On Raising Our Hands in the Trenches

When I started MillennialEvangelical.com in 2014, I wanted to serve people and build a brand for myself.

At the height of the site, I was posting three-to-five times per week and doing everything I could to get my content noticed.

It was a lot of fun, but eventually I just got tired.

I got tired of trying to get noticed, and the whole thing stopped being fun, so my consistency dropped off and I lost interest.

I think I vacillated between having healthy and unhealthy motives for writing the Millennial blog at various points throughout the process. Sometimes my primary driver was to help pastors and parents. At other times my primary driver was to make a name for myself.

Ultimately, life has become pretty busy the last couple of years and I decided it was time to close the book on being “the Millennial guy.”

The Ugly Reality of Christian Platforming

Writing about this topic may seem hypocritical of me because I have the opportunity to coach a number of folks through a service called LifeWay Social. I help them understand who they want to reach with content online and provide them with tools to create helpful content on a consistent basis for their audiences. I am so thankful for the people I get to work with through LifeWay Social and their hearts to serve.

Whenever I start coaching people on social media strategy, I ask some pretty probing questions about motives. I want to make sure that I am not enabling anyone in their idolatrous pursuit of self-promotion. My goal is to equip them to serve others with the gifts God has given them. I have serious problems equipping anyone to pursue fame and fortune. In short, I don’t do it (knowingly, anyway).

Unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians using the internet in all kinds of ways—manipulating people and programs—to make a name for themselves. It makes me sick. Makes me feel nauseous.

I have zero interest in looking like I’m trying to do that myself. That’s a big reason I’m shutting down the Millennial blog.

So what then? Why even have this site?

This site is just where I’ll post stuff when I feel like writing things I’m comfortable sharing with others, in hopes of helping or encouraging people.

I won’t be writing often.

There is no fancy blog name.

I’m breaking basically every rule I tell anyone to follow.

I have no brand to maintain or strategy to execute.

I just needed a “home on the web” for when I want to write. And this will be that.

Digging in the Trenches

I was texting with a friend about the epidemic of Christians building platforms for their own glory recently.

I said something to the effect of, “We just need more people working hard in the trenches of ministry and not raising their hands to be noticed.”

Ministry is hard work. I’m a bi-vocational student minister. I can attest that ministry often feels like digging trenches.

We need more people in ministry who are happy to be digging trenches to help the cause without any acclaim.

We need fewer people in the trenches raising their hands to ask others to notice how nice their digging is.

It’s better for others to recognize how God has gifted you than for you to beg people to notice how God has gifted you.

For about four years, my hand has been raised off-and-on.

It’s time I just keep digging and forget about all that.

I Don’t Want to Change the World Anymore

When I was in the eighth grade, I had it all planned out: I would attend West Point Military Academy. I would become a lawyer. Then a senator. Then President of the United States. I wanted to change the world.

When I was a freshman in college, I resisted the Lord calling me to ministry because I was afraid of living on food stamps as a youth pastor for the rest of my life. After a number of friends and mentors (and the Holy Spirit) convicted me of my fear, I recognized the calling like they did and submitted myself to a lifetime of ministry. I had no idea what that would look like, but I knew I wanted to change the world.

But in the last year or so, I think something’s changed.

I don’t want to change the world anymore.

I can’t say for sure if my heart was in the right or wrong place when I used to want to change the world. Sometimes I am sure my motives were mostly good.

But I know that, many times, I wanted to change the world so I would be remembered. So that I would appear in school history textbooks and documentaries you would never watch on your own time but that you love to watch at school.

I wanted to change the world because it was the only way I thought I could achieve significance.

But I don’t want to change the world anymore.

I don’t want to be remembered in history textbooks or documentaries.

I don’t care to have a lasting impact on the world.

It sounds depressing, but I promise it’s not.

Serving as the leader of my local church’s student ministry has made me care more about discipling the middle and high schoolers in my community than getting blog pageviews on this site.

Settling into my role at LifeWay, even as much as it has changed over the years, has made me more interested in equipping others to stand in the spotlight than standing in it myself.

Reaching five years of marriage to my wife, Susie, has made me more interested in learning how to best serve and love her than pursuing opportunities to impress others.

Publishing my first book, a lifelong dream I never expected to accomplish, has made me less interested in ever publishing another one, no matter what “groundbreaking” ideas may come along.

As I have grown into adulthood and settled into a home, a job, and a community, I have lost my desire to change the world.

And I think that’s OK.

Whether it be because of recent events or because of a general growing in maturity I’m not sure, but I have come to the conclusion that living a life of ordinary faithfulness is no less noteworthy than a life that fills volumes of biographical books and documentaries.

I don’t want to change the world. I just want to live a life of quiet, ordinary faithfulness. To Christ. To my wife. To my church. To my work.

Don’t get me wrong: wanting to change the world isn’t bad. Don’t let me stop you.

I guess I’ve just become more concerned with doing everything I can to serve the people in my midst than with impressing people on the internet or otherwise around the world.

I’ve barely posted on here lately, and a small part of me has felt guilty about that. But a much bigger part of me hasn’t felt guilty about it at all, and I’ve wondered why.

I think it’s because I don’t care to change the world anymore.

I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and have been able to help on here over the years, but I just don’t care to do it as much anymore. Other things have taken priority.

I want to still help and serve people online. But it’s dramatically fallen down my list of priorities the last year or so.

So I apologize that I haven’t posted much on here lately.

But I’m not really that sorry about it.

A Brief Word About Recent Evangelical Conduct on Twitter

I tweeted earlier tonight that I desperately want to write, but I don’t have anything to write about.

So, I made a cup of half-caff coffee, opened this blog post, and started writing about nothing in particular.

I deleted half of it. I changed the topic no fewer than five times. I rambled for about 1000 words and decided to cut it down.

And here we are.

This is pretty raw. Just a warning.


I have said this to some in the past, and I mean it more than ever: if my job did not require me to be knowledgeable about social media, I would be off of it entirely. Or, at the very least, I would have an anonymous Twitter account to follow the various sports, video game, and humor accounts I like to follow.

I must confess that I am becoming more discouraged with the ways evangelicals use Twitter every single day I am on the platform.

I’m focusing on Twitter specifically because it is hard to find the global, trans-cultural communication you find on Twitter on any other social media platform. Facebook has engineered itself to encourage conversations around content with friends. Instagram is for talking about whatever pictures people have posted. Twitter is where normal people, famous people, and everyone in between come to talk, complain, and argue (and mostly the last two).

The Twitter conduct I have seen lately, among evangelicals specifically because that’s most of who I am watching on Twitter, has been discouraging.

I’m not the only one, and to be fair, people are feeling this way outside of the evangelical sub-culture.

https://twitter.com/duregger/status/1013078652911792129

I’m not saying I’m exempt. I know that I have contributed to the negativity of evangelical Twitter in my time on the platform. Without a doubt.

Lately, I post very little beyond links to what I’m writing or random thoughts that come to my head.

You know what most of evangelical Twitter has become, at least from my little perch?

A place for all the cool, “woke” people to dunk on the “ignorant” people.

“Please shower me with likes as I quote-tweet and shame this ignorant person who replied to my very woke tweet.”

Much, if not most, of the time, I am 100% in agreement with whatever it is the cool, woke person said and am simultaneously disgusted with the way in which he or she shamed the other person.

What I’m seeing on Twitter from many of my evangelical brothers and sisters is straight-up bullying.

Bullying.

A bully is “a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.”

Twitter has become a place for evangelicals to bully other people—often other evangelicals.

Right now, you’re probably thinking either, “Bro where you been? It’s been like this for years!” or you’re thinking, “Well he’s clearly not on our side.”

No one has dunked on me (yet). No one has subtweeted me to my knowledge. I know this practice isn’t new.

It just seems to me that it has become more culturally acceptable for evangelicals to bully other people on Twitter.

Why? I think the answer is simple: hatred of President Donald Trump.

Woke evangelicals don’t like President Trump. And, whether they agree with it or not, whether they notice it or not, they believe his actions give them license to treat others on Twitter and other social media platforms with disrespect in order to communicate the misalignment of his agendas with the gospel.

The cool, woke evangelicals who bully others on Twitter through their choir-preaching quote-tweets or their slick subtweets believe that, in order to adequately communicate that the President’s policies do not align with the gospel, they have been given permission to dunk on others on Twitter.

I think this is wrong, and I’ve been silently watching it unfold for so long I finally decided to write about it.

What’s worse is that the vast majority of Americans (and thereby, evangelicals) are not on Twitter. So, the cool-kid, woke evangelicals express their frustrations into the Twittersphere to the tune of retweets and likes with little pushback because the average evangelical without a seminary degree who disagrees with them isn’t on Twitter, or at least isn’t verified.

And after the ways many average evangelicals have been treated when expressing dissent toward a cool, woke evangelical on Twitter, I can’t imagine many want to engage any more even if they have sincere disagreements.

God is not glorified when you dunk on someone who disagrees with you on Twitter.

Subtweets are passive aggressive and affirm the worst gossip-related stereotypes about the church.

Your shaming of someone on Twitter isn’t like Christ flipping the tables in the temple.

It’s like the pharisee who thanks God he isn’t like those other people.

“The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people—greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.'” (Luke 18:11)

Please stop.