What I Hope You Heard During My WNCC Address
3 Key Moments of this Speech
ICYMI - I was honored to be asked by Bishop Carter of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church to deliver a short address on digital church ministry as I was experiencing it as I plant Checkpoint Church.
You can watch the full address here:
As it turns out, ten minutes goes by much faster than I anticipated. I wanted to honor the time I had been given, so I rushed through those final few notes. I thought it would be appropriate to use this space to elaborate a bit further on what I hoped those gathered at the Western North Carolina Conference might hear - and what I hope those outside of that sphere would hear, as well.
Translation is Key to Digital Ministry
I have a weird job. Whenever I am placed in an environment where I am fortunate to share the experiences I have in my work, I am reminded of this reality all too clearly.
I can’t simply drop the streaming platform Twitch into the conversation and expect others to have any idea what I’m referring to. Let alone if I use colloquialisms of that space - such as Raids or Drops. Most people outside of that zone look at me with blank expressions.
Lord help me if I try to mention the exceptional platform Discord!
The good news is this: the work is being done.
The snake-in-the-hole motive behind this presentation was to equip those listening with the toolbelt I’ve been lovingly handcrafting over the past three years of work.
Twitch isn’t a streaming platform; it’s evangelism.
Discord isn’t a VOIP; it’s a church building.
YouTube isn’t a search engine; it’s a means of discipleship.
The work is deep, but the translation portion of the work is done - I wanted to encourage those gathered to use these tools for their own call and placement.
Please use these tools as I offer them - Pixel & Pulpit exists for this same purpose. I’m not learning these things to keep them to myself - this is a gift freely given.
Stories are our Lifeblood
I’ve presented this kind of 101 crash course on digital ministry before. In fact, I’ve even copy-pasted this design several times at this point. Long-time Checkpoint Church fans will be more than familiar with the Infamous Funnel Model. But I knew that this presentation needed to be different.
Whenever I am asked to speak at a Conference, I prepare details. Whenever I am asked to speak to a congregation, I prepare stories.
But the Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church is sort of both.
So I prepared the usual rigamarole of tools, but I added in between each tool a real-life example of the how/why behind this tool.
The story of Sky and OneShot will always be one of my favorites to tell because it was one that truly happened to me.
That first Christmas party Discord call with the members of Checkpoint will always be a hallmark moment for the hard work of that first year.
And the tweet I shared was fresh of the press and hit like a dagger to the heart.
I shared these to grab the attention of those listening to prove that this ministry was affecting real, breathing human beings. But also - I shared these as another lesson to the burgeoning digital minister.
I have a folder on my desktop called ‘Encouragement.’ In this file, I drop every story, text file, image, tweet, message, etc that brings me joy about the work being done at Checkpoint.
This serves not only as personal encouragement when the days are hard, but also as an example to encourage those outside of the church of the important work being done.
If you aren’t already, start collecting stories. They are everything.
We Must Work Together
This was likely my biggest regret of the address - I wish that I could have spent more time explaining that this work is collaborative.
Whenever I entered the digital universe, I felt incredibly alone.
I was fortunate to find voices in the darkness like Derek White, Love Thy Nerd, and CrossFire. But it took time to find them.
I was fortunate to find the foundational members of Checkpoint that are still influential today. But it took time to establish that foundation.
2020 is far gone and this simply isn’t necessary anymore. We have a community of others who have done and are doing this work in amazing ways. We must learn from one another - we are so much better together.
While there is still much work to be done exploring the digital mission fields of the Internet, there is no need to work it alone. I hope you have a community for doing this work or will consider joining this one for support.
World 1-6 Complete
I make time in my schedule to sit down with anyone who is discerning a call into digital ministry. While it may not be as often as I’d like, I started up Pixel & Pulpit with the express purpose of connecting together the strays of the digital space.
A large chunk of my time is devoted to supporting YOU. This isn’t self-serving or accidental or foolish.
I know how it feels to be an island in the digital void. And I know it doesn’t have to be that way.
It would bring me so much joy to walk alongside you in your call toward digital ministry. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me - I’m an open book and you’re not alone.
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To close, here are some engagement questions:
Share a favorite story of your digital ministry with us.
What have you found in your work of “translating” things to the traditional structures of the Church?
Any questions you have for me or Pixel & Pulpit?