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LOVE CONQUERS HATE IN CHARLESTON

Roses 3What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around for your good. ~ Genesis 50:20

On Wednesday night, June 17th, a 21 year-old white gunman brutally gunned down nine (9) African American church goers at a Bible Study at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C. Investigators  labeled it a hate crime.

The entire nation was totally shocked and repelled by this senseless, horrific massacre! The church goers had welcomed the stranger, who’d walked into their Wednesday night Bible Study, with opened arms. They had no idea that he would, very shortly, kill them with a hidden firearm. Nine loving Christians were martyred while sharing Jesus’ Gospel of love and redemption with an unknown stranger. (See the names of these nine incredible individuals below.)

Amazingly, many of the relatives of those who were killed forgave the confessed murderer in a court proceeding. One relative affirmed, in her statement of forgiveness, “Hate won’t win.” What an inspiring message! Those relatives set a monumentally high standard of compassion and forgiveness that, quite frankly, not many of us could, conceivably, hope to attain. It is this, almost impossibly high, standard that was set by the crucified Christ who, from the cross, prayed concerning his executioners, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” ~ Luke 23:34

The question immediately arises, “What would possibly compel one human being to gun down nine other human beings who had shown him nothing but love and kindness?” According to investigators, the confessed killer stated that he wanted, by his actions, to start a race war in America. He intended to ignite a national conflagration of hatred, violence, and mass killings.

However, the Bible says, What the enemy intended for evil, God will turn it around for your good. ~ Genesis 50:20. Rather than being rent by violence, and greater racial divisions, Charleston, SC has, instead, chosen to embrace peace and love, not violence and hatred. Miraculously, the City of Charleston has begun the difficult process of coming together in worship, and solidarity, across racial, ethnic, political, and religious lines!

In the wake of the Massacre at Mother Emanuel Church, and with the spotlight of the nation, and the world, firmly fixed on South Carolina, SC Gov. Nikki Haley (R), at potentially great political cost to herself, has, courageously, stepped forward and called for the Confederate battle flag, long a symbol of division and bigotry, to be taken down from South Carolina’s state capitol grounds, and put in a museum. Amen to that, Governor!

What the Charleston gunman intended for evil is, indeed, beginning to be turned around for good! The gunman’s bloody and horrific act of despicable evil is, now, ironically, bringing together people of good will, of all backgrounds, colors, races, and creeds for the greater good of the community as a whole. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously stated, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Love is beginning to drive hatred out of Charleston.

Make no mistake, Charleston’s problems, racial and otherwise, are far from over. And the same can be said of South Carolina, and of America. We have yet to attain the goals of ending gun violence, racial division, and poverty. There is, definitely, still a long way to go to achieve an inclusive society that reflects the ideals of freedom, justice, and equality for all. However, Charleston, for the moment, appears to be heading in the right direction, and perhaps there are some lessons of love that we can learn from her journey along the way.

The nine red roses at the top of this article are dedicated to the memory of the following nine Christian martyrs felled at Emanuel A.M.E. Church, Charleston, SC on June 17, 2015:

  • The Honorable Clementa Pinckney, 41, South Carolina State Senator, and Pastor of Emanuel A.M.E. Church, who lent his booming voice to those whose voices often went unheard.
  • Cynthia Hurd, 54, a Library Manager, whose life was dedicated to the love of children, books, and her church.
  • Susie Jackson, 87, a Longtime Emanuel A.M.E. Church Member, and Mother Figure to generations of her family, as well as, to many of her Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church family.
  • Ethel Lance, 70, Employee of Emanuel A.M.E. Church for 30 years, who loved her church and its members.
  • Rev. DePayne Middleton Doctor, 49, Admissions Counselor at Southern Wesleyan University, whose angelic voice could heal aching hearts.
  • Tywanza Sanders, 26, Poet, and Aspiring Entrepreneur, who recently earned a Business Administration Degree from Allen University.
  • Rev. Daniel L. Simmons, Sr., 74, Retired Pastor, who served as a model of endurance and service to God.
  • Rev. Sharonda Singleton, 45, a Pastor, and Track Coach at Goose Creek High School, a dedicated Minister of the Gospel, and inspirational coach, both, on the track and off.
  • Myra Thompson, 59, A Builder of Faith, who worked diligently to restore her beloved church’s property to its full beauty.

May God wrap his arms of love and comfort around the families, loved-ones, and friends of these saints of God, and grant them His peace.

Please feel free to share your thoughts on the events in Charleston, SC in the comments below.

Until next time, remember, you can do all things through Christ.

God Bless,

Kenneth Lillard

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The Best of ‘SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS’ – SUMMER 2013 EDITION

Summer

Can you believe it? It’s Labor Day Weekend 2013 already! Where have all the sun-drenched days of summer gone? The  autumn leaves of red and gold will soon be swirling in the air. To mark the occasion, we have assembled a special souvenir of the awesome Summer of 2013 that we hope will bless you, and remind you of those much-too-soon-departed, wonderful days of summer!

It has been an especially rich and exciting summer at our companion publication, SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS.  For each of the past 90 days, SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS has offered its readers the best church social media news this summer, packed with information, videos, and photos of the latest, most-talked-about and interesting developments in the faith, social media, and technology space. (Click on the Archives icon to check out previous issues!)

Faith Based Media 2.0 is a faith-based journal of information, innovation, and inspiration. It is designed to creatively share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through social media and web 2.0 technologies. We’re always so excited to share the most exciting things happening over at SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS with our loyal readers.

So, we’ve teamed-up and pulled together this summer’s top inspirational stories, chats, podcasts, and thought-provoking opinion pieces from the June, July, and August 2013 editions of SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS.

As we say goodbye to the halcyon days of summer and eagerly anticipate Autumn 2013, we’re happy to present this unique, special edition of the VERY BEST of ‘SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS – SUMMER 2013 EDITION’. Enjoy!

What church social media blog posts, podcasts, or articles were you excited about this summer? Please share them here with our readers and become a part of this, our special, SUMMER 2013 EDITION. Btw, to get your day started right with an on-time word of inspiration and encouragement, be sure to check out FAITH and DEVOTION DAILY.  Much Love & Appreciation!

Until next time, remember, you can do all things thru Christ Jesus!

Be Blessed,

Kenneth Lillard

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The Best of ‘Social Media and Ministry News’ – April 2013

Newspaper

The month of April has been a very exciting time at SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS, a daily online publication which keeps you up-to-date on all the best and latest developments in the social media, faith, and technology space.

Many inspirational stories, exciting events, and lots of great information have been shared in this month’s issues. Here are some of ‘The Best’ featured articles from the last 30 days!

90-Hour Bible Reading Marathon – The Christian Post

List of Online Churches – djChuang

Praying for Others … There’s An App – Kye S. Chung

Church Success in the Digital Age – Church Tech Today

Top Digital Tools for Churches [Infographic] – Bill Reichart

Facebook for Churches: Key to Social Media Success – Church Tech Today

The Bible Miniseries Being Made Into Movie – The Christian Post

A Handy Guide to Develop Your Church Communicatons Plan – Church Leaders.com

Responding to Crises & Using Digital Tools for Ministry #chsocm: #ChSocM Chat Transcript: 4/16/13 – ChurchSocMed #chsocm

Pastors Respond to Boston Marathon Bombings – Christianity Today Gleanings

What church social media news would you like to share for April 2013?

I truly appreciate you!

Until next time, remember, you can do all things thru Christ Jesus!

Be Blessed,

Kenneth Lillard

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Top 10 Social Media and Ministry Stories January 2013

using-ibookstore-on-ipad-m

The best and brightest thinkers in the social media and ministry space have been very busy during the first month of 2013.  Before sharing my recommendations for the top ten January 2013 stories, here are a few suggestions for those involved in church social media:

  • Develop or order a church app that people can download to their smartphones. Mobile continues to be a real leader in the digital space.
  • With increasing numbers of people accessing the Internet from their smartphones (a trend that will only accelerate) make sure your website is mobile friendly.
  • Consider using QR codes to communicate more information in a smaller space.
  • Pinterest and related visual platforms continue to rapidly grow in popularity. Be sure you have a presence there.
  • Vine video is the new kid on the block! Think – Instagram for video! Vine presents tremendous potential for ministry use.  So, check it out!
  • The social network Slideshare continues to experience rapid growth. Don’t sleep on it!

Now, to the top 10 stories:

Church Social Media 2013 Predictions – Tweetchat #chsocm

Tech and Bold Goals for 2013 – Tweetchat #ChSocM

21 Social Media Predictions for 2013 From the Pros – SocialMedia Examiner

Build Your Platform This Year: Check These 7 Steps – ChurchLeader

Accessing the Bible With 21st Century Technology – Algemeiner

Episode 30: Meredith Gould – Social Media Church – Podcast D J Chuang

8 Leadership Lessons From Martin Luther King, Jr. – Michael Hyatt – Podcast

Mobile Apps and Sites are Now – iChurch Method

How to Be Involved In Your Church’s Internet Ministry If You’re Not the Pastor – Internet Toolbox for Churches

Fly or Die: Vine – TechCrunch

To stay on top of the latest news and developments in the Social Media and Ministry space check out the new daily church social media publication, SOCIAL MEDIA and MINISTRY NEWS.

Which church social media stories from January 2013 would make your Top 10 list?

Until next time, remember, you can do all things thru Christ Jesus!

Be Blessed

Kenneth Lillard

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Churches Use Social Media in Disaster Relief #HurricaneSandy

 

Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc across the Jersey Shore, NY, and Long Island a couple of weeks ago. People immediately jumped on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to post and share their stories, images, and videos of the super storm.

Social media sites provided platforms for people around the tri-state area to map the flooding from Hurricane Sandy, and of course, help news organizations cover the crisis. Many took to social media to connect, share and collaborate around core needs, even as the region’s own infrastructure  struggled or totally failed. Local people even posted maps of open gas stations!

While NYC has a sophisticated digital initiative, NYC Digital, that sprang into action, local churches also used the Internet and social media to help respond to the disaster. Oasis Church in Springfield, NJ has been using the Internet to respond to the super storm,  including attracting hundreds of volunteers from across the country to help make the Thanksgiving holiday season a little brighter for those affected by the devastation.  And even though the megastorm has passed, many still need assistance, and much recovery work remains to be done.

Here are 10 ways churches can use social media to assist during disasters:

  • Use FB and Twitter as an early warning system for members and the community-at-large. Twitter, often, comes out with the news  before the news organizations.
  • Share news updates, storm experiences, prayer requests, and calls for assistance.
  • Use FB and Twitter to let people know how to prepare, what’s coming, and where to get help.
  • Provide links to official disaster response organizations like FEMA, NVOAD, local police and fire departments, hospitals, Red Cross, Salvation Army, etc.
  • Create bulletin boards, using #hashtags on Twitter linked to FB, to post the latest news, injury reports, power outages, evacuations, dangerous situations, damage reports of churches and elsewhere in the community, relief resources, etc.
  • Prepare a crisis plan/ phone tree. (Btw, social media is actually the new phone tree tool.) Remind members to check on each other and those in the community, especially the vulnerable and elderly.
  • Use FB and Twitter to organize, mobilize, and publicize relief and recovery efforts.
  • Provide prayer and pastoral care for those whose lives have been impacted by the disaster.
  • Establish relationships and digital connections with relief organizations before the disaster strikes.
  • Prepare your plan for the next disaster now, and begin communicating it ASAP!

For more information on social media response to disasters see the following links:

72 Hour Lutheran – TX-LA Gulf Coast Synod Disaster Preparations and Response

Church Media: Being Ready In and Out of Season – Church Mag

Hurricane Sandy Resources: How You Can Volunteer and Donate – NJ.com

Instagram Users Share 10 Hurricane Sandy Photos Per Second – Mashable

Oasis Church Uses Web to Recruit Hundreds of Volunteers for Hurricane Sandy Aid– NJ.com

Recovers.org – Community software that helps organize volunteers, donations, and information during disaster situations

Texting Connects Families During Disaster – Orlando Sentinel

Social Media Aids Hurricane Sandy Cleanup on Staten Island – silive.com

Social Media’s Crucial Role in Disaster Relief Efforts – Guardian.co.uk

Social Media Follow Hurricane Sandy’s Destructive Path Up the East Coast – USA Today

Social Media Tools For Disaster Planning and Communications (Twitter Chat) – Church Social Media Blog #Chsocm

What Was Novel About Social Media During Hurricane Sandy? – Patrick Meier, iRevolution 

How is your church/ministry preparing for the next disaster? How is digital social media included in your strategy?

Until next time, remember, you can do all things thru Christ Jesus!

Stay Blessed,

Kenneth Lillard

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Instagram and Ministry – Telling the Story

New Life Church Celebration Weekend (above) on Webstagram

In the African American preaching tradition, “telling the story” is highly prized. Storytelling is very powerful. It captures the imagination and connects with people on a deep emotional level like no other approach can. Instagram provides a new and exciting way to connect with others online and tell the story of Jesus, and of your congregation in action, in a fresh and innovative fashion. It’s, virtually, a new way to visually share the Word!

A photograph can tell a story in ways words often cannot express. After all, “a picture is worth a thousand word.” People naturally connect with stories, and sometimes those stories are most eloquently told in pictures.

Because of digital social media and the ubiquity of web 2.0 technologies, the church is becoming increasingly more interactive. Many congregation members are already on Instagram, as well as Facebook and Twitter. And more often than not, they are connecting via smartphones, iPad’s, and other mobile devices.

Rapidly rising visual social media sites like Instagram and Pinterest are part of a new trend influenced by the shifting habits of technology users. They are moving toward greater visual social sharing. Why? Social engagement appears to increase when pictures are shared. In our fast paced digital age, pictures (with minimal hashtags and/or captions) can communicate lots of information quickly and succintly.

So, what is Instagram anyway? It is a free photo-sharing service, and social networking site launched in 2010. In 2011  Apple named Instagram, “App of the Year”!  In a nutshell, Instagram allows users to take photos, apply filters to them, and then share them with other Instagram users, as well as on other social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. It currently has over 100 million users.

Something surprising happened in August 2012. The average number of daily active Instagram users hit 7.3 million, topping Twitter’s 6.9 million. Pictures beat words! In addition, the average Instagram user spent 257 minutes accessing the photo-sharing site by mobile device in August, as compared to the average Twitter user who spent 170 minutes on that site during the same time period. Instagram has taken storytelling to mobile devices in a really big way!

So, how can the church tap into this remarkable social media phenomenon known as Instagram to help tell its story? The following are just a few examples:

  • “Instagram” church services by posting pictures on FB, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
  • Post pictures of baptisms, gospel concerts, and conferences. Behind the scenes glimpses at conferences and other special events are always interesting.
  • Use Instagram to creatively market your church.
  • Post pictures of small group activities.
  • Post pictures of volunteers engaged in community service  and other outreach projects.
  • Post pictures of mission trips.

For greater impact, help boost your Instagram pictures with these tips:

  • Try to get the best, most compelling original photos you possibly can.
  • Make sure you photo captures the essence of the story you’re telling.
  • Pull multiple images together in a collage using apps like Frametastic and PicFrame.
  • Deft use of hashtags and captions in picture descriptions can create compelling themes and tags to reinforce the story’s message.
  • Use apps like Hipstamatic, Camera+ and iPhoto to add additional pop to your pictures.
  • Finally, it’s the quality of your photos that matter most, not the quantity!

For more on Instagram and it’s many applications to ministry checkout  the following links:

How are you using Instagram to tell the story?

Until next time, remember, you can do all things thru Christ Jesus!

Be Blessed

Kenneth Lillard

 

 

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Social Media Influence and Ministry

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4:6 

How much social media influence does your ministry have? Influence is defined as the ability to reach others and inspire them to action.  Influencers form strong connections with like-minded individuals on social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. The best influencers fortify these connections by 1) adding value to their online friends and followers, and 2) engaging in meaningful interactions. And remember, as followers of Christ, our interactions should, first and foremost, be “wholesome”!

How can you increase your online influence in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ? To expand your ministry influence begin by 1) understanding where you are now – what degree of influence do you currently have? 2) Define the audience you are trying to reach. 3) Develop a sound strategy to increase your influence by establishing a clear purpose, and investing in relationships to provide quality and value to those in your network(s). IRM (Influence Relationship Management) involves ongoing online engagement and community building. You’ve got to be willing to put in the time and effort to creatively manage your online influence!

The following are some useful IRM tools and tips to help you understand and expand your influence: 

Klout – Wikipedia

You Know Your Klout Score, What’s Your Kred Score?– Mashable

PeerIndex – Own Your Influence 

TRAACKR – Find the Influencers Who Matter the Most to You

PROskore – Your Professional Reputation

The Rise of Digital Influence and How To Measure It – Brian Solis

The Day That Influence Became the New Online Currency – Oscar Del Santos

10 Tools for Measuring Your Social Media Influence – Pam Dyer

Kred – Measurable Influence – Slideshare

How are you using your online influence? Thought about ways to expand it?

Until next time, remember, you can do all things thru Christ Jesus!

Stay Blessed!

Kenneth Lillard

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