Digital Parish: Virtual reality and ministry in the metaverse

Barbara Caneiro of the Accidental Church Communicator introduces us to the possibilities and opportunities of the metaverse and virtual reality church. What are other possibilities beyond the virtual church service?

This episode is an intro to VR, exploring how virtual reality is changing our world and the ways we relate, as well as exploring a few of the pros and cons of VR church.  Our adjunct professor for this session is Barabara Carneiro. She’s going to share her story of getting into church, getting started in the metaverse and virtual reality, and getting started in virtual reality church.

The Episode

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Show Notes 

Barbara Carneiro recommended several resources to put in your virtual reality ministry toolkit:

  • Once you get into the Metaverse, check out Google Maps--you can revisit your childhood neighborhood.
  • AltSpaceVR is a valuable spot for connection.
  • You can attend concerts in virtual reality through Ceek
  • The Key is an immersive story that takes participants through a refugee's journey.

Ryan Dunn (00:00):

This is pastoring in the Digital Parish, your resource and point of connection for building digital ministry strategy and bringing your congregation into the digital age. Have you gotten into virtual reality yet? I attended my first church gathering in vr, and it was pretty wild. It began with a message in the group's normal meeting space, virtual meeting space, and then reported over to a recreation of the tabernacle from the time of the Exodus. It was quite surreal. What other possibilities exist beyond the virtual church service? Well, this episode is an intro to virtual reality, exploring how VR is changing our world, and the ways that we relate, as well as exploring a few of the pros and cons of Virtual Reality Church. Our adjunct professor in this session is Barbara Carneiro. She's gonna share her story of getting into church, actually, and then getting started in a VR and getting started.

(01:06):

Then in virtual reality church. Barbara Carneiro is a mentor and a communications director, as well as the owner of a branding agency for churches in Christian ministries. She founded the Accidental Church Communicator, which can be visited accidentalchurchcommunicator.com, and she's taking part in leading a church communications conference in February of 2023. And that conference is gonna be a virtual reality conference. More on that coming up. Let's meet Barbara Carneiro. Barbara, you're branded online as the Accidental Church Communicator. And I love the story because it's so relatable as to how anybody really kind of gets involved in a ministry position. How did you become the accidental church communicator?

Barbara Carneiro (01:56):

Yeah, thank you, Ryan. Well the funny parts of it all is that most people you know, kind of grew up in church, and then they kind of stumble upon the communication side of things. And, you know, they have to figure out all of these, like, how do I learn these talents and these skills and learn these tactics? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, you know, so they, they kind of come from, you know, most people, I would say grew up in the church, they understand the church dynamics of things, but now they have to figure out all of this marketing side of things, or communication side of things. And for me, it was the opposite. So I've always been in the communication sphere and suddenly, you know, I came to faith well into my thirties. So for me it was like, oh, this is a whole culture of what happens in church.

(02:45):

And like, I, I had very little concepts as far as like wow, these guys have PowerPoints during service. You know what I mean? Like, <laugh> the music is, you know, like simple things that were just so strange to me having not been raised in the church. But at the same time, I felt like the two, even the two of them, like trying to merge you know, the communication side of things with the church side of things was, was kind, was an experience. And it happened very accidentally. It was one of those like, Hey, you do branding for your agency? Come help us with some things. Or me actually offering like, Hey, I kind of wanna be a part of what you're doing, and this is what I know to do. So, you know, put me up, coach, kind of thing. And so suddenly you're doing slides, and next thing you know, there's this thing called pro presenter that you never heard of before and <laugh>, you know what I mean? So learning new software, it was very, very, very accidental. And what I found is that many people are in the same boat, so it's not a job that many people kind of like prepare for, you know, and nobody says as a five year old, right? Yeah. What you wanna be when you grow up. And nobody says a church communicator. So

Ryan Dunn (03:59):

Church period again, that's great. You

Barbara Carneiro (04:01):

Know, a bunch of us are kind of stumbling upon this, this position in many ways with like this endless Hey, here's another thing that I would hope you can help me with. So yeah,

Ryan Dunn (04:13):

<Laugh>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. Well, it sounds like you, you just kind of have a passion for the communications and marketing and branding and, and like, this is a way of really kinda offering your service to Yeah. To the ministry. Is that how it felt? Yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (04:27):

Yeah. It's my happy place. It's definitely the things that I love doing. Cool. and but, you know, learning how the church operates in that sphere is, it was a, it was, it still is a very entertaining and quite intriguing aspect of what I do. It's, it's kind of easy to, you know, communicate when you think of brands and when you think of marketing in general and the marketplace. But then when it comes to churches, there's a whole lot of other questions that come into play. So that's the part that I'm, yeah. Enjoying and exploring right now. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (05:01):

Do you find that when you sometimes trot out the word marketing <laugh> people kind of jump back from the table? Is there a little bit of

Barbara Carneiro (05:09):

Yeah. I do and I do. It makes some people itchy. And so I actually do not use the word marketing when it comes to churches as a choice. So we normally use the word church communications in many in many ways it's similar. So there's a lot of overlap into what, what you do as far as communications and what you do as far as marketing. But just for the sake of like, not bringing the word market and marketing to the church, I feel like that can break a few barriers of at least getting the conversation started. You know what I mean? So, yeah. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (05:44):

Yeah. Well, we are very much more comfortable with, I guess, the, the term communications and to turn the conversation a little bit. You, you've got a, got a conference coming up, you're setting it in a very interesting place in, in virtual reality. That excites me just because of the new possibilities of it. At the same time, I'm a VR noob, I just got my headset set a couple weeks ago. All I've done so far is play Beat Saber and like attended one gathering in AltSpaceVR. You have any recommendations on like, what I should check out in VR space?

Barbara Carneiro (06:25):

Yes, I actually have a few. So there is an app where you can go into, you know, much like you would do on a normal computer and look into Google Maps. But the cool thing about it is that you can go back in time so you can see, wow, the same street back in 2015 or 2010 or 2009. And so as far as, you know, whatever their database has for that location, you're able to simply go to the same place. So you're sitting at the corner of what a look Google Map looks like. So you can see, you know, you can rotate and look around. It's static. It's not, you know, we don't see movement, but you can move and you can then go back in time and see the same street several years ago. That I thought was quite an experience. Yeah, it really made me go, you know, it's nostalgic and you go back to the street where you were living 10 years ago, and, you know,

Ryan Dunn (07:21):

That's exactly what I thought of. Yeah, <laugh>.

Barbara Carneiro (07:23):

Yeah. And not only that, like, it can be the exact same street, but it did look different back then. And so that kind of stuff was, was really nice. And then I saw a U2 concert where you're literally sitting in the center of the concert and they're singing to you, which was quite fascinating. So you're on stage and Bono is right here singing to

Ryan Dunn (07:49):

Wow.

Barbara Carneiro (07:50):

So, so that was definitely and I'll send you the exact apps where you can go and, and check that out, because for me it was quite an experience. Another one is called The Key, if I'm not mistaken. It's it has a kind of a gaming component where you kind of move around and do things, but it talks about the lives of the refugees. And so it's it's, it starts as more of a story, but it ends up actually talking about a very impactful real scenario in real life. And so just, I don't know, it's a, it's an experience that places you there literally instead of just me reading on a blog post or, you know what I mean? So several apps that are quite interesting. And if you wanna have some fun with literally any kid, any age, well, as long as they can hold the headset, obviously mm-hmm. <Affirmative> half and half is the funniest thing.

Ryan Dunn (08:44):

<Laugh> Okay.

Barbara Carneiro (08:45):

It, it, it, like, you can't hear people, so everybody sounds like me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me when they talk but we have like jelly hands and we look super funny. So each person has a different character but you can play hide and seek inside the game, or you can you know, learn how to fly or swim in this huge ocean. And it is a lot of fun. A lot of fun. Like in definitely something that I will never experience in real life, because I'm afraid of deep water. So, <laugh>.

Ryan Dunn (09:17):

Yeah, <laugh>. Yeah. And I'm not too fond of flying. So <laugh>, I mean, there's a way to jump into that. Well, you're doing a church conference, and first of all, thank you for do or a church communicators conference. <Laugh>, thank you for doing that, because well, I mean, the idea of, of drawing communicators together there's just a lot of value in that, but you're setting this particular one in the metaverse, like Yeah. Why did you decide that this was the spot to do a church communicators conference?

Barbara Carneiro (09:48):

Yeah. Well, I think the question that I ask myself often is why not? <Laugh>, but

Ryan Dunn (09:53):

Okay,

Barbara Carneiro (09:54):

Yeah. I normally start with the why, not, why, why not? Why, why wouldn't we? You know? So I tend to be kind of a risk taker in that sense. But there, there are several reasons. One was I first got introduced to VR in 2020 when for Christmas, my kid asked for a device, and I'm like, oh, you know, whatever, the next gaming console and Hey, mommy, I need a Facebook account to connect it with. So I kind of gave him mine. And then I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, this is mine. I'm gonna buy you another virus. Because once I experienced it, it was like, no way, this is yours. It is now mine. So he lost his Christmas gift. I'm not even kidding. Like, sorry kid. It's connected to my Facebook account, so now you can't, you know, so anyway that it, it was, it was literally you know, having come from the Atari, amiga family growing up, you know, like gaming and all of that, it was such a, a cool, you know, wow, it's here.

(10:51):

Like, virtual reality, here's happening and I'm in it. So there was a lot of like thinking of, you know, those, you know, childhood dreams of what gaming would look like in the future. And so, but then there's this, this other component, like, suddenly I'm exercising in the metaverse and you know, or, or going through these Google map, you know, visiting old cities that I've lived in. And now it's just so fascinated by the, the duality of this reality. Like, okay, okay, this is literally like a separate reality altogether, and we get to be there. So little by little, remember, this is still, the end of 2020 half of the world is still in lockdown. And so there's a great need for community. There's a great need for us to come together. Conferences have been stopped for a solid year at this point. And so little by little, the desire to gather people really started to become strong and stronger in my heart. And I started realizing, wow, there's a lot of events happening in this second reality here. Like, there's churches. I ended up in a church somehow one day, didn't even know that was a thing. I was like, Hmm, oh my God. Like, some people are actually gathering to talk about Jesus and sing worship songs in the Metaverse. And it was a complete accent. Just, you know, everything in my life seems really

Ryan Dunn (12:11):

Okay.

Barbara Carneiro (12:12):

Accidental these days. But it was, it was literally just like, wow, they're Christians here and they're doing things, you know? So I've, I was very intrigued. First I realized people can create these gatherings, not just the gaming. Like, you know, when you think of Beat sas, like, okay, somebody created a game. You go in and you play it. Now. It was opening a door for things like, oh, I can actually create a room of my own and I can gather with people to do whatever we wanna do and talk about whatever we wanna talk. And that's kind of how everything got started. Then I realized not many people have devices <laugh>

Ryan Dunn (12:54):

Mm. <Laugh>

Barbara Carneiro (12:55):

And many, many, many more don't even know how this thing even works or what the metaverse is. Yeah. So thought, why not help them? Like, why not, you know, create something that is a very you know, a less a more controlled environment for you to understand what the metaverse is with people that you can somewhat trust instead of just like jumping into. Because the reality is there's a lot out there that I wouldn't want people to go see. You know what I mean?

Ryan Dunn (13:26):

Okay. <laugh>. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. As, as much as you stumble around and find yourself in a church service, there are probably some other <laugh> no worth these situations that you find yourself in as well. Yeah. Yeah. Where are those churches gathering within the, the virtual space? Are there other specific apps or,

Barbara Carneiro (13:47):

Yeah, so Alt Space VR seems to be the one that most people are using. And and that's because you can literally start today. You go in, create an account, you, you have what they call like these templated rooms. So basically you pick from a series of templates that they already have created. It's a click of a button. The room is ready to go. The only thing you need to do is tell people, here's the code through the room or make it public so that others can literally type in in, and they show up to your room. So there's little develop no development whatsoever. You just click a button and now you have a wor a mini world in the Metaverse. Altspace VR makes it easy. It's, it's a free service, so anybody can create it. It's most like <laugh>, it's like a MySpace and virtual reality kind of thing,

Ryan Dunn (14:39):

<Laugh>, you know? Ok. You

Barbara Carneiro (14:40):

Know what I mean? Like, we can each have

Ryan Dunn (14:42):

Our talking language. Got it. Yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (14:43):

<Laugh>. Yeah. So you can each have our own the music, you can pick the music that plays in that room. And so then the level of customization comes in because the system itself allows you to add things like, you know pictures on the wall and video players with whatever video you wanna have playing or, you know, piece of furniture, so you can arrange other things to it, but the room itself is ready to go the minute you click that button. Yeah. so that, that allows anybody, not just a, a church, but anybody to create an event or a room to meet at, you know, at a fingertip. So,

Ryan Dunn (15:24):

Hmm. Yeah. Yeah. I got to play with Altspace the other day. The, I was attending a church gathering Yeah. In, in alt space. And the way that it was set up is we gathered in one spot, and we kind of mingled around for a little bit, which can be a little weird for the first time VR user <laugh>, like Yes. Learn that there's just like this whole new set of circumstances that Right. In which you relate to one another through that space. But then we had a message, and then we portaled off to to experience the, the Old Testament tabernacle yeah, yeah. Which somebody had created within that space, which is pretty extraordinary. I mean, it was, yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (16:04):

Yeah. I've, I've been in no ark which is quite fascinating as well. It just shows you, you know, kind of like the scale of things in a way that you can never really experience it. Well, nowadays we actually have actual art, but you know what I mean, like,

Ryan Dunn (16:19):

There's true,

Barbara Carneiro (16:20):

Yeah. There's other, there's other things that, you know, un until somebody builds it there's a lot to it that we can't really experience it. So this allows you to experience without any travel, without any expense, it's literally a click of a button, and you are experiencing it in a very immersive way because you're in that place and you have people around you. And so the ability to portal between specific sections always allows for a different type of experience, because you don't have to actually walk from one place to the the other, but it also allows you to, if things get awkward or strange, literally it's a click of a button and you're out. So in real life, there's this whole like, oh, it's gonna be awkward if I stand up and leave now, you know, in the metaverse it's not there. It's, you just poof, disappear, and nobody's gonna wonder what happened. You know, maybe you just run out of battery. It's <laugh>.

Ryan Dunn (17:12):

Right. Yeah. We had a number of people who would come in and out and Yeah. And I was like, way late because I was going through the whole process of like, you know, finding my room and navigating around and now Yeah. Yeah. Moving to the next part. So, yeah. And it, it, it just seems natural, like people are just like, it, it's kind of an in out space in that Yes. Regards. Absolutely.

Barbara Carneiro (17:32):

And I think that brings freedom to a lot of people because showing up to a church service in real life, you know, you're gonna be there for an hour, whether you like it or not.

Ryan Dunn (17:40):

Right. <laugh>, uhhuh,

Barbara Carneiro (17:41):

And you know, the, the ability to kind of peak and see what's going on. And I've been able to peak in a few rooms, not just church related, but other things. And I went to one that was just talking about philosophy and, you know, it was just this very open place where people were just discussing like, what do they believe about things in general? And it's fascinating to hear, and you could tell some people were from other nationalities just because of their accent. It's really interesting to hear kind of how they perceive the world. And these are people that I may never encounter in my lifetime. So, yeah. Now it's opened the possibility for me to, nothing, if nothing else, just to listen to the questions they're asking and how they're asking those questions. And remember, there's no need for small talk.

Ryan Dunn (18:29):

Yeah. Okay.

Barbara Carneiro (18:30):

Zero. So you come in and people can openly ask hard questions in spaces like these, because they've been designed for that. Now. I mean, I've heard, you know, all sorts of people asking all sorts of questions when there's no barrier, because now they can click a button and go, nobody knows who that person was. Which might create another type of problems for us, because like, well, I didn't know who that was, and now I can't connect with them from now on. But, but there are ways to continue engaging so that you can continue the conversation, but at the same time, I think the, it's a small price to pay for the amount of openness that we now have access to on in the metaverse. You know what I mean?

Ryan Dunn (19:14):

Yeah. Have you seen church groups who have started to host I guess meetups like that?

Barbara Carneiro (19:22):

Yeah. So there's a couple of churches that are very known in this space that are creating really interesting, like they have their whole world created. So the software allows you to have the templated stuff, but then you can create your own world. And that's what we did for the first conference. We used a template for the first conference, and now we have a whole world that is actually a floating island <laugh>. And so, you know, you, you can design it the way you want it. So we had it designed in a specific way. We have a campfire theater, there's another room, there's an open air, and there's a tree in the middle. Not to be symbolic or anything, but <laugh>, you know, there's just just a lot of spaces that we've designed in having the person that is coming to the conference in mind.

(20:05):

And so churches are doing the same thing. They're building rooms for you know, actually watching a message. There are more the, the theater style auditorium. And then they have smaller rooms where you can have more intimate conversations. And so I know it's just digital, but the, you're so immersed that having a smaller setting allows for that type of conversation. The other pieces in the metaverse, we have what we call, you know, like proximity chat. So that means the closer I am to somebody, I can hear them. And if I step away, I just, like, in real life, I won't hear them anymore. And so that's something that, that Zoom cannot do for us, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. So you either hear the whole thing or you're disconnect and you're out. So in, in this idea of proximity chat or conversation it gives us a sense of a real life experience because our senses are telling me I'm closer and I'm further away, and proximity basically, you know, it's, it's immediately giving my brain the idea of more intimacy with whatever's going around me. So that's

Ryan Dunn (21:16):

What we're trying

Barbara Carneiro (21:17):

To do at the conference as well, creating separate spaces for more conversations, and then a bigger auditorium for presentations. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (21:26):

Yeah. Well, I think that's important because in church world, we often talk about when we meet virtually, when we meet online through say a a, an app like Zoom, we miss those kind of quote unquote parking lot conversations, right? Yeah. And this gives an an opportunity to really engage in those, because you can just kinda pull aside or, or go off to someplace else, so to speak, you know? Yeah. Move away from the crowd and, and have that conversation. And I found that happening in the in the church service that I attended. I'm, I'm a little, I'm ashamed doing admit that like, sometimes I would just kinda wander by <laugh> to see I in a fishbowl kind of way of like, is this what's going on here? That people in the Yeah. Very much so. It was, you know, people having just more one-on-one kind of conversations that, or catching up with somebody that they knew offline that, you know, didn't feel like, oh, the whole group doesn't need to hear all this. So, yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (22:22):

Absolutely.

Ryan Dunn (22:24):

Yeah. It, so it is just this fascinating way of opening up, I think, a deeper invitation to relationship than we might have through something like Zoom, where

Barbara Carneiro (22:34):

Absolutely. Yeah. And, you know, people may feel like, oh, the Metaverse is separating us and divide, and, and the reality is, I think it's doing something different. I think it's actually bringing people a little bit closer with less of you know, there's some levels of intimidation that are different, in my opinion, because if you're in a room with just one other person, it's just like, it is in real life, <laugh>. Yeah. You know what I mean? You know, there is that little bit of awkwardness, but it's no different than real life. And so I love the ability, like you saying, to just be a, you know, Hey, I just wanna be a fly on the wall. Well, now you can mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, you can be a fly on the wall on all sorts of different conversations on every single topic you can think of that you wouldn't be able to do in real life.

(23:18):

And so nothing is more important for our churches than to listen and to see, like, because our bubbles are very isolated, right? We have this siloed approach, whether we want it or not. I'm not saying intentionally we're doing so, but imagine what it would be for you to be able to listen to what a 14, 15, 16 year old is saying when he goes to a philosophy room or the questions that they're asking, because those rooms are there, and these kids are there asking those questions, questions. And not just kids adults are doing the same thing. And so you can create a room with any topic. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> be open minded, you know, you know that anybody and everybody can show up. I've been to karaoke a karaoke room that I thought, oh man, this is gonna be a disaster. You know, imagine in virtual reality and people are singing.

(24:08):

And I got there, Ryan, I was just so amaz, I don't know if I got lucky that day, but everybody knew how to sing, and I don't know if you must have been like, you know, must have been like a, you know, like a group of singers, and they got together, and I just got to go in and listen. I was like, oh my goodness. It's like goosebumps the whole time. Like, just so amazing. I was like, I think I got lucky. I don't think this is how it's supposed to be every time. Like, you know, karaoke night tend to be very, so eventually I'm leading, there's a, a journalist writing a story on a similar topic. So I'm like, okay, I'm gonna guide you through the metaverse, but we're actually gonna go in. So I, I, you know, we were in the metaverse together showing him around, and I said, Hey, there's a <laugh> a room, people were where people can sing. It's a different room. Let's go and check it out. And it was awful. And so,

Ryan Dunn (24:58):

But

Barbara Carneiro (24:58):

You know

Ryan Dunn (24:58):

What's interesting? It was like the local bar karaoke in that one. It was,

Barbara Carneiro (25:01):

It was definitely bed. But you know what's interesting though? And we both noticed that one of the kids singing was a kid we could tell by his, you know, and his song was all about suicide and being sad. And, and I'm thinking he's not just singing his song. Like, you know what I mean? Like, there's something else happening here for this person to come on a public stage to pick this song to sing. Mm-Hmm. And that's the kind of stuff that we can kind of be a fly on the wall to, because I have the opportunity to speak to that person without having anything to lose after. You know what I mean?

Ryan Dunn (25:37):

Right. Yeah. So Yeah. They don't know anything about Yeah, yeah. Who you are and yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (25:43):

Go both ways, <laugh>. Right.

Ryan Dunn (25:46):

You don't have to tell them

Barbara Carneiro (25:47):

You're, you're a pastor.

Ryan Dunn (25:48):

<Laugh>. Yeah. <Laugh>. so we, we have this tremendous listening opportunity as the church being present in Metaverse land, I guess, so to speak. Are there some other opportunities that you see maybe other groups embracing that the, the church could use to embrace as well?

Barbara Carneiro (26:07):

Yeah, I, I do believe there's a whole generation that will never set foot in a church building. Mm. And so, you know, where are they hanging out? I'm not saying it's replacing one thing is replacing the other, but if

(26:26):

If we have an opportunity to be present on, and I'm not even saying every church needs to be present in the Metaverse but I do believe that some churches have been specifically called to embrace this channel as a channel, because let's be honest, everybody was forced to embrace livestream and be on face Facebook live and on YouTube live. Like, we don't see that as out of the ordinary these days, simply because we kind of all followed along. So it, the same is true for this channel. It's a channel like any other. I think the biggest difference is, and I, I'm gonna get a little bit nerdy on you right now, but bring it, when you think of the generations <laugh>, when you think of the different generations each generation perceives the world in a different way because the world was different when they were, were growing up.

(27:12):

And so our childhood determines a lot of the values and the things, you know, like how we assign worth to something based on how we were raised. And, you know, even though we may have different ways that we were raised, we were all living in a world that was the same at the same time. And so, one thing that we see, for example, from when the millennials were growing up, you know, think about it, in their teenage years, there's internet now and there's social media. And so what happens from a sense of time is that now everything can be asynchronous, right? Before it's like, I call the, I call it, and you answer, and we are on the phone at the same time, right? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> now it's like, I text you and you can get back to me immediately. So there's the immediacy side of things, but also you can get back to me 30 minutes from now or tomorrow, right?

(28:03):

Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, the conversation keeps going and in a synchronous way. And so that was the main time change that happened during the millennials as a generation with Gen Zs, which is the generation that is now in their early twenties. What's happening is there's a whole parallel world that runs at the same time as our world. And so imagine that, you know, like, what, what's happening in the metaverse? It's not a synchronous, it's happening at the same time as what's happening right now in our life. And the difference is these kids live in the metaverse. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> real life is a chore.

Ryan Dunn (28:44):

Hmm.

Barbara Carneiro (28:45):

Yeah. So real life is just the things you have to do. It's like, okay, I have to go to school, I have to eat, I have, my life happens right here mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And so the roadblocks, the, all of the, these other games, they're all operating in the metaverse, if I don't join the game at 3:00 PM my friends will not be there later. You know what I mean? So it's like, as, as far as time, it's happening in parallel, but the difference is that's real life for them.

Ryan Dunn (29:13):

Yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (29:14):

An online version of time. So eventually we're gonna have to get there, <laugh>.

Ryan Dunn (29:20):

Yeah. Yeah. So that's, and to embrace, embrace that as, as valid relationship, you know? I think that's Oh, absolutely. The, the biggest barrier that we're encountering in our mindset within the church is, is the assumption that the only way that we form a true relationship is, you know, when we sit down to coffee together or whatever it is, you, you know? Exactly. Being in that space and Yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (29:44):

Yeah. In one

Ryan Dunn (29:45):

Being the parent of a teenager,

Barbara Carneiro (29:47):

Sorry. Yeah, go ahead.

Ryan Dunn (29:48):

Go ahead. I just being the parent of a teenager, and that's a lesson that I've had to learn as, you know, my son has these relationships that exist primarily in, as you said, the in metaverse in virtual space that it, that he views as, you know, this is, this is a deep friendship.

Barbara Carneiro (30:07):

Absolutely. Yeah. So what you need to remember, and this is for all of us, is that when they look at those relationships, <laugh>, I don't know if you remember this, I'm from a gaming family where if my mom were to say, it's time for dinner, you pause the game and you go, like, you just go, right? Well, that doesn't apply nowadays because it's socially disrespectful for you to disappear in the middle of your game when you are in a group. And so there is a sense, there are social rules, there are relationship kind of like, you know, etiquette that is exist online that is very strong compared to what we used to experience online a few years ago. So you can't pause the game. You're gonna let your group down, you may all die if I disappear. You know

Ryan Dunn (30:51):

What I mean? So, right. Yeah. Mm-hmm. <Affirmative>,

Barbara Carneiro (30:52):

There's a sense of like, so I had to learn that with my kids, that I had to at least tell them, Hey, reach a stopping point. Dinner's gonna be ready soon. And that's for the sake of respecting the relationships that they're forming online, because for them, that's what really matters. And so we gotta understand that there's a code of ethics to put it that way that operates online, that we may not, you know, we may think it's just a game and it's way beyond that.

Ryan Dunn (31:18):

Yeah. Barbara committed that dad faux pas a couple years ago where I was trying to get him to go someplace, and he was gaming, and I was frustrated. So I walked in and I just turned off, unplug it, the console mm-hmm. <Affirmative> and Oh, yep. <Laugh>. Yep. It, it got very emotional at that point. <Laugh>. Yeah.

Barbara Carneiro (31:36):

It was like, but it's like, it's

Ryan Dunn (31:37):

Like your fear say goodbye, and

Barbara Carneiro (31:39):

Right. It's like your parent grabbing you, like you're at the coffee shop and you're parent grabs you and puts you in the car like a few years ago, <laugh>, you know, it's like, that would be awful. You know what I mean? So <laugh>.

Ryan Dunn (31:50):

Yeah. Well, in looking back into the, the Metaverse, what are some specific tools or resources that might help church leaders take their first steps?

Barbara Carneiro (32:00):

Yeah. Well, I would say a safe place to explore is outspace vr. Cool. Without going anywhere, you can create your own world. And by the way, you do not need a device like a, a virtual reality device to explore it. So they have a d a 2D version of it. That means you can go on your computer, create an account, explore these worlds. You just don't have the immersive experience, but you can still kind of check it out and visit rooms, okay. And actually create your own. So it's a, it's a less invasive experience just like the world. Everything is out there. It's just like the internet, right? So you can, you're gonna find the good, the bad, and the ugly. So, but you have the opportunity to experience it in a way that is safe. So I would say Alt Spacey is a safe split pace right now to go in, explore, create your world, and, and just see what it looks like before you even get a device.

(32:56):

 Later on. There are churches, if you just search for VR churches, there are several churches that have VR campuses or churches that just exist in vr. And so you can start with that because you're gonna find a safe place to at least observe, ask questions, see what they're doing. And obviously the, the conference, like, unless you're not in communications, that's gonna be very boring for you. <Laugh>, it's, it's free. So you can just come in and kind of observe you know, that's awesome. How awesome. How that works in real life or in alternative life. I don't know. It kinda quite painful. <Laugh>

Ryan Dunn (33:34):

Well, you've built yourself as a serial entrepreneur so your digital footprint is fairly wide or broad or long or deep or whatever, <laugh>. Where for, for this audience, where might be a, a good spot to connect with you online and see what you're up to?

Barbara Carneiro (33:50):

Yes. So the church, church communicator conference.com is probably the easiest. That way you can see everything and sign up for the conference if you're interested, but I'm also mostly on Facebook, so just look for my name and you're gonna find me there. I'm very good at responding to direct messages, so it's just easier to connect with me that way. Through the agency is where you're gonna find my email. It's [email protected] It's word, not word. Some, some people get it wrong. So <laugh> word revolution.com. And yeah. So, you know, my day job, if you wanna put it that way, is a communications agency in branding for churches. So that's kind of where the word Revolution brand is. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But on the metaverse side of things, we're at the church communicator conference.com. Yeah.

Ryan Dunn (34:40):

Awesome. All right. And when is that Metaverse conference?

Barbara Carneiro (34:43):

It's coming in February 14. And so you can just sign up, you'll receive all of notifications, instructions on how to attend. You do not need a device, but it is way better if you do. We used to have packages where people, we actually shipped several devices to people that bought tickets for the previous one, and that was fun, you know, just shipping, yeah. Headset cents around. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But I actually still have three, so I have a few that I might be able to to sell with a few tickets, but if you don't have one, you can still participate in at least experience you know, the conference itself and see what it looks like.

Ryan Dunn (35:23):

Yeah. Yeah. Very cool. <Laugh>. Well, it's been a pleasure meeting with you in this virtual space. I look forward to, to crossing paths with you in the in the alt space realm as well. Barbara, thanks so much for joining

Barbara Carneiro (35:36):

Us. Staying here. Same here, Ryan. Thank you for having me.

Ryan Dunn (35:40):

If you wanna check out more episodes of pastoring in the digital parish, a good follow up to this episode might be the church in the Age of Innovation with Andrew Root. And I feel like youth ministry in the digital parish might be relevant here too. Anyways, listening more actually helps bump up the visibility of the podcast, so keep it up. Again, my name is Ryan Dunn. I'd like to thank resource unc.org, the online destination for leaders throughout the United Methodist Church. We make this podcast possible, and of course, they host our website, pastoring and the digital parish.com, where you can find more online resources for 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] Another session comes next week. In the meantime, peace to you.

 

 

 

 

On this episode

Brad Hill of Gloo

Barbara Carneiro is a mentor and a communications director as well as the owner of a branding agency for churches and Christian ministries. She founded The Accidental Church Communicator which can be visited at accidentalchurchcommunicator.com. She’s taking part in leading a church communicators conference in February 2023… and it will be a virtual reality conference..

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.