Jan. 8, 2021

How digital tools are like having your own Bible, Edwin Crozier, Part 2

How digital tools are like having your own Bible, Edwin Crozier, Part 2

This is my second half of the conversation with Edwin Crozier. This part focuses on his view of digital discipleship and his writing process.I said it before, Edwin is a really good guy.

Consider  listening to his podcast, Text Talk, it's available at Apple podcasts

A few of Edwin's books include (affiliate links):



Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/balancingthechristianlife)

Transcript
Kenny Embry:

In this episode of balancing the Christian life, we talked to preacher and podcaster Edwin Crozier about the use of digital tools. Welcome to balancing the Christian life. I'm Dr. Kenny Embry. We'll talk about how to be better Christians and better people in the digital age. Let's go. Thanks for joining me. Today is the second part of my discussion with Edwin Crozier. In the first part, we talked about his background. If you missed that episode, please go back and listen. But today he talks specifically about his writing process and how he sees the future of digital tools. We'll pick up where he talks about his writing process, you have written several books, what is your secret to writing so much? And quite frankly, writing so well?

Edwin Crozier:

Well, thank you for that. I don't know that I can give you the writing so much. I guess I'm just going to give the answer that so many writing coaches give if you want to write much you got to write every day, you've got to write consistently, if you always plan to write you never write, right, it's kind of doing this podcast, you had to set a time you had to set a goal. And then you just had to do it and you've got to do the work. And certainly the way to improve your craft of writing is to write often. And then to let people that you're scared to let read your stuff, read your stuff, and then listen to them. When they tell you the things you didn't want to hear about it. Everybody in their brother wants to write a book, about 25% of them have kind of tried. And once they find out that you're writing something, what they want you to do is read it. What they really want you to do is tell them what you really think right? And what they need to hear. What they want you to do is validate everything that you thought in your head was exactly wonderful. And you wrote it just wonderfully, it is tough to hear from the people who are going to say, Oh, you should have said that differently, or you're wrong about that. So I guess as far as improving your craft is listen to people when they try to help you probably one of the things that helped me the most. And I need to go back and read it again, I read a book years ago called write tight, it just helped with that idea of being concise. One of the other things for writing so much is establishing deadlines that are accountable to other people. Almost every book I've written was written because I had set up some work with a congregation that it had to be written by a certain time. And so that's also been helpful. I think the other thing is, at least for me, I you know, look, if somebody who's listening who's writing science fiction, more power to you, that's wonderful. But for me, what I'm writing most of the time is stuff about spirituality and growing with God. And so for that the content is only going to be good if it's actually based on the word.

Kenny Embry:

There's a lot we could talk about here. I mean, we could talk about imposter syndrome. But one of the things that I think you understand probably better than most is how many great first drafts have you had?

Edwin Crozier:

Yeah, zero,

Kenny Embry:

right? There's a friend of mine who's she wants to write a book. And one of the things that I've told her is, dump it all out. Just get it all out there. Books make great in a revision process.

Edwin Crozier:

Yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And and even my books would have would be so much better if I had deeper and better revising and editing process and support. It's, yeah.

Kenny Embry:

How did your podcast get started,

Edwin Crozier:

our podcast got started probably from a very different place than most podcasts get started. I've been working with the Christians on Livingston for six years now, Andrew has been here for four years. So two and a half years ago, we started asking questions about podcasts, just just Andrew and me talking about it. We'd come up with an idea and be like, Nah, that's that's too much work, it's not going to give the dividends that we want. We'd have an idea. And then we just kind of throw it aside and we'd have an idea, and then we throw it aside. And what really stuck for us was actually shifting our goal. Because I believe that for many people, the goal of the podcast is to get as many people listening as possible. And because for so many podcasts, what they're hoping to do is monetize it. We have no goal to monetize it, we have absolutely no goal to monetize our podcast, it is a work of the congregation that supports us in our work. So that was just right off the bat. We weren't worried about that. But even then, you know, I have my kind of personal angst that I want to be the you know, the most listened to podcast out there. And I'm having to put that aside because that's not our goal. Our goal, actually our podcast got started because we had an idea that said, we want to provide something that will put us on the phones of our guests. We want those folks who come to visit and worship with us for the first time for the second time for the third time. We want to offer something that will reside on the one thing that everybody has with them most their phone. So that's where the idea of the podcast came from. We had a couple of years. ideas about how to get there. And the one that that settled best for us was to do something that went along with what we're doing as a congregation in our Bible reading program to provide a short, daily devotion that just says, here's the kind of teaching we do at this congregation. Here's what's really important to us at this congregation. Why don't you put this on your phone? Listen to us for a while. And we hope that when you do, it'll cause you to say this Sunday, I want to go back. And that's really how we got started. And so that's changed how I listened to and watch the how many downloads and how many, how you know, what kind of reaction we get. Because I just keep telling myself, it's not about how many people are listening, it's about, can we pass this on? Can we provide something that's really going to benefit? Someone who visited our assemblies this Sunday.

Kenny Embry:

So you started out as something to support your congregation, which makes complete sense to me, I've listened to a few episodes, describe your format and why you decided to go with that format.

Edwin Crozier:

Our format is a conversation, you mentioned that earlier, basically, you can't possibly accomplish what our true goal is, because you've turned microphones on, you've hit a button and said, start recording, you've got an intro and you've got an outro. But my ultimate goal, if it were just the perfect epitome of what I want it to be, I want it to sound like 12 to 15 minutes of a fly on the wall in the room with Edwin and Andrew talking about the Bible. So our format is to try to accomplish that. Well. I mean, it is a podcast we do have microphones on so we don't ever pull that off. 100%. But basically what we do, we have our little intro that plays and then we kick off by saying hello, hey, Andrew had one. What are we gonna talk about today? Here's the song we're and we're in the Psalms right now, in this season, we were in Acts last season. This is what we're going to talk about today. Let's talk about it. So we read the song. And then we just start talking about that. I do a daily devotional blog, that goes along with our congregations Bible reading plan that was started just to support the congregation and help our brothers and sisters get in the word more and just get a little something that gives him a shot in the arm every day. And normally, the conversation starts there, wherever that blog post was, our conversation is going to start there doesn't always stay there. Sometimes it moves on to other things. I would like it to just be a fly on the wall. Because Andrew and I talk about the Bible all the time. And we learn from each other, and we challenge each other and we provoke each other. We don't always agree with each other, though, for the most part. We've kept that off of the podcast, but maybe sometimes we should bring that into I don't know, it's the Bible, and it should be talked about and we do talk about it. And now you get to listen in on some of it.

Kenny Embry:

I was teaching First Corinthians A while ago, and we were talking about the schism between Paul and Barnabas about john mark. The question that I brought up in class was who's right and who's wrong? And, and the fact of the matter is you can you can argue, well, Barnabas was right. I mean, if I was a fly on the wall in that conversation, I could imagine Barnabas saying something along the lines of john mark is pretty young, he made a mistake. Give him the opportunity to fix his mistake. And I can absolutely hear Paul saying something along the lines of, well, you know what, this is a really important mission. We can't afford to stick with people who make a lot of mistakes. Who's right in that situation? I would argue they're both right. I think the ability to civilly disagree, has been lost in canceled culture. And I worry about that, especially among Christians, that there are some things it's perfectly reasonable to disagree about 100% agree with you.

Edwin Crozier:

Wait a minute. Hold on. I do 100% agree with this particular thing. You will get no argument from me on this.

Kenny Embry:

Well, if you all start disagreeing, I would love it. What are some of the benefits that you found a podcast?

Edwin Crozier:

The number one benefit is we started our podcast for a particular reason. That's what you asked about a minute ago, what what got us started. And we actually started our podcast in February. So we had a goal. And we had a desire, which which is still the mainstay of our goal. But we were three weeks into the podcast and all of a sudden, our number one goal for having a podcast no longer existed, or at least it was interrupted. We weren't getting guests. We weren't. We weren't even meeting at our building. But we in our minds knew this is just a season we are going to get past this. There will be a time we'll be back together. And let's just keep this going. We're not going to stop. We're just going to keep going. And the number one benefit. That's the number one feedback we started getting as we were calling members of the congregation was this is really helping us feel connected. For me. The big benefit that we have had from our podcasting is within our own congregation, the folks who have listened. It has maintained that sense of unity and connection. We are reading the same scriptures because it's our plan as a congregation to read this together. We are hearing the same conversations. We're not waiting a week between doing that we're hearing it every day. That, to me is the biggest benefit that we've had.

Kenny Embry:

These are the tools that I call the tools of digital discipleship, absolutely proponent of this, but there are dangers to these kind of things, what are some of those dangers in your mind,

Edwin Crozier:

and I gave you the benefit for our podcast in specific, but I think to understand what I see is the dangers of just the general tools of digital discipleship, I want to go ahead and maybe broaden out the benefits of the tools generally, because that's going to make the dangerous stand out. In stark contrast, it's the benefit of any tool, it makes a particular aspect of your job easier. It's made connection easier and cheaper. We don't have to build a big building, and always How's that, as the only place to have the connection, we can have an ongoing connection, I can connect with someone while they're driving in their car on their way to work. They don't have to show up at this building at my office for me to connect with them, or I don't have to show up at their building at their office. And it's made that connection easier and cheaper. The other thing that it's done is it's multiplied content. Man, there is just so much content out there. If somebody wants to know about some biblical question, we can go to a source we trust. If there's evangelists or elders that we trust, or authors that we trust or disciples that we trust, we probably can find something from them out there about it, it gets organized, it's searchable. It just makes all that easier. And so that those are the things that I think are the benefits, the danger of these tools, is I end up worshiping the tools instead of just using the tools. Yeah, I think the answer to everything is this new and wonderful tool, rather than the old and wonderful Savior. And there's this hope shifting that can take place. That I think is the big danger. But it's not just the danger for the tools of digital discipleship. It's the danger for every tool we've ever used. It's the same danger we have with church buildings, it's the same danger we have with the assembly schedule, the goal is not just to use the tool, it is easier to get good content. But that also makes it easier to get bad content. Not as I'm not even just talking about you know, there's there's all kinds of salacious sin out there. And that's terrible. But it's also easier just to get error. That's one of the dangers, but you take the good with the bad. There's church buildings all over the place where errors taught, and they still look like church buildings. And people just as easily find those instead of buildings where people meet and teach straight up pure truth.

Kenny Embry:

I think one of the things that you're kind of hitting on here, which is that we feel like we went to the church building this past Sunday, so apparently, I'm a Christian check. I think we have gotten so upset that the building is locked, that we have kind of equated the building being locked and closed to and now we're not Christians anymore. And I don't think anybody would say it exactly that way. I think what what's happened is, we have had to stop doing something we've done for a long time. This just doesn't feel right anymore.

Edwin Crozier:

I do believe God has a way he wants to be worshipped. And I do believe there are limits and boundaries. I don't get to just do anything that I want. But at the same time, let me give this illustration. Kenny, we both put our pants on one leg at a time. Yes, sir. Every morning, I always put the same leg in first. And so here's my recommendation to people, when you go to put those pants on and you start to put that first leg in, stop and put the other one in and recognize how wrong that feels. It feels wrong. There's not a correct leg to put in your pants first. But man when I'm not doing it the way I've always done it, it feels like I'm doing something incorrectly. Just because I feel like I'm doing something incorrectly does not mean that I am. And it's really provided a wonderful opportunity for us to reassess. What's our mission? What's our method? What's the difference? And are there some different methods that are scriptural? that get us to the mission better when you look at people who just get excited about shiny new toys, and I'm one of those they tend to be enthusiasts for. And they start making excuses for these things.

Kenny Embry:

I think good tools, create relationships and sustain relationships. And I think bad tools become the things that you have a relationship with.

Edwin Crozier:

Hmm.

Kenny Embry:

One of the good criticisms with these tools is it often prevents you from thinking very deeply. When information is always there, and you can find it with a Google search. It divorces it of context. And it also divorces it of the method by which they came to the conclusion.

Edwin Crozier:

What I really loved about what you just said there was that issue of a tool helps me have a relationship with the person or someone I'm really supposed to have relationship and it becomes a problem when my relationship is with the tool. When a hammer is used to build houses, it is wonderful when a hammer is used just because I love to use hammers, that's that's going to be a problem. You know, one of the problems that we've always had, though, whenever I just ask somebody a question, and they just give me the answer, I don't grow as much as when I've had to dig it out myself. I mean, the more time I spend on anything, the more it becomes my own right. And the less time the more it's just regurgitating what is somebody else's.

Kenny Embry:

One of the things that's happened to just in my 10 years of teaching, when I started out a 30 page article was a long article. And a 10 page article was a short article. Now, a 10 page article is amazingly long to my students. But a two to three page article might be reasonable. And what I asked my students if they've read the answer that I get overwhelmingly, as well, I skimmed.

Edwin Crozier:

And I understand what skimming means, because I do it too. They didn't read it. They looked at the headings. When I started blogging 1516 years ago, when I lived in Tennessee, we actually got a blogging coach, because this was we were going to be blogging for the congregation, we wanted to do the absolute excellent, most excellent job we could to get as many people reading as possible. And he he talked to me about, okay, you need to have a schedule, and you need to offer the meals, you need to offer him snacks, and you need to think about are they going to be the big posts or they're going to be the small posts. And then when you when you write the post, you got to make sure that you come up with good headings that divide the sections, because what people are going to do is they're going to read your title, and they decide if your blog post title is any good, they'll skim it, what they'll skim is the headings. And if your headings are really good, they might read a section. That is what it's done. But the reason is, is because that's the medium. The medium has dictated that but one of the things that most concerns me about just digital discipleship is this concept that the medium is the message. So we might think that the medium is the computer or the medium is the internet. And I know there's some truth to that. But when you consider social media, which is really some of the best aspects of digital discipleship, as it's where we, where we house these things, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, all of these things, if somebody wants to get my stuff on Facebook, where do they have to go? They have to go to my page. And so the medium is actually my page. I mean, before Facebook, it was my space. It's my space, you have to go to my space, you have to go to my page, go to my thread, you have to go to my tweet, you have to wait a minute, what's the medium? I am? And if the medium is the message? For me, one of the real dangers of digital discipleship is that the medium does it just changes the message? What actually becomes the message? Well, I do. I do. This is my page. This is my blog. This is not just digital discipleship, because, you know, one of the books I read years ago, just on public speaking was You are the message. And that was just about presentation. As we've had to basically migrate to online tools, there is a background debate. Are we really worshiping together on YouTube? Or is this a substitute for worshiping, and the only way that we'll actually be able to worship is when we get back into the same room with one another, the first Sunday that we as a congregation decided not to meet and we put together our video package. The lesson that I presented for that was, are we forsaking the assembly. And I do believe that we need to make a distinction between assembling and worshiping. I can worship individually, I cannot assemble with the church individually. So what I tried to stress when I presented that lesson, it was the very first Sunday and so many churches were deciding not to meet. And I wanted to hit this head on. I do think a lot of people have made some mistakes where they've tried to act like, well doing this through YouTube doing this through Facebook, doing this through zoom is just the same as assembling. And what I tried to stress is absolutely not it is not the same as assembly, it's not any more the same as assembling. As before all these tools were here and we would take the service and take it to the nursing home for someone to listen on the tape. They weren't assembling with the church, but they were still hearing everything that the church did when it did assemble. But so then that left the question, well, are we forsaking the assembly then? We all recognize that on the individual level. Just because I don't assemble with the saints doesn't mean I forsook the assembly. If I'm sick, I'm not forsaking this I'm missing it. But I'm not forsaking it.

Kenny Embry:

There's some people who say that what happened with Coronavirus isn't an interruption it's more disruption. What do you think after this is going to stick

Edwin Crozier:

online digital discipleship is here to stay. And there's a lot of fears that I hear from preachers from elders from Christians about what's going to happen when all this is done, we're still kind of up in the air, some people who are high risk are still staying at home, and we have all these fears, are they going to show up at the, you know, the church buildings for our assemblies, when all this is done? And we've got all those kinds of things? And I mean, the reality is, like it or not, it's here to stay. And whether it's Facebook, or Instagram, or Snapchat, or, or what are these other things parlor in a way that are coming up and these various things, I mean, whichever platforms are gonna dominate in the years to come. The fact is, online, digital discipleship is here to stay. Teaching people through online means being able to have online classes, those things are just here, and we need to use them. Because the reality is, somebody's using them. Look, Facebook is out there. And there's a lot of dangers on Facebook. But if I leave Facebook, and if all the Christians decide to leave Facebook, well, then there's no picture of Jesus on Facebook at all. You know, when we're actually representing Jesus, if we leave because Facebook, we've decided as bad, then it's no longer there. I think the other thing that is here to stay is the recognition of people who are realizing that we've had the tail wagging the dog, and far too many cases. And what I mean by that is the idea that my job as the individual disciple is to make sure that a congregation keeps running. That's not the way it works. The purpose for the congregation is to help me as the individual Christian Connect, serve, commit, grow. It's not my purpose is to make sure the congregation gets to keep existing and running its programs. And one of the things that's that's gonna cause I hope, is for churches to really assess what are we doing? How are we growing our disciples? How are we discipling? People? How are we making them better disciples in their homes, in their families, on their jobs, I think I have a little bit different take on this big fear that so many have of folks don't come back. And I will tell you, the folks who don't come back, it's because for them all the assembly is, is a place for downloading content. And I figured out an easier way to download content, what we are going to be challenged to do is to make our assemblies about more than downloading content, to make our Bible classes about more than downloading content, it is going to have to be about the communal worship, I'm not sure all the ways that we're going to realize that and grow that. But I do think that the tail is not gonna be able to wag the dog, we're gonna have to be about growing the individuals and their relationship, rather than just begging the individuals to come and grow our church.

Kenny Embry:

I think the pandemic exposes our relationship with God, to a larger extent the relationship that we have, with the individuals in the church, coming to a building to hear another class about Genesis or something like that. The information is freely available, but the care isn't when the assembly is nothing more. But

Edwin Crozier:

here's how you download content, then why go. But when I'm recognizing the community that's going on here, when I'm understanding that there's something about participating in the supper in a group of Brethren, rather than in my living room by myself,

Kenny Embry:

it would be a true crime, to have everybody in the church basically trained on digital tools, and then say, yeah, we're going to stop using those now, we realized that you learned a lot with those tools. But please forget that skill set. Now. We need you to stop using that and come back to this thing, where we recognize there were benefits, but we're going to get rid of those benefits. Now. If Christians don't use the things that we're able to use now. I think we are just as bad stewards of what God has given

Edwin Crozier:

us through this crisis. Let me give you a parallel that maybe we'll bring this home. We don't think about it with digital discipleship, but let's think about it with book discipleship. What if I were to say to you, there are some dangers in everyone having their own copy of the Bible. Now that everybody has their own copy of the Bible, what we need to do is throw all of those away and only keep the copy of the Bible that is preserved at the churches meeting place. That would be utterly ridiculous. Everybody having their own copy of the Bible presents the exact same danger that we're having with digital discipleship. In First Timothy chapter four and verse 13. Paul told Timothy to give attention to reading and some of the more modern translations they have changed that to say give it to into public reading. Because what we've come to recognize is that Paul was not telling Timothy, go home and read your Bible, he was telling Timothy, make sure that when the church gets together, you read Scripture, and it needs to be read publicly, and it needs to be read communally. And it needs to be read together. And one of the reasons for that is because that was the only place there was a copy. If they were going to hear the scriptures at all, they had to come together where the scriptures were kept and read them. And what that did was produced a strong community, as they heard it, as the sense was given to it by prophets, by teachers, by those who had sat at the feet of the Apostles, and could could expound on what was said, by those who just studied it and grown themselves. And then just just hearing it again and again and again, and being there in the community. Well, then we start having our own copies of the Bible. And what I can do is I can go study it on my own, and I mean, my whole Christian life, and especially as a preacher, I've had people say, yeah, I'm not coming to Bible classes anymore, because I get more out of it on my own. And they can do that. Now. It's a lot easier for them to do that, because they have their own Bible. I mean, back when nobody had Bibles, the only way they could get it was to go to church. So the reality is, our printed Bibles have caused the exact same danger that digital discipleship is causing, not a single one of us would say, Oh, we need to get rid of everybody's Bibles. Yeah, no, we just tell people, let's not use lose the community.

Kenny Embry:

I think there's also something I just started thinking about this where you're saying that don't confuse having a Bible with having a relationship with God. Yep. That's not the same thing.

Edwin Crozier:

Brother when I was in college, I worked with a congregation in Florence, Alabama, and I got to work with a couple of, of preachers who were older than me, Harold Comber, and David Tom Lee, and they were working with me trying to help me learn about preaching and getting the opportunities to preach while I was in college. And when I was leaving there, I got to have coffee with David Tom Lee. And he asked me questions that I mean, you know, that's tough, man. 25 years ago, how long ago is that? 25 years ago, and I still remember this, this coffee. And he asked me two questions. He asked me, he said, Edwin, you're about to leave, you're gonna go start working with a congregation full time. You've been working with us for a year and a half now. Do you feel like you're a better preacher? Oh, yeah. Yeah, absolutely. David, I am absolutely a better preacher. I know more. I'm better at delivering it. You guys. You know, you and Harold have just taught me so much. And these experiences have been so wonderful. Okay. All right. Now. Now, here's my second question. Edwin. Are you a better Christian? And Edwin, that's not the same as the last question. And it hit me when he said that, because when he because when he said, Are you a better Christian, my initial thought before he followed it up with was, well, I just told you, I'm better. And it was a realization that, yeah, that owning the Bible, knowing the Bible that's going to be a part of being a better Christian. But just having that is not being a better disciple is not growing.

Kenny Embry:

I in my podcast, be good and do good. What is good?

Edwin Crozier:

You know, the Lord has told you, oh, man, what is good to do justice to love kindness and walk humbly with your God. I can't answer better than that.

Kenny Embry:

Alright, Edwin, thank you so much for doing this. If somebody wanted to get in touch with you, how would they do

Edwin Crozier:

that? My email is Edwin at God's way. works.com. Or you can just go to Christians meet here.org. And if you send an email through that website, that's the website for the congregation. I work with Christians meet here.org they can send a response through there. I would love to ask people to search text talk on your podcast listening device, and subscribe, listen, rate review. And just like you've done with Kenny's podcast here, and then you can you can contact us through that and be a part of the ongoing Bible conversation.

Kenny Embry:

Well, thanks a lot for doing this. Man. This has been a lot of fun.

Edwin Crozier:

I've enjoyed it. Thank you for letting me be a part of it, Kenny. It really means a lot to me really does.

Kenny Embry:

That was an amazing conversation for me. As I said last time, Edwin was a revelation. He's doing some really cool things. I love how they originally thought of his podcast as a way to keep connected to their guests. But then it became a connector for the members of the church. That's a valuable insight, and had never thought about how digital discipleship was basically the same thing as having your personal copy of the Bible. He's truly a thoughtful guy. Make sure you go out and listen to text talk, his podcasts, they're still in the Psalms, and they're doing some excellent work there. I hope you have a great week. So this week, let's be good and do good.