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PODCAST 006: Jason Morris & Creating a Discipleship Pathway Online


 What does it mean to disciple someone Online? Let's back up and ask another question first... what does it mean to disciple someone? In this Episode we talk with Westside Family Church's Global Innovations Pastor, Jason Morris, in what is one of the most biblically refreshing podcast conversations we've had to date. Westside Family is an incredibly innovative church, but in ways that will certainly surprise you.

Through the episode, Jason, Jeff, and Rey will talk about what a Discipleship Pathway is, how it's implemented at Westside Family, and how you can begin to implement one at your church. Remember, online can complement the physical (as well as the physical complement the online).


Guest: Jason Morris, Global Innovations Pastor
Westside Family Church
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // Linked-In

Host: Jeff Reed
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // Linked-In

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




  • Define what discipleship means for your church, line up with your entire church
  • Character x Calling = Impact
  • Westside Campaign. Entire church goes through process in 12 months.
  • Onsite helps Online. Online helps Onsite.
  • Lead pastor who understands digital and social media is a huge value.
  • Don't get caught up in church vanity metrics; focus on tangible ministry.
  • Use platform people contacted you on to reach back out to them.
  • Get connected class - first step to help someone get connected in discipleship
  • Discipleship pathway happens before conversion. Zacheeus' story starts in the tree, before you go to his house for dinner.
    • Use existing church staffing to follow up online. Unified model online and onsite.
  • Pastor, don't over-engineer a system. Stay focused on people aspect.
  • Real church happens in community. Get to the conversation quickly.
  • Get people in scripture ASAP.
  • Engagement is a two-way conversation. It's a relationship, not pushing messaging one-way.
  • Goalposts are constantly moving. Be careful about creating systems that aren't flexible.
  • Focus on both the community-side of church, as the content-side of church. 
  • Community and Content are synergistic
  • Different group sizes for different purposes through Jesus life
    • 3 accountability
    • 12 discipleship
    • 70 church planting training
    • 120 prayer
    • More info thru (Church 3.0, Neil Cole)
    • (Jesus intentionally split groups up to keep them more effective.)


Subscribe for free to THECHURCH.DIGITAL PODCAST and join the conversation as we collective wrestle with this idea of Church Online.

Subscribe using your favorite podcast app.


We know these conversations are out there are hard. Even the best of churches haven't figured out... If this podcast is helping you and your church work through what Church Online is, then help us impact other churches! Take a moment and leave us a brief review!
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Feedback on the podcast is vital as well. Leave comments on the podcast, or comment on this post! I'd love to know your thoughts and how we can serve your church better.
Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
Jeff Reed


Jeff Reed: Hey everybody, welcome to the church digital podcast. My name is Jeff Reed and I'm joined today by our guest host Rey DeArmas from Christ fellowship Miami. Hey Ray, you want to say hate everybody?

Rey DeArmas: Everybody is good to be with you again. We're so excited to be back.

Jeff Reed: Awesome. Thanks for that. And I'm joined by special guest today, Jason Morris from westside family in Kansas and we are tall actually. Hey Jason. Man, why don't you just tell us a little bit before we dive into all that, just tell us a little bit about yourself and kind of what your role is there at, uh, at west side family and, and, um, who you are.

Jason Morris: Okay. Uh, my official title is Global Innovation Pastor at west side family church. Um, and usually when I tell people that they kind of tilt their head and say, well, what does it mean? And that's when I get to have the fun conversation of, uh, sharing with them that were a lot of hats at west side. But my main responsibilities is overseeing all things technical, which would include our it stuff as well as all of our online ministry website, things of that nature. But as, um, we have globally scattered the seed, um, with our messages and church online and things of that nature. The crazy thing is that it spawned off, um, Global Church planting movement. It's all around the world and specifically we're working is in Southeast Asia, South Africa and India, but we also have like micro sites in France and Paraguay and peppered around all over the place. And basically because I enjoy tech that, um, that's the tool that I tend to use the most. And since tech tends to scale well, um, we're able to leverage that technology to resource a lot of these places all around the world that are using our content and in their own way, uh, sharing the gospel wherever they live.

Jeff Reed: I love that by the way. Like that's the coolest job title, global innovations, pastor. I mean that I, I've had a lot of job titles in my life, but I'll just be honest, that gives me something to aspire for. So, well, you know, a lot of what we do here at the church digital podcast is we talk, uh, through innovations and, and so I definitely went that Jason and Rey on to have this conversation. But today I wanted to hone in specifically in context of Church online and we've been talking a lot about, you know, doing, doing the services and the necessity of, of having the church online services. Uh, but then a lot of it's what happens next or, or why are we doing this? And, and so, so that we can start to understand why we're doing these services and what do we do with these people once we connect with them in context.

Jeff Reed: So much of church online is, is all about that week in there. It's all about that broadcast. But there's really so much more that comes in context to it. And so what I wanted to talk about, and this may be a new term for some of you that are out there listening or watching, is, is this idea of a discipleship pathway. And so in context of, of, of Church discipleship pathway is, is basically, it's everything that happens except Sunday or Sunday is, is the first step of, of what happens. And so, you know, let's say somebody gets saved, uh, watching, watching your service, uh, online, what happens now in a physical environment, a lot of time we, we have that plan already placed where there's, okay, well if somebody gets saved, we do this and we connected to this person and they joined this small group or, or this thing.

Jeff Reed: And there's, there's intentionality towards that. But a lot of times when that happens in an online space, it's just the, it gets crickets. There's really no, um, plan for that or we haven't, we haven't thought about that. And so I really wanted to take this conversation to just learn from these two guys here, uh, Jason and, and Rey and start to unpack, hey, why are, why are we not paying attention this or what can we do to start to leverage some of that? And so Jason, man, start the conversation for us. Like, um, what does the discipleship pathway, what does that look like there?

Jason Morris: Okay. Um, we are just to, just to be completely transparent, um, we are in the middle of a year long transition right now of upgrading and updating our discipleship pathway. And we're on the tail end of a, a campaign or a journey whenever you want to call it church wide. It's using the believe material. Um, our new lead teaching pastor Randy Frazy wrote the book and basically it's a data driven, um, results based form of knowing what key beliefs, practices and virtues actually move the needle in someone's spiritual life. And it was data that was pulled from Gallup and all these other guys and they figured out, okay, if we could distill down into a framework of what discipleship actually is to begin with, um, then we can actually start to work on it. So we're actually in the middle of right now taking our church through that. We've gone through the 10 beliefs, the 10 practices, and this Sunday we started on our first of the 10 virtues, which was love.

Jason Morris: And what ends up happening is that it's the 10 virtues are basically the fruit of the spirit with humility and hope thrown in. Um, and so when it comes to the virtues, that's what people tend to, um, that's what they experience with a person. Um, because like Jesus said, from your fruits, you will know them. And so in that sense, when people see your virtues, they may not know what your beliefs are or they may or may not know what your practices are, but they can definitely sniff out your virtues fairly quickly. And so what we've done is, is we've kind of done it reverse foundation layer by layer saying, okay, if these are your virtues, what are the practices that one would do so that that becomes who you are and then what are the beliefs that underlie those particular practices that cause you to act the way you do.

Jason Morris: And so basically that's what we're doing. We're, we're unpacking the whole thing. It's not a short process. It's 30 weeks we've taken, you know, by the time we're done this May, it will be pretty much a year that we've taken our folks through this process. When we're finished with introducing people with the framework, um, then we'll be able to say, okay, we've got an assessment prepared for them so that they can take it and then find out, okay, what am I weak in my beliefs, practices and virtues and what then would be the thing that I could work on going forward as I want to grow in my spiritual walk. So that is the update to what we've done. Now what that whole framework does is it really concentrates hard on one's character.

Jeff Reed: Yeah, there is so much right there. I want to back up because I don't want it this to get, get lost. Your entire church is, is going through this strategy right now, not just physical, online, virtual. Everybody is going through

Jason Morris: everybody and not just the adults either the kids are doing it, they're memorizing verses for each of the beliefs, practices and virtues. There are declarations for each of them and there's 30 of them. Holy Cow. Um, and our small group material is on it or student ministry is doing it. Kids Ministry is doing it. Um, family devotionals, the whole thing. And we kind of flipped the classroom in that, um, people are reading the chapters of the book to introduce themselves to that particular key, um, practice or virtue or belief before they hit Sunday. And then Sunday's kind of like the Cherry on top because we've read it, we've talked about it in group together and then we hear about it on the weekend.

Rey DeArmas: Okay. Jason, this sounds very similar to what I've been a part of with purchase before. It's this kind of like a campaign strategy where it's like, hey, everybody across the board is taking a pause from what you're doing and we're all going to do this together.

Jason Morris: Yes, that's exactly what's going on. It is a campaign strategy and it is a campaign that churches can use and purchase and that sort of thing. Fortunately for us, Randy, he's the author, so he developed it and our next steps pastor helped, uh, Randy develop it many, many years ago. So with those two guys on board, on staff, of course it's like, yeah, let's do this, you know, totally know what's going on. Let's do this campaign. But it's available for any church to use.

Rey DeArmas: So tell me about how that's impacting some of your digital environments. Because I I'm familiar with and especially some of the, some of the folks who might be listening, like if you've ever done purpose driven life or purpose driven church, that was kind of a campaign strategy that many of us did like back in the day that like, hey, everybody's on pause. Back then I was a student guy. And so students will not like this is how it impacts us. Um, and so what I want, I'm curious to see as to how the campaign strategy has impacted. Did your digital environments as far as that's concerned?

Jason Morris: Well our digital environments are designed to synergize with what we're doing onsite because in, in my mind, uh, online and onsite should not be separate. They uh, synergize with each other, like onsite helps online, online helps onsite. So when we're doing our online life groups, they're doing belief stuff and the weekends are all belief stuff. So for us it was a no brainer. We're not going to reinvent the wheel here. We're going to do what everybody else is doing. Um, and yeah, so it for us it was, it was actually pretty easy. Now again trying to convince everybody, cause I know how those campaigns work cause I've done them and I actually helped facilitate a 40 days of purpose in South America way back in the day. And I know the angst that many ministries feel whenever they're doing a campaign, when the whole church begins to align is that everybody has to lay aside their own little pet things that they want to do, um, for six weeks. Well, this one, the cool thing

Jason Morris: about it is, is that we laid aside everything for an entire year and what it's done for us is that in six weeks you said you gained a lot of synergy and momentum and then everything goes back to normal because you know that you can like take a pause. For us, this was a whole lot more than a pause. This was, uh, uh, reset for the entire church to all of us knew into align ourselves well and to get our systems to align well. So we do that over the course of a year. You Begin to create ministry habits that force alignment in ways that even in six weeks you can still do and get the benefit of, but you just get so much more out of it from a system standpoint as a church when you do a church wide over the course of a year. Does that make sense?

Rey DeArmas: Absolutely. And I think for some folks, this probably may sound nuts to them, but to me it's kind of framing in terms of in content, you know, done for an entire year and giving direction. Yeah.

Jason Morris: Just imagine what your worship arts people could do if they knew six months ahead of time what the sermon was going to be about.

Rey DeArmas: Exactly. It them a lot more time to free

Jason Morris: up to spend time on the actual ministry to people as opposed to, well, we got to develop content week to week stuff. It, it, it can be very free. And, and then for digital environments, especially for promotion and kind of leading up to it, you're almost, you know, I'm even thinking of like the online service, you're able to say, hey, next week we're going to talk about this. It's almost like, you know, in the next time you join us, we already know where we're going and we can even give you a hint as to where we're going. Kind of bridging the gap between the two. Exactly. Yeah, and you know what's great about it is if you have a plan like this for an entire year, then you're absolutely right. It helps to create new ministry ruts for people that instead of, uh, being a slave to Sunday, because it's always coming and always being about that weekend and the production of the weekend when a lot of that stuff is already done, then you actually can focus on what's actually more important and that's what's not really happening on Sunday. But what's happening throughout the week when it comes to one on one relationships and the real discipleship that takes place outside of the Sunday service and goods. I think it's been really helpful.

Jeff Reed: I'm, I'm confused. There's stuff that happens at church outside of the Sunday service.

Jason Morris: Sure.

Jeff Reed: Just turn the entire like thing on its ear that, that's incredible. Like I kid. So let me ask this question cause cause I was incredibly rude. So this rolls for 12 months, right? So what happens in the, in the 13th month because you've got people that are probably coming in in that 11th month and the 12th month they're catching the end of it. Uh, this, this recycled. Do you do it again? Do you launch it at times? Like how does this disbelieve ideology once you get past the initial onboarding of your entire church, how, how does, how does it live on beyond that?

Jason Morris: Well, um, it will always live on as like a small group curriculum as part of the way for us to, with new folks, introduce them to the discipleship framework as it relates to their character. And so that will always be available for them. We also have as part of our, um, you know, the APP that we're working on with the assessment and the discipleship pathways uses that framework as well. All of the messages that we will preach, you know, cause I've, you know, talked with the, you know, they're our teaching team and they've got a cycle already mapped out, passed in like month 13, 14, where they talk about, okay, we're going to be talking about the virtue of joy this week. You know, and so they will be referencing this underlying framework,

Jason Morris: you know, for the foreseeable future. And so even if there, even if the sermon topic is a little bit different, you know, you've got 30 things to talk about. No, that's enough talk about and their foundational types of things, whether you're talking about beliefs like, um, I believe in a personal God that he cares about and is interested in my daily life or another big one is the authority of scripture. I believe that the Bible is God's inspired word and is relevant to run my daily life. I mean, you get those two things together. Holy Cow. You know, you're already those. Perfect stuff right there. Yeah, you could, you can call it whatever you want to call it. We're going to be doing at the movies series right after we finish off believe. But I'm telling Ya a lot of the, a lot of the topics, even though we're talking about like Black Panther or whatever, we're actually going to be referencing a lot of these core beliefs, practices and virtue when we're talking about, you know, whatever movie that we happen to be talking about.

Jason Morris: Well, okay. So did, did your pastor of freak out when you told them, hey listen, I got the great idea to take this online or was this his driving force? Was he like, no man loved it. Byron, what are the reason why Randy? Uh, part of the reason why Randy came to west side is cause he loved what we were doing online. That's great because he was like, dude, you know, you guys are rockin it. He's cause he was used to what was going on with Oak Hills and he was like, dude, you know, we've got an online pastor. People who actually, you know, care and talk to people who are showing up online that you follow up and discipleship, you know, he was like, and then micro citing with it and stuff. I mean he's been pushing me and it's been really, really great because he has such a social media presence anyway. It's really been a lot of our efforts anyhow, which is so great when you have the leader who's digitally minded and social media minded to begin with and knows how to leverage it and uses it, you know, to get the message out. So it's been a delight to work with them.

Jeff Reed: Well, and, and Randy maybe, I mean, just even looking at his pedigree, innocent experiences coming through, he may be one of those, um, you know, cutting edge guys who has a, as a richer picture of that, just through a of where he's come from an an he sees the benefit of that and, and even working on their, um, you know, he was XP under Lucado for, I don't know how many years down in San Antonio. And so like the majority of the pastors out there, let's, let's just, you know, bring it back to maybe reality. For the majority of those listening, they don't have that guy. Um, they don't have it. They don't have a 12 month plan. They don't have, um, you know, their, their week to week. They're trying to, to, to build something or design something out. And so we're, let's, let's, so maybe let's, let's reflect, reflect back a little bit.

Jeff Reed: Like I've had a conversation with the pastor. I'm a guy and I've told this story probably on this podcast, but a guy gets saved in Finland. I'm watching a church online service. And so I tell this story a lot, hey pastor, you're putting your services on Facebook. Let's say somebody gets saved in Finland. We're, we're not called to drive by evangelism. We should actually care for the soul that God's entrusted to us. What should we do, you know, in, in the pastor. And I tell the story now, I've had it multiple times. I've had a pastor tell me that guy in. Finland's not my responsibility. Yes, he came to Christ listening to my message. But he's, yeah, sorry, I'm not saying who, but I've had that response multiple times. So like let's, let's hone in on that because those people are out there and they, they do need and our listeners are online ministry. People are online. Pastors need to address that and work through that. So like what are some takeaways? What are some things that you guys are in the front lines of, of, of ministry here. Like what's a, what's a, what's a baby step? What's the next step for somebody like that? Who needs to set up some sort of a discipleship process but maybe isn't clearly defined on what that even is in the physical church. Much less for the virtual.

Rey DeArmas: Well, let me, let me, let me kind of interview Jason A. Little bit on this. All right, Jason. So within your, within your process, um, somebody gets outside of your context, um, what, what's the process that you guys typically do for this person? What's their next step? What do they do well here?

Jason Morris: Here's where I think, um, it's super helpful for churches because they can easily think, oh, with the billions of people that are on the Internet, how do I structure a system that will scale to do a lot of volume? And the truth of matter is for most of us, especially with the ratios that we do with online, the number of people that actually respond or do baby steps. So when I call baby steps of obedience, where it be, you know, clicking on a link or raising their hand for salvation or whatever, the number of those is usually way more manageable than what we're thinking.

Jason Morris: So we're thinking, you know, okay, how do I, how do I deal with thousands of people will do, just deal with the one person who responded, you know, that means that they're on Facebook and they came to Christ. In my mind, I would be like, forget about the system. If the person were like right smack in front of you, what would you do? Do that, you know, just use Facebook, you know, DM the guy and start the relationship and a personal human way. Because the truth of the matter is, a lot of times I think people, they look at the big numbers of online, the vanity metrics, and then they think, oh, if I had a church of 40,000 how would I structure my church? And then they get overwhelmed when the reality is those vanity metrics are so wildly inflated that usually when you're dealing with people actually obey it's way more manageable.

Jason Morris: So you're talking about the one guy in Finland? well, dude, it's just one dude. You know, and not to mention the fact that I do feel that I would be responsible for that guy. And the reason why is because Jesus brought that guy to me snow. It's like it would be a lot like Philip going to the dude who was, you know, yeah, the Ethiopian Eunuch and he's like, oh well you know, he's outside of Jerusalem so I don't have to worry about him. Well No, no. The spirit brought him there for a reason. And so if Jesus is bringing you to Finland for a reason, you had better execute. Dude. That's how I see it. Cause we're going to give an account for that. You can make a phone call and you can, if they're contacting on whatsapp and make it as human as possible and then only create a system as volume warrants and you'll probably find that you don't need much of a system and you probably would over engineered anyway and just just, just be a human being, be a pastor, do your job, you know? And then if the volume gets high enough, you will probably figure out the system because you'll notice patterns as you do ministry rather than trying to engineer those patterns ahead of time and then of crickets and having nobody show up. Ask me how I know that.

Rey DeArmas: That's good. That's good. And you know, it's great that you mentioned this case and I think so often we get so caught up in the vanity matrix like you said. But the reality is is we're accountable for each and every person that God brings to us. And you know, Pastors are so quick to talk about that in terms of evangelism. But as we think through these next steps for online, we do kind of get in our own way. Um, in terms of how we would take somebody through that next step. Um, what we would do for that person and especially since there's so many free and available resources, um, that maybe even some of which that we're creating right out of the bat. Like maybe there's a resource at your church already makes that you're like, hey, this is a great thing for you to have. Here's like a good first step for you to have. You guys have something like that and you're like, man, this is like outside of maybe you want to download the youversion app on your phone. So you got a Bible. Something that I, I would email you like right off the bat here.

Jason Morris: So I think a lot of times, even in the way that we think about it, where the process, the discipleship process, which started conversion, the way that we think about it starts way before then. Discipleship starts before conversion. So if people are showing up and they're like listening and they're, they're actually, you know, paying attention, that's like the Zacchaeus and the tree B, you know, what you need to do is go over to his house for dinner. You know, and part of that, all of that is part of the discipleship process before he believed. So when you unpack the pathway for us, it starts with the get connected orientation. And inside the get connected orientation, we do talk about salvation. We do talk about baptism, we do talk about all of the resources that we have so that you can find your character and your calling and find out the unique way that God has wired you and has you alive so that you can make a dent in the universe before you die.

Jason Morris: So that's basically what we do. We throw all that out there and say, okay, here's the tools that we have at your disposal. And we even have like shape coaches. I don't know if you're familiar with like a purpose driven. So, um, we have a shape server that, that we developed that helps people as it relates to their calling side. Um, and you know, So they're there digital tools that we use, whether you're onsite or online and since we're digitizing everything anyway, just so that it can scale well with our people that are onsite, well then that's a slam dunk when it comes to online ministry. But that's, that's what I would do it from our context is just puts you right into the slip stream of what we already have as a church on site. And that way it really helps to have one unified strategy across the church. And a couple of things happen when you synergize that way. One is, um, with your staff. Many times, uh, online pastors really struggle with having the onsite staff get a vision for what's really going on. But when that online admin staff has to do to follow up for that guy that's in Finland, he will immediately get a global mindset.

Jason Morris: If, because we already had a system where we had, you know, deacons that would call up, people who own a connect card would say, you know, I just accepted Jesus. I'd like some followup where they call them up on the phone. Well, dude, that's easy. You know, somebody from Finland just accepts Jesus. Well, I just throw them in that same system and the deacon calls him up because he's calling them up and Finland, whatever, it doesn't even matter. Right? And now that Deacon, he has a completely different mindset of what online ministry can do. So that really helps sell for our staff team what online ministry can do. And the other thing that happened was it was as I started developing digital tools to help get this job done, a lot of our folks who then were burdened with all of this followup in a global fashion.

Jason Morris: They came to me and said, hey, well what do you, what would you do? And I'm like, well, I'd, I'd shoot him this email or whatever and they'd be like, dude, we should do this for all of our stuff on site. I have to keep it scales and so what happens is we just created a unified discipleship model. Whether you're online or onsite, it doesn't really matter because at the end of the day for most admin people when it comes down to follow up, they're calling somebody or they're sending them an email. Yup. You can do that wherever you are in the world, it really doesn't matter.

Rey DeArmas: You're exactly right in terms of people need to stop viewing the two audiences as separate. They need to start seeing them this together, which is kind of been a theme that Jeff and I've been running with this time, is a lot of folks want to separate as if they're, they're serving two different churches when the reality is it's the same church, right. You know, everywhere. It doesn't matter if, if they're, if they're watching you digitally, if they're, if they're sitting in a pew, they're obtaining the same content, they're going through the same pathway and you're going to love them just the same.

Jason Morris: Right? Yeah. And not only that, but I think especially as we're noticing as pastors how attendance patterns have been shifting where, uh, they're not coming every week anymore. Right. We're lucky if they're coming twice a month, but what they're also doing, while they may not be on site every week, they're supplementing with online. So church attendance, and you know, Dave Adamson, I love his quote when he says this church attendance is not declining. It's decentralizing. So when you look at everything as one church anyway, chances are you're going to be finding that you're dealing with people that are onsite and online and they're probably the same people anyhow.

Jeff Reed: Um, yeah, like that's beautiful. So what are some, what are some like practical steps? What, what are some application, what are some touch points? I know we talked about like text, I'm just thinking like guy at home, man. How do, how do I do this? We're doing phone calls, we're doing, um, uh, emails, texting as an option. You know, you talk some and, and you're doing some stuff with, with mobile APP. You hinted at that earlier, like what some touch points that, that we can use to interface with, with people, uh, virtually or physically?

Jason Morris: Uh, well, I mean, you kind of mentioned that the ones, I mean, especially texting, super easy to do scale, copy, paste stuff and people, they read their texts. Holy Cow. You know, and so for us, we use, um, with our church management system or the reason why we decided on the one that we're using is that it has what's called process cues inside of it. Um, and it basically creates a workflow with which we can take people through discipleship. So we take, we've got a master process queue or workflow for everybody in our church and we can run reports off of it and help people step them through from one part to another. And the main mechanism with which we use is email and texting because it just, it scale is super easy and it doesn't hardly cost anything. I mean, texting is even super cheap, so, but a lot of those automated tools that we used so that nothing gets dropped to the, you know, so that we don't drop the ball or people don't fall in the cracks, that that you would really only need if you're dealing with a diverse and large staff with lots of handoffs between different ministries or departments.

Jason Morris: That's why we needed that cohesive strategy for most churches, man, it's, it's actually a lot simpler because you're probably dealing with one or two people or maybe even three staff people anyway. And so those types of systems I think can be helpful, but it can also make, uh, make a pastor kind of over engineer himself. And so he's spending all of his time on the system instead of spending his time with people. So if, if he can just think through, like if you were face to face with somebody and say, okay, well what would you do? Well then do that, you know, and then just keep it very simple and, and you could do like if they're on Facebook or whatever a lot of folks are doing, you know, Facebook live or whatever. Well, Facebook gives you a ton of tools, whether you're talking about Facebook message, you can call them up with Facebook using the Facebook tools.

Jason Morris: You can do a video call, video chat group chat group, video call using all the Facebook tools right there for you. And so I would just stay within that environment and try to stay native inside whatever environment that you found the person in or that Jesus brought you to them in whatever environment that happens to be. So if it's in Twitter, then DMM and in Twitter land, if they come to you, you know, using the church online platform, pretty much all you got at your disposal as an email address. And so use that, do whatever you need to do, um, to actually have, begin a conversation. Because what a lot of times happens in the, especially in the, in the online space, is that everything feels like a download instead of it. But church in its, in its best form, really not a download experience or at least it shouldn't be in my opinion, it shouldn't be a conversation.

Jason Morris: It's the one another's administry. It's the community that people really long for and what you might get them initially with like a download or a content or whatever that happens to be. But real church happens in community and those are conversations. So the sooner you get to a conversation, the better. When it comes to their discipleship or whatever. And you know, we can talk about systems and stuff all day long, but really nothing beats the one on one conversation that you can have with people and to pray with people and to find out you know, what's going on with them and where they feel like they need to grow and then create these individualized maps for them. The only reason why we're creating algorithmic based discipleship pathways is because of the scale that we're at right now. It not because it's really better, right? Because you know, we're going to spend a whole lot of time creating all this stuff.

Jason Morris: You know, that we could be just with people. But what we learned over time is if you, if you're with people enough, you start to notice patterns and that helps inform whatever kind of algorithm you wanted to make. So some of the things that we found is, is that the big things that if you have someone who believes in a personal God and the authority of the Bible, those are linchpin beliefs that affect everything else. So, you know, if you can get them in scripture, then dude do that. I mean, it is just like if you let somebody to Jesus, what would you do? You tell them to start reading scripture? Well, if you lead someone online to Christ, what are you going to do? You're going to tell her read scripture. And one of the great things even youversion has some really great tools to have daily reading play in groups where you do that.

Jason Morris: Again, I've got one of those. So I invite them into a daily plan group and I go through the scripture every year. So I'm on, no, I'm on my 20th time going through scripture, right? And so I invite them into that and there's ways that we can interact with each other and kind of encourage each other, but just getting them in the scripture by itself. There is no close second, like when you do the data, and we've got all this data now. But the funny thing is is that the data tells us what we already know is that, um, Bible engagement is the greatest force for someone's spiritual growth. With no close second, there is nothing out there like Bible engagement. So you get someone in the scripture that will change their life way more than anything else you could do. That's the biggest lever you can pull. So for me it's just like, okay, get them in a youversion group and encourage them that way, you know, get them in the scripture. You know,

Jeff Reed: I, I was, I wasn't expecting a global innovations pastor to walk on and say, yeah, just Bible engagement. Like that's the right, I mean it's, it's like I was kind of expecting the, the all, we gotta do this and this and this and develop this system Api and then, you know, what you've really done here is you really just made it very, very practical. Like it's, it's, it's not about designing all these systems and you know, I think you used the word over in Jay engineering a couple times in there. It's, it's the relational aspect. There was a book maybe 15, 20 years ago with kind of the, the, it was a business book, but it was high tech, high touch. And this idea of the more technology that we have and we utilize the more important that that that touch is.

Jeff Reed: And, and we, we, we lose the word engagement. We use it so much that I think it's really lost its meaning in context of engagement is a two way conversation. And as much as we're pushing content one way, we're having a conversation where it's coming back to us and, and, and we lose that in social media and we lose that and economy of scale. And all of these things were where somewhere along the way it really does come down to a, uh, a discipleship oriented relationship where we're helping people, uh, take the steps of faith where wherever they are, you know, and one of the things, and you said it earlier, I love the fact that that for you, the discipleship process doesn't happen at evangelism. It happens before that. And so that at you're tracking and you're building those relationships as, as you're going utilizing online. And physical and melding and meshing them all together. And, and, and honestly, Jason, you and a west side man, you're, you guys are a man. More cutting edge I think than I realized than you are. But cutting edge in the simplicity of man. It's not about systems, it's about relationships. And that's something that I think is, is very needed. We were looking at churches and church online's Today.

Jason Morris: Well, you also have to, um, I think one of the things about being innovative is not necessarily being technological there. There is a sense in which, you know, the, the goalpost most is moving constantly. Okay. And one of the things that after doing this for a long, long time was back in 2010 when we were first starting the tools that we had to actually follow up with people weren't nearly as personal as they are now. So before we had to do things a little bit in an impersonal way because there wasn't a good way for us to do it in a digital fashion. But today, man, I mean, look, we're having the zoom call, we're having a face to face conversation for crying out loud. You know, that kind of stuff wasn't really readily available and it wasn't ubiquitous like it is now in 2019.

Jason Morris: And so all of these new things are appearing giving us new tools to be more um, more focused on the community side of church, of the content of church. Because the truth of the matter is today we do not live in an information scarce environment like we did back in 1950 when people would drive for miles to get content that they could not get anywhere else. But what people will do, they will, they will go through all kinds of hoops to get to true authentic community because while we live in a content rich environment, we live now today in a community starved environment. And so our church, and I think most churches, if they were, if they were thinking about where society is headed and if they're thinking about how they can meet the needs of society, they could pivot from a content based ministry to a community based ministry. And really meet a whole lot more needs than by giving them this fancy sermon or whatever, which don't get me wrong, sermons are great, but if you spend all of your time on content and not on community, well you know you're going to be competing with everybody else that probably has better content than you anyway. So,

Jeff Reed: hey, that's a consumer. I mean what what you're saying is if the only thing you're doing is you're creating and, and, and I've, I've been talking about this and and, and blogging content and having conversations, whatever. But at the end of the day, church online is a mirror of your church. If your church online is guilty of just creating content you're creating is consumers and chances are you don't like church online as a result of that. But truthfully, it's probably because all you're doing is creating content and not actually creating that community in your own physical spaces. If you value the community physically, it's going to drip down to your online spaces. If all you're doing is creating content that is going to drip down to your, to your online spaces. And so it's, it's having that wisdom to, to push community, uh, to reinforce the gospel in that context. Jason, man, that, that's so good. Rey? What are you thinking?

Rey DeArmas: This is a fantastic word, Jason, and especially, you know, for the future as we talk about content. You know, and it's funny because, and I, I don't think you're seeing this at all, Jason. They're not against each other. You know, a lot of [inaudible]

Jason Morris: synergistic,

Rey DeArmas: right? A lot of folks think, well, we have to focus and get like the best content out there and they don't, they don't see the link between the two as far as how content and community can work together to drive, you know, the discipleship that that's supposed to take place in the church. And so this is where, you know, a lot of churches nowadays, you know, um, and many of us, we may get lambasted for, well, you guys seem to be so much about, you know, the production or the show and what they don't realize is no, no, no. If, if the content that we are producing doesn't drive people towards the community that we're looking for, then really this is where we are missing out on church. And it's been that way. You know, Jesus preaching a sermon on the mountain,

Jason Morris: right? Yeah. And even he said, look, you're only sticking around because I fed you last time. You know? So it's like there are, there is a consumer mentality that happens, but that didn't stop Jesus from putting the majority of his focus on the 12 and on the three. So you have different scales and different sizes of groups that are better for different things. And um, there's a really great book that really helped me to understand this, especially with a lot of the church planning movements, stuff that we're doing all around globally was to understand that different scales, different sizes of groups do different things better. So when you're talking about, uh, you know, teaching and healing ministry and stuff like that, like you see in Jesus, that's for the thousands. But when you're talking about prayer, that's 120, like the group that met, you know, before, before Pentecost.

Jason Morris: And when you're talking about a training like church planner training or ministry training, he did that in groups of 70 and when, when he did discipleship, he did that in groups of 12 but he didn't do accountability in groups of 12 he did accountability in groups of three so the three he saw Jesus at his best, the transfiguration, and that his worst in the garden of Gethsemane and the 12th and see that they got discipleship, they didn't get accountability. So part of our discipleship strategy is also looking at, okay, what size group is better for what? And try not to fool ourselves into thinking that we're doing discipleship on Sunday mornings with thousands of people and it doesn't work that way. Discipleship works in those groups of 12 and we try not to kid ourselves into thinking we do accountability in those small groups at 12 it doesn't work that way. It works in those triads. And so we part of our discipleship strategy as well, when we're talking about people really digging down deep into what they're really struggling with, we look at the size of the group that best matches what type of a movement that we're looking for, whether it be accountability or discipleship or training or prayer or teaching. Does that make sense?

Rey DeArmas: Absolutely. I, you know, this is the Ted talk that I think people need to hear as far as these environments are concerned because so often, uh, you know, depending on who you talk to and especially, you know, there is kind of an old school and new school mentality in this. When you talk to folks about where does discipleship happen and where do you, where do people get that in depth teaching? The person who's a little more expositive oriented may say, well, of course they get it on Sunday morning, but what, what's tough to recognize and even they'll agree with is not everybody's at the same place wrestling with the same questions or even on the same, uh, level of obedience in terms of, I'm hearing the passage, I'm digesting this. Amen Pastor. This already applies to my life and this is the next level that I'm ready to take it to. Some are still on step one and that can be very

Jason Morris: frustrating for a lot of people to hear.

Jeff Reed: What was the book you said that was based on a book by the way, I love that talk. Like if, if there's anything people hear today, it's that there's different types of, of messaging, there's different types of communication for different sizes and, and, and that, that thread as you were describing it, like I could spend the whole episode just talking with you, but like what was, you said it was based on a book?

Jason Morris: Yeah, it's his church 3.0 by Neil Cole. And it actually, when you're talking about micro citing that book has been super helpful for me to help Orient Myself, um, into what a, a smaller sized group could look like in a microsite environment. Um, because a lot of, a lot of churches that do church online generally do it from a larger scale to begin with. So they're broadcasting the big scale and because that's what they broadcast and because people kind of imprint when they first, their first experience with that particular church is at the big scale, they have a harder time. Um, getting down to the little things because if you notice the way that Jesus did it, he called his disciples before he fed the 5,000. So a lot of times we get it a little bit backwards where we show them the big scale first cause it's a lot harder than to have people, you know, we, we think it works, but it generally does it

Jeff Reed: well. You know, it's, it's fun. You said the average is, will all the stats, there's fleet by really fast, but you said that church planting training goes in groups of 70. I think the average church in America, I may be quoting the wrong stat, but I'm pretty sure the average church in America is 78 people. And so this, this idea of let's not just hoard these people in buildings, but let's literally kick them out of the building and empower them with the Gospel to do these things. And plant the little micro locations or whatever you want to call it. Yeah, it's a little radical ideology. And sometimes it was funny, I used to feel like I was being subversive, but I was talking about this, I realized like, I'm not, I'm not, it's not the subversive, it's biblical. Like we just are, we just suck at this idea of trying to get people out of the buildings and you need to talk about it. So,

Jason Morris: well, it's interesting too where even the groups of 70, um, as I think it was like earlier this year when I was going through the scripture again, um, I, it never hit me before, but there was all of a sudden there's these two groups, you have like 72 in one and like 70 and another. Um, and somehow I came across a scripture where it talks about Jesus, you know, had another group of 70. And I was like, oh, so there were two groups. So instead of having 150, which would be like, you know, or 142 or whatever, um, where, where the pastor would think, oh, there's more people. Jesus intentionally split the groups up to do what he needed to do. So we had two groups of set. One was 70 [inaudible] 72 but the point being, and I think you know Jeff, you're right on it, is that most churches are primed to do some real church planter training to do training at a level that most churches, if they're in the thousand range, like you know, the upper 5% or whatever that um, this really difficult to do that on a, on a Sunday, but a church of 70, you can do that on a Sunday.

Jason Morris: And that's a little bit of the, the, the mind shift that can happen is that when you're dealing with different scales of groups, it's better for different types of things. So if your group, it tends to be smaller, well then just do what that, what is good for that size group. And then you know, if it gets bigger then you multiply it out into, if you want to keep training within, that means that you need to split off that group into two groups of 70 instead of one big one of 150 because if you go to 150 you're not going to get church planter of training done. You're going to get a lot of prayer done, you know, and that will be great for that. But it just won't help you with the training stuff. You gotta, you gotta get them, you got a subgroup it if that's what you wanted. And you know, the book had a detailed sat a little bit too

Jeff Reed: by the way, like those ends, you just getting back to the audience that's listening like smaller church people, the some, some of you guys are at smaller churches and are trying this church online and in some of you are struggling with budgets and, and, and why and envision and in some of that, I mean I just want to encourage you guys to take, keep going. I'm more excited about the idea of a smaller church doing church online than I am a mega church and just coming from a guy who's, who's literally working in with churches in, in both environments, a mega church has red tape, it has a leadership teams, it has different vision and it's a very long in depth conversation. A smaller church though tends to be more of, let's give it a shot, let's adjust, let's see what happens. They're there, they're more hungry.

Jeff Reed: Uh, they're more interested in doing something innovative and yeah, the budget's may not be in place, but honestly, in just calling out, you know, some of this stuff that's, that's Jason's saying, it doesn't require a massive budget to do some of this stuff. It just requires a different way of thinking. So, hey, listen, I could sit around here all day and just continue this on. I don't even know how this conversation's been going lengthwise, but I know we're longer than what I said we were going to be.

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About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

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

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