Tag: Approach God (page 1 of 2)

When numbers shouldn’t matter

numbersNumbers matter. In so many areas of our society we watch numbers. We watch our weight, the calories we take in, our profit lines, our budgets, church attendance, our FB friends, twitter followers, and the list goes on. The same mentality applies to blogging. The higher the numbers the more successful we count ourselves. Actually, in the world of publishing, if you want to get a book published by a traditional publisher, your blog numbers matter even more. Most publishers won’t touch you if you are pulling a couple thousand views a day. So for someone that wants to write a book, it’s easy to get hung up on numbers.

At the end of each year I make the same goal, to blog more than I did the previous year. Over the last five years I’ve slowly, but steadily increased the amount that I post. But, this year has been my best yet. In 2014 I posted 36 articles. I wanted to best that this year and so far I have. Since the beginning of the year I’ve posted 49 articles. I’m barely half way through the year and I’ve written 13 more article than I did all last year and I’ve been loving writing this much. But it wasn’t until this past week that I realized it wasn’t the best I have to offer.

I want to be an author. I have at least five book ideas, all of which are in different stages of the writing process. Because I want to be an author, I’ve been researching how to get published and what it takes to build a platform. My original intent in trying to build a platform was to find an audience of peope that care about the message I so deeply believe in. I’ve been really focusing a lot on reading stuff by Jeff Goins, Jon Acuff and Michael Hyatt. They’re all brilliant writers and coaches. One of the things they all talk about, on some level, is the importance of platform building, to which blogging helps in that process. That’s not the only thing, but that’s the thing that was most relevant to where I was at. As I’ve worked on building my blog, I started getting hung up on the numbers. I started to become consumed about my daily views and the number of email followers. Specifically this number:

WP FollowersOn the surface it looks like I have 703 people that care about what I have to say and took the time to sign up to receive my blog by email. That number has increased steadily from about 400, over the last 3 months, so I was stoked. However, over the last few weeks I’ve felt like I needed to change the way that I was delivering my content. Specifically I felt like I needed to separate my writing into blogs that provided a more focused message to those I was trying to serve. But I just couldn’t get passed the growing followership. I had become sort of obsessed with seeing that number grow. But, this last week I learned something that I’ve long suspected to be true; that 703 isn’t an accurate reflection of the audience I’m serving. It’s actually formed from combining my Twitter followers, my FB page likes and in the number of actual email subscribers, which are actually only 10 people. I’ve been putting off improving my blog because I got hung up on a number that wasn’t even real. For that I’m sorry. I’m sorry that what may have been better for the people I’m trying to serve took a back seat to my need to up the number.

As important as numbers are, numbers don’t matter if the ones you’re focused on don’t help you serve those you’re called to. I don’t want to make it sound like I don’t appreciate the 10 legitimate email subscribers I have and the dozens of (maybe hundred or so) people that I know read #ApproachGod. I know those people appreciate what I write. I’ve had people message me and tell me that they were hurt by people in the church and how much they appreciate hearing that Christianity isn’t meant to be like that. It’s because of my readers, the last few months have been far more important to me than all of the other years that I’ve been writing at #ApproachGod. But, because they’re such a small part of that 703, in reality I wasn’t serving them as best as I could because I was focused on 600 people that more than likely don’t care about what I write. You that have committed to this walk with me deserve better from me.

It used to be that I wasn’t sure which direction I should go with my writing and because of that I posted it in the place that was the best fit at the time, #ApproachGod. But that isn’t the case anymore. God has given me some clarity on which way I should be going, but I’ve been procrastinating on listening, because of a number. I’m done with that. I so appreciate those whom made the decision to journey this road with me and I want to give them the best of me and make sure that what I give to them meets their needs in the best way. Because of that I need to refocus what I’m writing and where it shows up. I want to be more cognizant of whom I’m writing to and I want the location to be more strategic in what it provides to the reader.

Over the next couple months I’m going to reorganize my blog writing and launch two, maybe three, additional blogs sites. #ApproachGod will stay, but it will eventually look a lot different. #ApproachGod was never meant to look like it currently does. It was started as a means to provide devotional style content. My main content, essentially everything I’m posting on #ApproachGod, will be moved over to BrucePagano.com. The blog I post on Wednesday will talk about that and what the new sites will be focused on. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to the transition and better serving my audience. If you decide to continue journeying with me I can promise you this, I’ll be more concerned about engaging you as a part of my community than I am in growing with numbers that don’t matter.

Thank God for the prostitute and adulterer.

Rahab

I know that historically Christianity has been portrayed as an exclusive religion. That some how if you were Christian you were part of an elite group and better than everyone else. Christianity would run through cycles of using violence in an effort to see people converted. If that didn’t work, we resorted to heavy doses of guilt. I’d almost rather take the stretching rack than have someone tell me all the ways I’m not a worthy or valuable as a person. At least the physical pain of the torture rack eventually ends. None of that is what Jesus intended when He commissioned His disciples to make more disciples. We’ve so convoluted the process of coming to and following Jesus and inviting others to do the same, that it actually rejects people. And not just a few, but a lot of people.

That’s not how it was. In fact, one of Jesus’ more notable descendants was a prostitute. Rahab was a  prostitute that lived in the city of Jericho and was the sole player in making sure the Israelite spies made it out alive. They were so grateful that they promised to keep her family safe when they took the city. She was so struck with awe at the power of their God and the willingness of His people to accept her and not take advantage of her, that she joined them and started worshipping God. Eventually she married and began having children, specifically Boaz, who was the great-great grandfather of King David, who Jesus descended from. At that time, women were considered low-class citizens. Their husbands maintained every legal right over them. At times slaves had more privilege than women. So for a woman to be a prostitute was even worse. That means she would be subject to the abuse and use of who ever desired to control her. Likely she was viewed lower than a dog, which dogs we’re pretty low on the totem pole. For Jesus to be descended from a prostitute is huge news. And it’s good news.

It’s good news because even as she sat in a position of shame and sin, she asked for mercy and acceptance and received it. Not only did she receive it from God, but from His people. God’s people extended mercy and grace to a woman, that by all accounts didn’t deserve it, because that’s what God does. It’s the same with us. Think about the sin you were in before you accepted God’s invitation in. Mine was ugly, but it didn’t matter to Him. If that’s too much conjecture for you, then consider the adulterer.

While Jesus was in the middle of his ministry, a group of religious leaders brought a woman that they caught in adultery to Him and threw her at His feet. It happened in the street, in full view of the public. She was likely naked, which surely compounded the guilt and shame. Note that there was no guy drug out and flung at His feet, just the woman. The religious leaders had the law on their side. They intended to stone her to death. Flinging her at His feet, they demand that He cast judgement on her and probably expected that He participate in her execution. But He didn’t. Instead He told them that the ones among them that were without any sin, not less sin than hers, could throw their stone. No one did. Then He leaned down and looked at this broken, embarrassed, guilt laden woman and asked, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?She said “No one, Lord.” And He said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” He said He didn’t condemn her either. He didn’t condemn her. Some scholars believe that she continued to follow Him and serve in His ministry, even after He ascended to heaven, suggesting that she took serious the mercy shown her and the command to “go and sin no more.” The point here is that God invited in a prostitute and an adulterer. I’m grateful for that because that means I have a chance at mercy and grace. It means you do too. You have a chance at acceptance. You have a chance at grace.

If our Savior invited in prostitutes and adulterers, who are we to reject anyone. Our mantra has to be, “Come to Him, all who labor and are heavy laden, and He will give you rest.” It can’t be anything else. It can’t exclude those that we think are “too sinful,” because He came for everyone. He didn’t come to condemn, He came to save. And when we take on the mantel of condemnation, we throw His mantel of grace and mercy in the rubbish heap. I’m not saying we shouldn’t expect each other to live by the standard He set, we should, the bible is clear on that. If Christianity is a religion of exclusivity on any level, then it was reserved for the lowly and excluded the religious elite. Read your bible. But Jesus was clear that everyone was invited to the party; even the religious elite (consider Nicodemus).

If you’ve been hurt by Christianity, I’m sorry, that’s not what God desires. His call is to the tired. Those that life has beat down, those who have been trying too hard, those who labor in vain only to receive rejection, those who think they’re too lowly, and those who need acceptance; He’s for you. And it isn’t meant to be some intangible or fanciful thing. It’s meant to be experienced through His people. I’m sorry if His people hurt you, that wasn’t Him. If you’re a Christian and presenting a religion of exclusion, stop it, that’s not Him. Our purpose if to be agents in the reconciliation of humanity back to God, for His glory. If we’re so critical of others that it causes them to reject Him, that’s on us and we have to stop. Rejection is crushing. We all experience and deal with it differently. The Church shouldn’t be known for rejection. The church should be known for invitation. God invited the prostitute and adulterer. We should be thankful for that and follow suit.

Readers, I need your help.

Approach God 1Hey #ApproachGod readers,

With all the blog and interweb noise, I want to make sure that #ApproachGod is the best that it can be. Because of that, I’ve been going through the process of really trying to solidify what #ApproachGod is supposed to look like among all the similar blogs in this space. So, I’m doing a READER SURVEY.

The survey is intended to help me focus in on how to provide you, my awesome readership, with the best and most focused content. Without you, #ApproachGod is pointless. Here’s how you can help: click the below link and take a few minutes to answer 10 little questions. That’s it.

Click Here———->  READER SURVEY

You’re the best.

Thanks,

Bruce

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