Helping staff with digital transitions

Good day Ministry Partner,

In today’s update I want give feedback regarding Digital Strategies. Although Pravani and I are primarily focused on Ministry Partner Development, I still have opportunities to do some Digital Strategies work.

What am I currently doing in Digital Strategies?

The short answer is helping our staff. The longer answer is that we are changing systems regarding where we capture the data of our Ministry Partner Development. We are moving from a program loaded on our computers to a web-based system. This will allow our staff to have quick and easy access to the information they need, may it be on their computers or cell phones. My job is to help with the transition, transferring of data and connecting services that we utilise. We trust to be finished with this by August.

What am I looking forward to in Digital Strategies?

We are currently getting an online evangelism and discipleship system in place in partnership with Jesus.net. Jesus.net doesn’t just help with the setup of the site, but also host trainings so that we can do the work effectively. The next training is at the end of September and it will be hosted in Poland. Part of the focus will be raising up e-coaches and sustaining multiplying discipleship online and offline. I am really looking forward to the training and I will share more the closer we get to the date.

Please pray for the following:

  • That we will reach our monthly target so that we can give our full attention to our ministries.
  • That we (myself, Pravani, Vincent and Kiran) will stay healthy during the rest of this winter.

Have a great day.

Nicholas

What time is it?

At our Staff Conference this past April, one of the main speakers started off with the question “What time is it?” He continued to cast vision and direction for the ministry. But the question resonated with me. What time is it? Since the year started life has been harder. We have been sick on and off, almost like a tag team, sometimes all of us sick at once. We also experience that a few of our ministry partners are going through challenges, and we experience the consequences of those challenges by losing those financial investments. And because we are not reaching our monthly income goal, getting to minister through digital strategies feels like a far off dream. Okay, that is looking at the challenges. But the question remains, what time is it?

Over the past few months I have been walking a path with the pastor of my church, and in this time he has been helping me focus on the foundation of my calling. We worked through a variety of material, from doing a gifts assessment, to looking at my life verse. Some of these concepts might sound strange, but when we put the puzzle pieces together, it shows that I am in the right place. So by knowing my calling, it gives a foundation to stand on during tough times. This answers the question of purpose, but it doesn’t answer my question, “what time is it?”

The best place to find my answer is from God. Nice generic answer, right? But it is harder when you have been in a routine or habit and you have to break out of the comfort mould. Seek God’s face, instead of just reading scripture and doing a generic prayer. My comfort zone is not to read. I worked through a book by Andrew Murray called Jesus Himself. It felt more like a sermon, but it reminded me of the passion and excitement of being a follower for Jesus and why it’s the greatest gift of being part of Christ’s family.

So, what time is it?

It is time to connect with God, our maker. It is time to talk to you, our ministry partner. It is time to do what God has called us to do. It is time to connect with mentors, influencers, the lost for the sake of the gospel. It’s time to pray for us.

So please pray for:

  • Our health – that God will stop this cycle of sickness in our home.
  • Ministry Partner Development – That we will meet the right people who want to invest in our ministry
  • That we will continue to grow in our relationship with God and as a family.

Have a great day.

Nicholas

Are you watching me baby?

It’s amazing how much the ones you want to teach learn from what you do rather than what you say. Telling your children how important it is to be generous and share isn’t nearly as powerful as them watching you share and be generous (especially when it feels “inconvenient”).

Twice every year we have the wonderful privilege of taking a day to pray for our missionaries worldwide. Our Western Cape team always manages to turn what could be “just another prayer meeting” into an exciting adventure. This time we all stayed over at a small town up the west coast called Redelinghuys. But it wasn’t just a stayover, our team conducted 4 Jesus film showings reached out to schoolteachers and did a prayer drive through the community!

Praise God with us, more than 150 people received Christ as their savior as a result of these outreaches. Click here to hear the prayer with the children after the film showing (you may need to turn up the volume on your device).

The farmers in the area sponsored the food and accommodation for our whole time there. Our team’s ministry activities covered the areas of Redelinghuys, Elands Bay and Leipoldtville. We as a family enjoyed the hospitality of a guesthouse in Redelinghuys. Vincent spent his time chasing chickens, speaking to goats and stalking the cat. Kiran always loves being with our team because all the ladies want a cuddle, hug and kiss and he generously obliges.

Here’s a quick video clip of Vincent enjoying the goats (ok, I enjoyed them too!)

Back to the Worldwide Day of Prayer…

Our team gathered in a local church hall in Leipoldtville to pray for the world. This was the best part for me because for the first time, Vincent was my prayer partner! At even the age of three years old, I can see that this boy recognizes that prayer is important. Whether we’re giving thanks for food, or praying for someone while driving in the car, it’s such a sweet thing to see him put his tiny hands together and bow his head. Here’s a little clip of him and I praying together (he was a bit distracted by the camera, but I wanted to capture the moment. Also listen for Kiran in the background!)

Friend, I’m sharing this with you to encourage you to also allow your children and others you are trying to lead or inspire to see your faith in action. Many times we are led to believe that our faith must be loudly taught and quietly lived. In some instances that is required but whether we like it or not, those tiny hands will do what they see us do (Deut 6:7, James 2:14-18).

Love,

Pravani

 

Moving Miss Bianca

DSC_0930

14But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? 15And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

Romans 10:14-15

If you walk closely with Jesus, your heart will inevitably be moved by the things that move His heart. From God’s Word we can clearly see that the number one thing that moves His heart is faith (Hebrews 11:6). It then comes as no surprise that when we see fellow believers go all out and take great steps of faith for God, we get excited. But an even greater excitement beats in the heart of those who train the ones who are sent. I imagine the apostle Paul watching a young Timothy (who already came from a strong spiritual legacy – 2Timothy 1:4-6) and being in awe of God and so aware of what a privilege it is to help him grow.

I feel a similar sense of gratitude when meeting with Bianca Groats every two weeks. She was very involved with CCC as a student on her campus (University of Western Cape) and after graduating served as an intern. She has now joined as a full-time missionary and I have been assigned as her trainer. Our training time involves discussing articles, practical ministry skills and offering accountability to her in her overall growth. Her success with each session we do together is a threefold process:

Is she:

  • Acquiring information or a skill
  • Actively using what she has learned
  • Diligently passing on to someone else what she has learned

I love this because it is so key to the furtherance of the Gospel.  If all the work we do in ministry stops with us as “the fundi” or “the big cheese”, it just amplifies the precept – “If the student has not learned, the teacher has not taught”. In this case, I have only effectively “taught” until Bianca has passed on her knowledge to someone else.

Another key part of being a coach is to foster the 5 E’s of coaching:

  • Environment – Is she in the right environment to truly grasp what I am teaching? How can I foster that?
  • Equipping – What tools/skills can I teach her? What does she need to learn?
  • Experience – Can we go somewhere, meet someone or do something that will aid the learning process?
  • Evaluation – Are we tracking the progress being made? Are we fulfilling goals set or plans made?
  • Exposure to other leaders – Is she learning from others or am I her only source? Who can I introduce her to or recommend she talk to?

Much of this happens organically as Bianca and I spend time together and some of it takes intentional planning but I’m sharing this with the purpose of encouraging you, the reader. Coaching/mentoring/leading can sometimes feel like something “other people” do, you know, those people who “have time and are skilled in this stuff”. Friend, let me encourage you. Start simple. Begin with asking God who you can come alongside, then see what you can do to cultivate the 5 E’s of coaching. Henry Blackaby in his book called Spiritual Leadership says, “The spiritual leader’s task is to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be.” What takes the pressure off is knowing that God already know where he wants that person to be, but He desires to use you to get them there.

Please pray for my coaching time with Bianca. We usually have our time at my home over a cup of tea while Vincent is at daycare for the morning and Kiran either plays quietly or fastens himself to my leg J . Pray that God gives me wisdom and insight on helping Bianca move to where God wants her to be. Pray also that even as I coach her, I too will learn many new things and be changed more and more to the image of Christ for His glory.

With love from coach Pravani

Plans for 2017

hello-2017Happy new year! We trust that you had a great festive season with family and loved ones.

We, the Digital Strategy team, came together in the last working week in December to do some strategic planning. We spent 3 days discussing events and goals that we set for ourselves for 2016. Our focus for 2016 was to test and experiment with a variety of tools to determine what will work best for our ministry. At this planning we came together and made a list of 3 areas we will focus on for 2017.

The first area will be focusing on evangelism and discipleship. We are partnering with a European group affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ called Jesus.net. They have built an online infrastructure with the focus of evangelism and discipleship. They have setup a site for us, giving us the basic infrastructure, and our job is now to give it content relevant to a South African audience. As soon as that is in place, we can use this site to share our faith, do e-discipleship and teach them to use this tool to do the same. We are very excited about this tool.

Our second area that we will be focusing on is in-house development. We have electronic tools that we as missionaries use to help us in our monthly tasks. From capturing statistics to sending out a monthly newsletter, we have tools in place and not all our staff are tech savvy enough to catch it on the first try so we host trainings and help when they get stuck.

Our third area is Indigitous. Indigitous is not just an event where we expose people to tools and strategies, but it’s also an opportunity for building communities of like hearted people to create tools and do outreaches in their areas of influence. So, we are planning to host 2 one-day events this year, one in Gauteng and the other in Cape Town.

We are excited about 2017. Pravani and I have been doing some basic planning for this and here is what is lying ahead for us.

  • We will be doing Ministry Partner Development till the end of February – challenging new people to join our team of ministry partners
  • From March I (Nicholas) will be focusing on the above-mentioned plans and help out at the Western Cape office.
  • Pravani will be focusing on in-house coaching for our staff ladies and reaching her immediate community.
  • Increasing our involvement at our church.
  • If you want to get involved or have any questions, please email, WhatsApp or call us. We have all these plans, but without God’s direction and input and blessing, we will get nowhere. So please continue to pray for us.

With love in Christ,

Nicholas

Digital School of Leadership

“Why do you have a Facebook page? Why do you spend hours a week updating posts, tweeting, posting pictures on Instagram? Are you making a difference using these tools that are at our fingertips?” These were some of the questions my colleague asked me halfway through Digital School of Leadership (DSL).

DSL was an event where our Digital Strategy staff from different countries came together so that we can learn from each other and improve in our own area of focus.

levels-of-digital-maturityThe best place we started this conference is by understanding Digital Maturity. It doesn’t necessarily focus on an individual’s digital maturity, but rather an organisation. The chart gives a few clear self-evaluating points to help you understand where you currently are.

A key point to understand is who your target audience is. When creating a page for ministry it helps to know if I am aiming to reach non-believers, inactive believers or involved believers. This will help you decide what content to post and if you are running ads – who to target.

You need to have a strategy. In other words, plan ahead. Know what type of content you want to share on what days, may it be scripture, lesson, meme, testimony, video, picture… You can even just preload the content, so that the rest of the week you engage with people interacting with your post.

I know that we, the South African team, learned a lot more than these few points and we want to implement a good deal of the information we learned at DSL. Pray that in a year’s time that we can say that we (Campus Crusade for Christ) have grown closer to Digital Maturity and that we are reaping the fruit.

With love in Christ

Nicholas

Share our stories

You may have read a few autobiographies of missionaries that lived before we had our comfort of modern day technology. Communication with supporters was hard. They would send a letter and hope that it would get to the correct person within a month or three. Then they also had to wait for the resources that they requested. It took months, sometimes years. Today all we need to do is send a text or email, or even pick up the phone and call someone. Within moments, people have what they need to know to take the proper action. Now with us you receive an email once a month with two or three updates, may it be personal, ministry focused or prayer points. All this information is on our blog/website, but not all of our missionaries know how to utilise this tool. Seeing this need, I arranged for my colleague in Digital Strategy in Pretoria, Fanie van Graan, to present a workshop on WordPress and MailChimp here in the Cape.

img_1295-800x600Fanie arrived last week Monday and hit the ground running. This 3-day course revolved around the following points:

  1. How to write and post an update/story/prayer on a blog
  2. How to build a basic site with multiple pages
  3. How to use Facebook and MailChimp to get the stories to people so they can read them.

 

I feel that Fanie did a great job and the staff that attended felt empowered. A good example was how to put a video into a blog. Fanie took them to Youtube, copied a link of a video and showed them how to add that video to the update that they were writing. I also learned a few new steps to make my own life a little easier.

Now knowing how to use the tool is one side of the coin. The other side is getting input from our Ministry Partners. Pravani and I are planning to update the look of the Spicevine in October and we would appreciate your input on the look, feel and content of the blog. Please send us an email with any ideas. We will appreciate your help in this regard.

Have a great day and I hope to hear from you soon.

Nicholas