social media

How and Why We Let Our Daughter Join Instagram

How and Why We Let Our Daughter Join Instagram

One of our favorite games as a family is called Oh Heck. You might know it as Up and Down the River. The reason this simple card game is so great is that while the rules of the game remain the same, every hand there is a different trump and a different number of cards. Throw in the fact that you can play the game with anywhere from two to seven players, and every game is different.

That feels a lot like parenting a child in 2019. The only thing that is the same is that everything is always changing.

In April our fifteen year old daughter asked if she could create an Instagram account. We said yes.

When is the right time to let your child engage in social media? More broadly, how do you parent children relating to technology?

How to Invite Someone to Church

How to Invite Someone to Church

An encouraging study by Lifeway Research found that two-thirds of churchgoers invited someone to church in the last six months.[i] When was the last time you invited someone to church? What would it look like for you to increase those efforts?

Inviting someone to church isn’t, of course, a substitute for evangelism, but it sure is a great partner in our evangelistic efforts. Similar to our homes, our churches ought to be a place that, while they are primarily for the gathered body of Christ, are also always welcoming to the outsider.

Diana Davis had an excellent post at Lifeway that spurred me to consider ways that I can better engage those God has put in my life with the gospel and be more active in inviting them to church.[ii] I’ve tweaked and whittled her list of 52 down to 17. They are a good challenge for me, and I hope they will be for you as well.  

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.      The Massive Self-Storage Industry: If you were going to invest in one industry over the past few decades, it would be hard to beat self-storage, which is now a $32 billion a year industry. Patrick Sisson digs deeper into the industry where "One in 11 Americans pays an average of $91.14 per month to use self-storage, finding a place for the material overflow of the American dream."

2.      Study: Atheists Find Meaning in Life by Inventing Fairy TalesRichard Weikart reflects on a recent report, "The survey admitted the meaning that atheists and non-religious people found in their lives is entirely self-invented. According to the survey, they embraced the position: 'Life is only meaningful if you provide the meaning yourself.'”

3.      Ten Things You Should Know About the CrossPatrick Schreiner concludes, "The cross is not only where our sin is paid for, where the devil is conquered, but the shape of Christianity. As Rutledge has said, 'the crucifixion is the touchstone of Christian authenticity, the unique feature by which everything else. . . is given true significance.'”

4.      Can Social Media Be Saved? Kevin Roose examines whether there might be alternatives to the current quagmire, "I don’t need to tell you that something is wrong with social media. You’ve probably experienced it yourself. Maybe it’s the way you feel while scrolling through your Twitter feed — anxious, twitchy, a little world weary... Or maybe it was this month’s Facebook privacy scandal, which reminded you that you’ve entrusted the most intimate parts of your digital life to a profit-maximizing surveillance machine."

5.      The Owner of the Paper Airplane World Record Shows You How It's Done: You also get to check out John Collins's loop-de-loop plane and his bat plane. Pretty cool.

Fishbowl Living

Fishbowl Living

Recently, Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson was ousted from his post at Southwestern Seminary.[i] The firing began not with a dramatic revelation, but with concern over Patterson’s public statement some 18 years ago when he said that he had never counseled couples to separate or divorce.[ii] The trickle turned into a stream and then a torrent as other statements and counsel surfaced (including discouraging a female student from reporting a sexual assault on his campus). The external pressure from the mounting claims made Patterson’s firing all but inevitable.

I believe the outcome was just. But ten years ago Paige Patterson would have never lost his post. It is only in a day and age where every statement is public and permanent that these moments could be brought to the fore in such a short time period. And it is only in a day and age of democratized communication that the voices of those injured by Patterson and those who were upset with the trustees at Southwestern Seminary would have been heard so quickly and had such an impact.[iii]

Every word is public.

Every word is permanent.

I grew up in a mega-church. From time to time our pastor would reflect on the difficulty of his family living “in a fishbowl” where everything they did was monitored. In 2018 we all live in that fishbowl.

There are obvious dangers of this reality in the world we live. But there are also wonderful opportunities.

This Week's Recommendations

This Week's Recommendations

1.   The Attack of Social Media on Your Free Will: James Williams, the winner of Google's highest honor on why the impact of social media is particularly insidious, " I don’t think personal responsibility is unimportant. I think it’s untenable as a solution to this problem. Even people who write about these issues day to day, even me—and I worked at Google for 10 years—need to remember the sheer volume and scale of resources that are going into getting us to look at one thing over another, click on one thing over another. This industry employs some of the smartest people, thousands of Ph.D. designers, statisticians, engineers. They go to work every day to get us to do this one thing, to undermine our willpower. It’s not realistic to say you need to have more willpower. That’s the very thing being undermined!"

2.    What if We Took Our Commitment to the Church Seriously: Brett McCracken with a strong, but needed rebuke: "three-in-ten say the main reason they aren’t married is that they 'have not found someone who has what they are looking for in a spouse.' This desire for perfect compatibility is a problem. And that makes sense for a generation that’s grown up in a consumerist society where there are limitless options of brands and apps and genres and communities that can be tailored and curated in a perfect-for-me sort of way. We approach the church with the same mentality."

3.    A Father's Farewell Letter: Raymond Ortlund Jr. shares his father's beautiful farewell letter that he penned to his family before he died, "I urge you to remain true to your Savior. I have no doubt that you will. Love each other deeply in your marriages. Keep your family ties strong. Lay up treasure in heaven, because the stuff of earth is empty. Bank accounts, houses and furniture mean nothing to me now. Actually they never did. Beware of sin, and confess it as soon as you discover it in your life. And let the Spirit’s gift of joy color all your life. As you mature, remain a happy person in Christ. Get even sweeter as you get older. Sour old people are a pain."

4.       7 Things for Husbands and 7 Things for Wives to Remember About Sex: A snippet of Bob Lepine's wisdom for husbands: " Your wife needs a safe and secure relationship. In order for her to engage in sex with heart and mind and body, she needs to know that you will be there for her, that you are committed to her, and that she is your one and only." And for wives: " Sex is God’s idea. He created it and gave it as a good gift to husbands and wives in marriage. It is a key part of His plan for how we become one in marriage."

5.    Why Kellen Erskine is Disappointed with High School Mascots: I love Erskine’s dry humor, “The Syrup Makers? Of course, I love the syrup from Georgia.”

The Danger of Ingratitude

The Danger of Ingratitude

There is a deadly poison that contaminates the air we breathe. It’s a poison that, if we are aware of it at all, seems innocuous to us both because everyone else is breathing it in, and as far as we’re aware of it, others are breathing more of it in than us.

The poison is ingratitude. And it is everywhere.

Everything (that I don’t have) is Awesome

Psychologists agree that social media has made us less happy. Why is that? Because the constant access into others’ lives taps into our propensity toward ingratitude. We are surrounded by neighbors with nicer cars, friends who take better and longer vacations, couples who are happier, and everyone seems to be fitter and better dressed than we are. And it’s all there for us to see tucked into that powerful, shiny rectangle in our pockets. Every minute of every day.

Why I'm Not Giving Up on Social Media

Why I'm Not Giving Up on Social Media

There are plenty who lament the impact social media has had on our lives and relationships. The ripples are real[i]: the dilution of relationships, envy, and loss of time are all undeniable side-effects.

In reaction, more than a few of my friends have unplugged. I know several of my pastor friends who intentionally sideline social media from their lives. They might have accounts, but for the most part, they lie dormant. They have chosen to protect themselves from the negative impact of social media on their lives. I understand the decision and, in terms of personal emotional health, I think it’s actually a wise choice.

I’m unwilling to give up social media, though.

It’s not because I’m addicted (although maybe I am) or in order to use it to build a platform (I’m pretty squeamish about that word).

It’s because social media is an indispensable part of my pastoral leadership. I don’t think I could minister as effectively if I was disconnected.

LeBron James Messed Up Your Christianity

LeBron James Messed Up Your Christianity

LeBron James recently completed perhaps the greatest performance in the history of the NBA Finals, averaging 33.6 points, 12.0 rebounds and 10.0 assists, something that has never been accomplished before,[i] and against one of the greatest teams in NBA history no less. And yet there was no space for us to stop and appreciate James’s performance. Judgment was our first impulse. Every fan had an opinion on what this means to James’s legacy. Many declared that by losing these finals, the fifth NBA Finals he’s lost, he forfeited his right to be considered one of the greatest basketball player of all time.

Let’s set aside the argument of whether or not James ought to be considered the one of the greatest (although, he is!). My point is that, in a society driven by social media, we become, more than ever, agents of judgment and identified by our opinions. Hot-takes don’t just fill the waves of sports talk radio, they fill our social media feeds, and even our souls. We are taught to have strong and quick opinions on all matter of subjects. We build up and tear down social icons like skilled contractors.