Why President Trump’s Sexual Life Matters to Me

I don’t usually talk or write about specific political figures, especially online. I keep my opinions about candidates private and I vote my conscience in private. In fact, I generally limit political discussions to matters of principle or policy.

However, when Dr. James Dobson—a man whose judgment I once trusted—posted a photo on social media (August 27, 2018) that fully embraced and endorsed President Trump, I responded on my own Facebook wall.

One might argue that Dobson had been naïve or misled before the election or even during the first year in office. But today, after all that has come to light, any suspicion must yield to acknowledgement of the truth . . . unless one willingly chooses not to see. (More on that in a moment.)

My comments were more about the perplexing hypocrisy of Evangelical leaders than about Trump himself. I suppose I took it for granted that Trump’s character flaws were a matter of public record, especially where his sexual behavior is concerned.

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Our Future Now

I often watch “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson” (episodes taped 1973-1992) on AntennaTV. It’s fascinating to hear people talk about their experiences and their plans from my vantage point 40 years in their future.

Last night (taped in 1978), twelve-year-old Tracee Talavera talked about her life-long preparation to compete as a gymnast in the 1980 Olympics. My perspective was very different from that of the live audience. I knew her big opportunity would be preempted by the US boycott. They cheered; I felt sad. She beamed; I winced.

Tracee would later go on to win team silver in the 1984 games. She became very active in US Olympic gymnastics as a coach, mentor, and selection committee. She also was inducted into the US gymnastics hall of fame.

Later, Tracee would be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

So, what would I have told her if I had this 40-year foreknowledge and lived within her sphere? How would I encourage her to train hard, pursue excellence, persevere, and respond to the setbacks I foresee? This must be a glimpse into God’s daily experience with me (and you) as we live and make plans.

This makes me want to cherish each day and live fully in the present as much as possible. Today is a gift; tomorrow holds no guarantees.

Live well and love well, my friends!

Online Donor Dynamic #1: The Need for Continuity

Online Donor Dynamic #1: The Need for Continuity

Our brains are wired for continuity. We naturally seek–and find–patterns everywhere to make sense of our world.

Landing on a donation page that bears little resemblance to the appeal page is very jarring to users. They question the validity of the sudden transition and will likely abandon the giving process.

After an Internet user clicks a link and then lands on another page, they (we) ask three quick questions:

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The Jesse Duplantis Missionary Endowment Calculator

So, Jesse Duplantis thinks that a $54,000,000 donation toward his private jet would be a good investment in missions.

Use this Excel worksheet to plug in your own figures and see if he’s right.

He reasoned that “if Jesus was physically on the earth today, he wouldn’t be riding a donkey.” The private jet is his missions strategy. “All it’s gonna do is it’s going to touch people, it’s going to reach people, it’s going to change lives one soul at a time.”

(This is just one of many reasons he can’t–or, more accurately, won’t–submit to ECFA standards of responsible stewardship.)

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An Evangelical Renaissance of Social Justice

Help

Social action has enjoyed a kind of renaissance among evangelicals lately.

This activity would include helping the poor, advocating for the oppressed, defending the helpless, reforming a secular institution, and other worthwhile causes.

According to recent research, evangelical churches have become increasingly involved in issues of social justice.[1] Nearly 68 percent of younger evangelical Christians affirm that the best way to address social evils is to “practice your ideals in everyday life.”[2] They increasingly see the church as a counterculture, whose mission is neither to integrate itself with culture nor baptize culture, but to become a mission to culture, “calling people to come under the reign of God through Jesus Christ.”[3]

These surveys demonstrate that younger evangelical Christians consistently oppose abortion like their forebears, but refuse to engage in cultural warfare or partisan politics. Instead, they eagerly “employ their faith publicly to fight against global poverty and sex trafficking or for creation care and immigration reform.”[4] Consequently, a New York Times opinion columnist labels this younger generation of evangelicals the “new internationalists.”[5]

This renaissance of social action isn’t limited to the young, however. For every one dollar given by evangelicals to political organizations, the same group has invested twelve dollars in foreign missions and international aid. Six of the seven largest evangelical mission organizations have relief and development as their primary focus.[6] Furthermore, the “missional church movement” sees social action as a natural expression of the church, at least on a local level.

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Are We Turning Our Donors and Volunteers into Quitters?

Are We Turning Our Donors and Volunteers into Quitters?

According to multiple studies, 50 – 70 percent of online donation attempts end before completion.

In other words, thousands of people click the “Donate” button—saying “yes” to our value propositions, agreeing to support the people we serve—only to quit before completing the transaction.

At the risk of belaboring the point, let’s put “donation abandonment” into real-world context. We have poured precious resources—money, time, and creativity—into finding likeminded donors and volunteers, convincing them to view our Web site, and inspiring them to help the people we serve.

Potential donors then click the “Donate” button, saying in effect, “Yes! I want to share a portion of my wealth to help others through your organization. I believe in what you’re doing!” Then, at some point during the donation process, more than half of them change their minds, close the page, and do something else.

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Are We Soliciting Donations, or Inspiring Change-Agents?

Are We Soliciting Donations, or Inspiring Change-Agents?

In the article, “We Know the Power of Customer Satisfaction, What about Donor Satisfaction?”, we examined the child sponsorship model used by World Vision and Compassion International, and considered a key principle that drives the strategy: Donors and volunteers give to people, not to causes or organizations.

As we continue our focus on building a strong tribe of satisfied donors and volunteers, and examine what makes the child sponsorship model work so well, a second principle emerges.

Principle 2:  Problems urge donations; results inspire activists.

A compelling presentation of the problem your organization addresses will trigger a response from a percentage of any group you address. So—according to some marketing firms—we increase funding by targeting a specific segment of the general population (to keep production costs down) and then seek to maximize response by communicating our problem-solution program with the right blend of pathos and logic.

To be fair, the approach works, especially for older constituents who tend to be motivated by a sense of duty. Sad eyes, dirty clothes, and flies-on-the-face images do, indeed, prompt donations.

Once while visiting an African village, I asked a child’s mother for permission to photograph her daughter. She saw a white man with a camera representing a humanitarian organization, so she instructed her little girl, “Push out your stomach and look sad.” She was well aware of problem-solution marketing and simply wanted to be helpful.

While the problem-solution approach can be effective, it’s an exhausting treadmill. It requires relentless focus on finding new audiences to replace individuals who grow tired of urgent appeals. It calls for a constant refining of the problem-solution message to increase the percentage of donor response. And then there’s the challenge of prompting first-time donors to give again, or become regular supporters. So, the question becomes, “How can we restate our problem-solution message differently with each appeal?”

Continue reading “Are We Soliciting Donations, or Inspiring Change-Agents?”