Digital Parish: Creating an authentic personal brand with Sarah Heath

You have a personal brand, like it or not. In this session of Pastoring in the Digital Parish, Rev. Sarah Heath shares how we can cultivate that for the benefit of our digital ministries. And cultivating a brand does not have to come at the cost of our authenticity. We'll learn some of the pitfalls of personal branding. Rev. Sarah also offers a compelling witness of why personal branding matters for ministry leaders as she relates how she authentically communicates herself as part of her own personal brand.

There are some vital considerations for us in relation to how we represent ourselves in digital space. We’re going to name them and see how we navigate them in this session.

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Sarah Heath (SH):

Who you are is interesting enough. And so the branding piece of that is like, it doesn't do anyone a favor for you to put a mask on.

Ryan Dunn (RD):

That was the voice of Reverend Sarah Heath, who is our adjunct professor for this session of Pastoring in the Digital Parish. Guess what? You have a personal brand like it or not. Yes. Even you. If you have an online presence, people are viewing that and making assumptions about you and your ministry. Even if you don't have much of a digital presence, people are making inferences about you through that.

In this session, we explore how we cultivate our personal brand authentically, but also in a way that is healthy for our ministries. My name is Ryan Dunn. In this session Reverend Sarah Heath and I discussed some of the pitfalls of personal branding. Reverend Sarah also offers a compelling witness of why personal branding matters for ministry leaders. She also relates how she authentically communicates herself as part of her own personal brand. There are some vital considerations for us in relation to how we represent ourselves in digital space.

We're going to name them and see how we navigate them in this session. So let's meet our adjunct professor.

Reverend Sarah Heath is an ordained United Methodist elder. Who's built quite a social media following. She is an author who has written about authenticity, and that is certainly relevant to our conversation today. She's also a speaker, a podcaster herself and a designer. And it's interesting how her design principles carry over into the principles and creating an authentic identity for ourselves in a public space pay.

I do want to note that there was some construction going on, unbeknownst to us outside Sarah's house. So at times a little buzzing comes in. I just wanted you to know that's not a problem with your equipment. That's recorded into the podcast.

Reverend Sarah,  did you even know that you were like an authority on digital branding and personal branding?


You know, I, it's funny because I often get asked about my personal brand. And I think because of the way that I had been educated and I really had this, I would say resistance to that. I didn't want people to think of me as someone who wanted the attention. Truthfully, I had bosses who were incredible in the past, but the one thing they would say is like a lot of people like you in like almost a problematic way. And so if you are an Enneagram person, I will tell you, the Enneagram is just a way of looking at personalities. And I was wrongly typed as a two, which often happens to women. And two are in this typing are like the caregivers. So it makes sense if you're a female who works in ministry that you would think you were to, or you would think you were meant to be a two turns out your girl is a solid three with a two wing.

So threes are your achievers. And often they are solo brands. And I forever, I thought that was problematic. So fast forward in my ministry, I moved five years ago to restart a church. And the church that I was at, there were older people and we experienced quite a boom. And this older lady who was on our board, who I need to preface this by saying, she's now one of my favorite humans in the whole world, but she didn't trust me yet. I didn't know her yet. She said in the most gruff old lady, like giving it, her all, she looked at me and she said, all these people are coming because of you. And what it was actually saying is she was afraid that because they'd gone through so many pastoral changes that as soon as I left, they would all go.


Yeah, it's kind of like a cult of personality


That in a minute: because I think that's a false narrative, but has also been done.

So I looked at her and I swear it was the holy spirit. I said, “Carol, they may have come because of me, but they're going to stay because of you. So you have a decision to make. I say, you're going to have to figure out how to treat new people. And I think you're going to be great at it. And I'm excited to journey with you through that.” And then I walked away like, and I went and talked to one of my friends who pointed this out, which is how I became okay, with saying that Rev Sarah Heath is Rev Sarah.

I said, “look, I feel awful. Like all these people are criticizing me at the time.”

I had a personal podcast that talked about my personal life and it blew up really fast. And I had a pastor call me in, including calling my Bishop and saying, we're really concerned about her. People are paying attention to her. And I had, I think a little bit, because I was existing in this space that like, I wanted to be a good pastor. I wanted to really care about people. And it, it felt weird that people would care about me.

So I went to my good friend and said, “I'm getting all this criticism about people following me. And then I'm becoming a cult of personality.” And he is like, he's a nominal Christian. But like, you know, looked at me and went, “huh? From what I know about Jesus, I think people like Jesus and people got to know Jesus first. And then they heard his message. Because from what I remember about Jesus, his message, wasn't really easy. And so people needed to like him first, before they could like get into the message and the homeless.”

And he said, “when I look at you, I see someone who's just trying to bring people toward you because you want to bring something out of, out of their life and kind of help them step into the good news, whatever that looks like for folks.”

And if that really, for me was the jumping off point for me going “it's okay for people to be attractional and it's okay for people to like me,” which might sound really weird to anyone outside of the church. But when you've been grown up being like told all the time that people liking you could be problematic, especially in ministry, especially in a denomination that moves you so that people don't get attached to you, unless you are someone who has a mega-Methodist church, but we can talk about that later.

You basically are told you're replaceable. So if you think you're replaceable, why would you build a brand? But the truth is you're not replaceable. There's a gospel inside of each of us. That's unique and people will only hear your version if you say it.

And I think that it's important for us to be aware, um, particularly in the digital age, when everyone has a brand, like everyone has a brand, whether or not your brand might be that you're the guy in the woods who doesn't have. I mean, my friend the other day told me she was dating a guy who didn't have an Instagram. Like that was, he doesn't have an Instagram. How cool was that? I was like, okay,


That’s so counter-cultural!


Like, it's a weird thing. Right?

But we've always been taught in particularly those of us from within the Methodist tradition that we're meant to see the whole world as the place where we do the work. And we have to recognize that the world doesn't look like it used to and cult of personality. I think we're always afraid of, we don't want to be that church. You know, we know the mega churches, we know the big stories. We know where people get fame in a way, um, when they're not honest about it, and they're not honest about who they are because they can't be. And we see the downfall of that. We see what happens when pastors that are beloved believe a church. And then the church shrinks.

I think we have the goods to offer that you can build a brand and yet also maintain integrity. So I don't know how I became an expert. I accidentally, this is my story. I'm usually accidentally in the middle of it.


On some level, all of us are in a sense authorities on building personal brands and relative to ourselves, right? Like we know what we're doing, what we're building for. Some of us that personal brand may be that, you know, we want to be humble and don't want to put ourselves out there. But even that makes a statement, right? We are intentional then in presenting that part of ourselves. Have you ever really felt that you've been intentional in building your brand?


Yeah, so a couple of years ago I took a sabbatical and by took a sabbatical. I mean, I had just flipped a church. I need everyone to know this is a story of don't do this. And I needed time off. I was so burnt out. Things were really, really hard. And my church and our denomination were like, Hey, you're like a new start pastor. Like, we can't really have you be gone too long, but we'll give you an entire month of sabbatical. But during that month we still need you to speak at two events. So I was running around like crazy. But in the midst of that, two friends of mine who are marketing experts had started a masterclass online for people to learn how to launch their brand. And I give the background if I was supposed to be on a sabbatical and I was through, what do I want to do beyond ministry?

Like, who am I kind of the questions that we all ask? Right? And so I was on this sabbatical, but really wasn't a sabbatical. I also moved homes during that time as well, because why not do all of that at once? So I was already sort of in this frenzied experience. And then I was in this branding class and I thought, what the heck? Like what, what is my brand? I'll have a brand. And they said the same thing to me that you just said a moment ago, Ryan is like, no, you do. And in fact, the one guy said, do you know how many followers you have? I was like, not really. He's like, well, you've maxed the Facebook ones. And I don't think of those people as followers, I'd spoken at really large events. And so people tended to start coming around me and he said, what if you were intentional about this thing that is happening.

And again, I think I want it to have people engage my work. And so of course I want people to follow me, of course. And so in that, and I say that I was so frenzied because I think sometimes when we least expect it, the genius comes out in the spirit. I feel like it's a, like, we don't have words, like almost like that verse. And so there's like a cry when we don't have words. So I was frenzied. I was in this thing. And one of the challenges in this group that I, and I felt terrible because again, any grammars, I'm a solid two, so I'm a three, but my two is real aggressive. And so my friends had put together this amazing thing. I was getting to take it for free. I was learning about branding. I was going to do good at this, and yet I didn't have the bandwidth to do it.

But one of our challenges was to make a sentence about what our work does. Right. You know, some of my work is that I help redo churches, like actual spaces. Some of my work is like talking to people about community and like, what does it actually mean to be inclusive? Some of my work is like helping people understand themselves. And so I'm like I have all his work, that's all over the place. And none of it makes sense. Like I refer to best furniture. Like none of this makes sense. It's all over the place. This is part of my stories. I'm ADHD. I'm like my whole life has ADHD. It's all over the place. And everyone had had an assignment. And again, I'm always going to be the person who does the assignment, but this time I didn't cause I was frenzy. And they said, come up with a sentence that like says your work.

You know? So people were coming out with really good things. Like if you could say one sentence, if you're on an elevator with someone, you can just say one sentence about what your work is without saying, like I'm a lawyer, you know, Sarah, what do you think that sentence is? And I shot out of my mouth making spaces. I make space for people either literally or figuratively. I love to make space for people. Again, the two people that were hosting this masterclass took deep breaths and said, that is absolutely what you do. And I said, it doesn't make sense. And I feel like I've spent the last three years unpacking that one sentence and realizing that that's my brand. And then being intentional about even when I'm posting about today, I was posting about a friend's birthday. And then I asked a question at the end of it, like, who are the people in your life that have made this kind of space for you?

And then it, it engages the people that I'm already so fascinated. And I'm a past, I people fascinate me. I love the responses. I love the interplay. And so for me, building a brand has been about building, not just people interested in me, but interested in each other people kind of like, what are we making space for? So if I can make space to be more me, what I'm shocked and astonished by is then like, it's like a ripple effect of we're making more and more space for people. And hopefully for me and for who I am, I'd love for them to encounter the divine. I love would love for them to start questioning their ideas around faith. And the weird thing is, is like I started doing this thing called theology on tap, which is like grab a drink on a Thursday night and thanks to COVID.

We could do it online. It's the weirdest thing for me was the first time I logged on all the people from all over the country that logged on and were like, Hey, I've been following your work for a while. It turns out I'm blah, blah, blah. Like the person who just had this like long name that I didn't know. And that has been such a great gift. So yeah, I am intentional about what I write and I'm also aware that people do read it, especially, you know, now, and when people are really looking for places and spaces to belong, where a church has become painful for some, but there's still something fascinating about this Jesus story, fascinating about the whole idea that they could be loved by God. Like, you know, and it's not, I think people often want to say, well, I don't have a story, but every single one of you do. And again, like I say, who you are is exactly what somebody needs.


I think that you're work in overhauling physical spaces can be a great metaphor for kind of this building a personal brand, especially in terms of like creating a space as a human being. And it's a good metaphor because it takes the critical eye off of ourselves. Right? And if we're uncomfortable talking about ourselves, we can look at a physical space. So when you are beginning that process of taking an existing space and turning it into a space for people, what are some of the key things that you're looking at?


So I think the important thing for me and the realization of like, why I love revitalization so much or restoration is that you can keep the things that work and you can let go of the things that don't. So when I first go into a space, I want to know the story. What has this space been before? Because if I come in and I immediately start just like moving things around and I think we can do that within ourselves. Like, what are the things I'm naturally inclined to word and don't shame yourself for it. Like I have a friend who is a pastor who's like super into baseball and he started, you know, he realized in early on his career, he thought he had like, everything you needed to post was like sermon related. But when he started talking more and more about baseball, people who are super into baseball, kind of went along the journey with him and don't sermonize things should be authentic with it, but he realized for him, there are certain things about baseball that has really built up his faith.

So I think it's starting with what you already have. And that's what restoration is for me. It's not a tearing down. And even when I talk about faith, deconstruction, like I said, that's primarily my, my audience is a lot of folks who've gone through. What's known as deconstruction. I know that word is like super hot right now for lots of reasons. Those of us who have been in the work for a while are like, really, but it's not demolition. Deconstruction is not demolition. You don't have to get rid of everything. Now you may need to start again. And that is totally fair, but it doesn't have to be a complete, I can no longer be associated with even the good things. And I think that's why the first step when we're looking at branding or when we're looking at restoring a space or even restoring furniture, is to look at what it already, what's the beauty already in there. And I think that particularly pastors, we're uniquely poised to do that. We do that with people all the time. Right? Yeah.


And there's an invitation then too, for us to kind of bring the divine into the mundane, right?


With the awareness that the divine was already there. Our church, when we were coming up with branding for our church, we had this whole thing where like, we're a church. What do we got? What are we going to say about us? And we talked again and again and again about like, what is the thing that we want? We, the world knew one thing about us is that we want people to know that they're already loved by God. So it's just a homecoming. It's like, you know, we're just all walking each other home. It is already in you. And so like the divine is already there. Like I get to do the thing of just being like, you've already, you already are there. Like, you know, and I think that's the uncovering that I love about helping people look within to find their own inner spark, looking around to find it like, it's the, it's the beauty.

And it's very counter-cultural right. Because marketing normally is, here are the things that are wrong with you in church has forever been like, I guess we should sound like marketing in the world around us, which says, here are the things is wrong with you, but I have got three things to help you get better. Instead of saying like, here are the things that I know to be true of you. And so when you are stepping outside of those things, then you just need to return all. And I think that's the, that's the piece that I, I get excited about even when I can't get excited about other things.


Yeah. Well, and this reassuring to hear as pastors, because when we started talking about branding, there's this tendency to think that we need to put up some kind of facade, right. But we're going to put a face on for the outward facing world of what we think we're supposed to be as, and then there's this idea that maybe branding is just kind of authentically living into more of who we are. Right.


You know, I tell this story often, actually my first book came out of it, but I, so probably gosh, now it's been 10 years ago. I was in a place of wanting to leave ministry and not in the same place that I am now where I'm transitioning to like wanting to help other churches and like believing I was. So I'd gone through a really difficult breakup. I was in a very rough spot and I had been part of a church where I had a lead pastor. And then there was myself who was a campus pastor and the lead pastor was a wonderful, wonderful man. But he also thought exactly what you're talking about, that we need to have these masks. And as someone who very easily falls into a performing category, I think when he told me how disappointed he was, that some folks could tell that I hadn't quite been myself my soon to be husband had left.

And so I like, you know, of course I wasn't myself. And so what I heard was something that I was really willing to hear is that the church couldn't handle my authenticity. Now I don't think as pastors, we should get, it is not our therapist. Our church is not our therapists online is not your therapist. You need to have a therapist. But I think to be authentic about where I was, well, I was really good at acting. So I started playing the role of a pastor and slowly dying on the inside. And I ended up getting invited to a Rob bell like thingy. It was the first one he ever did. There was 50 of us in a room. And I remember he was going on and on about how, like, if, if you feel like there's something you should say, just stand up and say it.

And truthfully like in a room full of 50 people, I'm not likely to be the one who's like, I have some thoughts, but like 5,000 I'll have some thoughts, but in front of me, I just like, I especially, cause it was a lot of guys and you know, I just felt like this really weird. I don't belong here, but I belong here thing. And so I stood up and I kind of like was mid talking when I realized I was standing and he had been talking about the church and I was like, but what if like the church doesn't like who you are? Like, what if you don't fit in? I was like, like, I'm not good at being a CEO, pastor. I'm terrible at it. And I have to pretend I'm good at it all the time. And I go to all these meetings, acting like an adult and I don't know what I'm doing.

And I just start listing off all the reasons. I'm the worst pastor on the face of the earth and Rob, who is very tall, throws his hands up and go stop, stop telling me who you're not tell me who you are. And I was like, oh, well, like I love design. And I love music. And I used to be an actress. And like, like I like to act like all these things and I start talking and I don't even realize by the time I finished and I kind of look at them and he says, wow, who you are so interesting, who you are not, is not interesting. And then he said, who in the room wants to go to her church? And all these people raised their hand. And I was like, and then the funny part of the story is he later showed up to my church.

He came several times, um, and has been wonderful to me and supportive, but I don't even know if he knows how life-changing it was to hear that who you are is interesting. No, you're not. And so the branding piece of that is like, it doesn't do anyone a favor for you to put a mask on. And I radically started doing ministry as Sarah and thinking to myself, if I am Zera everywhere, I would rather be rejected for being me than be accepted for being the version of me that is most comfortable for the people in the room. And that took a while. Particularly I'm a people pleaser, I'm a younger sister, I'm a Canadian, we don't make waves, you know? And so, but the reality is that I never would have felt completely myself if I wasn't being myself in every space. And so yeah, letting down the mask, I think is key sometimes saying we don't have the answers. The number of times I think people are going to be like, Ooh. And then they're like, oh good. I think that's part of branding too, is kind of knowing who you are.


Well, you have a fairly, I would call it a healthy rhythm on social media. Like you're on there fairly often posting. I mean, so how do you put a lens up to sharing yourself authentically on social media? Because so many of us, like, we just view it as being the facade again. Right, right. Yeah.


So I, the funny part is, is like, I am like, I can't tweet, like I'm learning how to do Twitter. And only because part of the last year has been becoming part of the irreverent media group. And on that is a group of guys called the dirty rotten church kids. And they are Twitter like constantly on Twitter. And they used to tag me, I think almost to like, make me come onto Twitter. That's just not my space. And I know it's not my space. And even Facebook, I not great on Facebook, but Instagram, for whatever reason, it's something I'm comfortable with. And I kind of have given myself permission to post a couple of times a week and then really engage with the people who respond and engaged, but also to look at other people's stuff with the reality and awareness that like what I'm sharing, it's not always like a strategic, whatever, you know, like sometimes it's just like my dog and I, and I know that a post is different than a story.

And I know people who are listening to this who are like the Instagram, whatever Tik TOK, I'm learning to talk friends. That's the one I got to get into. Cause it's, you know, a good medium for the work that I want to do, but I feel like a story is something that you can share. Something in has gone in 24 hours. And so I'll share things about my dog all day long. People probably don't want to feed. That's just my dog all day long. The tough part is the algorithms that make your work come forward is your face. And that that's been a weird in the last, you know, I'll post pictures with other people and, you know, the likes will be way less than if I just post my face. That part has been hard for me to get my head around. And so I like to do like a little bit of a bait and switch where I might show my face and then write something that I feel like is like a profound statement about like, I don't know, black lives matter or whatever it might be.

Um, and I also like to use my social media to project voices that are different than mine. And I think are important for people to hear. And so I'm always kind of balancing that as well, because I think it really is. I didn't get enough likes. I try not to look at how many likes you get on things. I think that's been important for me. It's kind of a weird rhythm. I think everyone else has their own rhythm. I'm introducing to the world, my new Airstream and my new she's from 1973. She's from your part of the woods, actually she's from, um, just outside of Chattanooga in a small town called Dana. And so I think it's kind of figuring out which one you want to get involved in and then getting really involved in it. Some pastors are like my friend Mandy is like a Twitter pastor. It's not a space that I'm super comfortable in or know really well. So I just sort of choose my spaces. I do play on Twitter, but I'm not trying to be as present as I'd say I am elsewhere.


For you. It's not important to kind of own that space is out there.


Yeah. And the secret, I will tell all of you, and this is a non-sponsored statement is I use a program called later. There's a couple of these later is great. Cause you can load all the photos you want, you can write your captions and then it posts it for you. And I do that so that I'm not spending forever trying to figure out what I want to say. I have a lot of insecurity about grammar. I'm terrible at it. And I am always worried about spelling mistakes. And so later has, you know, it checks your grammar and spelling as well. So,


So talk to me a little bit about, it sounds like you have a, a strategy of being non strategic in your posting. Would you say that's true or are there times when you feel like, well, let's say when events happen in the world when George Floyd happens, uh, when the Shovan trial happens, do you feel that there is a need for you as a pastor to like bring your voice into that space?


You know, and here's the best part of all of this is having actual, real humans in your life that can kind of guide you for me when George Floyd happened, the temptation was to make a statement quickly and to want to whatever it might be. And I have dear friends that I went to seminary with and some other friends who are black and I thought, I'm going to ask them, what do they want from me in this? And so for me, it does another white middle-class woman coming out and saying, this is wrong. Does that help? Because sometimes it does or is it like I said before, magnifying voices. So it was a both end in that moment where my dear friends were like, can you just say something? It doesn't have to be huge, whatever. And also recognizing in it, I'm not the expert just because you're, I'm a face you guys are comfortable with.

Let me introduce you to some faces that you may not be as comfortable and then standing back and letting those voices speak with the awareness of your privilege. Same thing with even like with the Asian American violence. There's just, you have to sort of, for me, I think when I'm even thinking about the platform, I mean, it sounds corny to go back to the whole idea of John Wesley's, you know, all the world is our parish, but what I want to respond to this on a Sunday morning and if I want to respond to it on a Sunday morning, that I should respond to it here in this space with the recognition that people have given me the follow. And that's an honor. And I also understand my work is not for everyone. And so that's a really helpful thing by the way, because as soon as you start doing this work friends, you are going to get trolls, oh, you were going to get trolls. My favorite one most recently is the guy who told me that women would rather fight the patriarchy than be fit and work out, which I don't know how those go together. But the funny part of it all is like my, my friend Mike was like, you're like super in shape. And I was like, yeah,

But yeah, the hard part for me has been watching people get really defensive for me and then get mean. And so again, when I talk about making space, you know, am I strategic? Yes. In that I'm always thinking about how is what I'm doing here, making space for the most people. I tend with the awareness that there are some people that my work is not for. And if they continue to be a troll and continue to be mean, then the answer to them is like, Hey, I don't think my work is for you, which is fine. There's lots of people that will, their work might be for you. And I want to invite you into those space, but also goodbye. Thank you. Um, and so I think there's, there's a nice balance there of like knowing, um, that you can kind of release people to, I don't need you to fall.


How much of what you say on a Sunday morning shows up on your Instagram account on Monday?


So the thing is, I think I wish it had been more as I look back, you know, especially during this time you're creating content every week. And even as I look at transitioning out of the local church, I, I love writing sermons. I love the process of bringing together things that don't seem to go together. I'm doing a whole sermon series right now on the farewell discourse. Cause I'm leaving the farewell discourse and also Hamilton. I am a, in the play Hamilton, he sings one last time. And so I'm, I'm saying all the things I wish I could say one last time to people I love doing that. I love drawing it together. And my friend recently was like, why don't you post clips of your servants? You've got them recorded. And you believe in what you're saying, and you've already done the work and more people would see it.

Then if you are in an active church, I really want to invite you to do that. Like take a clip of what you're saying and put it in your personal thing. Now the tough part is, again, for some of us, the awareness that our life and our ministry are blended together and work-life balance becomes really, really difficult. And that's why I want to just push you towards having some sort of way of posting things. That means you're doing it during work hours and seeing them as work. And I think starting to see some of the stuff that you do online as ministry and pastoral care with the reality that you're always trying to get them in touch with their local community, but you are doing pastoral care. I mean, I think about when Kavanaugh, uh, when he was appointed to be a judge, my DMS filled up with people from all over the country, telling me their stories of being assaulted and how his appointment felt like garbage.

And I spent the two days really engaged in pastoral care because for some of them had gone to their own pastor and heard really difficult things and heard kind of crappy answers. And the reality was I wasn't prepared to see that as my work. I always want to justify all the hours that I spend. Right. But if we're going to see our whole world as a parish, then that includes those folks that are all over the country and are in severe grief. And if you're called to them, then that's the reaction. And that's the response. And those are, that's the people that have been brought in. So I think it's going to take a shift of not just ourselves, but our leadership to see that as our churches open up and we gather that we're not going to be just regathering in those building spaces that we have, but that we're bringing people along with us. I don't know any church community, maybe you do. I have not heard of one church. Just not going hybrid. Yeah,


No, I, in my experience, yes, everybody will continue to maintain a digital presence and very, very respectably. So because as we look at research, we're learning that anywhere from like 40 to 60% of our congregations are, or they're going to stay digital first,


Which is like a whole shift. And so then pastors out there, if you need to feel okay about having branding, I need you to hear that it's a form of pastoral care. I'll give this caveat. You can also have a private account that you don't welcome everyone into. Like that is 100%. Okay. And I have walked that line. I mean, I have had really good. I have friends who are breathing is on the internet and they've been really great to walk me along this because I didn't, I didn't mean to become an influencer. I got someone called me the other day to be my agent so that I could be a micro-influencer. And I was like, I don't even know what those words mean together. And I feel real weird about this, but I, there was this reality that what an event was, was that I had taken a picture of me and my dog.

I had the cutest dog in the world and my phone number is on his tag. And they said, Sarah, you're at a place now where you can't have your phone number on the internet. And I was like, whoa. And I think there are a lot of things too. I think people who have kids there's this balance of do I share my kids life? Those are all things that I think the thing that we said at the top of the show is true. You already have a brand, people are already checking your stuff out. So it's just that almost having that on a massive scale. And then getting really honest with yourself. It's like, what is your pastoral presence? Because if people are allowed into your personal life, how are you guarding certain things? Because there are things that don't end up online. Recently, someone said to me, do you never date?

I was like, well, barely ever. But like I do date, I just don't put that online because that's not something the whole world needs to know about. I mean, I recently posted about something that said I was on a date and someone was like, oh, I thought I was going to like, hear about you on a date. But it was like talking about something that happened 10 years ago. And I think that's a really good measure to advice that friends of mine who are really well known, as they say they don't post anything that they haven't processed. That's true for sermons. That's true for writing. That's true for even sending an email or a text friends, if you haven't processed that thing in you, that's not the time to share.


I'm not going to ask you to share your Finsta, but for people who are looking for the, like the one place, since you have a presence in very many places, like where is the most expeditious place to check in on you?

SH: Also on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook. You can laugh at how my Instagram auto-post to my Facebook, but I do try to engage both. And yeah, that's where I am. Cool.


Well, thanks for sharing yourself so authentically and for owning the brand.


Thanks for asking me too. This was fun.


Again, Reverend Sarah's digital hub is, and that Sarah with an H at the end, if you want to touch base with me, send an email to [email protected]

You can also find more points of [email protected] slash digital parish. Big thanks to resource UMC for sponsoring this podcast. I had help from Reed gains and editing this particular episode. If you'd like to offer some thanks you can do so by hitting the subscribe button to this podcast, then dropping a positive rating or review on your podcast. Listening platform, several episodes of the pastoring in the digital perish podcast are out now. And we'll be posting a new episode each week until the end of season one in August, but here's a pro tip you don't to consume these sessions in order. So just click on whatever topic interests you the most and start listening then jump onto the next one. Thanks again. My name is Ryan Dunn and I'll talk with you soon.

On this episode

Rev Sarah Heath on Pastoring in the Digital Parish

Rev. Sarah Heath is a speaker, author, pastor, podcaster and designer. She is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church. She's dedicated to a ministry of bringing people together, in moving from DIY to DIT (Do-it-together). Check out some of Sarah's many projects at

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.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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