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EP283 - Pushpay's Aaron Senneff on AI, Virtual Ministry, and Digital Communities



The Surging Intersection of Tech and Church: A Journey into Hybrid Worship and AI Ethics

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Download Pushpay's State of the Church Tech Report -

As the world embraces a more digitalized ethos, the church is no exception. In the Church Digital (TCD) podcast EP283, titled 'Aaron Senneff & Pushpay's State of the Church Tech Report,' host Jeff Reed and guest Aaron Senneff discussed the undulating relationship between technology and faith-based organizations. This comprehensive exploration of the episode offers us profound insights.

Tech Integration in Modern Worship

The conversation kicked off with a nod towards the increasingly pivotal role of technology in outreach and ministry. The integration of AI into church fabric isn't just about trendiness, but about enhancing ministerial outreach, as Senneff noted. Reed's astonishment at AI's effectiveness—from content creation to intricate tasks like fraud detection—underscored this revolutionary tide.

Ethical AI and the Role of Constraints

Ethical concerns surfaced as Reed and Senneff navigated the complexities of AI—especially its potential to erode copyright integrity and compromise data accuracy. Senneff highlighted the significance of training AI with clear constraints and vigilance, indicative of personal and organizational responsibility in innovating ethically.

Immersive Experiences and the Metaverse

The future is immersive, as Senneff illustrated, with spatial computing leaping ahead. While the metaverse offers friction-laden experiences today, its potential to weave seamless digital-religious communities is immense. Trust in tech giants like Apple to lead this charge was palpable, as they encapsulate the merger of digital and physical realms with fewer privacy concerns than counterparts like Meta.

Decoding the State of the Church Tech Report

Impressively, Pushpay’s State of the Church Tech Report served as a data beacon, outlining the technological adoption in thousands of churches. Key findings indicated a steadfast move towards hybrid worship models, a shift unlikely to revert. Senneff pointed out the survey's reflection of anxiety amidst church staff when contemplating tech ventures; yet, there's a daring will to experiment.

Facing an Asynchronous World

Reed and Senneff touched on the disruption of traditional schedules by an asynchronous world. The role of virtual services as a 'safe front door' encourages attendance and fosters digital communities. Still, the true impact of these asynchronous congregations remains a point of contemplation.

Building Asynchronous Communities

The duo shared an affirmative outlook on asynchronous community building. Here, tech like Discord is more than a messaging tool—it's a way to sustainably extend the reach of church communities beyond physical engagements.

Budget Concerns and Digital Expansion

A probing dialogue on budgets reflected the varied strategies church leaders adopt in tech investment. The discussion also unfurled around targeting services for differently-sized churches and the advent of digital-only churches—a testament to technology's deepening roots in spiritual domains.

Digital Communication as Community Pillars

As the episode unwound, the efficacy of digital tools like Slack and Discord stood out. They're not merely communication platforms but community pillars that enable seamless integration within the church ecosystem.

Facing the Digital Versus Physical Church Dilemma

Senneff and Reed grappled with the digital vs. physical church conundrum, exploring the pros and cons of each. They reflected on digital anonymity's impediments to communion and warned against the exacerbating epidemic of loneliness that technology can invite.

Technological Integration's Ethos

The episode concluded with a harmonious sentiment: embracing digital transformation in churches isn't just about keeping up with times but about deepening the outreach and community experience. Amidst all these technological forefronts and ethical quandaries, one thing is certain—the church's journey with tech is only going to escalate in complexity and significance.


  • 00:00 Introduction

  • 04:04 Annual survey helps Pushpay respond to churches.

  • 10:03 Survey covered various church types across US.

  • 19:09 Organic channels in Slack reflect common interests.

  • 24:30 AI disrupted content creation, impacting human roles.

  • 30:03 Building AI with clear data boundaries is essential.

  • 33:13 Metaverse talked about, Apple's immersive gaming experience.

  • 37:56 Church staff and volunteers feel uncertain and anxious.

  • 40:49 Churches learn from technology choices through network.

  • 44:07 Navigating business challenges, allocating capital strategically. Resi praised.

  • 47:31 Churches benefit from CHMS for finances.

  • 51:48 Epidemic of loneliness despite digital connectivity concerns.

  • 52:46 Surgeon general warns of digital loneliness epidemic.

  • 56:29 Digital integration crucial for ministry's future scalability.


Host: Jeff Reed
Founder, The Church Digital

Guest: Aaron Senneff
Chief Technical Officer, Pushpay


  • Download Pushpay's State of the Church Tech Report -
  • Resi -
  • Lux Digital Church on Discord -
  • Surgeon General's 2023 Report on the Epidemic of Lonliness -
  • How do you think the increased use of AI, like generative models, can authentically support church functions without replacing the human touch in spiritual guidance and community building?

  • In what practical ways can churches ensure that their use of AI remains ethical and within theological and moral bounds?

  • Considering the rise of immersive experiences, how might congregations navigate the line between creating engaging worship services in the metaverse and ensuring they maintain a sense of community and connection amongst attendees?

  • Apple's advancements in spatial computing seem to hold potential for churches, as mentioned in the podcast. What are some of the challenges that congregations might face when attempting to integrate these technologies into their practices?

  • Since church leaders are expressing insecurity about technology decisions, what resources or support systems can be established to help them make informed choices about adopting new tech?

  • Aaron Senneff mentions that 91% of churches are considering a hybrid future. How can churches prepare their congregations for this shift, and what could be some potential downsides to this kind of model?

  • With the Church IT Network conference and other resources available for knowledge sharing, how can churches be encouraged to collaborate more on tech initiatives and innovations?

  • As digital-only churches become more popular, what are the key elements that must be preserved to maintain the essence of a church, and how can these elements be adapted to a digital format?

  • Reflecting on the surgeon general's report on loneliness discussed in the episode, how can churches leverage digital community tools to combat loneliness while fostering meaningful connections and discipleship?


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Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.

Jeff Reed

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About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.

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