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PODCAST 050: Biblical Function of a Digital-Only Church, Part 1

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Can a digital-only expression of church hold up to the Biblical standard of a church? This is the question that we, here at The Church Digital and Stadia Church Planting, are wrestling with. Can you create community online? Sure! Can you worship? Of course! Can you pray digitally? We do all the time... can you operate as a church exclusively in digital space?

Therein lies the topic of the podcast, as we're bringing in a panel of guests from around the country to ask the rather complicated question: Can a digital-only expression of church hold to the Biblical standard of church? What challenges would it face?

Jump on the podcast as Jeff Reed, Rey De Armas, Jason Morris, Ian Kirk and Joe Santos wrestle (practically) with the ecclesiology of a Digital Church.


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ON THE SHOW

Guest: Ian Kirk
Generations Community Church
Facebook

Guest: Jason Morris, Global Innovations Pastor
Westside Family Church
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn

Guest: Joey Santos
Christ's Church
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram

Host: Jeff Reed
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn

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

SHOW NOTES

HELP ANOTHER CHURCH. LEAVE A REVIEW.

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
THECHURCH.DIGITAL
 

TRANSCRIPT

Jeff Reed (00:00:00):
Welcome to The Church Digital Podcast. I'm going to love saying this next part for a long time to come. You ready for this. Powered by Stadia Church Planting. That's right. The Church Digital. The Church Digital Podcast is now powered by Stadia Church Planting. In case you didn't hear through the podcast and through the blogs that we've put up, I, Jeff Reed, I've taken a job with Stadia Church Planting, where I am now, their Director of Digital Church Planting. What's a digital church? Awesome. Put a pin in that. We'll come back to in a second. By the way, this is our 50th episode five zero here of The Church Digital podcast. I didn't think I'd make it past episode five, Honestly, I didn't think I'd make it past episode five and here we are with episode 50 and I've loved the content. I've loved the guests, I've loved the conversations that we've been having here on this podcast.

Jeff Reed (00:00:50):
So you listening audience, I want to thank you for joining me in this ride, in this journey as we're discovering more about what church online really can be, what it should be, and what digital church will be. So thank you for that. And I want to publicly thank Rey DeArmas, guest host here with The Church Digital podcast for joining me on this ride. Honestly, I didn't think any, either of us, would make it to episode 50 and here we are. So the conversation here that we're going to bring in is what is a digital church? And that's a great question to ask. There are all sorts of models of church here in the world today. You got your mega church, you got your giga-church, you got your multisite church, you got your small church, you got your big church, you got your high church, you got your low church, you got your cowboy church. Yeah there's a cowboy church.

Jeff Reed (00:01:41):
I actually attended a cowboy church in Texas. It does exist. It's for Cowboys. It's a thing. All of these different models of church are just it. There are models of the gathering. They're models of the biblical ekklesia, but the important thing to realize is they are models. There's really not one out there today that is the perfect example, the perfect mirror image of what we as a church are called to be biblically. They're just models. They're attempts to get there. Now, some are better than others, but all of them have strengths. All of them have weaknesses. All of them have different characteristics that are towards the direction of biblical ekklesia. They all have strengths in their ecclesiology, but all of them fall short and are limited in some area. I hate to tell you this, but none of them are a perfect match, and so to that end, we're going to create another model of church.

Jeff Reed (00:02:41):
Not that it's the perfect model because I don't think the perfect model exists this side of heaven, but it's another model. It's another opportunity. It's another way to connect people to the saving grace of Christ because I think there are people out there in the world today that will not be reached the current models, and we as the church need to do something different. And to that end, ladies and gentlemen, I want to talk to you about this idea of digital church. What's a digital church? Well, let me, let me share you our definition of digital church, and the awesome thing is nobody's really talking about Digital Church. So we, Stadia Church Planting and The Church Digital, we get to define what this digital church is. So here's what we're thinking. A digital church is a church that exists digitally before it exists physically, or maybe it doesn't even exist physically.

Jeff Reed (00:03:34):
Now that may just explode somebody's brains. How can you do church without it being physical? Here's the deal. I think you can. I think if we really look at the ecclesiology of what a church is, I think if you look at the biblical functions of how the church existed years ago, I believe that the digital expression of church can match the biblical functions that are in place. I believe that we can create an ecclesiology of a church that very much matches what the biblical model of church is operating in a digital environment. And so that's the challenge. And honestly, that's the challenge of this podcast. I grabbed a list, from well-known sources and we are start to talk through this list of biblical functions. When we look at what the church is, how it functions biblically, can we even do that in a digital environment?

Jeff Reed (00:04:33):
Is it possible to start to operate and to have this ecclesiology that operates in these functions that operate in a digital format? Could, could you even operate as a biblical church in a virtual environment only not a physical environment, a virtual environment only? And to that end, we brought in experts from all over the country to be on a panel to start this conversation. Yeah, we grabbed a bunch of online pastors and said, Hey, come over here. Let's have this crazy conversation. You know, the best part of the conversation, straight up, at least four times in this podcast, somebody made this comment, I hope I'm not going to get fired because of this, but because there's this fascinating conversation, where all these online guys are like, this is a great thing, but it's a completely separate thing. It's a new thing. And that's the beauty of a digital church because it's not tied to a physical church model where you're trying to recreate what's happening physical in a virtual space.

Jeff Reed (00:05:33):
You get to just wipe the slate clean and start over and create a model of church that just operates virtually the way that virtual is supposed to function. And that is a beautiful thing. So here's who's involved in this panel. We're bringing in Ian Kirk, Generations Community Online Pastor. We're bringing in Jason Morris, Westside Family, no stranger to the podcast, their of course, Global Innovations Pastor. We're bringing in Joey Santos, Online Pastor with Christ Church, as well as, Rey DeArmas of course, guest host regularly here, on the podcast, as well as, Digital Pastor out of Christ Fellowship in Miami and myself, Jeff with The Church Digital in a conversation that I'm calling Biblical Functions in a Digital Only Church. Episode 50. Hey everybody. Here you go. Jason. What ears are you wearing? Those are interesting to me.

Jason Morris (00:06:28):
These are like some knockoff Chinese brand that, Pana-sammy or something like that. I got it for Christmas actually. I gave them to my son for Christmas and it was somehow, it was beneath him. And so I'm like, okay, I'll use them.

Jeff Reed (00:06:59):
We were going to do a conversation centered around, language and, I think somewhat, it'll still maybe feel that way because part of languages is really at the core of the philosophy of church online. I was, so I've taken a new job and, this is like grounded in fact, I and Joey and I spent, I dunno, two or three days, a couple of days back in November out in Colorado, with an organization called stadia church planting. And, they, they actually just launched their, just planted their 1000 church. It's taken them 17 years to launch a thousand churches. But they celebrated that. What's interesting is with the current growth trends that the organization is going through and how they've been accelerating, they're going to hit the next 1000 churches, in three years. So they'll go to 2000 churches in three years and are very quickly escalating along.

Jeff Reed (00:07:59):
And so the reason that Joey and I got pulled into this conversation is they were really trying to wrestle with what a digital church is. And what's interesting is like, we started the conversation. They got really excited about some of the stuff we were talking about. I really got excited about some of the stuff that we were talking about and at the ends of the, this like two day think tank blue sky thing we were doing. We just kept the conversation going between Stadia and I, effective this this week or late January. I'm like, Director of Digital Church Planting for Stadia, which is like awesome and scary and everything in between. People are like, so what's a digital church? And my response back is, what do you think a digital church is? Cause we're literally getting to define some of those things right now.

Jeff Reed (00:08:50):
So here's what I wanna do. I wanna like be very particular with terms here, upfront. So what's a digital church? For me, I'm wrestling with three things. I'm wrestling with a church planter that wants to plant a church digitally that will eventually turn into a physical location. So that's one model. I'm talking about a, a church planter that's planting a church in a digital realm, that may stay digital. And so, like, I'm referencing here a DJ Soto with VR church, or I'm referencing a Jate Earhart with what he's doing with Love Clan, where the end game of it is not for it to grow into a physical, but to keep it in that virtual, in that digital digital community. Now there's challenges. Some of these things that I'm going to go through.

Jeff Reed (00:09:47):
Like I was reading a book here today. I was reading, the, what is this called? The flywheel, what is this called? The Movement Flywheel. We'll put it in the show notes, but it's a free book from Leadership Network and Exponential Conference. And some of the things that even when they're talking about this stuff, I'm like, I don't really know how to do this digitally. Maybe it's not possible. Maybe it is possible. Maybe we just need to kind of think about it, but it's not like in this podcast and this one hour podcast, we're going to solve all the world's problems as much as, Hey, there's some challenges here that we really need to pour more into. So let's do this. Let's take a moment. let's bounce around the podcast. Ian, let's start up with you, just maybe 15-20 seconds, who you are, your ministry, what your tied to, what the heart is of church online in that for you?

Ian Kirk (00:10:42):
So I'm at Generations Community Church in Marysville, Washington. I am the Online Campus Pastor and we've been doing this for about a year. In fact, I got the official title and about the anniversary is just about now and basically taking us from zero to broadcast and now we're starting to expand to online groups and figuring out how that's going to work for us. And I also write daily devotionals for the entire church, which sort of fits into this, I hope, for our online groups. We're, right now, we're really starting to wrestle with how online groups are going to fit into the church context. Because in our area where we have Boeing and other organizations that work seven days a week, 24 hours a day, church on Sunday, doesn't fit in a lot of schedules. And so we want to expand that from just worship, you know, just broadcasting, worship to having small groups and discipleship online so that people feel connected to the body.

Jeff Reed (00:11:49):
Joey, why don't you go next?

Joey Santos (00:11:54):
Well, I'm in Mason, Ohio, Christ Church and, been here for two and a half years now and we start from ground zero. I also with the online church, they had nothing before I got there. And, and we really are, our main purpose was, how we create an online environment that provides full engagement. So the idea was literally to if our next door neighbor from our church doesn't want to come to your building but they engage online, we're okay with that. So, and that really opened the door for many possibilities. So we are, we have being experienced in the full engagement, we call a campus because it's really treated as a campus. It's a separate campus even from, financially. So the giving that comes through the online campus is treated separately from the physical church and we're expanding that now. Like we're talk more about it, but weekly, it has been really fun experience to be able to have this presence at a bar, and have the church there. The church is flourishing, is great.

Jeff Reed (00:13:06):
Yeah, I'm sure we'll tie into the Church in a Bar. By the way, Episode 45 on The Church Digital podcast. We spent significant amount of time, Joey's no stranger to the podcast here. He was on that one and got to dive into that. And we've got a, the OG down here, Jason Morris, from Westside Family. So, going all the way back to, I don't have it in front of me, but it's probably like episode seven or eight, six, maybe it was in the, was in the top 10, early days of that. Yeah, it felt like it was, was right there. Maybe five or six. I'll look up what while you're talking. But Jason, man, just Westside family. What's the heart of church online? What's the heart of digital? What's your heart? What's going on down over there?

Jason Morris (00:13:51):
Well, what we do is we help people, our mission statement at Westside is loving Jesus. Becoming like Jesus and sharing Jesus and what we do online has helped people do that exact thing thing using online tools. And then leveraging, part of the thing that I do is we leverage that digital expression of West side to catalyze global church planting movements. And so like for example, tomorrow I'm going to be headed out to Thailand and Laos where we're going to be meeting up with a bunch of church planters and church leaders that we're bringing in from South Africa and India. And at last count, we've had, the, the honor to participate with some really good partners that, at last count is like over 1200 churches, something like that. Not in the same way that one would think of as a church here in the States with a building paid staff, that sort of thing. It is a different expression of church. But what we're doing is we are leveraging the digital resources that we're creating and allowing that to, give people on the ground the tools that they need to create contextualized versions of Jesus church wherever they happen to be. So our heart is to make that happen. because the way I see it, Jesus said go into all the world and we're just giving it a shot. So that's what we do.

Jeff Reed (00:15:29):
So you're literally getting on a plane tomorrow to travel over that. That's cool. Appreciate. I appreciate everybody taking the time to jump in on this. Right. Rey, you want to give us a 30 second on? You don't get to talk about CF much like just really the heart of what you guys are doing over there at Christ Fellowship Miami.

Rey DeArmas (00:15:48):
I mean really it's, it's continually changing and you know, God's allowed us to use visual tools as a way to reach people and how to disciple them and even on into the future. And eventually, definitely I talk about this cause Jeff and I both sit on the board and work with different organizations and how a lot of this has kind of taken shape. You know, but everything from, we lead small groups online. We have community online, we do services online and it's expanded even, now into missions and how we can do missions online and pretty excited to talk about that on in the future. But God has really used this in a great way and it's just great. Been grateful to be here all the way up through Episode 50. It's been really cool to be part of The Church Digital, but really at Christ fellowship, it's been quite a ride and quite an experience to allow digital tools.

Rey DeArmas (00:16:34):
And my role has expanded. I'm not just Online Campus Pastor anymore, like I'm basically or Digital Strategist overall now. And it's kind of helping find a way to allow all those tools to work together to help us reach people in a digital world, but also recognizing, and we've used this word here on the podcast in the phygital world where the people who attend our campuses and the people who attend are on my campus and a lot of cases are one in the same. And I'm sure we'll get into some of that discussion today as we talk about what it means to be the ekklesia or the gathered online.

Jeff Reed (00:17:05):
Yeah, it was, was funny. I got called out on Twitter. I can't even remember who did it to me at this point, but a couple of, again, it's Twitter's Twitter, and it was all nice. But Jay Kranda over at Saddleback tagged Rey and I evidently, he's got somebody from his church that's moving down to Naples, Florida. And he was asking, you know, Rey and I via Twitter, Hey, do you know any churches, anybody who's doing anything in Naples and you know, Jay being the online pastor over there, I just replied back, are you looking for online or physical church? And somebody will tell me, we'll put, we'll link to it in the show notes, but somebody busted me and they were like, does it matter? And it was like, okay to shake, well done. I appreciate the, the shot, you know, yeah, it does in this context cause I wouldn't know who to recommend to, but, but anyway, yes, physical or virtual doesn't matter. We're all, we're all, the same church. I want to hone in because part of me is like, I love that and the fact that we are all the one church in the different parts and things that come from that. What I want to propose though is that there's different models. and so I may want to like, segue the conversation a little different here because like, for example, you know, Jason, talk to me about what's going on at the churches. Like what does the church look like, where, where you are, where you're heading to literally tomorrow.

Jason Morris (00:18:36):
Well, that varies a lot depending upon the location. It could be a gathering of, you know, two to 300 in a storefront somewhere or it could be, you know, three to five believers meeting in a bamboo hut, or under a tree. So it takes lots of different forms and much of that has to do with the context that they're in. In some cases they're in persecuted places where, they have to function in underground, which causes them to be forced to be small and reproducing, which we've found actually works better from a gospel saturation standpoint and a leadership development standpoint and amassing large gatherings that are more difficult to replicate and tend to, I mean, they all have all the different expressions have their own strength and weakness. But one of the weaknesses of a larger gathering is the leadership development pipeline tends to weaken and the gospel saturation in a given area tends to weaken, versus other expressions or other forums.

Jason Morris (00:19:50):
Cause you're talking about different forums of church, right? So like mega church is different than house church, but they're both church, right? It's just a different expression of what the church is. And when you're talking about digital church, I think it's another thing, it's another expression of church and one can't say, Oh megachurch is bad or house church is bad. Well a lot of it depends on the context and who you're trying to reach. Just like I was, you know, listening to Joey, you know, talk about the vast majority of people that are in his digital expression of church are within the geographic reach of his physical campuses. And that tells you something, that there is a demographic or a group of people, that can possibly only be reached in more of a digital context or in a more hyper local context than what we're thinking because they're, no, I don't want to be in a building.

Jason Morris (00:20:50):
And if you hear that person, like if the customers that were supposed to be, or the people that we're supposed to be reaching, if those people are saying, I don't want to be in a building, we need to listen to that because our job, you know, according to Jesus is to go into all the world and make disciples. Right? Teaching them to observe everything we've commanded you. And if those people tell us that they don't want to be in a building, and yet we're forcing them into a model that requires one, maybe we need to rethink our approach. That's all I'm saying.

Jeff Reed (00:21:23):
And the idea of, different models certainly comes into play. Korea, Korea is, is almost seeing borderline revival as a result of a giga church movement. Some of the largest churches on the planet are coming out of Korea, whereas India and China is seeing a movement on a much more house church level. We've had Mike Christian on the podcast. Mike has literally launched 400 churches, 400 micro churches, house churches, so much so that he was removed from India. The India government literally kicked him out of the country because he was a threat to national security. He was so effective and planting these, these reproducing churches and they say, well, no, the giga church is better or less or more powerful or not. Or I mean that's an, that's an irrelevant conversation because in the end we're not, we're not judging how many butts in seats or how much revenue is coming in or, or what, what the money is. You're judging how we are at fulfilling the great commission of, of empowering a disciple to go. Thank you very much Jason Morris for that.

Jason Morris (00:22:28):
There is a facet that I think, maybe should be considered and that is, in the same way where the primary expression of church in the first century that you find in the book of acts was not enlarge gatherings that happened later. that's not to say that large gatherings aren't effective. They can be an effective tool. And we have seen them as effective tools, even in regions where the primary expression of church might be a house church or a smaller gathering. The interesting thing that I see about the digital church though is that it is in some ways neither mega nor micro in that it is a networks church where you could have smaller or asynchronous, exposures to the church, not a church service, but perhaps, but done in a network fashion where the net effect is greater than the sum of its parts.

Rey DeArmas (00:23:29):
Yeah. You know, the tough thing that I see, and this is something that we're all struggling through when we talk about the age that we're coming into in terms of digital churches, you know, for some time, for quite some time, you know, we validated Sunday morning because it was something that we can count. It was something that we could kind of control. With digital tools, we have less and less of an ability to control that. It's more virally spread. We can spread out content further and faster than ever. And it can reach people of all sorts of different needs, different economic statuses, different neighborhoods, etc. And people can access content from different pastors who aren't even in their own city. And so in that way, it gives them the ability to be shepherded by people that they may never meet, never see, which is something that the mega church movement was already kind of doing.

Rey DeArmas (00:24:18):
Because even though I could see my pastor on a stage, the odds of us having a relationship in a 2000, 3000, 4,000 member church slim to none, you know? And so now when we start talking about church as, as how we know it now, we've got to get down to some of the nitty gritty stuff, which is digital in my opinion, can actually do, better. And I'll get, I'll get to that in a second. In the sense of accountability actually being in relationship, being in somebody's life. And here's why. With digital landscapes and with digital tools, I can be in somebody's life every day. We can stay in communication every single day. And we can keep an accountability and that person can keep me accountable to things like scripture, reading to prayer, that person can be in my life and the praises, you know, the good, the bad, the ugly, all that stuff.

Rey DeArmas (00:25:05):
A lot of that can happen on digital landscapes where face to face interaction can't happen as much. And so, you know, the example, and I've used this before on the podcast that always, that kind of launched me in this direction, seeing how this could be real. My wife's been part of the same text thread with with other Christian mommies for about 10 years and they've been there through the good and the bad, holding each other accountable through the birth of babies, through the, through some of them, their divorces through re marriages do all sorts of stuff. Praying for each other, keeping each other accountable, encouraging one another, doing all the things that we would expect the people sitting in our pews to do and doing it more effectively than I had seen in some face to face small groups where it was like shallow relationship. Like, Hey, they're meeting together every week.

Jason Morris (00:25:52):
So I've got a question on that Rey, cause I think you're touching on something that is, it's overlooked many times. the question I have in that environment where I think one could actually do more ministry because it's more constant, in that texting group that you've described, do they ever, or do the members ever get together physically?

Rey DeArmas (00:26:21):
They do, but it's not as often as you would think. It's maybe once a year, maybe once every two years because now they're spread out, you know? some of them when I was living in Canada, one, a couple of them are living in the Carolinas and so they've spread out like on this scale, but they're very much in each other's lives every day. it was kind of funny because at some point I like, I was in what I considered accountability groups and I would be sitting down with my wife and I would just hear like her phone would be going off. I'd be like, what's going on? Was like, Oh, it's just the girls. And I'm like, well man, what's going on? Well, Hey, so-and-so is going through this thing and we're all praying for her. And I'm like, man, you guys are in. And I mean, some of this is just me being a guy and her and her being a woman and just them being better at communication in general. You know, but I was like, man, you guys are in each other's lives much more than I am with my own men's accountability group. Like yeah, we'll talk about like some sin issues or some different stuff that you guys are bring in like day to day to each other. And that's a big deal.

Jason Morris (00:27:24):
The trend that you mentioned and the way that, that texting group has expressed itself as the church is a growing trend that I see happening where on site, face to face conversations happen less frequently but are more meaningful because of the gaps that are being filled on a more constant basis through a digital means. And perhaps it could be that that trend, can be seen not only in church world, but in every other sector of society. So that being said, perhaps our ministry model could adapt to that cadence where, who knows, we could have an onsite gathering, you know, once every quarter or something of that nature that's really big, really awesome, highly excellent. And not able to be repeatable every single Sunday because that's too much of a grind and would suck too much resource and energy from the actual ministry that's happening in a digital means on a more frequent basis. Does that make sense?

Jeff Reed (00:28:31):
Yeah, that actually, yeah, kind of aligns with, do you guys read the book and Daniel Im talks about it and No Silver Bullets though. It's called flip the flip the classroom. Are you guys familiar with that term where we're essentially, it was, was two chemistry teachers, but who wrote the book and they, it's the philosophies out there. What's, and I'll talk about my wife later in the context of this, but as my wife said, masters in education and when I said flip the classroom, she got really upset, which was funny. But what flipped the classroom is, is these two chemistry teachers, instead of being focused on lecturing in the classroom, they flipped it. So they would lecture, like prerecorded uploaded to a video server somewhere and the homework was watching the lectures. Instead of the teachers feeling like they had to perform four or five classes a week, their word perform four to five classes a day, excuse me.

Jeff Reed (00:29:25):
They would do at once for online and the students would watch it once. If there were questions, they pack it up, they'd pause it repeated over and over again. And then that was the homework, the actual like application point where they do the homework, where they ask the, where they're going through the labs, like that's done in the classroom. Teachers are able to then engage with the students without having to worry about the performance without having to worry about that. But more of person to person building that community. Students' scores skyrocketed as a result of that. Also, the teachers felt they better understood who the students were and what their needs were because instead of them performing their word over, over and over and over to them, they got to listen, and can understood who the students were. Now my wife has a masters of education and it was funny, I just, I asked her, cause I read the book on the airplane recently and I got home and I was like, Hey, if you heard, if you ever heard of this, you ever like, you know, heard of these guys, this book?

Jeff Reed (00:30:28):
And she's like, no, but I hate flip the classroom. And, and I was like, really? You know, just tell me why. And she's like, Oh well the teachers are just being lazy. What was my wife's response? And, I was like, Oh that's interesting. I was like, cause I really, I'm interested in this in context of church and discipleship and maybe even changing how we're recreating disciples, what that process looks like. And, and she says, Oh no, I totally think you should do it from the church level. I think it would be awesome. At the church level. I just think teachers are being lazy. So I don't know. I don't know what that does for my wife. if somebody wants to speak into that, I can give you my wife's email address and you can speak with her directly, cause Lord knows I was like, cool, I'm gonna let that one go and we're going to move on.

Jason Morris (00:31:09):
Your wives reticence to that approach is fascinating to me. At the end of the day, my question is, what is the point of education? Is it so that the teachers can have meaningful activity are set so that the students can learn something and if test scores are going up, who cares? Yeah. If the teachers are more lazy, even if that's the real reason, if it's more effective, who cares? So in my mind, that really kind of parallels some of the other things that I feel like people are struggling with when it comes to new ways of doing church. You'd need to know what your goal actually is. Is it activity? Is it programs? Is it events, or is it results? What are those results? And if you're driving towards those kinds of goals, then who cares what kind of methodology you're using. Just do whatever's effective.

Rey DeArmas (00:32:04):
You know, that same, that same criticism that Amy would give the teachers. And I would never go against the grain. And, I'm a big fan of Jeff's wife. She does such an awesome stuff as a teacher. I'm not getting you in trouble, Jeff. Don't worry.

Jeff Reed (00:32:18):
Thank you for that. I appreciate it. Keep going.

Rey DeArmas (00:32:20):
Yeah, but, but here's the deal. that's the same criticism I've heard of pastors who have even gotten a video teaching or churches that have gone multisite that have gone to video teaching. Oh, that's so lazy. That's something that churches should not want to do. And it's like, well hold on. And this is like, I was the campus pastor at a physical location before I became the online campus. I did a lot more ministry, like actual ministry on the weeks that I was not teaching because we were rolling the video. I got to be in somebody's life. I got to go do hospital visits. I went and did funerals. I went and did a bunch of stuff on the weeks that I was teaching. I spent 30 to 35 hours in books and working on a message and doing that because that's what was needed of me that week. And I felt like I was more in ministry when we were leveraging the technology properly.

Jeff Reed (00:33:11):
Joey, you've been quiet so far, man. What are you thinking?

Joey Santos (00:33:13):
And then it's this fascinating. and I received that because I, I know this is going to sound cheesy, but man, I cannot believe I'm in the same podcast with Jason cause I met them for the first time at a very small online pastors conference in Dallas a few years ago. And I mean he was incredible. He shared information and we got, we were sharing meals and and he has been a great, like I follow his church and then his Twitter accounts and see what, you know, he shared that what's going on online and I'm like, I'm here on the podcast with Jason right now. That's pretty incredible. So man, I pray for you brother. I appreciate what you do. You're in leadership. I really do. That's great. I really believe that the future of the online church is going to be away from the what the online streaming of the Sunday service and because that, to replicate what happened on the stage, it's still not, it's still, that's too, to me, not the identity of the real digital church.

Joey Santos (00:34:21):
And I really think that because all we are talking about online, we're talking about content distribution but the only difference is with the relational aspect of it. And we have the ability to really broadcast content 24/7 and connect with people anytime today. I agree with Rey. I experienced more ministry in the last two years than the 10 years prior in a physical church. Literally. Do you know when, when you got a guy from California who never walked in a church before, he never walked in a church and he found our church through a Google search and he just go through all the steps of, do you know, I want to know what's next. And we go through foundations class. I don't want to know what's next. And we go through online Bible study one-on-one. I was there just one-on-one. I said, we don't have to join a group. We're going to be me and you doing this all the way to, I want to get baptized.

Joey Santos (00:35:22):
He flies all the way from California to Mason to get baptized. And that was a very first time ever day he stepped foot in a church. And if you don't understand, like if people don't understand the power of them moment, you really don't understand the power of just, here's the deal about it. The first time he watched the service on Tuesday morning in California was not a Sunday. He watch a prerecorded service. So I really think that a one, and I'm going to run the risk to really get myself in trouble here.

Jeff Reed (00:35:56):
It's my podcast. You'll be fine.

Joey Santos (00:35:57):
I know, and I just want to repeat what I said in the last podcast. I think churches, the physical churches are a little lost in a sense of, you know, we, we got to this big building and we got to have people come in and we have want to have enough programming that people are happy enough to give the money so we can now pay the bills. So churches are becoming as big a real estate business instead of being a place where we can just distribute content and facilitate relationships. So in our church, we shift the conversation because we're seeing people come in and I'm a big data guy so I can look at data all day long. And the reality is people are not coming into church because of the preaching. They're not coming to church because of the music. They come to church trying to find relationships, meaningful relationships with the community. I visualize, I don't know if it is off the subject, but I visualized that the physical church is going through a season of adjustments of trying to rediscover its identity in today's culture. And the digital church is just the place to be able to fill that gap. So I think for pastors listening to this, the digital church, not here to compete with your church, but actually digital church actually support what you offer. Now. You've got to just look in the weight more objectively, how that engagement happens. So you able to distribute content with the relational piece involved. It's like if we can add the relational piece to it, you makes a complete experience for the people participating in it.

Jeff Reed (00:37:42):
Yeah. And there's a, there's a awesome opportunity for church onlines, the online broadcast, the online community of a physical church to the compliment that Ray mentioned, this idea of phygital a combination of physical and digital, within one, like there's, believe me, I could go off of that. We all could go off that pitch. And help pastors on understand that. And we've all have enjoyed the joys and sorrows of, tried to convince someone of the other way on that. Here's, I truly do believe this. The, the, the physical church growth model or whatever you want to call this, the mega church, giga church, multisite. The typical church that you see today, and the physical space, I think they're going to get bigger and I think they're gonna get smaller. the, the, the model of the large church, is going to continue to grow.

Jeff Reed (00:38:37):
I don't think, that it's going to crush and burn. I don't think it's, it's set for doom. If anything, and I do think that it's serving its purpose for the kingdom. There are people that do connect to that and just like it would be ill of me to, to rip up a giga-church in Korea or a house church in India. those physical models exist to serve the purpose that, that they do. now there may need to be something complimentary to help get beyond what they do or to reach the type of person that those buildings are not set to reach. we've all experienced it. And Joey, you know, you've alluded to some of them with, with your church online where, you know, there are people who don't want to set foot in the building. As of right now.

Jeff Reed (00:39:26):
Lifeway stat, 63% of people aren't interested in, in going to your church building, 80%, 79% are interested in having a conversation about faith with their friends as long as faith is important to their friends and they see that faith is important to their friends. So for, there's an opportunity, I would suggest for a new model, we've, we've talked about this and this digital church model that's driven more towards a discipleship oriented type structure is what I'm suggesting where we are discipling people to engage within a community. Whether that's a, a physical community. Maybe it's a, a neighborhood or a couple blocks around somebody's house. maybe it's a historical neighborhood, meaning it's the circle of friends that I have in context of what raised Rey's wife's doing with everything that she's got with people all the way up in another country, still engaging in several States represented in that.

Jeff Reed (00:40:27):
Or maybe it's something like what Jate's doing, Jate Earhart where dude, the guy just loves video games and wants to utilize his passion to try to reach people for Christ and, and to say, Oh man, that that's not a church. Well I think there's some biblical, some standards and some mandates that, that we need to look at and to say, okay, this is when we look at what church is and the ecclesiology of church, these are functions that a church is supposed to do. And you know, do we see this? And just in some great examples, do we see this with, with Jate, do we see this with the WhatsApp group? honestly that all of us are in, we are all in some sort of a WhatsApp group similar to that. I've got a guy in California that's been blowing me up today.

Jeff Reed (00:41:15):
I swear he typed something and I almost wanted to crack a joke back. I'm like, are your thumbs tired? Because that's like 2000 words right there bro. And that's, and I know you don't have like a computer WhatsApp thing. Like, this is the actual, like on a keyboard, that's a lot of work, ma. but you know, God bless him and God bless the groups that, that, that are doing that. But does that hold up to the, the ecclesiology? Does it hold up to the functions of a biblically what, you know, I'll, I'll add them what exponential conference and what leadership network says, Hey, this is the, this is the minimum ecclesiology of what a church should be. So let's just roll through this. Let's have some fun and kind of see where we land with some of this stuff. All right, so there's a, I don't know, it's probably 10 or 11 on this list. Number one, worship. So in a digital expression of church, how do you worship? Arguably a better question would be, what is worship?

Rey DeArmas (00:42:10):
So I mean, I guess the traditional way. And for many of you who broadcast your services, the first thing you're going to say, Hey, we know we broadcast the songs that we do on Sunday morning. But you know, Jeff's question of what is worship is kind of an expensive thing that every worship leader loves to discuss. But everybody just kind of takes a pause. You know, we kind of identify the worship as primarily the singing portion of church and the fact that we're singing and engaged together. But the reality is is whenever we say that worship is a lifestyle, for some reason that tends to take a dive once we try to talk about church in the context of all lot online because we want people still did that gather in physical spaces and sing together. Truth is, it doesn't matter if they're singing privately, you know, in a room, doesn't matter if they're singing amongst a group of other believers, they're still engaged with God and worship can take on so many different forms within that. Now that being said, we're looking for our traditional form of singing. Yeah. You know what? They're walking the broadcast and they're singing along like that is happening in a lot of cases, man, folks have even engaged in the chat like, Hey man, my hands are raised right where I'm at. And that's a powerful thing when God can do that no matter where they're located.

Jeff Reed (00:43:13):
You know, and I love the idea of of the, the weekly gathering. and Jason, you, you've alluded to this in a past podcast and actually you connected me with, Neil Cole's church 3.0 we talked about that the last time that you were on and that that book along with some others really started to reshape kind of how I was viewing church. And answer this question for me. When did church become a weekly expression? Do you know historically or has anybody know? Like, I mean obviously we're seeing, we're seeing Godspeed Jesus speak to large crowds feeding of the thousands, the, the beatitude. So he's, he's doing this, we see it in the, the letters to the church. So we know that smaller works, but when did it shift to, like every Sunday we're doing this thing,

Jason Morris (00:44:05):
One of the things that you find in Acts is that daily they were doing all these things. So that actually falls into more of a frequency that most of us experience in the digital church. Where daily, we are, you know, breaking bread, dedicating ourselves to the apostles, teaching to prayer and to the word those, those sorts of things.

Jeff Reed (00:44:29):
We don't, I think if I remember correctly, and I might be wrong, but I think around 380 it's when you start seeing the more traditional or temple based expression of Christianity that was kind of centered around the Nicene Creed, all that was kind of in that. Okay. So like there's, there's this idea of where it shifted to a periodical tent pole as opposed to moving away from this lifestyle thing. I would suggest, man, even like popping in the AirPods here, jamming out to it, to a Hillsong. Yes. It's, it's not corporate worship, but it's worship to God, but we're losing in the digital church environment. We are probably losing a little bit of that corporate. What do you, what do you guys think? How can we overcome that, that corporate loss that they were feeling there?

Ian Kirk (00:45:25):
So, but I actually, I think something like this, like what we're doing now on zoom would be effective where you can see one another and respond to one another corporately and still be in the digital expression. I'm on a number of different Facebook groups and we all discuss liturgy, you know, old school, your hymn services, modern worship, not, you know, and the struggle that, and I'm sure that's what I pull into this is, I'm bringing into that liturgy mindset is that it literally means the work of the people gathered together mess. It's actual definition. And I think we are going to have to struggle with that. I think like the zoom calls where people become more comfortable with that or Skype or Hangouts or whatever other thing you want to do. I don't know that we're going to be able to get to that full corporate mentality. Not that we should either, but I think the micro-sites or you have three or four people gathered together is sufficient to meet that corporate need rather than have this huge expression of these huge buildings. Hope my senior pastor is not listening to me where you, that is what needs to be done is this huge building, this huge gathering, which is not sustainable certainly in the current cultural environment.

Joey Santos (00:46:46):
I just want to add to it, cause he made a point and Jason pointed out something there from Acts that I think seals the deal for me. The Bible said the add to the numbers daily and I think it's the interesting about that is when you asked the question while worship looks like, you know, line campus, you're trying to translate what happens in the corporate building and the corporate worship in the building and to do online. And to me it's like they have, there's no connection there. Like I don't want to replicate. That's the thing I really don't want to replicate in the digital church. I want the digital church to be this very personal, intimate opportunity. I have to have with God and with others. They want it to be with me in that moment and that's not going to look like a manmade weekend service experience and I've just lost half of your audience right there.

Jeff Reed (00:47:46):
I was losing them anyway. Don't worry about it. Let them go.

Joey Santos (00:47:48):
Do you know what I mean? Like, so I think the traditional way of looking at the weekend service is not going to translate each of the vision of church. Yes. I really firmly believe that. So sure. I can, I can get my worship team put in the studio, a week long and we can record all kinds of songs that we want to do together just for digital church and have the library available on that, on my online church and say, Hey, if you want to set aside some time to listen to some songs and pray again, I mean, I can create my own programming online.

Jeff Reed (00:48:24):
Well, and there's, there's how much assets now available. I mean if I get a $10 Spotify account, there's how much, I mean, it's ridiculous the amount of of resources that are out there. We were, I was actually having a conversation the other day, what happened to like normal Christian music that wasn't like praise and worship. They used to be like, band, it's like DC talk, you know, Audio Adrenaline and that would do like just music and everything and I'm not ripping it. It's not necessarily bad, but it's like there is no more like general genre. It's all, it's all Christian praise and worship, which is just a ton of more resources and assets that we can do. Now there's a business model where they do that because it's cheaper to anyway, but that's a whole other thing.

Joey Santos (00:49:07):
We're not in community, right? That's that. That's the battle. Pastors in local churches, they firmly believe that while we're trying to discuss, here, is a way to eliminate community. Here's a problem with that because their mindset is the way we talking. I can just, I don't need anybody around me. I'll just going to go online, listen to my music, listen to my message and not talk to anybody about it. That's not what we're talking about. We're just talking about taking the content where people are at, with their mobile devices. Cause that's where they are at now. We will open up opportunities for them to connect with people through it. That's the point. And I think the battle, the resistance that we end up facing, with many churches is that, no, it's not. I mean, I literally heard a pastor say there's just the end of last year.

Joey Santos (00:49:58):
When he opened them, he started the message is like, do you know, I love that we can broadcast online, but here's the deal. If you are in your house right now. You could be here, you should be here because you're not in church if you're not here. And he just said that on camera. Another thing, it was people that post, on social media talking about the online church. They say, if you cannot be in church today, watch online. And to me it's like how that doesn't make sense. But because the perception is not there, right. Because you are the church where you are. That's why our house campus, we have this big, t-shirts is really big. "I am the church." Because you're the church where you are. I think the concept of worship and the motto that the physical church reduces might not be what worship is going to look like in a digital church. That to me, that's really the bottom line.

Jason Morris (00:50:56):
Let's segway cause we got, I want to get through some more of this list and we thought we thought worship was controversial. Wait for the next one and I'm going in their order. This isn't me choosing this order. Teaching. So what would teaching, what could teaching, what should teaching look like in a digital expression or a digital expression of church? Now here, here's whatever we assume it is in the physical. We have an opportunity to start from scratch. This is not a physical church doing a church online, doing their ministry in a virtual space. This is a digital church that's planted just for purpose of growing and multiplying digitally or physically. But what should teaching look like in a digital church?

Rey DeArmas (00:51:41):
Jason's laughing cause I know he's got something.

Jason Morris (00:51:43):
Whenever I try to, answer that question, I tried to go back to the most primal expression of church that we know of and that's found in scripture. So I feel like if the apostle Paul felt it was okay to teach via his letters, in other words, via text, then it's okay for us to teach that way too. You don't have to have, and you have like I just finished up the book of Romans, right. And the last chapter talks, it's fascinating because he sends greetings from afar, right? So he's disinter-mediated already, but yet he's sending greetings trying to maintain the connection of community after having taught for 15 chapters. So the way I see it, and the apostle Paul never saw the church in room. It was a group of five house churches, but he was teaching that church without actually being physically present, even though he wanted to be, I mean that was his desire to be, but he wasn't. And so I think that tells us a lot of what could be done when it comes in the digital space because it's already been done. So we should just go with that.

Rey DeArmas (00:53:04):
Well, so here's what I would say, you know, in Joel chapter two is like all of this is being forecasted in terms of what the future church would look like. It was a lot about how they would teach each other because the spirit of God was moving in that. And so once again, in the context of community, there's something so powerful about the fact of, Hey listen, we can all watch good sound teaching good sound content, whether it's coming from the outside or whether it's somebody delivering it from the inside. And then we can actually discuss something that we can't do on a Sunday morning in a physical space. We can discuss how it's applicable to our lives and discuss and confront one another about but seriously. Like, can we live this out? Let's just say, you know, let's go to the simple and yet tough to follow commands of Christ.

Rey DeArmas (00:53:50):
You know, something like loving my neighbor as myself. All right, so it's one thing for one person to teach it from the stage. It's another thing for me to talk about in practicality about how it's supposed to be lived out and to discuss about how I don't do it all the time and how, there are times where it's hard to love my neighbor or to ask the question, well, who is my neighbor? Just like it was asked to Jesus. And to unpack that with one another. those are the kinds of things that can be done in digital spaces that can be done powerfully where I can learn from other people's experiences, where I can, you know, rethink and have some reshaping of my own mind and my own thoughts by the impact about how the spirit of God is moving into other people's lives and not just my own. That's something that can happen in digital community very quickly.

Joey Santos (00:54:37):
Oh, I think one of the things about message I think it really has to do with when you talk to online audience, you're talking about with a global audience. I think one, is that advantages that pastors have from the stage is that makes you're preaching to the local church and the local audience are right there. And to make the shift, it's not easy. It's, it's not easy. I mean, put them in a really bad spot. So it's, it's interesting because, if you, if you're going to do a Bible study, online, online group, the book of Romans, you're pretty much just talking with people in your church or Christians that know a book of Romans is whereas if I go to do a Bible study or a group, I want to do a group on leadership, leadership and principles of leadership.

Joey Santos (00:55:32):
It's got to be based on the book of Romans. But I'm gonna tell you exactly why you should do this Bible study by introducing a title in a theme and a reason that is not the language that the church and the local churches used you. And I think that that's a big challenge. That's one of the things was very clear to us when we started church at the bar because we started, we started the church at the bar in the worst possible sermon series that we can start the book of revelations. So I mean there is not much practical thing that you're getting here to tell people, go to work tomorrow and live this out. Right. So it, it's a, it was just incredible out of that. I'm at the bar and I'm watching people watching service and it's like I don't know.

Joey Santos (00:56:28):
And immediately in, one of the things I'm considering soon is, I'm saying let's record the message, the actually speaking language of the. I go to the bar. That's inredible, practical. It's incredibly, life living what you can do so if you break down in the way, in the language that when people listen to it, they can actually turn the TV, the computer off in that I can do something with this. Listen when I'm sitting in a chair, my church, yes, I want to learn the Bible. I want to learn. I mean he's just, he's just, that's a part of going to church, right? A pastor going to teach the going to, you're going to keep developing and discipleship in the church and that's part of it. But yeah. Oh mine, the audience is so global that church language doesn't fit. I lost the other half of our audience right now.

Jeff Reed (00:57:30):
Let me ask this cause cause cause I'll either bring it back or I'll chase them all away. Is there a model, is there a, and this is legitimately me asking, I am wrestling with this right now, is there a model of a digital church where there is no sermon? What do you guys think of that? In other words, it's so group based. It's so relational based that you don't even have a, and maybe we need to watch the message sermon label, but the, the person lecture style is not even a part of it?

Rey DeArmas (00:58:05):
So yes, I think that's possible. the key here is that scripture still needs to be a foundational piece of whether it's discussion or whether it's something else that's going on that's happening there. I do think that an element of scripture needs to be a foundational piece. And so whether it's not somebody from the traditional lectern or pulpit delivering it or even from video teaching, as long as there's scripture at the center of a discussion or whatever else, I think that can take place or shaping what can happen now, you know, and this is where, you know, many of us had been part of prayer services and this kind of thing where there wasn't like a formalized service. Okay, that's cool. But I guarantee you somewhere woven in there, there were scriptural elements and part of those gatherings as well. So I would say, Hey, scripture is somewhere in there. I think we'd be good to go.

Jeff Reed (00:58:54):
Ian, did you have something?

Ian Kirk (00:58:56):
No, I don't, I don't think that there is a model that we should bind ourselves to in digital church. I think that's actually one of our problems, because we when we ask these questions, we're keep looking back to the methods that we're accustomed to. Going back to how you opened up the, how should the church teach and it's more of what are the essentials that need to be done to teach and let it go from there because, flipping the classroom would be a key point. What are the essentials, you know, and Rey covered it to the scriptures are the essentials, but, why do we continue to bind people to a method or even multiple methods? Because each digital group cohort is going to have a different way of connecting with one another.

Jeff Reed (00:59:56):
Let's keep moving. Number, it's, let's call it number three. And, and I hear this one, I do. This is one that hurts. This is one where, where physical is not required or mandated, but it's going to be a challenge. The sacraments, baptism, communion, child dedication is not one of them, but, but those things that, you think it probably is, but it's not. It's not about, yeah. So, so, you know, the sprinkling, whatever, not doing that. I'm a Southern Baptist at heart. It's called moving on, maybe a little bit liberal Southern Baptist, but not, anyway, it's another conversation for us today. Baptism, communion. What does that look like in a digital church?

Rey DeArmas (01:00:43):
All right. Since this is a digital podcast, I can ask everybody to raise hands, but, how many people here give it an I have baptized somebody as a result of online church?

Jeff Reed (01:00:54):
All right, two. Three. All right, so the answer is, three of four. 75%.

Rey DeArmas (01:01:02):
All right, man. So it is possible. Now granted, and, Jeff, we've talked through some of the different ways and challenges of this kind of things happen. Everything from folks finding a method in their household and doing it via video chat into a backup to Joe, you referenced somebody flying across four states to get baptized or you know, or whatever it was. Half the country. I mean, that's a big deal. And so, as far as that sacrament, I think we can kind of give a solid checkmark to that. Lord supper. And this is, this is an idea that I stole from Kranda and Saddleback Church encouraging our folks to prepare in advance with all the materials and to take it at home alongside of us. Check. And we've done it.

Ian Kirk (01:01:48):
Yeah, it's a great, and that's actually one of my biggest struggles in this. Where are the church of the Nazarene, which is my denomination struggles because we have a more sacramental aspect of it. And in our case by rule, a ordained elder has to officiate the sacraments. Now what was interesting is the, Oh gosh, now I feel really sad cause I can't remember their names. But there's a group that does the PTZ cameras and they did a worship thing last Friday or something like that. And actually there's a Lutheran church in preparation for their communion. They send it out via mail so that people take communion, but it obeys their rules so that, everyone can partake together. It's very, that was eye opening to me.

Jeff Reed (01:02:49):
That it's okay. Within church, I'm going to use the word bylaws theory practice. If the church mails the grape, the little shot glass worth of cracker and great as long as they mail it and post-market from them. That is crazy.

Ian Kirk (01:03:07):
It was surreal. I have to acknowledge that it was surreal. It was kind of bloke broke my paradigm there.

Jeff Reed (01:03:17):
Yeah.

Rey DeArmas (01:03:18):
That's a challenging thing and I'm, I'm grateful that they were at least willing to take it to that step and, and here's why. they were so willing to help somebody take part in the sacrament. They're willing to jump over the hurdles to get there. You know what I'm saying? And that's what to me, and that's very much the center is the heart of what it is that we're doing. We're willing to jump through and break through a lot of barriers just to bring somebody to Christ. And I think, or to connect them with the body of Christ and, and so that right there, Ian, I think that's a powerful example of, Hey, like, you know what man? we'll find a way. We'll find a way. We may not have the answer but we're going to find a way.

Jeff Reed (01:03:56):
Very cool. I will say this, I've had, I've had more interest from some of that higher ecclesiology church, some of the higher church in doing church online. Previous years it's been more, you know, more contemporary, less traditional but more traditional. Starting to get wrestling with those and trying to figure out how to get past that, that whole mail, your communion juice. Like that's a thing. It has to be grape juice cause you can't mail alcohol over state borders. I know this because of, well I'm not going to tell you that story now. We'll visit that.

Jason Morris (01:04:41):
It is interesting Jeff, that there is something I think that needs to be thought through if there are denominational, obstacles is to figure is to get those defined because you know, Ian, you were talking about, that an ordained minister has to administer the elements. Right. Well it would be helpful I think for you guys to define at what distance does that officiation stop? Is it 10 feet, 30 feet, a hundred feet, you know, or a thousand miles, in which case if you're doing a live stream of it, they could be officiating at a distance. Right? Those are the types of things that, that's what Rey was talking about is once you establish what the obstacle actually is, other than we've just never done it that way, then you can figure out what kind of workarounds you can employ. Because if your obstacle happens to be, it has to be blessed by an ordained minister in the moment, he's got to physically touch it and see it, well then fine, let him do that ahead of time and then mail them out. You just got to figure out what, what the real minimal ecclesiology is and then create your work around so that you don't eliminate people in the process.

Ian Kirk (01:06:09):
Jason, you actually brought up exactly something I was thinking of is, even before I was hearing the Lutherans, this Lutheran church doing that was, it makes some sense if we are actually watching in real time why that's not officiating. And of course, I'm sure someone will ask for my credentials, after that because I just said that. But the reality is what is real time, what is gathering? That's the whole question of what is search digital church.

Jeff Reed (01:06:38):
I think we're kind of entitled this podcast. yeah, we're all crazy, but it just might work. It's, we're all like resigning years. All we're doing is just, you know, talking Bible here in church. And anyway, it's, it's really, it's fascinating and I hope you guys all keep your jobs. Hey. Yeah, so this has been a great, podcast and I've honestly, I've got probably another seven or eight things to like go over here. We're going to have to get the group back together and do this cause I want to continue this conversation. I know Jason's getting ready to go off to Laos. Where are you going, Jason? Yeah, yeah. He's muted, but he's shaking his head. Yes, yes. Laos. So that's fine. so yeah, we will, when he gets back, we'll do part two of this, bring the group back together and then finish the, the dialogue through this.

Jeff Reed (01:07:27):
And so I want to, I'm going to kind of stick in the order here because part two is gonna be a lot more like, this is really, I'll just read through it. Fellowship, disciple-making, compassion. How does the digital church show compassion? It's interesting. Justice. How does the digital church of justice, mission people being on mission, literally doing a global mission. There is a fascinating conversation surrounding that, body ministry, which I'm assuming is like the body serving, in a context. And so we can, we can unpack all of those, I think on part two of the podcast, but I want to, on this, the last one that we want to talk about today is prayer. So what does a digital church, a digital only expression of church model, how is that, driven, celebrating, showing empowering career? What do y'all think?

Joey Santos (01:08:32):
Oh, I think that I think it's already happening, right? I mean there's several apps that you can do prayer, it can be your prayer community, but even the simple thing is text messages like Rey, just exemplify earlier I think is happening more that that is the, I think that is the beauty of this digital, the environment that we live in today. I think that there's a lot activities already happening. I think we have not formalized there yet like in the visuals space as as a way of like, okay, the divisional church, here's how we pray. I think we have, I think maybe we have not done that yet. I think in a, in a very like official matter I think is just, there's a very word that he used a lot organic way that things are happening, that people are texting each other, they're sending emails with prayer or today I just got up a message early this morning, a text message from somebody from our church that was taken to the hospital.

Joey Santos (01:09:39):
She's in the ICU. She had a kidney transplant. Well, I don't need to wait until tomorrow morning to let everybody know. I was able to just send an email to 140 volunteers to have them all pray for her immediately. It's happening and people reply back the email. Listen, I heard a lot of things, good things in the podcast today, but Jason Landon on a whole thing about Paul and writing the letters and in Romans and you just like, if you don't get online church after that, I don't know what to do man. Because they know what I mean like that. That's it. And like we were living in ours. So I think prayers are happening. I really think I think is, we're, having Night to Shine next week and that what we do for the online church to participate in Night to Shine. We ask them to pray at six o'clock when it starts and at 8:45 when they do the crowning moments, we go live so they can see what they prayed for.

Jeff Reed (01:10:45):
Oh, that's awesome.

Joey Santos (01:10:46):
So I mean, we push prayer a lot. Prayer online. We talk a lot about it, but I think has just continue to push the idea that you can, you don't need a specific platform perform to do it. It's in your hands already. Is that phone you have in your hand find somebody to pray with.

Jason Morris (01:11:14):
I would totally agree with, with Joey there and most people who would push back on digital prayer, like Joey said, are already doing it anyway. I don't know of a pastor who doesn't pray over the phone with somebody when they can't be there. That's digital prayer. I dunno what you do about that. It's just, it's just using in some cases a different tool or in some cases the exact same tool is any other pastor would use to call someone up and pray for them.

Jeff Reed (01:11:37):
Yeah, I'll, I'll be texting with somebody and just like a one off conversation and I see they're going through a hard time or Facebook messenger and just instead of the, I pray for you, you know, let me pray for you or I'll be praying for you. Just, just type the prayer. And it's amazing. Just even the reaction from that person. I've had people come up to me days later, thank you for praying for me and it's just, I've never had anybody pray for me via text before it and how you're able to, to utilize that piece. By the way, the coolest feature that I've seen in the digital scope and context of prayer crossroads out of Cincinnati is doing right now. We did a podcast with them a couple episodes back and and so good tied into their mobile app.

Jeff Reed (01:12:22):
They've got the ability for people to post prayer requests, either you know, anonymous or you know, stating their name next to it, but then they also have the option for it to be public or private. And if it's public, other people see the prayer requests and can tag that prayer request and say, I'm praying for you. The person gets a push notification every time that prayer request is tagged. And so there's this immediate, you know, the feeling, the physical feeling across a digital medium that, wow, people are praying for me right now I'm part of a larger community now that's cool, but here's the cool thing down the road. Once that prayer request gets answered, yes, no, whatever the answer is, the person who has the prayer request can go back in and mark it answered and then say how it was answered. And when they do that, that's pushed out to every person that ever tagged it, say that they were praying for it. There's this option of within the, within the church app, within there, they are creating community. My gosh, centered around prayer. What better thing should we build our community around than prayer? 18 months ago I prayed for this thing and now God's brought it to be, I'm part of that. That church sees 115,000 prayer requests a month through this system because they're in, it's, it's a big church, but still it's not that much large adoption in context of mobile app. Not everybody's on it. So there is that much people identifying, connecting with prayer because there's a communal feel around it and they're getting that physical interaction across a digital medium.

Jason Morris (01:14:08):
One of the things that as I was listening to you guys, it's fascinating how we tend to think about a church meeting, a gathering and assembly only in ways that we have experienced it. Instead of looking at the way that scripture kind of defines it in a more looser form. And maybe this could be a springboard to be thinking about the next time we get together. But I'm looking at first Corinthians 14, 26 and it says, well, my brothers and sisters, let's summarize when you meet together, it doesn't say how, like I think we're in a meeting together right now. When you meet together, one will sing. That's interesting. Just one. One will sing, another will teach another. We'll tell some special revelation that God has given. One will speak in tongues and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you. And I think if we concentrate on that and do whatever we need to do to make that happen, I think that's, probably a pretty good church service regardless of the size, place or form.

Jeff Reed (01:15:22):
That's awesome. Well said, sir. We're going to wrap up here. Episode 50 of The Church Digital Podcast. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being a part of 50 and looking forward to the next 50 and everything that happens there as we continue to talk through digital church, church online and everything in between. So for Ian, for Joey, for Jason, for Rey, this is Jeff. Thanks for being here. We'll see you next time here on the 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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