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PODCAST 017: Stories from Church Anywhere

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Church Online needs to grow up. While thousands of our churches are broadcasting our services online… very few are integrating Church Online into their overall strategy.

Here at The Church Digital Podcast, we’re going to do a deep dive of sorts into First Capital Christian Church in Indiana. A smallish church with a huge heart for their small town, First Capital has used their Church Online to launch a “Church Anywhere” movement. The goal? Showing the love of Christ in their town by launching microsite campuses in prisons, hospitals, schools, homes… practically anywhere they can share the love fo Christ with people.

In the podcast we dive into the stories of Church Anywhere, talking with the volunteer Campus Pastors who spearhead these locations for the church. Join us as we discover how God can use Church Online to create discipleship opportunities as well as physical communities.

ON THE SHOW

Guest: Tyler Sansom
First Capital Christian Church / Church Anywhere
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Guest: Cindy Timmons
First Capital Christian Church / Church Anywhere

Guest: Brad Reed
First Capital Christian Church / Church Anywhere

Host: Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
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Feedback on the podcast is vital as well. Leave comments on the podcast, or comment on this post! I'd love to know your thoughts and how we can serve your church better.
 
Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
 
Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
 

TRANSCRIPT

Jeff Reed: 00:00 Hey, welcome to The Church Digital Podcast. My name is Jeff and we've got a great episode coming up. Well actually, truthfully, we're going to have a great series of episodes coming up cause we're going to spend three weeks in a row doing a deep dive in the first capitol Christian Church of Corydon, Indiana. Chances are you probably never heard of Corydon, Indiana, maybe First Capitol Christian Church. If you remember, we talked with Tyler Samson back in episode four of The Church Digital Podcast. It's actually one of the first episodes that we launched with, and he's a church that he's doing small church, but he's doing this great ministry of doing Church Online, online discipleship, but utilizing the online services to birth physical locations. And so what I wanted to do here with this and what we got with with the last episode is, Hey, we learned about how church anywhere works and what it's like to birth these locations, but I want to hear the stories.

Jeff Reed: 00:53 I want to actually talk to the people who are at these micro locations, who's doing this ministry. And so we've got Brad Reed coming on the podcast who's no relation, although it's a great last name. His dad's actually Jeff Reed and so there's some off-air jokes like "I'm your Daddy", but we just cut that out of the broadcast. So we've got Brad Reed and we've got Cindy Timmons, who are both volunteers who coordinate the ministry at these micro locations. They're essentially campus pastors at these respective micro locations. And they are going to tell some phenomenal stories about how God is moving in the small, how God is doing some awesome things through a small church, creating small locations and it's funny, there's these really powerful moments, especially at the end where we, well, you know what, I don't want to get there. I'm going to let them get there. So here you go. Here are some phenomenal stories from church anywhere.

Jeff Reed: 01:47 All right. Hey, so we're at The Church Digital Podcast and I'm excited about this interview because I've got real live people that are doing ministry through Church online here and we're going to tell some stories, which by far is the favorite thing that I get to do here at the podcast. And so I've got Cindy Timmons, Tyler Samson and Brad Reed, all from First Capitol Christian Church in Indiana, Church Anywhere. We've talked about them before. Tyler, by the way, he's been on the podcast before. He was one of the first podcasts we've had. By the way, Tyler, you don't know this, but you are the most, at the time of this recording, you are the most listened podcast through The Church Digital Podcast.

Tyler Samson: 02:30 All my wife.

Jeff Reed: 02:30 Yeah, just basically reload, reload, reload, reload. Every device you have has listened to this podcast at one time or another.

Tyler Samson: 02:39 Yep.

Jeff Reed: 02:39 That's awesome. Hey, so before we get into the other's, Tyler, just take a moment, tell me a little bit about, let's say somebody hasn't listened to episode four where they talked all about First Capitol Christian, 30 seconds, tell me the story of the church.

Tyler Samson: 02:54 Yeah, so the church is about 800 people in a town of roughly 3000 or so. We are on the outskirts of Louisville, Kentucky, about 30 minutes from Louisville, real small town. That's a unique situation in itself. About three years ago I started doing an online campus and from there we decided to do an online to an offline model. So we take the same kind of technology we use an online campus and we'd go in and use that as a worship experience within a physical location. So that can be at home, it can be a nursing home, a jail, schools, really, it's endless possibilities where that can be.

Jeff Reed: 03:38 That's awesome. I'm going to dive a lot into that online to offline and kind of the micro location, but I just want to make something clear because you've lost it over. So you've got about 800 people physically involved in the ministry of the church. That's including what I would call the broadcast center, the main campus, as well as, the micro locations, the multisite campuses.

Tyler Samson: 03:58 No, that's 800 on the broadcast location.

Jeff Reed: 04:02 That's 800, just at broadcast?

Tyler Samson: 04:03 Yeah, and it's somewhere around like 450 a week everywhere else. Not including online, that's just physical bodies.

Jeff Reed: 04:16 So you're in a town of 3000 and you've got over 1000 actively involved physically either at the main campus or in the physical locations, the micro locations that are around?

Tyler Samson: 04:30 Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 04:31 That's a phenomenal ratio. What do you attribute to, I mean, okay, Holy Spirit, God, I understand that and I don't want to downplay the Spirit of God moving among His people at the church, but like what are some things that you've done to maybe bring some attention to that or how has that happened kind of up there at First Capital Christian?

Tyler Samson: 04:56 Oh Man. You guys can chime in.

Jeff Reed: 04:59 A loaded question?

Tyler Samson: 04:59 Yeah. They've all been here as long as I have.

Jeff Reed: 05:02 So Cindy, Brad, what do you all think?

Cindy Timmons: 05:06 I think a large part of it is because Harrison and Crawford County's are both very underprivileged counties. There are low income areas that have a lot of poverty and outreach needs. And it was a niche that when we started filling it word spread quickly and everybody wanted to get involved and help and the community just embraced. They did, they just opened their arms to us and let us in. It wasn't a battle.

Tyler Samson: 05:36 Yeah. I'll just say a quick story about that. About four or five years ago, there's a really impoverished school system called Heath Washington where it's like 87% of the families are on free lunch, free breakfast, that kind of thing. We found out that they had no shoes, no Christmas gifts, nothing. But we found this out on like a Sunday morning and so our senior Pastor, basically, just got up without asking all of us and said, hey, why don't we take up an extra offering and see if we can get enough to like get these kids some Christmas presents? Our people like, that's the where we live. Like a lot of our people are under the poverty line, but we gave our normal offering plus enough that Sunday to get every kid a new pair of shoes, a new sweatshirt, pair of pants, and a Christmas present, every kid in the entire school. So that's just the type of, I don't know, it's different than any church I've ever been to. Like every church says they're really loving. We truly are already super loving a church. You can't walk in here and not feel loved.

Cindy Timmons: 06:42 And we care about our community.

Jeff Reed: 06:45 Okay. So that loving culture, that environment, that DNA you create, that not only exists within the physical campus there, your broadcast campus, there were with First Capital, but I mean the way that it sounds like with Church Anywhere, it's literally overflowing out of the online campus creating some of these new environments, right. These new campus locations. And so with Cindy and with Brad, the reason I wanted to bring them on the podcast to be part of this story is because they're leading some of these physical locations, these, you know, micro locations, these micro campuses, whatever the label your church wants to call them or what the church calls them today, they're leading the small locations that are meeting within the city up there in Indiana. Is that correct? Is that the main gist?

Tyler Samson: 07:38 Yeah, not every one on them is with a city. So Cindy's is in our city, it's not super far from the church. Brad's is like far away in a different time zone.

Jeff Reed: 07:47 Oh that's awesome. So is that still within Indiana? Is that even in another state?

Tyler Samson: 07:51 Yeah, it's in Indiana.

Jeff Reed: 07:53 Cool. So Brad, what city are you in?

Brad Reed: 07:56 We go closest to Tell City, like you said, about 45 minutes to an hour drive. It's time travel. We get to a different time zone on our way there every Tuesday. It's still small town feel, but it's a good little drive. We take the bus, we gather everybody together and we all ride down together.

Tyler Samson: 08:23 Yeah. So our volunteers for that location literally have to, it'd be basically an hour drive there, an hour service and an hour drive back, except you lose an hour on the way back. So it's like a four hour time commitment every Tuesday that they're willing to do that.

Jeff Reed: 08:41 They're busing back and forth every Tuesday to lead a service down. That's great. Now tell me about the service. Tell me about the people you're ministering to. What does that look like? They're in Tell City?

Brad Reed: 08:54 Well, it's the Branchville Correctional Facility. It's a prison, a level two. I mean it's hard to get in the door. We have to take our shoes, our belt off. It's like going to the airport and every time we go in and out and a guard has to let us in. There's a chapel on campus, a small building where we get to go have a worship service and a big projector screen comes out of the ceiling and we show our service on the projector. And on an average we might get 25 inmates on a regular Tuesday, but we, once a month, we opened it up to the whole campus and sometimes we can get the 250 to 300 number show up for that particular service. So we do get to do two different kinds of things there.

Jeff Reed: 09:43 Okay. So why is it once a month it's opened up to everybody? Like what's the difference there just operationally?

Brad Reed: 09:51 When it first started, at Branchville they have six different dorms and each dorm is kind of catered to a different type of guy. You know, you've got your real rowdy criminals and then you got your good behavior guys, and then you've got work in different programs and educational type things. So when we first started going, we just got the one dorm, one small good behavior dorm. And when the guys get out of that dorm and moved to different dorms, they were complaining and telling, you know, the chapel at the facility that they really miss the Church Anywhere service that when they got moved out, they were upset that they couldn't keep coming. So they opened it up once a month, it's available to everybody, and they have to sign up for it and they have to get okay. Like they're not just going to let any guy come, you know, they sign up for a reason and they check the list to make sure we're not going to have a problem or anything. So the one once a month service can get pretty big. We get the gymnasium and it's a loud rowdy group. I mean it's a big group of guys.

Tyler Samson: 11:05 Yeah with that, it would be nearly impossible with the current staffing at the prison to do that every week. Like there's been multiple times where we've had to kick out like 30 plus gang members that are trying to have a gang meeting during church or something like that. So anytime you open up an entire prison to come into one area people will take advantage of it to use it for their own agenda. But like a vast majority of those services have gone exceptionally smooth. If there's 300 guys there, 250 of them are there for the reason that you want them to be there for.

Jeff Reed: 11:39 That's awesome. So now, Cindy, you lead one as well and you lead it there in Corydon, in the main city. So Brad's at different town doing prison ministry. Tell me a little bit about what your Church Anywhere looks like.

Cindy Timmons: 11:59 We are at a local nursing home. I think we have three or four nursing homes that we do Church Anywhere.

Tyler Samson: 12:03 This one is unique though.

Cindy Timmons: 12:07 But I am at one that is a Huntington's disease unit. So there are a lot of different challenges there because Huntington's is something in this country that there are very few nursing homes that can have those individuals as residents and they have different disabilities as far as some can't speak, some are bed bound, some are wheelchair bound, some walk. Each person is a different individual that you have to learn how to communicate and work with while you're there.

Jeff Reed: 12:46 Wow. So Tyler, I know Tyler, we talked about this in the last, when you were on an episode four and just my heart went out even at this idea of, so you're doing a church service in a Huntington's, a Rehab Center, right? Like this is where they're recovering for it. So I know about this much of Huntington's, what's the prognosis for somebody like this?

Cindy Timmons: 13:14 It is a terminal illness that at some point will take their life. We have actually had two residents that we led to Christ that passed away shortly thereafter. And it was amazing getting to know the families along that process because they then became involved with us and got to know us. One of our individuals actually helped at the funeral, which led our pastor to leading that service and just bonding with the families involved when that happens.

Tyler Samson: 13:48 So get this, the guy that, one of those people that were led to Christ, the guy that led him to Christ had never made that decision himself. So he loved the idea of going out and helping people and going out beyond the church walls. He had been to church for awhile. He'd never made that decision for himself, but he led this guy at a Church Anywhere location to Christ. And then through that, after the guy passed away, one of our pastors ended up doing the service and the person's family was like, hey, have you ever heard about this thing called Church Anywhere? That's how the guy got led to Christ and Donnie's like, yeah, that's where I work. It's bizarre.

Cindy Timmons: 14:28 Pretty amazing.

Jeff Reed: 14:30 Really Weird. But what I love about both of your stories is you've got Brad reaching into a prison system. You've got Cindy reaching into Huntington's. I mean Rehab, whatever, that is where people are looking at. I mean, this is the downside of society. They're struggling with a fatal disease, they're locked up and they're separated from and there's a lot of darkness and bleakness in there. And what I love about First Capital, is their desire here to take the Gospel, to take church to these people, not making them come in, but being very missional in going out and so Cindy, you talked about leading some to Christ and a couple right before they died, being part of that, man, I'd love to hear another story. Tell me somebody that's gone through something like that, a life change type of scenario.

Cindy Timmons: 15:38 Well, we see that almost weekly, but I think that thing that moves us the most. We invited Tyler to one of our services and I think he was even stunned because you have to remember that some of these individuals can't talk. A lot of them can't walk, but in the middle of a service, when we're doing praise and worship, we have individuals standing up, hands in the air, praising the Lord and thanking him and singing to him. So the impact, you know, they're not the ones being blessed by this, we are.

Tyler Samson: 16:12 Tell them how they stand up though. That's the powerful part of this.

Cindy Timmons: 16:18 They really don't, they stand up and one of us are always behind them or next to him, holding them up and holding onto them and praising the Lord with them because they don't have the ability to stand up on their own because they're wobbly with their hands in the air singing his name.

Tyler Samson: 16:35 Yeah. It made me super emotional when I saw it for the first time because this idea of I'm watching these people who have taken this medium of technology, which who would've thought 15 years ago we'd be able to lead someone to Christ through a video. I'm watching this person who's going to eventually have a new body through Christ, but it's like this is only temporary. I'm going to have to hold you up for a little bit, but one day we get a stand beside each other and we get to worship in face to face. So powerful, just unbelievably powerful.

Jeff Reed: 17:08 Wow. It's a completely different serving experience. Right? So, you know, over here at Hotchkin's Rehab, I mean, they're uplifting and physically connecting with the people. Over in Brad's side, over in the prison, you're probably not getting touchy feely over on that side. Right? So like what does serving look like over at the prisons?

Brad Reed: 17:36 Well, for the guys coming for the very first time, they are a little standoffish. They do want to sit in the back row with their arms crossed and just sorta feel us out, you know, and see, you know what, they're not opening up right away. But that being said, you come two or three times and you'll see these guys crying. I mean, they're ready to share. After the service, we break into small groups and maybe three, four or five guys and a volunteer, sit in a circle and just discuss the service or discuss their life or what they're going through. And some of these guys really do get to open up. And I've heard them say, a handful of guys say they really enjoy our church service the most because we do that because we're there to sit beside them and talk with them.

Brad Reed: 18:26 And we're not just coming in, shaking the Bible Adam and tell them they need to straighten up or go to hell. You know, we're there too. Every service, I tell them, you're now a member of First Capital Church. We want you to come to our church. We don't ask them what they're in there for, that's not why we're there. We're there to talk about Jesus. We're there to show them a new way, you know, give them that new hope and these guys, I have several relationships through Facebook with guys who have gotten out of jail, gotten out of prison and still contact us as they're going through their own transition into a new life and we continue contact.

Tyler Samson: 19:06 We have a couple of them now that come every week to our main location that have gotten out of Branchville that were at Church Anywhere and they got out of prison and now they come physically to First Capital.

Brad Reed: 19:16 Absolutely, one Tuesday night we were there and a guy came and asked me about Corydon and he actually moved to a halfway house in town and the very next week I seen him at church. Here he was. And I didn't recognize him because he was wearing, you know, regular clothes and all dress up and I was like, didn't we, don't I know you. And it was like church anywhere, you know. And it's really an amazing thing to, he served communion a couple of weeks ago here at our church. I mean to see a guy walk out of prison and be a member of what we got going on here. It's pretty cool.

Jeff Reed: 19:55 You know, what I love about this is these are just two different expressions of physical, really three different expressions where you've got a physical church building traditional in its ministry model. People gathering together, coming to a service on Sunday, but they've done something, nontraditional, something abstract of broadcasting their services online. And everybody's doing that. Or more and more people are doing that, probably set it a little more accurate. But what First Capital has done is they've taken the next step to start to create physical communities out of that. And you know, what we learned last week, Cindy, or the last time we talked in episode four about this, where there was actually a nurse who was the one who started that and kind of like capitalize that. And Tyler said, tell me a little bit, I love that story so much, I want to hear it again. Like how did it actually start there in the Hotchkin's Rehab?

Tyler Samson: 20:54 I was monitoring the, I think Facebook live feed or might've been Chop, one of the two. Our online care team member was like, hey, check out this message we just got sent to us. And it was a picture of the Rehab Center and there was like 17 people gathered around the iPad watching the service. And I was like, what is going on here? And so I messaged the person back and it turns out that she had, I personally know her from church, but she hadn't been to church in a long time. And it turns out she had been scheduled to work like every Sunday. So she started on her lunch break requesting that time for a lunch break so she could tune in.

Tyler Samson: 21:35 And more and more people were like, I'd like to watch that with you. And so I approached Cindy because she recently became retired and at the time she was going through a program to become a chaplain and so I was like this would be the perfect person to get on board with leading one of these Church Anywhere spots. And so I approached her and I thought it was a nursing home. We had no idea it was a place for Huntington's disease. She was on board to start a nursing home site and then we found out it was Huntington's disease and we just kind of went from there.

Cindy Timmons: 22:10 They had me from the first day.

Tyler Samson: 22:11 Oh my gosh. You talk about love, like our congregation shows love, but the people at that place love you like nobody else, man. It's awesome.

Cindy Timmons: 22:19 Every week I get hugs and told I love you and when are you coming back? And it's funny because we still have employees that work there that will come in and sit down with us while we're doing the broadcast and doing the praise and worship because they want to be there. We do communion after the service. We pray with each individual that needs prayer. We've prayed with the nurses over there. Anyone that wants to be a part of it. We've had a couple of them have family members there that joined in when they came in just because they can see the Lord in the room. So they wanted to be a part of it.

Tyler Samson: 22:55 Cindy and her husband Mike have gone way over the top awesome with this. At Christmas last year, they did the normal service and then they had one of the people on our creative arts team that's an actor, super, super talented actor come in and be Santa Claus and got every single person at the place a Christmas gift. And it was like the best Christmas ever. It was amazing.

Cindy Timmons: 23:18 It's like, if you can imagine, Huntington's patients, most of them are still pretty sharp. They understand what's going on and they communicate to the best of their ability. But when Santa walked in that room, it was like they were five year old kids. They were just thrilled hugging on him, loving on him, excited. It made their day. They absolutely loved it. We heard about it every week for weeks.

Tyler Samson: 23:45 I guess what I would say with that is, and Brad you can absolutely attest to this, that like the platform we are using is this online model. The Church Anywhere sprouted from online services. We're using technology, but it is not about technology. It's about relationships 100%. Even even online. I can give an example of a guy named Simon from the UK. He lives in a town that just doesn't have a modern style of worship, anywhere in his town. It's very liturgical. Lots of Catholic churches. Each week we meet on a zoom call, much like this, just to hang out and talk about Jesus because he watches us online each week. So like for me the relationship side of that, even with an online person is so much more powerful than the technology piece. And I say Brad cause you get like a million stories of the relationship part of it.

Brad Reed: 24:36 That's what ours is. Like I said the first time we go they're very standoffish, but the very next Tuesday we come in and they're hugging us. They're so happy to see us again. And just they can't wait to see what we're going to do next. And I have to, before I forget, Cindy was talking about Christmas and bringing Santa and bringing things into a prison on Christmas is a little more difficult. But we were able to bring cookies and milk and that's the only time we got to do communion in the prison. To bring, you know, cause we can't very well bring food and drink in there very easily. And that service, like you said, weeks and weeks and weeks later. I still over hear guys talking to the guys saying, "Yeah man, one time they brought in milk." And in prison you get powdered milk, so we brought in like a cold gallon of milk and those guys were just, you know, weeping over milk. That's not an exaggeration. And talking about the relationships the guy I speak to on Facebook very often. I can't mention Church Anywhere without him "Love you guys. Love you guys. Can't wait to see you guys." I mean he's, you know, obviously when you get out of prison you got a little bit obligation and stuff, you know, parole to take care of. So he can't very well just hop in his car and come down. I think he's over an hour away. He can't just come see us anytime he wants, but he's like counting the days to when he can come to court and to be a part of an actual First Capital service. They see it on the screen. They can't wait to come see what it looks like in real life. I can't wait to watch him walk through the door one time. I love that thought and it just gets me.

Tyler Samson: 26:20 Talk to me about how you get the volunteers like pitching, casting vision to the volunteers. What your volunteers look like any given week as you're reproducing these church services and doing ministry? Like what's that process?

Tyler Samson: 26:35 Typically by force. That's actually why I work out. I intimidate them and then they just volunteer.

Cindy Timmons: 26:45 He has signup sheets, but some of the positions are harder than others. It's something we ran into over here because with them having the disease, people are scared, you know, that's a huge leap to walk in there and try and communicate and take care of someone that has a disease that you know nothing about, but you still find there are people. That know, they know that nudge. They, they feel it in their hearts. They know they have no choice. And we feel fortunate that we had a team of five people that would regularly come over there and assist us with that because it takes that many, when you've got individuals that need help.

Brad Reed: 27:29 I think our volunteers are scared for another reason. To hear you're going to walk into a prison and spend an hour or so with these guys because we're in the chapel with no guard. I mean the guard lets us in the door and he leaves and we're in there with these 20-25 guys, thank God for the Holy Spirit. You know, that He calms them down and shows them some love because you never know. I mean we've never had an incident, but it's kind of an unpredictable situation. To get in the prison, you have to go through a class, we have to meet. The lady from the prison comes and walks you through. I think it's like a two hour thing of all these different rules and you know what you're not to do and what you have to do and all these different things.

Brad Reed: 28:16 And I think some people are put off by that. And not to mention the travel. I mean getting a volunteer at the prison is a little more difficult than somebody who is go 20 minutes down the road from the church. Our volunteers are a, I'm a young guy, so I can say a little older. And these are the fellows, you know, who don't have to get up at 5:00 AM in the morning anymore and they can do the late night on a Tuesday. We've had some guys fall off because of health issues. They can't make the long trip anymore or they aren't feeling up to it. But I have a pretty, roughly 10 guys that are very loyal and pretty much every week they're right there on top of it.

Tyler Samson: 29:01 It's funny, it started out with, we wanted it to be on a rotation and it's, it's like we hurt their feelings when we tell them they can't come a week. They're like, no, I'm not doing a rotation, I'm coming every time. Are you kidding me?

Cindy Timmons: 29:14 That's exactly how we feel. We are there every week. What do you mean? No, we're not going to rotate. You want to be there.

Jeff Reed: 29:19 Now let last we talked highly, you had like 14 of these locations kind of scattered around. Is that correct? What am I remembering?

Tyler Samson: 29:27 Yeah, it's 16 now. And that's because that week was the week we were getting ready to launch to two other jails sites. So those are the most recent are two jail sites.

Jeff Reed: 29:38 So your church of you know, small 800 person physical location in Corydon, Indiana has three prison ministries that it's running, I'm sorry four, so this one, the two new ones, and then there's a fourth one.

Tyler Samson: 29:59 It's four prisons. We have a separate female and male one at one. Female only in another. A male only and then another female only, so five totals sites. But that's within four prisons.

Jeff Reed: 30:13 That was some scary math, but I'm going to say you're doing five prison ministries by utilizing your online broadcast to push an online to offline model of creating biblical community at physical locations utilizing church online.

Tyler Samson: 30:28 Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 30:28 I love you, like that's, that's fricking phenomenal. I did just say I love you on the podcast. You cut me off. Enjoy that. Like that's freaking awesome. Where you're now moving and you're creating this physical locations, giving people an opportunity to serve, like Brad and his team driving, at 10 people who don't want to rotate off to drive to another time zone, to sit in a bunch of room with 25 prisoners without a guard. And that's, I mean, we've talked recently about decentralizing ministry and taking ministry away from the pastors and empowering the people to do it. And what you've done here with Church Anywhere essentially is decentralizing that ministry and now you're empowering Brad and his people. Brad, how often does somebody from staff go with you?

Brad Reed: 31:23 The once a month, the big service we have at the end of the month.

Jeff Reed: 31:26 Yes, so a big service if it's 250, a staff person will go to that, but otherwise, like Tyler and his crew trust you to do the ministry, right?

Brad Reed: 31:35 Right.

Jeff Reed: 31:35 I mean, that's, that's awesome. So where else are you in other than the prison? So you're in 4, 5, 6, 19 prisons, the number changes. That's cool. What else? What other areas are you in?

Tyler Samson: 31:51 When school is going on, we're in two elementary schools that are after school programs. That's a little different cause we designed a curriculum specifically for that age group. So our youth band does the worship and we have curriculum that me and a couple other people on staff filmed for the service portion of it. All of it's still done via this online-offline model it's just like modified for them. We're in a youth shelter that has foster kids that don't have placements. We're in a homeless camp. We're in one home, like an actual neighborhood, three nursing homes.

Jeff Reed: 32:39 Homeless, nursing home, after school for kids. Never in my life have I thought, hey, let's create an afterschool program for kids and involve. Like, no it's not, that's not been on my radar. And you've done that twice?

Tyler Samson: 32:56 The youth shelter ones is awesome. Well put it this way, my wife and I are in the process of adopting a 17 year old cause we get sucked into this Church Anywhere location on Wednesday nights, which is awesome. It's been incredible to see. We've got I think around 3 teams of 10 that rotate on every eight weeks at that location. And it's literally just like 17-20, 14 to 18 year old kids who don't have parents, don't have a home that are living in an old elementary school. And we go every Wednesday night to have a meal with them, do small groups and worship together. But these kids have never even heard of Jesus before. It was amazing. We baptize four of them last year.

Jeff Reed: 33:45 So I'm going to ask this question and I know what the answer is, but I want you to say it because I want the audience to hear this. How many people are on your staff like that, that deal with this exact issue, that deal with Church Anywhere that work with this? Like, you got all this video content with these leaders? You got what, six, eight people, right?

Tyler Samson: 34:06 We have one, that's just me, Tyler.

Jeff Reed: 34:13 So it's just you, right?

Tyler Samson: 34:14 We have another guy that helps a lot with the jail part but he doesn't do anything with technology, but he and I basically launched the the jail ministry part of it together. But other than that, it's pretty much just me. We only have like 10 staff total, including part time people.

Jeff Reed: 34:35 So let unpack this because here's where it's at. I had this conversation with a probably a 10,000 member church. Church anywhere is like, Jeff, we really want to do it, but we want to get our content better first. And I'm like, you've got like 12 people on staff. Don't, literally, I'm like, don't use that as an excuse. Go. And so to your point, you got 10 people in the entire church, church is roughly is was around 800 or was that in my head for the broadcast, 450 around somewhere else. Like what's your secret? Because most people are going to freak out and their heads are going to explode managing all this, you're not, so what are they missing?

Tyler Samson: 35:28 I don't think it's a secret. I think that everyone has access to the same thing that we do. I mean to say that God couldn't start something like somewhere else is to put God in a box. And so I think that, you asked at the beginning what First Capital has done to grow to the size that we are in as small of a town that we are. And I think our lead pastor has done a really good job for 15 years of not putting God in a box. There's basically nothing that we can dream that we don't think God can do. And so instead of saying like, that might be too big for us, it's like God's big enough to do it. So let's just go ahead and do it. Yeah, we put our work into it and we plan and we're very intentional about things. But I don't think, I've never been to a place where we don't limit God at all. Like there is no dream bigger than what God can make happen and we can see it with what's happening with Church Anywhere. Like most churches our size would kill to have 39 first time decisions for Christ by June of a year. So like in the last six months, that's what we have just through Church Anywhere right now and it's not a competition, but praise God for that. That's a huge thing.

Jeff Reed: 36:43 Does the average person at your church that attends the Corydon campus, the main broadcast center, like is Church Anywhere so much in the DNA and the vernacular that they understand that they know about all these stories, the ministry, the mission opportunities, you know, so often when you talk with church online these days, it's like, yeah, the physical church has no idea what is that relationship between Church Anywhere and First Capital?

Tyler Samson: 37:10 I think so.

Cindy Timmons: 37:11 Everybody knows. Randy will get up there and tell us to turn on our phones and say hello or do whatever so that they know we're online. They count it down and we go live and everybody's there with their phones saying hello.

Tyler Samson: 37:27 I think talk on this on the last one. But there's four touch points every service that we mentioned, Church Anywhere, Church online within the service. So either you were asleep and miss it or you know about it. It's pretty obvious. Plus in a room that only seats 500 people that have like four or five cameramen running around, it's pretty obvious that there's something going on.

Jeff Reed: 37:47 Very cool. Well, I'm excited. In the next episode we're going to have Randy on, cause lead pastors that have the vision and the understanding even to go, okay, the best spot for you. You know, I had this conversation with it with the pastor once in the conversation didn't go well, but it was something like this, "Pastor, you got to realize there's somebody in your audience where the best spot for them to be on a Sunday morning might not be in a pew watching you speak live. It might be outside of the building leading a church service like this or maybe inviting 10-15 people into their own home and doing church there." That rattles some cages. I'm just honest, like it's still in that culture of you have to have people there in the physical building or at the multisite campus.

Jeff Reed: 38:36 But this idea of church online and getting it outside of the church building and into the community, how you guys have created this online-offline, or have utilized the online-offline model is phenomenal. And I can't wait because my opening question for Randy is like, okay, wait, when Tyler cast this vision to you, what was your first thought? Because like pastors often gets stuck on the first thought and they can't evolve through it. And I want to know did he think you were crazy or did he buy into it? I want to hear it from him. Don't answer that question. But it's so exciting for me to be able to look and to see these stories like this and how God's utilizing church online, how First Capital is utilizing this distribution network to empower four, five, six prison ministries, to empower a Hotchkin's Rehab, to empower 16 different locations around the multiple cities and areas around there.

Jeff Reed: 39:41 So where you're getting a 1,250, I'm doing bad math, but 1200-1300 people attending. Not that it's about the numbers, but you've got engagement out of a small church, relatively speaking that shouldn't be doing this, but you guys don't realize you shouldn't be doing this and God's blessing your ministry. Like I love what you're saying about Randy. Like God's bigger than this. Let's just go and God will take care of it. Like you don't ask questions, you don't doubt, it's let's birth communities. Let's go. Where else can we go? Like next time we talk, Tyler, I want to know where your next two locations are. Like, come on man. What are you waiting for?

Brad Reed: 40:21 When this very first started when I guess when Tyler got the idea, when it all come together and they sat down and started having a conversation. It wasn't even called Church Anywhere yet. It's like, we're going to take our online service and start spreading it out somewhere. It was that day, we got an email from a jail. "What'd y'all be able to bring a Church service into our jail?" And that's God making these things happen.

Tyler Samson: 40:49 I totally forgot about that.

Brad Reed: 40:50 That's where it very first started. A little county jail, about a half an hour away. I got to give some praise. My wife runs that. That's the very first one that ever started. And you want to talk about relationship. She is building relationships in that place. But that's how it all began, was an email from a jail because we were like, where are we going to do this? We gotta come up with somewhere to take Church Anywhere if we're gonna make this thing happen, let's hope God's gonna show us what to do.

Tyler Samson: 41:23 It was 9AM when we finally got the, okay, to pretty much try Church Anywhere and I was in the office with Donnie, our care pastor and he gets an email from a chaplain at a local jail that says, "We need some churches to come in and put on church for our women." And I was like, well, if that's not a sign, I don't know what is.

Cindy Timmons: 41:49 I think the thing that keeps this growing because we hear it all the time. I'm sure you have. We have. A lot of churches show up and make promises and they never see them again. Every time we walk in that door, someone comes and tells us how grateful they are that we are there every week as promised. We wouldn't make that promise if it wasn't important and we're there. Not just on our Sundays or the days that we are doing our Church Anywhere. We're in their lives during the week, you know, making contact one on one and making sure they're taken care of because we know that's what we're supposed to do.

Tyler Samson: 42:29 And I hope I'm not taking any way far over Jeff. It's not easy. I mean like we all get super exhausted. It's a marathon and you push every single week to do it, especially with the church our size. I mean, you hit on it before. We don't have like 10 staff members that are like doing all this. It's me and a bunch of volunteers who are killing it. But it's also very tiring, but it's so worth it on the other end of that. But if we could pass this vision to other churches that like, Hey, what if we did empower people to go out and persevere for the gospel like we're told to do? Because we make it so easy so much to serve. We have so many opportunities to serve that are like once every six weeks, once every eight weeks. And that's great. But like what if we did teach our people to persevere through things? Like imagine the life change that would happen not just within like local bodies, but entire communities. I think that we can really make a big change for the kingdom with that same perseverance mindset, that Church Anywhere has forced us to have here.

Cindy Timmons: 43:36 How far is our outreach?

Tyler Samson: 43:39 The furthest one is two hours away and that's physical bodies. But the furthest person that I know of that watches us every week is from London.

Jeff Reed: 43:48 Wow. So your physical location is about two hours away and that's down in Kentucky as I recall, right?

Tyler Samson: 43:58 Madison prison is the furthest one away.

Jeff Reed: 44:00 Madison. Okay. So here's what I want to know. We'll land the plane. By the way, thank you. This has been phenomenal. Awesome. Couple of questions to wrap up, but let's just build a model here. 1000-1500 person church, kind of similar in context to you. They're wanting to do this online-offline model. They want to start creating physical locations, house church, micro locations, what have you, what are their next steps? Give them some advice on how to move from, hey, leadership might not understand, I've got this broadcast, I've got this service. How do I take that next step?

Tyler Samson: 44:43 Yeah.

Brad Reed: 44:44 Loyal volunteers. You need members of your church that want to get out there and love on people. I mean, I think that's the fuel for Church Anywhere is the people in the church that cannot wait to do church Monday through Saturday. We don't show up Sunday morning and then go back to our lives where the great commission is every other day of the week. And you need people in your church that want to do that.

Tyler Samson: 45:12 So to expand on that, I think before the lead pastor conversation happens, I feel like there has to be some kind of DNA in your church already where you have people who are ready to love on the community in a different way. So before you ever start thinking about Church Anywhere, you have to have a culture of wanting to be able to go love on people that maybe you wouldn't normally love on. And then that would definitely make it a whole lot easier. But for someone who maybe has that already and then they're talking to their lead pastor, I mean I think the first thing has to be you have to have a quality product. Nothing that we put on the screens. If it's going to be based on technology, it can't suck. I don't know how else to say that.

Tyler Samson: 45:57 Like it just, it can't have like distortion all over the place. And like 1993 cameras that you're shooting your stuff with, like it has to look good. And we've done that within like a super reasonable budget. I don't think that we're like producing Steven Spielberg kind of product, but it's not something that I would be ashamed to put on a large screen in front of 300 prisoners. So start with the product and then cast the vision. You have to cast the vision. Before we started this, we did an entire sermon series called Church Anywhere. You have to cast the vision to your people.

Jeff Reed: 46:35 So lead pastor, teaching team, taught a whole sermon series, basically saying, church, get out of the building, go do church outside of the building. Oh, by the way, here's a vehicle Church Anywhere utilizing church online, which gives you the, the resources to go do church outside the building.

Tyler Samson: 46:54 Yeah. And I mean it helped I'm on the teaching team. I have a bug in the ear of the guy who's making the stuff, which helps. But I think that Randy I think preached two of those, I preach one and then our other teaching guy preached one as well. So it was a four week series from three different perspectives of how this can not only change people's lives, but change the lives of the people who are serving as well.

Jeff Reed: 47:19 Well, God bless you guys. I feel like we're seeing it and hearing some of those stories, by the way, you know, just talking about seeing that culture kind of tied within of the people even before you get to have that conversation with the lead pastor. That actually echoes something that we had heard Eric Geiger, who's lead pastor over at Mariners Church out in California. It's like a 10,000 person, mega church, but we had conversation with him talking about, like how to talk to your leadership about church online and honestly he struggles with this and he's, you know, wrestling with some of the things too. So it was a really good conversation. But where he landed on some of his stuff was that if he saw that his volunteers in his church was passionate about it, was passionate about serving in that area, he would give it more weight and more credibility towards it.

Jeff Reed: 48:13 And so you can listen to Internet on episode 10, but going back to y'all, just how you've been able to leverage that love within the community and within what you're doing there in Corydon and being able to use it to create these, these micro locations. This is awesome. Like I have forwarded your podcast to more people as I just cast this vision of, hey, church online needs to grow up. Church online needs to start birthing physical, you know, locations. I truly believe that the model that you guys are doing for church is the model of where we're going to be in 5 to 10 years. I think broadcast campuses will get bigger, but also think that they're going to get smaller in the process. And so, you know, I look at some of the mega churches, Saddleback out in California, Elevation out in the Carolinas, you know, they're utilizing the same model where they're having hundreds of micro locations, watch parties, house churches, digital groups, you know, like this, where they're utilizing church aligned to birth, physical locations around.

Jeff Reed: 49:24 And so, well done. The thing that I love is that you're a small church and you figured out how to do it. When everybody told you "no", you just kept doing it and got leadership to buy in and like just and it's the reason why I want to talk to you lead pastor, I love your church so much I want to learn more. I want to learn everything I can about it. So that's coming up soon. But I want to land the plane on this. I want one more story. I want one story that's like, this is the greatest thing that's ever happened at your specific campus load location. No pressure though, but I'm sure you got something that's like awesome.

Brad Reed: 50:11 Well the first thing comes to mind, and it's probably for both of us, there was a guy that just a face in the crowd came up to me after the service and said, I really need your church's address. And I'm thinking, what? Why would you? He's like, I need to start tithing. And to me that immediately said, he's a member of our church. He's taken it so seriously that he needs to and he still does that.

Tyler Samson: 50:38 10 bucks a month and he makes like 10 cents an hour.

Jeff Reed: 50:43 So there's a prisoner, just to put this in context, there's literally a convict right now who ties 10 bucks a month to First Capital Christian. Well done.

Brad Reed: 50:50 That's right. And he was super enthusiastic about doing it. We didn't, we did not pitch that idea. Never talked about it. No, we do not go there and ask them for money whatsoever. This guy approached me at the end of the service and wanted to know how he could do that and I was blown back by it and I thought that's the craziest thing from, you know, in the location we're in to hear that was completely unexpected. It was amazing.

Cindy Timmons: 51:25 I think the biggest thing for me was, we've had some residents that were transferred to other facilities and those residents have reached out to us to come to the facilities where they are move to and even the director over at the nursing home where I am talked to us yesterday about writing us a letter of recommendation to send to some other homes that she knows would need us in their facilities and it's going to put something together and help us with outreach. What does that say? We're touching. That's all you can do.

Tyler Samson: 51:59 And the best part about that Jeff, is that I had no idea that that happened. So like that Cindy creating more reach for Church Anywhere and she's a volunteer and it has nothing at all to do with the staff member. Wow. That's what I was gonna say. Yeah. So this is the best story out of church anywhere that I'm aware of, but there is a guy who was in prison that, first of all, every time I see him it's like a family reunion. Like truly, he's my friend. Like I've found myself praying for people by name that I met in prison and the other day and he was one of them. And he came up to us probably like a month ago, maybe a little longer and said, Hey, I've noticed that a lot of the gang members don't come to the Church Anywhere service. And here's why: I think that they don't like that type of music. And I don't think that they think that they should be in church. And so what if we did like a hardcore version of Church Anywhere? And I was like, okay, what do you have in mind? And he's like, all right, we'll I already got it approved from the Chaplain. Like we're going to make it happen. I've already got people who are going to volunteer and I just need you to help me with the video. So he found former gang members testimonies on Youtube and through the chaplain those were sent to me and then he found specific songs that he wants to use. Those were sent to me. In the meantime, a guy that watches us online named Mark is in a hardcore Christian rock band. So August 3rd, he is driving all the way from Missouri with his band for free to record songs for hardcore Christian Church Anywhere at First Capital. We're going to produce this, put it all together and we're going to have a gang specific church anywhere, led by inmates at this prison. Isn't that awesome? So it's that idea of empowering volunteers who then empower the people at the locations to become leaders and then creating leaders and leaders and leaders. Well that's what happens. Like when, it is funny, like there are churches that I've talked with that will be like, Whoa, like, can you do that? Like we need to worry about quality control. You need to like, maybe we don't want the hardcore, but instead, you know, what you've done is get out of the way. Hey, you know, let the people own this, let the people own the ministry of this and see what happens. And all of a sudden you're starting to get these, these pieces together.

Jeff Reed: 54:25 Like, we didn't really touch on this in the broadcast, but to do church anywhere well, like it's a collaboration, right? You can't be, you Tyler, you can't be at the broadcast campus as well as 16 other micro locations. You've got to trust and empower the Brads in the Cindys to get out there and to do this. And Brad and Cindy, you know, you've got to empower your other volunteers and listen to the people that are there. And all of a sudden you run into a great story like that where some guy has taken upon his own heart for, hey, like the gang, the people that need Jesus aren't here. And the thing that's holding them back is the music that's coming out of the broadcast campus. No offense, but it just isn't working.

Jeff Reed: 55:13 And okay, no offense cause at the end it's not brand, it's gospel. It's what do we need to do to get them the Gospel and anything short of sin, you know, quote, Life Church. Why am I blanking on Life Church's lead pastor's name? That's embarrassing. Thank you. Craig Grochel. Anything short of sin. Like let's do it. That's awesome.

Tyler Samson: 55:33 What are the chances that a guy that watches us each week online though is a part of the good and Christian hard rock band that he's like, man, I would love to help with that. So like we've already set a date, they're going to come in and record 10 songs that we're going to be able to use throughout all of the next year for hardcore church.

Jeff Reed: 55:48 That's just so awesome. And then, well, you know, who knows what God's going to do with that because it's amazing when you get the one resource and when you step back and allow God to move instead of you moving God, all of a sudden you see things moving a lot quicker and in a lot of ways that you never anticipated. Tyler, last question: How long have you been doing Church Anywhere? Like physical locations. When did the first one?

Tyler Samson: 56:19 Two years.

Brad Reed: 56:20 March, last year.

Tyler Samson: 56:21 Oh yeah. Just a little over a year.

Jeff Reed: 56:23 15. Okay, so in 15 months, 16 months from recording, This is June, so 16-17 months, you've got 16 locations. You've literally launched one location per month.

Tyler Samson: 56:34 Uh, yeah. I mean, a lot of them happened quicker, on average, maybe one a month. Our goal is 20 by 2020. 20 by the end of 2020.

Jeff Reed: 56:46 Well done. Awesome. I love this. I just, man, I don't even know what to say. It's been a great interview, by the way, seriously, if you have questions on, First Capitol and like their model and how it works, just knowing Tyler, I'm sure he'd be more than happy to have some of those conversations online so you can hit him up. Tyler, what's your Facebook right now?

Tyler Samson: 57:11 I think it's just Tyler Samson.

Jeff Reed: 57:15 He doesn't even know, we'll include it in the show notes. Just click there. It'll be great. You can hit me up online as well and I'll point you his way. But this has been great. Cindy, Brad, Tyler, thanks for joining us. And next episode we're going to have Tyler back and talking with Randy Kirk, Lead Pastor there at First Capital. It's going to be awesome. From Tyler and the crowd, my name is Jeff. Thank you very much for joining us today and we'll see you next time here at The Church Digital Podcast. You 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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