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PODCAST 005: David Urzi & Pastoring an Online Church

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What exactly does an Online Pastor do? This episode explores in greater detail the life and ministry of Online Pastors, people who wrestle with pastoring, shepherding people in different spaces. The skills to properly manage a fully-functioning Church Online is broad... but the goal of an Online Pastor is not creating a church sub-culture for Online, but inviting the entire church to benefit from the Church Service, from Discipleship Online.

ON THE SHOW

Guest: David Urzi
Cape First Church
Twitter // Instagram // DavidUrzi.org

Host: Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // Linked-In

Co-Host: Rey DeArmas
Christ Fellowship Miami Online
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

SHOW NOTES

References from the Podcast:

Insights:

  • Online Pastors typically have multiple roles on church staffs. Very few get to focus solely on Church Online.
  • Be Pastor first, IT guy second. Challenge: find people who complement your strengths.
  • Online Pastor: complicated mix of ministry and logistical work.
  • Collaborate/Network with different organizations. Create alliances with denomination contacts, church networks, other churches, campus pastors spread out across the city. Regional Pastor Care based on NETWORKING with different personnel. Expand your circle of influence.
  • Think Outside the box. Funnel ministry opportunities into the existing church ministries.
    • It's not an Online Campus. It's One Church Ministry. Reference Dave Adamson's Omnichannel Blog.
    • Not a separate ministry, but a holistic view of your church doing its ministry online.
    • Casting Vision:
      • How important Online Ministry is
      • It's not segmented. It's all of your church ministry, executed online.
      • practicality of pastoring, shepherding online.
  • John Maxwell: Great Leaders ask Great Questions - ask questions when people ask questions. Coaching versus telling.
  • Make the shift from Casting Vision to Meeting Expectations.
    • manage expectations
    • don't get swept up in Online Service views. Get caught up in discipleship
    • push for a clear Discipleship Pathway
    • dry spells will happen. don't be discouraged.
  • Intentionally focus on chat during online service
  • Don't be afraid to start small. Build a solid foundation now and grow it. 

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

Transcript

Jeff Reed: 00:00:00 Hey everybody, welcome to the church digital podcast. My name is Jeff Reed. And, uh, once again, I am glad that you are joining us today here on the church digital we talk a lot about church online and really focus upon, uh, the, the ministry opportunities that discipleship, the production, the different parts of what it takes to make church online happen each week. And, and so I'm joined once again here by, by Rey DeArmas are our guests, those tier at the church, digital, uh, raised online pastor from Christ fellowship or anyone to say, hey everybody,

Rey DeArmas: 00:00:31 so good to be with you again. Hope everybody's well.

Jeff Reed: 00:00:34 Awesome. And we've got a guest here today, David Urzi, who is with Cape First Church. Uh, and, and, and Dave. Uh, what man, why don't you just tell us a little bit about Cape first and the ministry and what exactly you do up there? Cause I know it's a long, long list.

David Urzi: 00:00:51 So we are a multisite church about halfway in between Saint Louis, Missouri and Memphis, Tennessee. So somewhat, well you would call rural. We're a town of about 50,000 or so. We've got four locations, uh, to in that direct city and then to, uh, and outline areas about 30 miles in each direction and a multisite church, few thousand people on the weekends. And, uh, I came on board here really just to help out. My wife works here. And so I was kind of behind the scenes, just helping out here and there, uh, and then decided, hey, I'm going to come online and help this online thing. And a realized there was a whole lot more than just church online. That's what the leadership wanted me to do is, hey, fixed church online. And then I realized, Hey, we've got a whole lot more to fix besides just what happens via computer on a Sunday morning.

David Urzi: 00:01:42 the previous guy before me had kind of just launched every different way of church online, Youtube, Facebook, a church, online platform. And so it was like, okay, we're doing a ton of stuff really poorly. Let's do one thing really well. Um, and so for years I've been involved in church online through seacoast church and, uh, other avenues. And so, uh, when I came here, I'm really the last few months having to prove my theory is correct a or prove them wrong and restart. And so, uh, we have completely torn everything down, like no Facebook live, no youtube live, uh, going straight to chop even we were broadcasting multiple services. Now we're just doing one like this is, let's go back to one service. Let's do it well, let's get the right volunteers in place. Let's coach them, let's train them, and then let's go back.

David Urzi: 00:02:37 Let's grow a step at a time. Uh, and so that's a little bit of what I do. In addition to, uh, oversee the construction facilities we're going to remodel. We're in a $3.2 million expansion. Uh, we're doing a lot of different stuff. I do some stuff with staffing and a, so I get to wear a lot of different hats. Uh, and so my title here is communications director, so that's really how we narrow it down is what happens in the worship center. The auditorium on a Sunday, uh, is, falls under our creative pastor. And then anything outside of that, basically from the lobby to the end or falls under me. Um, he is, what are we saying? And I am, how are we saying it? Uh, and so he gets, he's saying, hey, this is what the sermon says. This is what the worship set list says. And I'm saying, okay, now that we've said it, how are we saying it to the world? And so that's a little, a little bit about what I get to do.

Jeff Reed: 00:03:31 I've never met a communications director that's in charge of a $3.2 million construction project. But Hey, we'll go ahead and, and been pretend communications directors out there who are listening to this broadcast are like, thank God, that's not my responsibility. Yeah, man. And what's interesting is, and we find this so much in, in Church online, right? Like the online pastor is always online pastor plus something else. Like it's an online pastor plus, um, a worship or online pastor plus students are, cause you know, anybody who deals with students understands technology and but, or online or plus creative and different things. And so, um, yeah, there's always different. I like I started as a production guy slash online and kind of grew from there. Rey was Rey, like what are some of the responsibilities that you've carried in addition to, to be an online pastor?

Rey DeArmas: 00:04:23 So I originally I launched one of our physical locations as I was coming into the role, which works online. And Jeff, you were there for that entire transition help and lead me through it, which was great. And it was a challenge because I was for sure managing to what felt like two different campuses, but at the same time it was the entire church overall and that I was overseeing one physical location, but at the same time I was responsible for, for something that the entire church body interacts with. So in a way, and I'm sure this is something that we're going to unearth a lot more, uh, as Dave Adamson talked about the Omnichannel, uh, I became the entire churches campus pastor and kind of a way, because everybody started to recognize me and I, and it became something through which I started to having to manage and pastor everybody in that kind of sense or as is the case in so many options, people started complaining to me about a tool that was just one of the many things that I oversaw, whether it was working for them or it wasn't working for them.

Rey DeArmas: 00:05:14 And it became a heavy responsibility and caring and that kind of way. And so for those of you out there who are carrying multiple roles at, and at the same time you're carrying church online, believe me, we hear, we hear you, we understand you. And in many ways we're still carrying a lot of that because even though I'm still, I'm primarily focused on church online, I'm also overseeing all digital tools at our church, which is just a rapidly, rapidly expanding thing. And so we hear you. We feel you. Uh, as far as how a lot of that goes.

David Urzi: 00:05:42 And that was my role when I joined at seacoast has all in line. Pastor. Uh, I was, Jeff, we were talking on the phone a few weeks ago and I mentioned how there's, maybe we should take a poll, but I'm guessing there's maybe 20 churches in America that have a full time online pastor that that's all they do. Like I feel like I'm being generous saying 20 cause I mean when I, and I mean like literally that's all you do. You wake up on Monday morning and that's all you do all week until the next Sunday. Um, and so that's what I came on board as Seacoast is like literally this is all you do church online. Um, and even within less than six months, we hired a, uh, we were able to work the budget out where we hired an online service pastor where it was his role was facilitating the services. Uh, and if it freed me up to also do a physical location, just like Rey, where I provided pastoral oversight for Church online, but the online service pastor, he was the one that pastor those people during the live broadcast.

Jeff Reed: 00:06:43 Wow. That's, that's an interesting concept. I like that. So what we want to talk about today, and we've used the word online pastor, online campus pastor, uh, throw in online director, you know, something like that. We want to talk about what exactly do these people do. Um, and actually like for me when I'm looking at like outside social media or outside emails, I can't tell you how many emails I've gotten from people saying, Hey, do you have like a job profile for an online pastor? Actually, Rey, God bless Ya. I've shared your job profile with probably a dozen churches because your yours is like, you know, I helped write it and I'm like, yeah, this is the only one that I've got. So here and you know, I've made some notes and I blogged about it just to throw it out there. But like that's the, uh, people are like, what exactly do these online campus pastors, what exactly is it online pastor do?

Jeff Reed: 00:07:35 And so I wanted to kind of unpack that a little bit, which is why I brought these two online pastors together to wrestle in this space. Um, what, what's effective, what's effective ministry, um, what, what's not, uh, what are, what are things that, that we actually do in these spaces to pastor people virtually. And so in David, let's, let's just pick up exactly where you left off of. So you were online pastor, but you had someone that you were, uh, an online service pastor who was more responsible for like the weekend stuff, but you were oversight and responsible during the week. Like how did you set that up? That that's something I've never really heard before.

David Urzi: 00:08:17 Okay. So first would be how I came into that role is when I was interviewing with a pastor, Josh Surratt and the crew at seacoast. Um, when they said, hey, we really want you on the bus. This is a seat that we have. Uh, what, what do you think? And I said, well, I've never done, I've done a little bit in church online I kind of get it like what do you think? And I was like, but at the end of the day, I'm not an it guy. I was like, I'm not a tech guy at all. Like people think I can fix their phone and computers, but a lot of it is just like trial and error, like seeing like I don't know how to hook up servers and run it equipment. That's just not my gift. And Pastor Josh and I'll never forget it, we were sending a restaurant and looked at me.

David Urzi: 00:09:04 He goes, that's okay. We have those people's employ those people in place. We need a pastor. And so I'm a pastor first it tech guy second. And so everything that I've ever done in church in align, it comes from my pastor's heart first. And if you're not a pastor first, that's okay. You might be the church online guy and you're an it guy first. That's okay. You just got to find those people that complement your strengths. And so we had a great it team at seacoast that was able to, I would say, Hey, I want to do this and in church online, how do we do it? And they would help me with the tech side of it. Um, and so basically what do we do all week? Um, I the short, cause I still get that question just like you just, people ask me all the time was the Online Pastor do and I always respond with, okay, if you're a pastor and you're overseeing a campus, what do you do all week?

David Urzi: 00:09:56 You're talking to people, you're meeting with people, you're finding out people are in the hospital and you're seeing how you can pastor them through that year. Finding out someone's daughter just got admitted to the hospital and you're figuring out how you can get someone there to visit with them and you found out someone passed away and how can you pastor their family? I was like, I'm doing all of that virtually. Like I'm finding out someone 60 miles away, their daughter just went into the hospital. So now I'm saying, okay, do I need to drive or do we have a member that lives a little bit closer? That's maybe a life group leader that are a high capacity volunteer that I can trust to go minister to them. Um, and so that's the Pastor side of it. Uh, and then the other side is, hey, are the notes ready?

David Urzi: 00:10:44 Uh, we, we actually scaled back from you version. I know a lot of people. Are you using youversion notes? Nothing against them at all. Great Product. Uh, we just found that we could do notes through our APP and if people are giving through our app, like let's make the APP a one stop shop for everything. Uh, and so it's, it's updating the notes and, and making sure every tool that people use, like what Rey said earlier of it becomes this tool that everybody in the church is using and all of a sudden you are everyone's pastor. It's making sure those tools are ready for the weekend so that everybody experiencing them. Uh, we'll experiencing them at an excellent level. Uh, I tried updating our app a few days ago, a few weeks ago, and I did it on a Tuesday afternoon into Wednesday afternoon. I knew it was going to take me a full day or a day and a half, so I was like, well, I'm going to do it like Tuesday to Wednesday afternoon when nobody's using the APP. No joke. Within a couple hours I had three emails of people telling me the APP isn't working right. The Bible reading plan is off, the dates are wrong. And I'm like, I'm trying to fix. Like I was trying to make it better and I thought no one using it. That was completely wrong. Tons of people were using it even during the week. And so you're making sure those, it was the same thing they're using on Sundays. I had no idea they were using it on a Tuesday afternoon at three o'clock.

Rey DeArmas: 00:12:07 Yeah, that's good. And it's, it's funny how that works, isn't it David? Because you know, here it is. It's not that you think, and a lot of people I think assume that, you know, first of all, especially if you for lay people like overcoming the, Hey, what do you do besides Sunday is kind of a leak. And then amongst pastors is, okay, so what do you do if you're not preparing a sermon? If you're not, it's almost like the same conversation I had at first with just even becoming a physical location campus pastor. Okay. So you're not teaching. So what else are you doing? And I think what a lot of people don't realize is how much ministry and how much logistical work there is. It actually goes into this.

David Urzi: 00:12:42 Yeah. And we're actually, so a little bit of background on Cape First of where I am. Uh, we have a pastor who's about to celebrate his 30th anniversary. Uh, he's in his early sixties, mid sixties and next year will be our 100th year as a church and nothing against him. But his staffing has typically been pastor heavy cause that's the way most people through the sixties, seventies, 80s, nineties even maybe early two thousands it was. Yeah, it's very passive. It's your heavy, like the pastor carries the load of the church. You preach every sermon, you're visiting hospitals, you're doing this, you're doing the funerals, the, the weddings, the baby dedications. And whereas now we're seeing a trend of you have support staff that can go and visit and you have campus pastors that can minister to these people too. And so even since, since I've come on board and my wife has come on board, we've hired two extra facilities, people three extra front or not extra there. They were needed, uh, three more front office administration staff. Uh, because all of these, so much day to day logistical duties were weighing down our pastors. Whereas like, let's free them up to do ministry because there is so much stuff. And nobody had just sat down and said, hey, what are our pastor's doing every day and what can we take off their plate? And so once we were able to look at that on paper, we're able to say, hey, we need to, we need to get some more support staff in here.

Jeff Reed: 00:14:15 And let me, let me, yeah, let me take it into something here at David, one of the things that you mentioned was as, as online pastor, like you get a phone call or you get an email or a Facebook message, I would get Facebook messages like crazy 60 miles away. Somebody's in the hospital, like walk in, you've, you've never met this person. Physical space. It's, it's always been, you know, through virtual. Walk me through a scenario like that. Like, like tell me that story, what it's like to go be pastor for somebody in a different city that you've really never had like a physical interaction with. What's it like to be that pastor?

David Urzi: 00:14:52 I'll tell you two situations. One, a very serious one. One a not as serious ones. Still seriously that family. Uh, one was a lady about three hours away. Um, I got a message one day, she said, can't talk right now. Really bummed out. Just lost our child just before birth. Uh, and so made miscarriages are no fun. My wife and I have had one, but the later it goes, the closer you get to that nine months. It just, it's, it's harder and harder. And they were, they were right on the verge of that. And so, um, there were three or so hours away up in the mountains and I was like, man, I don't know when I can get to them just, I actually had newborn twins at the time and I was like, I felt for them, I knew exactly where they were at, uh, emotionally.

David Urzi: 00:15:41 And I was just like, Gosh, I want to be there, but I just, I can't. So I was able to call one of our campus pastors that was in a bout a 40 mile driving distance to them and I was able to continue email conversation. She didn't want to talk on the phone yet cause she was very bummed out and I said, hey, I want to connect you with uh, with this guy. He's one of our campus pastors at a location closer to you. I would love for you guys to sit down and talk. And so it was like boom. We had someone in our organization right there ready to go to help them and pastor them. And it was pastoring them through the grieving process. And then, hey, we're going to have a little family. We're not gonna have a huge funeral, but hey, let's do something for the family and, and celebrate the life of what could have been, um, that was in a womb for eight months and, um, and let's be there for them and pastor them.

David Urzi: 00:16:34 Uh, and they were viewed on online. Um, and then the less dramatic one would be we had a volunteer who was remote. They were about four hours, but they're one of my remote volunteers that served at church online. Uh, and she called me one day. She said, hey, my son out in Denver, we were on the east coast. She's like, my son out in Denver was in a car accident and my health, I can't get out to him. What do we do? How I want someone to pray with him. Um, and so thankfully we're a part of Arc Association of related churches. I got on there, searched, I said to find who was the closest arc church to that hospital, made a phone call to that pastor. And I said, hey, here's what we've got. Here's, here's what's going on. I said, can you help me in any way?

David Urzi: 00:17:23 Can you go to that hospital and pray with him? And he's like, man, I'm out of state right now. I'm out preaching somewhere, but will you call this guy? And he gave me the name of another pastor and that pastor was able to go and pray, take a selfie with them, send it back to me. I sent it over to the mother and said, Hey, just want to let you know that Jeff, uh, that was the guy's name. Jeff is there praying with your son. Uh, your son says, Hey, he said he's doing all right. He's a little bruised up. They'll be there for a couple more days. And they were of course in communication to the mom and son. Um, but just reiterating, hey, he's doing all right. And, uh, of course she was over the moon. I mean, how, how could you not be in love with that situation that God orchestrated? And so to answer your question, to be a pastor in that situation is saying, Hey, what can I do? And if I can't do something fizzy self will through these relationships that God has given me. So that's why it networking is just so important. That's good.

Rey DeArmas: 00:18:28 That's really good David. It's, it's powerful how, how you're able to take a situation like that with pastoral care and just make it so practical. In terms of leveraging your resources, how often do you find that you've got to think outside of the box in order to help minister to pee? Uh, and, and how different plans may not always look the same?

David Urzi: 00:18:47 How often really depends on, I mean, it's like a church of 200 people versus a church of 2000 people. You're going to have way more care for more people. Um, and so right now in this season where I've scaled down a lot of stuff, it's maybe once a week we're all get a message and I have to think through, okay, how are we going to pastor this person? Uh, whereas other seasons of ministry, it's been a once a day, twice a day. Whereas like, okay, we're constantly thinking on our toes. And luckily with a larger organization, a lot of those you can quickly funnel off into other ministries of, Oh hey, this is a single mom. Great. We have a, we have an entire ministry for single moms. Let's, let's put this straight to them. Um, cause I don't want to get too deep into a rabbit hole, but that is a part of casting vision for church online is not, we are our own ministry center.

David Urzi: 00:19:46 But Hey, if we have someone that just got out of prison, uh, and they need pastoring, I, I'm not going to be the first person. What I'm going to go to is our outreach pastor that deals with those guys on a daily basis that actually runs a home that the church owns that for men live in that just graduated a drug rehabilitation program. I want to say, Hey, we got this guy fresh out of prison, plug him into the life of these other four guys and let them have their own life group and you lead it and so it's, it's not like that works trying to pastor everybody as we funnel them in. When that pastor sees, oh my gosh, this guy came through church online and now he's a part of the physical life of the church. Like this church online thing really works. Like this is a thing and it helps grow that vision and everyone's eyes.

Rey DeArmas: 00:20:33 It's so great that you talk about the handoff because the handoff for us here at Christ fellowship in terms of if the, if we can get them into a physical campus that's nearby, how much that just expands and celebrates the wins overall for what church online is and it make it seem like it's an online ministry, which is kind of a term that I find around here. I'm trying to help people understand, no, this is a way that people gather and interact, you know? this is a way for people to experience the body of Christ. It's not just a ministry of the church. This is the church overall.

Jeff Reed: 00:21:02 Yeah. It goes back to that whole, and, and we've talked about this previously, but it's, it's the online, the offline relationships, right? So the, the, the lessons that we learned, the gospel that we hear online that we experience through church online, maybe that we experience listening to a, to a sermon archive or, or something on social media that that impacts us in the real world. James 1:22 don't just be here, be hearers of the word online. Do what it says in the real world. And so as a result, you know, being able to connect the, the virtual with the physical and blur those lines. You know, and, and we mentioned earlier, Rey, I think you did, like I just don't want to do a whole episode on this idea of Omnichannel and how there was this, this great, and we'll put it in the show notes, the link to Dave Amundson and I talked about it on my blog, but this idea that it's not just a single, um, message that's done in, in a, in a single space, whether it's virtual or whether it's sermon archive or in it, and it's not this idea that you don't just go and hear it in that one and people like live in that one environment, it's that it's all holistically involved in that.

Jeff Reed: 00:22:13 Well that also impacts not just processing of a sermon, but that also impacts the ministry lives that our church has in our church now needs to wrestle with. And we're talking about what is pastoral care looked like virtually. And sometimes that's, you know, driving 60 miles up the road or it's calling friends and friends of friends and networking to find somebody. Well, I mean that same conversation can be had, you know, what is, what does it look like to disciple somebody? What does it look like to, you know, to, to care for somebody in a different way and, and suddenly like it's, um, it's a much more holistic view of church when churches actually doing the biblical community that at discipleship angle and the end, the pastor kind of being the person to, to lead in to that, to speak into that, uh, is, is so informative, so important.

Jeff Reed: 00:23:02 But there's a lot of vision like that doesn't, that doesn't happen overnight. Right? Like I can remember, I'll just tell a horror story. Um, actually yeah, I will tell horror stories like we were, we were trying to figure out Christ fellowship Miami. I'll, I'll, I'll call him out. It's, it's fine. Uh, but we were trying to figure out, cause they have this, this annual, it's quarterly. It's a movement called love Miami. And that's where we get out there serving the neighborhood. Serving the communities and, and, and, you know, make a difference for Christ. Do through things like on schools, uh, in, in parks, just loving on loving on the community and the name of Christ. And so like, I wanted to get the, the, some of our, our church online people involved. I had like groups in, in key west groups in New York, kind of scattered around the country and I was trying to figure out how to like get them to do something but love Miami itself was, was dated like it's, it's limited to that Miami three Oh five, seven, eight, six zip code.

Jeff Reed: 00:23:56 And I remember, um, it was in a meeting with the entire staff and it would, the idea was thrown out maybe a little premature. Um, what if, what if we change love Miami to love your city? And it was, it was, it was, uh, it was a bad job of casting vision and like the response in that environment wasn't, wasn't really good. It was kind of bad and awkward and, and flaming bullets started flying all over the place. You can't change love Miami. I love Miami. We've been doing this for 20, 30 years, like blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, all this stuff. And I'm the online pastor. I'm like, I agree with you. Like I, I don't, I don't want to, don't want to do this. So like there's, how do we have that conversation where we, we cast vision where we, we, we empower ministry people, we make them aware of what online does. This is an example of how online is not done well. How it's not cast vision. It wasn't received well, but how can it, yeah. Yeah. What do you guys think Dave would have you experienced?

Rey DeArmas: 00:24:59 David did David you go first cause I've got some thoughts on this.

David Urzi: 00:25:02 So I have a similar horror story. I'll tell a really quick Jeff. So, uh, where I was, it's, it's a broadcast video fee to every campus every Sunday and then about four times a year, the campus pastor, it's campus pastor Sunday where they speak. And so I came to the leadership one day. I said, well, if it's campus pastor Sunday and I'm the online pastor, should I preach for the online stream? And it was like, well of course you wouldn't know cause the online pastor and like they kind of put everybody in a pickle where it was like, well I'm the online pastor. And, and it was because that w that audit, that audience, that online congregation was so large, it was like, do we all of a sudden want to trust this new newbie with this many people?

David Urzi: 00:25:47 Um, so similar horror stories, flaming firing darts were fired at me and so that didn't quite go over as well. And so I think one thing for me if casting vision for church online is something John Maxwell says or there's been a few people that said it is great leaders ask great questions. And to cast vision for Church online, you have to ask the staff and ask the members of the church questions about where they stand with church online. Um, and you're not looking for a doctrinal stance on it, but hey, if they asked me, hey, well how do you pastor someone on, how do you disciple someone online? How do you think we should, if, if you are watching online, how would you want to be disruptive? Cool. And it's beginning begin that thought process and process in people's minds of saying, getting them in and the people's shoes that are watching online saying, okay, what would I want if I was there?

David Urzi: 00:26:46 And it, same thing when I'm trying to get a new volunteer to serve at Church online when they're like, well what do I write in the chat? Well, if you were sitting at home and you, uh, your computer, what would you want someone to say to you? Well, I would want him to welcome. And so, and it's just getting them to, cause they've never thought of themselves as being in those shoes of just helping them walk a mile in that person's shoes that's watching online. And so for me, the casting vision and same way with a staff of, hey, if you are a shut in and couldn't, couldn't get to church physically, uh, what would you want someone to do? You would want more than just a stream. You would want a live person coming on camera welcoming you, you would want an opportunity to give financially, you would want an opportunity to sit in a Bible study class other than uh, just the Sunday morning worship experience.

Rey DeArmas: 00:27:35 Yeah, that's good. David is so true and I'm glad that you mentioned all those avenues. It's funny cause you know that exact instance that you mentioned, you know, we've, we've still tussling with that kind of thing and I've even had experience communicating here at CF, but it still becomes a bit of an issue and that's just, it's this, we're all given full disclosure here, you know, and know we're doing a lot of great innovative things. But on top of that, you know, what I found at which helps out a whole lot is telling stories of all the wins in keeping the stories in front of leadership. Nowadays. If folks are leaving comments on, you know, just things to pray for or things that they're so grateful for for search online. I'm constantly taking screenshots of it and immediately firing it off to leadership just to keep it in their view of this is why we we do, and this is on good days and on bad days, right?

Rey DeArmas: 00:28:22 Or if it's on Sundays were church online is awesome. Or if man, we've got issues with x, Y and Z, it doesn't matter. Just constantly keeping the vision in front of leadership and I'm even at the point now where by God's grace we've got other leaders in our church, other campus pastors or other kids, directors or different folks that are starting to tell they're getting stories and feedback and so now I'm even like, Hey, listen, you know, for everyone, I'll buy you a cup of Starbucks for everyone that you pass on the leadership because it's worth it because it continues to keep the vision forward and everybody's eyes of one, how important this is.

Rey DeArmas: 00:28:54 And then two, the fact that this isn't a segmented audience of the church, this is the church overall. This is that Omni channel. This is everybody together who takes part in this weather for whatever reason they're sick or they're passing it on to their loved ones or something else. And then finally, just the practicality of it. It's important to tell the stories of how people are being affected by this. And so if you're out there, please keep your stories in front of your leadership. Let them know about these folks because they need to know that people are being ministered to in this way.

Jeff Reed: 00:29:23 Yeah. Straight up those two things, just copy and paste that, um, asking, asking the right questions. Um, you know, guiding people. That's, that's almost like it's, it's a coaching one on one strategy. People have the, the answers that they need. They're already ingrained in that. And so it's coaching the kind of walk them through it and, and it's telling stories and celebrating those things and um, the, the, the big wins and in the small wins that like there's, there's nothing too big or too small to celebrate. And I think, I'm not sure if we've talked about it on the podcast, but I can remember we had a, we had a, a micro location, we had several micro locations up in New York, but we had a house church and um, they sent me a video, they texted it to me, a of a guy getting baptized and Rey Rey knows this video, but it was, it was awesome.

Jeff Reed: 00:30:13 And it was literally the guys getting, uh, baptized in a bathtub and a and ended up in a, in a New York apartment. So the bathrooms already, like I dunno, three by three that the tubs, like half the space, there's like five people cramped in this and, and, and the, the guy who was doing the dunking, like it wasn't, I'm not saying it wasn't smart, but he was baptizing towards putting the head towards where the, where the Faucet Knob is instead of doing it the other way. And so we're watching this video and it's like this close to this guy's head getting konked and response from the staff on this video. Like, half the people were like, this is the coolest thing I've ever seen. We need to do this more. And the other people were like, you can't do that. You can't baptize somebody in a bathtub.

Jeff Reed: 00:30:58 He almost, you know, almost banged his head and it's like, well, it already happened. You know, let's, let's, let's celebrate it. Let's not worry about the naysayers. Let's, let's make it what it is. So throw those stories though, those celebrations out there. Um, but what, what's interesting, and actually I had this conversation with a, with an online pastor. And what's interesting, this is an online pastor who's an it guy, you know, dual hat. And so I had this conversation like a month ago and cause I asked him, I was like, how's your ministry going? And he said, Jeff, I'm at this really interesting state right now where we've gone through the season of casting vision. And so now the vision is bought in. They've seen the success of it. Uh, now leadership is expecting stuff from us. It's, it's no longer a philosophical thing, will it work for this particular church? It's grounded in the reality of now there's goals, now there's expectations and we have to like deliver on these things as online pastors. You know, Rey, I know you deal a lot with that. I'm sure David as well. Like how do we, how do we wrestle with, with the goals and the expectations of this? What does that look like?

Rey DeArmas: 00:32:11 Sure. Um, expectations. I think we're still kind of wrestling through some of the expectations as people struggle through what to measure. And you know, ultimately, and I know this is kind of pithy, but we measure what matters, um, in all organizations. And so it's very easy to fall in love with online attendance in terms of what it is and how fast it can grow and some of that stuff. And so I can understand why everybody ran off the bat would look at this and say, well look how many people you know are watching us. I mean, man, this is incredible and not really of digging in, in terms of the actual community and what that can mean as far as expectations. But the reality of this is, and Jeff, you and I have talked about this, is that, you know, um, uh, your online strategy really should be a, it should resemble what's going on and your physical locations at your church.

David Urzi: 00:32:56 If you're really trying to see real discipleship and real growth happened in the life of believers, then things like online groups, if you're a small groups deal or if even if you're a Sunday school host, Sunday school, you know, here in, in a chat room like we are, you know, like don't be limited by those things, but really your same discipleship strategy that would be for somebody who showed up for physical location should exist for those who show up to your online campus. And if you're really measuring engagement and what matters and you have to keep the community piece upfront and your expectations should be really just unlimited by the potential of that and what that could look like.

David Urzi: 00:33:30 Yeah. For me, coming into this new role, uh, I walked in and it was like thousands of people watching every single week and so many people and all this, and I sat down and I looked at all the numbers and I was like, it's just not there. Like, I'm not seeing the data that the previous guy was seeing and yeah, there's thousands, but the watch time was miniscule and I was like, that's not a viewer at three seconds. They didn't watch service even at a minute and a half. They, they were not there long enough. And this goes back to what do we count it as a viewer and what's what, where do we draw the line? And so for me it has been scaling all the way back, like reporting the lowest number possible, um, to manage those expectations of, I had to be honest with leadership where I was like, hey, the numbers that you're getting are not accurate numbers.

David Urzi: 00:34:24 Um, I know they sound really sexy, but they're just, they're just not it. Like there's no hard data to back up other than one line of text that says this many people clicked on your stream while it was live. That's literally the only number. I don't have connect cards to back it up. I don't have people in life groups to back it up. I don't even have people that have given their life to Christ to back it up. It is literally, that is the only piece of data that I have. And so making sure you have an entire picture of the ministry, uh, give, giving that to him cause so quickly with a lot of lead pastors and this isn't a slam on anyone, it's just you're natural reaction is, okay, if we have Churchill line, how many people are watching? Well, that's a great question, but you would never say that in Youth Ministry of, Oh, how many teams are showing up.

David Urzi: 00:35:14 That is important. But how many teens got saved this year? How many teens that got baptized, how many teens went to camp? How many teens are in life group? You ask all of those questions. It's the same thing in church online. You've got to say, how many people are doing this? How many people have jumped in the chat? How many people have filled out a connect card? How many people have contacted us saying, hey, pray for me. I consider my church home. Uh, all of those things. Those are all metrics that you've got to put together a whole package because that's what, that's what you need. Leadership, the way, an expectation on not just, hey, how many people clicked on the feed because we know with technology that can, you hit the right Google ad word and all of a sudden your 10,000 people in the next week, you're at two. Well that looks terrible on your resume, and so giving it an entire holistic picture to leadership, that's, that's my way of how you would manage an expectation better.

Jeff Reed: 00:36:08 That's good. Yeah. We're actually going to be, that's so good, David, man. We're going to be talking more about this in the next podcast. We've got Jason Morris on a and we're going to be talking about the discipleship pathway of of of church online and now when it, when it really comes down to it and we've already recorded the podcast and I want to give away his stuff.

David Urzi: 00:36:27 I was going to say, now that I know that he's going to be on, they're completely disregard everything I've said. Jason Morris is the king of truly looking at people as more than just a viewer. Uh, so if you want to know what it looks like to have someone as a part of your church that just happens to be digital, just ignore what I said. Listen to Jason.

Jeff Reed: 00:36:52 Quite literally why we had them on it was, it was so good. And I want you guys to hear that when we roll it out in a, in a couple of weeks and this in the next, it's literally the next episode, but it's, it's this idea of we measure the wrong thing and you're right, those view stats, Facebook live lies. You still need to, I still believe you need to do it. Uh, because exposure and getting people connected is, is awesome. They see it. But are those people viable? Um, are those people connected into ministry? Is Facebook's a great front door to something else? But we shouldn't be measuring, we shouldn't be basing our success on Facebook. Should been basing our success on whatever that next step in the discipleship pathway is. And if you're like, what's a discipleship pathway? Just like finish this episode, go to the next one, it's going to roll out in two weeks and it's going to be awesome.

Jeff Reed: 00:37:41 Uh, but that that's the challenge, right? Is, is that, you know, I can remember like every time I would turn in my report, uh, and I, and that the leadership would be like, this is awesome. You've got so many people. I was like, Hey, don't be excited cause of this number. Don't be excited because of views. The excited that we got hundreds of people in an online small groups be excited that we're, we're launching physical like micro locations and those things. And like that's where, um, that's where true ministry, true discipleship like comes into play, right?

David Urzi: 00:38:15 A few weeks ago in staff meeting, so when I first got here, it was all viewers. No connection of Jay, hello click on to watch. I couldn't get a, I couldn't get anybody in live prayer. I couldn't get anybody to email me back. It was literally like, I want a watch and no one talked to me and on, I mean it was weeks and months of just stoking the fire, trying to get something going on one Sunday to people click live prayer. Okay. And so I walked into staff meeting Tuesday morning and I was like two people like why? There was like what that was like, you don't understand. It has been a nightmare trying to get people to connect online and it's not a nightmare. It was, I was, it was a joy to try and give people to connect, but it was just like pulling to get that and I was like two people clicked it like that. They took a next step. Whether, whether, whether you think it's the next step or not, it is. They literally took the next step of the church saying, I trust you to know who I am and know what I'm going through. pray with me. And that was, that was my win. I rode on that. I'm still riding on it.

Rey DeArmas: 00:39:24 You know David, it's so good. I was super appreciative of, and we took down buddy, this Jeff you saw, um, when we went through this where, um, and you talked about one baptism where I take somebody through our one-on-one that, and we discovered that she wasn't baptized but she was a police officer, but she lived close to campus. But because of her schedule, she couldn't do it, man. When I baptized her and when we recorded that and when we were able to celebrate that, just to celebrate once again to celebrate what matters and to push that out there. Um, what that does for the rest of your church. And then our leadership actually took that and used it for an offering moment and all of a sudden it illuminated even a lot of people in our congregation celebrate it, celebrate it. Celebrate man, look at what can happen. Look at what's possible twp people clicking on for live prayer people engaging in online experiences, taking those next steps in faith. That is powerful stuff. That's great. I love it.

Jeff Reed: 00:40:18 So like, what's, what's the next step? So like you've done in let's, let's unpack. So I want to go back David too. You're like, you're in a, you're in a season of drought, let may be overstating, but like you don't have engagement by the way. Side note, like even even the live prayer in the chat stuff do this in circles. It's, it's huge but it's a small percentage of people that engage. Like speaking as near as I can tell, 10 to 15% of people when I ask this question, more often than not, it's 10 to 15% of people will engage in those chats. And so it's, it's very discouraging even if we're trying to base our success on that because people don't, don't readily, don't openly connect to that. And, and sometimes it's weeks or months. I had a guy tell me once, you see, he's like, yeah I did it for 18 months.

Jeff Reed: 00:41:11 He did a year and a half of chat before you really saw any, any engagement click on it. And so like what are some things pastorally that, that we can do, uh, what type of environments can we create to drive people? Cause the, the biggest challenge in charge on line isn't getting your service. Um, and it's not even creating the ministry like the small and the pastoral piece. It's discovering who the people are that are watching an isolation and getting them connected to it. It's that, it's that virtual gap in between service and viable ministry. So like David, I'm just curious, like you were in a season of drought, you've maybe made up maybe a little turn, you've had some experience in the past, like what have you done to kind of connect those, connect the bridge.

David Urzi: 00:41:57 So one of them has been being just very intentional with the chat of every time I post on Facebook of, hey, we're about to go live. I tell people, hey, jump in the chat. Say Hi. Tell me where you're watching from. Just continually telling them every time, hey, tell me who it is. So now I'm starting to see every Sunday I'm seeing those same names in the chat. I'm seeing those people that have created a profile and they're coming back, logging in as the same person, not just typing in a nickname, but they're coming in. And of course a lot of this reference is church online platform. Uh, for those of you that use it, you'll probably know what we're talking about. For those of you that don't, you probably have something similar. Um, but they're actually, they're, they're logging in and so the last few weeks is I've been starting direct messages with them or private messages where I'm saying, Hey Amanda, I'm so glad that you're here.

David Urzi: 00:42:50 Uh, would love to, would love to talk some more, here's my email, shoot me an email or I'm, I'm beginning those steps of, okay, cause my goal, honestly, uh, between all of us, my goal is that they're going to serve on that church online. They, they're watching every week, hey, you'd be a host. Like this is your next step. And so, but I know I can't come out the gate with that because six weeks ago they weren't even willing to get on the chat. And now they're willing to get on and say, hi, it's Amanda again. And, and I'm able to say, hey, so glad to see you again. You got anybody watching with you. Uh, and so it's those, it's those small incremental steps where, Hey, just because somebody is chatting for the first time, hey, that might not be the time to throw out a connect card.

David Urzi: 00:43:33 Like, I know you want it. I do, I want their information, I want to know who they are. But it's like knowing that, hey, they've been here three weeks in a row. I can see, I can see they're there. They're now sending six messages per service instead of just one when they first get on. Or Hey, we had a whole conversation then. And it, it, it's, it's taking those winds and remembering them, but not necessarily trying to hit a home run right off the bat. Um, and so that's what it's been a key for me is just taking slow, methodical steps of like, Hey, I know we're going to be back next Wednesday. I mean, should the Lord Tarry? I know, I know she's probably going to be back and yeah, there's some risk. Maybe she finds a new church in and I never see her again.

David Urzi: 00:44:16 Of course that can happen, but it's saying, you know what, this person has been faithful. We would do it the same way in a physical campus, like when someone's shows up for the first time, Hey, welcome. My Name is David. Do you want to be a life group leader? Like we wouldn't do that to a guest. It's, hey, we're so glad you're here. How long have you been coming here? Hey, have you come over to our blue room? Let's, let's get you some. Let's get you a Bible. Do you have a Bible at home? We want, we want you to have one of those. Or, Hey, we're reading through the Bible together. Uh, if you've never read the Bible, here's a great place to start. And the same slow process that we would take with a physical person. Hey, we're taking out with physical, with digital. Hey, we're so glad you're in the chat today. Would, would you fill out a connect card and taking those slow steps?

Rey DeArmas: 00:45:00 Good. Yeah. It's important to walk a lot of those senses. I mean, absolutely. And especially since David, I imagine, you know, you guys are utilizing that same way that you would for the person who attended for the first time. You're bringing that same strategy. They're online, right?

David Urzi: 00:45:19 Hey, we have the Bible reading plan right on the APP. Go in and click on it. That's, that's the biggest thing we do together as a church. Others, other than life groups is we read through the Bible together and then our Sunday morning services, the message comes out of the reading that you would have read the previous week. Um, and so I get to tell people that have, hey, hey, read the Bible with us this week because next Sunday we're going to preach about us thing that you're going to read this week. And then they realize, oh wait, it's like this every week, which is awesome. I love that. We get, we do it that way. Um, and so it's, it's fun. Yeah. We get to do the same thing digitally as physically.

Jeff Reed: So we went longer than than I wanted, but this has been a really good conversation. It seems to be a common phrase right now. Podcast is called longer that it was supposed to, but uh, it's, it's good material. So man, David, thanks for sharing with us. Uh, any, any closing thoughts? 20 seconds. Mic Is Yours. David, what do you got?

David Urzi: I say this, that we're all online pastor. I'll say it to all of you guys. Don't be afraid to start small. If you feel like you have, if you feel like everything is overwhelming, go back to what has God called us to do? Who can change the world? Everybody. Everybody in Church online can change the world, but who can change your community? You can. Don't be afraid to draw back and say, okay God, what can we in this community through online medium to change our city to then change our county to then change our state to then change the world? Don't feel like you have changed the world, changed your community through church online. Amen.

Jeff Reed: Jesus changed the world with a, are you, and I'm going to overstate here, but three disciples, three people that he was close to and 12 followers and so like I have, I've always said I'd rather have 15 people that were sold out in love with a cause that in something larger than that. So man, thank you very much David. That was, that was phenomenal. Rey. 20 seconds in closing. Anything on your end.

David Urzi: Love learning from me, David. It's a phenomenal thing to all of you guys wearing two hats. Keep hope alive. This is a season in time. Keep it, keep checking on. It's good stuff.

Jeff Reed: Hey. Yeah, so it's been the church digital podcast, like I mentioned. Next up is going to be Jason Morris and it's literally, it's just going to run right off where we left off and go into the next one. So definitely catch that podcast. But for David, for, for Rey, for myself, Jeff, check out the show notes. We'll have more information on there and we'll see you next time here on the church digital podcast. Thanks everybody.

LifeWay Research & Effective Evangelism in Surprising Places
PODCAST 006: Jason Morris & Creating a Discipleship Pathway 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 Church Online.

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