twitter and type in #SocialChurchSummit in the search bar and you will be able to see thoughts, comments, questions, and people engaging in the summit as well to broaden your understanding and connect with others.