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Podcast 009: Eric Geiger & The Theology Of Church (Ekklesia) Online

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What started as a simple podcast with the goal of a strategic conversation on Omnichannel Communication and Unified Commerce quickly went another (and far more interesting) direction. On the podcast Eric Geiger, Lead Pastor at Mariners Church, transitioned quickly to the theological role of Ekklesia biblically, and some of the perceived challenges that Church Online faces. A fascinating insight from one of the Church's thought leaders, this podcast is definitely not one to be missed.

ON THE SHOW

Guest: Eric Geiger, Lead Pastor
Mariners Church
EricGeiger.com

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

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

SHOW NOTES

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Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
 
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 to have you join us again today. We've got a great episode and I'm excited about today's guest. Once again, I do have Rey DeArmas joining us as a cohost, so hey ray, you want to say hate everybody?

Rey DeArmas: 00:17 Great to be with you guys again,

Eric Geiger: 00:20 right? That's such an amazing podcast voice.

Rey DeArmas: 00:23 I appreciate that, Eric. Thank you.

Jeff Reed: 00:26 Good stuff. Hey. Oh, we already tipped up. I thought we were going to play another game. Guess, the host that was guests, the guests, so hey, guests, the guests. That's weird. Hey, we've got Eric Geiger, Reverend Eric Geiger from Mariners Church lead pastor on the podcast today. I am moving up in the world. I call it in a bunch of favors to get this guy in here and

Eric Geiger: 00:48 it wasn't that hard dude.

Jeff Reed: 00:49 Listen, Eric, Eric has a, we used to work together at Christ fellowship Miami back in the day before. Even before simple church was a thing or maybe simple church was coming a thing. I'm not actually sure all that, right?

Eric Geiger: 01:02 Yeah. It's around the same time and all it all somewhere around that.

Jeff Reed: 01:04 Yeah. So, uh, Eric was executive pastor at Christ fellowship in Miami where I was production guy in the eighth him and Ray, you had some, you had some time with God. You're down there as well, right?

Rey DeArmas: 01:15 Oh, absolutely. I, I consider Eric to be a huge influence on my life in ministry. Just phenomenal. Very good stuff. Okay,

Eric Geiger: 01:22 thanks. Thanks both of you guys.

Jeff Reed: 01:24 So we're going to do a little surprise here. Let's play the game of Best Eric Geiger Story. No, I'm kidding. We're not going to cause a, yeah

Eric Geiger: 01:32 they have some tech. I mean, I mean Jeff, there is a, the problem is, um, you, I think you were the one who coined the phrase the curse of the Geiger. Wow. Yeah. Mics kept going bad whenever I spoke

Jeff Reed: 01:46 will attest to this that I have never seen anyone with as much bad luck when it comes to tech and is Eric Geiger is. And as much as the bad microphones are, it's not nearly as bad as Spanish soap opera on this screen.

Eric Geiger: 02:00 So that was crazy. Middle of your message, like reaching in a Spanish soap opera popped up on the screen behind me. Oh my God. It really, no audio. Just the video theologically now. Now Jeff, you weren't in charge of that at the time.

Jeff Reed: 02:13 No, I was not. I was, I was a mere volunteer. I cannot be held right

Eric Geiger: 02:17 responsible for that. But James, who was at the time, who's a great guy, I mean he, I mean, he can't even look to me like I have. No, I just never in my life I'd ever thought that would happen. So theologically, it's either the Lord loves me a ton and, and he trusts that I can be sanctified by those things and the enemy's really out to get me because I'm being used by the Lord or, or I just have a whole lot of sin in my life. You know, it's like one of the two things, right?

New Speaker: 02:46 Or it could that the Lord wanted to reveal that Carlos splints, say famous soap opera star is a member of Christ fellowship and show him and all of his glory. Yeah. Show him during a sermon. Maybe

Jeff Reed: 03:00 a little bit of humility in the involved in the conversation, but we'll just roll on from there. Hey, so, so here's what we wanted to talk about here at the church digital podcast and try to have some semblance of conversation and involved in this. So, uh, Eric, I'm feel like I'm going to call him Geiger for the episode and I apologize, but that's what I've called him for a decade plus. Um, he wrote a, an article in response to a Dave Adamson article about Omni Church and it was this, it was this great thing. And I read the article, I was like, man, I got to get Eric on here because I want to really hone in on a couple of these points talking about Omni Omni channel and Geiger transported into moving omnichannel into Omnichurch, which I love. But Hey, I know Rey DeArmas is like the, every time we talk about Omni channel he like lights up and goes crazy here on the show. So Ray, man, a two minute overview. What is Omni Channel?

Rey DeArmas: 03:54 The idea of it basically is that you're looking at your online church and your local church. And Eric, feel free to correct me here. Um, just a little bit more unified light in terms of the way that people are encountering and experiencing not just a sermon content, but even some of your discipleship content. Um, different organizations, uh, like home depot. I love using home depot as an example. When I buy something from Homedepot.com, I, when people ask me where I got it, I say I bought it from Home Depot. Whether I went into the store or whether I got it from their website, it's to me it doesn't matter. I just tell them where I, where I received it from. And so in the same way churches, uh, not just through their content, but even through community, have some pretty unique opportunities by keeping their discipleship process and everything aligned in digital spaces and not just in physical spaces. And so, Eric, can you tell us a little bit more as far as how you view Omni channel and the church and how some of that's broken or even kind of changed your mind on things?

Eric Geiger: 04:51 No, no, no. You described it perfectly. So, uh, you know, on the channel would be a, it was a word initially designed for ecommerce and marketing saying hey, it doesn't matter at or where the customer interacts with Home Depot or best buy or, or any company, um, they don't care which channel you're in is as long as you, you know, do commerce with them and have a relationship with them. So if you'd apply omnichannel of church, you wouldn't necessarily it to the extreme degree wouldn't, you wouldn't care if the person connected to your church via some social channel as long as they interacted with the same content, you wouldn't care if that was live or you know, via social. You just wanted the interaction to happen. The deeper layer, which I didn't spend a lot of time talking about on them, on the blog.

Eric Geiger: 05:44 If you don't have time to really process it is even in an Omni channel strategy. Like Warby Parker for example, if you look at them, uh, sunglasses, they open up brick and mortar. So they started online and they moved to brick and mortar. So it's not only brick and mortar companies like home depot who then moved online. You have online companies that moved to brick and mortar. And the reason they moved to brick and mortar is because they actually feel, or research has told them that the conversion rate is higher in brick and mortar than it is online. So online he might have a conversion rate. You know, if you go to Warby Parker website, might have a conversion rate of 8% 10% can they use the word conversion different than we would in a charity? Right? But mean that somebody who goes to Warby Parker's site, uh, it would, would purchase maybe eight to 10% of that.

Eric Geiger: 06:33 But in a brick and mortar store, it's, it's usually 50% or higher. Uh, and so they're, they're like, man, we got, we want to have that. We want to have that level of engagement. So even even ecommerce, um, and you're off, you actually here in more of a term called unified commerce now instead of a on the channel, which is basically all of the channels with unified. Um, but even they, they are like, hey look, we need, we want brick and mortar because of the high level of engagement that it produces. So if you, if you apply it to a local church, it wouldn't make you want less face to face interaction. It would make you really still value face to face interaction because you have some that started online and are moving to face to face cause they realize the value of it. That's one.

Eric Geiger: 07:19 The second thing, and I did mention this in the article Jeff talked about, um, I do think we have to be careful with the term. It's, it's a helpful term. I'm not against the term, I use the term, but every example you and I have given, we are looking at companies whose role is to tap for, to have a customer. Absolutely. I don't, I don't want, I don't want to view the kingdom like we're creating customers or that a church is about a customer. You know, the, I listen, I'm using the term, I'm using the term, I'm just saying that we need to carefully use the term because we really are. Um, well I think Jeffrey's got a famous tweet about, hey, if all we're doing is, is, um, sitting around, I mean, if we're not making disciples, we're just a bunch of guys throwing, let's add tweet. Jeff, come on.

Jeff Reed: 08:07 If we're not doing discipleship, we're just a bunch of guys sitting around throwing parties on the weekend. I mean, I'm not saying it's a powerful tweet, but, but it, it lives out there and this is the thing, man. Like we just fast forward it to the ends of the podcast. I was saving this stuff towards the end, but let's just jump in to jump in the deep end, man. It's, it's great. So like I would, I would say to this that you're right, church as a whole, when they're doing church online, we're creating content and as a result, because it's content, we're creating consumers online. But when we try to say things like, Hey, I can't tell you Eric, how many pastors I've talked to has said, no, we're not doing small groups online. That's not my job. I'm not responsible for discipling people online. You can't do that. And still it's, it's you, we can't do ministry. But Ministry is what validates what we're doing with our content to make it a viable opportunity to change somebody's life. For Real. Yeah. I pulled it up

Eric Geiger: 09:06 and, and I, I want to be consistent. So like I'm, I'm going to sound like I'm talking on both sides of my mouth a bit because I'm really just wanting to be consistent. So the reality is some of our worship services creek consumers too. So we'll have to, so we have to be careful that if we're going to say that about online, that we also don't say, well, I mean we'll really, how different is it really then then, then the worship service that we have. So I, I'm cool with it. Creating those, those conversations out. The worship service is, is not only about content, but there's times of prayer and there's times of connection and there's times after where there's relationship building, then it is more than about just the content. But if the worship services designed only for the content, then you really can't look at online is if it's inferior. You know,

Rey DeArmas: 09:51 that's very true. And it's difficult for, for people to understand that because even for instance, you know, we're, we're saying content, a lot of pastors would struggle through that and say, but I prefer the theological term sermon or something along those lines. Okay. Sermon. Yeah, exactly. And it may be, it may be in different to us, but even they struggle in terms of the theological implications of how some of that lines up and how it hits somebody. Um, can you talk about, uh, and just kind of give a view in terms of the theology behind why this is a great idea to put our content or our sermons online and why we need to provide a next step for people in terms of what's next for them and their spiritual growth, even if they're not in the room?

Eric Geiger: 10:32 Yeah, so I always respect when people are consistent in their theology. So for those who are against quote unquote online church and they're consistent, they don't put their sermons online and they, um, or they are just really careful to be sure it's not called church, uh, because they theologically our, Hey, the word Ekklesia means the gathering and this isn't a gathering. I respect the consistency of that view, you know? So, um, that, that, that's where they're coming from is that, hey, the, it's not truly church because it's not a, it's not a gathering, you know? Um, now typically the, the, that view also believes that the church shouldn't have multiple services even because the church really is one gathering of, of a group of people. And so if you have multiple services, it's not one gathering. So it's really like multiple churches, you know.

Eric Geiger: 11:26 So, um, that's, that's that, that would be that, that camp, you know, or that, or that argument. Um, for me, I look at it as just want to be sure. I separate missiology and ecclesiology though, for sure. Uh, we, I don't think we would want to say there's any problem with putting your services out there from a missionary context. Like when the radio went live for the first time and CS Lewis ministered to a bunch of people during World War Two and help people wrestle with the claims of the Christian faith, or when television went live and Billy Graham started being broadcast in the Gospel, uh, people, no one, no one criticized that, you know, I don't think so. Um, and so online get, it really has, I mean, everyone's walking around with smartphones now, and so we have an opportunity to put the gospel in a context that's super accessible to people. Um, it's just a question of if you're gonna use that as equal to, to, to the, uh, to the physical experience experience. Hmm.

Jeff Reed: 12:33 In your opinion, what's the negative it with Church online? Like, so if, if church online is less than, and, and you've not said whether it is or isn't. And so let's, let's just pretend it's not. You're, I'm not gonna date you, but you're older than me. So your mid forties, you're, you're welcome for that. And so you're like, you're, you're, you're a senior pastor. And so people in your age, when your range, some have issues, some don't. What are the issues that church online needs to overcome? So what are the negatives that's keeping it from having, being the same as a physical expression of church?

Eric Geiger: 13:15 Yeah, I think, you know, the first would be the theological. And so it, just to realize that there is a camp of people who are, who have it, who do make a great solid argument that it, it means gathering and therefore it can't be, it can't be digital. Right. So there, so there's that. Uh, but, but I don't think Jeff, you'll ever win with the, you know, the online is going to win with those. So, so putting the theological, um, that's one group. And then there's the, just the practical, it's, it's people who are like, man, I just know personally I'm not super connected or I know personally, I passively watch a television show and I don't want people to passively watch my, you know, a sermon, you know, or I know that, um, that when I watch something on Netflix, I'm veggie thing and I'm not like connecting with a whole lot of people with those who, who theologically, um, aren't looking at this from a theological, uh, struggle they're looking at from a practical struggle.

Eric Geiger: 14:14 What online or just got overcome is, um, helping people connect, not just listen to content, but even to the theological crowd, I'd say, Hey, can we be in the same page that putting the message of Jesus out into a whole lot of places is, can we put, can we, can we all agree from a missiological standpoint, like just getting the message out. It's good. And I believe most are like, oh yeah, absolutely do that. It's just when you then move it from its missiology too, it's, it's actual church, right. That's when then, um, that you're, you're, you first have to have the theological conversation and then if you get over that hurdle, there's then the practical conversation.

Jeff Reed: 14:51 So the, the theological definition of church would be more centered around the one hour on Sunday

Eric Geiger: 14:57 I closely has really to, you know, it's the word for church in the New Testament, there's gathering, it actually means the called out ones, but then also it means that the gathering, so like there's a, um, you know, I'm not saying anything that people haven't already gone public with. Like Mark Dever who are, who I respect a Capitol Hill baptist, like he's against the multiple campuses, which, you know, I'm not against. And um, because he believes the, that the, the church means he's the pastor of a gathering. So he would only have one service. He wouldn't have more than one service. You sometime because the church is, the church has to be able to gather together.

Jeff Reed: 15:38 I guess the thing that I would wrestle with with this and, and I know it's, it's different and I've, I've, I have friends who are connected with, with, and in the school of thought, and I don't want to make it about devore, but it's the, where does discipleship come into play with this? Because yes, church is the gathering of, uh, coming together in a corporate body, but do we not have a personal mission and the calling to go in and share and create community or on our own and whether that's bringing it in or, or going out and investing, like where, where does that, where does that lose its flavor and context of online? Because everything that we've talked about is still centered around this. Um, this one hour service, which is funny, I would actually say that my church isn't the church where we're, I'm sitting in a pew for that one hour on Sunday. My church is is the collection of, of, of six or eight people that I connect with on a regular basis and live life with and context of, um, the Bible and learning about that. So like what's the... Where, where my theologically not lining up in context of, of online or is this just an evolution where some people aren't going to get it and we're theologically okay on the other side?

Eric Geiger: 16:58 Yeah, I think that the, it would be like, hey, just, you know, I want to respect people where they are theologically on that. Um, I personally where I am, I want to use the tools of the day, you know, Titus 1 - to the pure, all things are pure to those who do not believe a, nothing is pure. And so basically the, the online can be used for pure things and it can be used for not pure things. And I absolutely, I want to, I would love to use it for, for your pure things. And I think the church is a, is for sure the mission of the church. And, and, and then obviously I want to wrestle with wisdom on how the tools are used, uh, to fulfill functions of the church. Right? So functions of the church. The church gathers for worship, the church gathers for community, the church lives on mission.

Eric Geiger: 17:50 How can the online tools we used to help those functions. You know, I'm, I'm great with those conversations and I think those are the right conversations. We were in a different, we're in a really crazy day now where the average attender of a church has used to be someone who went like twice a week. You know, like when I got in the game 20 years ago when I was, you know, 20 year old youth pastor, you know, a, a, a, a good church member went twice a week. You know, you used to tell people on Sunday mornings, don't only be a Sunday morning Christian, you know, like you get plugged into something else. That was, that was a normal thing to say. Now man, the data is just really staggering if a pastor will look at it. the best way to track it is to just pull out, pull out, um, because you check in your kids every week, um, is to pull up the number of kids in your church and see how many, like look at the last sermon series you did and then look at the percentage of people who came all five or six weeks of that sermon series.

Eric Geiger: 18:50 And I'll promise you, you're going to be overwhelmed with a, unless you've already done it, you're going to be shocked at the people who are, are just not as consistent as which you perhaps think that they are. Right. And so do you want to use online to keep that, like if you worked your tail off as a senior pastor of the, uh, in a sermon series, do you want that content to be accessible to people outside of the gathering? Um, just look at the data and you probably will. You probably will want that, you know, um, I know, I do. I know I do.

Rey DeArmas: 19:27 You know, Eric, one of the things that I appreciated about working underneath you is that you always have a strong drive towards guiding people through the discipleship process. And you talked about how people are maybe once a month or twice a month, there's, in terms of their regular times, how can folks leverage that online content to help people take next steps to maybe increase their opportunity to being there on a regular basis?

Eric Geiger: 19:49 I, it's the right question and I think it's something I'm wrestling with here, our teams wrestling with here. We want to do more than just like use online as a way to rebroadcast our sermons, which we are doing that, but what, what, how can we use things that we're creating to help people take an even an additional step? And so we're testing some things. I got, I did a series in Romans eight and the third week was the famous, um, you gotta kill sin or sin will kill you. And so it was a 40 minute message, but there's a lot of stuff you can't really hit on that weight of a topic and 40. So we did a Facebook live additional content and after the message for people to tap into, and it was like 20 minutes of walking through the famous book by John Owen, mortification of sin.

Eric Geiger: 20:43 So we, we want, we actually didn't just rebroadcast the content, but we provide some additional content and we used that as a next step. But that's just one test. I don't know if anyone's really nailed this yet. Um, I, we, we, we do need some churches to nail this so that we can have some examples. Um, and I, I don't, I don't know if it will be one that does or not. I at least, I don't know if we'll be a pace setter or not, but I want, I'd like to, I'd like to use the tools to help people to take the next step.

Jeff Reed: 21:15 Well, and I tell you what, you know, Eric, just, even, even one thought, how many multisites or you know, they're at a, and mariners,

Eric Geiger: 21:23 uh, well, we, we see, I mean, some of them are plants that, that, that don't have the name Mariners is now. And, um, we spun something off so that, that, that care mariners name would be, uh, three others.

Jeff Reed: 21:36 Okay. Well in even on, even on the plant side, like to me, I, I would look at church online is a way to plant campuses and, or churches, you know, start to look at the, the, you know, the equations, the locations and see where you're getting people together. And so like if people

Eric Geiger: 21:53 , how hard, like I'm, I'm actually asking for one to know myself, but also if I'm a regular, I'm, I'm thinking about regular pastors like me who were listening to this. How hard is it to see those demographics? You know, how hard is it? Is it back in tools on your website? So it, any web, any web host can tell you where their watching from.

Jeff Reed: 22:12 Yeah, I mean, Google analytics, um, can, can drill into that and that's, Google analytics is free. You just put it in an embed code on your website and back into CMS and a, and Google, Google gives you those reports on a regular basis. And so any given Sunday, you can know where people are pulling from. Now there's, there's other stats and other things like how long they watched some of that stuff that you can pull in from other sources.

Eric Geiger: 22:39 But yeah, that's a good step. So if you, if I'm a senior pastor listening and I'm like, man, that would help me with my strategy. That's something that they could contact you on. And you could, you could, you could, that's something you could solve somebody on. Like, Hey, let me, let me look at your, let me set up Google analytics for Ya. This is going to help you know where you could launch something in the future. Sure. That did, that'd be great.

Jeff Reed: 23:00 And so part of this also is as their, as a result of that, once you know where these people are, start to cluster them together into a like a micro location, a house church, a micro site, uh, meeting and meeting in a home meeting in a conference room or conference room. There's different areas is, and start to cluster, whether it's small group curriculum, whether it's actual doing church services, watching and experiencing it together, doing a watch party or something. You're creating these, um, physical locations. You know, you're talking about accuracy as a separation from, uh, it's, it's lacking the community and in context of online, whereas I would actually pitch their options where online births these Ekklesias around these, these communities around. And whether you're clustering this for a church plant or a micro site, all of a sudden online is, is the vehicle that's helping you create these, these pockets of, of growth instead of pulling away from and hindering.

Eric Geiger: 24:01 So if it's truly a, a unified experience, if you, so if you take Omni channel church, that's that idea to the, to the furtherest thing here. Yet you're committed to a discipleship process. So hang on, you're hitting your, you'd have both, you'll, we believe in the tools and you have a process. You could have somebody who every week they watch at home every single week. That's, that's the, that's the service they attend, right? Yeah. Their next step is to be in a group and they then are they then show up on Tuesday nights to a physical group, right? Yeah. Then their next step is to serve or to do outreach in the city. And they, so I, I, you know, truly Omni Channel Church would be, they can ebb and flow between physical and online and environments throughout the whole process. Correct. And still feel like they're part of the church, which is significant by the wrestling with currently is most people when they hear online church, they're only thinking the weekend service. They're only thinking one step of the discipleship process. They're not thinking the whole thing.

Jeff Reed: 25:04 Yeah. And let me just throw this out there. Sorry. Rey. No, it's all right. Is that not even a fair statement? Let me, let's just be honest. Is that not even a fair statement in context of church where churches itself defines itself a lot by that one hour on Sunday and maybe not so much, maybe it's not to the extent of of church online, but there are churches out there that struggle with that ideology.

Eric Geiger: 25:27 I agree. I, I think, uh, that's why I said you, you would have to be a church that's coupled with like church for us is not this one thing. It's, it's, it's an overall discipleship process.

Rey DeArmas: 25:37 Yeah. And that's where, and I'm glad Jeff brought that up cause that's, that's some of the struggle that we've seen overall and I think in the last few years is there are a lot of people who've considered church, uh, just, hey, I come for the content, I come for the worship and for the word and I don't necessarily have any kind of interaction with believers throughout the week or there is nobody who is necessarily helping me grow in my faith in Christ. It's just this one hour of interaction. And this is where not just church online, but church in general, it can become a dangerous place where ever even really come to appreciate it. Like the work that Robbie Gallaty has been doing and just trying to help people grow in their faith, like getting them into community, um, even where they're at and helping people take those next steps. It's why those things can be so crucial whether it's, you know, if there were an online platform for our folks who travel because we've seen that or, or whether they're able to gather in person. Just because of the, they need that kind of accountability. Right?

Eric Geiger: 26:31 Yeah. That's good.

Jeff Reed: 26:33 How do you as as a lead pastor, so I mean and and I, mariners is huge. Like and just the in the of size California you've got a wide varying range of people that attend different demographics, different. How do you make a decision for something like this? Like theologically, I'm agreeing with this, I'm not agreeing with this. Once again, I'm not, I don't want to put you on the spot offer decision and it direction, but more of what decisions cause cause realized the people that are listening to this are technical people that need to convince someone like you have what the way that they think. And so coach me through here, how can we connect with, with you as, as a high level leader to show you some of these things to, to get you to understand?

Eric Geiger: 27:25 Hmm. That's a great question man.

Jeff Reed: 27:27 Hey everybody, this is Jeff with the church digital. We're going to break the interview right here. That was a great question. The answer was even better honestly. And so rather than to go through, uh, an entire conversation here as, as Eric Geiger eloquently answers that question and all the conversations afterwards, we're actually going to break the episode. We're going to come back because we just had a great episode in context of Omnichannel and unified church. But the conversation that's coming next as we talk about how to talk to your leadership about church online, honestly it's just a whole other episode into itself. I honestly thought I was landing the plane with something simple and a, yeah, it wasn't, but it was awesome. So you definitely want to check out the next episode. We're going to wrap episode nine right now, episode 10, Rey DeArmas from Christ fellowship, Miami, Eric Geiger, lead pastor, Mariner's church and myself diving into that, how to talk to your leadership. Hey, if you've got any questions on this past episode, check out the show notes. Don't forget while you're there, subscribe to this podcast man. Support it. Feel free to leave a review as well as that helps us get the word out and helps us get this content in front of other eyes. But for Eric, for Rey, my name is Jeff. Thanks for listening.

 

 

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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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