What We Can Learn From Google’s “Year in Search”

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I’ve always been a sucker for lists. Even before listicles and Buzzfeed took over the internet, I remember sitting by my radio as a child listening to the year-end “Top 100 Countdown,” trying to guess the year’s top songs.

There’s something fun, nostalgic and maybe even therapeutic about looking back at year’s end and taking time to remember — remember the good times, reflect on the bad and consider how they might affect the future.

One fun list that comes out every year is Google’s “Year in Search,” which highlights the most popular Google searches of the year. This particular list (and accompanying video) gives real insight into our culture’s values and the big questions we all wrestle with. Aside from the searches for fidget spinners and “how to make slime,” there are some really heartbreaking reminders in this year’s search history.

Read the full post on Boundless here.

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The Prince of Peace and You

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If you don’t feel it yet, you will. For most of us, the end of the year is just plain bonkers. Most of us are hustling through those last few work projects, trying to pick out the perfect gifts for friends and family, trying to find time to see all of our friends and family, and on and on and on the list continues.

The holiday season, supposedly built around a commitment to be thankful and celebrate Jesus, can easily be corrupted by stress and busyness and stuff and excess. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often find myself lounging on the couch at the end of another December day thinking, “Ahh… this is the peaceful break I’ve been waiting for!”

Throughout this crazy season, if you spend any time at all at church, you will likely encounter the famous prophecy from Isaiah about the coming of a Savior:

“For unto us a Child is born… and his name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

This list of names has become so familiar, we tend to breeze right past it without giving the names much thought. For a moment, I want to focus on that last name: the Prince of Peace.

Read the full post on Boundless here.

Stop Going to Church (But Don’t Stop Going to Church)

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Lately, the pastors at my church have been a little more vocal than usual about reaching out to our neighbors. Especially around major holidays, they often give reminders and share specific opportunities to invite guests who may not yet follow Jesus.

This past Easter, we had a specific campaign that challenged our congregation to think of five people they regularly engage with who aren’t Christians. The idea was to keep that list visible in our homes so we could regularly pray for them and look for natural opportunities to talk with them about our faith.

All of this, of course, is good. We should always have this mindset, and the reminders have been helpful since (sadly) it isn’t always natural for me to think this way.

Here’s the only problem: When it came time for me to work on my list, I had trouble coming up with five people. I really had to work to think of five people in my life who aren’t yet Christians.

Read the full post on Boundless here.

Netflix, “Stranger Things” and Compassion Fatigue

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By now, many of you have probably watched season two of “Stranger Things” on Netflix. Don’t worry: There are no spoilers here — except I really didn’t expect to see that beach scene with Kevin Bacon in the Upside Down.

(That didn’t happen.)

If you’ve been watching the series, maybe you’ve had similar thoughts and reactions to mine. Several times while I was watching, I had to remind myself this whole thing was created by Netflix. This wasn’t a Disney or Marvel or Lucas Films production designed for huge movie theaters; this was created by the old DVD mail service that now streams “Friends” reruns to your XBox. Most of the actors were completely unknown to the public before this series, and — of course — the premise of the show is pretty ridiculous.

Read the full post on Boundless here.

Why Even “Bad” Christian Music Is Good for You

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If you are what you eat, then I’m usually a Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller from Taco Bell. Yes, my “dad bod” is coming in quite nicely.

As true as that saying may be, lately I’ve put some thought into what I listen to. In my little world, music is always playing. If I’m at work, at the gym, hanging out at home, driving, or consuming a Beefy Nacho Loaded Griller, odds are I have tunes rolling.

Growing up, I was the nerdiest of Christian music nerds. I skipped school in fourth grade to meet Michael W. Smith. I stood in line for hours at outdoor festivals to get autographs from Greg Long and Nicole C. Mullen. I had Hawk Nelson T-shirts and still have the rap from “Jesus Freak” memorized. I knew — and loved — it all.

Read the full post on Boundless here.

Equality and Action Figures

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“Whoa! I didn’t know you were a nerd!”

I’ve heard that statement more times than you might imagine, and, yes, it’s true. I am a nerd. But not one of those pocket-protector nerdy nerds. I’m a cool nerd.

When you walk into my office, you’ll notice typical office-y things until you turn a corner and see my collection of action figures. Protecting my work space is an assembly of earth’s mightiest heroes: an army of 12” plastic replicas of Marvel’s Avengers, Superman and Batman — and somehow a Ninja Turtle snuck in to join the team.

These heroic friends are a popular conversation piece, but recently someone pointed out a major flaw in my collection:

“All your action figures are boys. You really need to add a girl hero to your collection!”

Read the full post on Boundless here.

How to Develop a Communications Playbook for Your Church

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This article was originally published by Church Marketing Sucks & Courageous Storytellers, where I also did a video interview with Mark MacDonald. Check them out! (You will need a Courageous Storytellers subscription to watch the video… but it’s just so totally worth it!)

Let me tell you a story. When I started my job at First MB Church four years ago, the church didn’t have an official communication request process. If a staff member wanted to advertise a retreat, a sweet old congregation member had a prayer request for her ailing Mini Schnauzer, or the pastor decided his Sunday sermon warranted a special handout on Friday morning (Can I get an amen?), our admin did her best to squeeze everything into the bulletin.

Our bulletin, by the way, was an 11-by-17-inch piece of paper folded into thirds. That equates to 374 square inches of utter chaos. And, please, don’t get me started on the barrage of clip art posters, the clunky (outdated) website, or the kids ministry volunteers’ insistence on using Comic Sansfor everything.

It was a dark, dark time in my church’s history. But let me be clear: It wasn’t anyone’s fault. Our staff members and volunteers were really good, but busy, people who were super passionate about their thing. No one on staff had the authority or the time, though, to control the pandemonium. As a consequence, everyone did their best to keep everyone else happy.

Sound familiar? If it doesn’t and you work in church communications? Count your lucky stars, my friend, and may the odds be ever in your favor. (Cue Hunger Games music.)

Read the rest of the article here.