Feeling Disconnected in an Interconnected World

(10:00 p.m. on a School Night)

“Is the internet down? I can’t get online!”

“I’m not sure. Try refreshing  your browser.”

“I did that. I still can’t get online.”

“Have you tried rebooting your computer? Let me know if that fixes the problem.”

The internet has put endless amounts of information at our fingertips, but for most people, has complicated the process of developing deep, meaningful relationships.

(Minutes later)

“I rebooted my computer and I still can’t get online. I think there’s something wrong with the network.”

“Alright (sigh), let me check. Why do you need to get online anyway? It’s late!”

“I’m working on a class assignment and need to access my document in the cloud.”

“Is it urgent? Is it due tomorrow? Does it have to be done tonight?”

“No. But I have 3 tests and another major assignment due this week and if I don’t work ahead now, I’m going to get slammed later in the week. That’s why I need to get online.”

(Yelling from another room): “I just rebooted the modem. Did that work?”

“No. I still can’t connect to the network.”

“Arrrggghhhhhh!!!!!” (shaking fist in the air)

Perhaps you can relate to this scenario (which happened in our home a few weeks ago). We’ve become so integrated with the internet via our computers, tablets and phones that when the network goes down, we’re not sure how to function. Panic can set in when we try easy troubleshooting tactics and still can’t fix the issue.

AT&T had a whole ad campaign a few years ago connected to this theme. Their ads showed humorous responses a family had after being disconnected from the internet at home for 4 minutes, 6 minutes, 9 minutes and so forth. The ads always concluded by saying, “Keep Calm, your internet is on.” AT&T then touted their 99% reliability rating in providing consistent and uninterrupted internet service to their customers. (See YouTube video at: https://youtu.be/zYys_Jg9xz4 )

The internet is an amazing tool that has allowed people to be instantly connected to information. Whatever you want or need, it’s all there at the click of a button.

As helpful as this information may be, it can make meaningful relational connection more difficult.

The internet has enabled us to have access to seemingly endless information about our friends. We see what they’re doing on Facebook. We see their photos on Instagram. We know what they’re thinking by the tweets they post. And yet ironically, we feel even more disconnected!

Almost universally, as we meet with Millennials, they tell us of their desire to have deeper relational connections and the challenges they face in experiencing those kinds of relationships in today’s digital culture. Sadly, for many Young Professionals, the struggle to find meaningful community extends to their church.

I sat across a table recently with a Young Professional who told me very directly of his frustration to find real community within his church. He’d been in several Bible Studies that didn’t last and after attending church regularly for several years, he found that his closest friends were all outside of the church. He’s been struggling lately to understand the purpose and relevance of church in his life, which has given birth to a seed of disillusionment.

Unfortunately, we’ve found that this is not an isolated occurrence with this generation of Young Professionals.

Our challenge is to help Young Professionals connect with Jesus, who is the only legitimate source of life, and to learn to form deep, meaningful relationships with others in our current cultural environment. We’re trying a number of things to help foster meaningful connections.

Jen’s lunch-time book club has created meaningful conversations related to the topic of faith and work.

Jen has incorporated a work-lunch book study to bring Young Professional women together around a certain topic that helps create meaningful conversations and deepen relationships.

We’ve also created Leadership Development groups to bring Young Professionals together in a cohort-like environment to process life with other Young Adults and talk about core faith issues that are relevant in today’s cultural and professional environment.

We’re seeing signs of success but we’ve learned that building effective community always takes work and it always takes time. That’s a challenge because in today’s internet environment, it’s often easier to entertain ourselves with digital alternatives than to invest the time and work necessary to create the kind of real connections that our souls really crave and need.

Please pray with us as we seek to find effective ways of helping Young Professionals connect with others. And please pray for us as well, as we need those same kinds of life-giving relationships in our own lives.

Thanks for journeying with us!

Expanding Our Influence Through the Internet

I recently saw a post on my twitter feed that showed how Amazon has become so big, that it’s beginning to dwarf older traditional brick and mortar stores. Amazingly, 30% of ALL online shopping in December was through Amazon. Best Buy was a distant 2nd with less than 4% of the online holiday shopping market share. (Click here for an article on Amazon’s December dominance)

It’s no wonder that retail giants such as Sears and Macy’s are shutting down stores at alarming rates.

The internet has completely transformed how we shop. It’s also changed how we think and gather information. Traditional news sources such as newspapers and magazines are becoming a thing of the past as most people now utilize the internet as their primary source of information.

The EveryStudent.com and EveryPerson.com websites are reaching literally thousands of people each day in every country of the world. The blue areas represent locations where people have connected with the site.

A few years ago, Cru recognized the potential of the internet for world evangelization, especially in countries traditionally closed to the gospel. EveryStudent.com was born and has now been supplemented with the sidekick site EveryPerson.comIn every year since it’s existence, it’s reach and influence have increased.

Last year, for example, 24.2 million people visited the site, with 343,000 people indicating decisions for Christ. That’s an average of 940 people per day, many of whom live in countries where it is difficult to even send a missionary, much less produce a genuine decision for Christ.

StartingWithGod.com is a website that helps new believers continue in their growth journey with Jesus.

With the rapid growth of the site, Cru realized the need to provide resources for the growing number of converts, so they created the site StartingWithGod.com, where new believers can sign up to receive a spiritual starter kit that’s designed to provide basic follow-up and discipleship.

After receiving an update a few weeks ago detailing the performance of the EveryStudent / EveryPerson sites, I sent a quick note of encouragement to the director of the site expressing my gratitude for her leadership and vision to expand the reach of the gospel in non-traditional ways.

Though I wasn’t expecting a response, I got a reply where I was reminded that I had contributed an article that is being used on the StartingWithGod.com follow-up site.

I don’t quite recall all of the circumstances, but I had given a talk many years ago on “The nature of faith”. I took the concepts of that message and created a short article, which I submitted for use in this follow-up site.

I was surprised to learn that last year, over 6,000 people read my article on the English site alone. Considering there are alternate versions of the site in Arabic, Chinese, Czech, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish, the number of people around the world who read the article was potentially in the 10’s of thousands.

A snapshot of Dave’s article, “The Nature of Faith.” Click image to go directly to the article.

I was amazed, as I had no idea that many people were reading an article that I wrote several years ago. To tell you the truth, I had entirely forgotten about the article being a part of the spiritual starter kit. It was a reminder to me how God can take something seemingly insignificant in our eyes and multiply it many times over for His kingdom purposes.

Here’s what’s really exciting. YOU can begin to reach others outside of your normal social circles by utilizing the resources that EveryStudent.com provides.

EveryStudent.info/videos is a site that offers a number of short training videos to help you learn how to utilize the articles on the site within your Facebook feed to potentially reach thousands of people with the message of Christ.

In particular, the 4th Section, titled “Impact Thousands” gives some practical input on how to post links to your Facebook and other social media feeds that will direct people to the EveryStudent.com website.

Give it a try and let us know how it goes.