Experiment in the Mobile Mundane

This past weekend we drove from Florida to Tennessee, over 680 miles in one day with 3 kids under 7. For fun I chronicled our journey on Twitter/ Facebook.

The responses ranged from people laughing to people we know in TN asking where we were staying and how long. I had instant (OK, quick) communication with my entire network of friends. No one’s life was changed.

Aside from a few people who needed to know when we were arriving, none of the information I shared was truly important to those reading. It was fun, and a few people had some laughs. My 7 month old behind the wheel was a popular picture.

I watched a video criticizing twitter culture the other day. I’m mobile or I would link it for you. Basically the premise was that Twitter had all this power and people were posting the most trivial chatter.

Think about it. Now, more than ever our sphere of influence is bigger than ever. Our access to information is greater than ever. I used maps, two kinds of weather programs, three kinds of social network tools, watched a movie and played games, all on my phone. Not to mention basic texts and email.

We have this power literally at our fingertips, and many of us use it only for inane chatter. Be careful, I don’t mean that you shouldn’t chat with your friends via Facebook or Twitter. Use this tool to help strengthen your relationships. Have fun.

There’s nothing wrong with letting people know tidbits about your life, but my challenge for you is to use this power God has let into your life to communicate more.

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The Disconnected Connection

I am watching the 1 MB flash stream of the 10:45 service. I am in Nashville on vacation. Because of recent illness with the kids, we opted to not attend church this morning, so I am watching parts of the service back home.

It’s odd. I am disconnected from the service by almost 700 miles. But I can see what is happening. Text people involved in the service and get responses. The ministry of the church is being extended through the internet. I can experience a degree of the worship there.

Of course, it’s not like being there. Nothing can replace gathering together with fellow believers in worship. But if you can’t be there, or are interested in the church but have not yet attended, you can get an idea, get a taste of the ministry and worship.

Don’t Ignore Experience

In military movies many young officers are told that while they are in charge, if they are smart they will listen to the sergeants they command. Many times the officer ignores the advice and gets in major trouble. Then the sergeant has to save the day. The officer realizes too late that his inexperience has cost lives, and if he had listened to how sergeant those soldiers under his command would be alive.

Most ministry situations are not life and death, but the principle applies.

I am almost 37. I have a lot of general experience, but I am not nearly as experienced in some areas as those who work with me. Without surrendering the responsibility of leadership, seeking advice and help from those who work for you is the smart thing to do. To ignore their experience places additional risk into the situation without sound reason.

Moving from Print to Web

Last Sunday we lifted the lid off the plan to stop producing our bi-monthly magazine. We are moving our news content to the new website. You can actually access it directly at www.firstorlandonews.com. I am trying to give people all the information I can about why we are doing this. And, I am trying to be the main outlet for anyone to complain. We published my email in the bulletin, and directed people to contact me with comments or questions. To date, I have gotten one question.

But this week we are printing and mailing out the last issue of the magazine. The entire issue is devoted to talking about the new online version, and why we are moving to that for of communication. If anyone is going to complain, this will prompt it.

Simply stated, moving online helps us keep pace with the trend in print readership. It’s doubtful that anything will ever replace the feel of holding a printed book in your hands, turning each page with anticipation. For some, hard-copy newspapers and magazines bring similar nostalgic feelings. But overall hard-copy readership is down. More and more people get their information from electronic sources. This trend is changing the world of print journalism.

There are some major benefits to an online publication. It allows for far more content to be published, and for instant responses. A person seeing advertisements and information in a printed publications must take another step to respond; by phone, Internet, or in person. Online magazines offer immediate access. You can read a story about an upcoming event, and go ahead and register for that event right then, with the click of a button. See something that makes you want to know more about a ministry? Go ahead and click that icon to find out immediately. If something sparks your interest, use the search feature to find out more.

In addition, the online version of the magazine can offer lots more information. Real Life is limited to three or four stories and a few promotional items released every couple of months. First Orlando News can be updated daily, with multiple, timely stories about ministry and life in and around First Orlando. And those updates cost nothing.

Plus, by ceasing to produce the magazine we will save over $40,000 in printing and mailing costs while still making the same information available online.

The new outlet is more effective and significantly cheaper. As stewards of time and resources, how could we not make the move from print to web?

Tyndale, KJV 1611 and New Media Translation

I just finished Phil Cooke’s provocative book “The Last TV Evangelist: Why the Next Generation Couldn’t Care Less about Religious Media and Why it Matters” At one point Phil is discussing the effect of the first English translation of the Bible. He is talking about how this was the end of a major controlling aspect of the church, since normal people could hear/read the scripture and understand it without interpretation from church leaders. As I was reading it something struck me. Here’s a quote:

“…when the King finally authorized an English translation (which appeared in 1611), it’s been said that people filled St Paul’s Cathedral in London just to listen to the Bible being read in their own language. They would sit for hours as one person would stand in the pulpit reading. When that person would grow tired, another one would stand up and continue. People were transfixed as they heard God’s Word for the first time in their own language.”

Of course, the traditionalist in me immediately cries out, “why doesn’t that happen today?!”

We live in a post-literate society. The written word doesn’t carry that kind of power anymore. Back then that was the media of the time. That was how mass communication happened. This was the new media of the time. People could write things down, and communicate with people they have never heard of before. This was their version of TV or a movie.

And the Bible was content that impacts. It changes lives.

They were using a new way to communicate the most important message of all time. People were drawn to the content delivered through new media. We will never see a movement like that again in America. People will not stay for hours on end to listen as one person reads the Bible.

That’s a little disturbing, isn’t it? God’s instructions to use are written, not delivered through video or text message, or status update. How can we hope to communicate the message of the written Word to a culture that gets most of it’s information from video, audio, or short text messages?

Just as Tyndale translated the text of the Bible into English, we must translate the message of the Bible into the languages of New Media. The responsibility for translating the message of the Bible falls on the shoulders of those working in new media.

What are you going to do?

From WMV to Flash Streaming

Stream InterfaceAs a part of our new website, we have upgraded our streaming. We have made the switch, with 316 Networks‘ help, away from WMV files to Flash. This does several things… First we can customize our player, even imbed it in HTML. Second, Mac users can stream without need for 3rd party plug-ins. Third, in the archive, you can fast forward and rewind.

300k stream
The extra benefit is that we will also send a 1MB live stream. It looks great. Almost like watching analog cable. Colors and audio are more true. Even the lower bandwidth streams look better. we are still tweaking it, but so far we have been very pleased. Here’s image from the 300k stream:

It’s an investment in the future. The additional versatility the Flash video provides is worth it.

American Idol Attracts Christian Talent

According to an MTV article, half of the top 10 this season have strong ties to Church, and may even lead worship.

I have steadfastly avoided American Idol this year, except for about 10 minutes to look at the set (always amazing what that kind of money can buy for TV), but now… maybe I will have to check it out. I hope they don’t make the same mistake Mandisa did, picking a song she liked rather than one that showcased her voice. I liked “Shackles” too and enjoy it on her first release, but she should have picked a different song that week. It was the beginning of the end.

I appreciated her willingness to witness, but if she doesn’t sing what she should to win, she doesn’t get to sing anymore on the show.

An Interesting Outreach

I wanted to brag on a colleague. A guy who works with me has a passion for reaching people in the Disney College Program. He and his room mates have changed their lives to try to impact those young people. Things have not been like they expected, but God is using them and their flexibility.

Read the full story here.

The Disney College Program means opportunity for students from throughout the world. For John Grosshans, who works at First Orlando as a Digital Designer and is also one of the leaders of the College Ministry, Disney’s College Program (CP) is a natural evangelistic outreach.

“We don’t quite have an official name for the ministry yet,” John said. “We are kind of calling it ‘CP Outreach’ for now.”

By “we,” John is referring to his two ministry partners, Craig McCall and Patrick White. And if the three were looking for an endeavor that perfectly matches their passion, they’ve certainly found it.

Importance of Communication During Change

When changes happen, communicate.

It has been my experience that if you leave things for people to “connect the dots” they will almost always do it in the worst way possible. Before you know it, two totally unrelated events have become cause and effect. it is much better to be as open and up front at the top as you can be, rather than try to come back behind, after the rumors are flying.

We have a couple of changes coming in the communications world as it relates to the website and our print publications. This week, before the changes are done, we are announcing what they are and why. We had to wait until the new website was up and running before we could change, but are talking about the change before it actually happens.

Will some people still get it wrong? Yes, but we are trying to minimize that by putting it all out there.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Soft Launch is Under Way

The new website is up. There is still a lot of work to be done, but you can get a feel for where we are, and where we are going.

newweb

newsportalOne of the biggest, and best new features is the new News portal, which can also be reached at firstorlandonews.com. This will replace our print magazine, saving over $46,000 per year in printing costs, not to mention labor. And we can update it daily, with immediate click through for registration and more information.

There are some other great features, too. Go ahead, spend some time getting to know the new site.