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.

Looking Back to 2017 and Ahead to 2018

Hey there, everyone! It’s been a long time since I’ve published something on this blog. I’ve drafted a few pieces in the last few months, but I didn’t like any of them enough to publish them for everyone to read.

So here we are in 2018. Just a couple of days in and a few weeks away from writing the right date on stuff.

The purpose of this blog post is to look back at what happened in my life in 2017 and ahead toward what is coming this year.

What Happened in 2017

We got a puppy. His name is Rizzo. He’s pretty great, but also super frustrating sometimes. He eats socks. Like whole.

I graduated from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with my M.Div. in May. It was good to graduate. Attending SEBTS was a great experience, but I am happy to have a bit more time to spend with friends, serve in the church, and read a bit more widely than I had time to do in the past.

Then, about a month after I graduated, I turned in my 30,000+ word book manuscript to my book publisher. Ministering to Millennials should be released in the first quarter of this year. We are working on the final edits and the cover art right now.

Beyond that, the summer was pretty uneventful. A highlight was definitely leading a summer Bible study with some of the students in our youth group. It was a lot of fun and I got a lot closer with the youth guys that I help lead at our church.

Spanning the entirety of 2017 is a little project called LifeWay Social.

Like most people who work in social media, I have done a lot of contract work on the side. Around the summer of 2016, I decided that when I finished seminary in the spring of 2017, I wanted to formalize the contract work into more of a side business.

Long story made short, that project turned into LifeWay Social and it became part of my job at LifeWay instead of a project on the side.

LifeWay Social was announced in July 2017 and signups opened in October 2017. So far, I have been really happy with how it has done and my hope is that 2018 will be a great first full calendar year for LifeWay Social.

The LifeWay Social project is the main reason I have not written here on this blog nearly as much as I used to. So much of my time is caught up in, basically, studying social media and coaching Christians on how to use it better. From October through December of 2017, I was working 10-12 hour days pretty regularly as we ramped up LifeWay Social and got it rolling.

After doing all of that, when I finally have some free time at the end of a day or on the weekend, the last thing I want to do is sit down in front of yet another WordPress screen and write more blog content.

So, if you’ve been sad that I haven’t been writing here, I apologize. But I know most of you don’t care, so let’s move on to looking ahead to what 2018 holds.

What Is Ahead in 2018

We are just a couple of days into 2018. I love the start of the New Year. There isn’t anything spiritually significant about going from December to January, but it is helpful to have a sort of mental reset, and the changing of the year does that for me.

Also, the last two weeks of December each year are about the only time I let myself be lazy as a creator for any significant period of time. I try to write nothing, post little, and just relax the last two weeks of December each year.

By the time New Year’s Day rolls around, I am chomping at the bit to get back to work and get back to writing blog posts or articles for the various outlets I have the opportunity to serve.

Every even year since 2010, I try to read through the Bible in a year. I failed in 2016, but am picking it up again this year. I tend to like reading small chunks of Scripture and diving deeply into them, so read-the-Bible-in-a-year plans are a bit out of my comfort zone, but I think it’s a good practice and I have always enjoyed it in the past.

At a professional level, I hope I learn more in 2018 than I have in any year previously. I hope I become a better co-worker and a better coach. I learned a ton about social media and content creation in 2017, and I hope I learn as much in 2018. I want LifeWay Social to continue to grow and be a valuable resource for Christians trying to use social media well.

But beyond that, I hope 2018 provides me more opportunities to create content and put into practice what I have been learning the last year.

Through LifeWay Social and perhaps some other outlets, I am hoping to create more video content than I have in the past. I detest being on video. It makes me very uncomfortable because I lack self-confidence and I don’t like watching myself. But, it’s a growing area of content creation and I think I can be good at it if I work hard.

On a personal level, I want to be more involved in the lives of the students I have the opportunity to lead at our church and I want to be a more selfless husband for my wife. I want 2018 to be the year Susie and I look back on as the year we opened our home up to more people than we ever had before.

Anyway, that’s a bit of an update from me on the last year. I hope this site is still helpful for any of you who may read this.

Here we find ourselves, in the first week of 2018.

What does it hold? Who knows?

The turn of the year provides us with a mental reset and it should remind us that, while the year on the calendar may change, the Lord doesn’t. The faithfulness he has shown throughout our lives will remain in 2018, regardless of how unfaithful we may be.


Should Twitter Ban President Trump?

One of the many unique attributes of Donald Trump’s presidency is his prolific use of Twitter. President Obama used Twitter, but not in the same ways President Trump is using the platform.

President Trump’s Tweets on Trial

In the last week or so, there has been even more attention directed at President Trump’s use of Twitter than normal, primarily because of what he is tweeting about North Korea and the effects his tweets could have on geopolitical relationships.

Here are a couple about North Korea from the last month or so:

Many Twitter users have noted that these tweets technically violate Twitter’s Terms of Service. How? Twitter’s Terms of Service forbid using the platform to make violent threats, directly or indirectly. Any account that does this may be shut down.

President Trump’s tweets have been interpreted as threats by many including North Korea. Really, anyone with common sense would interpret these tweets as threats, however realistic or unrealistic these threats may be.

So, how did Twitter respond?

Twitter’s Response

This is how Twitter responded on Monday (see full thread):

So, basically, Twitter is not going to ban President Trump from Twitter, despite him breaking the rules, because his tweets are “newsworthy.”

To take this to its logical, unrealistic end, President Trump could theoretically launch a nuclear World War III on Twitter and not be banned from the platform.

A humorous baseball account I followed tweeted this, as Twitter routinely struggles in its quarterly earnings reports:

President Trump being an exception to Twitter rules has upset Twitter users and people in general. So then here’s the question:

Should Twitter Ban President Trump?

No. Twitter shouldn’t ban President Trump from Twitter. They should change their Terms of Service to reflect the unwritten reasons they have allowed him to stay on the platform, which is exactly what they said they’re doing.

Further, and this is going to be an unpopular opinion, I don’t think even normal users should be banned from Twitter for making threats toward other people. I have written about this topic on this blog before.

Obviously, I don’t think making threats on Twitter is good, I just think banning everyone who makes threats on Twitter is an impossible expectation. I think people who make threats should be able to use Twitter because policing every threat on a platform like Twitter is unrealistic and potentially does more harm than good, especially when AI and algorithms get involved (just ask Facebook about that).

The reality is that hundreds of thousands of Twitter accounts are making threats to other Twitter accounts on the platform every single day. In one instance, it may be a friend jokingly threatening to punch another friend in the face if he doesn’t pay him back for the lunch he bought for him. In another instance it may be a head of state threatening nuclear war with another head of state.

Neither user should be banned, I believe, for a number of reasons. The first of which is that the user could just create a new Twitter account with new information and continue making threats as he or she so pleases, so the banning wasn’t really effective anyway.

Another reason is that, if President Trump was banned from Twitter, Twitter would be compelled by its users to go through and ban every single user who has ever made threats to others on the platform, which would be an impossible task.

President Trump and celebrities like him should not be protected from being banned for violating Twitter’s Terms of Service, and nor should President Trump or celebrities like him be more likely to be banned than the average Twitter user for violating the Terms.

Either you ban every single person, famous or not, who breaks the Terms, or you don’t ban any of them. I think the second option is more realistic and manageable than the first.

Further, from a business perspective, Twitter would be silly to ban President Trump from their platform because he has brought more attention to the platform than anything else in its history.

Twitter has their reasons for not banning President Trump. Whatever they actually are, I think they are doing the right thing by letting him stay. If they decided to ban him, they’ve be opening up a Pandora’s box of subsequent actions they would be compelled, and I believe unable, to take.

I’m curious what you think. This is just my opinion. I could be convinced otherwise.