Archives For Rhett Smith

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?

If you’re not at ECHO, you’re going to wish you were and you need to plan for it next year. It’s always a good thing to come to Dallas! I had a great time for my first day of the ECHO Conference.

I got to catch the pre-lab class on “Design” – which rocked. It was so refreshing to watch a talented artist, Barton Damer, peel back the layers (literally in PhotoShop) and show how he created the conference logo (seen above).

I then hung out with Cynthia Ware and talked with several friends that were in town from around the country. Then Cynthia and I attended a special lunch and got to hear what’s coming down the road for WorshipHouse Media.

The rest of the day was a blur of conversations, meetings, classes, talking with my friends that are exhibitors, BBQ for dinner, more deep discussions and meeting people in person that knew me from online (Facebook, Twitter or my blog).

I was most impressed with how the ECHO team and the host church, Watermark, handled the night main session with my friend, Mark Batterson. Hats off to my local tech buddies Ryan Howell (Watermark) and Jason Cole (Lake Pointe) who were making it happen, along with Les and the rest of their team. My intern, Jonathan, even jumped in on camera. So Bent Tree, Watermark, Lake Pointe and the ECHO team came together as one – it was beautiful. We have a great local group of tech directors. I saw most of them today, including my friend, Brian Davis, from Fellowship Dallas.

The worship last night was great (led by my friend, Will Pavone, from McLean Bible in Washington DC. I moved from serving in the Washington DC area to Dallas). The visuals and lighting were notable. They truly led artistically and tastefully. I was very impressed and want to get the backgrounds that they used for the songs – they were awesome.

They had created a nice countdown, made great use of a left, center and right video screen and had a cool brief conference starter video. Good stuff. Batterson brought it and was encouraging and appreciative to technical artists. It was good to see him and his digital/tech team (Dave Clark, David Russell and Jeremy Sexton).

I ended the night chatting briefly with some local friends, including new Dallas resident: Rhett Smith, and got some brief time with my college friend, Shawn Wood, who will be speaking today. I also talked with Tim Stevens and his associate from Granger. I’ll spend some more time later today with Tim.

I picked up Tony Steward last night from the airport and am looking forward to spending some time with him these next few days. I teach today and tomorrow and am looking forward to meeting more of you.

More later, including my new resource of the month: Unifyer – which is one of the sponsors for the Church 2.0 Local Forum in Atlanta next week and is a new partner with my ministry. I can’t wait to tell you more about what they’re up to!

DAY ONE: Great. Well done ECHO team. Looking forward to the rest of the conference.