Archives for category: general

As I mentioned in my last post, I am looking for a job in Boston. This is been a really long process and I have applied to literally hundreds of places. I have read countless job descriptions and requirement lists. For some reason, one that I looked at last week was the only one to stir up a desire to blog about.

In Boston there is a community on the south side of the city called Roxbury. Roxbury carries with it a reputation for being, well… frightening. When you ask anyone what neighborhoods you should avoid, Roxbury is always at the top of the list. I have never actually been to Roxbury so I can not comment personally about the community. I just know what I have heard.

I found a job running communications and social media for a group whose aim is the put down the “racist stereotypes” of the community of Roxbury and highlight the great historical and arts features of the community. That sounds great! I am all about putting down racism and promoting arts. Where do I sign up? I began writing a well-tailored cover letter for the position and checked back at the description page so that I could use particular phrasing to make myself sound perfect for the job. Then I noticed something…

Though the job requested that you have a B.A. And 2 years of experience with PR and social media it only paid $18,000 a year. You can’t even begin to live on that in Boston.

So, a job whose goal is to help show people that Roxbury is not an impoverished haven of crime is not willing to pay someone a living wage to do that job. If I took that job I would also have to sell drugs or rob convenience stores to provide for my family.

I know that the group probably can’t afford to pay more than that. I understand that. However, if you want someone to have a degree and experience, you have to start out by showing a little more employee value.

I have 2 points to make here…

1. Pay your employees well. Don’t hire people if you can’t pay them a living wage. If they have to divide their attention between your job and another job they can’t give you as much devotion as you would need them to.

2. If you want to create a certain image for your organization (non-profit, church, community, etc) don’t directly violate that image with the salary that you offer employees.

I just want to note that I have no intention of defaming the community of Roxbury. It isn’t their fault that this oversight was made. I have already been planning a trip down there to check out the community.

You may have noticed that Over-Communicate has consistently decreased in post frequency for the last few months. That is simply because I’m running out of material. I am a big fan of making sure that a social media presence stays alive and active, but I am an even bigger fan of not forcing a social media presence to stay alive with boring content. I don’t want to write a bunch of posts that I don’t care about just so I can make post quotas. I honestly see that this blog will come to a conclusion soon. I still get occasional inspiration for a new post, but it is coming increasingly fewer and farther between.

I’ve also got a few new things on my plate that are taking getting more attention than this blog. I just moved to Boston and am fervently searching for a job. I am living with some friends up here while I secure employment and then housing. Once I get that sorted out I will move my wife and son up here with me. Until then… I am busting my butt trying to find a job anywhere. With that said, if you feel like helping us out with our move, I would greatly appreciate your prayers and/or gifts (see how I put prayers in front of gifts so it makes me look like I’m not panicking about money?). You can make a donation HERE.

I also just started volunteering at my new church up here and am leading a small group.  This is the first time that I have been the leader of a small group, so please pray for my guidance and feel free to send me any pointers.

I really appreciate the people that regularly read this blog. Honestly. You guys are awesome. It was really overwhelming to see that people actually found what I had to say interesting and that they would come back and read my posts over and over. Thank you so much.

A lot of people do really annoying things on Twitter. Here is a fun little list of things you can do on Twitter that will result in me un-following you:

  • Foursquare updates. There are two people in this world that I have a desire to know the whereabouts of at all times: my son and my wife. Please don’t let me know that you checked in at the Taco Palace on 98th St. and that you earned the “I can’t stop eating quesadillas” badge.
  • Asking questions that have the sole purpose of generating “@” replies. For instance: “Who is your favorite Jersey Shore cast member?” or “If you could have lunch with one character from the Bible who would it be?” Some people will fall for your trap. However, more people than you know realize that you are just trying to create traffic.
  • Not replying to my “@” replies. If I take the time to engage you in a conversation on Twitter, please have the respect for me to answer me when I ask you a question. I don’t care how many followers you have. This is especially annoying when I see that you took the time to reply to other people who say things like “@dudebro18 You are so awesome and handsome! I just can’t get over how awesome and handsome you are!”
  • Constantly posting about mundane activities. I’m ok with the occasional “I had this really great pile of tasty squirrel meat for dinner tonight.”… but I don’t need a play by play.
  • Making boring announcements. This one is difficult to deal with, especially for churches. You have to take the time to creatively say things. “Come to the men’s group tonight at 6pm in the Fellowship Hall” is not an interesting tweet. “The men have cooked up a great pile of tasty squirrel meat. They will be consuming it with their bare hands at 6pm tonight.” is a little better. I regularly do a bad job with this one.
  • Constantly re-tweeting. If all you can do is pass along other peoples’ ideas, you probably shouldn’t be using Twitter. Once again, re-tweets are ok from time to time… just don’t make it your only form of communication. This is especially annoying when you follow a bunch of Christians. They all re-tweet the same people. When Donald Miller tweets about how great his poop was this morning I hear about it from 45 people.

If your church isn’t on Twitter you don’t need to use Twitter to engage your congregation.

If a majority of your church doesn’t know what an RSS feed is, you probably don’t want to spend too much time making sure that your pastors are blogging.

If most of your church likes good old fashioned traditional church music, you don’t need a contemporary service.

With that said…

If your church is highly saturated with smart phone users you probably don’t need to send out a paper copy of your newsletter.

If your church members participate in a monthly bloggers meet up you should probably make sure that at least one of your pastors is involved in that group.

If your church’s facebook page has as many fans as you have attendees on Sunday mornings, you should be using your facebook page as a tool to communicate.

Let’s be real for a second.

The whole “relevant” thing is played out. The idea of being relevant to your culture began as a way to get Christians to stop isolating themselves from the rest of the world. But just like every good thing that gets mass-produced and corporatized, the push for Christian relevancy has come around full circle and started eating itself.

Look at Relevant Magazine. I have no beef with them. They talk about some really cool music and have quality cultural observations. But pay attention to the advertisements. Every single ad in Relevant has something to do with Christian culture. The ads are for Christian musicians, Bible colleges, Christian conferences, and Christian books.

The people willing to put their money into Relevant Magazine are Christians. If the church was actually being relevant to culture, we would see a much bigger representation of culture in our church. If Relevant Magazine was actually relevant to non-Christians, non-Christians would be putting their money into advertising in the magazine.

“Relevant” churches are doing the same thing as the magazine. We listen to preachers that use relevancy buzz words like “authenticity”. Our worship teams play music from bands who smoke, have tattoos, and use delay pedals. We decorate our churches like all of the other churches do (would a deep crimson or a hunter green look better as an accent wall in this chocolate brown room?) We have come around full circle and become a brand new, cookie cutter church culture that is just as irrelevant as it has always been.

So, what is my solution? We stop trying to be what we aren’t. We stop buying into the myth that if we serve expensive coffee and have vintage Fender guitar amps that we will make a difference in the culture around us. There is no universal formula for engaging your community.

Our focus should not be on being relevant to an irrelevant church society. Our focus should be on channeling the creativity that God has given us into engaging our culture.

This looks different in your church than it does mine. You are a much better judge of what your community looks like than I am. Don’t listen to me. Don’t listen to other churches. Don’t listen to the conferences. Listen to your people.

Do you get stressed out when you watch TV? I do.

Even if I’m watching something that isn’t inherently negative, I still get stressed out by fast-paced cuts, constant subtle marketing techniques, and the loud, authoritative tone of commercials. If I spend more than a short amount of time watching TV I get very tense and have to simply turn it off and do something else.

We don’t need to present the Gospel in the same way.

We don’t need to constantly bombard people with loud messages and ideas. We don’t need to shout our announcements. We don’t need to see how much information we can cram into a short span of time. We don’t need to beat people over the head with an idea so that they can get it in their head.

We need to present things with peace and dignity. We need to step back and take a deep breath. Most importantly, we need to market to people how we would want to be marketed to.

You don’t want a bunch of junk mail that you are just going to throw away showing up in your mailbox. You don’t want to sit through 5 minutes of irrelevant announcements. You don’t want to go somewhere for the first time and be told what to do.

Let’s go back to the golden rule here… treat others as you want to be treated. Or rather, advertise to people as you want to be advertised to.

Back in February my wife and I went with a friend to see Ira Glass of the radio program This American Life speak at Florida State University in Tallahassee, FL. The talk was delightful. Glass balanced poignant social commentary with a quick wit and robust creativity. His talk created a lot of really interesting points, most notably one about storytelling.

Glass explained how he likes to structure his stories. He presents his programs by delivering a steady stream of action, one exciting plot movement after another, followed by a brief moment to unpack what just transpired. He then repeats this throughout the entire telling of the story. This method allows for the hearer to stay engaged by a stream of action, and allows them to take periodic moments to digest the information throughout the story.

He talked about how, at the beginning of his career, he thought that he had developed this method of storytelling on his own. Then he went back home to visit his family and attended a service at his family’s synagogue. The Rabbi preached a sermon with the exact same structure that Glass used to tell his stories. He realized that not only had pastors been delivering sermons in this way for centuries, but that the entire Bible is laid out in a similar structure.

His method of storytelling was as old as the Torah itself.

We all tell stories. Some of us preach sermons. Some of us write newsletter articles. Most of us send emails. All of us talk to other people. How can we use storytelling methods like this one to better engage people in our communications?