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PODCAST 013: Jate Earhart & Creating Disciples While Playing Video Games

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Love video games? Love discipleship? Sharing your faith? Thinking outside the box? This is your episode.

Until Jate Earhart, I (Jeff) don't think I've ever seen the words "discipleship" and "video game" in a sentence together. Jate, in his 20s, runs a video game ministry called Love Clan that disciples those involved to share their faith, encouraging those engaged to not only evangelize, but to disciple, on-going relationships for Christ. Powerful stuff right?

My favorite part of the episode is talking innovation. While Jate works at a church, his ministry is not directly supported or run by a church. There's no master plan. No funding. No directive. This is a story of a man who is passionate about video games, and Jesus, and wants to bridge them together. Honestly I never thought God could use video games for His glory. After this episode I see how that limits God.

Come. Learn. Be encouraged. And ask yourself what are you passionate about that God can use?

ON THE SHOW

Guest: Jate Earhart
Love Clan
Facebook // Discord: Jate0001#

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 Well, I'll tell you what, listening audience, I'm excited about this episode. We've got Jate Earhart and I promise you, you've never heard of this kid before, but he's awesome. So he hit me up through the website for the first time, never heard of him. I just get this form through the website that says, “Hey, I run a discipleship ministry for video gamers and I'd like to talk to you” and I'll tell you right there I paused. Discipleship ministry for video gamers. Like I don't know that I've ever seen those words together on the same page before and it made me want to talk to him as soon as possible. And I did and I got to tell you, I was really impressed. Talk about unconventional ministry, right? This kid is literally doing discipleship, teaching people to share their faith so that they can reach into the video game community using tools like Discord and if you're like me, I barely knew what Discord was and this person, Jate is literally doing this, is discipling others to share their faith through video games like Xbox and playstation. Like, how awesome is this? So you're going to love this episode. Talk about a crazy idea, look for a unique perspective in how to do biblical community, how to create a discipleship community. This is it. Here's Jate Earhart, myself, and, of course, Rey DeArmas, from Christ Fellowship Miami on how to create a discipleship community for video gamers. Here's Rey.

Rey DeArmas: 01:26 When I'd heard what you've been doing, I was just blown away because I'd seen kind of a vision for this and seeing the community gather just from the little bit that had seen online. Yeah. I love to game, but I'm not like in the community like this, but I knew that there was such a strong pool that if other people could see what you're doing, you know, my prayer is that this inspires them for what could be, you know, some people are just not going to get it. But if at least they can get a vision for it, there are people in my community with passion for this and I can empower them or by doing the same thing. That to me is the big win.

Jate Earhart: 01:54 Right. I agree. It is just like, it's people, you know, like it's the thought of like, this is a group of people that have been almost pushed out of church at some point in time because like I know I grew up with, I grew up with like Atari Games because my parents weren't sure about gaming. It was like, "Ah, I don't know that might be from the devil. We haven't decided yet." Like, and so, they had an Atari, but it was like, we don't think we want him to play games because I don't know, my dad was a church planner and my mom was a worship leader and so they both were like, "yeah, this is, we're not sure, and since we don't know, we're just going to err on the caution side." Kind of the same way people did with movies and stuff.

Jate Earhart: 02:51 And so, that's where the rule of like you have to beat the game started was Atari because Atari was way before my time, way before my time, but it was before my time. Right, but that's what I grew up with was Atari. I played Atari because my parents weren't going to buy anything new and so I had a whole suitcase of Atari Games, so I've probably beaten more Atari Games then like most people have beaten Atari Games. I played through like ET, that game sucks. I've beat it.

Rey DeArmas: 03:28 One of the worst games of all time. Yeah, no, it's terrible.

Jate Earhart: 03:34 Awful game. It's an awful game. And like the goal, like you go down to the pit and then you gotta like stretch your neck out and you're like, go back up and it's orangy like half of the game. It's so bad. But like that game, like I figured out how, I don't even know how I figured out how to beat that game. You know, there's like the glitch in a adventure and stuff like that and joust, we played a joust all the time. That's kind of where I convinced my dad that it was good because we would play together mode and it was like, you know, okay I see community here and stuff. And as we went then people would kind of gift us systems. So I'm like 27, but like the games I played in gaming terms was like Atari. And then I played Sega and then I played Nintendo and got Zelda and I got a game boy when it came out. And it was like I've gone through the whole process from the actual start to the end where we're at now in the order, probably more better than most people have at least for sure my age. Cause people just were like, yeah, I had a 64 from the time I was young, you know, it's like, "oh, okay, well I didn't deal with that." I had, you know, Spiderman and Pitfall, you know, or whatever.

Rey DeArmas: 04:49 What kind of community are you seeing come out of this? Because it's kinda crazy to imagine that people not only are jumping into it, but really making it something where they're talking about it and, and it's introducing like this whole new space where they can move and interact and be, and be themselves, which is great.

Jate Earhart: 05:07 Yeah, community-wise, we're seeing a ridiculous amount of community. We are seeing it any way because it's like a natural thing, I think. When people do something they love, especially something that is already geared towards multiplayer is something that's already geared towards like interaction. You're going to want to interact with other people. I think it's kind of natural. Like we see groups of people that they want to talk about movies and that makes sense cause like a lot of stuff happens in movies, but when the actual thing is interactive by nature and multiplayer, I mean, it's like, of course you're going to see community like you should, you totally should. It just makes natural sense. But, the community that we're building is a very positive environment but it's also a very open chat. And I think like our original goal was it for it to just be really, really positive and it's moved more into like, what people need, at least the people that are in our group. Because like I was saying, there's no one like you can go with one thing in mind and just, you know, this is what's needed and what people really need was just open, like people being willing to hear what they're saying and accept it as like a human emotion or the way that they feel and it, and it's like, yeah, I acknowledged that what you just said has worth and, thank you for like letting me hear that, you know? And that's such a small thing, but, like it's funny because when we're talking about like, when I'm thinking about positivity, did you watch the Mr. Rogers movie?

Rey DeArmas: 07:19 Not yet. I love Mr. Rogers so much. Ah, man, that had an impact on my life. I call him, Fred, as if it like we're boys, but he was fantastic growing up. Yeah, go ahead.

Jate Earhart: 07:31 That's how I feel about it, it's like, he's super positive, but just being positive isn't really what he did. Instead it was like he would talk to kids like they were more than just, you know, just a thing that was there or whatever it is. It was like, I care about you, like what you're saying is important and I want to understand you. That's like something that I don't know if it's lost in our community because there's a chance that, you know, perception or whatever, but I feel like we really have lost the art of hearing people, you know, it's like listening is one thing, but then like actually hearing and taking in and saying like, what you have has values is lost. And especially in the gaming community where you hear so much input, you know, it's like ads almost. It's just people talking. You've joined a lobby for like five seconds and meet somebody and then you land and die and you're like, "alright see ya", you know, and you never have to talk to them again. And it just becomes a burned in your mind that these are just noises in your game and they're not actual people. So I think that's kind of what we're trying to break past is like, no, like you are a person and let's actually have community and not just 30 seconds in a game and it's been really good.

Rey DeArmas: 09:01 How are you helping bridge that gap in terms of community and all that stuff?

Jeff Reed: 09:06 Hmm. Yeah, it's hard. Honestly, the hardest part is how do you like reach people that need that? Cause once you can connect with them, that it's like cool, like now we can talk and we can do that thing, you know. Our community is, well at the time of this, it's like 670 people or something like that, and it's gotten really big. But the actual "community" is probably closer to like 50, you know, because a lot of people join and they'll talk maybe every once in a while, they'll just kind of look in and that's fine but then there's like people that every day this is like their new Facebook, you know? I don't like saying that because it's like you don't want to replace anything. But, for a lot of people, Facebook has gotten kind of the epitome of what I was talking about where it's this echo chamber of, you know, algorithms will help you find the things that give you the type of things you care about.

Jate Earhart: 10:15 And so it's just like, you never get another opinion. It's just, here's the things you care about because they're the people you followed. And so if you do see a bad opinion, you're going to post your little rants or whatever. And then if you don't want to reply after that, you don't have to because you can just say what you want to say and you leave. And with a chat room it's very much more, you see what's the last thing said? And at any point in time somebody else could join and have just as much say as the next person, especially in the way that we have it set up. I deleted it, but we had colors for like mods had a color, admins had a color, like different colors to dictate hierarchy in our structure and at least for the time being and for the last three years that's all been removed.

Jate Earhart: 11:09 So it's every person has the same though, but I do have is a level system. So the more that you talk, the bluer your name turns. It kind of starts at like more of a dark blue and then it turns to like a lighter blue the longer that you're in the chat that you've been talking. So that way you can kind of get a gauge of this person has influenced because they talk more. And that's just to encourage other people to actually engage and that way it's less of a, "this person has power over you because you know, they have the word admin or this person cause they have the word mod" and it's more like the real world where, "okay, if you want more influence, like just, just talk to people more." And, so that's kind of the thinking there.

Jate Earhart: 11:55 But yeah, I mean that's really the base of our community is very simple. At least at the start we were 50/50 Christian, non Christian. I would say that's pretty fair. At least that was our understanding and we talk to people and we're very open. We had a channel for prayer, had a channel for encouragement where we would release videos. We saw like a stair step system. I don't want to jump too much, but we saw a stair step system where people are going to need different stuff. We talk about like next steps in church a lot and so it's like, what does it look like for people to take the very first step? That might be to just talk to somebody who is a Christian, like not even anything beyond that. Then if you talk to someone who is a Christian, then your next step might be to that person to mention something that's spiritual so you understand where that person's at spiritually. There's something called the five levels of communication and we would talk about those and it's like, you know, first there'd be a base level communication and then maybe you'd have something that was a personal, like something, what does your Avatar mean? And then it's like meaningful, usually it's something bad that's happened in your life, what are you dealing with? And that's kind of the prayer would take that. What could we be praying for you. And then if you, I mean, if you're in a prayer channel, and then we'd ask you probably about your spirituality. That's not even the last one.

Jate Earhart: 13:35 That's just where are you at spiritually and a lot of people feel like they relate to spirituality, but they may not relate to even a god, they'll just say, yeah, "I feel very spiritual". And it's like, okay, well can you dig into that a little bit? I feel like that's a term today we've taken and then the fifth one is gospel. So we'd say like this is where you'd share your faith or so on. We think about those and like stairsteps and it's like, how do we get people to the next step as they're going? And the encouragement channel was sort of that tipping point where it was a video that was based on a game and whatever the game was and then we'd have like videos or a section at the end that would kind of relate it to something in the Bible or not even always to something in the Bible, sometimes it was just here is something that like, this is why it's helpful to be positive, here's a way of thinking about mental health or whatever. And sometimes it led itself to a Bible verse and sometimes led itself to just here's like the truth of it, you know. Those are kind of some of the things we've tried.

Jeff Reed: 14:59 So what you basically have there is the discipleship process. Like did you come up on that with your own, did somebody coach you through that? Like what did that look like?

Jate Earhart: 15:09 No. I mean for me personally, New Life, the church that I attend full time and I've been working there full-time for four years now and they're really good. Their process at least in the time whenever I first joined, by the time I had joined, they were already doing Exponential. It's like a church planter conference. The Executive Pastor there, before I was there, the Executive Pastor left just start Exponential, Todd Wilson. Then they continued that understanding that the best way to reach lost people is to start new churches. And so they have, something like 13% of all of our tithes and offerings goes to starting new churches. So we've continued to do that. We've also been pushed more into, the same way exponential has, it's the multiplication idea. To multiply, you have to make disciples that make disciples, that start churches that plant churches. And so through their staff meetings over the last couple of years, especially as we've moved more into discipleship, they've taught a lot of strategies, but they've emphasized that it's been not about the strategy, you know, but the heart of it. I've always seen it through this view and I already know my ministry before we started in this. So it was really like, as I'm hearing it and I'm writing stuff down, like, okay, how can I immediately apply this to what I'm already needing it, you know. So that's been really, really helpful.

Jeff Reed: 17:02 Now let's, let's just unpack this a little bit, cause you've got your ministry, right? So this video game ministry, is this through New Life? Is this attached? Like where, walk us through the genesis. You kind of fast forwarded, which is awesome. 670 people. Like walk us through day one. Where did this thing start with?

Jate Earhart: 17:24 No, so it started. Me personally, I can remember where I was driving actually. I'd been praying for six months with my small group that I wanted something that had more purpose. It felt like it connected more the dots because I felt like I was just kinda going through the motions. I wasn't working a church at the time, wasn't doing anything like that. As I was praying about this stuff, I remember where I was, where I felt like God just said, you know, what about a game church? And I almost crashed because I was just like, that's such a crazy idea, but it like makes sense. Like immediately it was like this, just all of that makes so much sense for so many reasons. And so I googled "game church" and there was one organization literally called "Game Church" and I joined it and I emailed them and I think they were kind of like, "okay, you know, whatever." It was a Facebook group. They went to, and they still do, they went to events like, Pax. I ended up going to Pax West and they would set up a table, hand lanyards and tell people Jesus loves you. I mean, it was very, very basic. It was just like, we don't want to go too far into any of this. And that was really good. And I was a part of that Facebook group. That's a big group, that's bigger than this is. They did that for years and eventually I started to notice that I could only get so far with people, like communication wise, we weren't really seeing any, you know, not that baptism is like the epitome of everything. Sometimes you plant seeds and the idea was to plant seeds in this group, but I couldn't see a logical connection of like where people would go on that, you know?

Jate Earhart: 19:33 And so it was like I'm seeing a need and so I was an Admin of this, of this group. Like I was really into it and so I wanted to go a little deeper. And so I built and we started this discord, and with other people in Game Church. It was a Game Church type thing. And the thought was in the Facebook group, we had a policy to not talk about overly religious things. This is a religious group. And the idea was that we don't want to push people away that are joining from that community because they see it for the very first time. It's just like this crazy over the spiritualist thing. But the problem is that also kept us from being able to go deep with people and the things if they wanted it, and we couldn't tell if they wanted it or not.

Jate Earhart: 20:24 And then we just seemed like we weren't any different than just a normal gaming group, you know? And so, where's the difference? This just started to happen, and we notice all this stuff and so we said, "If that group is the lobby, the lobby of a church or whatever, then we needed a place that actually that would be the like outside area." We needed a lobby. We needed a place that people can actually come to and talk with each other. Just posting a Facebook message and then somebody else posting underneath, like, I'll never get a deep conversation that way. I might get one string of thought, but like I need, I need more than that if I'm going to have a conversation with somebody, like this conversation we're having, imagine how long that Facebook thread is and we're doing it in an hour.

Jate Earhart: 21:13 It would take all day. You know, it's just, it's not fast enough We started a discord and people started to talk and it was really good for a long time it was like me every other message to just keep the conversation going. I felt like a human AI for awhile. It's like, you know, submit a word and I'll submit one back, you know, or something back. And it was kind of slow, but as it started to build and build, we got more and more people I could kind of leave for a little bit and other people would, you know, respond and it's just slow, but as it builds up. So that's where it started.

Jate Earhart: 22:03 We had a point in time though where there was a huge falling out with admins, leadership. Honestly, it was specific leadership in Game Church and has happens, so we just decided along with a couple of other people, we're going to break off and we're going to do a separate thing. We became Love Clan, which is something that the name kind of started from like a call of duty clan called love clan, back when I worked at another church and so it was just like alright, we'll go that direction. Another group became Love Thy Nerd and they're really cool, doing kind of the same thing. They're great. They're super great. Should looked them up too. Lovethynerd.com and they do a sort of more a blog style, where they'll come up with articles that are specifically geared towards gamers in the nerd culture. They'll put kind of a Christian spin on it.

Jeff Reed: 23:06 So wait, I've seen that. Wait, we seriously like the love thy nerd, the blog. Yeah I've read that. ah. So that's kind of in the same species?

Jate Earhart: 23:16 Yeah, we were all at one point in time we were all together, so we were all in Game Church. We split, actually the guy that really ran the Game Church side of things is now running the Love Thy Nerd thing. So there's a lot of similarities probably between what Game Church and Love thy Nerd are. And then ours was because we already had a community that was even separate from the Facebook thing cause we were doing gaming events and stuff like that. It's kind of like they focused further in, and we were a very outreach group. Game church was very outreach. Obviously we would go to conventions and hand stuff out and all that and I wanted more of the like personal, intimate connection stuff, more discipleship like you're saying. So we did the discord and they became even better I think at what they were doing as far as the outreach and Game Church took on different management and so Game Church is continuing doing what they're doing. For me, it feels like a forced, like God forced us to multiply. Like this thing happens, you know what seemed like it was bad is actually going to turn out for good. And now there's three groups and we only had one, you know, so it's a great thing in the long run at the time obviously it hurt, but now we have a group that's really good at outreach and like we're getting pretty good at discipleship and yeah, it's good.

Rey DeArmas: 24:51 This is amazing Jeff, could we actually be talking about our very first online church split? You know what I'm saying? Like times in the past like, hey, a church has a youth ministry. Youth Ministry wants to take it to a certain area, those folks grow up and all of a sudden, you know, the leadership that's in play is like naw, we're not going that direction, we're going this direction. Next thing you know, you've got two churches and both of them, you know, well meaning reaching their community, doing great gospel work. But there was just a disagreement. There was a Paul and Barnabas moment where it was split. We don't get along, but God used that at the end of the day. This is fascinating. It's great.

Jeff Reed: 25:26 Like and Jate, you've mentioned, this the first time I met you, like I've at least virtually, I met you, I think you hit me up a website and we started talking. Virtually counts. But you were talking, and the thing that I was like, man, I gotta talk to this guy because you used the words video game ministry and discipleship in the same sentence. And I'm like, okay, anybody's using video games like Xbox, PS4, you know, like I just got to understand this. And discipleship means so many things like the label itself. And so like, let's, let's put some tangibleness to this. What does discipleship look like in context of video gaming of the people that you're reaching? Like what is the goal if you have a process, what's the goal of your process to help?

Jate Earhart: 26:15 Sure. You're right. That is a thing like I mean we could talk forever on what does disciple actually mean because there's full books that are like, yeah, I got it down. And then like you go to the next store down and they're just like, nope, totally different thing. You know, I've heard, the original word for a disciple would be like a learner. Like somebody who learns. I've heard an apprentice, you know, is the word disciple, it's one that we've taken more of a Christian term now. I usually tend to lean towards seeing disciple as somebody who hears and follows God. that's, that's the definition that we use at New Life. So it's in there somewhere, it's someone who hears and follows God and wants to continue learning about God and teach others to learn about God.

Jate Earhart: 27:11 So it's something like that, you know? So I think with that in mind, that's where I go to is like, how do I have processes that help me,, help people hear and follow God in a new way. But also help people learn about God. Maybe if they've been shut down to it. How do I have that work? So there are lots of different ways to do that.If you, I know we talked last time a little bit about three circles. Uh, yeah, that's, it's uh, Bill Smith. and Jeff McDaniels, those are two names. Definitely look up t for t is a book that we put out at, at uh, wealth. Yeah. So look those up, those are really good t for T. but those, those ideas, it's like how do we take the strategies that churches are, are using to train disciples?

Jate Earhart: 28:13 How do we take those things and bring them into an online space? And it's, it usually happens organically and I say it happens organically because God works in organically. God, God will, will do things in ways that are like completely not natural. and, and it becomes natural when over time. So like by praying for God, I had it to go ahead of us. He does, you know, and a lot of times it's like, okay, I have tools. God, I'm prepared. Just let me speak boldly. If you put something in front of me, I'll be ready for it. And then it happens. And like can't emphasize enough the importance of prayer in this thing. because I would pray. So just, I'll do, I'll do a, an example. I I did a destiny raid. The like really long destiny has these rates that are like, oh man, sometimes three hours, if you're doing it the first time we can go even longer.

Jate Earhart: 29:16 That's first time I did the vault of glass. Took me like seven hours I think, cause it was like the first time you're doing it and you have to do it with a group. So you take like six people and you all go and try and do this thing and you just all shut your schedules down for like the rest of the day. And and so we did this thing and while you're doing it, you're not really talking because you're having to communicate. It's very in depth. very mechanically specific of what you have to, it's a puzzle. it's like a three hour puzzle and I, you know, I completed it with this group of guys, these random people I found online and at the end this guy was just kept talking and like everybody else was like, hey, thanks for the run.

Jate Earhart: 29:59 Really good, nice to meet you guys. And then it'll leave in the chat. And and this guy just kept talking like, yeah, hey, thanks guys. Yeah, you know, I got work in the morning, but I, you know, yeah, I work at this place down the street, you know, asked is how it goes. And it was just like, like just really wanted, I guess, communication or something. And so I stuck around in the chat and I'm like looking for a way to leave, but it's not happening. And before I know it's just him and I together in the chat. And uh, and, and so I was like, I got, I don't, I don't know, this is kind of like a weird place to whatever, but let's, you know what, let's just go for it. And so I asked him, you know, well, what do you do?

Jate Earhart: 30:38 and he said, I am a, well, I'm, I'm in the, uh, air force or something like that. And I was like, oh, cool. You know, w w what do you do? Oh, well I work at a church and that's usually an in for me cause I can just, Oh, I work at a show. What kind of church, where do you, you know, so on so forth. And that conversation, he, he basically said, oh yeah, well there's, there's actually a bunch of churches, uh, in our, in our place where we're at, uh, in the, I don't, I think he was, does like flight flight stuff. I don't know if he actually flew or whatever, but he was saying, yeah, there's, there's lots of, different churches. And I've been trying all of them, but I was just wasn't sure what to, you know, how to, what to make of them and like, which one to go to.

Jate Earhart: 31:22 And so we were able to like literally go into here's like the Bible and a three, three circles. And then so and so forth. I mean, we did this over chat and and then he left and I've seen him a couple of times and chat here and there, but it was just like that, that felt like planting a seed, you know, like that's, that's a seed more than just Jesus loves you. And like, yeah, everybody had already heard that or whatever before. but the, the same thing, I was like, that was pretty crazy. And then the next time I did a rate, the exact same thing happened. And I was like, I got this. I mean, this is just wild. Like the exact same thing. And so I was just like, whatever, God, okay, what do you do? Right. That's some of the same thing.

Jate Earhart: 32:04 And he said, oh, well, I'm a carpenter. And I was like, oh my gosh. Like this is a softball one. Like urban area, you know, like, yeah. So it happens. I mean, it really, you know, it's like, come on, that was easy. yeah, but that, that's the, so the online, the, the end game stuff, we're, we're figuring that out. It doesn't always happen, but it's an openness. Uh, like once you, it's the same thing. I don't tell people when they're, they're learning discipleship that it's like, okay, the end goal of this is that you go to the mall and you find somebody and then you convert them or whatever like that that may happen and that's really good when it does. But I want you to like pray about this and have God show people in your life that like oil costs, you know, like who are the people in your sphere of influence currently that you can be, you can be talking to.

Jate Earhart: 32:59 And uh, the, the thing for the online game industry is it's like you're already talking to these people. I just want you to be hearing what God's saying. If you saying anything and if it shows up, then like, go for that, you know? and that's what we're trying to get people to, to understand. So I don't know if there's a strategy for that one as much, but the, there's definitely a strategy for how to reach people to get to that stage. Like Christians that maybe haven't seen their games as something they could use this ministry. And, for me, it's taking the versus seriously that say in everything that I do glorify God. You know, like that includes my gaming. Like that includes my personal time and my entertainment time and it's not, yeah. On Sundays from, for one hour. Like that's where I glorify God. It's, you know, it's, it's everything. It's my whole life. So, uh, yeah.

Rey DeArmas: 33:58 That's powerful man. How, how then are you encouraging other people to kind of take on the same thing? Because I imagine there's a lot of people in your sphere, like you're saying, that have a passion for gaming and they see the potential for its ability to reach people for Christ or even to disciple folks. So how does that transition to the next person, not just from you, the leader?

Jate Earhart: 34:15 Yeah, so we have a core group, in love clan and those are kind of the people that, they've identified themselves as people who are just active in that community. but they're also like spiritual leaders through people that, uh, are, are almost plants in our group that like if they see an opportunity, they're going to hop on it. we talk about like wolf pack of just when somebody new joins you wolf pack them, you know, like you're just like, yeah, I it going, yeah, just to fill up, like flood them with love this so often that people join and just leave immediately. It's like, ah, now what? I was looking for it, you know, but if like eight people are like, hey, how's it going? Hey, how's it going? It's like, okay, well, I mean like, I feel really connected already and I just joined.

Jate Earhart: 35:00 So, like that kind of, uh, getting that stuff, that, the basics, that's a good, that's a starting place. having people feel like there's a community. But, uh, with our core group, we've talked about these things being intentional and all this stuff. I, you know, I've been talking about, those are things we'll talk about in our core group. and for the very first time, this has, this has been really good. Uh, Tuesday actually, which is why I'm kinda like gotta be delayed this Tuesday was our, our very first Bible study. so we did a Bible study online. actually some of the stuff, uh, Jeff that you had shared in a, uh, a post about somebody else that I did a similar thing. yeah, so we were like, we're reading through that. I shared that with our group and they were like, yeah, this, this is encouraging.

Jate Earhart: 35:52 Like we need to do this stuff. And and so it was really like, this is actually where it's, where it's kind of Nice. The limitations help us in this way. A discord currently has a limitation of 10 people to a voice channel. So it's kind of like zoom in and it's the same. We could do a voice channel or we can do a video channel and we can talk and all this. Uh, but with discord the Max is 10 people and you can talk as long as you want and you don't have to pay for it. So zoom has like a 40 minutes, you have a limit or something or you have to pay for it and you have to do certain, there's certain limitations. as long as it's 10 people, you're totally unlimited with discord at least currently. So our, yeah, and so that, there you go.

Jate Earhart: 36:38 10 people is the Max for our small group and we're doing, we'll do a video chat. And so our, the, the push there for discipleship, for multiplication literally comes from a currently technological, you know, people, they don't realize that it's more than that. I want one that small group to be more than 10 people anyway, but I can blame it on like, hey guys, like I, you know, sorry, we literally can't have more than 10 people. There's other people out here who want to have this, what we're having right now, a discussion. And so, and so like, I, I need you guys to lead this group. So either I can go and I smart it started another group that's at another time or you know, you guys lead this group, test it, we'll do the, like, uh, so last week was the first one and at the end of it I told them, Hey, I'm going to do this one more time, but I need you guys to like be watching because I literally, we, we filled that group that like, there was seven this week, but there was already 10 planned.

Jate Earhart: 37:37 And the other slots were people that said like, Hey, I can't this week cause I finals, but I need to like, I'll be there next week or, or you know, stuff like that. And so we have 10, like we're at 10. And I didn't, I messaged like 12 people. Maybe it was like immediately people were like, oh, we're into that. Like, yeah, we want to be a part of that. That's something that we're interested in. So, I mean, we got 10 immediately and I have a whole list of names of people that I probably could message and fill another group right now. so I just need like another, another leader. And uh, so the, this group, I said, I'm going to let you guys watch, watch what I'm doing. It's going to be, uh, you watch, or I do you watch and then I do you help.

Jate Earhart: 38:20 And then you do, I help. And then you do Iwatch. And by then, you know, four weeks from now or whatever, we should have another leader that has done it at least enough times. or we can swap, have a of different people do it. And uh, and then like, okay, we're going to go do another group. Does somebody want to go do one or are you guys gonna stay here? And then I'll go do one. and just kind of leave that open. So I mean, the thought is it really just multiplies to the point that, you know, as people catch on and realize that it's really not hard. Aye. I purposefully take less time planning. This was really big with our, and just stop me at any point. The, the, the Tuesday group, I purposefully take less, less time planning it than I do doing it because it's not a sermon.

Jate Earhart: 39:11 It's not a, it's just a discussion. Uh, and so I, I don't want to take too much time in, and planning it because then it'll just be that in less of a discussion. And so when we do it, I just have post it notes. and this is another thing learned from, uh, I think it may be in t for t, but it's definitely something that new life taught from whoever that, you know, I wish I could get the original person really like Bill Smith. Uh, he's done a ton for us. But the, the idea of a five questions and it's what is this, uh, when reading through the Bible, what does this say about God? What does it say about people? What does this say about you? What are you going to do about it and who are you going to share it with?

Jate Earhart: 39:57 Those are like five questions. And, uh, as I'm reading through the chapters that we're going to talk about, I just have sticky notes on the side and I literally write God question mark and I put it on the sticky note. Like on that, that section, if I feel like that's a section that talks about what is this, what does it say about God? Or if it's a section that's like, oh, this is really weird about people, what does it say about people? Or if it's like kind of deep, it's like, what does it say about you? And, and then I'll just go through the Bible as we're going and like read the sticky notes and like this is the section that sticky notes connected to. So I guess read that section and it takes me that as much time as it takes to just read those chapters.

Jate Earhart: 40:36 I planned for, we're using, if you know Tim Mackey, he, he does the Bible project, those like, well he has, he has a group now, the Bible project, but it was started by Tim Mackey. He was lead pastor at a door of hope church and Portland and they have animated videos that are like perfect for visually showing stuff. So we'll like watch the animated videos. right now we're going through acts so it's x one through seven and that was my plan was that we'd get through acts one through seven because that was what we got through when we did. I did a small group of young adults, small group locally. And so the plan was to just, okay, since we'd already done this young adult small group locally, it be really easy to just do that with the online one and then I don't have to think about it as much.

Jate Earhart: 41:30 And we were going to do one through seven and uh, I had all these notes, you know, I want to make sure that we don't like run out of content and stuff like that. We talked through chapter one, it took us an hour to get through acts one. We got through two of my post it notes and one of them said, what does it say about God? And one of them said, what does it say about people? And that was literally it. That's all for this for small group. That's all we got through for an hour and a half. and it was like, okay, you know, like it's so easy to think like this is going to be really hard to do. I can get myself in my head. That's starting a small group is going to be a ton of my time and ton of work. And instead it turns into I am reading the Bible actively because I have to think about having questions and I do that for like what an extra hour in my week.

Jate Earhart: 42:21 Like I'd already wanted to do that anyway and now I have accountability for it, which is great because if I have accountability then I can actively give accountability to other people. And then I'm, we're leading a discussion, which is like easy. I thought I, I have, I have the next like seven weeks planned at this rate. Like I kept playing for one week and it's like, who knows how long it'll take. So, yeah, it's, it's honestly just, it was, it's really easy. You just messaged people and said, do you want to be a part of a small group? And they were like, yeah, you know, and then, okay. And I also, I messaged people ahead of time saying, would you lead a small group? I messaged like five people and nobody wanted to do that. But you lead a small group one time and show them how easy it is and how little you planned. The fact that you hit two post it notes and that will you just read through acts one through whatever.

Jeff Reed: 43:12 What would I love? What you're doing here is you're, you're, you're modeling, you're, you're giving an example. Yeah. Like you're, you're doing abstract ministry. Your first off, you're creating a discipleship system. Yeah. We're also working with video gamers and we didn't really hit on this like you're connected to a church, but that church really isn't like backing the ministry. Right. This is a,

Jate Earhart: 43:35 right, well, there's awesome no fees. I mean, the entire, from the beginning, the whole point was that it's literally all free. There's no cost involved at all. And that was intentional from the beginning. But,

Jeff Reed: 43:47 and so you try and to get people from, from the outside to bind to this vision to, to to lead a small group to be part of the discipleship thing. Like you have to show an example of what that looks like. You know, we've been churches who are doing like church online and you know, we can talk about online small groups or discipleship online to implement. A lot of times like people have no idea what the concept even even is. And so your example of I do you watch I do you help you do I help you do I watch, you know, at that four week that's a, that's a fast turnaround time. But even still, that's a great example of hey, I'm going to train you to duplicate me. You're going to become very soon so I can step out and go do something else somewhere else. And so I can help. The next group gets started. That's awesome. So have your 50 core, you're really looking at what, like 10 or 10 or 12 that are, that are doing a group now do you like, and the goal is to you to release that group and go start another 10. Is that how you're really starting to

Jate Earhart: 44:55 no, so yeah, no, we have, so we have, the core, uh, I'd say as far as our like community goes, people that are chatting regular that we probably have 50 people. and then there's a lot of lurkers. So there's a lot of people that'll pop in every once in awhile. we did a survey recently and yeah, I mentioned this. So yeah, I'd say originally we were probably about 50, 50 Christian, non Christian. We recently did a survey, three years later now and it was like 95% Christian, like identifying as Christian. a lot of those people that are on that list, I remember the first time that they posted an in prayer like, and they were said, I don't usually do this, you know, and, uh, I'd say most of their, like, when I think about planting seeds, it's like these are people that for the first time they're talking about prayer.

Jate Earhart: 45:45 They're feeling like this is something that they can relate with. And then they found like a local church. And that was kind of our big push for a long time was you should find a local family, a local place that you can go to. for some people that's just not something they're probably going to do. and I get that, but I do feel like a local families is really necessary for a lot of different reasons, but are, you know, it's how do we make, how do we make these things, uh, easier for online? Like one of the main reasons I'd want you to find a local places so you can be in a small group. So if I can like break that barrier one by just doing it online, then okay then we'll do that, you know? but that, that now that there's a, uh, uh, seeing that we've switched to mostly most of our core group being Christian then, then that's really where I felt the drive this year for the first time of like, okay, we're going to go real hard into discipleship then because I don't want you to coast.

Jate Earhart: 46:44 Like this isn't a group for the Christian huddle and it's not just like, you know, I don't want just people that feel like your goal here is to just talk to other Christians that play games. Cause that's not our, there are groups for that, that's not this group. And there's also a, uh, a tendency with doing a small group is that it can become hungry, hungry Christian, where it's just like, I just want more information and like, oh, like what does it say in Greek and Hebrew? And like, you know, it's just like, no, no, no, not like, think about this in the term of, and this is why we do this from the beginning. I want you to look at this verse as somebody that would look at this first for the first time. How do you take this verse and give it to somebody?

Jate Earhart: 47:26 It's like, why the fifth one is who are you going to share it with because versus become new. When you think about them in the context of somebody who is new and like, how do I, how do I give this verse to somebody else if it's something I've heard a thousand times, have I shared it a thousand times? Like ms cleanable, man, that was good. Like, it's like, like if it's, yeah, it's like somebody told you this verse so many times, but like are you giving it to somebody? It is, is a real thing. and we do tend to just be really, cycle, you know, and we're not like, we're not giving it to somebody else. We're just taking it in. you know, it's the same idea. Like your cup. Let your cups over flowing and it's like, yeah, it's going to keep being filled. Can you like pour it into who can you pour into so that you can have an empty cup to like fill it again? And uh, yeah. It's just that mindset. I think it's really a cultural thing of just that don't, don't get in this cycle. Uh, and I, I believe it does start at like a leadership stage. Like you from the top down, you have to be intentional in discipleship or else it just becomes, you know, this has been a really nice, uh, lesson, you know, or whatever.

Rey DeArmas: 48:43 Okay. Kiss real quick before we close. Coz I imagine that Jeff and I are going to be having you on again because really this has been just amazing to talk through. And I also want to find out like how the group continues to grow. but yeah, me too. Yeah. Yeah. Just excited to see kind of what happens next with that and, and see what the Lord is doing in you. Uh, get some quick fun questions before we go. A preferred video game method or system.

Jate Earhart: 49:07 Ooh. Uh, system, easy PC. I made the switch from Xbox long time ago. Uh, when I look back it's, it's great. and then what was the other one? Did you cut? Did you custom build it or, well, it's been custom built now. It's like, it, it looks like something out of iron man or something. It's all like, they're not, not in a good way. It's the bad iron man. Words like that, like stuff like glued to the side and they're like, you know, stuff is like, yeah, it's really not good. But I'm, I'm hoping, I'm hoping AMD a rising third gen is going to be great and I can build a new computer because I'm like waiting for that. So yeah. That's uh, we'll see where that goes. Cool. All time. Favorite game. Oh boy. I don't like that question. All right. I don't know. I don't know. I, I've like thought about it long and hard and decided that I just don't have any clue. No idea.

Rey DeArmas: 50:05 That's completely fine. Nostalgia game that you love to get lost in.

Jate Earhart: 50:09 Ooh. Uh, nostalgia game would probably be Super Mario brothers. Super Mario World. Just, just because there's like so much. we had a, well now I'm like changing my answer a billion times, but the oxic with that one, we uh, my family had a thing was like, you, we won't get you another game until you beat the one you have in Super Mario world had like a percentage thing and it usually it was just you beat the game, you get to the end screen that I've had a percentage. So it was like, no, you haven't beat it yet. It's still says 90% or something. I was like, no, I beat Bowzer like I beat him. And so I had to go find all the hidden stuff and like there's so many hidden things in that game. There's no way I could do that today without Google. And like, I still have no idea how I found like the star road or like how I found special world or zone or whatever. Like I have no idea. But somehow I did that as a kid without a guide. So that game still has like, you know, I'm like, ha ha. Like you missed that thing because you didn't know was like, I know I have that whole game like embedded in my brain. So yeah, it's a, it's a nostalgia thing for me.

Jeff Reed: 51:13 Very cool man. I don't want to put an age on yet, but I'm going to put an age on you. How old are you?

Jate Earhart: 51:19 Oh boy. Uh, 27. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 51:22 So you're 27 years old and decided, hey, I'm going to start a discipleship ministry on or for video gaming. Like I just, and I asked that question not because you know, you're 27, but man, that oppressive to have to have devs have that heart and that vision to do some nontraditional ministry like this. And so, man, I just wanted to encourage you in this. Like you're, you're doing a lot of things, that are unconventional. You're, doing a discipleship only with no budget independent, uh, outside of a church. Yes. You work at a church and you're using resources, but it's outside of that churches kind of direction, which is a great church. and you're doing it centered around video games. It's like there's a bunch of stuff that's like, that's not gonna work. That's not going to work. Why would you even try that?

Jeff Reed: 52:15 Yet? Strangely, what you're seeing now, even within the past month or so since we've been talking, you're seeing growth and development in those areas. So man, be encouraged by that. Uh, that's phenomenal. Listeners who are out there, a man, be like Jate, not like play seven hours of destiny in a row, but if you do place hours of destiny and God leads you to pull it to, to have a conversation with somebody, how awesome is that? But no, take, take a risk, take a chance. I put on Facebook a while back, it's like, like the masters failed more than the, uh, than the apprentice has tried and so did out. That is deep, right? Uh, it was on, it was not a new health podcast, uh, maybe a month or so ago. But get out there and try get out there and take a chance, try something different, uh, for the sake of the Gospel, for the sake of, of discipleship, for the sake of the kingdom. This is,

Jate Earhart: 53:13 it's funny you mentioned that game. Uh, Jeff, because you know, there's so many shared experiences that we have that take a long time that don't lead to Gospel conversations that I'm like, no, Jay took complete advantage of that and so is no time loss. Like

Rey DeArmas: 53:26 Lauren and I went to a red sox game last week. We were in Boston, we were at a sox game for like three or four hours. That didn't lead to a gospel conversation afterwards. But man, if it did, that would have been amazing. Uh, so many of us out there have seen a vendor's end game that that's three hour block in the movie theater that if it led to a gospel conversation afterwards, man, that'd be huge. Gate leveraged a puzzle that brought in a whole lot of people that he wasn't, that he doesn't know and brought them together in community and he leveraged that for the sake of the Gospel. That's magnificent man. I say be like Jate, man. Even if it means you're saying spending three or four hours on a game and you're taking apart puzzles, man. I say be like, Jate, man, that's you.

Jeff Reed: 54:01 We're, we're, we're all going to get like, be like j tattoos. It's going to be great.

Jate Earhart: 54:05 I might just do that. Yeah. I think I said this last time, but my, like my prayer like almost starts and ends with like, God, you got to humble me. So I mean like that, that is my, my biggest fear is like, uh, no, like I don't want to, I don't want to get like a bloated head about anything. So yeah, don't do not get my name tattooed bad. That'd be bad. That, that mentality, like you're saying, just to, to end it is, is the everything that you do, you know, do it for the glory of God. And so I know somebody is probably this thing that's like, but not this, you know, not this thing that I do. And it's like w w I mean, what, what is this? If it's something you can't do full of glory of God, you probably shouldn't be doing it.

Jate Earhart: 54:50 Let's put it that way. You know, so, uh, find something. And I don't think that means, you know, that we're going to have, you need to just be singing all the time. If that's what you do, then I mean good, but in like take the things that you're doing and just think about it a little deeper. You know, how can you find a community in that and how can you be intentional? Like that's our word for this year and love clan is it's doing the same things you were doing, but you're doing them intentionally. And, uh, and that's, that's also it's just really important for, for discipleship is intentionality.

Jeff Reed: 55:22 Cool. Hey, Jate, if somebody wants to find Love Clan, if somebody wants to find you on social media, more information, where do they go?

Jate Earhart: 55:29 Sure, Love Clan - loveclan.net. I think that still works. I haven't checked it recently. We're Discord. So I usually send discord.gg/whatislove. What is love baby? Don't hurt me. And that's the usual ones that you'd look for. If you wanted to find me. I'm Jate Earhart on Facebook, or sometimes I'll use tweets, but, for the most part it's just Facebook or discord. My discord is Jate#0001, so pretty easy if you want.

Jeff Reed: 56:06 And loveclan.net does work as a sweet, at least when we recorded this.

Jate Earhart: 56:11 Yeah. It's supposed to be a link through.

Jeff Reed: 56:15 Awesome. Well for Jate, for Rey, my name is Jeff. It's been a great time and glad you all could join us and we'll see you next time on The Church Digital Podcast. Thanks everybody.

 

 

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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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