communications

Digital Parish: The "Why" of digital ministry (With Wil Ranney)

We’re exploring the “why” of digital ministry with Rev. Wil Ranney. In this session, Ryan and Wil explore the history of digital ministry, and Wil shares ideas for extending invitation through digital presence. We also answer the questions of “How do we start a process of digital discipleship?” as well as “What are we supposed to do with digital ministry now that we’re opening up?”

If you have questions about the theology of digital ministry or how we offer a sense of incarnation in digital space, this is a great episode to dig into.

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Show Notes

Connect with Wil at WilRanney.me.

Wil mentioned several authors and thinkers while providing some history about digital ministry. Some of those names were:

  • Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit priest and philosopher who set down some philosophical ideas for a worldwide consciousness in the 1940’s.
  • Lynne Baab, a Presbyterian minister who has written many books, including Friending: Real Relationships in a Virtual World (2011).
  • Craig Groschel, who is the lead pastor of LifeChurch.tv.

Wil also has a great TEDx talk up on YouTube: #HotTake: Civility on the Internet is Overrated. https://youtu.be/TLzC72BwOms

Looking to continue the conversation? Join Wil and others at our Pastoring in the Digital Parish Facebook Group.

Wil Ranney:

But when you think about a digital space, it is a space, it's a place. And where there is a place where people are gathered. There is God. And so God is at work in those spaces. We often think about like, it's a means to an end, it's a way to get people into the church or whatever, but that's actually a place where God is

Ryan Dunn:

That was the voice of Reverend will. Ranney who is our adjunct professor for this session of pastoring in the digital parish. In this session, we're going to explore the why of digital ministry. So if you still need some convincing that digital ministry is here to stay, or if you need some assurance that it's here to stay, or if you need some help in convincing others, that digital ministry is important and will continue to grow in importance. Then this episode is for you. My name is Ryan Dunn in this session. We'll and I explore the history of digital ministry. We'll share his ideas for extending invitation through digital presence. And we answered the questions of how do we start a process of digital discipleship as well as what are we supposed to do with digital ministry now that we're opening up? It's good stuff. It's important stuff.

Ryan Dunn:

So let's meet our adjunct professor. I'm excited to introduce my new friend. Reverend will Ranee will is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist church who specializes in technology ministry really well. You've been practicing this since like 2005, right? Yeah. Long time. Yeah. That makes you a fairly early adopter. At least in our world, a will has started up a bounded ministry, which is a platform for church websites. He also teaches digital ministry courses at work bark college, and his current passion revolves in teaching churches. How do I adapt to the fast changing pace of culture in a digital world? Which just seems like it was accelerated like 50 fold over the past, like 16 months, uh, anything that you would like to add to that description

Wil Ranney:

Will it sounds pretty good. All right.

Ryan Dunn:

Well, as you've been studying online theology since 2005, what is different in that area of study then versus now? Like how has our online theology evolved?

Wil Ranney:

I mean, there's actually work in it. There was no resources back in the day, there was like, I did a lot of original research there. There's this guy named Kelly, our dish or Dan, who was a Jesuit monk that a lot of people say correctly predicted the internet in the fifties. There were a couple of French guys, Lin Bab was in there doing some things right around that time. But there, there weren't a lot of resources back in that day. And early on, I just spent a lot of time actually defending the need for it. People are so reactionary because nobody really understood the technology. A lot of people weren't still online or if they were, they only heard bad things about it. Like that's where pornography is. That's where people are mean. And so I had actually explained, no, no, God can work in those spaces too, and God is doing a new thing and we should pay attention to that.

Ryan Dunn:

What were some of those ways that you were engaging in digital ministry back around 2005?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. In 2005, in addition to doing research, I was also just trying to teach local churches how to communicate better, how to use social media. That's when Facebook started to take off how to basically switch from doing some print types of communications to doing some digital types of communications. I mean, there was a lot of stuff still back then that people could engage in, even though it wasn't as widespread. I argued that a church needed a great website, even back then when a lot of churches weren't necessarily invested in that yet. Yeah. And even some early recordings, there were a couple types of online worship communities back then. It was, um, it was a very small number. Like I could count them on my hand and I tried to participate in those and see what those were about.

Ryan Dunn:

What were those communities doing in those days? Was there an element of live video?

Wil Ranney:

Uh, so, uh, not as much because the bandwidth wasn't as good. Um, but you did have second life and you had the churches that popped up there and you had this thing that was British Methodist. So it was ship of fools, which some people can remember, which was an experiment that went really well. And then they stopped doing it. Like they could have kept up with it. And then there's of course is Craig Groeschel life church, which started around that time. And so that was pretty forward-thinking spoiler alert. He was a candidate for ministry in the United Methodist church. I like to tell that fable I'll tell it as much as people will listen to it, but he actually had some, some of these ideas early on and is the way I've heard the story, which is probably third or fourth hand, is that as DS, just wasn't on board with using these new marketing techniques and doing this digital stuff. And so he decided to do his own thing. So if he would have gotten more support back in those days, the largest online church in the world could be a Methodist church.

Ryan Dunn:

Well, and we can imagine some of the objections that he likely have heard, and it's probably pretty easy for you to imagine them because you've heard them. What are some of the stereotypical objections that you hear to a church really investing in digital ministry?

Wil Ranney:

I mean, the kind of the most common ones is, you know, where am I going to find the time or the resources? The other ones is the thing that I mentioned earlier, which is that's just where bad things are. So the funny thing about it is these objections. They don't really like post COVID. They don't really exist anymore. Like people have, have realized the value of them. And so you don't hear those kinds of objectives anymore. Yeah. Well,

Ryan Dunn:

Especially for pastors who for so many months now had no alternative, but to engage in digital ministry. Right. And I think that there's a shift that happened during that time as well, because in all the churches that I had worked at, uh, there was a dividing line between kind of the pastoral staff who oversaw like in-person gathering and a communication staff who really, they were in charge of the digital presence. And now I think we're starting to see that there's a pastoral role in a digital presence. And you've been in that world for quite a while as an ordained deacon in the United Methodist church. So what are some of the ways that early on you asserted yourself as a pastoral presence in digital spaces, which often were thought to be kind of negative spaces,

Wil Ranney:

You know, as a clergy person, claiming that authority in digital spaces, um, you know, trying to be truthful and honest and engage people are to show grace and show compassion, all those kinds of Christian practices. They don't fly out the window just because there's a screen in between you and the person that you're talking to, or people that you're talking to. Also just trying to let churches know that if their website is poor, then people aren't necessarily going to visit their church. Uh, and so for a long time, we'd said in Methodist circles, that you're what your web presence is, your new front door of your church building. And unless somebody received a very personal invitation, and even then sometimes they're still going to check out your website. First are your social media first, before they make a decision and whatever they see there, they need to imagine themselves participating in it, to feel comfortable, actually doing the scary thing of visiting your church. And so I spent a lot of time trying to talk about that. That's one of the reasons why I bound that that's what we work on the most. We do church websites. We do other stuff too, but that's still like a key area that a lot of churches just need help with.

Ryan Dunn:

So what are some of the things that you commonly recommend as far as building an inviting presence through a digital platform? Like a website? What else?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah, so empathy. So a lot of times it's hard to get out of your own head when you're building something like a website, or you're thinking about how you're going to use your social media. And ideally your church knows what kind of people that you want to reach and what kind of people you want to invite into the life of your congregation. And so you have to empathize with that person, like what do they need to see? And so a lot of times you'll go to a website, you'll see a lot of jargon. You'll see a lot of stuff that's written for people inside the congregation. But in fact, a typical church has two audiences. It has visitors and it has disciples. And so you need to meet the needs of both groups through your digital ministry, but the disciples are familiar with how you do things and communicate things.

Wil Ranney:

They don't need to be front and center. Anything that can be publicly encountered through your web presence, needs to be accessible to the visitors. And so you constantly have to remind yourself to go through their lens, to think about what they need and what they're expecting, and to make sure that the things that you're, that you're putting out there appeal to them and not the things that you need to serve for, for yourself. You can, you still should have discipling tools on your website, but those would probably not be the primary thing that people encounter. Okay. How about

Ryan Dunn:

Picture-wise like, I know it's pretty tempting for a church that wants to, I don't know, mention their contemporary worship service to come through Shutterstock and or something like that and pull out the hazed picture with hands raised of people in worship. Yeah. Is it good to kind of post an aspirational fixture like that? You know, this aspiration of what we hope our worship community it is, or is there more value in just being like here's a real life look at what our sanctuary looks like when we gather for worship,

Wil Ranney:

Right? Yeah. It should be aspirational. So another example of that would be like, if you have a picture of diverse people and your church, isn't that diverse. So it's aspirational. Like you might want to be that church and hopefully you do want to be that church, but you don't want to mislead the people you want to be authentic. And so a lot of people, you, they feel like they have to make themselves look cool. But actually we know from a lot of research about younger generations that they're actually going profit entity. And so if you can just show the best side of who you actually are. And so, you know, typically I, I will tell church like put, come up with the most diverse group of people that you have and show them doing something where they're naturally smiling and take, use those pictures, put those pictures on your site. Sometimes there's value. Like if your building is that people would recognize your building, it gets driven by a lot. Sometimes there's value in that. But even then, it's great to have a picture of people being greeted. As they walk into the ability in marketing, they call the social proof. People need to see pictures of people actually doing things in the church so that they can imagine themselves in the shoes of that person. Okay. So having pictures without people is not as useful,

Ryan Dunn:

Do you find the same as true for social media?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. That is true for social media as well. And social media comes with its own challenges because you have to have the right size graphics and you have to speak to whatever's going on, but yeah, you definitely want to stay away from like the clip art, like that used to be how he did it. And I, I think you can use services. Like Unsplash is one that I recommend to churches where you can get free images. You can find images in there that represent you and not go overboard. And that's a great alternative if you don't have a strong photo ministry and your church, it's always good to try to build that up though.

Ryan Dunn:

Yeah, no doubt. Yeah. Especially from the authenticity standpoint. So I've found that largely when people are engaging with online content, they're looking to connect with actual real people, even if it's just in a digital relationship and as Christians we're called to live into that because so much of our identity is built on presence, right? We believe that God entered the world so that, you know, we would kind of get the idea of God through Jesus Christ. And that's actually our form of discipleship to right. That we are to come in contact with each other, to incarnate the presence of God in the world. And so our mission in the church is to build disciples of Jesus for the transformation of the world. And we are often challenged now in how do we come in contact with people in order to incarnate the word? How do we, how do we disciple people through a digital space? Have you seen some, some new ways that have developed or ways that have even developed over a long period of time that have really helped to utilize digital space for discipleship?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. So some people would argue that there are no new behaviors online. There's just new ways of enacting on those behaviors. But when you think about a digital space, it is a space, it's a place. And wherever there is a place where people are gathered, there is God. And so God is at work in those spaces. We often think about like, it's a means to an end, it's a way to get people into the church or whatever, but that's actually a place where God is. And so, you know, I've just heard so many great stories and read about so many stories of people's lives. Being saved of people being rescued from such great times of trial, that they wanted to take their own life. So much healing and witnessing. And I've also participated in online communities where the community develops outside of the worship experience too.

For a long time, I was involved in Darkwood brew, which no longer meets regularly for worship, but they have, they have online resources through small groups now. But when we did meet for worship, there was a community and people from all over the world, like I made a friend in Australia and we would support each other outside of that worship experience through the online channels we're connected to. And so, yeah, so God is there and doing things and it's kind of the same things that you would do in church. You can do Christian education online. You can do worship online, you can do pastoral care online, all the same discipling activities have a way that they can function in a digital space. One good story about that. So it's weird. It's, I'm a digital minister, but I always have a heart for these smaller churches, but it's just so hard for them to do.

And I have a friend who believes in digital ministry, but he's a country to charge pastor. Yeah. And so what can you do? Like none of those, like a lot of them don't even have internet access, but you still want to minister to them. And so, um, what I recommended is that he has a call in line. So this is something that some, some churches figured out early on. So you can actually get a digital service. That'll give you, give you a phone number that people can call into and they can listen to a message. And so he was putting out a devotional or a worship every day or a prayer every day for the column message and just like call in, you know, and then afterwards people have the option to leave a message. And so he actually came up with a digital ministry that was pretty clever that everybody in his congregation could do instill a digital minister. And obviously the United Methodist church has been engaged in ICT for D and Africa and other places for a long time. And we've figured out how to do complex digital ministry using just SMS. And so there's room for imagination in this. I wouldn't say there's nothing you can do. Here's might not look like, you know, all these popular ways that other churches are doing it, but there's always something that you can do.

Ryan Dunn:

Let's dive into that a little bit, because I think that is where a lot of our imagination for digital ministry kinda hits a halt. Like we know how to put a presentation online, but it's difficult then to take that jump to the next step of actually having some correspondence online and you have some experience doing that through Darkwood brew, it sounds like where you started around an event online with a shared worship service, but then how did, how did you maneuver from that, from that presentation where people are kind of spectators to where somebody who's watching this service becomes an active participant in conversation?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. So at Darkwood brew, it was kinda easy to imagine. We, we always had a chat functionality so that people could chat with each other and then always a strong social media presence where people could talk around posts are, could engage each other there. Okay. And then Darkwood, Bruce still did things in real life. Sometimes. Like we went to the wild goose festival often. And so that was a, a way for people to get together, just to have that kind of incarnate experience. I actually think that God can incarnate online too, but that's a whole other thing that gets into the like, should we have convenient online question or not like, there's, there's a lot of theological debate that's happened over topics like that. Yeah. Well,

Ryan Dunn:

Let's put a little pin in that. I'm going to back up for just a second on more of this online conversation centered around Darkwood brew within the chat function that I've heard from several church leaders, they say, well, we put our services online, but we just can't get anybody to talk as things are going on. And we know from our lived experience, that part of that is we're supposed to shut up during worship service, but now in digital space, like we don't know that each other are there, unless we somehow chime in with our thoughts through the course of the worship service. So was there some practices that y'all employed with dark wood that got the conversation going?

Wil Ranney:

So Marshall McLuhan famously said the medium is the message. And so we're still designing services that are also meant to work in online spaces. Like they're supposed to work in a building instead of building one that would be effective in a digital space. And so I'll give you an example. Unfortunately, I got to go back to the comedian thing. So Darkwood grew had communion. And one of the things that would happen is, okay, so people have to bring their own elements and it's just like, whatever you have around the house. And so one of the great community forming exercises was people were asked to share what they had to bring oh, right on. And so every, you got to know something about people based on what they felt they wanted to bring or what they had to bring on that day. And there was a lot of bonding that happened around that, but that was something that was intentional.

We're going to have this pause so that people can go and get their elements. And we're, and why we're Paulson. When as people come back, we're going to have him say, like, volunteer. What did you bring? Cool. You know, similarly, there's different ways that you participate in online spaces. There'd be different ways that you do calls and responses. So you just have to think it's that empathetic imagination. You have to try to like, think about what the person online is experiencing. And you have to change the way that you're doing things. So in a hybrid space, it's complicated because you have to consider both audiences, but there's lots of creative things you can do. And like with all creative things and all digital things, you've got to constantly be experimenting. Things are changing too fast for you not to be experimental that you like, you should build that into the culture. We're going to try something new every week and it's going to be something great. And a lot of times the spirit is going to be there with us.

Ryan Dunn:

It's probably a truth that at some point, for people who are willing to experiment, at some point, you're going to be ahead of the curve. And at some point you're going to be behind the curve and that's going to happen within a week,

Wil Raney:

You know? Yeah. It's just...

Ryan Dunn:

Turning around that quickly. Like we are discovering things by the moment as we do this. And a lot of that discovery over past 16 months has been fueled out of necessity. It's all been reactionary, right? In fact, this podcast was born kind of out of reactionary mindset of we've all been forced into this digital space. And what do we do now, as we ease our restrictions, as people go back to meeting in person, as we think about the future and our new reality, what are some proactive steps that a group might take into a digital ministry that isn't just reactive? So it isn't kind of maintaining what was there before, but is actually making some inroads into a greater presence in digital space.

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. There's no playbook. One example that I always like to give is a one-time Facebook had 40,000 different versions running around. So one church could be one version of Facebook and sometimes this would happen to me. I'd be trying to support two different churches. I'm like, how come this isn't working the same way? Cause something very manual. It was different between the two churches. And that's just a Testament to how fast technology changes and thus how fast culture changes. We relate to each other through technology. And so there's no sign that that's going to slow down. I mean, technology has been doubling since the fifties processing power has been doubling. That's not going to slow down. Other technologies will come up around. And so if you just think about the near future, there may be a time when two trucks from people from two different backgrounds, speaking two different languages can be in the same room together and can understand each other and can bond with each other because the technology is going to mediate all the differences.

And instead of us like looking at each other on a screen, it's going to feel like we're actually there. So, you know, this is going to challenge the nature of what it means to be incarnate. Like, are you actually there? If it feels like you're there are you actually there. And so sometimes even when we have the screen separating us, God's there and like the Spirit's there and it's authentic and it incarnates. And you feel like you're really there. And I say all of this, just to say that what we need is kind of, we need to think like a little more like a startup mentality. This is how the business world has adapted to this situation. And not every startup set of values works for churches, but I actually find that a lot of them do a lot of the entrepreneurial spirit, the spirit part of it can also be the Christian spirit part of it.

And they've adapted cultures where they're just willing to experiment and they, they actually have to experiment by necessity because it limits their risk. I'll just give you an example. We used to spend, you know, traditional way a church would launch a new worship services. We would form a committee and then we would have a year of practicing and planning. And then after that year, we'd launch a service. Well, not to preneur, wouldn't do that. They would actually just say, Hey, let's come together and have a service. And then afterwards they'd say, Hey, what, you know, what happened? How did this go? And then they'd iterate. And they would, you know, change it a little bit and got entrepreneur would have objectives that they're trying to learn if they met those objectives or not, and they'd have a way of measuring success. And so we need to, I have this so ready, fire aim mentality, instead of ready, aim, fire mentality.

Like we actually need to be willing to try new things and have that be part of the culture, have that be expected so that it doesn't feel awkward and actually try to learn. So learning about how it went is, you know, which is a good book. You do Christian education for the same reason. That's a good way of discipling. Cause it helps, you know, if you're growing in with God and so you try to get to the learning as fast as you can, and then you iterate and then you do new things. And so the way to stop being reactive is just to actually have a culture where, Hey, there's a new social media, let's try it out and see if it can help us meet a mission. Objective, you know, there's some new function, some new way of doing video or, Hey, look, they just came out with 3d. I know some pastors that are experimenting with 3d worship services, let's try it out and see if it can meet our mission objectives. So not just doing it Willy nilly, like they actually have some benchmarks or some ideas about where they think God is calling their community, that they're trying to test against

Ryan Dunn:

In terms of growth. What are good benchmarks to know if you're growing a digital ministry? Well,

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. So I would say that you always want to value interactions over impressions or views. Okay. Interactions are like, how many people can you get this chat every week? So on Facebook and interaction is a, like a sharing of a post or a comment. And a view is just, if it comes through their newsfeed, like lots of people can scroll through their newsfeed. Some people can even bring a video up of a worship service and not really get the full effect that you want from that worship service. So you don't know for sure, but if they're interacting and they're responding to things that are being said, then you do know for sure that they're engaged with that service, which is why it's good to build an interaction inflection points and your service where you, where you invite people to interact. Even if it takes a long time to get people to do that, to change the culture, to get people, to do that sort of thing.

Ryan Dunn:

Well, a lot of our churches are working in both and spaces right now, uh, out of necessity once again. And they recognize that there is a need to continue on and digital ministry, and yet they feel so much of what you've already articulated. That there's a sense of resistance from some faction within the church that likes things, how they used to be. So do you have recommendations for how you really bridge the divide between people who are like hesitant about digital aspects of ministries and those who embrace it?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. And I'll just add the other things. So, um, related to that is the fact that you're like your average United Methodist church just worships 80 people and just has one full-time staff person, the pastor, and so great props to them because they've like had to learn a second job on the fly and do both jobs at the same time. So it's actually asking a lot of them to continue doing this stuff, right? Like some of them will be glad to leave it behind. I'd hope that they'd try to find some way to continue some of what they're doing, but it's understandable given the position that they've been put in. So my answer is how do you bring people along? Well, sometimes you can't, sometimes you have move forward and then invite earnestly, invite people to come with you. So there's two approaches. So we often do the other where we're like fearful that it won't work.

So we won't do it. And this is another one of those cases where culture's just changing too fast, our values, our beliefs aren't changing, but our practice needs to change fast because the world around us is changing so fast. So you can just can't have that mentality anymore. Like you actually need to try something and see if you can bring people along with you. So just like everything we do in life, there's an opportunity cost to not doing digital ministry. And the way a church knows what the opportunity cost is is if they have a strong sense of what their calling is, they have a strong sense of what their mission is. Then they can say, well, we could spend time doing this non-digital thing, or we could spend time doing this digital thing and which one most closely aligns with our mission objectives. And I got to tell you most of the time, when I read a church's mission objectives, they should really be cutting out some stuff to make space for digital ministry.

It's not true for every church, but you have to take some risks and we're born in the image of the creator. We are meant to be creative in ministry, but because culture was so stagnant for so long, we didn't really have to be creative. Like we should have still been creative. Like I think that's something that we're called to, but we didn't have to be, but now we have to be like, there's no real alternative. I mean, the alternative is irrelevance. You know, you could have great values and beliefs, but if you don't have a way of engaging society with those, then you're just not going to be very relevant. Your relative position to how a culture is changing is going to shrink. And there's a big debate about whether or not we should be letting culture determine. I don't think we should let culture change our values and beliefs. And I'm stealing this idea. This is a Barbara Brown Taylor idea of re traditioning where you try to separate the practice from the values. And you try to make sure that one is not holding the other hostage. You're actually willing to, to try out new practices that align with your values instead of letting your value suffer at the hand of your practices.

Ryan Dunn:

That almost kind of points to the whole, as you talk about mission, uh, and recognizing that maybe there are some other aspects that we want to let go of in order to pursue digital ministry in pursuit of our mission that suggests a deep underlying need for digital ministry. Maybe we should have started with the need, but it can be our motivating point in a landing spot to what do you recognize as being some of the large needs for digital ministry? Why,

Wil Ranney:

Why digital ministry? The thing that I feel convicted by as time goes on is that God is more living and changing in and multiple than we give God credit for. And if we see something new happening in the world, we should be looking for God in that new thing, because chances are the spirit is in there somewhere doing something. And so it's mainly a theological reason. There are ways in digital ministry. So early on, one of the pushbacks I got on digital ministry is it's just so inauthentic people hide behind their avatar and they can complain and say whatever they want to. And I'd be like, yeah, that's true. But what about the kid? Like it's not safe for them to talk about their faith at school, but can, can experiment with their faith and their beliefs online. It's that same anonymity. It's like two sides of the same coin.

And so whenever you have this new thing, we need to look for the, where the spirit is moving us. You know, sometimes when people will just call the internet a tool, I don't know if I would say that, but you can take these new things and you can use them to turn away from God. But I guarantee you that most of the things that enable you to turn away from God will also allow you to turn towards God in some way that's new and exciting, and that kind of matches whatever this, however, the spirit is moving in the world. Well, his

Ryan Dunn:

Presence is so important to us in our faith tradition, even as part of our identity, as people of faith, uh, some of the objections that we often hear to digital gatherings are that it's a barrier to our real presence. And certainly that gets wrapped up then in things like sacrament and how do we bear witness to each other when we're not physically together as an advocate for being a community in digital space? Are there ways that, uh, you do see sacrament practiced in the digital expression?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. I mean the best argument that I have for some kind of online incarnation of God is as God like, like who are we to think that God is limited? And those spaces are that environment. Who's to think that when, you know, a pastor puts out their hands to bless somebody elements, that's 2000 miles away in Australia that God isn't transversing that screen. It's just, I don't want to believe in a God that's that small. Like I wouldn't believe. And I also imagine the time I'm a big fan of science fiction. And I just imagine a time when you can't tell the difference, you were going to be in some virtual space and it may even be better than you being in a room with a person. So the example I made earlier is, okay, what if you speak two different languages while in that virtual world, the environment that you're in can be translating for you.

That's better then if we, if you were in room and you couldn't understand the person you would be with. And so who's to say that God is not working towards something better, that's going to bring us together and that's going to help us form communities in a stronger way. And I think that's true, even with some of our limited technologies. Now there's some things about them that are better than the way we currently do church. There's some things about them that aren't as good. But the one thing that is somewhat certain is that technology is changing so fast. And in ways that we don't know, there's so many things on the horizon. So I just have to believe that God is, is, and they're doing things and we should join God. And, and that creation, if we don't, that's bad too. So people are kind of smart.

Now. They're like, they understand that it's not the inauthenticity necessarily, but it's the fact that you don't know what the algorithms are doing. And the fact that these huge lies can get spread and a lot of damage and harm can be done through social media networks. That's not a reason to disengage. That's a reason for us to be engaged. Like Christian should want to be there trying to forge something that's more godly in those spaces. And I think we should do it. I think Christians should be thinking about net neutrality. They should be thinking about privacy concerns. They should be thinking like, all of those are holy pursuits. You wouldn't have to think too hard to like take one of Jesus's parables and make it work for the you'd make it analogous for the situation that we're in. Like I said, there's no new behaviors or that's, that's what the argument is. I'm not entirely certain about that either, but there are no new behaviors. There's just new ways you can express them. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn:

Okay. Well, you are truly a, a, a digital minister in that you have a kind of a million points of connection out there. Uh, what would be a great way for people to kind of hone in if they want to get ahold of you or learn more about your ministry?

Wil Ranney:

Yeah. So you can go to, uh, a bounded.com or a bound that.work about the.com is our church website platform of bounded.org is our agency. The agency works more with, uh, para-church groups than with nonprofits. So if you fit into that category, you can go there. If your church, you can, you can start at the other place. You can find me [email protected] and pretty much on most major social media platforms.

Ryan Dunn:

Again, Will's digital home base is, will ranee.me. And that's spelled w I L just one, L R a N N E Y. Dot me, if you want to touch base with me, send an email to digital [email protected] You can also find more points of [email protected]resourceunc.org slash digital parish. Big thanks to United Methodist communications for sponsoring this podcast. I had helped from Reed gains and editing this episode. If you'd like to offer some thanks, you can do so by hitting subscribe to this podcast, then dropping a positive rating or review on your podcast. Listening platform, several episodes of the pastoring and 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, 2021, but here's a pro tip. You don't need to consume these sessions in order. So just click on whatever topic interests you and start listening. Thanks again. My name is Ryan Don, and I'll talk with you soon.

 

On this episode

Rev. Lovejoy from the Simpsons. Placeholder bio image.

Rev. Wil Ranney is an ordained deacon in the United Methodist church who specializes in technology ministry. Wil started Aboundant, which is a platform for church websites. He also teaches digital ministry courses at Wartburg College, and his current passion revolves around teaching churches how to adapt to the fast changing pace of culture in a digital world.

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.