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PODCAST 045: Church In A Bar & Other Innovations




Sometimes innovation is overly complicated and very costly. Sometimes innovation is just looking at what you have differently.

What you’ll discover here in this episode of The Church Digital Podcast is two churches that have done some incredibly innovative things with what they had. So much effort goes into creating the musical worship portion of the worship service each week, what if we did musical worship via video? Churches are doing teaching each week via video… why not musical worship?

Enter today’s podcast, where churches have launched in a Bar utilizing video worship… even going as far as launching a multisite campus without having a band on stage for musical worship. Crazy concept, I know. But imagine the scalability and savings if it could work. Remember, not everyone needs to buy into it, but enough need to buy into it to make it worthwhile.

As an aside, hear me publicly admit that I was wrong! (My wife doesn’t even get that treatment.) All this and more here on The Church Digital Podcast.

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

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Guest: Joey Santos
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Guest: Evan Connelly
Lighthouse Church
, IT Director
Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn

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



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Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
Jeff Reed


Jeff Reed: 00:00:00 Episode 45 here of The Church Digital Podcast. If nothing else, I'm transparent, open and honest because when I give bad advice to people, I at least admitted on public record so that everyone, everyone can hear it. So here's where we are. We're bringing in two people into this conversation here. Evan Conley, who is IT Director/becoming online pastor there at Lighthouse Church, as well as, Joey Santos from Christ Church. Now here's where we are. Both of these guys are doing some unique innovative things involving video in worship at micro locations and even multisite locations. And so about a year ago, Evan Conley asked my advice on something and it was the first time I'd met him and I gave him advice and my advice was horribly wrong. And thankfully Evan and his church didn't listen to me and instead did what they wanted to do anyway and then God did something phenomenal with it.

Jeff Reed: 00:00:58 So there's fun stories, some awesome conversations, centering around video worship, video teaching, and also a level of innovation here in the core of really what church online needs to be about. So check out this podcast, here you go. Yeah. So like I owe Evan an apology, which is weird to kind of open up with. But like, so I, a year ago, first time I met, or maybe it was 15 months ago, I was talking with him, he's, you know, asking my advice on some things with church online, whatever and he says to me, he says, yeah, we're, we're even, we're doing like looking into like launch some of our micro site basically as you know, a smaller campus, smaller multisite campus with, with video worship and just in the moment being non-innovative, non-creative, whatever, I'm like, I don't think I said this, but in my mind I was like, that's the stupidest idea I've ever heard in my life.

Jeff Reed: 00:01:52 And I can just, and I can remember cause, and I'm pulling that from like, just Granger up in Indiana tried this maybe a decade ago with one of their campuses and I just remember the stories of where their, the video delivery system failed. Launch week. They literally had no pastor. They had no worship. And cause it was all video based and the streaming system failed and they had a Campus Pastor on stage, I don't know, doing a song and a dance, a number trying to stall and it never got up. And so like the first week was this giant flop. And so I had that in my head, you know, not taking the consideration. Streaming has gotten so much more effective. Video has gotten so much tighter, and so then like a year later I see Evan, you know, talking to him and he's like, Hey that, that video venue campus is going great.

Jeff Reed: 00:02:40 And I felt like a total, you know, jerk for telling him that's the stupidest idea when it works. All of a sudden I catch up with, with Joey and hear from him like you're doing church in a bar with video. And I'm like, wait. So this whole thing of video worship is working and I just, I want to have that conversation. I want to unpack a little bit here cause we've got two different churches not connected in any way, who are do being effective in creating micro locations, small locations, multisite locations, maybe in context of a video. And so I wanted to hear some stories. What does it look like? How's it been husband receptive, kind of what are you, what are you learning and experiencing by doing, you know, the musical form of worship via video. Evan, why don't you kick us off?

Evan Connelly: 00:03:27 Yeah. So it's funny you mentioned the tech issues because that is something we experienced very early on as we were still figuring out our system. So one of the things for us that seems to help is the fact that we have a Saturday service as well as our broadcast campus. So what we do is we actually have that get uploaded to a cloud storage server and we download that in the morning. Okay. So that way we have a physical copy of a backup sermon. We have worship and all that. And I think it was our second weekend. We actually had to go over to that backup and there was a little bit, you know, where things would be referenced to this evening and that kind of thing. But if we hadn't had that, you know, second week into the campus, I don't know what that would have done as far as momentum and the feel of that campus. So having a backup system, has been really huge. But as long as we've been able to get the signal there, everything's been great. We didn't know what to expect and I remember that conversation we had, so that was in my head going into this too.

Evan Connelly: 00:04:43 I think what you told me was, you want to hear, you know, keep me updated on that cause I haven't heard of that going well. I'm curious to hear how that goes. And so I've got that in the back of my head cause I'm down there for think for the first month. And so every week I'm just kinda looking around the audience during worship, thinking about that. I'm like, are they into this? How's this going? And I was blown away. You know, you see hands up during worship and it just, you really feel like the audience is connected with what's going on. If the worship leader would pause and pray, they'd bow their heads, you know, they'd clap to respond to things. It really felt like there was a worship team on stage and I was blown away and it wasn't what I expected.

Jeff Reed: 00:05:28 Awesome. Hey Joey, what does it look like? What's cause you're in a, and I said that quickly. People may thought I was joking. You're literally doing church in a bar. So let's unpack that a little bit and kind of share what that looks like.

Joey Santos: 00:05:43 Yeah. And we, we started with the online campus idea, with the full engagement, like what, what's the online church will look like by providing food engagement, to people. And we, we kind of develop this kind of four levels of engagement in the fourth level lands on the one on one experience that is, you know, when you go from online to offline and that for us lands on the house campuses. So the idea is for somebody to like, this is my church, this is where I want to worship and if I want to do this in my house, I'm going to bring friends, I'm going to bring my family and we're going to do this together. So that's what the idea of house campuses for us kind of as a part of this engagement process and then do you know, we, there's this bar like 10 miles from our church, and the owners of the bar go to our church.

Joey Santos: 00:06:35 Then we talked about, you know, what it look like to have a church at the bar. Well, let's take the house campus model and just take it to the bar. and that's what we did. It's usually is in our second service. We have two services on Sunday. Our second service is at the bar and our opening day, we had 65 people show up to have a church at the bar. It took a little bit of though to kind of like introduce to the community the idea. We did a couple of public events at the bar to introduce the, Hey, we've got meet it here, we're going to worship here. It's about community and that's one of the focus of the church of the bar is not to try to replicate the environment that we have in a physical church.

Joey Santos: 00:07:26 It's really to be a place of community. People go to the bar to do what? Drink and talk. So we went into church and the bar should be a place where you go learn the Bible and talk. So that's, that's pretty much what we did and it's going pretty well. It goes up and down, but we see people come in and I was there last Sunday. Because I usually host online every Sunday, but I have a second host now. And so I had a chance to actually worship at the bar Sunday and I met this young man, who came to me and said, Hey, I see you on the TV all the time, but I'm glad you're here. We can meet any person. And you said, I've been coming for six weeks now and I made a commitment to never step a foot in the church ever again because my experience, but coming to the bar has been really good for me and you know, it was a single father bring his daughter with him to the bar and the worship together at 10:30 on Sundays. So has been pretty good. We, I mean, let's be to be very strategic, one of the things I do, we now add two worship singers to the schedule at the bar. They know they don't stand up front and lead, they stand up with everybody else and they just leave the word their voices. So instead of just like they stand up, they're going to be louder than anybody else. So, but they're on the schedule on planning center with the entire worship team. The only difference is that that Sunday they're going to serve at the bar. Okay. And that's in, that also helps that to develop their relationships. So the bottom line for us is the bar is a place for relationships. That's why we created that. And we're hoping that, do you know, the combination between that and the online experience kind of brings that together.

Jeff Reed: 00:09:18 Yeah. Now, so Joey, you've got the, so this is more of like you mentioned like house church and I've used micro church, micro location like, so this is a more elaborate model of that. Like, you know, the average house church probably 20 to 30 in an online context. 65. Right. So it's a house church at a bar.

Joey Santos: 00:09:40 Exactly. And I got, I mean, that bar, if we get really crazy and hopefully we will, I can have up to 400 people in it. So, wow. I have a space to grow. But for example, like here's a very interesting thing for our community as I start to promote, the church to the bar through social media, I discovered one very interesting thing. I did this AB test with the ads and I launched an ad with one content and the second ad with different content. And the first ad I got no engagement at all, no likes, no shares. And the second one I got a lot of likes, shares and actually messages in my inbox with tell me more about the church at the bar. And in all the difference was between the ads, the ads that I got more response did not have the church branding on it.

Joey Santos: 00:10:38 So, it's very interesting to see that people were willing, it feels like people are willing to learn more about it. You hear more about it, but they really kind of, there's a perception about religion that people actually don't want to be associated with and the church name kinda carries that a little bit, so I just removed everything. I remove all the church branding from church at the bar and it's part of our CC Live, what we call our online church. And it's part of our, is a house campus and they one day walk in, they want to watch a church service from Sunday from our physical church. But I think that our first approach is different. So as a, here's where it gets different though. One things that we're doing now, we're partnering with the bar should the community events.

Joey Santos: 00:11:36 So like this Saturday, we're doing a Friendsgiving, so the church at the bar and the bar are going to partner and we're going to offer turkey and ham all afternoon and people are bringing a side dish and we're going to have this big Thanksgiving meal available to the community. Anybody can come and have it. Oh, that's cool and we talk about, you know, is the church in the bar and during that day, Saturday we're going to put up two Christmas trees and people would be able to buy Christmas ornaments, with, as the nation for, and the nutrition crisis in local schools. So what we are trying to do is really using that opportunity to the church in the bar. That's an online experience to partner with, a bar and have the community kind of go out and be part of something in relevance. It has been a very, it's a very like, new for us and the organic things happening. And do you know, like we're just testing the grounds and see where it goes.

Jeff Reed: 00:12:41 One more question and I'm really anxious to hear kind of Evan's angle on this, but what's the, is the end game of the bar church to bar church? Is the endgame more bar churches? Is the end game put all these people together into a brick and mortar campus? Like what's the strategy move on how you're utilizing the micro?

Joey Santos: 00:13:00 The same strategy there is the strategy. The bar is the same strategy for any house campus. This, they can probably never step foot in a physical church as we know ever again. And we were okay with that. See and our model of online church, you've my next door neighbor that lives right by the church, engages with us online and truly engages, he's on the Bible studies, he gives. He participates. He never walks into our building work. Hey with that, because that's his community. And we want to make sure to give him all the spiritual nutrition that he needs online. And we give him community the way that that fits him best. you're okay with that. So our hope is that the church of the bar is going to grow and that's going to be a community, a place of community. And we're looking into possibility of the right now and actually like a cigar bar, where guys can get together, have Bible studies during the week and do you know what, here's the deal, it's the cheapest satellite campus growth we can put together because I don't have to pay for anything.

Jeff Reed: 00:14:17 I tell you what I may want to like join the cigar bar church. That's actually not a bad idea. I'm going to kind of write that down. I might borrow that down here in Miami, anybody would open a cigar bar church totally, totally. My wife is not a fan of the idea at all, but I certainly am. Well done. How many, right now, Joey, how many micro campuses?

Joey Santos: 00:14:44 We have five in the U S we have four in Ghana, Africa and we have one in Pakistan.

Jeff Reed: 00:14:52 Wow. Pakistan, let's hold on that. I want to come back to, Evan. So Centerville, but you guys are our grow you use the micro model is kind of a preface and introduction to a multisite that was kind of the strategy there, right? What does that look like?

Evan Connelly: 00:15:11 Yes. So for us it's trying to meet the different needs so we're not necessarily using it to reach people who normally would come to our normal church service. But for us, the reason that we started that to begin with was with our online broadcast on Facebook and YouTube. We were seeing week and week again comments from people who live in what's the Eastern shore. So if you're not familiar with Maryland, we have the Eastern and the Western shores, which are separated by the Chesapeake Bay. And then we have the Chesapeake Bay bridge, which specially during the summer the traffic can be really rough. But we have people who are making that commute on a weekly basis to come to one of our campuses, mostly to our broadcast campus. But we also had a good number of people that we were seeing with online connect cards and in the comments who were saying, we can't make it again, Hey, we're watching from this area.

Evan Connelly: 00:16:01 We'd love to have even, and even specifically asking like, can you guys plant a campus over here? Like, we love what you're doing and we want to have this over here. But that was a challenge for us because we had never planted a campus that far away and it was going to separate us, as far as, resources and the personnel that we send down. would that kind of commute, we couldn't support it in the same way that we support our campuses, which are closer to our central broadcast campus. And so we didn't think it started quite like it has meeting in a high school. Originally we were thinking maybe a fire hall or a library even. We thought we'd have, you know, if we needed to, we could have two or three locations of maybe 20 to 30 people spread around the Western, the Eastern shore, which is a pretty large area.

Evan Connelly: 00:16:49 But, as we're going through and starting to scout out different locations, we held an interest meeting and we had, I want to say a 100-120 people sign up to attend an interest meeting for this location. And so at that point we realized it was going to be a little bigger than we thought. And so we went from looking for a fire hall or a library or that kind of thing to a larger venue, more similar to what we're used to. But unlike our normal game plan, we can't rotate our worship team into this location in the same way that we could. So we had to decide like, could we still do video worship even with a location that resembles a lot more of any one of our ever locations. And we decided to give it a shot because really it was the only way we could facilitate what we felt like we were being called to do. And wow. Location over there.

Jeff Reed: 00:17:43 Your Centerville campus has, how many people attending? At one point you told me it's over like a hundred. I think, where are you at now?

Evan Connelly: 00:17:50 So we're averaging around 150. We've peaked around 200, but the average time to be around 150 people.

Jeff Reed: 00:17:56 And it's at the location it's going to grow into or is or you use the plan to move somewhere else?

Evan Connelly: 00:18:02 The plan for now is to stay where we're at. So we're at a high school, which has a pretty good sized auditorium. I think we could scale to around 500 hundred people for service. And so there's definitely room for growth. It's a nice convenient location. it's easily accessible and yeah, it's been working really well for us. Plenty of room to grow. So for now the plan is to stay there.

Jeff Reed: 00:18:26 So you guys, you'd literally have 150 people. Is that two services of 75 or is that one of them?

Evan Connelly: 00:18:32 150 right now.

Jeff Reed: 00:18:33 One service of 150 people sitting in a room being led musically and worship by watching a video screen?

Evan Connelly: 00:18:42 Right. So the only time that someone's on stage is we have our host spot at the end of service where our campus pastor will come out and greet the audience and tell them what's going on specifically with their location, that kind of thing. But just about everything they're seeing is happening on that projector screen.

Jeff Reed: 00:18:57 Wow. I just, you know, and I, we see it in church online. You see it with watching the individual, like a person watching and I can totally see that. I've even like been in the house churches where it's 18 to 25 people worshiping with the TV. You know, and it just, I've even, I just mentally struggle. I'm like, wow, there's 150 people. Like the video technology scales out that large. That's awesome. Has there been any, like, has there been any negative feedback? Has there been any like people asking questions? What did your lead pastor say when somebody's like pitched that idea to them? I bet you that was a fun conversation.

Evan Connelly: 00:19:37 You know what? he was all in on it. I'm trying to remember, you know, there are a few of us involved in the initial conversations, but, I can't remember who necessarily pitched it first, but he didn't have any pushback on that at all. Like he was all in for that. He's all about trying new things and trying to break away from the traditional ways of doing things and so on. Now our executive pastor who's more operational focused and how is this actually going to work, he had more concerns on that. But yeah, our lead pastor was all for it. yeah, it's been great and I think, you know, being there for the first month or so, it was when they launched it, it just occurred to me, you know, I'd sit in service and we'd go out and see all the community happening in the foyer after. It's not about what happens on the stage. You know, you can have that community regardless of whether you're watching a stream service or whether you have live performers on the stage and, you can argue like, is there a better worship experience? Just like any of our worship element, you know, if you have better lights or if you're adding Hey is or this or that, like maybe you can create a better environment worship, but you can absolutely do church, in my opinion, to a very good, not a quality with a stream service. It's the community that's happening. That's the church.

Jeff Reed: 00:21:01 It's really just interesting to see how maybe some of our internal biasness away from, you know, it's an extension of, I can't do video teaching. I have to have a live pastor in the room. You know, that next step is I really can't do video worship. I have to have, have a live band. Well, maybe do you really? And it was, was funny we had on, just a couple of weeks ago, we had on a, maybe a couple of months ago, we had, Jim Tomberlin, who's a multisite solutions. He's one of the, one of the founders of the pioneers of the multisite movement. And so we were actually talking a lot with him about this idea of video teaching and even like what it looked like from him back in like the nineties when he was at Willow Creek trying to pioneer where he would literally put a VHS tape on a bus Saturday night and a Greyhound bus and it would be delivered to the other bus stop.

Jeff Reed: 00:21:58 And somebody from the other campus would pick up that VHS tape. That's how they delivered video teaching weekend and week out VHS tape on a Greyhound bus. And a lot of the kickback that he had back then, and it was a great quote, he's, he said, I'm not everybody bought into it. and even with what you guys are doing, I don't think everybody's going to buy into it, but enough people bought into it to make it worthwhile, to make it effective. And when we look at, and that's really been kind of the, the mantra for me for church online and micro locations and, and what you guys are doing, where not everybody's going to buy into this. And I'm done with the days of thinking that I've got to convince everybody that church online never works. It's your, you're not going to get there, but you got to convince enough people to make it worthwhile and show that it's going to impact enough people to make it worth the effort.

Jeff Reed: 00:22:51 And I think, honest to God, in my experience, that's not hard to show. You're not gonna get everybody. and there are theological questions and things like that. At least they have perception is there's theological questions but at the end of the day, like, this is a really awesome thing that you guys are doing. Hey, so Evan, tell me this, like what with your strategy. Do you have other kind of micro venues that are going to grow up using this video? Or is this kind of a one time thing? How has that conversation gone with your, with your church, your staff now seeing the success of what's happening at Centerville?

Evan Connelly: 00:23:32 Yeah, sure. So we're starting to think more and more about what that's gonna look like. We are definitely thinking about multi-site, probably starting at a smaller scale than this one did. We just happen to have that big base of people who are watching online or making the commute here. So we're exploring the idea of maybe finding someone who wants to host something in their own house or a local venue and just giving them a few resources to help facilitate something of their own. That's not something we're currently doing yet, but we're working through that. and reading a little bit about what Saddleback does. Jay Kranda has a lot of information on what they're doing and their approach is incredible. Just the scale that they're able to pull that kind of thing off. It's just amazing. So it's our first one and, we've learned a lot from it.

Evan Connelly: 00:24:21 We're probably gonna try to do a similar thing, but on a smaller scale, this one is rapidly becoming, it's own campus. I mean it's already, it's been designated a campus. So it started as a watch party, which would be our terminology for a micro site. And then I want to say it was like eight or 10 weeks. we decided, you know, we've got over a hundred people who are meeting here. This is a campus. So it went from the Eastern shore watch party to LH Centerville in that short of a time. We don't think though that's going to be the normal process. So we're still working through like how do you support a group of 20 people or 30 people or that kind of thing. We did just find out maybe a month ago just in the comments on our online feed. We had someone who was watching online over the summer.

Evan Connelly: 00:25:10 She had a friend who just kept inviting her. So she's like, you know what, I'm going to watch this. She started watching over the summer and then just about a month ago, she works in a nursing home. And she, again, sharing the service with our residents. And so we're seeing pretty much every week now she checks in that she's got the service on for her residents. And so that wasn't anything we planned or anything that's official, but we've got in a way a multisite, a micro site location right there. So we're, as we're seeing that kind of thing happened where like, you know, I mean if people are even starting this on their own, even with Eastern shore, we heard about, and this didn't come up until our interest meeting that we found out about it, but people in this area had gathered in a home and watched service together, during a snow storm that we didn't even know happened.

Evan Connelly: 00:25:59 Maybe 20 or so. People just on their own organically formed, you know, micro-site location. So we're seeing that it's happening even if we don't do anything about it. And we're trying to think through how do we support that? How do we do that in a way that's organized? Where do you draw the line of support? Because you can't give the same resources to a microsite that you would give to a 200 person campus I kind of thing.

Jeff Reed: 00:26:24 And hopefully the support not as needed because the resources, the model is much simpler.

Evan Connelly: 00:26:31 Totally. What we're really looking at is making it, kind of equivalent to how we would see a small group. So you know, our small groups, you've got some content and you work through with her, that's a sermon study or number book or some kind of thing and you're just really there to host people in your house and so we're trying to see like as much as possible can we just pull the same model that we use for small groups and kind of make that our micro site. That's awesome.

Jeff Reed: 00:26:55 Hey Joey, how's, how's the model kind of grown from you, from you? Like you've got, you've got five America, you've got a couple of international, is it ex-pats kinda of down in that, or, I would love to just kind of maybe hear how the idea of micro grew out of online to gathering, clustering to kind of where you are now.

Joey Santos: 00:27:14 Yeah. So we, we started with, you know, pushing for engagement and telling people, do you know, you've got to be in community. So if you're watching at your house and you decide, this is my church, we always say, Hey, does become a house campus, and invite people in and have communities. So we, we'd kinda like extract the kind of idea from Acts chapter two of, where you break bread together, you worship together and you go out and serve your community and really started from that idea. So the vibe, we have a seasonal online Bobby studies right now. So we, we had the fall Bible studies and all house camps is usually they join those Bible studies. They, they, they either like do on their own or some of them just decide to join or people online so they have a bigger community.

Joey Santos: 00:28:11 But either way, the discipleship is a big factor into this. We really pushed for the discipleship piece. But I think for us the expansion of that is really see it grow, from what it is, we really don't have this big master plan of. Okay. When you become a house campus, you have to reach this goal here so we can transition to the next phase. No, if, if the house is going to always have the 15 people meeting there, but they're growing spiritually, they're growing as a community, they're serving the community. We wanted them to keep moving. We want to keep them moving forward in that direction. So we don't have this kind of master plan. One thing that we kind of feel yet, because everybody that has been baptized through the online church, they end up coming here.

Joey Santos: 00:29:09 I mean, even from Canada, they want to fly all the way here. So they feel like the, at least they'd been to the physical campus once and that's one thing I think is interesting about the online church is that because the current model, they feel really attached to the physical campus. Do you know what I mean? So, one of the things that would be looking at is, in you and I kind of chat a little bit about that before is should the motto of the church really kind of change? And I know this might be for another conversation, but the way I see it, the future of the online church may not be Mrs. Sarah Lee just streaming of your Sunday service, because that attachment to the physical campus can, can kind of like stop the online church from real growth because people feel too attached to the physical campus that they could not be, they cannot be in.

Joey Santos: 00:30:14 So I'm start to looking into that right now. I like, I start to have some conversations about, you know, even in, even at the church in the bar, should we modify the model so people are not attached to the physical cameras, they cannot be in, but we produce the content that actually drive the house campuses to create their own environments and that fits them where they are because culturally, every place is going to be different. That's, that's one of the challenges that I see for the online church is people can be watching Ghana, Africa, but there's some things that gonna is about Ghana, Africa and I cannot, I cannot fulfill that those aspects of, with the online church. So how I make the regional responsibles is, I just met a, another pastor from Pakistan a couple of weeks ago. He was here in the U S and we had a great conversation and he's telling me about the ways to reach out to their community and he's thinking about going to the TV and all that.

Joey Santos: 00:31:16 And I'm thinking, why don't you go online? And the thing that hit me was like, well, why don't we give you the support for you to start the online church right there in Pakistan, not from here, but you, right there where you are and you can reach out to the entire country. Yeah. And he never looked at it that way. No, we can scream yours. I said, you know what is not the same. Yeah. But if you are on, on camera, you have the same infrastructure that I have you, but there is you and you're part of that culture. So that, that's what I'm saying, like I'm, my brain starts to really start to go through in different places right now where, what's next for the online church? Because I like Evan's model what he's doing because he really fits a need that they have there and they grow from it and you see the results of it and you, and you just like, you experienced that it's made for it to meet their needs, and like every online church is not made the same as that created the same.

Joey Santos: 00:32:22 Right. It's not the same format. Do you want to feed everybody? So I think for us Jeff, is that is, it's, is looking ahead and see culturally how can we diversify? How can you make the online campus something that is really effective irrelevant content to people's lives. Bring Jesus to people who don't know him yet, and at the same time, at the same time, allow people to build relevant, meaningful relationships through it.

Jeff Reed: 00:32:54 The church, there's a perception that the church online today struggles to meet the perception of what today's church is. So there is a lot of money that goes into creating the soundstages to allow you guys produce the video that you do, the lighting, the cameras, the encoding gear. There's a lot of expense that that's, that's involved in that. There's a lot of technicality. It takes a lot to create the environment for the pastor to speak his message and to do all these things. And so it's, it's like, yeah, church online struggles to do that. Not to mention that the way that, both our worship and both our teaching are presented and broadcast, it's very easy to create a consumeristic identity, which is what we, the church don't want. We don't want to create consumers.

Jeff Reed: 00:33:49 We want to create disciple makers who are capable of creating other disciples. But honestly what's interesting at the end of that is, is we, it's not just the church online that has that issue, right? It's the church overall has that issue in many of the things that, that church online is faulted with and saying that, Hey, you're responsible for this. So we don't want to do church online because we don't want lazy people sitting on couches. Cool. Let's not do church online. You'll have lazy people sitting on pews. At the end of the day, you're still, it's that still model, just being there, being reproduced. It's my podcast. I can say that. So yeah, just, just saying, but what in fact, what church online is capable of. Yeah. It may struggle with what the perception of what USA churches today but I think it thrives when you look at the biblical model of what church is. Much of the things that we perceive as a biblical standard of church.

Jeff Reed: 00:34:46 I'm reading the Bible and it's not in there. Like when you look at the man standing on stage for 40 minutes preaching, there's value to that. And I don't want to discredit many of the pastors who are out there who, are as their job are the spiritual leaders of these organizations. But lead pastor is not a biblical position. The orators that stand on stage actually came more in closer to 300 or 400 AD and in fact, at the time culturally it was, they were the celebrities. Like it was like the TV star who was on stage because they had so much value in the order capacity in those speakers. And so a lot of the things that it's like, yeah, church online struggles with that. Okay, well that's not really the core of what biblical is. And you know, Joey, some of the conversations that we've had is maybe it's a whole other thing.

Jeff Reed: 00:35:42 Yeah. And I just, I, I think there's a whole other model of church that is waiting to be revealed and once again, I don't want to disparage the model that's here, the church growth model and the big building, because I think it's done a lot of good. And it's reached people in a big way and it will continue and it will continue to do so. But I think there's another way. I think there's another model. it was interesting just, just today I had a doctoral student at a, at a seminary called, to do a zoom thing with me, hit me up to the website. And honest to God, the conversation was, so I Googled how to plant a church digitally and, and you came up. So can you talk to me about what planting churches digitally looks like?

Jeff Reed: 00:36:34 And I spent an hour educating, like challenging the way his paradigm of how he views. And it was funny along the way. He too was like, yeah, that's, that's completely, that's not biblical. That's not the way that it isn't, but it's the standard that we've been so used to over the years. And you guys just to bring it even home. Even you guys just challenging a paradigm of I'm going to do church in a bar, I'm going to do church in a building and we're not even going to bring a band in. We're just going to watch this via video. My gosh, if, if that type of model worked and as we continue to see the success stories of how God's using these things, could you imagine the opportunities we have to expand the gospel and to literally put it in the communities that are reaching people that would not set foot in the church building? It's, I mean, there's a phenomenal opportunity here. Honestly, if we would just get over ourselves a little bit and realize that God's bigger and it's more capable than I think we sometimes give them credit as.

Joey Santos: 00:37:42 Okay, so can I run the risk to look sound like a real, real jerk for some churches here?

Jeff Reed: 00:37:49 Yeah, sure. I'll, I'll cut this if I need it.

Joey Santos: 00:37:51 I agree with that. So I had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. He is a, he's a big producer and, he, he's, I mean he produced some big guys in, and he called me because they say, Hey, I want to get your take on Kanye West and what's going on? Because he actually might be involved with some of the production that will involve Kanye and so he's like, before I jump into these, I want to hear from you. What do you think? And we talk about it, because Connie is doing these worship thing at his house and because of my involvement in the online church, he wants my opinion. And I said, you know what? It sometimes feels that, I don't want to offend anybody, but just hang in there for a second sometimes feels that the church today is more like a real estate business than what church arena supposed to be. We'd build this big infrastructures, these big buildings. And now the fight is we've got to get enough people we and have enough activities, enough stuff going on so people can see the value and give them money so we can pay the bills. Okay. And that's really, that's just a real estate business. So we've got to build more, right? So let's build another building because the business is growing, and I know this is a very black and white way of looking at it, but that'd be, that becomes the priority.

Jeff Reed: 00:39:20 Yeah. Well, and not to mention, sorry to cut you off, but there's a ticking time bomb, right? Because we keep buying more property. We keep building these buildings, and at this point we're tax exempt too when it comes to property tax. Guess what? That's not gonna be that way forever.

Joey Santos: 00:39:39 That's what happened in North of Indianapolis. So the County came in and said, we're done giving licenses to churches because they want a revenue. So what happened? Now the churches are trying to buy all their churches still to grow their multi-sites. So they're looking at churches, they're like falling apart. So they came by to preserve because they are grandfathered in so they can actually preserve that taxes. Again, I'm not taking away the value of the physical church at all. I think the value is there has to be there, exist is real. They, they add value to the community. But I think the priorities shift a little bit and again that you just read the book. If you read the book, culture trumps strategy. You just get to a point where culture is doing there right now, culture is done. The church the way we do church is not building value in my life and I need to find that someplace else in the place where they find that as the internet. And that's why they're fighting. So I don't need you to go to my church to hear the messages from my pastor every Sunday because I can actually find that message in the internet somewhere. The same thing or probably better and I have more options. So I think that the sense of value has changed for the culture. So we got to look at ourselves in the church and ask the question, what is the value of someone walking into my building?

Joey Santos: 00:41:10 And the same thing for us doing online. What is the value of someone tuning in online in and participant in a church service? That's the question keeps coming back to me. And that's why I've been questioning the model we were doing it just by streaming our services. That's a really, like, it's good for us to ask those questions and try to discover, do you know the answer's like what is it? What is the action to drive people in and why should they come in? That's it. Like why people should come to my church, because sometimes feels like the back doors are wide open and the front door is just this little thing that nobody can get in. And I think a lot of churches in America today are going through this. I think that they're asking that question. There's less people in that on the chairs.

Joey Santos: 00:41:57 We don't know how to manage this. We don't know what you're doing. Guess what? We still have to pay the mortgage now. Do you know what I mean? And now, now it shifts the purpose of the church. Let's get people in so we can't keep up with the mortgage. I mean that's just a reality of it. I mean, if we can sit in the room with no microphones and cameras and have this conversations, I think a lot of passengers say, man, I'm going through this right now. Yeah, well let's have the conversations.

Jeff Reed: 00:42:25 Joey and I, we were hanging out in Colorado. We would, so we met each other, I don't know, maybe a couple months ago. And Joe, I didn't tell you the story, but after I left you guys, I hung around for a couple of days for some other meetings and I was, I was driving around in an Uber somewhere. I don't even know where I was somewhere. Denver area. There's a big gig at church over here on the left. And I'm talking to the Uber driver and I just make some comment. Wow, that church is huge. This is a, it must've been like a 4,000 person venue. This is a giant church and I was like, man, that's that churches is beautiful.

Joey Santos: 00:43:00 What church is that?

Jeff Reed: 00:43:02 This man starts F bombing and competent attitude at the mere idea of this church. And I'm not going to drop the name of the church. I don't even think I could remember it, but he was not happy about this church and the perception at the end of this very, diatribe that was coming out of his mouth was that church has all the money and look at what they spend it on this glorious, beautiful building and they don't give a crap about me. Joey, Uber driver, whatever his name was. He just doesn't, they don't care. But that's perception of this guy. It's like we, we build these castles, that go towards, yes, good is done in the building and I don't want to demean that or, or to speak ill of it because it is an effective model, but not for everybody. And there needs to be other models to get out there and help. Evan, you were, you were wanting to say something.

Evan Connelly: 00:43:59 Yeah. You know, as I'm hearing you talk about this, I've just got this phrase that keeps coming to mind. That's, different content for different people. I think we look at tech companies especially everything is personalized. You know, when you go into Instagram and you're scrolling your feed, you're the only person who's gonna see that exact feed. You've subscribed certain things. Artificial intelligence is learning your preferences and what's best to show you, you know, no one is, it's not the same approach for everyone to give them the best experience. And I think in our context that means we're not going to be able to do the exact same thing, replicate that at every location. The more we can personalize things, whether that's with a micro site, having a different approach for different groups of people or online, even if we can find different ways to offer content differently for different people of where they're at and what they're going through. I think that's what the technology industry probably just the world at large is moving towards and yeah, that's where we take it.

Jeff Reed: 00:44:56 I tell you what Joey, like I would be more interested in hearing about you reaching bar number two. Okay. And finding that niche. Yeah. We're going to be like the bar church. Yeah. And just I remember what's his name? Oh my gosh. Mark Batterson out at, is actually out in your world. Evan was at NCC, National Community Church. Yeah. Like back a decade ago. Like he was, he was the movie, he was the movie pastor, the movie church pastor. Like I think he actually had that .com I think that it was, was blogging something like that. Something. Yeah, but because it's like, okay, so we're going to create our content, we're going to reach people in this and that. And that was his stick. Well, you know, he's bought coffee houses and things have moved on past then. But yeah. So once you find out how to reach people in the bar, man, knock on every bar in town and just try to replicate this model.

Joey Santos: 00:45:54 Well, it see the results were start seeing if out right now is the impact of the church is having on the staff of the bar.

Jeff Reed: 00:46:06 Didn't even think of that. But you are right.

Joey Santos: 00:46:09 And the owners, you start to point it out. So while they, they, for example, the bar doesn't open until noon on Sunday, but he said they start seeing the staff coming in early on Sunday now and they start moving around. But they listen, the TVs are all on the service. So they started listening to it. Well recently, they discovered that one, one person that worked in the bar for a long time, just discovered he has cancer. And, so I, you know, the bars close to her house, we go there a lot. They have food trucks and it's a great place to hang out. it's by the river. Beautiful location. So I'm there on Sunday night. She meets some friends and I saw the guy and listen the bar's packed, we're in the middle of the patio. And I stopped him and I say, Hey, I just heard of what happened to you. How can I pray for you?

Joey Santos: 00:47:09 And he just told me, I didn't ask him if he was Christian. I didn't ask anything. He knows me. He's, no, I'm the online pastor who runs the church at the bar. And so he turns to me and said, man, I, if you can pray for peace. And I mean, he told the things and I just lay hands and we prayed for him right in the middle of the bar. Where people are like drinking and having conversations all around. Wow. We just pray right there and when I was done praying, he got tears in his eyes and he's just like, so we're, we're just doing this like church thing at the bar and we're being getting known in the area by, you know, we have, so it was kind of funny because it was no weird for the people who are out to see us praying for him right there in the middle of the bar. And the staff, it was a big thing for the staff to see that happening. So we been asking about lately too, like, Hey, are you, would be employees are leaving, would you guys come and pray for them before? Like things like that. Wow. What'd you guys come before they leave? This is their last day. I show up. They're having this thing. Oh, let's stop. Let's pray for them.

Jeff Reed: 00:48:24 You've become the church of the bar man.

Joey Santos: 00:48:28 Exactly, exactly. So it is a pretty kind of fun to watch that kind of development because you something that for the model we have today, this people need to make a decision to step into your church building to receive that. Okay and that's not the case anymore. That we are there. We're going to pray for you. And it's no longer like would you be okay if I pray for you? And then we don't ask the questions like, how can I pray for you? Okay. We kind of skip that step and because this who I am, you know what I mean? I'm a Christian, I'm a, I'm a child of God and I'm going to pray for you regardless if you like it or not. I'm going to pray for him. So I'm not going to ask you if we want to meet your pray for you. I just want to say how can I pray for you?

Jeff Reed: 00:49:18 Give me something so that I can help.

Joey Santos: 00:49:20 Exactly. And, and they like, it's kinda hard to write for somebody to just say, Oh no, no, I don't want to get you pray for me. If people are usually did not go on to say that they have the freedom to say it, but usually they won't say that. So I think that that's, that's the one of the impacts for me it's like if we did all this to get this entire bar staff in a direction, in a path of becoming disciples of Christ, that's enough. That's sufficient for me, for us to do all this but I think God has a lot of, a lot in store for us there.

Jeff Reed: 00:49:58 Well, I'll tell you what, there's a lot of innovation in these, in these conversations and they're not, it's not big innovation. Like, Joey, you got bars all over the city finding the relationship, networking with the one. Was it his idea? Was it your idea? Whose idea was it to go into the?

Joey Santos: 00:50:19 That was my idea because we talk about house campuses and I keep going, you know, I go to the bar and I was like, ma'am, what'd we look like to have a church at the bar?

Jeff Reed: 00:50:29 They got TVs everywhere. I mean, yeah.

Joey Santos: 00:50:33 And they literally, he was like, dude, do whatever you want. And they go to that bar, to the church of the bar, the owners now. So that's where they attend, here's what happened this last Sunday. They broadcast on their Facebook page. Yeah.

Jeff Reed: 00:50:49 Come to church.

Joey Santos: 00:50:51 Yes. So the bar promotes the church on their facebook page and they rebroadcast our services on their Facebook page.

Jeff Reed: 00:51:01 That is unbelievable. I just, I guess my point is like this is such an innovative idea, but this is not a, an expensive idea. It's not, we're not building anything. Even Evan's stuff with broadcasting worship, it's a video encoder and using the infrastructure you already have.

Joey Santos: 00:51:25 It's a hundred expenses is an Apple TV box.

Jeff Reed: 00:51:28 Okay. Apple TVs are more like $229 in fairness. But still you can do a $40 Roku. I bet if you're really going through your head. But it's like, look at, it's, it's looking at what you have with fresh eyes, right? And it's like, okay, there's a concept, there's an idea. There's something here that's unique that somebody that nobody's ever thought of in a way that is completely new. We recently did a podcast, and this is an elaborate story, but it gets, there's simpler ways to do this. We did a podcast with the guys over at Christ Fellowship West Palm Beach and we talked with 'em, talked with their pop-up church pastor, which is a weird thing, but essentially they used to do like portable church and and one of their campuses shut down until he still had all this like gear from the portable drawer.

Jeff Reed: 00:52:22 It didn't shut down. It became a permanent campus. But anyway, they had this like excess gear sitting around and and, and somebody came up with the idea, Hey, what would it look like if we actually like just drove around to different neighborhoods and did church just, you know, different neighborhoods every week. Nobody in the country is doing pop-up church. Everybody talks about it. These people are all are doing it utilizing for the most part gear. They already had upgrading it and yet Christ Fellowship West Palm Beach, very over the top production value. But what they've developed as a result of that is in 20 2020 next year, they're going to launch four campuses. They are on scheduled to launch four campuses in one year because they are curating and cultivating and maturing this audience, this city, this community with the gospel right now. So like they're going so fast, they're having to tell church some of these areas, Hey, we're going to have to stop because we can't keep up, but we're going to come back and we're going to finish the job. Here's, here's what we're doing. Here's how we can make it work.

Joey Santos: 00:53:24 See what I like about this is. Look at what Evan is doing. Look what we're doing here, and look at West Palm Beach Gardens. You can see that there is people looking out for the change the innovation to get the word out. That's what I like about this because there is, there's this word that you know, for a long time has been like a bad word in church, innovation. And we finally, we're finally getting to a point there's enough guy that enough people getting involved, they're innovators, they're being innovators for God. Yep. And the thing was about time for the church just said that tone.

Jeff Reed: 00:54:06 Man, this has been a great conversation. I did not, I did not think we were going to land on innovation when I started this, this podcast, whatever it was an hour ago. This is, this has been really cool. I love this. This is great. man. Hey Joey. Yeah, Joey, any thoughts as we're landing the plane and wrapping up here?

Joey Santos: 00:54:26 Well, man, I just thank you so much for the opportunity to hang out here. I mean, kind of missing you from that meeting Colorado and we spent some time together. It was kind of funny how we reconnect their Facebook and all of a sudden we're in Colorado for where that meeting him out of nowhere. but thank you so much. I really pray that God continues to use people like you, Evan, all the churches that are like just jumping into innovation and be open to what God's doing to what God wants us to do. To not be just locked down into what has been but what could be and is not afraid to take risks. Sometimes you just, we've got to be okay just to say, Hey, you're not work out, but do you know what, we're not going to see it around.

Joey Santos: 00:55:18 But thinking what could have been a, we're going to just go ahead and try it out. So I'm saying we, if I tell people if I want to write a book, I'm going to write a book about the things that I tried that did not work out. There's a really thick book, because that's the things that we usually don't talk about, right? The things that we try and, you know, work out or people don't know. People look at even like people who might be listening to this podcast and man, you've got it right to this church at the bar. You did everything right now you have no idea how many things we try and you know, work with change and we modify, we adjust and we move on. So that's the things. I think it'd be great for people to kind of continue to explore, continue to pursue but let God take the lead.

Jeff Reed: 00:56:02 There's so much good. Like, and I love having these conversations and meeting with guys like you, I was doing an online Bible study. I do an online Bible study with online pastors, some online pastors, and I'm one of them. One of them canceled out and long story short, he's like, yeah, I'm getting pulled into a budget conversation and you know, vision casting and pray me and it's going to be an ugly conversation. and, and I've been there. I understand. I've sat in that seat. I know anybody who deals with online ministry has had those conversations cause leadership often doesn't see the vision, doesn't understand the purpose, doesn't align necessarily or loosely with what the church overall is doing. And so there's lots of questions and that and so on. Joey, you alluded to a lot of it just there knowing that you're not alone and, and that's, that's the one thing, just that, that when I was that guy, when I was in that seat, when I was the only person out of a large mega church that thought the way that I did, I had nothing but alone in me.

Jeff Reed: 00:57:06 I thought I was weird. I thought I didn't belong, and honestly, I managed to get myself into this dark place because I just thought I was different. And because these ideas were what I had, because nobody bought into them. It was, I can't, there's, I'm not valid. There's something strange about me, you know, fast forward a year or so, everywhere I go, I meet the online pastor who thinks like that. And so the answer is, you're not alone. You're not wrong. You may not be the season where it's right yet, but that doesn't mean you stop. You keep having those conversations. You keep casting that vision. You keep fighting for, for what you can because, and I can not say this, the org, the church big C church has shifted within the past year where it was 2018 versus 2019.

Jeff Reed: 00:57:59 From, from an outsider perspective, I can totally see it. And in conversations I have with others, they see it too. And so where we go in 2020 and how we continue to press forward, man, it's you people out there listening to this podcast that are gonna, gonna swing that pendulum. You've got more power, than you organizationally realize. It's just how to get the people, the church, the leadership to hear you. So man, thanks. Thanks for that Joey. Evan, that was a long landing. The plane there, Evan, land landing the plane. Any thoughts, man? Anything as we wrap up?

Evan Connelly: 00:58:35 Yeah, so I mean, just going off of what you just said, you know, I think it's so important that we as a community, especially those who are trying to innovate within the church and the online space, like we have to stay in contact and we need to share what we're doing because it's so easy to feel like you're alone. I remember a few years ago when we first started having the conversations about offering online expressions of church and broadcasting first conversations about what would a micro site look like. Like it was a much harder to get buy in back then and I did feel largely alone with it but, at the time, I don't think there are many resources, but there was Jay Kranda from Saddleback and his blog and I pull so much information from that blog, I realized, you know, here's at least one church who's doing this really well. Here's, you know, some of the frameworks they use and that really without those resources and being able to see if there's someone else doing this, I don't know that our church would be doing what it's doing right now. So important. You know, your podcast, your blog, Jeff, that you've started, those resources are just so important to constantly just be sharing whatever churches are doing so you can see that you're not alone with this and just learn from whatever our churches are doing.

Jeff Reed: 00:59:55 Yeah. And we're on my side. We're ramping up 2020 is going to be a great year, man. This has been an incredible podcast. Once again, I just want to thank you guys for taking the time to jump on this. We're going to do stuff again. Evan, I've loved and engaging with you and, and Joey, we're going to have to find some topics and some more time. I want to, I mean, there's several layers of stuff we've yet to unravel that are still needing some attention but we're going to break for now. For Evan, for Joey, my name is Jeff. Thanks everybody for being here 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 Digital Church & Church Online.

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