Saturday, February 28, 2009

New poll on Twitter - Give your opinion!

John Dobbs writes:

"I think Twitter is changing the way many people communicate these days. I find that many of the things I used to share on the blog have all made their way onto Twitter. So some of the ’small talk’ kind of items seem like old news for the blog." John goes on to list some of the reasons he likes Twitter, a topic which I cover in my "What is Twitter?" post on the Missional Outreach Network. As we both state, many things that we used to put on our blog now seem to more properly go onto Twitter due to their length and immediacy.

John posted an online poll about how people use Twitter. I hope that you will go over to and vote, and vote on this site as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Emily takes a turn driving

We are still on the road. I've been driving, but we decided to let Emily drive for a while.

-- Post From My iPhone

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The dark and good side of collecting online friends

If (per my last post) people cannot maintain more than 150 relationships, what then is the motivation behind the accumulation of hundreds and thousands of online friends?

There are positive motivations, to be sure, but there are negative ones as well. At its worst, the acculumation of online friends is a narcissistic endeavor in which we seek to display to the world our high social standing and societal status. The authors of Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom (see my last post), state that our online friend accumulation is "a social barometer that validates self-esteem, confers staus and measures social capital . . . Today, the prize catch on social networking sites is a 'trophy friend.'" (p. 41-42)
The more friends we have on Facebook or followers on Twitters or readers of our blog, the more we feel confident in our social standing and feeling of self-worth. And if we have a big name person in our social circle, that shows our own high standing. It is similar to the person in real life who brags that he or she has a doctor in his or her social circle.

It is doubtful that most of the time these thoughts are conscious. Rather, they are instinctive. If you can think back to the time you first signed up to Facebook or some other social networking site, the first thing that probably flashed through our minds was, I need to add some friends. If people come along and see that I have no friends, they will think I'm a loser. We will often add a friend not because we really know them, but because their "friendship" will improve our social standing.
These are our less than stellar motivations for collecting online friends.

On the positive side, most online friends can be placed in the "weak ties" category of relationships. Contrary to popular thought, most jobs are not obtained by direct connections, but by friends of friends, or what is often referred to as "weak ties" or one's "extended network." (p. 49). (This is based upon research done by American sociologist Mark Granovetter in his 1973 essay called "The Strength of Weak Ties.") This rolodex of somewhat removed relationships can prove very helpful at times, and probably every person has drawn upon this type of network when seeking a job or looking for help of other sorts. While these are utilitarian relationships, they are at least not substituting a relationship with God for one's self-worth.

Another positive motivation for adding online friends is for problem solving, idea generation, and extended discussion. Books such as The Wisdom of Crowds and others (I'll have a separate post on this subject) show that many breakthrough discoveries come from people outside of a field of experts--someone in a crowd. Social networking sites and the "friends of friends" will often provide help that cannot be found in one's close circle of friends.

Perhaps the best reason to accumulate online friendships is to seek to be as helpful as possible to people in general and to positively influence people for Christ. It is true that the gospel spreads through close relationships, and yet, many times people gain interest in faith or a church by "overhearing" the conversations of others. The more people in one's extended network, the greater the possibility that someone may be reached through these strong and weak ties. Closely related in motivation is the use of the "wisdom of crowds" directly for outreach.

Being human, I am sure that I have had the less than stellar motivations for adding online friends flash through my mind, at the very least subconsciously. In my better moments, however, I hopefully have had postive motivations for this process. as a minister, I want to reach and influence as many people as possible. So, in addition to keeping in contact with my close friends, I want to be active on Facebook to be able to help and influence others. In addition, the social networking site that I've created, The Missional Outreach Network, was created precisely to draw upon the "wisdom of crowds" in pooling resources for outreach and mission.

What do you think of these motivations for online friendships? What do you see as the motivation for yourself and/or others?

Monday, February 23, 2009

How many online friends can and should you have?

I am reading an interesting book as part of my research on social networking called, Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform your Life, Work and World. One interesting chapter deals with Facebook friends.

One thing that an online social networker must grapple with is, what is an online friend? In the real world, anyone claiming to have 300, 700, or thousands of friends would obviously have a definition of friendship that is different from the norm. defines friend as:
1. a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.
2. a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter: friends of the Boston Symphony.
3. a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile: Who goes there? Friend or foe?
4. a member of the same nation, party, etc.

In normal, everyday language, we use friend in terms of the first definition. The second definition illustrates a common occurence, where the person who gives assistance to us (or invites the person over) may show themselves to be friends, but we may not feel the same. We are their friend (in terms of def. #1), but they are not really ours (def. #1). The truest definition of friendship ("real friendship") is found in terms of a reciprocal relationship for both #1 and #2.

So what are Facebook friends? A few of these Facebook friendswould be "real friends," which some think reaches a limit at 12. As to social relationships in general,

"the maximum number of people with whom any human being can maintain stable social relationships is about 150. The 150 figure--frequently referred to as 'Dunbar's Number' - happened to correspond to the size of Neolithic villages as functional units. It also matched the size of Hutterite colonies before they split off to form a new community. And, interestingly, the ancient Roman army was divided into legions of 5000 soldiers split into units of-you guessed it- 150 men." (p.48).

Beyond 150, group cohesion breaks down, and rules and regulations--rather than relationships--are required to engender proper behavior.

So beyond the 150 number, Facebook friends are clearly not friends in the truest sence, but acquintances. Friendster, an early social networking site sought to restrict the number of friends a person could have to 150, perhaps based upon the sociological rule. However, people rebelled and began flocking to other sites that were openended. It seems that something else beyond relationships is prompting us to collect large numbers of online friends . . . . This will be the subject of my next post.
Why do you add Facebook and other online social networking friends? What do you think a Facebook friends is?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Six from Recovery Group Attended High Pointe Women's Retreat

My wife, Becki, returned today. She left yesterday afternoon to attend a women's retreat at our church. This left me with our two girls. We had a good time. They even got to sleep in a tent last night!

Becki came back and told me that (though she is not feeling very well) the women's retreat went great. In regards to outreach, 5 women from the Women United in Recovery group attended, as well as one of these ladies' mother. The Women United in Recovery group is a community-based group that was looking for a place to meet. One of our members had a daughter who was in this group, and asked us if we could help host the group. We said, "Sure!" and we opened up our church portable for this group for free. Check out the Women United in Recovery group info on the Missional Outreach Network.

The group was warmly received by the High Pointe women at the retreat. Two of the recovery women were pregnant, and so our women planned a surprise baby shower for these two ladies. They received about 30 or so gifts each. As church members, we would take this for granted. But these women were overwhelmed by this, very grateful, and just in shock at the generosity directed towards them. The mother told Becki, these women will never forget what was done for them today.

Prior to the retreat, Lori, the group's director, made this blog posting: "Looking forward to the Grace retreat! It will be nice to get away and meet some new women! I believe it is by the Grace of God that I am a recovered today. I want to thank everyone for helping make womens meeting happen! We are very blessed to have such a wonderful meeting room. I know that with Gods help and your prayers this meeting will continue to grow." Becki said that Lori was planning on worshiping with us tomorrow.

What an awesome story. It shows as well that when we serve others and show genuine love and care, this opens doors of opporunity to share Christ with others--the source of our love and care.
What do you think of this story? Have you been a part of or observed a recovery group that led to sharing Christ with people?

Friday, February 20, 2009


I just signed up for Twitterfeed, which takes blog posts and creates a status update/posting to Twitter, Ping, and other social feeds with a tiny URL of your blog posting. I'm testing this out to see if it works.

Do you use Twitterfeed or Ping?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Peter Piper Pizza

Gina and Emily and I are at Peter Piper Pizza while Becki is at the women's booktalk outreach. We're having a good time. I think this might be a good place to have a booktalk for parents of young kids.

-- Post From My iPhone

Man commits suicide at Crystal Cathedral - be aware of those who are depressed in this economy

Barry Winders alerted me to a story from the LA Times about a man who committed suicide in the Crystal Cathedral. Here is some of the story:

A man walked into the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove on Wednesday, knelt down at the foot of a cross and fatally shot himself in the head.

The man entered the sanctuary about 9:40 a.m. and gave a handwritten note to a church volunteer. He then walked to the front of the pews, knelt before the cross and removed a semiautomatic handgun from his backpack . . .

Betty Spicer, a volunteer greeter at the cathedral, said that when the man walked in, the sanctuary was nearly empty except for a group of Canadian tourists."I said, 'Good morning, welcome to the Crystal Cathedral.' " She asked the man, "Where are you from?" He replied, "Oh, from around here."

He handed Spicer a folded note written with a felt-tip pen. Tucked into the middle of the note was his driver's license and what appeared to be a business card. As Smick was walking down the aisle, she began reading the note, which referred to a truck in the parking lot and a gun.

"The next minute, there was a pop," Spicer said. "I thought he was praying. I didn't realize he had shot himself."Yvette Manson, another volunteer, said she was talking to the tourists when she heard a sound that she likened to the noise from a firecracker. "I had just been telling them about the suicide prevention ministry we have."

Read the rest of the LA Times story.

This is incredibly sad and tragic. In today's ailing economy, with job losses, family problems, and great stress, more people are considering ending their lives. We need to be ready to note signs of depression in our family, friends, co-workers, and even fellow Christians. This man had some kind of faith, and his friend reported that he was a spiritual person. Christians are not exempt from Satan's attacks.

If anyone speaks of suicide, we must immediately get them help. Someone needs to go to them and stay with them immediately (not leave them alone) until they can see a counselor and have an assessment done. People sometimes believe the myth that if a person talks about suicide, he or she will not do this. This simply is not true. What is true is that if they talk about it, they need help and may be trying to alert people that they need help.

To anyone who might be considering this--don't! We love you. God loves you. Your family loves you. Christ defeated Satan at the cross and was raised from the dead. Through Christ, God can overcome the challenges you are facing. Suicide leaves scars on spouse, children, and friends for generations. Get the help you need. Tell someone your thoughts. Talk to a counselor, a minister, a spiritual leader, a friend, a spouse. See a doctor and get a health checkup. Get rest. Talk to God. Cry out to him. Cry out to those around. And remember, we love you and want to help you!!

What can we do to help those who are struggling with depression?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Another Starbucks encounter

I'm out at Starbucks, doing some work in my "third place." I saw Alyssa again, one of the workers who I got to know while helping a homeless girl, Vanessa. She asked me if I wanted to hear a "wild story." I said sure. She then told me that her dad's boss had won a 58" plasma in a raffle. The boss had the tv delivered as a gift to their family.

It's great to get to know the people in our community and to be able to share life with them.
I'm drinking a London Fog Tazo tea latte. My second time to order it. Its pretty good. And the Starbucks workers gave me an upgrade to a Grande from a Tall for free. How nice! I am always so impressed with the quality of young adults that work at Starbucks. Either they are a great generation, or the company trains them really well.

Do you have any hangouts where people from the community recognize you and talk to you? How often do you frequent these hangouts?

What goes around comes around: Obama and Supreme Court picks

Why should we try others as we would like to be treated? Well, Jesus told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. This is the primary reason. An additional reason is, you never know when the tables will be turned and someone else will have the power to affect your life.

I read an article today about President Obama and Supreme Court nominations. President Obama will likely have 1-2 Supreme court nominees due to the age of some of the court members; however, the article pointed out that Obama may have trouble getting his nominations through the Sentate. Even though the Democrats have a commanding majority in the Senate, Republicans can still filibuster. And they have a lot of incentive to filibuster, since Senator Obama filibustered several of President Bush's judicial appointments.

Setting politics aside, on a larger note, it is always good to treat others with kindness and respect. In today's economic climate, you never know if one of your workers will someday be your boss. You never know when you will need help, so why not seek to be as helpful to others as you can be?
Do you think the Senate Republicans should filibuster President Obama's Supreme Court nominees?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What sites do you check each day?

What sites do you check pretty much every day? Or each hour? Or each minute?

Here are the sites I check most every day, usually throughout the day:
  1. My Yahoo
  2. Missional Outreach Network.
  3. Facebook
  4. Twitter
  5. My blog

Through into the mix various news sites, missional blogs, financial sites that I check periodically, though less often.

In the future, we may start using sites like, which consolidate content from various social media and news outlets into one place. Sites like this will allow us to dial up a channel of all of our friends' activity and content, and they will be able to do the same for us, saying everyone time and noise.

So how about you what are your sites that you check most every day, or throughout the day?

Monday, February 09, 2009

Jesus Nazareth wants to be your Facebook friend

In case you missed the Twitter post I made on this, check out the post Jesus is my (Facebook) Friend. There is someone on Facebook who has given themselves the name Jesus Nazareth. Which shows how easy it is to assume any identity online. I mean, I was almost fooled into thinking this really was Jesus of Nazareth. :)

Well, when Jesus Nazareth added the author as a friend, it said, “Jesus added you as a friend on Facebook. We need to confirm that you know Jesus in order for you to be friends on Facebook.”

To anyone familiar with Facebook, this is pretty funny. It also brings up several good questions:
  • How are Facebook friends and real friends the same or different?
  • Do we really know Jesus? Are we really his friends?
  • Is our relationship with Jesus akin to a real friendship, or is it closer to a Facebook friendship?

What do you think of these questions?

Friday, February 06, 2009

Twitter Revolution - It's coming to a cell phone near you

I'm about to go meet with a couple of my friends and church members to discuss our online outreach strategy, which will expand beyond our website to using social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and the Missional Outreach Network (this has hit 250 members!).

I wanted to recommend a good little book on Twitter called Twitter Revolution by Deborah Micek & Warren Whitlock. It explains what Twitter is, how to best use, and gives lots of Twitter tips, websites, and applications. There really is a lot more to Twitter than meets the eye.

The primary, immediate benefit to Twitter is remote microblogging--the ability to send updates of 140 characters from one's cell phone, which also updates one's Facebook status and goes out to his or her Twitter followers.

How can Twitter be used in promoting one's church or business? Also, have you become a Twitter user yet? Why or why not?

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Harvest Sunday was a great success! Watch 3rd video

Harvest Sunday Video - Sharing the Good News from James Nored on Vimeo.

We had an incredible outpouring for Harvest Sunday. We're still doing some tallying, but it is safe to say that we met and beat our goal of $200,000 towards local and global outreach. Praise God! I am truly touched by our people's response.

On Sunday, we showed this third video, which goes through some different outreaches, including the women's booktalk outreach, the deaf ministry outreach, Friendspeak, and an inspiring conversion story. We also had representatives from our different outreach ministries come up front to give a visual representation to our congregation of these ministries. We had about 3 per ministry, with about 20 ministries, along with our elders. This made for over 70 people. We could have included more, but it would have taken too much space!

The incredible thing is that most of these local outreach ministries did not exist a year ago, and the ones that did needed to be revitalized. Our people have responded enthustiastically to our missional direction and outward focus, giving of their time, energy, and money. This is so encouraging to me!

What do you think of this video?