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PODCAST 003: Jay Kranda and Creating Healthy Biblical Community



Can Biblical Community exist in Church Online? We sit down with Jay Kranda, Online Pastor at Saddleback, and asked him that question. He may be a little biased, as Saddleback currently has over 2400 Online Groups meeting regularly meeting is both digital and physical spaces. We had some really interesting dialogue discussing everything from Online Groups meeting in homes, following church leadership while leading your area, working alongside other ministries, and why Lebron James is the GOAT. Well, maybe not the Lebron part.

Saddleback didn't always have it together. They've learned along the way, asking many of the questions you're asking right now. Through wisdom, but also through time and experimenting, they've found the beginning of the formula. In this podcast we'll explore what Saddleback is learning in this process, and talk through takeaways for your church.


Guest: Jay Kranda
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References from the Podcast:


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


Jeff Reed: 00:00 Well. Hey, welcome to the church digital podcast. My name is Jeff Reed and it is a pleasure once again to be with you today here on episode three Church digital podcasts. We focused on church online and a lot of the implications that it has for discipleship in the long run implications is a big word to say when you're trying to say quickly. I'm joined today by our guest host once again, Rey DeArmas, online campus pastor from Christ fellowship, Miami. Hey, you want to say, hey.

Rey DeArmas: 00:27 Hey everybody. Good to be with you again, I'm excited because today's guest is a professional basketball aficionado, much like myself. So I'm very excited to have.

Jay Kranda: 00:36 I know. And, and you're, you're wearing your, your team colors. I know we're listening to this, but I just, I want to look like I didn't come with my Jersey on so, or my warmups so,

Rey DeArmas: 00:45 well, yeah, these are, these are a Brazil soccer colors and my wife is a Brazilian and so anything else outside of Brazilian soccer wear in my household it gets burned pretty much. So I am required by law and by marriage to wear these colors. But somebody noticed that,

Jeff Reed: 01:01 well, we're going to play a game here because voice number three has not yet  identified himself. So what online pastor do you think we're talking to? Okay. This is the worst game ever. Let me introduce Jay Kranda to the show here. Jay is online pastor at, at Saddleback and the godfather of online pastors in the American church. So, um, I for one and have enjoyed the relationship I've built up with them over the years. He's been instrumental for me saying leadership, look, this is the way Saddleback does it. We should do it this way too. And if you've not really dove into looking at, at Jay's, uh, set up and how he's structured things at Saddleback or Jay's website,, uh, you definitely should do that because Jay, man, he's, he's on top of the game right now and doing a lot of things healthily in context of church online. As a matter of fact. Isn't that like your branding healthy church online?

Jay Kranda: 01:56 Is He something like that? Yeah. And when you say Godfather, I have like godfather three, like am I going to die on like an arm chair? Like, and I'm just going to drop something and it's like the way I end. That's

Rey DeArmas: 02:07 why didn't you pick on First Godfather movie?

Jay Kranda: 02:09 Oh, I know. I don't know. It's probably a self image issue. I don't know. That's a good question, right? I won't die in this episode because I need you for at least three more for Kim a contract.

Jeff Reed: 02:22 And we've been lamenting here and I don't want to get stuck here, but we've been lamenting through a Lebron woes with Rey and I being um, you know, Miami Heat fans over the years and, and Jay is experiencing much sorrow these days in Lakerville. Uh, so coming from Lebron fans, former Lebron fans out there, maybe current Lebron fans,

Rey DeArmas: 02:42 whatever. I love the guy.

Jay Kranda: 02:45 Okay, I'm sorry. I know we're, we're going to have a good year next year. I'm hopeful. I'm naively hopeful that that's my attitude. Always.

Jeff Reed: 02:53 So naively hopeful. The Jay Kranda story. Okay. Hey, so let's roll this thing. Here's what we want to focus on today. And this is one of the things and when I'm thinking about, hey, I want to talk about this topic. Jay Kranda, at the top of the list for me, here we go. Um, how to get a church online philosophy to align with physical location philosophy. And so like Jay man straight up five years ago, six years ago, I'm wrestling with this and for our, for Christ fellowship in Miami and I'm going on different websites and like you were, I don't want to say you were the first one that did this, but you were one of the first ones that was doing it on a large scale where we're physical and virtual and the groups like trying to sign up for a group of it was all the same thing and there wasn't a separation in that. And so man, like the thing that I want to hone in on is his way. Well done but, but be like, what have been the payoffs for that would have been the struggles would have been the rewards. Like, at what point did you guys, and let's just start here, at what point did you guys really align the philosophy with, with the physical and the virtual? So it really became one Saddleback, uh, going forward.

Jay Kranda: 04:00 Yeah, and I, I think just to be clear, like, think, well, first off, thanks for noticing that. I think that's something that we've tried really hard to align. Um, but I think a lot of people that I've experienced with, and I know you guys have had some of the conversations is around sometimes when you get started with online ministry, um, there's not a lot of documentation and expectation around what it should look like. It's one thing to launch a church or if you're multisite launch another campus. But with online, honestly, I don't feel like leadership had a ton of ideas. You know, I, I had, uh, resources to go to and ask questions and there was tons of mentoring, but that allowed us to do a lot of things. And something that I learned really early on that the only way that this is really going to work is that I got to align with what my church is great at.

Jay Kranda: 04:48 And so we started to have those conversations and, and just to somebody that was on staff already, I kind of knew our, our paradigm of, of how we kind of bring people in and send them out and kind of our funnel, our process, how people around the bases. And I kind of strategically, and this is especially true when I first got started because I felt like there was a lot of, mmm, not negativity, but there was this idea that online was going to hurt our local campuses and our local church. Not that everybody thought that, but I felt like I needed to over communicate to our local staff and in my context, my local like campus pastors, since we have you know, you know 19 plus campuses, I wanted to let them know that I'm an advocate for them. Like I never want to keep people online.

Jay Kranda: 05:34 So early on a lot of it just came from us just pushing and really great leadership on my end. I was like, that was above me. That kind of just helped me understand what was important, what were culturally things that were going on and a lot of just failures too, like if just like figuring out. But I just realized too that if I align with what my pastor was talking about and our teaching team that that was a good chunk of our weekly experience online and if I aligned with the language then I wasn't having to have them replicate. No another process because the likelihood and my pastor of like thinking about different language for online audience, first local, no, he's probably just going to hold up the response card that he tells everybody. And if I align all that stuff, that means I get to easily assimilate people.

Jay Kranda: 06:19 So honestly it makes sense now. But early on there was a lot of just, I think, I think there's what we need to do and we just started doing it and um, and then it started to pay off. Um, and, and so it was, it was, it did, it, there was a more fog early on then I think, um, if you were looking at our experience now, it would say, oh, this pile always made sense. And I was like, no, it did it. It was something that we just kind of slowly kind of, it started to make sense as we did it.

Jeff Reed: 06:48 How long have you been on staff at Saddleback?

Rey DeArmas: 06:50 I've been on staff, I think I'm coming up on 10 years, so I started right out of college. So it was like, yeah,

Jeff Reed: 06:56 it was, it was funny. I just, when you were talking, I just, I flashed back in in the year was probably 2007, 2008 in Rey. It was the, it was the first time we did revelation, um, at Christ fellowship. And we did not, not the first time, but the first time when they're Geiger. And um, and so we were doing it, I did a virtual small group and it wasn't like zoom or anything like that. We used a, it was a bbs system, uh, I think would, we just was Po blog comments. And so the video is in cognitive and comments were on underneath, I don't think it was 2007, like technology wasn't, wasn't quite rolling yet. And, and somebody from Saddleback called up Christ fellowship and I was like, the production guy who just on the side was like, Hey, I want to do this for online and just see what happens type of thing.

Jeff Reed: 07:42 Just playing around. Uh, and somebody from Saddleback called me up and they were like, Hey, yes, we share it to an online small groups. Like what lessons are you learning? And like really like interviewing me and I'm like, dude, I'm like, some gearhead like I don't, I don't know what I'm doing. I just was having fun with it, but they're really, really drilling in. So that's awesome. Um, so like what, what lessons have have, have you learned kind of in that process where you started off the, the kid is college, you're, you're, you're just coming into this thing. Not a lot of expectations necessarily up high, but, but obviously you've got, um, you know, a strong leader in context of, of Rick Warren who knows what he wants but maybe isn't specific in context in this area with, with vision, like you said, you aligned it very quickly to what they were doing. Like what were the pros and cons of doing that? So he got a guy that you're talking to that doesn't, that's new in this, like what lessons would you coach him on?

Jay Kranda: 08:37 Yeah, so I mean first off it's more like just here's what's happening and where do we want to go in? To be honest, like we've had different phases of saddle of, of our online ministry of like this is the clear goal. Now this is a clear goal and most recently, I know some of the conversations you and I have had, Jeff is, you know, we're, I'm really in this phase now of kind of revamping and reenergizing home gatherings, um, type of expression. So we're actually moving way more into that. But I think early on, one of the things was I, so first off I, I wanted to kind of educate and I had a boss early on that kind of created this verbage for me that I really loved is that we needed to educate our local staff of the value of the online service.

Jay Kranda: 09:24 That it isn't just this thing that, you know, people can just watch and not come to church type of thing. Is that, um, and we started saying this is that for tens of thousands of people, the online service or the online campus is the first and only expression of our church. So we got to do it right. And so any, he actually crafted that and he had, and we had conversations on, you need to say that in team meetings to other people because they're just thinking you're just hosting this thing and you're just falling up when response cards and you, you know, and they might not really have have thought about that. But if you educate them on all this is this is telling our community who we are and we've got to make sure that product as well. And so that started to really help kind of build that culture within our local team.

Jay Kranda: 10:06 Because the hardest thing I think for most people on staff at churches is when I come into a meeting and I want to do this thing that's going to require cameras and all this work, it's like I'm another thing on their list. I'm a task. And so most people don't like to do things based off task. They like to do things based off of vision. And so I think that was the coaching I learned is like, oh yeah, like, and I was fine. I was just, I was writing an email this morning about something we want to change up and I was communicating to some people and same thing, I was communicating the vision of why I think this would be important. But I think really thinking about it like this really is becoming a front door of our church and my team that's managing this in my volunteers that were super lean and we want to make sure that the, you know, we're doing this right.

Jay Kranda: 10:53 Um, the, the other thing is having a lot of conversations with our worship team and our video team around, I am somehow representing, are interacting with this very polished product and you think through from start to end how that should look and be. And then in my motto, I'm plopping on these intros and these outros onto this thing and I want to make sure like, you know, early on we did stuff just because we needed to do it. And now in the last couple of years we've had more conversations around like, hey, you guys own that product. And I'm kind of just a manager of it. And so we can change up anything. And I started to kind of have that conversation because like, I don't like my background is, my background is way more pastoral. I'm not very technical, but I'm not a technical person by nature. And so like I'm more care about just moving in to fill out a response card.

Jay Kranda: 11:41 Um, and so, um, so I think teaching the value to our leadership and that starts with me knowing, knowing those things, like I have to, I had to simplify our vision, had to simplify our process. I had to figure out like that simple crafting of just thinking about for tens of thousands of people. It's the first and only expression of our church was a huge thing. And I remember when my boss said it, I was like, oh my, well that makes total sense. Um, because again, most people on staff or just going about their day and I'm having to tell them. And the same thing of telling those stories up in the La, the last big thing was, um, you know, when we got stories, making sure that I would, two things, I would save it. Um, and then I would also forward it and kind of get it up.

Jay Kranda: 12:26 And so, and the thing is we would have stories that would come in, but just because the story happens doesn't mean it's the right story to share. So like there's two, there's one story where it's like somebody like, uh, like a pastor who's going, who's part of another church somehow recommitted their life through. Like maybe there there's something going on in their personal life. Well, I don't really want to tell the story of the pastor because he's not my main target, but the person who is unconnected, uh, we, we, we just had something a couple weeks ago as a perfect example. Somebody who had started watching online, um, came to faith, um, or was interested and I got them plugged into one of our campuses locally. And that's the story I want to tell. So figuring out what are the stories of kind of magnifying the potential of if we really kind of blow this thing up and really invest more. So I think those are some of the big learnings early on that there's definitely some cons too. But I think those are some of the big things that I learned at least in the first, you know, five years. Go ahead. Right. Yeah.

Rey DeArmas: 13:27 Uh, when did, when did you guys make the turn from being purely content distributors to finally getting, gathering people in community? When did that happen for you?

Jay Kranda: 13:37 Yeah, I, so when I became the full time online pastor, we had online groups previously and I probably know who was calling you at that time. Um, and when I first got hired, the idea was the thing they wanted me to actually manage was the online groups. The idea was we have this service that happens, people respond. But like there isn't all this traditional campus pastor type of stuff to do because like you don't have to worry about set up, tear down, you don't have to worry about this main product. That's kind of on autopilot and a lot of ways you can, you build volunteers around. But when we, when our online groups really started to grow, they go, you know what? We could actually have the online pastor be over the service and all that stuff and the volunteer teams and make sure that's going, but their job could become just over these, these small groups that he's just caring for these small groups.

Jay Kranda: 14:30 So I was hired initially kind of as kind of how you would hire like a men's Pastor that he's over all the men's only groups that I was just over all the online only groups. And um, and what happened was somebody was doing online groups at that time and I kind of assimilated, we kind of like merged together in a way. And um, at that time, really from the beginning when I was full time, prior to that, I wasn't full time. I was part time. Um, it was, it was prior to that, it was just all content and just kind of some volunteer stuff. But when I got the groups, they really set the standard early on that we want this to be not just a crowd building, but a community building thing by making me really the small group pastor of all the online groups. Um, and so I think that was, it was like, it was a bar set early on like this is going to be your core community that you develop that if, if, if your groups are healthy, that means your online church is healthy. And I, and I think it kind of, it made a lot of sense to me and we just kind of really embraced that model.

Jeff Reed: 15:28 You said something, this is off topic, but you said, so I'm talking about groups. You told me once in the physical church is people connect to Christ before they connect to community. You see that as a accept Christ invitation than it takes six months to get them into a group or something like that. It depends upon the church, but in an online context you've seen examples of where people connect to the community before they connect to Christ. We're looking for engagement and looking for friendship and it's through those relationships, that real true understanding of who Christ has happens. He's Jay shaking his head. Yes. So he obviously he's agreeing with this. Jay unpack a little bit here. Tell me that. Tell me a story or two, an example of, of what that tangibly looks like online.

Jay Kranda: 16:09 Yeah, I mean, I think one of the hardest things with online overall is that it amplifies this amazing ability to connect with anybody on all sorts of stuff. We can, you know, like example, you know, Rey talking about like NBA, Twitter's amazing. Like you can just connect with people and all sorts of creative ways, but it also, you know, there's, there is this epidemic of loneliness that is very apparent and disconnection is happening now. You know, I, I definitely have my ideas. I know, I just saw something you shared not too long ago. Um, Jeff, I think you blogged about it, but from a report of, of what's happening with social media, um, I think it just magnifying things that already were there and come into the, to the surface. Um, and, and a lot of those conversations come around just I've just being wise with these things.

Jay Kranda: 16:56 Um, you know, so a lot of people are like get scared of technology, but it's the same thing with like, uh, you know, with a burger, you know, yeah, Burger's not like bad, but if you eat five of them a day, it's going to be bad. And it's like, that's the kind of the idea. Same thing with fire. Fire can either make you food or it can burn your face off kind of thing. Um, and so technology, there's, there's levels of it and I think with us, but we learned is that we kind of, we got this influx of people that wouldn't normally just go to a church. Um, and so, or they had disconnected from my church and they were just watching. And then they started to fill out response cards and engage in new ways. And for many of those people before they would ever actually show up to a physical church, they were really interested in the ideas that they could start a small group with their friends or in our, or engage with something online.

Jay Kranda: 17:44 And they could almost be kind of, there's two scenarios. There's one, people being kind of brought him back to life of what true community is, what true churches. And then there's another group of people that are being introduced to church for the very first time and we're kind of setting the standard. And so I think it's just, um, I think it was like kind of getting to the heart of it. And I... Really, what does it mean to be a follower of Jesus that ultimately it's not this, it's not this American large church type of thing. It's, it's, it's really church is, or you know, biblical Ecclesia is this idea of, of it's the people you're doing life with. So yeah, my church is huge. We might have 25,000 people, but like I have three other couples that I consider my church. And when I think about Saddleback, I don't really think about the large thing that happens every week.

Jay Kranda: 18:31 I'm thinking about the, the two, the two to three other couples and all their kids. That's the group of people. And actually I've been part of this, this small group between two churches now over the last 15 years. And, um, that's my church. I just think we have this abundance of freedom in America that makes gathering large, very easy. Um, and so it's in a lot of ways the small group stuff is really going back to early church, kind of for the first 300 years, how stuff function. And so, I mean, we, we've seen, we have stories of, of people, um, from everything from people in domestic issues that are married and they can't get out of a relationship and they engage within online group. And, um, we had one case that, that that woman that I'm talking about lived outside of the United States and I actually found somebody in a different scenario.

Jay Kranda: 19:18 I that live nearby and actually baptized her, um, in a, in a rec center. Um, and in another country, um, I couldn't share the story or the photo. I, I've seen it myself, but there was some security issues. Um, you know, so this person is not able to leave their scenario at this given moment, but they're able to engage online, be part of an online group for this season. And all of us, our prayers at that scenario changes. Um, but that's one way. Um, we, we have people that, you know, start, um, home groups in their area. We, we had a group of people in northern California that were all graduates from Berkeley and they um, you know, started reading purpose driven life and they googled and found us and they started a group in their home and um, really cool story where like they got up to, you know, they started meeting and it was like 20 people are meeting in their home every week and you know, I go up and visit them and baptize three people in a bathtub and it's like, you know, and, and the whole time as I'm engaging this, I want you guys to notice you hear that story.

Jay Kranda: 20:12 It's, it's amazing. But I'm somebody who first off got, I got led to Christ at a church under 500. I came to Saddleback and part of this, and I'm literally going, what in the world is God doing? Like, this is not like, this does not, like, this is not like I did not sit here and master plan this, you know, it, it speaks to our God. It speaks to my pastor and our church and I'm just showing up and, and I'm asking the question like, how do I like put this in a pill and reproduce it? You know what I mean? I'm like trying to ask that question constantly. Like when I, when I went up to that, that thing in northern California and I'm literally, I baptize three people in a bathtub. I'm literally the whole time I'm just like, what is happening? Like what is this?

Jay Kranda: 20:53 You know what I mean? Like I probably baptized at my old church, a probably, baptize a handful of people ever. And now I'm like in this small bath tub in San Francisco, like that, it's just like, and you're like, how, what is God doing online and where did this online to offline thing look like? Can we scale? It? Doesn't make sense. Um, and so some of it we understand more now. Some of it I still don't understand. And, um, so yeah, so it just that the, those are some stories that kind of stand out at the top, you know, and obviously those are the cap, like that's the best stories as I'm thinking about right now. Um, at the moment.

Jeff Reed: 21:26 So, yeah, there's a lot there. And you mentioned, uh, online, the offline and, and I really, I want to park there for a little bit because online to offline really to me, it, it revolutionized the idea of church online because I, I was, I was struggling with this vision of, um, online without biblical community online, without community at all, creating this idea of, of isolation. Um, you know, and we're seeing that that which you mentioned earlier, what I blogged is USA today and we talked about it I think in an earlier podcast. USA Today, a high school seniors at 13% more likely to identify themselves as lonely today than even five years ago in technologies. There's plenty of stats of what like, my gosh, like a high school seniors go on 32 dates, less 32 less dates a year. Then when they, when, when I was in high school interests, like maybe that's just good parenting finally kicking in, but more likely it is just like, you know, kids are not, they're not going out there, not being social. And so a lot of

Jay Kranda: 22:31 reading Josh Harris is kissing, dating goodbye is

Rey DeArmas: 22:33 all good and that's not allowed to ask that. Why did you can't, it can't acknowledge that they do,

Jay Kranda: 22:40 you know, you know what blew my mind was I was listening to something and obviously I, I haven't dated, you know, been married 10 years, but they said like young, younger people, and I'm again, I'm, I'm saying I'm, I'm, I am young but I have three kids and I'm, I'm out of that phase of life. But he said like young people now, they don't exchange phone numbers. They exchanged Instagram handles because they just block them on Instagram and you don't have to block them on a phone, which is really impossible. And I was like, my mind was like, oh, that makes total sense. But that's nuts. Like people were just exchanging instagram. Like the phone number is not being handed out. I'm like, I still give out my phone number all the time. Like that's, anyways, besides the point was

Jeff Reed: 23:15 I said to a high school kid, I'll text you. And he's like, what? And I'm like, and he's like, Instagram. I was like, cool, I'll Instagram. That's a thing. Who Knew? That's holy, you know, if he would have said snapchat or would it be like, sorry, I'm no longer let life, I'm 40. If I'm on snapchat. It's weird. I'm just saying. Okay. Um, so, uh, but let's, let's hold back cause cause is important online to offline revolutionized because it's this idea of, well, um, you're the guy

Jeff Reed: 23:46 who coined it, or at least you're the first person that I've heard said it. And so everybody I ever talked to you, I said, Jay Kranda has said it, so it's gotta be true. Why don't you unpack a little bit and tell us what online to offline is about?

Jay Kranda: 23:56 Yeah. I have no idea who coined it, but, um, I always think everything, everything that comes from my head practically comes from my pastor. So in inadvertently, cause he's just constantly spewing wisdom. So I'm, it's probably from him. Uh, I, yeah, so I think the idea was, you know, um, I've had this conversation with, with both of you guys, is that you? So I go to church with my family. So, so me, me and my family, we go to church, you know, we check in our kids, they have their own experience. There's all this stuff.

Jay Kranda: 24:27 And you know, that that's a really healthy experience. It's, it's, it's, it's probably the best experience of what Biblical church looks like because it's in person and you're doing life with people. And so when I started to kind of go into this role as online pastor, you know, I was somebody who, you know, like cared about my theology, cared about what I was both enabling and maybe not aware of what I was enabling. And I was just like, what am I, I have these people that are watching and I'm engaging them, but like, am I being a good steward of this thing that God has put me over at this season? And, and especially when you start reading, you know, in the Bible, specifically in the book of James, when you think about some of the judgment that God has for teachers and people in positions, um, you know, I started like it kind of early on.

Jay Kranda: 25:12 I would just think a lot about it. And at the time I was in seminary and I was at a more, uh, not traditional seminary but conservative seminary and I would ask questions to professors and none of them really understood what the world I was asking them. And, um, I started to really think about like, well, you know, I don't think everything can be done online meaning. I don't think we're at a place with the technology right now where, you know, somebody could watch online, engage online and like never leave their house. Like that's, I don't have like a surrogate type of ready player one type of theology at this moment. Some of it is because the technology isn't able and it's just not there. And so, but what I do feel comfortable in our model, and this is where it's really key, I might have personal beliefs that might differ a little bit from my church, mostly no, but I also am in a position where I have to, I have to echo what my leadership and my church is doing.

Jay Kranda: 26:06 So it's actually less about what I think it's about where my church is at on things because I'm representing them. And so I knew strongly that at the end of our funnel is that the way we do church is physical expression. Like that's what we're good at, that's what we're doing. And so we kind of just kind of started to work towards this idea, well what if we could reach people where they're at? And we kind of bring them to this offline experience where ultimately they're either at a campus, at another church or starting a small group of people in their home. And so, and what that practically looks like is usually it's allowing people to watch online. They take a next step and a individual would join an online group using zoom or Skype at some sort for a season and then after six months, eight months, they'll have some kind of communication around, hey, you've been in this online group for a bit.

Jay Kranda: 26:56 Um, have you thought about starting something in your home or going to this church experience? And we kind of, we kind of have this kind of, we kind of slowly turn up the heat, can kind of move them towards this best expression of online to offline. And many times somebody will be part of an online group for six to eight months and then they, they've kind of learned what an a group is and when they do something with their friends in their area, it becomes less boring. It's like, oh, this, this makes sense. And so we really lean heavy into that. I'm okay with people being kind of in seasons for different reasons if they're traveling or if they're sick. There's all sorts of reasons. But ultimately we do want to move people to this offline expression, which for us is one of our campuses. It might be an a local church or a might and, and, and the way that we kind of like my core community, it's people in homes all around the world that are kind of doing life together and we're trying to resource them as best as possible as like, oh, you are a functioning church and what does it look like to do that? And I say that as like very beta. Like there's things we're good at and that, and there's stuff we're still trying to figure out what does that actually look like

Rey DeArmas: 28:02 along those lines, you know, in that tool that you created alongside pushpay. And I know that Jeff can link to that in the show notes. Um, you talked about how you traveled places to baptize people in bathtubs and if trained online members from different continents to baptize fellow believers. Can you talk about what it's looked like to empower people, a leveraging some of the technology and you know, some of the ins and outs, goods and bads of that. How's it, how that's worked out for you?

Jay Kranda: 28:26 Yeah, I think so. One of the things that's um, especially at a large church, but I think every online ministry has experienced this is that you can have a huge impact by uploading content online. Like you just, you get a lot of eyeballs. One of the things we started to have a lot of conversations around is mmm, okay, how many people are actually getting like better indicating they're getting saved every week and then how many people are actually getting baptized. And so we might have, you know, hundreds of thousands of people will visit us in a given year. But you know, I don't have the exact number, but it was something like 20 people got baptized last year that we actually facilitated. A couple hundred thousand people turned into 20 or so baptisms. So you know that like that's great. Like I'm, I'm amazed. Trust me that number has gone up over the years intentionally from efforts.

Jay Kranda: 29:16 But like we started to have conversations of like a church is much more than just pushing content out. It's much more than just a chat room. It's much more than just our giving metrics. It's, there's these things and baptisms are one of those things that people in the early church were getting baptized. And so we started to have talks about like how do we actually scale that? And so I think early on when we were doing it, it was like I had asked questions like, are we, am I able to encourage somebody to baptize another person? Like do they have to be a pastor? You know, I, again, I had my own theology, but I'm also a pastor on staff at my church. So I got to make sure I aligned with what my church thinks. And so, um, and sometimes sometimes larger churches have different standards, not because it's, they're trying to be hard on the Bible, but because they're a model for other churches, so they have to be aware of that influence and so, and so just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.

Jay Kranda: 30:10 You should do it. The Bible's pretty free on this thing, but it's, it's sometimes you need to be careful. And I think early on we had to have conversations around like, what does it actually look like to do this? And so we just now, in the last year and a half, I feel like we've had this super openness now to be able to actually now go and say, okay, you know what, let's create a training. And so early on it was, I had like an audio training of our pastor talking through how to baptize somebody. And then I had an email signature. So in anybody would, um, want to be baptized and they couldn't travel to our campus and we weren't expecting to travel to their area. I would say, do you have another follower of Jesus that lives near you? We can train them, the baptize you. And they said, yes, we would send them this resource.

Jay Kranda: 30:55 Um, and then we would set up a three way call with the people and kind of talk about like, do you guys know what's going to happen? And then it would happen and then we would document it. Um, and so, um, we just did a thing, a couple, uh, you know, last week where we kind of went to our next stage of this where we created a training for our small group host, really for small group host small group members were how do you, how to baptize another believer and how to lead your small group through a private communion time. And it's going to be this standalone thing. But like that course that we just shot like a week and a half ago was an accumulation of like eight years of learnings of what both, how to do it and also what my church wanted me to do and where we're at.

Jay Kranda: 31:35 I couldn't do that training, um, you know, seven years ago. There's just no way. Um, and so, and I think we, you know, we figured it out, but I, in my head, I, my number one driver was how do we do more of that? And because the other thing is I had a lot of people always on waiting lists to be baptized and I couldn't travel everywhere. I just, as much as I would love to, it just, it didn't financially make sense for us to get on a plane and go everywhere. It maybe in the beginning it was like, oh yeah this is awesome. But then it became a problem as we had, you know, at one point I had 50 people on a waiting list all throughout the globe and I was like I don't even cause, cause the question is like okay, now I've got to vet all these people.

Jay Kranda: 32:15 I mean that's a lot of work. It's just there's again some problems or it's a good problem. But we really leaned into, okay you know what we need to encourage other people to baptize. And then this is where it kind of came full circle for us. Well if somebody can't get baptized right now, what they need to do is play the long game, start a small group, build a community, somebody comes to faith and they kind of build up a group of people. And I and I, and I think, I think that's where we kind of, oh, okay, this is how this

Jeff Reed: 32:40 is all kind of, this is why, and this is why I was, I was mentioning earlier, we're talking about these home gatherings, encouraging these small groups to watch services together. And the idea is we want this to become a huddle. I'm term and we have only a couple of them, but I haven't been able to scale. I still have people on waiting lists and so, um, it's something I want to say that number, the baptism number keeps me up. It's something that I think about constantly. How do I do that more? Because that shows true discipleship. So she's not a viewer, so that's good. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 33:06 We're going to be, we're going actually going to be interviewing Kevin Lee, who's I think the small groups pastor, uh, with Saddleback. And so we've got that, that podcast scheduled. I know he was excited to talk about that communion training and in, I hope you guys can just let the cat out of the bag, but I'm sure. No, no, no, no. More so more, more is coming down eight

Jay Kranda: 33:26 he has a cool story. He was actually in Florida and you baptize somebody, he'll share that.

Jeff Reed: 33:30 Oh cool. That's awesome. But you know, and there's, there's this idea of of now we're, we're expecting the online campus or the online church to, to start to, to generate things like it's not a, hey, let's just throw the broadcast out there and see what happens. It's, we're going to do this on the small level. But then something interesting happens. It grows, it scales quickly to where a person cannot handle it. And when I look at Church online, I actually see the church being the lid for what church online is. And Jay would, you just told us a great example of that. You're one guy traveling around the country, throw in Kevin Lee and now you're two guys traveling around the country.

Jeff Reed: 34:14 You got to list 50 people long that you're trying to baptize. You can't do it. And so as, as a result, this idea of And and Jay, you were one of these guys who were saying it early on, decentralizing the ministry, taking the power of Church Online, away from staff, and instead, empowering people doing that three way call empowering other people to baptize and empowering to do that. Like that's when, when church realizes that it's not about the pastors being the hero. And instead it's about empowering people, uh, lay people to be the hero and, and giving them the Holy Spirit gifts that God gave him the Holy Spirit, but utilizing the Holy Spirit, giving them the authority to do these things. All of a sudden the power of the church isn't self contained within that building or within what's on the stage. It's within the audience. And then, you know, I truly believe this. I think that's when American sees revival, not as a result of what our pastors are doing, but a results of our pastors saying, my success is not what happens, uh, out of result of my ministry. But when I empower others to do my ministry,

Jay Kranda: 35:20 it's good. I mean, I was just reading yesterday, I'm actually a friend on staff mentioned this. And um, so, uh, I was, I wouldn't say Philomena, what's that? What's the book? And by a monk and there it is. I always want to say [inaudible] you haven't want to say filet I always to say for like, but

Jay Kranda: 35:38 if you read in like we were just having this conversation and he was like, one of the first parts of that book is like a to the church in your house. If you read like the first couple of verses, you know, and it was like, and I really do think, and you've written about this on your blog a bunch, but it's, it's, it's really, it's thinking less about, if you think about online church as this American high expectation stage lights and all that, yeah, that's going to be hard to scale. But if you think more about the gatherings that were actually occurring early on, um, that's scalable. And, and a lot of people say that one of the things that hurt us the most in the history of the church was this corporate type of movement that happened in 300 AD when it like when Constantine kind of centralized it because it kind of fused with a lot of pagan stuff and it became this large thing.

Jay Kranda: 36:30 And we had to have many conversations. And even in America, one of the reasons why, you know, protestant stuff flourish was because it was this 31 flavors of, and it just grew rapidly. And the church, the, the, the assemblies of God, the, uh, the southern Baptist convention is the ones that grew the most were the ones that were more open with what it meant. Um, and so, you know, the end, there's pros and cons to that type of growth for sure. Um, but I, I think, I think, you know, and you've written about this, Jeff, is that it's just, I think there's going to be a lot more small churches that are going to leverage this long term because they're stuck. They're going to do, and this is what I love. Like you speaking at church planning conferences, stuff like that. I think that, you know, I'm actually more interested about that stuff about like, hey, who's going to like really take, is it going to be a network that's really going to figure this out?

Jay Kranda: 37:17 Because there's stuff that I do that just, I'm only doing because I'm trying to figure it out in my own church model and it makes sense, but it's not gonna make sense in your model. And so I get really excited about that and I know what's happening. It's going to happen. Um, I've already seen online church people who've done stuff like this and fail. I've seen plants fail. Um, but I, that's why I like the adoption of like a true planter. Like who's not trying to replicate, but like actually like, no, I'm planting physically. It's like the Perry noble thing. Like it's more of that. It's like, you know, he started doing stuff online, but even that, he started doing it online for the attention of physical. But I, I'm waiting for somebody who's going to start something online, do something physical, but also have the intention of also to be global. Um, you know, and, and that the apartment, that's not yet.

Jeff Reed: 38:07 It was, it was the joke. It was like Amazon had to buy whole foods because it wasn't enough to own the, the virtual hemisphere of ecommerce day. I'd actually do something, you know, in the physical space too. They had to shut down grocery stores. Um, but yet, let me like, cause there, there was, I spoke at this thing at exponential and uh, and it was, it was awesome. And I had this, this one pastor, I want to tell this story in a, and I'm still working with and we're trying to figure it out. Uh, but he grabs me. He couldn't, that I think I got a text message and middle of the night, hey, I need to talk with you before you leave. And like so I was leaving the next day. And so we got together and we ended up having like a face to face conversation behind the expo hall at like eight in the morning or something like that.

Jeff Reed: 38:49 And here's his story. He's a, he's a pastor at a, at a thousand person campus, a large church in a, in New England is weekly attendance at New England is like 200, 250 people. No, this is him telling me the story. Numbers don't matter in this story as much as the heart. He tells me 98, 99.8% of New England is the unchurched. Uh, 98% of New England has said they will not go to church. And him having a thousand person building in New England doesn't make sense because there's no way for him to use that building. And he says, so a year ago I had this idea of utilizing church online to reach into homes, to reach people, but also to empower the people that are attending my church to do church in their homes because people are more likely to go to homes than they will to my building. And he's, this is what he says.

Jeff Reed: 39:47 He's like, I've been looking a year for somebody to help me with this. And then I sit in this lecture and you're speaking and you're describing the exact model. He's like, you have to help me with this. And so we've unpacked it and we're starting to work through this and it, and it's going to happen. But this guy is literally talking about selling off major chunks of his property. Wow. Because it's ineffective to do ministry and in New England, it here's all my gosh, yes. But here's the reality of it. Like the New England of today is America of tomorrow. The problem that these guys are having today isn't that much different than what other churches are going to be experiencing. And, and you know, unless you're in the Bible belt, but even the Bible belt suspect these days. And so like, I don't want to be a, uh, like a, a prophecy type guy, but it's, it's, it's coming in, in, in this, this way of, of shifting towards, let's not make ourselves the pastors the hero, but let's empower people to, to with their voice, to lead people to Christ, trained them on how to disciple a.

Jeff Reed: 40:53 And then all of a sudden now we've got disciples who are discipling other people to be disciples. Like that's the biblical model, the 300AD. I want to write a book on that. Like I've, I've done research into that and it's scary how that swayed the perception of what, um, organized religion is because the, the, the Roman government needed to control the church and the hold it back. So they set this structure up. I forget what it's called right now. It's just, I'm not thinking that, um, but the Nicene creed, but as a result of that, all of a sudden, like, we're still using the same structure, like 2000 year, 18, 1500 years later, the power of the church doesn't rely and pastors, and it doesn't rely in church. You realize in the people and the quicker and the church plants that are out there and the guys that are listening that are in the small churches.

Jeff Reed: 41:49 I am far more excited about you guys doing stuff in church online. And I've said that multiple times and I will for the foreseeable future because the understanding and the capacity of the, of creating a disciple is creating a disciple and kicking him out and, and moving them on. Um, you know, the average, the average church size in America right now, uh, is 78 people and I, and we're going to talk about this a lot down the road. That's 78 people. That's a small church. And the first time I heard that stat I looked at the pastor had told me and I was like, man, that's bad leadership. That's a bunch of like stupid churches that aren't getting it right. And, and he looked at me sideways and he's like, what if that's God's way of saying that's what our church sizes should be in it.

Jeff Reed: 42:34 And I'm like, oh no, that's interesting. I'm an idiot. And he's like, what could you do with the 78 person church that you can't do with a, with a 4,000 person? And all of a sudden I just started going into, you know, discipleship training organization, people who are planting that. And it's like, and that's one of the reasons why I love this idea of online to offline and breaking it up in the, in the homes because now I've got smaller units and, and, and where we can do that, that detailed discipleship. Hey, here's a question Jay, like what in context of Saddleback, so you're doing these smaller units, she got some places around, um, like what's the end game when you sit down, when you talk with leadership, when they're looking at, at the structure of online, where's all this going?

Jay Kranda: 43:21 Yeah, I think, to be honest, I feel like that question is still, um, I, it's still being figured out. I think the, I think the hope is that we can be leaner in planting future campuses of our church. That we can have this kind of cross step of what does it mean to have these home gatherings and that, um, I, I know the conversation that has been happening has been, you know, we're moving into this phase as a kind of a society and American specific and in America specifically that, um, you know, it's no longer Christianity is this neutral or pro thing. It's, it's this, um, when we first planted our church, um, you know, before I was there before I was born really. And, um, now we're moving into this phase where like people would never come to your church. And the joke that the conversations that they'd been having here is, you know, the idea is that if you're Mormon friend would invite you to have his temple service.

Jay Kranda: 44:18 Would you ever go? And he's like, no. And, and the idea is it doesn't matter how relevant the teaching is. Doesn't matter how many lights and fog or whatever. Um, you would never go. Um, but what you would do is you would listen if you got a relationship with this person. And so the, the, the conversation has been leaning towards, you know, maybe the side doors of our churches are going to become more important than our Sunday morning services longterm. Um, kind of the way that other countries have already gone. And so, um, and we're just going to go there. Now. Does it have to be all doom and gloom? No. And you know, you know, the prayers, they won't go that way, but that's why these, this conversation of having some kind of online or some kind of home gathering things going to be potentially really important for churches of all sizes longterm and thinking about that 78 type of, of experience.

Jay Kranda: 45:11 But I think the big hope is that we can do the home gathering thing. Well, um, but that's where it does take. And this was one of the hardest things is, you know, I'm doing things in my bubble and I got to make sure that I'm interacting with the larger bubble like very well because it's really easy to kind of float off and be in my own sandbox. But it takes way more effort and more reward if I integrate. And you know, share what's working, what's not. Because to be honest, like I don't know anything about leading a church. I don't know anything about planting a church. That's not my expertise, you know? And so I need to have that conversation. I was just emailing today with somebody on our worship team, like, I have this idea, um, you know, tell me where am I wrong in my thinking because I don't know anything.

Jay Kranda: 45:57 Like I don't know what it would. And you know, they gave me some feedback and I was like, oh, that's good. And, and I, and I think this is where like, just because you have a lot of people watching percentage wise compared to your local campus doesn't mean like you're the resident expert. And I think if you come into it, it's very open handed and integrate because I think there's a lot of ministries, online ministries that are reaching a lot of people. But I think the deep discipleship is where the local churches just the expert at. And I think that's why we got to have more of those conversations. Like who's doing that? Well. Um, because one po, you know, getting eyeballs online is, is fairly easy. It's not like automatically easy. Sure. Um, but it's like scaling discipleship, that's a whole nother thing that only the local church can do.

Jay Kranda: 46:43 And that's where can you, so what is your look, what does your local church discipleship pathway look like for your online ministry? And that's where the hybrid that, that's why I think having somebody who's a pastor who kind of like knows that part of it is it's going to be so valuable. And, and, and I know a lot of online pastors think like that. I know they're doing stuff, but I think that's like, you know, like the, in that Rey mentioned it in that book that uh, that I did with Vanderbloemen pushpay. It was like out of all the churches, 90% of them are just streaming to Facebook and their church online platform. And then when you go down to like deeper stuff like membership and baptism, it's like in a very low percentile. So when people think of online church, they think Facebook streaming, they think pushing content.

Jay Kranda: 47:28 They're actually thinking of like deep church stuff. So that's where like people go like, well, church online is in church. Well, I would go, yeah, well yeah, because a lot of people are just pushing stuff out and they're not actually pastoring people. Um, now there are people doing that and that's where I'm in. A lot of that happened with Facebook. It's so easy to stream now that that's a great first step, but you can't stop there. You've got to keep pushing forward. You got to develop this out in the strategy and integrate and all that. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 47:54 So guy out there listening to this broadcast, maybe you're new to a church online, may, maybe you've been been kicking it around and that's it. You're, you're, you're doing your Facebook feed, you're doing your job, you're doing your youtube, whatever it looks like and, and you're excited about the metrics and, and you know, somebody shared the video and you got a couple hundred more views and, and that's the win. Um, man, let's, let's challenge you a little bit here to take one more step and start to figure out how to create this biblical community towards that. Jay Kranda's Website. Got a ton of resources there. I'm just even, we didn't even talk about it here, but the Ekklesia blog that you wrote probably within the past couple of months, uh, was awesome. And I would, I texted Jay, I literally had like the same blog and it's like, well I'm going to trash it cause he just said it so I'll, I'll probably bring it back out in a, in a little bit, but it was is a great resource towards that. Uh, the church digital. Ah, man, we're writing a lot of stuff in that sweet spot as well. Uh, ebooks and we'll link to it in the show notes. All this is good.

Jeff Reed: 49:03 Um, what are, what are the resources are out there guys? What, what can we, how can we help people that are kinda interested in checking out this, a biblical community stuff online. But am I blanking on I,

Jay Kranda: 49:15 you know, honestly I would say just if I was going to talk to that person who's thinking about it, I would say the first thing I would consider is if you have a database of some sort for your church. And I would consider running a report of how many people outside of a hour distance or in your system right now are like, and so just get an idea. So if you have, let's say you have, you know, 5,000 contacts in your system, how many of those have an address that's outside of an hour distance and then try to figure out how much of those people given in the last two years.

Jay Kranda: 49:49 And I think that's a really good place to kind of start to kind of understand who's there and the maturity of those people. Because if you have people drive in from an hour away or somehow have engaged, um, I, I think you're going to start figuring out and how many people were actually, like, again, a lot of times our church church online is a very, it's an amazing local resource by just digging into your own metrics like that. I think when you start kind of flushing out like, Oh wow, we have some people watching from far and you'd, you'd be surprised where, you know, people watch online that give and you know, that that might be a good way just to kind of see the seeds of what's potentially, if you kind of addressed a little bit more and do it.

Jeff Reed: 50:26 Yeah, we had a, we had a small group leader, um, a regular giver, uh, for, uh, with the online regular attender. Literally met every metric that we were trying to evaluate for a physical campus. And she lived in Atlanta. Uh, and so like there's, there's plenty of those stories, especially as you're more, one of the, one of my favorite stats to look at every Monday, uh, was the, uh, Google. Uh, but it was the locations field and starting to see where people were watching from. And, and then, you know, trying to figure out how to cluster them together. And I know Jay you're doing like some of those watch parties and, and uh, meetups I think is, is some of the things that you're doing in an attempt to try to cluster some of these people together. Um, and literally, man, I could talk about this all day, but I want to be faithful to time as we're wrestling through this. So, um, Rey, let's start with you up top man. Any, any closing thoughts or anything as we're wrapping up this episode?

Rey DeArmas: 51:24 I really appreciate Jake just, you know, you are called and Kinda your pastors, uh, buying into this. You know, one of the first things I remember hearing from Rick Warren was every member a minister. And it's funny how you guys have carried that out online and I just think it's so beautiful and so thank you Man for your thoughts and your time.

Jeff Reed: 51:41 Jay. Any thoughts as we're landing the plane?

Jay Kranda: 51:47 Go Lebron James.

Jeff Reed: 51:48 Oh man, we are not going to end on that note. Um, hey, so person out there listening to this be encouraged, um, realize like Jay, I mean he, he said it, but the biggest takeaway is that the guy who's with the church, with the thousands of people who's doing this. And when I asked, hey, what's the end game? He's like, we haven't figured that out yet. Uh, don't be frustrated if, if your church hasn't gotten it, figured it out yet. If they're not, if they're not listening, if they're not seeing the big picture of it yet. Um, it's, it's a, it's a long conversation. Uh, and, and it's one that, uh, given the opportunity to let leadership grow with you is one that will pay off in dividends long run, uh, then in the longterm, because there will come a point when you need leadership buy in for something.

Jeff Reed: 52:40 And I can speak of this personally. Like, uh, there've been seasons in my life where I ran by myself out to accomplish a goal, uh, and I did not bring leadership with me. And then when I needed something from them, they didn't actually own the ministry like I did because I hadn't brought them into that process. So do that work with your leadership. Uh, let's go step by step with them through this. And don't be discouraged if you don't know the answers because I don't, honestly, I don't think that anybody does. We all see little peak pictures and pieces of things, but in the end, um, we're still trying to all figure this out together. So be encouraged by that. Check out some of these resources. Check out the show notes and a for Rey, for Jay, uh, and uh, other crazy people who like Lebron James playing basketball. Uh, this has been Jeff Reed with the church digital podcast. Appreciate y'all and we'll see you next time here online. Talk with you later.

PODCAST 002: Six Things You Wish Pastors Knew About Church Online
PODCAST 004: Tyler Sansom and Church Anywhere (Small Church, Microsites and Church Online)

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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