Lets Meet Up and Pray!

Hey Twitter, Facebook, and Blog friends in Ireland and the UK!

I have an idea. I’m going to be in Ireland in May and I’d love to meet up with you and pray for God to move across Western Europe.

On Thursday, May 26th at 3:30pm, let’s meet on the Hill of Slane at the old Slane Abbey in County Meath to meet each other in person and pray. The Hill of Slane is a place of significant Christian history as it was the place where Saint Patrick lit his early paschal fire to let the High King of Tara know that Christianity is coming to Ireland. The Hill is accessible by car and there is parking, even though the map looks a bit different. Just take the narrow Abbey View Road up the hill to the abbey. You can see it on Google Maps here. Switch to satellite view to see it better. What a great opportunity to cover Ireland in prayer just one day before the Slane music festival!

So what do you say? Are you up for it? You can RSVP in the comments and we’ll put it together. What an awesome chance to cry out to God in a beautiful setting and connect with friends we’ve never met!

Slane Abbey

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How NOT to get me to follow you on Twitter

I have come to really like Twitter.  So much so that I have to tell myself to take a break once in a while so that I can get something done.  Twitter levels the playing field and allows anyone to share what’s on their mind or what they’re doing.  It’s a great way to extend your ministry, bless others, and create connections.

Where Facebook is about affiliation (who you know or have known) Twitter for me has become about affinity (what do we have in common?)  I really like finding others with common interests and passions and following each other.

That said, unless you’re a major public figure, you’re probably finding followers the way most people do; by searching for like-minded individuals, following them, and see if you get a follow back.  If you do, you’ve made a connection.  Good day!

So let’s say you’re trying to expand your Twitter community and you’re having trouble getting people to follow you back.  Here are some reasons why this might be happening:

1. A user name that’s difficult to understand. Zboy1509YO might mean something to you, but it doesn’t do a thing for me.  Try keeping your user name as close to your real name or organization’s name as possible.

2. No picture. The Twitter bird is cute but I don’t want to see that graphic all up and down my time line.  Use a picture of YOU.  I’m interested in connecting with other people, not their dog, car, or favorite beverage.

3. Incomplete bio. I’m going to let you in on a secret.  I like to follow people back who share my same interests and affinities.  If I see that you’ve followed me, I’m going to check your bio to see if you’re someone I’d like to follow back.  Add a link to your blog (not your sales presentation) there.  If there’s no information there, I’m going to assume we have nothing in common and not follow you back.  The key is to make me work as little as possible to find out if you’re someone I would like to follow back.

4. A protected profile. Sometimes I like to read a few of your tweets before I decide whether or not to follow you back.  You send me a follow.  I click on your name to see your Twitter profile and I see a padlock.  “Tweets are protected.”  How do I know you have anything interesting to say?  I’m not taking any chances on a protected profile.  No follow back!

5. All of your tweets include a link. If I see links on all of your tweets, chances are I won’t even read them to see if they’re interesting.  When 100% of your tweets are links to your web site, chances are you’re only interested in driving traffic or selling something.  I’m in it for interaction and community, not to read 140 character commercials every few minutes.  With that said, I do follow those links when posted by people who have other things to share too.

6. You’re building a fan club. One of the worst Twitter travesties I’ve seen is when people thin out the number of people they’re following to cause a greater gap in their followers to following ratio.  Look, if you’re a major celebrity, it’s understandable to have 100,000 followers and only be following 25.  The sad thing is that I’ve seen people in ministry drop followers to appear more popular (or something).  It’s one thing to unfollow others who aren’t following you back but come on!  Unfollowing people who are following you because you want a Twitter ego boost?  Shame!  Twitter is about connection and community, not about building up your fan base. Ministers should be especially aware of this.  So, if you unfollow me, don’t expect me to keep following you back.

The key is to represent yourself with clarity and, as I said earlier, make it as easy as possible for people to discover if you’re the kind of person they’d like to follow back.  It’s about affinity and community, a really cool thing in this day and age.  Keep building your community (not your fan club) and we’re in for a great time together.

What are some things that cause YOU not to follow back?

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Why I’m Grateful for the Body

Last week, my six-year-old son got sick.  More sick than I’ve ever seen any of my kids.  For six days he would get extremely painful headaches and vomit everything he ate.  I’m sure you could imagine how awful it is to watch the most energetic, fun, happy little boy become tired, dehydrated, and unable to play because of the pain he was in.

Our family physician was out of town so we took him to another doctor in the same office.  She was absolutely no help what-so-ever.  She ignored my wife’s concerns about the headaches and vomiting, made a crack about the fact that we home school, wrote him a prescription for an antibiotic, and sent him home without so much as a blood test.

The next day, he got so bad that we decided to take him to the emergency room.  He was in extreme pain, was lethargic, and hadn’t been able to hold down any food or liquid.  There he received great care from the hospital staff.  They were very concerned about his condition and the looks on their faces made me realize this was more than simply an ear infection or the flu.  They did a spinal tap to rule out meningitis and a CT scan to check for abnormalities in his brain.  It was so difficult to see my little guy laying there with an IV, barely conscious from the powerful pain medication.  We were scared!

So what does all of this have to do with the Body of Christ?  They prayed.  Our good friends at the Quad Cities Prayer Center sprang into action by notifying their network of hundreds of prayer warriors.  Our small group leader came to the hospital to bring some balloons for Hudson.  Our good friends watched our other two boys so that my wife and I could stay by our youngest’s side until he could go home.  Friends called, texted, and Facebook messaged us to get updates and let us know they were praying.

It didn’t stop with people we know though.  Great people from my Twitter community made it a point to re-tweet my situation to get more people interceding.  They left me messages to let me know they were praying.  These are people I’ve never met face to face, but care enough to take my cares to Jesus.  AMAZING!  I’m totally honored to belong to a Body like that, and extremely grateful for all of their prayers.

It doesn’t end with my son’s illness either.  God has used His people to be there for us in so many ways and on so many occasions.  Seven months ago, our ministry took an unexpected turn and, rather than running for security, we decided to take a step of faith and launch something new.  Time after time He has used his people to bless us when we didn’t know how we’d make it another week.  Even the computer I’m writing this post with was a blessing from a brother in Jesus.

It makes me think about the picture on this post.  Life is such a challenge sometimes.  We never know when we’re going to hit rapids, rocks, or other dangers as we navigate through it.  It’s such a comfort to know that there are others in the boat with you and, as we paddle together, we can look out for each other, work together, and lend each other strength when we need it.  What a great picture of the Body of Christ! (Romans 12:4-8)

As for my son, he’s home now and feeling much better.  He has kept everything down for the last two days and the headaches are becoming less frequent and less severe.  A little while ago I saw him dragging large sheets of cardboard up from the basement.  He said he wants to turn his bedroom door into a drawbridge.  I love that kid!

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