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PODCAST 007: Kevin Lee, Biblical Community, and What Church Online Is Not

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The number one argument we hear about why Church Online isn't Church is that it causes the abandonment of Ekklesia, the gathering together of Church. But what if Church Online isn't the abandoning of Ekklesia... what if it's the birthing of Ekklesia. On the podcast today Kevin Lee, Online Small Groups Pastor at Saddleback, talks about the training Saddleback does for their online volunteers to create Ekklesia opportunities in micro-locations. Communion? Baptism? Pastoral Care? Find out how these biblical ordinances can exist through Church Online.

ON THE SHOW

Guest: Kevin Lee
Saddleback Church
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Host: Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
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Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
 

TRANSCRIPT

Jeff Reed: 00:00 Hey everybody, welcome to the church digital podcast. My name is Jeff Reed and it is a pleasure once again to have you all join us today. We've got a great episode here. This is episode seven. We've done seven of these things already and time has been flying by. I'm joined today by Kevin Lee, who is the online small groups pastor over at Saddleback, just a small little church over there on the west coast. And uh, you may remember his name. He came up a couple of times in conversation during episode three talking with Jay Kranda and Jay tried to steal some of his thunder. Uh, but we saved it and we got it. So it's going to be a great episode. Hey Kevin, man, why don't you just take a minute, just tell us a little bit about yourself and your ministry and what it looks like over there at Saddlebacks.

Kevin Lee: 00:47 Yeah, Jeff, glad to be here. Thanks for having me. And so my, my role at Saddleback is a small groups pastor for, for our campus, which is the online campus. So, uh, just for a short, I just, you know, title Myself Online, small group pastor, and a lot of people think that I, I deal only with the online small groups and, and a lot of people actually don't know what that means. So, so, uh, but actually half of our groups and majority of our groups are actually meeting at home groups that, that meets in other states, uh, outside of our physical campuses, immediate reach and about another half of our small groups are meeting online. So I don't know if you're going to ever, ever talk about that or in your previous episodes you've talked about that. But, um, so I, I care for, I pastor along with our volunteers and our team, um, to help our small groups do well. And be healthy.

Jeff Reed: 01:45 Yeah. And, and I hate to slap a number on that, but you told me earlier is like 2,400 small group.

Kevin Lee: 01:51 Yeah. At right now a 2,400 small groups registered under our online campus.

Jeff Reed: 01:57 Yeah. And so that's 2,400 small groups that, that are outside of the circle of influence of, of your physical campuses. So like 25, 30 miles, something like that.

Kevin Lee: 02:08 Yeah, correct. So outside of our physical campuses reached 25 miles outside. Um, and we have 20, 19 campuses around the world right now. So anything outside of those, you know, campuses reach, uh, we'll file fall under me. So if the funnel kind of goes like where if someone watches Saddleback worship service and they want to start a small group or join a small group, uh, we at first we want to see if they're connected to a local church, uh, because we want to be the advocates for the local church. And if they are, we actually recommend and suggest, hey, you should check out this small group, um, at your church, at your local church. And if there, you know, for whatever reasons for, uh, you know, a geographical or security or health reasons, they are not part of a local church, we help them, you know, start a online small groups or home small group with their friends and family.

Jeff Reed: 03:06 That's amazing. And so all of that still equals 2,400 groups, uh, that are either meeting, um, in, in, in homes or outside of a location or via technology, like a zoom or a Skype or something like that. Yeah, you're exactly right. That's it. Wow. You know, and that, that, that sets up perfectly. Um, what I wanted to talk about a little bit with this episode because we're getting to this place of it. And I wrote about this recently on a blog I was writing about Judas Smith over at Church home, Judas up there in, in a, in California as well. And so, uh, he was getting a lot of flack and he created this church home, a model of a mobile APP to create discipleship. And, and it was interesting, I was reading in a, it was USA today, so it was a, it was a complimentary piece that I wrote on the USA Today.

Jeff Reed: 03:59 And like, he got a lot of flack and a lot of people were angry and upset and we'll link to the blog in the show notes and Judas Smith. Um, but like people are like, I don't know what that is, but don't call that church. And to me, I just, I kind of stepped back and I was like, well, let's really break down, you know, what church is and what church isn't. Um, and so with this episode, like I, I want to hone in a little bit on some of the arguments of, okay, well church online isn't this and discuss with Kevin and, and, and just try to even talk through, well, how do we answer that? How can we solve some of those problems? Because in my experience with, with church online, it's, it's not so much what it can't be, but it's more of we don't have vision to figure out how to solve that problem or we're not giving it a chance to. And like in context, you know, and just to kind of unpack here on, on the biblical community piece of this, you know, so often I hear you can't have biblical community online. You can't do this small groups online. And so, you know, Kevin, when somebody says to you, man, you can't do, you can't do small groups online like you can at a, at a physical church, like, yeah. Who's managing and overseeing and shepherding 2,400 groups. Like what's your response to that?

Kevin Lee: 05:25 Wow, thats a question that a whole lot to say. Not because I haven't, you know, opinions on that, but because I have so many stories of your life transformation that happened through our groups and just, just, um, what Jay and I try to do is we look at the Bible and see, hey, what are the essence of the church? What, what are some things that we cannot sacrifice on air? We just go and see if we can bring those essence into our online community. So just for example, um, you know, we know, we all know that technology is, is changing the world. Um, and I, I was just at the gym when other day and I saw someone working out very hard and they had a phone in front of them. And, um, it was, uh, you know, it was a face time and there was another person at the other side of the phone and what they were doing essentially they were keeping each other accountable, training one another over the facetime.

Kevin Lee: 06:29 And I was just thinking something so individual such as working out, you know, is, is they're able to have accountability through, you know, facetiming and just, I just thought that was, you know, just a small example of how technology is changing the real relationships, uh, changing the trust accountability aspects. And we're just bringing that over to our church and see, hey, we want to, we know that relationships are important and we know that accountability is important and we, we know that community is important and we want to bring that in whatever way to our, our church, uh, to people that we ministered to and we just said, hey, you can use whatever you want to have these community and let's see where it goes. And we have some of most vibrant and deep conversations in our Skype groups, uh, people who meet through zoom.

Kevin Lee: 07:32 And we even have some people that do text groups because just there, these people are working professionals, working moms. They have really no time that they can designate that, like, uh, designate a time to meet regularly. So they put them in stem, uh, themselves in a slack. And these people tell me that these conversations are what gets them going. You know, they literally are, are encouraged by the texts that they get and they, they try to meet, you know, every once in a while just to just to, um, be just confirm with one another that they're doing good and just to check on themselves. But those texts, messages and those, you know, um, checkups are literally what keeps, what's keeping them alive and do well in their relationship with God and relationship with other people. So there's so many different stories like this that are doing the work of the church right to, that are bearing the fruit of ministry to say, Hey, that's not the Ministry of the church. That's not church. That's, we can't, I feel like that's discounting people story, if you say that. So yeah, just my 2 cents. Let's unpack

Jeff Reed: 08:56 a little bit because this is good. You're, so the text groups, the, you know, the, the Skype groups, the ones that are using virtual software cause cause there is home groups, and I want to get to that in a second. But the ones that are using the technology as, as the vehicle to stay connected to communicate, uh, are, are the people all within the same geographical area, like they're in the same city or are they separated by distance? Kind of? What's the example that you have here.

Kevin Lee: 09:21 so some are, some aren't. So we have, we say we purposefully don't have a specific software for, for our groups to meet. Um, that's because we have groups in Asia, we have groups in Europe and they have softwares that they're familiar with and we say, hey, this is the only platform you, that you can use. Um, we become the bottleneck of, of how, how they can meet and we don't want to do that. Um, there's, you know, with technology there's a bandwidth issue. There's with different countries, they're different tech, not technological issues that, that we don't want to become the limitations too. So, um, these, these groups use whatever that they're comfortable with. And some groups are, um, just like the slack group that I talked about. Um, they are geographically close, somewhat, but not, um, not so close so that they can meet every week. But, um, we have also some groups that are literally across the country. We have some people that meeting west coast, uh, some, some live in the west coast and some people who live in east coast, so they have to account for time zones and different things. Um, but they, they meet like that.

Jeff Reed: 10:36 That's awesome. Yeah. I lead up, I myself, I lead a, an online small group and online Bible study. We meet every Tuesday night. Um, within my study. I'm down here in Miami, Florida, and I've got people in the group from Miami, Florida. I've got people from Fort Lauderdale, from North Florida up Deland/Plant City area. I've got people up in New York, I've got people in Houston, uh, that, that jump on it. And so it's, it's, it's this really, one of the things that I love about it, it's this really unique mix. Uh, when I talk about like online groups, I think you can get people in a virtual conversation. Uh, you can get them together in a room, but if you tried to get them together, like in a physical room and tried to do the same thing, I don't, I, I just, I don't think it, it works.

Jeff Reed: 11:25 Like I'm 42, um, I've, I've got people, I've, there's a woman in the group while I was actually friends with her daughters like growing up, you know, and so it's like a 70 old person plus, and I'm not putting, you know, an age on Janice Collins. I apologize. So it's a 70 something, you know. Um, I'm, I'm 40 somethings and there's 20 somethings in there. They're single moms, there's a, you know, a lawyer dad with working too much. And so it's, it's like all these different, um, types of personalities come together. Uh, and it growing together with what's interesting and like, I didn't put pressure on this and the group's only been meeting like six, seven months now, but they've started calling themselves family. Like this wasn't me prompting or are pushing them. They, they did that on their own. So now it, it's, it's like, uh, I wasn't, I wasn't able to be on recently and it had someone else lead the group for me and like, I'm getting messages, you know, hope things are okay, missed you today.

Jeff Reed: 12:30 And so like there's, there's self accountability that that's grown up within this group. That's so, um, it's so awesome. You know, and, and like the people who were in the group, this online group that, that live in Miami, they're like a couple miles away from a physical campus, but it's, it's a, it's a single mom who's like, yeah, I don't have, I don't have the capacity to try to get my kid together and go join this thing, but I need biblical community, so let me get it online. Or it's like I said, it's, it's a, it's a dad who's a, uh, the single lawyer in his law firm and he's getting home at work at like eight o'clock at night and, and to, to gear up, to go, you know, do a small group at our house isn't happening, but jump on a computer and do zoom.

Jeff Reed: 13:13 You know, all of a sudden it opens the door for more of, of, of this community. Um, tell me like, give me one story and I can keep going. I get my mom, my mom 70 [inaudible], she leads two online small groups and we're going to get her on a podcast. But, and for her it was a rejuvenation of, of our ministry life. You know, she's, she's 70, she's retired. She's thinking, okay, it's, it's a, it's a young kid's world. Let, let them Kinda Kinda run with the ministry. And so she was literally like handing off her ministry responsibilities to simplify or a lot. Yeah. And then she discovered this niche of, of mentoring and discipling, you know, young professionals, young girls and the availability to just do that. And so she picked up and ran it. And so like one group, was it enough? Now she's doing a second one. Um, the only way I can keep going, I can brag about what my mom tell me. Kevin, tell me one story, man. Tell, tell me something cool.

Kevin Lee: 14:14 I have a lot, but let me just share with you the most recent ones. So at Saddleback, we do what we call quarterly planning. So we meet every quarter and we just planned for, um, what new thing that we want to do. So, um, and we just planet by week by week and at the end of this planning section, we have what we call vision stories. What, what this is, is we have to write a fictional story of, uh, if all of these plans go well, what kind of story are we going to be able to tell to other people? How will it make itself into a story? Because we don't want to make it a, it just a work plan. We want to be able to see the vision behind it. So my story has always been, hey, we have a, a person who is in 40 somethings and who's just thriving in business, uh, don't know the Lord just doing well on business, being recognizing knowledge and its neighborhoods and its corporate world and everything at kind of type a personality.

Kevin Lee: 15:24 And I always use, you know, that he's, he's a, he's in Ohio, Columbus, Ohio. I just make it up, you know, just to make it fun. And, and this person just goes through, you know, coast through life and it's really driven, but some, something happens where, you know, he starts to lose things and that could be anything and it's just, we can just say that life happens and it could be health related things, it can be relational related things. And he's just begins to drop everything. And in the midst of this, you know, there's a, a neighbor of his that hands and the purpose driven life book and write every kind of throw in there, something I in there and just reads the book, you know, gets to know that, you know, there's a online service at Saddleback and he's heard of Saddleback church, but he doesn't really know what it is.

Kevin Lee: 16:17 So he goes to our worship, uh, online and just watches it. And you know, long story short, uh, except she's as Christ and he wants to dive into what this means. He wants to know more about the decision that he just made. So he just reaches out to us and he realizes that there's, that he needs to belong to a family. Just like you were saying, Jeff, it's not church is not something that you put faith in. Uh, it's a family you belong to. So he realizes there's some options for online small groups. So he joins the online small groups and, excuse me. And then he just gets to know all these different people who are there to love him and support him. And after all of this, he decides that because we every, every now and then we say to the online small group, Tafe, there are people that are around you that you want to have home groups with.

Kevin Lee: 17:18 Why don't you do that as well? And so he decides to do home group, he hosts it. And then he starts to meet with, you know, with this small group to worship together and to have baptism and community, which we'll talk about. So that has been always the, my vision stories. So a couple weeks ago I went to Florida, actually in Tampa, Florida for a conference. And I knew there was a small group out there that was meeting those meetings. It was really growing. So I thought, hey, uh, it wasn't Kissimmee, uh, which was I think hour and a half away from Tampa. So I just drove out there and said, hey, I'm good. I want to come to your small group. And they were getting ready for me and let's worship together. And I just went without not really knowing who I'm going to meet. I knew of the host but not the stories behind it.

Kevin Lee: 18:16 So I went and I just started talking to them and her name is Connie and she gave me permission to share this wherever I want. Uh, and so she, her story reflects the vision story that I've been been writing for past couple, couple of quarters and it's just Connie was doing really well and in the business world. And, um, something tragic happens and she gets to a point where she cannot leave their home. So literally, uh, online church has become her family and her church. And she went to online small groups. She joined another online small groups. She began to host the home group. And then the midst of all of this, she, yeah. Gets baptized. And so, um, I, I visited her and we're, we're, we're talking about it. And I had a, um, this is my new life t shirt. This is the baptism tee shirt that we do for our baptisms.

Kevin Lee: 19:26 And I just brought it and I thought there may be someone that I need to baptize him in this trip. I just brought it and she saw the shirt and she said, hey, I'm baptized, but this is such a, uh, it's my story. Um, and she wanted to be baptized again. So I had a chance to baptize her again. Um, and this, so it, it was so cool that we had someone come through our, the, the front door of online church and she is now gathering in her home with, you know, friends and neighbors. And that's just a cool little story of how, how our ministry really works. So..

Jeff Reed: 20:09 That's, that's awesome. It. And so Kevin, a lot of the listeners out there, man, they are starting this, this church online. Maybe they're toying with, they're asking questions and, and like the story you just said there, uh, is still powerful in the fact that it reflects an individual. Connie is a real life person who was impacted by church, through Saddleback church online. And, and as a result, result of that and, and Saddleback providing online discipleship opportunities for her to grow deeper and her faith and strengthen what she believes she got to the place where she not only wanted to do physical or should we not only doing virtual but eventually even going to online, but to do a, uh, a house, a home where now she's impacting people within, within her physical community and bringing in that store.

Jeff Reed: 21:07 Just the angle of would you baptize me again? Like it's so it's so important to who she is and, and so, you know, churches that are out there that are just starting out, like, don't forget the stories. Don't forget the people. Um, Kevin, how many times have you told that story

Kevin Lee: 21:26 man, since that happened? Probably six or seven. Eight times.

Jeff Reed: 21:31 Yeah. When you get the wins church online, people tell everybody and their mother texts whoever different on social media, like get it out there because what you and people who don't agree with with church online or think church online is wrong. They can have that opinion but, but they can't argue, uh, they can't argue a story. Like somebody cannot argue against whether or not Connie's life was changed as a result of, of church online. Yeah. So don't lose the individual, uh, aspect of that.

Jeff Reed: 22:03 Celebrate the individual aspect of it. And when you're, hang on to the, the, the stories like Connie's that, that's so good.

Kevin Lee: 22:13 I just want to encourage the listeners if they're, you know, if they're at a point where they're kind of considering to start at eight or not, man, there are so many stories that God's brewing, uh, when you started that, you'll see so many stories of life transformation and life impact through this, through this ministry.

Jeff Reed: 22:37 Amen. You awesome. We're not done. I felt like that was a great place to land the plane. But I got more questions. Remember? So we're, we're talking about here is, um, is, you know, challenges that people have against church online. And so, you know, church online can't have biblical community. Forget about it. Like [inaudible] Connie, Connie's a prime example of how, you know, and utilizing online... online to offline.

Jeff Reed: 23:01 We've talked about that Connie grew in her faith online. Then eventually the gospel impacted our offline world when she created her own home group. I mean, that's like the prime example of how online offline works. You don't know what online offline is. Check the show notes, we'll link and there's plenty of resources out there for that. But one of the other challenges, you know, that, that I hear about and to me this, this is, this is funny, but you know, I understand, um, well it's, it's, yes, it's biblical, but the, um, you know, it's how this plays out kind of in the church world is biblical ordinances. Things like, uh, baptisms, things like communion. Um, some of some of these items and you know, and being a former online pastor, you know, I've heard these stories all the time of are these the challenges of how do you do communion online?

Jeff Reed: 23:48 You can't, you can't do communion, you can't baptize somebody threw a computer like it though. It gets so it can't be church because you're not, you're not able to do this. And, and you know, once, you know, it's funny, the first couple of times I kinda like, I kinda like got angry and, and so it's confession. Confession is good for the soul, right? And so when, when the challenges come up on me, I am a type a type person and so somebody steps up, I'm going to step up to, uh, but, but it's interesting how, you know, when, when you really listen to the questions about what their, what their questioning and how they're wrestling with these things and now, okay. How, so if you were trying to like lead a discipleship movement online and was important, you know, ask the person how would communion and get them to just even start to wrestle with, with what it looks like. Kind of flip the coin a little bit on them. Um, but, but in your context, Kevin and I had loved some of the stuff that Saddleback is doing on this, you know, especially as you're looking at doing the, the home groups, uh, the micro locations that, that, that you guys are starting to, to grow into. Like, or just in general, somebody watching a service, how do you do communion? How do you do baptism?

Kevin Lee: 25:01 Yeah, for sure. That's a great question. And that is a question that we get asked off even in the midst of our staff, say, hey, so I know you guys do baptism and communion. Do you guys baptize people online? Like virtually? So you get that questions a lot. So the short answer for that is no, we don't do baptism virtually. Uh, but we

Jeff Reed: 25:23 funny you talking about your guy with the gym get an iPhone that's waterproof... No, I'm totally kidding. Don't do that. Sorry to interrupt. Kevin. Please keep going up.

Kevin Lee: 25:34 No problem. So we're all about just decentralizing and empowering people to become the person who can baptize another person. So what we do is, so I'll just talk about baptism first. Um, for baptism because we have small groups literally all around the world and there are people who wants to make the decision of being baptized. So whenever we get those requests, we just go through, uh, some, some of the basic trainings. And like I said in the introduction, we try to look at the Bible and just draw out the essence of these ordinances, what this baptism mean essentially in the w in, in the biblical times and what, and for what Jesus says in what Paul says in First Corinthians. But what, what gospel says about baptism. So we go through basic definitions of baptism and something that we really stress on, uh, regarding baptism is baptism is your outward expression of your inward decision.

Kevin Lee: 26:54 And Baptism doesn't save you, but it means that you are already saved. So we go at the heart of that person's decision of taking, uh, putting their faith in Jesus Christ. And as long as we confirm that we want to have you be baptized, so we would get on a three way call with someone who, who's already been baptized by immersion and then we would go through this training together and say, hey, so and so is interested in being baptized and we notice that she lives by you. And we would love if you could be baptize her and, uh, we go through the definition of what baptism is and just like we're going to make through it right now. And then we just go through some logistics, say, Hey, um, let's pick a location like a lake or pool or Beach where you can, you can be completely under the water, um, and, and baptize you if, uh, baptized one person at a time.

Kevin Lee: 27:58 If there is couples, um, you would want to baptize one person first because we want to make this an individual, um, event and, and just have people around that person who's been a part of her faith journey. Uh, so because this is a celebration, so we would go through these logistics and, um, of how you can do baptism in their, in their area. So, uh, we do all of the trainings virtually like this on a zoom call or John l on the audio call and we answer all the calls questions, and we just released them, hey, you're free to, to baptize and just pick a location and a date and, um, go ahead and, and baptize that person. So that's how bad it is and works for us.

Jeff Reed: 28:49 I, I love this and one of the things that, and you flew by it real fast, but what it, what it is is it's, it's decentralizing the ministry in context. Uh, and so, and if you, if you're serious about church online, you can look at that phrase of decentralizing. Because in the reality is, and we talked about this with a, with Jay back in episode three, is church online as it grows, will quickly outscale. Um, what you're able to do organizationally, you know, and, and I think Jay was, Jay was mentioning that right now there's like 50 people on a waiting list to get baptized. And so if it's, you know, if it was talking about, if it's, if it's waiting for, for Saddleback staff to fly out there, uh, you know, that's, that's a lot of expense back and forth to do this.

Jeff Reed: 29:40 But what I love about is we're, we're decentralizing the ministry away from church leaders, church staff, paid pastor professional, uh, and, and realizing, Hey, the same gospel works for it. The people as it does for the pastor, the same holy spirit that's in the pastor is in the, is in the people. So let's train the people to do this, to, to get asked to be the shepherds, uh, to, you know, to be able to spiritually lead in those, those situations. And so you're, you're empowering, not the pastor to be the hero coming in, but you're empowering, you know, the, the people to be the hero and, and leading in that situation. So I love the fact of, of decentralizing and, and I've, we've got some other resources and stuff we talked about. We'll put it in the show notes, but decentralizing it is a great way to empower and spread the reach of your ministry beyond just the, the circle of influence of, of where your physical churches.

Kevin Lee: 30:38 Yes, exactly. That's exactly right.

Jeff Reed: 30:42 So we've got, we've talked about, uh, we talked about baptism, we, you know, some, some of the trainings and that and um, what, what is, what is, what does communion look like? How have you been kind of creative in that space or what is Saddleback doing the handle communion online.

Kevin Lee: 30:55 Yeah. Convenient. We take the same approach of, Hey, what does community look like in, in the New Testament? And we, um, basically look at Matthew 26 where Jesus, there's the communion with this, with his disciples and the first Corinthians where Paul addresses the Corinthians about the communion, about the communion. And we just realized that it's an, it's something that you do with your community to give thanks and to remember what Jesus has done in, in, uh, in their lives. And we just realized that this doesn't have to be in the physical building of the church, right? Because it doesn't say anything about the physical space. It just says, Hey, do this in remembrance of Jesus Christ and what he has done on the cross. And these, there are elements that are involved that symbolizes, chooses his body and Jesus's blood. And we just wanted to say, hey, this is what communion is.

Kevin Lee: 31:56 It's meant to be done in community with believers. Um, real time we just add that because we, we, we want to have some people in the, in the, in the same virtual place at that same time. And, and we say, this is something that you do to give thanks and to remember what Jesus done in your life. So it's gotta be, uh, for believers if you're not a believer yet. Uh, we just, uh, we just want you to actually watch and see what we do to give thanks to our Lord. So we just thought those are the essence of what communion is. No, we just said, hey, just like baptism, we want to empower you to do communion in your small groups. And so for some people that'd be home groups. So I think you can just kind of imagine what could happen and the home group space because they can get the elements, prepare the elements and they read the verse, First Corinthians verse, and then they take a time to thank God for the forgiveness that they received.

Kevin Lee: 33:07 And then they take to the elements and then just they share, uh, about what, uh, what that means for one another. For online groups, uh, it takes a little bit more effort, but it's not something that's unnatural because we can just come together. Like you and I are coming together in this virtual space, which everybody's now acknowledging as a real and legitimate space. Every comment in real time. And then we prepare elements individually. So you, Jeff, you would prepare the elements, just bread and juice and I would do the same and go through the same thing. Uh, there will be a host or facilitator of communion saying, Hey, um, this is what communion means and this is where it comes out in the Bible and for what Jesus has done, let's take a time to give thanks to choose this individually and take the elements and share and, and in a conversation so that that would be what communion looks like on an online model.

Jeff Reed: 34:10 So you guys did, I mean, there, there's so much there, but the, in context of communion, you guys do communion more in the group environment online than you do in the, in a church service.

Kevin Lee: 34:22 you know, we, we used to do it in a church environment where we said, hey, because we do, we do communion. Uh, and we broadcast that whenever we do it at our physical campus. And we say, hey, we're doing communion this weekend, so why don't wear your watch and do it with us? But we just thought, Jay and I thought, hey, we are all about decentralizing and empowering the leavers to do, uh, to these ordinances. Why don't we do a training? So we did a training last week and we're basically launching this idea of, hey, you can do it with your small group whenever you want to, to remember to remember what Jesus done in your life. So, uh, we're still doing the online service and inviting people to do it with us and the online service. But Hey, you could do it with your small group whenever you want.

Jeff Reed: 35:15 We're in more intimate, more familial. Um, yeah, there, there's a, there's a lot of good there. I hadn't, yeah, I hadn't flipped that switch in my head, but that's really a good idea. Um, you know, still do church is still do communion and context of the entire church when you're gathering together as a whole body, even doing online, you know, at the same time as an, as an online former pastor. Like, I've done that and I've gone through those experiences, but there's something intimate about doing it. You know, in the, in the, in the small, um, six people, eight people, 10 people, people that you, you know, um, you know, gathered, get the elements together and do it either in a home group or you know, virtually through like a zoom thing and everybody bringing their own, uh, you know, uh, bread and juice or, or whatever the representation of the bread is man that, that's awesome.

Jeff Reed: 36:06 But by doing these things right, we start to chisel away at some of these perceptions of what we can't be church online because we're not doing, you can't, you can't baptize somebody. You can't do communion. Well, no, you can, it, it looks different. Um, arguably if you really look at some of the context and to your point biblically, there are times where church online actually looks more like the biblical model of the church then the church is. But, um, you know, uh, but I, I the, so the, but the coexistence of online and physical, like, I think they both work together well. And so man, you've told some, some great stories. Uh, and some, some great examples. I will not forget Connie story, uh, for, for a long time. Hey, we're going to link to the, um, the, the trainings, uh, that he had talked about.

Jeff Reed: 37:00 Uh, I think they're on Youtube, right? Um, Kevin. So we'll link to it in the show notes and, and you can have it there. So it's nice and easy, uh, and clean for you. Hey, uh, just, just as we're wrapping up, we've got maybe five more minutes, but like what, what, what's another challenge out there that you've, you, you've heard, I'm just curious because this might happen, this might be the thing that'll see the next step or another, another episode soon. What time of the challenge that you've heard, hey, you can't be church because blah, blah, blah.

Kevin Lee: 37:31 I think everybody has, what I realize is everybody has different definition of community. Um, and I think that the aspect of community is actually being developed as the technology is changing the world. So I used to think, you know, I was raised up in a very conservative church where hey, community can only happen in a church like your, your church, you're a part of the church family. If you're inside of a church and you meet the other person inside your worship center. So that has been, you know, my, my definition of community, but I realize that there's community outside of church, you know, in my school and my, you know, there's people that I met outside the church that I still do life with and that's also my community. So that kind of broke out the definition that I was given when I was being raised up in a, in a church.

Kevin Lee: 38:33 And I realized through stories like, um, though the working out at the fitness and through the stories of, of slack and you know, the, the story of the slack group is actually actually it was told by someone, it's as a vice president of a very well known company. And just to see that happen, uh, for, for someone who is very successful, it just began to break down what community actually being the, the challenge that I get, the question that I get was, hey, can you call a virtual community real community? And I think the answer is absolutely yes because, and I think the people outside of the church answer this question for us because they're already doing community, um, virtually and through things like Skype and slack, they're already doing it. And let me tell you something that I learned. Um, I was, I use zoom mainly for our video calls and I was trying to have a way to subgroup, subgroup we can talk about later, but it's a way to when in a home group.

Kevin Lee: 39:44 We want it to, um, kind of divide the group into, you know, men and women so that we can talk about things in a more intimate ways. And, and I was, you know, thinking of ways how we can do subgroup being online. And I was just talking to my volunteers and he, one of the volunteers uses zoom and he actually told me a way to do, you know, subgroups by using the, the breakout function in zoom and they zoom has just developed this and yeah, I volunteered, told me about this. So what I realized was, hey, there are people in my community that are already using this at work and they're giving me solutions to my questions and my, uh, my challenges of how can we create authentic, realistic, real, real community and they're already putting the answers out there for us. So there are a lot of questions, but then with the effort of our community, I feel like we're making progress.

Jeff Reed: 40:53 That's awesome. You know, the breakout rooms are very cool that that is a relatively new feature. But you know, and the thing that I love about this is your volunteers, you know, your leaders, the people that are involved within your online community care enough about it to like dig in and explore and to learn what's out there. Um, you know, and often found from for myself that, that they were, they were... I'm an aggressive, innovative type of guy, but there were often people that were leading me and saying, Hey, have you seen this? Have you tried this? Have you thought of this? Um, and so like they were aggressive as well and trying to figure out how to use the technology for it to, to solve a lot of these problems. Um, and to try to help proclaim it and to get, you know, church online, the exposure that it needs.

Jeff Reed: 41:44 Um, well I'll tell you what Kevin, man, this has been a great conversation we're going to have to do it again cause I feel like, um, we just, we barely scratched the surface of, of a much deeper thing. Uh, but I love what, uh, what you're doing and what Jay combination are doing out there, uh, to kind of push the, the limits, uh, of, of community in, in context of online. Like it's not enough just to do the, um, uh, just to do the broadcast to service, but to work and to focus on creating that community piece that's so essential. If we are really going to call church online at Church that functions in online space, uh, the best thing you said, and if I want to, I want to send out someone off just in this one statement, at least of what I heard today.

Jeff Reed: 42:27 A church don't become a bottleneck, uh, released some of the, the power that we would normally say, oh, that's something that church has to do. Or, you know, let's get a pastor to do that. Let's put them on a list and we'll figure out how release that power and let 'em in train, uh, volunteers train people to do those things, trained them how to do the Baptisms, how to do the communion. Um, you know, and you'll see, you'll see the ministries expand and grow because you're no longer the lid. You're no longer the bottleneck. It's, it's much larger than that. So decentralize that and empower people out there, uh, to become the spiritual leaders really that God empowered them to be. So Kevin, thank you very much for joining us today. This has been awesome. Uh, in 20 seconds, any closing thoughts before you go?

Kevin Lee: 43:21 Yeah, I, you know, what online church has allowed me to do was by thinking, um, what could be, it actually helped me to go deeper into the Bible and see the essence of what Christianity is. So I want to invite the listeners to get into this, to development so that you can continue to see what by Christianity really is.

Jeff Reed: 43:49 That's awesome. There's so much to that, um, of, of digging into it. I mean, I've, I've often thought about doing an online bible study just for like online pastors and some of us that are out there and just unpacking that because there's so much richness in the Bible towards what church really is that defines church online, but doesn't necessarily match the, what the typical American church model has become. Not slamming the model, just it's, it's, it's doesn't always match up. So yeah, I would love that. If you're interested in that, uh, it hit me up on social media, Kevin, where can people find you on social media? Just as we close.

Kevin Lee: 44:27 Yeah, I'm on Facebook and I'm on Instagram as Kevin

Jeff Reed: 44:31 [inaudible] and I, I'll

Jeff Reed: 44:34 tell you what [inaudible] is. That's my Korean name. But uh, you can maybe link that on, on the shownotes. Yeah, we'll put that on the show notes and that'll be great, uh, on deerffej on all the networks and hey, Kevin, it has been a pleasure to hang out with you. This has been great. Thank you for your time and your insight, listeners. Glad you could join in and be part of this once again. Next up, episode eight, we've got ben stapley coming up, uh, talking about communicating in context of church online. It's going to be a great episode. You won't want to miss it, uh, for Kevin, my name is Jeff. Thank you very much for being here and we'll see you next time on the church. Digital podcast. Y'All have a good day.

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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 Church Online.

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