There we were, after fours months of hard programming and designing, we had before us the finished product: a genuinely inspired church paging solution called Agapage. But the Agapage development duo was having a tough time getting the word out. And there is nothing that disheartens’ more than feeling like one has wasted one’s time.
Being that I am a problem solver, I set out to find the best way to let the world know about our little solution. This search led me to a blogging community known as 8BIT, and to then reach out and inform them of the Agapage project.
A lot has changed in three months. For starters, Agapage organizational sign-ups are seeing an incredible increase of over 1000% in just under 45 days (yes you read that right). Second, I’ve become a routine author for 8BIT which has been an amazing experience.
I can easily say that getting involved has been one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made.
Yet interestingly enough, it almost never happened.
No Risk == No Personal Growth
Being a lame sinner and one who is in daily need of a Savior, I am constantly seeking that ever-elusive wisdom and the much needed salvation that Jesus is always willing to prescribe. If there is one thing that I know about Jesus’ ministry, it is that he doesn’t need the best or brightest. He needs the people willing to work and risk, to stand up and step out on a limb, to chance criticism and to potentially look like a fool. This is where growth is found.
The first time I happened onto ChurchCrunch I remember thinking that it would be sweet if Agapage could get onto the blog. But after taking a look around I quickly ruled out being able to afford advertising seeing as this is a self-funded project. On May 7th 2010, however, I leapt out and took a risk that began with a single email.
“Hi John, since I have to be lean, would you guys allow me to maybe write some technical / topical article for your site in exchange?”
“Jared, that might just work. How about 4 posts in exchange, does that seem fair?”
“Howdy John, I think 2000 words would be fair. Spread across as many posts as you like.”
“Jared, Let’s do 4-5 of the basic posts (400-500 words each) to start. Sound good? (I’m) excited!“
A couple things I want to point out about this exchange. First, John offers the question “Does this seem fair?” in one of his emails. This told me that he wasn’t looking to be tyrannical in our exchange, he was looking for equality, and I am a big fan of equality.
The second was his “I’m excited” encouragement. If you are truly about building a community, then you had better encourage people non-stop. And John and everyone at 8BIT have been encouraging me every chance they can get. And with people like this, it becomes easy to see why that I feel this risk is continually paying off.
What risks are you taking to grow personally?
They Will Know You by Your Heart
If you want people to be passionate about what you are doing, they first have to be passionate about you. Agapage is great and all, but people cannot see the “heart” of a web application. They will never say “Wow, God is really using Agapage” or “Man, you can really feel the love that Agapage is offering”, it begins and ends with what is written on your heart.
Getting Agapage some exposure was a goal, but it was only one of many. The ultimate one being to show the community at 8BIT that I will love and honor those around me as Christ asks, not as the world wills. To take those difficult but solid steps and prove what is written on my heart. And I believe I accomplished this easily by adhering to a practice my mother pounded into my psyche throughout my childhood.
Namely, “under promise, over deliver.”
You may recall the New Testament Bible story where the sinful woman washes Jesus’ feet and is verbally accosted by a Pharisee. Yet Jesus totally turned the table with this gal at a critical juncture, instead humbling himself and honoring her for all to see. And that type of action was the key to winning her heart.
In contrast, John and I had agreed that I would write 4-5 posts at 400-500 words a piece. But if you happen to look, here, here, here, here, and here, you will see that on average my posts were around a thousand words apiece. I also took time and energy in many to include detailed screen-shots and always began by setting out to write the best possible article I could.
What are you doing to show your heart to those around you?
“Jared, the posts are awesome! Thanks for them. Publishing the “hacked” post soon.
BTW, are some of these old posts from your personal blog? “
I got this email from John and he was obviously wondering if I was “recycling” some content. Now some folks may do this type of thang, but seeing how I have a pretty solid understanding of what Web-etiquette is, I knew that reusing content would be a very lame move.
What this email may have also alluded, was that the content I was providing was so valued, that it may have appeared to John to almost be “too good”. As I wasn’t offering the worst of me, but rather my “first fruits”
You can bet your hat that there was probably some research done to make sure I wasn’t lying. But I am totally cool with that, because I am a pretty open book and hopefully a good read 😉
What are you doing to prove you’re Authentic?
Without Community You Are Certainly Doomed
We launched Agapage in April, and then watched as it stagnated. Sure we had a cool application, we had poured our guts into it, but we were missing that insanely critical ingredient, which is so easy to miss.
The core to why we were stalling was because we weren’t investing directly in others. We were however investing in Agapage, and though that is required, it is not the “be all/end all” that most people say it is. You need the support of other passionate people, and in turn they need the support of a passionate you.
The world will try and feed you the What’s in it for me? mentality. One that dictates a focus on self, where you only work if the benefit helps you directly. I’d like to think that the culture at 8BIT is more along the lines of a new paradigm, a What’s in it for we? ideology. Forgetting not, that the Church is a living body, acting collectively to further the kingdom of Christ.
I would argue that by working as a community, we are far out distancing what we could do alone. Fact of the matter, is that I offered to write this very article because I felt so blessed by the folks over here. I wanted to give back, to share the story, to encourage others to jump in and succeed. Needless to say, the community at 8BIT is pretty awesome.
What are you doing to build your community?
Lets take a look at the goals I have listed in my journal after I emailed John that first time.
- Represent Jesus through my actions
- Show technical and writing ability
- Grow Agapage by 200% by years end
I am pretty blessed by the fact that not only have my goals been met, but they have far surpassed my expectations. If you would have told me that forty-five days after the Agapage article dropped on ChurchCrunch that I would be overwhelmed because of it’s popularity, I most certainly would have laughed in disbelief. And there were many times when I felt like giving up. But despite this, I stuck to my goals and things are really happening.
So please ask yourself:
- What risks am I taking to grow personally? (Matthew 14:29)
- What am I doing to show my heart to those around me? (Luke 7:36-50)
- What am I doing to prove I’m authentic? (Exodus 34:26)
- What am I doing to build my community? (Romans 12:5)
- What are my goals? (Hebrews 12:2)
If you have a blog, a technical expertise, a small nugget of wisdom, I am sure that 8BIT could use your support through your writing. And your work is going to pay-off in ways you can’t even imagine. (Job offers, friendship, community, and prayer are some of the few that I have been blessed with lately)
Hopefully my writing will encourage you to quit sitting in that tiresome fortress of solitude and take a risk, because the question isn’t, “Why should I write for 8bit?” but rather, “Why shouldn’t I?”