Archives For DJ Chuang

My friend, DJ Chuang, posted an article entitled “Can the online church really be the church?” Here it is:

This new book by Douglas Estes, SimChurch: Being the Church in the Virtual World, tackles the brewing questions surrounding the legitimacy of an online church. Many church leaders are discerning and discussing the “what is the church?” question that’s been going for years, and now, growing numbers of church leaders are asking it in the context of online worship experiences and forming relationships and communities virtually.Simchurch

The book’s official website poses the question as: “Church on the Internet? Seriously?” This is the question many people are asking as more and more people chose to congregate online, and more and more churches look to launch internet campuses. But are these internet churches real? Are they healthy? Are they productive for faith? This is a conversation you can’t afford to miss as together we ask, “What does it mean to be the church in the virtual world?”

The official website links to a number of commentaries, including these positive ones: Internet Campuses from A Multi-Site Church RoadtripResponses to concerns about online church by Tony Steward, and A lesson from history for doubters by John Saddington; and negative ones:There is no virtual church by Bob Hyatt, Is Online Community real Community? Questions about the Virtual Church by Drew Goodmanson, Limitations of online church by Bobby Gruenewald.

As I’ve started reading through the book, I appreciated the author not taking a cautionary posture, throwing up warnings and fears of how technology could be misused. Estes digs behind the assumptions and cultural lens we have about being present with one another in inter-personal relationships. This is excerpted from page 60-61,

“If we want community to flourish in the virtual world, we’ll need to scrutinize our learned understanding of presence. Most people raised and educated in the Western world think of presence or being present as a physical act… Though defining presence simply as the location of our bodies is one of the foundational bricks of modern Western understanding of the world, itis not a God-given or biblical idea.” [emphasis added]

I think the book makes a compelling case for how relationships can occur through telepresence, and that a biblical community and a biblical church is not limited by the geography of a physical location.

And, last week, a SimChurch blog tour connected bloggers with reviews, commentaries, and interviews:

While I’m not so sure the discussions and reviews will change a lot of minds at this stage of the dialogue, I do think this book is one to be reckoned with. Where are you at with your thinking about the church in the virtual world?

Below is a post from my friend, DJ Chuang and the Leadership Network Digital Blog that I thought was worth repeating:

What the church looks and feels like is changing right before our eyes, and on our computer screens.

This article from The Gadsden Times (Alabama), “Now on your computer screen: Sunday services,” tells the story of how the Church Online of LifeChurch.tv is reaching people around the world:

… The 32-year-old [Bobby] Gruenewald is a pastor at LifeChurch.tv, an Edmond, Okla., organization that, with tens of thousands of followers, has created a virtual house of worship, with sermons, prayer and Bible study for an international congregation. 

… Gruenewald said the average “congregation” at any given time on a Sunday is about 3,000 visitors, but over the course of the 90-to-120-minute services, between 12,000 and 15,000 unique viewers will log on. The services incorporate live preaching, songs and sermons from the church’s physical locations across the United States through a live feed, while viewers can chat with one another or church volunteers.

Lifechurch-capTo further connect virtual users, the site also employs a chat function that automatically translates their language into a language of one’s choosing. Someone in Brazil can type a comment in Portuguese, for example, and it will be translated instantaneously to English for a viewer in Idaho. This feature, church leaders say, fosters a sense of immediate community among people with no other commonalities besides an abiding interest in Jesus.

And, Beliefnet blog entry “How Facebook, Twitter, and Google Might Affect the Church” links over to Mark Brown’s thoughts, How the Digital Revolution Might Affect the Church.

… we need to recognize the utter importance of powerful, transformational preaching. And we need to create systems by which those with such preaching ability and gifting can be widely available. Why restrict a gifted preacher to one community? Lifechurch.tv lead the way in making resources, including preaching, available to more than those who turn up in person for the service. 

We need to move from appointing leaders based on them completing the right degree to giving more weight to discerning their ability to complete the leadership task.

We need to create the opportunity for people to ‘be at church’ or part of a community at any moment in the day/week. Setting a special time on Sunday morning is artificial and limiting.

Mark also explores other issues affected by the digital revolution, namely, church governance, church leadership, and the institutional church as we know it. Read the full article.

From my vantage point, I’m guessing that changes to how we live out our faith as the church is only beginning. More changes are yet to come. Technology is only a part of what’s ushering in the change. (Aside: there are at least 27 churches with Internet campuses offering church online) What do you think?

// DJ Chuang, Director at Leadership Network //

I just returned from spending the weekend at LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City and got to witness this first-hand. It’s amazing what God is doing through them.

This is a blog that’s been a long time coming. I think about racial diversity often and last week I was reminded of how white my church is. I went to visit another local church that is also predominately white, but more diverse than my congregation and it jumped out at me (again).

I’ve said it countless times. I don’t understand why, but Sunday is the most segregated day of the week. I’ve had lengthy discussions with various friends (half of my friends are either African-American, Asian or Indian). I’ve discussed this with various Church leaders and friends/bloggers that have similar interests, passions and desires to see the Church embrace diversity – friends and bloggers such as DJ Chuang and Scott Williams.

Because I grew up in the South, I should be used to an all-white church service. I was brought up in an all-white church, even though I played several sports and had several black friends. When it came to Sunday, we went our separate ways and worshipped with “our own”. Now, 20 years later, I still see that going on.

I know great and gifted white pastors, but they have predominately white congregations. I know great and gifted black pastors (TJ Jakes and Tony Evans come to mind), but they lead predominately black churches. I know great and gifted Asian pastors (Dave Gibbons comes to mind), but they lead a predominately Asian congregation.

Soon I’ll blog about the concept of diversity and share some thoughts, but as for today, I’d just like to hear your thoughts, insights and reasons on why you think most churches experience this sort of segregation when it comes to worship. I think about this EVERY single week at my church. God help us!

I thought I’d follow-up my posts on impotent preaching by calling out one more person: myself. As I’ve traveled the country the last 9 years speaking, teaching, consulting and meeting with Church leaders, one thing I’ve found myself saying over and over to people that ask about my ministry and my personal thoughts about how God is using me – “God uses weak people.”

When you think about it and study Scripture, it’s pretty obvious, but it truly still amazes me. I’m the most weak, screwed up, unworthy person I can think of. As Paul said, I do believe I’m the “chief of sinners”. I struggle with many things, I could definitely be a better husband, father, friend, pastor, person, etc. My flesh is weak and my body is weak with numerous health issues. 

I struggle with weight/living a healthy lifestyle. I struggle with anxiety and take medicine for it. I struggle with depression and take medicine for it. I have other medical issues which I won’t share on here, but believe me, more medicine is involved. I sleep in a drug-induced sleep and can not even begin to tell you how hard it is to wake up in the morning. 

When my tech team gathers at 7am on Sunday mornings (meaning I have to get up at 6am) – it is the hardest struggle to be there and be on time. Waking up for me (coming out of the drug-induced sleep) is very difficult – it’s like waking from a coma. 

I love flying West and speaking because I get more sleep. When I fly to the East Coast, I really struggle with waking up (as my friends and hosts in Atlanta, South Carolina and Boston can testify to). 

My moods and emotions are all over the map. I bounce from high to low and when I crash, I really crash. Only my family, a few close friends and my therapist really know the depth of my struggles. 

Why do I share? Because I love to brag on God and testify to his grace and mercy. God truly uses weak people. One of my favorite lines in a worship song is from “Your Grace is Enough”. The second verse says “You use the weak to lead the strong.” I don’t understand why that is. I just watch as it happens. 

I thank God for his unconditional love, amazing grace and mercy that is new every morning. My first-born child is named Grace because I could think of no better name considering my past and my struggles. 

I boast in Christ and will continue to until my last breath. Friends, if you’re struggling with depression… if you’re struggling with anxiety… whatever you struggle with – hear me: you’re not alone. God is faithful. Surround yourself with people you trust that can pour into you, lift you up when you’re down and bear your burdens with you.

For me, personally, I want to be a friend to you as well. If you struggle, email me. Also contact, share with and follow friends and people that also understand like DJ Chuang, Anne Jackson and Rhett Smith. They are great people who blog regularly about issues like this and truly understand the challenges that many are faced with. You are not alone!

Several conversations lately have led me to consider the integration and universality of technology in a local church context. To be integrated means “combining or coordinating separate elements so as to provide a harmonious, interrelated whole” or “organized or structured so that constituent units function cooperatively.”

Universal means “affecting, concerning, or involving all”, “used or understood by all” or “present everywhere.” As I continue to chew on this concept, other words that come to mind are total, comprehensive and whole.  

I serve as a technology pastor at a church. For years “tech” was considered one person’s role (the techie, tech director or AV coordinator) – whether volunteer, part-time or full-time. Now in most local church situations there is still the need for this AV/tech role that oversees the sound, video and lights for corporate worship services and often oversees and supports campus-wide AV needs. IT is obviously another growing area in the church world and usually requires a dedicated volunteer or paid staff member or the use of outsourced companies.

I’ll be the first to admit that those that serve in “tech” and IT roles in a church have a unique gift mix and personality. In most situations these servants and leaders are seen more as geeks than pastors or ministers. I see my role as a pastor and shepherd, but that’s a topic for another article.

I bring the idea of universal technology up because we’re seeing a shift in the way the Church looks, functions and ministers to the world. The reality that we are missionaries in a digital age is becoming increasingly more apparent and hard to ignore. This brings the whole concept of “technology” to the forefront for regular pastors and church staff members – including the non-techie.

The conversations that I have regularly with pastors are about their desire to learn, understand, apply and fully utilize technology for ministry. The shift is bringing about what I call “universal technology” – meaning every Church leader is engaged in, using and communicating through technology – not just the tech pastor.

Events, gatherings and conferences that I’m regularly apart of look a lot different. The Church 2.0 Local Forums that I host around the country or the churchtechcamp, happening today in Dallas for example, 3 years ago would have been a room full of “geeks” (not my word, I got that from Mark Batterson) and “techies” (that is my word). Now, one walks into a “churchtechcamp” and it’s full of church planters, senior pastors, bloggers and lay leaders/volunteers that are involved in community/small groups and discipleship.

I’m fascinated by it and am enjoying just sitting back and watching this shift. Of course there are still giant conferences like NAB and InfoComm where us techies get together and talk about all things tech-related and the make up of attendees and speakers looks a lot different, but overall I see a change in the use of the word “tech” and the concept and adoption of “technology”.

This new reality that I’m referring to as universal technology is a good thing and a long-awaited one by me, personally. I’ve always viewed technology as a tool and not a toy, so the thought of senior pastors, worship pastors, youth pastors, communication directors, small group leaders, missions and outreach leaders, etc. getting interested, involved with and captivated by technology is a beautiful sight to me.

What about you and your situation? Are you seeing volunteers and staff members that don’t have “tech” in their title or job description talk about technology, Facebook, Twitter, blogging and online ministry?

My friend, DJ Chuang, has put together some great information and links on internet campuses HERE and HERE. So – what are your thoughts? Have you ever attended an internet campus? Would you consider launching one?

Yesterday I (and my family) were home sick. I had already watched LifeChurch.tv’s Saturday night service online, but ended up worshipping with 3 other internet campuses while home sick. I actually saw a 4th internet campus, but was not happy with it and decided not to call them out. In the next 2 blog posts, I’ll share with you the 4 churches that blessed me this weekend:

LifeChurch.tv:

I think the “Mix & Mingle” Lobby Chat is fascinating and am amazed to see how God uses it. 2 weeks ago, over 50 people prayed to receive Christ through LifeChurch.tv’s internet campuses – that’s more than most churches see in a year.

No, that’s not Craig Groeschel. They had an awesome guest speaker. Of notice in this picture is their “Give Online” area of the screen. At the botton left, you can follow the message notes. Great experience. Most people think of LifeChurch.tv when they think of an internet campus.

Above, LifeChurch.tv always let’s you choose between 2 different worship leaders. This is cool, but I have an issue. What happened to Stephen Cole?? Stephen Cole is my favorite worship leader at LC and I’m thinking about starting a petition to bring him back as an option. He rocks!

Above is LifeChurch’s Internet Campus Pastor Brandon Donaldson. I need to get to know that dude.

Flamingo Road Church:

Above was a screenshot taken after one of their morning services. The red dots show you who was watching around the world!

Flamingo was having a baptism that day (they had a great video announcment about it – very cool). Want to participate in baptism? Just text the word: BAPTISM. Folks, we are literally watching the face of Church change before our eyes.

The thing that impressed me the most about my south Florida friends is that they know how to make church fun. This is a screen shot of beach balls being tossed around the auditorium. You’d have to be there to understand.

Above is Flamingo’s Lead Pastor, Troy. Flamingo was truly the highlight of my morning and a wonderful surprise. There is talk of the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Miami being held at Flamingo Road Church – shhhh!

Above is Flamingo’s Internet Campus Pastor, Brian Vasil. I was introduced virtually to Brian through my friend, Tony Steward via last week’s LifeShare. I was introduced to Flamingo Road’s Internet Campus through my friend, DJ Chuang.

More to come about these and other internet campuses this week on this blog! So… what are your thoughts? Does the thought of over 50 people praying to receive Christ via the internet freak you out? Do you praise God? Both? Is your church considering an internet campus? Are you philosophically opposed to one? Let me hear ya.

This past week I got the new books you see to the left and below:

  • Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
    Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder
    by David Weinberger
  • The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation
    The Game-Changer: How You Can Drive Revenue and Profit Growth with Innovation
    by Ram Charan
  • IdeaSpotting: How to Find Your Next Great Idea
    IdeaSpotting: How to Find Your Next Great Idea
    by Sam Harrison

After spending some time with my friend, DJ Chuang, last week at Barnes & Noble, I have added a few more books to my birthday wish-list. Today is my 33rd birthday. This is what my friends and I call the “Jesus year”. It really is hard to believe that Christ gave His life at this age in life. I feel like I’ve got so much time ahead of me. Wow – really makes you think.

Below are books on my Amazon wish list. What other books should I have on my wish list?


 

EXTRA:
Last night’s LifeShare was awesome. I might make a special appearance with Tony Steward in CA this Wednesday night. Watch out!