Digital Parish: Digital ministry in the small and rural church

Digital ministry is not just for large, urban (or suburban) churches. All churches have a calling to occupy digital space, in a sense. And this is because such a large portion of our population spends significant time in digital space.

But it’s definitely easier for large churches with multi-person staffs to engage in digital ministry. There are peculiar challenges for small churches and rural ministries when it comes to digital ministry. 

Charlotte Elia knows all about these peculiar challenges since she’s been forced to navigate them. And it just so happens that she is our adjunct professor on this session of Pastoring in the Digital Parish.

The Episode

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Show Notes 

Charlotte also podcasts about digital ministry. Some of Ryan's favorite episodes of "How We Do Digital Ministry":

  • Music Ministry in this Moment
  • TikTok's Nerdy Priest
  • Process Nerd

(And, of course, Narrowing Your Niche, which features a familiar voice.)

Charlotte also launched the church communication tool, Your Phoebe.

Ryan Dunn (00:02):

This is pastoring in the digital parish, your resourcing connection for leading ministry in digital spaces. My name is Ryan Dunn. I too work in the digital ministry space at the local church level. I lead the digital ministry for a tiny church in a neighborhood of Nashville, Tennessee. Digital ministry is not just for large, urban or even suburban churches. In fact, I believe all churches have a calling to occupy digital space in a sense, and this is because such a large portion of our population spends significant time in digital spaces, but it's definitely easier for large churches with multi-person staffs to engage in digital ministry. There are peculiar challenges for small churches and for rural ministries when it comes to digital ministry.

New Speaker (00:51):

Charlotte Elia knows all about these peculiar challenges since she's been forced to navigate them. And it just so happens that she is our adjunct professor on this session of pastoring in the digital parish digital ministry for the small and rural church is possible, and Charlotte is gonna help us see how we can make it happen as she shares her story. So let's meet Charlotte El Charlotte. Elliot is an elder in the Presbyterian church usa and has served congregations as a pastor and educator and a music director, and she currently hosts the Heavenly Banquet Podcast and the How We Do Digital Ministry podcast. Such an interesting topic. I wonder if there are other podcasts like that out there, <laugh> Charlotte. Beyond that, what does your ministry context look like right now? Like what is a day in ministry look like for Charlotte

Charlotte Elia (01:45):

<Laugh>? It looks pretty good. It's a little of a little bit of lots of stuff, which, which is how I like it. But Cool. Yeah. So coming out of a recent congregational ministry in a rural congregation mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and now helping some rural churches with consulting around digital ministry in particular, and finding their focus and working on the heavenly banquet, working on how we do digital ministry and actually developing a digital ministry application, a platform communications platform called your Phoebe. So Okay. Yeah. That's where my time is right now.

Ryan Dunn (02:29):

Yeah. Well, let's put a opinion in your, Phoebe. We'll come on back to that because I, I've heard of several churches who are trying to move into that, the app kind of space. And so it'd be good for us to kind of capture a, a sense of how churches are applying an app for their ministry context. But when you were engaged in the parish ministry, in, in the rural, rural church setting, was that prior to your pandemic shutdown or were you there in the midst of

Charlotte Elia (02:56):

Yeah, both. And <laugh>. Yeah. Okay. I had been in a rural church serving as pulpit supply at this congregation for about three years, and then moved into that community in the fall of 2019. So began in, in earnest being their person then, and then, well, we know what happened.

Ryan Dunn (03:21):

Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Charlotte Elia (03:23):


Ryan Dunn (03:24):

So prior to that, was your parish really engaged in a kind of digital presence?

Charlotte Elia (03:31):

I had been fortunate enough that they let me do a lot of things. So, and to start some of that while I was more of their kind of stated supply person mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So as far as developing a website, Facebook, Instagram you know, email newsletters, getting them off of print and into digital resources. So we were pretty well set up in some ways. But then I learned some really big lessons actually in 2019, just moving out there as far as what we talk about with this digital divide in rural spaces and how very real <laugh> that is, and the impact of just access to the internet period, and how that affects what digital ministry means in those

Ryan Dunn (04:23):

Guys. Is that what the digital divide is? That there are just like, there are the haves and the have nots in terms of digital access?

Charlotte Elia (04:30):

Yeah. So I'm fortunate enough that the mans where I lived was in town, which meant that I could,

Ryan Dunn (04:38):

There were quotes on that in town, right? <Laugh>,

Charlotte Elia (04:40):

Which was, you know, like a two or three block area, but right off the main highway, right? Okay.

Ryan Dunn (04:46):

So I had a stoplight.

Charlotte Elia (04:48):

Yeah, I had a stoplight. But that meant that I could get access to broadband internet, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, but it also meant I was on a four month waiting list, right? So, I mean, already the paradigm shift of like any house or apartment, anything I've lived in the last 10, 15 years, it's like, it's already there. You're just turning it on or off like any other utility, right? So, and I'm watching the linemen literally take the cable from the highway across the telephone poles into the house when it happens. And it's the most expensive internet I've ever had in my life, right? So I was fortunate enough to have it. We couldn't have it at the church. That wasn't an option. So how does that change what you can and can't do? And that doesn't just mean I did, we didn't have broadband at the church location. We have cell service or anything.

Ryan Dunn (05:45):


Charlotte Elia (05:45):

So, and that's a typical experience, not only meaning what you can do within your ministry content context as far as pushing content out because of those limitations, but you have to understand that that's the experience of your folks around in the area too, right? So if they don't have access, ready, access to internet, or they have internet that's satellite based, meaning it's raining. I don't have internet sometimes. Mm. Solar flares, things like this or internet. They're getting internet from like a cellular hotspot and they have limited data each month that's changing how they're using it, right? So generally, what we were needing to do in those contexts is digital ministry that was, let's say, asynchronous, right? So, I mean, live streaming, no, it's not okay. Available from the church and who's gonna sit down and do it because the feed may or may not exist or be accessible, right? And so the ways that people are accessing the internet really different. So you know, if, if you have limited data to use every month, can, do you remember this time when this happened, <laugh>, but you don't just kind of, you know, surf through pages, you know, or just spend that hour that you get sucked into TikTok or something that

Ryan Dunn (07:11):


Charlotte Elia (07:12):

Gonna be using that data. And what it means is, or looks a lot more like, Oh, while I'm at work, or I'm at the library, or I'm at school where I have internet, I can download podcasts, or I can download, you know, think content that then I will consume later. So it's changing, you know, that accessibility to the internet is changing what we might think of as accessibility to digital ministry then.

Ryan Dunn (07:42):

So in a context like that, what really is the draw to digital ministry where it almost feels like it's, you know, it's almost a fight to engage digitally. Like, what was your justification for saying, Well, we need to have some kind of presence in this space?

Charlotte Elia (07:57):

Yeah, so I mean, initially it was just, hey, people need to be able to see inside this church, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, you know we are in this rural county where there's like a handful, and I mean, really a handful of like mainline or progressive congregations, right? And then the dominant voice in that area is more evangelical, fundamentalist, Pentecostal. So to try to get our story out there I think was important. And to say we are one of, we're one of, again, even smaller group of churches that would've been welcoming, affirming, and, you know, have particular takes on social justice issues as well. So that was important to say, you know, Hey, we're out here, We're a little different. We've got something else going on.

Charlotte Elia (08:50):

But <laugh>, I love the question that you've asked, because I think this is, is really an important question for all rural small churches to engage and really all congregations because I see this kind of push toward, you know, there was this talk of like, you know, oh, in March, 2020 everyone became a televangelist, whatever, and that's really cool. Yeah. But why did everyone do that? <Laugh>? Yeah. You know, I mean, wait, why wasn't there more collaboration and why were we all producing kind of the same show every week and using our hours that way, et cetera. But, you know, in talking with churches now of trying to bring them back to, okay, who are you, what is the point of digital ministry for you? What are, what are you trying to, to do? Is it just get your, you know, your story out there?

Charlotte Elia (09:43):

Let people have a glimpse of your community kind of as they're seeking and wanting to come in. Is this about supplementing for your congregants and others when they can't be there in person? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So what are the goals? What are we trying to do here? And let that then, I mean, this seems like a no brainer, but I don't see folks doing it. But to let those questions then inform what tools you use and how you use them, rather than, Yeah, okay. Oh, I've gotta be, I've gotta be on all the platforms and I have to do all the things. Well, you can't mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but then, you know, only some of those are gonna serve the actual goals that you have in mind that work with the actual ministries and mission of your congregation as it is.

Ryan Dunn (10:31):

So, in working with digital, or I'm sorry, with rural congregations now, or small church congregations even on a consulting basis, you might recommend, like, don't feel the pressure to like live stream, everything. Just look for other ways of engaging in digital space.

Charlotte Elia (10:49):

Yeah. <laugh>,

Ryan Dunn (10:53):

That's such confus. Obviously

Charlotte Elia (10:55):

It depends on what, you know, resources you have available. Again, what kind of the point is, but you know, those, those are things too that if done well can serve you well mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and if done couldn't really actually hurt you, Right? So if the, if the idea is more, you know, we just wanna like people to get an idea of who we are and parts of our messages, then that's more, you know, posting photos, <laugh> from your activities and showing, and, you know, and quotes and telling stories and small clips, and again, content that, because we've gotten this background, this idea of when you can and how access the internet content, then that's gonna be available whenever anybody wants to engage it or can engage it mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. But, you know, even, okay, so it's not gonna be live stream probably because of the capabilities and the internet access, and maybe it's, it's publishing a kind of, you know, worship podcast or worship video each week.

Charlotte Elia (12:01):

But do you need to do that each week, You know? Or can we be friends <laugh> with the, can the Presbyterian and the Methodist and the Lutherans be friends and everybody just do like one week, you know? And share resources there. And, you know, why doesn't digital ministry sometimes look like I know of other good digital resources that I wanna point my folks to, You know, so if you can't be here, does it mean that we have to replicate the experience of my congregation for you? Or can I say, you know, Hey, there's this really cool thing that, you know, middle church or somewhere is doing, You know, like, check that out and you know, you're gonna be blessed by that. But do we all need to be doing the same work in the same way? And I think in a lot of, a lot of, no, and just the impossibility of resources of time and energy and everything else means that's a definite no. So if you can be on one platform, two platforms, but be on it, well tell your story. Well, I, I, I think, I think there's real advantages to that.

Ryan Dunn (13:15):

Is that shifting from a creator mindset to kind of a curator mindset?

Charlotte Elia (13:22):

Hmm. It could be <laugh>, it could be. I think, I think it's also saying, you know, the creator mindset for a pastor is, well, there's this one really important piece of content that has to come out every Sunday morning. <Laugh>

Ryan Dunn (13:37):

<Laugh>, I've heard there's a lot of pressure around that too. Yeah. Thanks.

Charlotte Elia (13:40):

So how are, how are we best sharing that too, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. And sometimes in some places that is a live stream, but some places you don't have the volunteers to do that. Well, you know, and some places that might be a sermon podcast, but also that takes so much longer to edit, as you probably know, than I think a lot of people think about, you know? So it's, it's really thinking through, like, these poor folks out in, well, everywhere, but rural and small churches too, are, they were overextended before any of this happened, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so they're still working at this breakneck pace that is unsustainable and just, it's just reality. You can't do it all. And you weren't, before, before the pandemic. You weren't trying to replicate all of the programs that were happening at first Church, big city, you know, 50 miles away. You knew that wasn't your context, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So what, let's go back to these kind of fundamental questions of what distinguishes you within the community? How are you known within the community? How do you want to be known within the community? And so what's the story you wanna tell? How, what are the best tools to tell that story?

Ryan Dunn (15:06):

Okay. Now, when you were in the, that rural setting, was it really kind of a solo pastoring gig? Like were you the sole staff person?

Charlotte Elia (15:15):

Well, we had an organist.

Ryan Dunn (15:18):

<Laugh>, yeah. Okay.

Charlotte Elia (15:19):

So yes. Yeah. So I was 30 hours a week, and there wasn't an administrator or any other staff there. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (15:28):

So what became your priorities in terms then of, of just building a digital ministry? Like if you were looking at what you needed to accomplish that week, what was something that you needed to do to make sure that you were being representative of your church in, in the digital realm?

Charlotte Elia (15:45):

Yeah. So where, where I was in that particular county, we weren't seeing a lot of other churches going to a live stream or a Zoom worship or some kind of other Sunday format. Okay. They generally just kind of didn't exist <laugh> for until they could maybe do some outside worship, something like that. So there was particular advantages for us then to make sure that we were in that space, I think. So we did zoom worship for a while, actually, for, until, until we ended up in a hybrid situation. And then that became just a, a worship video that was posted Sunday morning and accessible to others. But my focus actually shifted away somebody who was so much into tech and digital ministry, what I found myself really needing to do, to keep everybody in communication and to keep me in communication and making sure I was touching base with people that, that I used to just see face to face at least Sunday morning, if not, you know, the grocery store here. Where was this really complicated, ridiculous system of spreadsheets and calendar reminders, which are digital tools, but maybe not, These are not sexy things. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (17:16):


Charlotte Elia (17:16):

<Laugh> the idea of saying, you know, if you wanna keep in relationship with someone, if you wanna keep or build relationships with people entering your circle, then we need to have contacts with them with at least every 15 days, right? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So, so I've got this like, okay, who, and it started with the, the church directory and these little notes, you know, talk to so and so on an email, send a text to so and so, you know, had this contact with so and so and kind of, Okay, they're still in the loop. They're still in the loop, Uhoh, you know, so and so, so I'm not seeing, you know, gotta reach out. And then it became this more formalized system to, okay, how am I making sure that the core group I had when I entered with that, I'm keeping them with me, and how am I folks that I'm starting to see come in, comment on, you know, our stuff on Facebook or Instagram, et cetera, How am I gonna start building relationships with them when I'm not gonna see them at the door of the church? Right? so how can I get in more direct contact with them and continue that contact until so that they're further and further in, in relationship with us and becoming better participants in what we do? And, and I think that's a tool set that's a little underutilized. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (18:39):

<Laugh>. But it's funny though because it seems like duh <laugh>, but it, like, I hadn't thought of it. So it's like, Wow, that's really smart. It's so simple, but smart

Charlotte Elia (18:49):

<Laugh>. So I think, and, and I'm kind of you know, part of this conversation around Facebook and Instagram and, you know, Zuckerberg coming and just saying, you're gonna see less and less of the stuff that you actually follow in your feed. Yeah. And and who knows what's going on with Twitter <laugh> just in general right now, you know, and, and other platform. So in my mind, I'm asking for the consideration to kind of step back a moment. It doesn't mean get off of those, but that maybe energy is best spent with some of these actual direct communications, right? Yeah. Who are the people that you have email addresses for? Who are the people you have phone numbers for? Like, let's build those relationships and let's see how many more, gosh, if I can just get another email or another phone number right? And actually build relationships with people and, and instead of this, this terrible fear of just screaming out into the abyss <laugh> Yeah.

Charlotte Elia (19:52):

And hoping that someone reaches toward me, you know? So I'm advocating a little shift in focus there, particularly for people who are trying to make the most out of their time. And then also, you know, if I ran a Facebook ad where I last was in the rural context, if I said, didn't narrow the niche at all, just said everybody within a 50 mile radius of my congregation, Facebook will tell me that audience is too small. <Laugh>. Right. Because it's still less than like 500 people. Right? So, so, you know, so then I'm back to, oh, a direct mailing campaign actually makes more sense here. Well, that's not, Yeah. Interesting or fun, but but really looking at, you know, how, how differently do these things actually work within your your context.

Ryan Dunn (20:52):

Yeah. <laugh>, you know, in online marketing they talk about tde targeted direct engagement, <laugh>, and this is like really opting it for that. But it's something that we ministry are so familiar with, like just, hey, checking in on people. We get challenged to do this all the time. And it's really refreshing to hear about utilizing digital ministry in a way that is simply just a medium for doing that, for checking in on people. Like we can, in our smaller churches, maybe we can let go of that idea that, hey, we are needing to like, fill up our, our Instagram feed. You know, we wanna make sure that we've got 15 posts there for people to look at. Instead, just, you know, hey, maybe we can shift off to that and we know that Miss Mary Margaret has an Instagram account, and let's just do a direct message there to say like, Hey, notice you were having fun at the picnic the other day. Hope things are going well for you. Yeah. That makes so much sense to me. Like Yeah. And something that she's really gonna appreciate, Right,

Charlotte Elia (21:57):

<Laugh>, right? Yeah. Exactly. Exactly.

Ryan Dunn (22:00):

Well, you also touched on in these smaller context of building some networks and doing some, some resource sharing in something that now that you've kind of stepped out of the, the direct parish ministry and, and are working across several congregations and even doing the How We Do Ministry podcasts, do you see that happening? Some,

Charlotte Elia (22:22):

Not nearly as much as I'd like.

Ryan Dunn (22:24):

Yeah. Ah, I was afraid you were gonna say that <laugh>. Yeah.

Charlotte Elia (22:27):

I'm not sure. You know, there's resistance around that, and there was from the beginning. Yeah. I mean, like, I come from this, you know, music ministry background, and the idea there was always was so collaborative, I mean, was like, if you're gonna have a program, the best, the easiest way to have program is to invite five other people. Each person does one thing, and oh my gosh, we have like a him festival, right?

Ryan Dunn (22:49):

Yeah. Great.

Charlotte Elia (22:49):

And so to, you know, in the first couple months after March, 2020, I was like, Why are we each doing this every week?

Ryan Dunn (22:58):

<Laugh>, This is

Charlotte Elia (22:59):

Crazy. You know? Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative> and was trying to work with, and kind of through the music people that I do at some of these congregations, I was like, Can we do a little, you know, something like, I'll, I'll take two weeks, but just, can anybody want a break? And it was like, Oh, I don't know. I think there's, you know, there's some lack of trust there. There's some fragile egos around that. But I think the pace at which everybody is and has been working is obviously unsustainable and something's gotta happen for, you know, most everyone who isn't, you know, some huge multi staffed congregation. There are two churches that I'm working with that are sharing a Zoom Bible study now in theory <laugh>. I mean, because it still seems to have, you know, this ownership of this one church, Right?

Charlotte Elia (24:00):

Even though it's two Presbyterian churches that are like, you know, 20 miles away. And that's ridiculous that they both kind of exist. But but, you know, so some sharing of resources there, but in general, I, I think that's just a huge missed opportunity and that we're gonna have to let go of some things and, and really, you know, if someone else can do it, and even if they can't do it as well as you, it's a gift and it's a blessing, you know? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> and yeah. Maybe your people see so and so and they're not as great a preacher of you as you are then good on you. I mean, I don't <laugh>, but yeah, that's, I I think that's a huge, that's a huge missed opportunity there. Mm. Because it's also the culture and the, I'm sorry, the culture and the spirit of the internet and digital, everything is collaborative, right?

Charlotte Elia (24:59):

Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>, I mean, we're collaborating right now, right? I mean, yeah. You know, we're in some, this conversation we're in kind of similar orbits, et cetera, and so that's fun, and we can both learn from each other, and it's not, there's, I don't, there's nothing competitive about that, right? And, and that's, you know, editing Wikipedia together and everything, you know, was, was this idea of we can create content and we can refine it together, and I can stitch Twitch Twitter video TikTok, you know, or I can we build on each other's content and I'm, Yeah. Not seeing that really in digital ministry yet.

Ryan Dunn (25:42):

We spoke with Jeffrey Mayhan on our podcast, and he talked about the ways in which we use digital space to create meaning. And oftentimes, like what we can do as a PA in a pastoral way is just to say, Here's another content creator who has helped inform me and share that with our people. And, and that's totally normal in digital space. And yet as pastors, we just, for some reason, we feel threatened <laugh> by doing that, you know, to admit that it's like, Oh my gosh, I got a lot of meaning out of the how we do digital ministry podcast. And for me to like then go share that, like, I don't know, there's this fear there that's like, Oh, I'm giving something away there. Like, I don't know if people are gonna respect me as much for doing that, but, but it's normal digital space.

Charlotte Elia (26:29):

Yeah. And I think, yeah, back to that kind of curator question or something, you know, I mean, do we all have to be on TikTok? I don't, I don't have the face for TikTok and I don't have the time to really, I spend a lot of time on TikTok. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (26:44):


Charlotte Elia (26:45):

Other time on TikTok to be like, what's current? Where are we in the discourse and whatnot? But I know some content creators that are, and that are really good at that. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So, you know, why, let me share their videos, Let me point other people toward them. And if they're really cool, you know, Episcopalian or Presbyterian, whatever, then that's good for all of us who are sharing, you know, within that. So let let them handle it. You know, I'm not gonna be a celebrity pastor. Why? Why, why do the rest of you think you are <laugh>?

Ryan Dunn (27:21):

Yeah. Yeah. Or even feel the need to be. Yeah. Yeah. And it's okay to admit that like, we don't all need to shoot for being the celebrity Pastor <laugh>. It's okay. Well, let's come back to, to your Phoebe, because I've heard a number of churches who are investing themselves now in, in creating apps. What are some of the utilizations or utility? What's the utility of a church having an app specific for their ministry?

Charlotte Elia (27:50):

Well your Phoebe's actually quite different than that, so, Okay,

Ryan Dunn (27:55):


Charlotte Elia (27:56):

So communications platform that would be used by church administrator or a pastor, staff, whoever. And one of the main things it does is actually automate the system I was using was spreadsheets and calendar reply.

Ryan Dunn (28:11):

Okay. Yeah.

Charlotte Elia (28:12):

Is that, but it, it collates social media streams, SMS text messaging or phones, emails, kind of all of your communication streams into one platform. So that means both, you know, it has a social calendar where you can push things to, of course, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google my business all from one spot. But it also means that I can look at one person's contact page from my congregation or visitor, and I can see as one conversation all of their engagements through all of those streams. So I'm getting a better, I a better idea in my mind of what their experience than is of, of our ministry and our communications going out. So, you know, what email blast have they actually opened? You know, where, where are they in, you know, a text conversation with me or another staff person? Where might they be in other automations as far as volunteer reminders? Filling out forms, So a kind of hopefully more full experience on, on both ends to be able to really see their engagement and to take advantage of, of each engagement, right? To say, Oh gosh, so and so just keeps coming back, keeps coming back to that choir page on the website. I think it might be time to sync the music director on that <laugh>,

Ryan Dunn (29:47):

You know? So

Charlotte Elia (29:48):

So things like that. But so a tool really for engaging folks rather than, than, like, you're talking about an app. An app that a congregant might have on their phone.

Ryan Dunn (30:01):

Okay, well, we're drawing to the close of our time, but you threw this question on me, I wanna throw it back at you. What is the church gonna look like in five years?

Charlotte Elia (30:12):

Well, we're gonna have a lot less congregations, and I mean, everybody knows that we knew that 10, 15, 20 years ago. It's happening at a more rapid pace. Let's start to be, let's really have serious conversations about those resources and how we wanna use them, and where congregations wanna collaborate and join together, and what extravagant works of love they can do as with the financial resources, et cetera, that they're, they're gonna end up with there and give back to the communities. I also think we're gonna see more churches lean into their niches. And, and I think this is gonna be great. I mean, we're seeing more of that with some digital ministry or, or the purely online ministries. I'm hoping we see more of that in congregations, that they're going to say, You know what we do, We're taking a look around and actually it's feeding, You know, we at the food pantry and we host the farmer's market, and okay, let's really make that like our identity.

Charlotte Elia (31:26):

Like let's be that church. Let's, that's how the community knows us. Let's lean into that. You know, we're the church that when the classical musical groups wanna a place to perform in this county, they come to us. We've got this great sanctuary and this beautiful organ, and that's the space, You know, that's our thing. <Laugh>, like, capitalize on that and lean into it. You know, and, and to really focus then who you are in, in that physical space and let that also inform who you wanna be in the digital space, right? So again, we don't have to post about every darn little thing mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, but what's your story? What are your actual values, right? So the fact that you're having a coffee hour, Yes, you all do. Everyone does, right? That's not an interesting post. No one has learned anything, right? But oh, you have locally sourced, you know, locally roasted coffee and the donations this month from at the coffee stand are going to this canine rescue or something. Okay. I'm starting to learn. I learned something. Right?

Ryan Dunn (32:37):

Right. Yeah.

Charlotte Elia (32:39):

So, you know, who are you, What is your story, <laugh>? We can't justify our existence by just being the Presbyterian or the United Methodist Church in the area. It's gotta be more than that. Mm-Hmm. <Affirmative>. So what is, what is unique and special about you? And let's, let's, let's hear it. Let's live into it fully

Ryan Dunn (33:04):

Awesome. <Laugh>, that's rich stuff, especially cuz I agree with you 100% <laugh>. And we're just yeah. To, to lean into being more of who you are and it's okay to embrace that and not to just say, you know, we can draw this over to like social media and say like, we need to conform ourselves to the current TikTok trends. Like, you know, that pressure of feeling like, oh, we need to conform ourselves to the current church trends as well, or do whatever we need to do to get quote unquote younger. But just to admit, like, okay, alright, this is our niche. We're there.

Charlotte Elia (33:37):

Yeah. <laugh>.

Ryan Dunn (33:39):

Well, Charlotte, where might be the best place for people to move towards you and some of the work that you're doing online? <Laugh>, where's the central point for connecting with Charlotte? You do,

Charlotte Elia (33:50):

Gosh, prob probably with all the streams right now. Twitter at Charlotte Elliot. Then heavenly is kind of online centered for rural ministry folks who don't have a local affirming congregation. And and then your <laugh> to check out what we're doing with that, and then how we do digital ministry which is hosted right [email protected] But, or, and anywhere, anywhere you source your podcasts, but

Ryan Dunn (34:25):

Yeah. Right on. Well, thanks so much again for joining us.

Charlotte Elia (34:28):

Thank you. Thanks for having me, Ryan.

Ryan Dunn (34:31):

If this podcast is meaningful for you, the best thing you can do is listen to another episode. I think that the session title, Navigating the Digital Reformation from Earlier in Season four would fit well with this session, as would powering up through engagement and repurposing. That's from season three. I'm Ryan Dunn. I'd like to thank resource, the online destinations for leaders throughout the United Methodist Church. They make this podcast possible, and of course, they host our website pastoring in the digital, where you can find plenty more resources for online ministry. If you want to connect, check out our pastoring in the digital parish group on Facebook. You can also send me questions and ideas for future sessions at Digital [email protected] I'll speak with you again in a new episode next week. In the meantime, peace to you.



On this episode

Charlotte Elia

Charlotte Elia is an elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA) and has served congregations as a pastor, educator, and music director. She currently hosts The Heavenly Banquet podcast AND the How We Do Digital Ministry podcast.

Ryan Dunn, co-host and producer of the Compass Podcast

Our proctor/host is the Rev. Ryan Dunn, a Minister of Online Engagement for United Methodist Communications. Ryan manages the digital brand presence of Rethink Church, co-hosts and produces the Compass Podcast, manages his personal brand, and obsesses with finding ways to offer new expression of grace.