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PODCAST 023: Tom Pounder & Developing a Digital Missionary


Before my wife and I got married, we were praying about becoming missionaries. Challenges like learning new languages, adapting to new cultures and new food came to mind. We quickly realized that we would be on separate hemispheres from our collective families. And while God didn’t call my wife and I to move to another continent 20+ years ago, we’ve eventually become a missionary in a different context…

In EP023, we dig in with Tom Pounder, Online Pastor at New Life Christian Church and creator of Digital Bootcamp on Facebook, not only into the question of what is a “digital disciple”, but also, how can we create one? Can we create a disciple who can utilize online tools to create other disciples? Can we reach into the sub-cultures found on the Internet to meet new people who need Jesus in their lives?

I don’t know that this podcast answers all the questions… but we certainly start the conversation with you on how your church can utilize Church Online to disciple Digital Missionaries.

If you're enjoying this episode, subscribe for free using your favorite podcast app below:

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Guest: Tom Pounder
New Life Christian Church, Online Pastor
Digital Bookcamp, Facebook Group
Twitter // Facebook // LinkedIn

Host: Jeff Reed
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn

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



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


Jeff Reed: 00:00 Hey everyone. Welcome to The Church Digital Podcast. My name is Jeff and we've got a great episode lined up for you today. You are listening to Episode 23. We're excited about this one. We've got one of my great friends from Church online coming in today, Tom Pounder. Tom is the Online Pastor over at New Life Christian Church, NLCC, over in Washington, DC, Virginia area. By the way, this is not the first time we've talked about New Life. In an earlier episode we had on Jate Earhart, who is a graphic design, actually no, excuse me, video motion graphics over at New Life. And so Jay was talking about his discipleship ministry for Video Gamers utilizing some different online platforms. If you didn't listen to that episode, definitely go back to it. But I'm definitely excited about what's coming up this episode with Tom as we're digging into this idea of what exactly a digital missionary is and more specifically what it could be.

Jeff Reed: 01:00 This idea of, hey, we all have a digital presence at some level and how we communicate, how we share, how we can train people to be a disciple who's capable of creating a disciple, utilizing virtual methods, utilizing digital methods. It was really an interesting conversation. Tom and I started on this path a couple of weeks ago and it ended up stopping the conversation, was like, hey, we really need to do this in podcast format because a lot of the questions that we're asking right now, I'm sure others are listening, asking and out there. Listening audience, as with all our podcasts, we may not have all the answers. But, we definitely have questions that hopefully will help you dig in while you try to figure out the answers for yourself. And so we've got Tom, we've got Rey DeArmas, guest host coming back in again, Online Pastor from Christ Fellowship Miami.

Jeff Reed: 01:53 And so love having Rey on, as always. Little confession, it's been a rough week this week in the news, time wise. We discovered that Marvel, Disney, had a little breakup with Sony and Spiderman is no longer in the Marvel cinematic universe. Not gonna lie, it was a little traumatic time for my kids. Not gonna lie, it was a traumatic time for myself. And so, we talk about it a little bit at the beginning of this podcast. If you're one of these people who are like, Jeff, get over it, it's a movie. Here's what I need you to do. I just need to take the little scrub bar in the podcast. You know, shove it down maybe three or four minutes. You'll be fine. If you're like, I totally hear you. This is bonkers. Spiderman was a billion dollar movie.

Jeff Reed: 02:43 How can they not do it again? Yeah. I don't know the answer to that. So you'll enjoy the next two or three minutes. Well Rey, while Tom and I lament over the craziness that is that, but I do promise you this, that all this talking about the Spiderman stuff, it's going to tie into the podcast because there is a current theme of Superhero-ness in the podcast. But even above and beyond that, there's this desire of how can we as Christians get connected into the subcultures and the sub genres that exist. And even crazy stuff like talking about Spiderman can be used in a way to bring glory to God. So listen to the podcast, dig into it and, yeah, it's a great one. You'll enjoy. Here everybody. Here you go.

Tom Pounder: 03:27 We're in the school year now. So it's kinda crazy.

Jeff Reed: 03:39 How do you really feel, Rey? Just anything you want to like work out. Do we need to set up therapy session before, you look a little angry?

Rey DeArmas: 03:46 Yes. I am very angry and let's discuss this. Okay. We need to talk to Sony and Disney because I think I've worked all this out and here's my idea. Here's my plan guys. And you can say I'm nuts and I'm sure there's more money that goes into this, but this is my over-simplistic plan to bring Spiderman back into the MCU. We go back to the 5% deal. Okay. Disney gets 5%, Sony gets 95% but Disney gets exclusive streaming rights of all Spiderman movies for Disney plus.

Tom Pounder: 04:17 That's not bad.

Jeff Reed: 04:18 I still live in this world where I think it's a marketing ploy.

Tom Pounder: 04:23 Yeah.

Rey DeArmas: 04:23 I thought that too cause they'll re-release it into theaters.

Jeff Reed: 04:28 But like this works into the story so great. Like even if this does blow up, could you just imagine, Spiderman is on the run and disappears off the map for five years. Meanwhile, Sony screws up yet another Spider Man five years down the road in the MCU, Peter Parker comes back just in time to like mentor the Miles Morales figure once Disney actually gets rights to it. Like I could totally see this working. Cause the last thing we saw in Far From Home is everybody knows that he killed this guy, which, you know, may or may not have, but I could see him being on the run. Like I think this could totally be like a piece of the storyline. I just, so stupid otherwise I don't know what to do.

Rey DeArmas: 05:19 Well and this is where the blame keeps getting shifted back and forth because I understand how Sony would look at this and say, Hey, look like you guys are getting 100% of the merchandise and you guys are getting all this stuff, you know. We're just getting 95% of the box office stuff.

Tom Pounder: 05:37 I have hopes that this is just early on and it's just going to be worked out. But I mean, Sony is just terrible. I got in a little discussion on Twitter last night with a, I'm a big Batman Fan and there's a guy that I follow all the time. He's called The Jet. He was saying screw Disney, Sony had it right and he was all angry and I'm like, dude, just chill out. Disney got it right with, Sony screwed over Spider Man so many times.

Rey DeArmas: 06:08 it's a miracle that we got Spiderman in the MCU anyways. Like we still can't kind of forget about that. Like this was kind of a make or break last moment in Civil War where they almost didn't put the character in, they were going to go with a completely different character if they didn't get the rights, you know? And so it was kind of "miraculous" that these two companies were able to work together for this span of films. And yes, I do think that Sony has created the character atrociously, with the exception of the first two McGuire movies and Into the Spiderverse.

Jeff Reed: 06:41 This is my prediction. Marvel's going to release a new comic. It's going to be called Arachnid boy starring a Peter Parker who's going to be from Romania coming in and he's going to become this web slinging guy that's going to be, I'm kidding.

Rey DeArmas: 06:57 I'm here for Tom Holland staring in his own movie called Night Monkey. And I'm fine with that.

Jeff Reed: 07:06 Rebrand it to Night Monkey, and let's make that crap happen.

Rey DeArmas: 07:10 Now that Spiderman has been thrown under the bus by Mysterio, Night Monkey could emerge as the true hero. This was all Marvel's ploy the entire time. And it's all gonna work out just fine.

Jeff Reed: 07:21 Awesome. So we actually have a podcast we need to talk about, although this Spiderman stuff is very fresh on our minds. And so, by the way, like listening audience, you can't see this. I literally have a Spiderman fidget cube on my desk. This is what I use to release stress. So like, we're all feeling this pain at home, Peter Parker, Tom Halland, and wherever we are, you are, we do love you. But let's dive into the church online piece since that's what the listening audience really wants to hear. I wanted to dive into something here. Okay. We've got this gathering of people. We've got all these people that are watching. What's next? What do you do with them after they're watching?

Tom Pounder: 08:03 Yeah. So I definitely think, you know, again, when you got all your people watching and streaming online, you want them to take a next step. You don't want them just to watch, just like what you said, you don't want them if they're attending in person, you don't want them just to come to church and then leave. So one of the things we did was we studied a bunch of different online life groups and we've been doing that for a few years, but I've been challenged recently because I do some different things on because I'm the Online Campus Pastor. I do different things online. Like I'll do a family devotional and I'll do a Monday motivational type of method thing that I post on Youtube and I'll post on Facebook from the Online Campus and then I'll share it on my Facebook page or my Twitter account.

Tom Pounder: 08:51 And I'll kind of share that as a way to reach out to a broader base of people. And then, so I was talking to someone who's starting to help me out a little bit more with the church online stuff. And he said, well, a lot of people know you, Tom, because of what you're doing and sharing and doing things, you know, but how can we maybe equip and train people to do exactly what you're doing so that we can reach even more people? And that's when, again, this term is new. It's not something I came up with, but it's something that I've really thought a lot about. I heard probably a few years ago this idea of digital missionary. What would it look like maybe for someone to take that next step and say, hey, listen, I am a believer. I've accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. Now what does it look like for me to reach my family or my friends or my coworkers online? How can I use digital tools to do that and become a missionary online? So that's what one of the things I actually really started exploring a lot about. What would it look like for me to train people to be this digital missionary? What do I have to do to equip them? And so that's what I've been really processing a lot lately.

Jeff Reed: 10:06 What would a digital, cause you got first off, what's a digital missionary? And then secondly, you know, the training, the duplication parts of it. So like what's a digital missionary? And Rey, I feel like we may have touched on this in a past episode, but like what would a digital missionary do?

Tom Pounder: 10:22 Yeah, again, this is where I don't have all the answers, but here are these thoughts that I've been kind of really processing through is I love social media and we all know that social media is very toxic at times, you know? Facebook used to be that place where it was extremely toxic and then they kind of clamped down on things and people started leaving Facebook. But I've always loved Twitter. Twitter is like my favorite social platform. Well, if you go on Twitter, it doesn't take long to realize that Twitter is very toxic too. Any time a politician will share something, you should just read all the comments. There's negativity after negativity after negativity bashing each other. Anytime a celebrity shares something, it's negativity after negativity. There's so much negativity. And then I thought, what would it look like for us to be communicators of hope?

Tom Pounder: 11:16 You know, we have hope found in Jesus. So what would it look like then for me to say on my Twitter platform? How can I share hope? How can I share the love of Christ to other people? And so it kind of really starts off by picking a social platform that you're going to say, I'm going to use this to reach my friends. Whatever social platform you're at, whether you love Instagram or Facebook or Twitter, whether, even you love Snapchat. I know some people don't like that, but I mean, what are the social platforms that you're really involved in and how can you look at that and say, I'm going to minister to those friends and family members that I'm friends with them and minister to them today?

Jeff Reed: 11:59 You know, I've been wrestling with a concept of this and it was centered around. It was funny, I even tried to launch a small group that would do this. It was an online small group and the goal was for them to start to reach out and make connections with people on social media. Like within hashtags, even like on the Twitter or the Instagram because, you know, there's a very tight community that follows a lot of these hashtags. Like, I mean I have an exposure of this. I run, well not as much as I used to, but when I run, I run under using my Nike app, NikePlus, and even just the community that is when they run, they utilize the NikePlus within Twitter and things and then communicating and celebrating and praising and encouraging.

Jeff Reed: 12:57 It's a very kind of, welcoming community that's utilizing the Twitter following under hashtags. And so it became, really the question of how can we utilize the hashtags and utilize the platform to build these relationships, even just to get them, at least my view, to get them to the place of asking spiritual questions. Like, I don't know that you can land a plane and lead somebody completely to Christ and disciple them completely in context of social media, like just in that, but definitely to, I would suggest maybe to onboard to get them to ask spiritual questions and then route them to someplace to get that next piece. What do you guys think?

Tom Pounder: 13:46 Yeah, I would agree with you. I love hashtags. Part of the reason why I love Twitter is because hashtags are organic and it's free to kind of just roll around and find out who's talking about what. Again, anytime there's a popular show or a sporting event or an award ceremony, there's always a Hashtag that you can find out what people are talking about and be a part of that conversation. And so I love that idea of using hashtags to engage people in conversations. I will say this, most of my Twitter following is because I used hashtags strategically. I have found the hashtags that I wanted to look for like with #studentmin for all of my student ministry friends or #ChurchOnline for people with Church online. I discovered so many people through hashtags and was able to start conversations with them because of that. And then in the same way you can use hashtags to have conversations with people about real life stuff. Like you know, I love looking up #love and see what people are talking about with love. And then like if someone says something really interesting, I'll reply to them and you know, share with them an encouragement. Not necessarily a spiritual thing at first, but something encouraging to encourage them throughout that day if they're looking for love in all the wrong places.

Rey DeArmas: 15:09 Yeah. It's something that I think that's important about this and this is such an important conversation, not just for the Internet Age, but even for folks inside a church who don't consider themselves digital representatives or this kind of thing is just taking the general interest that you have and engaging in those conversations and being a solid believer there. So everybody here in this conversation, you know, we're all part of a subculture that Jeff alluded to earlier, that we're all part of the nerd subculture, in the sense of, man, we love comic books and we love, you know, comic book movies and we love having that discussion. And literally just even being a solid, encouraging voice in what can be a very toxic space, right? Can Bring the Gospel in such a great way to a bunch of folks who may never walk through the doors of a church or I may never engage. And that's just taken a specific interest group and really engaging in what would be normal conversation. You know, it'd be fantastic. And, but at the same time, really just kind of bring a Christian's voice into it. And I'm not even saying, and please, if you're out there and you're one of these advocates, don't engage in a subculture that you're not normally part of. Like don't go into into, you know, the Marvel universe subculture on the Internet and saying, Hey, we need to bring Bible man into the MCU.

Rey DeArmas: 16:29 Don't go doing that. But literally being an active voice and having great conversation, but at the same time being a loving believer, being a solid example, but learning when to interject Jesus into the conversation once things start to turn personal and showing love to others.

Tom Pounder: 16:48 Yes. See, I love this and that's the thing, like when you think about a missionary, you know, we're all called to be missionaries. Christ calls us there, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And surely I'll be with you always until the end of the age." Christ calls us all to do that. So if he's calling us all to do that, there's different ways. You don't have to go to the African forests or you don't have to go to another country to do that. You can do that all online using the online world. Because I love this, I say this all the time, but you know, I worked with young life for many years and young life always said go where students are. If you want to find where students are at, go where they are and find out where they're hanging out with. So many people are hanging out in the digital world, in the mobile world right now. It's such a, it's a mission field right there. If we learn how to actively share our faith and engage people in casual conversations that lead to spiritual conversations.

Rey DeArmas: 17:50 And there's so many different forums for Christians to take part in, you know, in so many different interest groups. It's such a fascinating thing how folks can find each other and really become engaged in a specific community. Real quick. Just last week my garbage disposal was on the fritz. And so I was like, okay, I can either pay somebody to fix it or I did, I was like, no, I know I have confidence that I can try something out. Went to youtube and the next thing you know, I'm part of a community of people who are DIYing stuff at home, you know, and it becomes another place for me to engage people. Not with the secret intention of Hey, I'm going to win these people to Christ, but I can be a Christian within this environment. I can cast a more positive view of Jesus in and the church and there and be a light and at the same time hopefully help to engage them in some of my interests. A la, church, God, Jesus. That would help bring them along into what we believe, which would be great.

Jeff Reed: 18:48 Where does a volunteer, where does an individual person engaging in this culture, in a subculture and utilizing the hashtags, where are they going to struggle? Like, where is the thing that they're going to fall short with? Or can they do that on their own? Like where's the weakness in this model?

Tom Pounder: 19:11 Okay. Well I think we have to figure out how we can effectively prepare them. I think a lot of people are not going to want to do this because they're like, I don't have the tools. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to do this effectively. And then again, I think we have a tendency to take things personally sometimes. So we have to take a step back and say, this is not personal. If someone attacks us, you know, if there's a troll out there, because we all know that there's tons of online trolls, but how can we really prepare them? I think we need to set them up and give them some training and equipping them to really learn how to actively share their faith or engage people in conversations in a digital world. I think we've got to properly train them.

Rey DeArmas: 19:58 Yeah, I think there's an aspect of that, but some of that too, and this is what I've appreciated from the way that the teaching style has come from North Point, it's building in those practical applications of living out their Christianity where they're at because once again, the conversation takes place so naturally. Like sometimes I worry when we say train them on this, we're just thinking, Hey, inviting to church, you know, we're going to provide them tools and we're going to do that. And all that's great, I'm not saying we shouldn't do that too. But really there's a much larger conversation when it comes to evangelism about being relational that I think even in forms of our Sunday teaching, as we're talking to our folks and you know, like I said, I think Andy has done such a great job and if you've not read Irresistible yet, you need to, I think it's the answer to so many things that are happening right now with different folks questioning their faith online and being public with that.

Rey DeArmas: 20:46 I really wish they would actually take peak at this book cause I feel like he addresses a lot of those issues. But one of the great things about the book that I feel like he addresses, it's just the fact that Christians need to learn how to be loving in these environments and loving those who aren't like them no matter what the situation, whether it's, hey, it look it's 2020 and we're engaged again online in political discussions. Okay, what does it look for me to love somebody who is not the same political ideology and how can I carry that out online so that I'm not being a toxic voice but instead I'm being a light so that it could bring them one step closer to Christ.

Jeff Reed: 21:20 We'll include a link to Irresistible in the show notes. It's a great book that hits a lot on that. Now the core of discipleship at least, and Rey, how we've defined discipleship in here is the ability to create another disciple. So it's a disciple who's duplicating themselves in this context of this conversation. A digital missionary is someone who is able to lead to Christ and disciple one in a standalone environment where we're not necessarily, hey, you know, just come to church with me. Now I'm raising the standard maybe a little bit here. A lot of church online's would and it's easy to hey, you know, ask the spiritual questions and feed it into like a physical service or something like that. But just for argument's sake, let's kind of follow this through and say, Hey, what if the church isn't resourcing and we're not kind of taking the easy way out here. Can a person lead another person to Christ on social media? On Twitter? Like is that, is that even possible? What would that look like?

Tom Pounder: 22:32 Yeah, I would think you'd have to take a it. Yes, I think you can begin conversations and then you have to go into direct messaging. You know, DMing them back and forth and talk to them about what that looks like. Again, I don't think it could happen easily and I've never done it myself so I think it would be something where you would have to really walk through them and it would involve more than social media to I think, help someone really discover who God is and accept them as their Lord and Savior.

Rey DeArmas: 23:04 That's good. I actually have a personal example of this. If I may, this actually happened to me about a month and a half ago. Somebody had been engaging with us online. They texted me, hey pastor, things are going on the down and out in my life, I'm having a rough time. We began a conversation via text. I asked him via text, Hey, listen, have you given your life to Christ? The answer responded back, boom, no, but I really want to.

Rey DeArmas: 23:36 Man, this is powerful. I can lead you right here over text. Or if you want, we can have a phone call. Ironically, that person was me from a classroom. They were in a college class and they were like, can I call you as soon as I get a class? I said, absolutely, you can. 10:15 PM boom, phone call hits. I pick it up, hey, hey, are you ready to make this decision? Yes. We pray right there together over the phone. Now the person is integrated in the community, but it was one of those things where it can happen. So I don't want to talk, you know, I don't want folks to think, hey, this is the dream world where all this theory. All this stuff can happen and there are steps that we can take to make it more personal, you know, if the person we're engaging really wants to take it there.

Jeff Reed: 24:25 So, you know, and that story is great because it utilizes more platforms, more method of communication than just, yeah, you probably could have texted somebody. You probably could have done it in a DM, direct messaging environment, Facebook messenger type of thing. However, you know, a phone call, a zoom, a Google hangout, you know, there are methods that can help that engagement probably go to a higher level. And so as a digital missionary, if that's a thing, there has to be maybe comfortability with multiple platforms and multiple ways of communication. Like you probably aren't necessarily gonna land the plane even with like a hard conversation, via texting, texting is an environment, you know, text on a page. And we know this from email, it's hard to convey emotions. Sometimes you read the wrong emotions in text, but when you can see the person or when you can hear the voice, it's easier to convey it and understand that. I'd suggest as, I'm not saying as quick as possible, but as a missionary, like I want up to build relationships with these people. Rey, you had a previous relationship, it sounds like with this, with your example.

Rey DeArmas: 25:45 No. And that's kinda the interesting thing.

Jeff Reed: 25:47 It was a cold person?

Rey DeArmas: 25:47 Yeah. And I can say that that's for sure it's an anomaly. Like, I don't want to make it sound like, hey guys, revival is happening here and I'm getting nonstop text messages from people who tell me that they need to meet Jesus. My phone's just blowing up right now. That's not happening. Like this is an anomaly, but it's an anomaly that I could see taking, placing, taking place more often than not, especially, and this is kind of going back in a few chapters of this podcast. It's the discussion we had with DJ Soto in terms of the Avatar situation where people, people feel more comfortable just kind of unloading between a media as opposed to in person, you know? But this kind of stuff can take place a lot more frequently just because people feel that comfort of man, there's something between us so I feel like I'm in a digital confession booth. There was a wall between us so I feel like I can be me a little bit more, I can unload some of these personal issues and I feel like I can take a spiritual step with you because there's that line. I mean, you know, Jesus said it himself, right, a profits not owned in his own village, right? And so sometimes folks need that wall up between them so that they don't feel like, well, this person knows me at this level. Sometimes they need that person, that individual that's like, no, they don't know me from scratch. So I feel a little more comfortable with unloading some of these issues to them and taking that step with them.

Jeff Reed: 27:08 You know, it's interesting that that DJ Soto, I got, I have personally received more flack over that episode than any other episode we've done. Just out of the, I mean, basically I opened a podcast in the opening line. I said, just write it down, virtual, VR baptisms count. That right there, just blew people up. Like no that doesn't count. You know, cause it's a computer game, they didn't get real. And I was like, there were people there who saw witness of it. God doesn't look, man, looks on the outward appearance. God looks at the heart. You know, but like it's just it rattles that right.

Rey DeArmas: 27:51 It must conform to my system of counting.

Jeff Reed: 27:52 But it's interesting where I think there's, a digital missionary's going to kind of struggle with this idea as well, or the concept of creating a digital missionary is going to be more difficult. A small group of maybe four or five people that were going through it and I asked another person to lead the small group and honestly, like the idea of, I think where that group ended up was the idea of creating a disciple was very much understood. The idea of converting that discipleship mentality towards the hashtag investing in community, reaching out that was a struggle. It was funny, even after months of those conversations and trying, like, I just had side conversations with a couple of the people and they were like, we just really don't understand, you know, what you want us to do. It's funny, like I still think there's legitimacy and Tom, I love the fact that you're bringing this around, but it takes the right person with the right understanding, with the right mindset that I'm not going to Jesus juke every person I meet. What other hurdles do you think that are out there that we struggle with on this?

Tom Pounder: 29:15 Yeah, well that's a good question. I see. And that's the thing. I think finding the right person and finding the right group of people I think is really important to do it. But I do, I mean if you just even think back from the most simplest terms, I think what we do in our online persona can either lead people to Christ or distract people from Christ. And again, you, we've seen people, we've seen our friends who are, who go off on rants and go crazy and spew stuff all over on social media. It's like, are you using your digital platform, whatever it is, to either encourage people or discourage people? And so if you're encouraging people, it kind of goes along with the same thing of people are going to wonder, okay, why is he like that? Or why is she like that?

Tom Pounder: 30:06 Why are they like that? And it's gonna start some conversations. So definitely, again, while we don't have all the answers here, I think if you even just thinking about how can the, you know, as Rey was talking about, just how can you be hopeful? How can you be light in this world again because the election's gonna be coming up very soon. It's already been talking about. Any time someone says something political it's just tons of chaos that goes about on it. How can you be hope? How can you be light to them? You don't have to have all the answers filled out. But again, it could strike some conversations where you can help lead someone down the path to grow in Christ or hear about Christ in some way using multiple platforms.

Jeff Reed: 30:54 I love that. I just, I wrote it down here where I'm at. What we do with our online persona can either lead to Christ or distract from Christ. It was interesting, and I'm going to confess something right here. This weekend I got into a Twitter war, or excuse me, it was on Facebook, with three or four pastors, local guys in town. We were having an argument over, this is going to be so stupid. It was Nolan's Batman trilogy versus Captain American MCU Trilogy, not the overall, not MCU, just the trilogy verse trilogy. And being the guy who hates DC, I obviously chose Cap. Frankly, and my whole point and they didn't want to bring in the MCU, just the three movies and I'm like, how can you go in two and three, winter soldier, civil war, those are like the two greatest movies ever.

Jeff Reed: 31:50 Anyway, and side note, DC screwed up the entire thing. They should have built their entire DCEU around Nolan's Batman and everything would've been fine. They didn't. So this is way too much comics for a church online thing. But what was interesting is I got a little passionate, I didn't feel like I lost my testimony and as a side we're all joking around, like we all know each other. It's fine. There wasn't no bloodshed lost over this, but we were, you know, passionately arguing. Unfortunately it was in a public format and a couple of other people kind of jumped in taking shots. And I was like, yeah, that might be a little too aggressive here. A little too much. It was not the pastor's like outside people and suddenly, I'm getting Facebook message from people on the outside, hey, are you guys okay?

Jeff Reed: 32:44 Like I'm surprised you're fighting with, with so-and-so, with, with one of these pastors. And I'm like, oh, I'm just joking around. Like I backed off when it started to get ugly. But the thing was already rolling down hill, right? It was, it was like the boulder was already set and what started off as, you know, just casually pulling each other's chains because one's more of a DC fan and I'm more of a Marvel ended up becoming something that, you know, was causing other people to question. And it's funny. So often we want to be casual with our digital persona and relational and engaging and joking around with some of this stuff. But sometimes what we do was joking around can go far more, can be misinterpreted. You know, it's, this whole thing of what we do in text is not as clearly defined because we can misread emotions into it or somebody else because its public can take it a whole different direction that we don't want to. And so if a digital missionary is going to do their thing, like they just have to be wary of that, of somebody misreading.

Rey DeArmas: 33:54 Absolutely. And the other thing is is that the digital missionary in all of us should be aware that there's such a thing as, and I'm going to kill a lot of you Internet trolls with this one word, nuance. Okay. Like there's shades here and I'm talking about this not just on phone conversations in terms of our comic book or our sports hot takes or any of that stuff, but I'm also talking about theological stuff, as well, that we don't have to, that we don't have to say, well take a side right now and you know, you either love Jesus if you don't repost this or not. And so there's a lot of stuff here that I think we need to be very careful in terms of how we interact with each other and how, and making sure, Jeff, you hit it right on the head there.

Rey DeArmas: 34:38 This whole thing of, well I said it on the Internet and everybody knows that doesn't count really because a lot of companies will look you up on Facebook and Google and take a look at all those hot takes and decide not to hire you based on the fact that you can be so controversial. And so that's something to take a consideration in terms of yes, your online persona matters and yes, people do remember your online persona in public. So don't forget that everything that you were saying and representing out there on the Internet will reflect on what happens to you offline as well.

Tom Pounder: 35:10 Listen, I post these things all the time when I see them and I post them a lot. I mean all these college kids who have their scholarships rebuked because of something they said online. Again, my daughter just went through the whole process. She's on the college dance team and there's list of criteria of all the things they can and cannot post on social media. And again, they kick people off all the time on what you post or don't post. And so again, who you are, you cannot be an online persona and a personal persona. Just kind of like what Rey was talking about. You are both. And so you have to reflect who you are. You can't have two different personas.

Jeff Reed: 35:55 What's interesting out of this phrase, and it's not where we started, we're all digital missionaries if we like it or not. That's right. And so the idea of, you know, maybe selecting a few and training them on that, that's not what we're saying now is that whether we're physical persona or digital persona, we are all leaking things out of us that will either connect people to Christ or drive away from.

Rey DeArmas: 36:23 Absolutely.

Tom Pounder: 36:26 I think there are things that we can do to train people and equip them to be digital missionaries. But at the heart of it is really, it's your heart is your heart for Christ and are you really spreading out hope and life and light to people or are you looking for opportunities? I listen, I know believers who get on social media and just start arguments all the time. I'm like, what are you doing? Like, why are you doing this kind of thing. It just, it makes no sense to me to be honest.

Rey DeArmas: 36:55 Right. And, and especially, please a word to all you pastors out there, please do not leverage your online platform for your hot takes. Like it is the worst thing for your church. You know, and I know you're thinking, well, I need to use my voice for this political thing or for this thing or whatever else. And I'm telling you right now, it does more to drive people away than drive people towards, on both sides, honestly. Because it's either you're setting a bad example for your own people or you're basically shutting out a portion of the congregation that might be interested in visiting your church. But all of a sudden your hot take with little nuance is basically telling them I'm not welcome.

Jeff Reed: 37:32 Yeah, culture's changed on that. That may have worked 30, 40 years ago when Christian culture was more unified. But the diversity, the outspokenness of where we are today, you Rey, you're exactly right there. So Tom, man, you said the word training four or five times.

Tom Pounder: 37:51 Well, that's a good thing. I mean, again, I think part of it is one you can do training on, Hey, do you know your social platform very well? Like kind of the basics and the gist of how you can utilize whatever social platform and whether it's Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, that it's some digital stuff. How you can use digital tools. You know, like how do you share a youversion Bible graphic to someone, you know? I mean, it's just, I mean, those are cheesy things that some people going to scoff at like, oh, that's so easy, but some people don't know how to use that stuff and so you can do that. How do you make a video on your phone and share a Bible story, you know, there's a digital tool that you can use to do that.

Tom Pounder: 38:38 But then also about, hey, how do you share your testimony? Like, do you even know how to share your testimony? And kind of walked through that, you know, we've been going through this a lot at our church, you know, we call it the three chairs or your elevator story or your two minute story. Do you know how to effectively communicate your story, your transformation in Christ in two minutes or less? You know, so we, that's the kind of training you can do. And do you know how to do the bridge illustration with someone, if they're gonna talk to you about that. Those are some kind of trainings that you could kind of definitely cover. Those are the things that I'm looking at right now.

Jeff Reed: 39:17 I mean, two parts of that there is, there is a technical aspects to better use tools and platforms, how to create the content to give people the voice. And so the technical aspects are very important. But I love what you're talking about helping people discover spiritually how to share their testimony. Doing the two minute testimony. And there's tons of discipleship material out there. You know, with First Capital Christian Church, Church Anywhere program back in episode 19, we talked about Rooted as a 10 week material that would helped take people through a discipleship process so that they would learn how to create a disciple. Now with First Capital Christian, they were utilizing it for their people to eventually start to launch their micro locations. These, you know, basically volunteers were becoming campus pastors of like 15 or 20 people.

Jeff Reed: 40:13 I would challenge you guys, you know, out there who are listening, like have that same intentionality when you're creating these digital disciples because what you're doing by doing that is giving them a voice for a much larger, you're giving them not responsibility over a 15 to 20 person micro location, but you're giving them the opportunity to reach their friends and maybe even more at a much larger scale by doing it online, you know, and material like that, whether it's the Rooted material or Four Fields or Timothy Initiative or blah, blah, blah. Ultimately, all these materials are going to help the person figure out how to share their testimony, how to share their story. Love doing some of that intentional discipleship to drive these people to the place where they can become a more effective digital disciple cause they already are one, they just need help becoming more effective in what they're doing. So that's awesome.

Tom Pounder: 41:15 What I want to do is, one of the things I've been kind of really processing and kind of figuring out is who are my core people at my online campus right now? Who are the core people though that would consider New Life Christian Church, our Online Campus, their home church, and are they willing to learn and discover what it means to be disciple. If they have that desire, I want to work with them. Again, I don't have the answers, all the answers right now. I'm kind of making it up as I go along and using these people as Guinea pigs. But I really do want to, if they've had a desire to use online as a way to be light and be hope to people, then I want to be able to try to figure out, okay, I need to train and equip them so we can reach more people for Christ. Not for our campus numbers, but just so we can be light to other people.

Jeff Reed: 42:05 A lot of the conversations that I have with churches today is what's the strategy of church online and Church X once utilized church online to launch physical campuses, Church Y wants to utilize church online for missional aspects broadcasting all over the place. I love this idea of what you're doing because the purpose of church online for you, I dunno if this is the entirety, but a piece of it is to create these digital missionaries. And so you've got people that are watching, you want to pull them into some sort of a discipleship process, start to engage them, start to meet them, learn more about them. But the end game of that is to basically disciple them to this place where they're creating, where they're capable of creating disciples using social media. And so it gives you intentionality of, Hey, I need to meet this person.

Jeff Reed: 43:03 Not because I just want to invite them into a nebulous online group that doesn't have a purpose. But my purpose of engaging with these people drives that further along. I mean, and that's, that's one of the things that we were talking about earlier where we've got this, and this is this is church terms and so maybe we need to come up with something better, but you've got this community of people that are following you and you need to by watching your services through NLCC. The goal would be to kind of meet them and start to pull them into the congregation of the church where they're attending on a more regular basis where you know their names, you know who they are, but the goal of that congregation terms also to disciple them and train them to pull them further until they become capable of this discipleship level where they're now part of your core group that you're sending out digitally to reach.

Jeff Reed: 44:01 Like, I love this strategy because A, there's severe purpose to this. The end game is clear. The goal is clear what we want to do, but honestly, B, it doesn't cost a lot of money. It's not like we're talking about launching micro locations. It's not like we need a multisite strategy that's gonna launch physical campuses, I'm connecting with people virtually who are watching my services and the end game is to get that person to be a disciple in the digital space. Like that's clear cut and that's powerful at a viral level. I love it.

Tom Pounder: 44:37 And anybody can do it. Young people, old people, anybody can do it. You know, in that digital space.

Jeff Reed: 44:46 Awesome. Last question. Cause I'm curious with this, how do we meet people? To me, that's the hardest question. So you've got x number, a hundred, x number, thousand people, watching service. How do you actually put names on them and get them driven from the from the community to where they're kind of isolated, nebulous, not named to more of the congregation where you know who they are? Rey, Tom, what do you guys do for that?

Rey DeArmas: 45:21 So for me, it's been engaging in conversations just kind of at a greater scale. So, you know, Tom mentioned Twitter earlier, big fan of Twitter and Twitter moves at the speed of light in the sense of, you know, it's not yesterday's news, it's like five minutes news is old news, constant conversation throughout the day and new topics to be part of and all sorts of things. And so what you do is you kind of first start with your serious influencers, at least this has been a thing for me. You follow them and then you begin to engage in conversations that are happening in their threats. And then the next thing you know, you start to become involved in much larger conversations and folks start following you as, as they kind of agree or disagree with you, but they see that you're involved in conversation and it starts to become a much, much larger conversation as you go along.

Rey DeArmas: 46:08 In Facebook, man, groups has been such a big community builder for me. And it's been so helpful for, both my individual learning, coming into the church online space and all this stuff. But then even then, just as a fan of different things, whether it's sports or whether it's comic stuff or whether it's, you know, sneakers or whatever else, it doesn't matter. There's so many different subgroups for you to be part of. And I've even seen this with my wife as well, where, you know, she'll all of a sudden find a teacher who's really funny, who loves talking about teacher stuff online that only teachers get. And that's a subculture for them. So the next thing you know, she's following and now she's part of this conversation of teachers across the United States and stuff that they do. You know? And sometimes she'll show me, and she'll be like, look at this meme with this person, you know, dropped. Man, that's so true in my classroom. It's not relevant to me, but it's funny for her and it engages her in conversation about something that's unique to her, unique to where she's at in life. And she can be part of that conversation. So it's a great way to just network across the United States if you're into, if you're trying to establish a platform and grow a platform, it's a great way for that. But also if you just want to meet people and engage in conversation and, and share the love of God, it's great for that too.

Jeff Reed: 47:24 That's interesting on the networking, I love that you used that word. And I don't think you mean it meant it that way, but just coming as, as a guy who owns his own business, a lot of it is networking, you know, and figuring out how to those meet those people. And I, you know, I just had that thought when you said the word. It's like within our churches, we know people that know how to network, how to do that. Like I would challenge y'all who are listening, find those people who know how to network, who are those networker types, share with them the problem you're having and let them take a stab at it. Let them see, like they may have solutions of ways to tackle this with your specific use case. One of the things that I do know, the biggest limitation that I see across the board when talking with churches is this, I've got hundreds of people who watch my service every week and I have no idea who they are.

Jeff Reed: 48:24 And so that's the, and I'm going to use this phrase a lot. It's a limitation of the model. The limitation of the model doesn't mean that you scrap the model. The limitation of the model means that you work hard to overcome it and try to find the solution to that. So to Rey's point of using it for networking, maybe talking with some other people who are attached or you know, in the leadership of the church who can help, but there are ways to overcome that. You just need to wrestle with it, experiment it. Because in the end game, the purpose isn't to meet who they are. The end game is to disciple them to become a digital missionary. And that right there, the goal of the digital missionaries is worth whatever cost we have to do to meet these people where they are right now virtually. Well man, this has been a great podcast. I love this time. It's always awesome hanging out with Tom. Hey Rey, any thoughts as we're landing the plane?

Rey DeArmas: 49:23 Go be a digital missionary. No excuses. Just try something. Try something. You know, you're already doing it. Whether you like it or not, like we established earlier, so why not do it on purpose?

Jeff Reed: 49:34 Awesome. Tom, any thoughts from you, before we wrap up?

Tom Pounder: 49:39 Yeah, I mean just again, be that light, be that hope to people. Be that someone who uses social media to draw people to Christ. I think the more you can do that. I've had some great conversations and I know other people can have them as well. It's all your mindset of when you get on social media, what are you trying to do and how you can use that to, you know, share about the love of Christ and in a nonthreatening way. So I think it's great.

Jeff Reed: 50:08 Church, our job is not to create attenders. Our job is to create missionaries. I don't think attenders is actually written in the Bible. I could be wrong. You can find it, but it maybe, I'm pretty sure it's not.

Rey DeArmas: 50:21 There's a dad joke about all of them being in one accord somewhere in there, so it's fine.

Jeff Reed: 50:26 Alright. That's awesome. So get out there and let's create disciples, physically, as well as, digitally. So questions, of course, let us know, Tom, just in wrapping, where can people find you on social media?

Tom Pounder: 50:39 Yeah, my favorite is Twitter, so you can just look up @TAPounder and I'm there all the time.

Jeff Reed: 50:48 Awesome. And Digital Bootcamp on Facebook and YM, man, this guys literally all over the place. So, hit him up on, he's so humble. He's like laughing it off, but the guy creates content like nothing and he's got several roles and literally I have no idea how he does everything he does, but he does it so well. So Tom, thank you for being on here. Hit them up on @tapounder or hit me up and I'll tell you everything that he does and we'll get you connected, for Rey, for Tom, this is Jeff with The Church Digital Podcast. Loved having you on and we'll see you next time. Thanks everybody.

Podcast 022: Jeff's Mom & The Heart of Online Groups
PODCAST 024: Ken Schafer & The Challenge of Equipping Using Online Technologies

About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

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

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