Holy Analytics!

We’ve been looking for ways to “put ourselves out there” as a family for the sake of sharing our story. For this reason, we opened up a handful of social media accounts. Of course, it’s important to maintain a healthy balance. Easier said than done on the tightrope between Facebook, Instagram, and the Blogosphere.

We don’t want to reduce this season of spiritual preparation to #selfies at the park, #selfies at the restaurant, and #selfies while giving presentations. We are not Kim and Kanye.

Taking this step toward social connectivity is exciting. You think, I didn’t have to pay a marketing team to earn viewers in Malaysia and the Caribbean. The whole world can actually become a stage to an ordinary family of five from Texas, where we communicate our passion. Through group live chat, instant message, live stream video feed, and daily status updates, you can build a community.

But, there are also some drawbacks. This afternoon, as I ran into the dining room with a screenshot of the stats page on our blog that showed people in Malaysia were reading our stuff, Amy winced.

“Why is someone in Malaysia reading about our family?” she asked with brow furrowed. She was worried we were naively painting targets on our heads. Sitting ducks for some terror cell.

All she could see was the Williams family getting off the plane for a layover in Turkey en route to our future mission field, and being abducted by our most loyal blog reader. I was seeing hungry Malaysian souls who’d been encouraged by a post. I do understand her concern.

Neither of us is interested in creating a reality TV show. We aren’t good actors. And, we don’t want to overshare. It’s hard enough as it is to do the laundry through the basic changes that occur along the road of missional preparation without airing it to the whole world.

But, I have to say my favorite toy to play with in the effort of becoming socially connected is the Analytics function on each of these social platforms. Analytics — the ability to become completely obsessed with how many people read your post and where they are from — to me is what Minecraft is to our son. Ahh, sweet Analytics. You make me feel even more empowered through your graphs and numbers. You help me wisely choose the right “Tag” or hashtag to drive more readers to my feet for more. I love you Analytics.

Unfortunately, Analytics is a two-sided coin. Before you realize it, all you are doing is looking at the numbers on your phone, on your laptop, and gettin stressed out. People you wanted to reach with an honest desire to inspire with your story can become numbers. And that makes it an idol.

I’m praying, and asking you to pray with me, that I will not give in to the worship of Analytics. As much as I enjoy the function, I do not want to prefer it over the warmth of real-time interpersonal, face to face dialogue. A cup of coffee with a friend. Lunch with a fellow traveler. Analytics can’t touch what happens in those moments where you engage the senses through fellowship.

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