Oct. 16, 2020

Leadership and digital discipleship

Leadership and digital discipleship

This week is a conversation with my close friend Mark McCrary. He's a leader at Douglass Hills church of Christ and one of the decision makers there which help implement the tools of digital discipleship. Pay particular attention to how they use Facebook as an integral part of how they spread Christianity.

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Transcript
Kenny Embry:

In this episode of balancing the Christian life, we talked to mark McCreary about digital discipleship from leadership's point of view. 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. This week, we're talking to a close friend of mine, Mark mccrary. Mark is a guy I've met 20 or 25 years ago, and from the moment we met, we've been talking about something. He loves pirates, science fiction, and has a deep and abiding love for his family and God. He and his wife Teresa live in Louisville, and he preaches and helps lead Douglas hills church, which I've talked about before. Mark also understands digital discipleship, better than most. If you've looked at any of the stuff they make at Douglas hills, chances are, you've already met Mark, he has spent 21 years as a minister there. He is both smart and kind. He and I sometimes don't see eye to eye on ideas. But I've never walked away from a conversation where I didn't learn something quite frankly, every time I talked to mark, I get better. He is truly a close and cherished friend. And I always enjoy my time with him. We'll be talking about digital discipleship from a leadership perspective, because that's where mark is, he was one of the people who helped make some important decisions to use the tools of digital discipleship. Specifically, they've used Facebook in an interesting and important way. Our conversation was about an hour in 10 minutes. And I was able to edit it down to about 43. Yes, it's a little longer. But the conversation actually started about half an hour before we started recording, and finished and other half hour after I stopped. But really, Mark and I have been talking for about 20 years. And I'm thrilled to be able to share some of that conversation with you. as well. This week is a pleasure for me, Mark mccrary is a guy that I've known for a long time. And he's been a close friend. He's one of those guys that really didn't have an option not to be on the podcast. He's somebody who I basically just said, you're going to be on. And he's such a good friend, Betty is on. Mark is somebody who I've been very close to. He performed my wedding. And he's somebody whose opinion I greatly value. So Mark, welcome to show man.

Mark McCrary:

Hey, thanks a lot, Kenny.

Kenny Embry:

Okay, tell me a little bit about your background. How did you get started into Christianity?

Mark McCrary:

Well, I grew up in a family, that my parents were Christians, we went to worship services all the time, God was always a part of my life. Growing up as a child, it was never anything that I don't have to say this was an optional, but it wasn't forced. At the same time. It was just life. It was the way I was brought up, to take God seriously and to take his word seriously. And I think that's probably what eventually led me into preaching was just it wasn't this thing that I said, Hey, this is gonna be like a radical shift. It was just an extension of my desire to serve the Lord, which sprang in a lot of ways from the influence of my parents.

Kenny Embry:

How long have you been preaching now?

Mark McCrary:

Oh, wow, about 25 years is crazy saying that. I've been at Douglas hills, the digital sales Church of Christ for 21 years now, in that time preaching, you've basically seen a lot of things happen, what are some of the things that have changed in the last 25 years, a lot of things have changed. For the good and for the better. Obviously, the internet has changed the world. And it has changed what churches can do now changed what they should be doing a lot of ways their problems have come along with it problems that have been created, because of pornography, online, pornography, things like that people hooking up with people that they used to know and date that they shouldn't be hooking up with any longer. That's come along. But there's still this incredible positive. They are technology itself, PowerPoint, streaming worship services, online content, as far as blogs, articles, websites that tell people about a church that allow people to look into a church before they visit, either by looking at the worship services, watching the worship services and saying how the worship services are conducted websites that have information about the leadership of the church so that people can go and read a little bit and have an idea of what that church is like, before they step into the building. Yeah, I've heard somebody say that they they think of the website now as the front door. Yeah. Before you step foot in the door. What you're going to do is look up the website and see what you can expect. Yeah, well, it should be true. A lot of churches don't do that though. Sometimes I'll look at some churches. Whether sights. And it's quite obvious that that's not a high priority for the church. They have very little information online about who they are, who the people are, they have information about the Bible, which is wonderful. I'm not knocking that. But ultimately what people want to know before they step in. Well, who are they? I think people want to see a picture of the preacher picture of leadership, they want to have a short description of these people, so that they can feel like they know something about these people before they go in. But a lot of churches just have these bare bones sparse websites that don't convey information that engages people.

Kenny Embry:

Yeah. And I think that's something that they come by naturally, it's not like, they need to think about this. I think one of the things that's happened to a lot of churches is, what they've done for the last 50 years has worked. It's worked really well, yeah, they talk to their friends, they talk to their neighbors, and the idea that they would look on a website, what's a website, but you know, within the last 15 years, now, that's what people are doing, and the people who are in leadership in these churches. remember a time when that was not important at all?

Mark McCrary:

I think you're exactly right. It's real easy for people to stick with what is tried and true. Rather than recognizing that something new is coming along, that can be very helpful. Another part of that, I think, is not only embracing the technology, but the financial responsibilities that go along with that, you can have somebody who throws together a bare bones website. But in order to make a nice website, you've got to be convinced that this is a good way for us to use the Lord's funds. And a lot of churches are not really willing to go down that route. They don't see the value yet.

Kenny Embry:

unpack that a little bit. Because I think you're going I think you're on the right track there. I think one of the things that we know is, we know how much the mortgage costs, we know how much the light bill is going to be. And we know how much we're going to prepare preacher this this month. But other than that, I don't understand what this internet thing is. I don't know how much it should cost. I don't know how much time it should take. And quite honestly, when you're going to ask me to spend a lot of time and a lot of money. I'm going to start asking you some hard questions.

Mark McCrary:

Well, you know, when a church supports financially support Samantha preach, they get his reports in, they know what he's doing. They see the people he is working to convert the church that he's trying to strengthen. Then suddenly you throw in this internet thing you throw on this website page in, well, what are we getting out of this? We want to spend this amount of money? Does it convert people are people baptized? Do we bring people to the Lord and a website is not designed to do those things. A website, in my mind is designed to convey information, to maybe introduce people to a church who live nearby to take information to people that can be helpful to them. But it doesn't save anyone. And so that's where I think our struggle is when someone says we need $1,000 $2,000, whatever, to start this website. A lot of people in church leadership ship, they balk at that. And then not only is there the cost of doing a good website that's easily navigated, but also there are things like live streaming, well, how much money do we have to pay for a camera? And what's the benefit of that? And then there are fears? Well, if we do this, Will people start coming to worship assemblies? So there are all these things that that make leadership, afraid of something like this, rather than being willing to embrace all the possibilities that go along with it?

Kenny Embry:

You guys already made these decisions? What got you over the hump of saying, yes, this is a direction we're gonna go in.

Mark McCrary:

Of course, you talked to Wyatt Taylor a couple of weeks ago, and and why it really was the catalyst and several other of our millennials were the catalyst and saying, look, this is the direction things are going in. I mean, honestly, Kenny, a lot of this stuff that's involved in this is beyond my paygrade. But I've relied upon people like Wyatt to come in and say, Look, these are the directions that we need to be moving in, we need to have a presence and we need to have a good online presence. We need to have a logo, you know, there are people that balk at a logo, and I get it, you know, there's a part of me that's thinking, that's not what the gospel is all about. But we're talking about all these tertiary things, this point, when it comes to churches and online presence. That is not what the gospel is about. Granted, I know. But it's like padding on pews. You know, people can can sit without pads, but we do a little something to make the exception It's easier for people to introduce people to the church, what we believe who we are. So people have to be sold on this. And I'm thankful for people who have the background, and they have the interest to say, look, here's something relatively new that's on the horizon. And we need to figure this out. And I'm thankful to someone who comes in with a new idea. And those were those leaders who are willing to say, I don't get this, but you do. And you believe this is important. let's develop this.

Kenny Embry:

One of my arguments is that Christianity ends up being a relationship, that it's the relationship that you have ultimately with God. And I think one of the things that happens with well, any relationship, Look, my first date, I don't know why. But my wife remembers what I was wearing. She remembers a lot of details about that night that I don't remember, she remembers a lot of things that to her were important. And the reason they were important to her was because they told her something about me. Yeah, we're trying to make a lot of judgments based on nonverbal cues that we don't realize are saying a lot about us. That's the logo conversation. Yeah. Do you care enough to make it something that I would be interested in? Yeah. Because not only is Christianity relationship, my going to your church is also relationship.

Mark McCrary:

Oh, yeah. Most churches that have a building, they keep the lawn up. They trim the shrubs. Yeah, they paint the outside. They try to keep the building clean. Those things aren't essential to Christianity. But they do send a message to people. When a church does not keep their building up. A visitor walks into a building, and it's thinks that sends a message to people. And I think the same thing is true when it comes to websites, and digital discipleship, social media, when we engage in these things and try to do them well, we are sending a message to people who are looking at us online that just as we take this seriously, so we take the gospel seriously. And if we don't do those things, especially to a younger generation, that is apt at using these tools, when they don't see these things online. Whether you like it or not, it sends a message to them. It does

Kenny Embry:

take a little bit more time, it does take a little bit more money. But if we were talking about anything other than digital tools, we'd already know that argument. Oh, yeah. But when it becomes something that's online, now, it's something that we're going to scrutinize, again,

Mark McCrary:

I think one of the reasons why is online moves us away, at least in the minds of some people from the building. And, unfortunately, so much of how we have judged Christianity and the effectiveness of Christianity revolves around a building. It's ultimately not a fair, or a good metric. But it has been that metric. I said earlier, there are so many people who are afraid, well, if people see sermons online, in the comfort of their house, they'll they won't come to the building anymore. And look, you know, we can talk about it just a little while. The building and our gathering with one another will never be replaced by anything we do online. But that doesn't mean that we don't embrace what online activity and what social media can do to help churches. It shouldn't mean that I will think

Kenny Embry:

but you know, as well as I do, these things are abused. You said it yourself. There's a lot of pornography on the internet. There are a lot of people who are wasting their lives. They're getting depressed. They're looking at people that are living, let's face it, very fake lives. Why should the church be involved in anything like that?

Mark McCrary:

Because we're in the world. You know, the apostle Paul and First Corinthians five when he's talking about sexual immorality is this I told you not to associate with sexually immoral people. But I didn't mean people in the world. If that was the case, you'd have to leave the world. In every aspect of our life. We can engage in something and associate it with something that can't be corrupted. a preacher can be corrupted. Elders can be corrupted, we don't stop associating with them. Because of that reality.

Kenny Embry:

We have now been basically six months in the Coronavirus epidemic, we now have a lot more exposure to a lot of digital tools. Specifically, I think a lot of people know what zoom is nobody knew what it was before the Coronavirus. And now we all have a relationship with zoom. Love it or hate it. And I think the other thing that happens with us is we all understand many parts of YouTube that we never understood before. Some of us are even figuring out some parts of Facebook. And many of us especially the younger generations have fled these platforms because they think They are evil, they think they are irrelevant. How do we redeem these platforms? Are they redeemable?

Mark McCrary:

That's a good question. Ultimately, they're redeemable by how we use them. If churches use these platforms appropriately, if you present the gospel, present ways of teaching, you disciple people in good ways, and an online presence becomes a nice additional tool, then people will benefit for that. And if people see that that's something that they need, and it's on Facebook, then they'll do it. You know, one of the things when the pandemic started, and we recognize that, at least for a while our assemblies were going to have to be done online, we encourage people set up a Facebook account of Facebook is, by far, as far as the viewing of our sermons or assemblies, we get more people who watch through Facebook, well, we had to encourage our members, you need to set up a Facebook account, you don't have to do anything with it. If you don't want to have any friends on Facebook, you don't have to do that. But this is going to be one of the primary way that we're going to be associating with one another. And if you want to be engaged, that's where you need to go. And so there were a lot of our members who set up accounts, because that's where they needed to go. We also at the same time, through showing our assemblies online, we lose that personal interaction, we also set up a private members only Facebook page. And again, if people wanted to get private information and more detailed personal information of what's going on to the church, it was going to be through Facebook, creating a good reason for people to go there will bring people I think to a platform, if it's used Well,

Kenny Embry:

you're somebody who is charged with making sure that people in your congregation continue to grow. Are they growing?

Mark McCrary:

Those are hard questions, Kenny. I think by the time we move past this pandemic, churches, local churches are going to look different. They're not going to be composed to the same people. They're going to be people who liked a decision one church made, and they didn't like the decision their church made, and they're going to shift. And sometimes it is because of choices that were made that revolved around digital discipleship and social media. But no, I do think churches will be different our people growing, I think it was john MacArthur who said, Show me your checkbook, and I'll show you your heart. I think in a lot of ways, this pandemic is going to show where a lot of people's hearts are. Some people have freaked out because people aren't going to a building. And they're saying, Oh, no, we're gonna have a lot of people who aren't going to come back to the building, and they're going to fall away because of this. That may be true at some, I think probably what this is going to do is reveal where some people were, we very likely had on a regular basis, people coming to a building sitting in a building, but their heart wasn't there. And so you know, next year, whenever we come out of this, and people feel safe going out again, maybe because there's a vaccine, I wouldn't be surprised, Kenny, if we have some people who say, you know what, it's been a year since I stepped into a church building, I really didn't want to go before. And I'm just not going to go now. It is sad. But the reality is they weren't engaged when they were coming into a building either. So I think there will be a lot of things that will change. Once we get on the other side of the pandemic. The people who want to grow, this is just the way life is if someone wants to grow, they will grow. If someone wants to continue to grow as a child of God, they will engage themselves in their own private Bible study, they will try to engage themselves in service to other people, they will take advantage of the means by which they can associate with their fellow brethren. Whether it's through an online Bible study, whether it's through zoom, whether it's through churches gathering, to the degree that they can gather safely with one another. So ultimately, the people who want to grow will grow, and the people who don't want to grow. I have a lot of concerns about them.

Kenny Embry:

I do too. I think the people that were not very committed are gone. I think one of the things that you said was basically a paraphrase of this doesn't make character This reveals character, and I think you're right. I think that that's that's the right assessment here. But I also think people who are interested or curious about what we do, are going to look at us very hard. What care are we're showing now and how transparent are we in how we share that care?

Mark McCrary:

Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, what do we say I've heard this illustration us. Someone says, what I want my neighbors to see me leaving my house on Sunday morning, you know, used to be preps, for many, it's filius, I want to see I want them to see me dressed up, going to worship services, so that they can see that this is something important to me. I think there's some truth to that. But and so you convey that into this area, I think the same thing is true. And then a lot of ways too. It's like First Corinthians 14, Paul is talking about the church and how the church helps itself grow. But he also speaks about the unbeliever who's in their midst. Now, the purpose of our assembly is not for unbelievers, right. But there are unbelievers who were there. And so Paul's aware of them. And I think the same thing is true in this, we're not broadcasting our services, through Facebook or YouTube. For unbelievers, our services are far our family of believers. That being said, we are mindful that it can be beneficial to unbelievers. And so you take advantage of this medium to do so.

Kenny Embry:

You know, one of the things that I think and this is a point that Jordan Peterson made, and I completely agree with it, books are hard to read. The only reason they became really popular, but was because they were cheap to mass produce. We have now gotten into an era where it is just as easy, if not easier to mass produce and distribute audio and video. I'm a cheerleader for podcasting. I think podcasting is amazing, precisely because it fosters a relationship with an individual.

Mark McCrary:

But there is an intimacy that is formed because of this technology. But Christianity ultimately is about relationships. And these are just tools that help foster that

Kenny Embry:

I worked in television for a few years. And one of the things that I understood both as working in television, but also being an academic, we call it the anchorman effect. You take your your on air talent, you take him out to the State Fair, you put him in a booth, and you hear the same thing over and over and over again. Well, john, I feel like I know you I see every night, am I in my living room? And the thing about it is is they don't know, john, because they're having dinner with him. But they do know, john Yeah, yeah. And the thing about it is, and I'm not sure if you've ever heard of Charlie, tremendous Jones, he said, basically, five years from now, you will be the same person that you are today except for the people that you meet, and the books that you read. And his argument back then was, if you can't surround yourself physically with the people that are going to help you grow, then substitute that with the books. And at this point, I would say and substitute that with the people that are preaching the kind of sermons that make a difference to you. And listen to the things that make a difference to you. Oh, yeah,

Mark McCrary:

yeah, without question. Yeah, that's the way that we grow ultimately, by engaging in people who can help us to learn something that we did not know before. There's not a one size fits all approach to growing as a child of God studying the Word of God, evangelism. But you do need to figure out from someone who you can connect with, you know, Paul, in First Corinthians 10, talked about this problem, the core at five a Paul, I'm of SafeAssign of Christ. Yeah, there's nothing wrong with as I said earlier, with people identifying and connecting more closely with other people. Of course, the problem of Corinth is they were so associated with those people they were, they were dividing from other people. So we have to put that aside. Yeah. But there's going to be someone who's going to say something in such a way that resonates with me. It may not resonate with someone else, they're going to have an approach to Bible study. That may not mean anything to you. We had a guy very coachable came several years ago. And he really, he gave us some instruction on inductive Bible study. Just getting a sheet of paper with the text on it, printing it out, and just going through it and paying attention to it. And I had to realize that that moment, I'm not sure how much I had really studied the Bible up until the end. A lot of people are very good at studying books about the Bible. You know, we'll order books. We'll study the book of James and we'll order a lesson book on the book of James and what do we end up studying the whole quarter? The lesson book, right? Right. We're not studying change. Now, I know some people, they still prefer a lesson book with, you know, 20 questions true or false think questions, things like that. But what I gravitate toward and in my classes, a lot of times the way I teach now and so people may not like it as much as I just like to give people the text and encourage them, read over it. Think about it. And then we come together, what stood out to you? What did this text tell you about God? What did it tell you about us? Right? I gravitate towards that way of Bible studies. And I deeply appreciate those lessons. But other people may not as much. And so also, as an aside, as a teacher, I've got to try to teach in ways that aren't just the way I would learn, but I've got to try to think about the way other people learn as well.

Kenny Embry:

Yeah, I think one of the things that happened to us especially with Coronavirus, I know as a professor, I didn't recognize how much I really rely on facial expressions to tell me when people were engaged and when they weren't engaged. Oh, yeah. And I think one of the things that that I have really missed is, is that look in the face, when I see that they're bored, or I see they're not understanding something, because in zoom, they turn off their screens. And when they turn off the screens, I don't know what they're doing. And by the way, guilty is charged here as well. I mean, I'm, I might very well be looking on Amazon, or I might be looking at the weather or trying to figure out if I can schedule something for tomorrow. I do that everybody does. I think one of the things, though, that is really difficult for all of us is basically that engagement, that we have to basically force ourselves to engage. And if you are a teacher, ask them to engage. Some people definitely be put out. Some people will gripe, but if you explain it to them in such a way that look, this is for my benefit, this isn't for yours. I understand that you guys may or may not check out and if you don't want to do this, that's fine. But if you do, it would help me a lot. And I really have to leave it there. I think that's one of the things that I really do, miss.

Mark McCrary:

Yeah. Last Wednesday night, we had our first Wednesday night in building Bible study. I've been teaching online on YouTube and Facebook for the last, what, five, six months, seven months. It was tough. Getting back into the rhythm of teaching a Bible class. Of course, you understand teaching a Bible class and preaching a sermon are in a lot of ways, two different things. We have a Bible class, you are trying to engage people more. It took me just probably about five or 10 minutes to get back into that. But what you said is so true. You need to see interaction from people you need to see their faces. And as you're watching as a teacher, you can spot that if you don't get that it's going to affect you. Look, at the end of the day, I am so thankful that we've had zoom, and I'm so thankful we've had the live stream. I can't imagine what churches did when the Spanish Flu hit in 1918, and 1919 and 1920. I can't imagine how they got through. But the reality is, there's no way they are as engaging as people being with one another. And I'm not talking there about about engaging as in the quality, but just at the end of the day, exactly. As you were saying a moment ago, when no one's around you and you're watching a screen you can check out. You can sit back and drink your coffee, you can be there in your PJs, you can do stuff around the house while you listen and that's fine. I'm not knocking that. But when you go into a building, whether it's a classroom at a university, or it's a church building, and you're sitting there with other people, and you've made the effort to get up early, even if you don't always get there early. And you you drove to the building and you came in you set there, there is a there are some preparation, ideally that takes place. on your part that's brought you there. Yeah. And everyone they are to some degree has done this. Now. I think what this the digital age has done for us is it places more of a responsibility on me. If I'm at home, there are so many things that could distract me. Yeah, I've got to discipline myself more to keep from checking my email, checking Facebook, checking my text while I'm listening to someone because I can listen and look at these things at the same time. Yes, but if I'm honest, I'm not as engaged at that point. It is it does take self discipline. When I'm listening to a sermon online, to keep from becoming more easily distracted

Kenny Embry:

Yeah, and I think one of the things and I completely agree with everything you're saying right there, I think part of what we have to do as people who are presenting something, the value in what we're presenting has to be so obvious and so applicable. I think one of the things that happens to us absolutely, you definitely need discipline. But I think about the library problem. Everybody argues that the library needs to stick around, but nobody's checking out books. Yeah. And the thing about it is, is we romanticize what the library was. And we want the library to stick around because of a memory that we have. But you can't guilt people into the library. Oh, yeah. So I mean, I think one of the things that going forward, we need to be really clear about the value that we're bringing to somebody. And I think, as an academic, I'm very guilty of this. I get really excited about looking at minute details about a lot of things. And I think as somebody who is now kind of waking up to the fact, if people can't use it, people won't listen.

Mark McCrary:

Um, one of the big revolutions that took place when I first started preaching was PowerPoint. Okay, so I started preaching at a time where I used overheads. I was very much influenced by an older preacher. At one point, he used overheads to keep to keep people engaged. He argued, you need to be changing something on the screen, every thing is five seconds. Yeah. So that you can maintain people's attention. And I'm a more visually oriented person. So I gravitate towards that style of preaching. It took me a while to embrace PowerPoint, because I felt like it was a gimmick. As I began to understand the value of PowerPoint, I use PowerPoint all the time. And yet, at the congregation of a part of we bring young men in for two year training programs who want to preach, yeah. And so I'm primarily the guy who works with him. There's almost this idea that some people have this. your PowerPoint is the sermon. Yes. So you've got to make sure you have a great looking PowerPoint. Look, I'm all in favor of great looking PowerPoints. One of the things I have to tell him is the PowerPoints nothing if the message is not there, yeah. Okay, you've got to make sure your message is where it needs to be, and then build a suitable PowerPoint. It could be black letters on a white screen that can be effective, you can do something better. But you've got to make sure the message is there. And I think that translates into this discussion. When we're talking about social media, live streaming, anything like that. It's great. If you live stream, it's great. If you got a great looking blog, you great looking website, but the message has got to be there. For churches, that message has got to be a message of Jesus Christ. First and foremost,

Kenny Embry:

I completely agree. I'm gonna I'm gonna take you two steps back from that, though. And I'm going to take you here because you haven't thought of this. Because you're already so good at this. You have to care problem that I see a lot of young guys with is they want to learn how to preach. They want to learn how to put together a PowerPoint, but they they don't understand the idea that if the congregation senses that you don't care about them, it doesn't make any difference what your PowerPoint looks like. It doesn't make any difference what you're what you're what you're best at messages. It doesn't make any difference how smart you are. Right. I think one of the things that you have great you're going to preach on Sunday. Good for you. Where were you Tuesday? Yeah, I say that because you already do this? Well, and I don't think you think about it.

Mark McCrary:

Well, in trading on them in that's a reality. One of the things I think about a lot how to convey to them was there was when I first started working with this congregation, there was a guy, older gentleman that I just I couldn't connect with. And, you know, I try to talk to him. Once Saturday night, actually Sunday morning, about two o'clock in the morning, I get a phone call. His daughter was about to have a baby downtown in Louisville. And they were they were concerned about some birth defects. So I got up and I drove downtown. I had to preach the next morning but I got up and drove downtown and stayed there till about five or 530 in the morning and I came back in completely changed the way this man related to me, completely changed it. It involved a couple of hours of my time and a minor inconvenience, but it changed my relationship with him. You do have to care and people have to know that you care. It is a trope, but it's a true one people don't care What you know until they know that you care. And the same thing, I think, you know, going back to the idea of social media, I think churches, if they if they do this, right if they care to begin with, and they do this right, they can convey, even through websites, a sense of concern for people that hopefully can be reinforced when someone in person comes into the assembly, bingo. But if you don't have that concern, you can have the nicest website in the world, people are going to figure it out. Because ultimately, digital is discipleship. It will never take the place of people coming together with one another, maybe in a church building for the assembly. It may be in personal, smaller Bible studies. But you're never going to get rid of that. Online efforts can be a way to bring people in, but you you don't want to sell people the wrong goods. If you know what I mean.

Kenny Embry:

I do know what you mean. But I think I would nuance what you're saying, Look, man, we've been friends a long time. Most of our communication now is online. Oh, yeah. And you know what? That doesn't change the thing.

Mark McCrary:

Right. But you know what, because we maintain this, when I have the opportunity to see you. I get excited about that.

Kenny Embry:

That Me too. That means that the technology is just a another medium. Yeah. That shows people you care that shows people this is who Jesus is, this is no different than face to face. This is no different than a phone call. This is no different than getting in a car. This is no different than a card. This is no, this is no different. If that care is there. This is just another way we're communicating.

Mark McCrary:

Yeah. But you know, going back to what we talked about earlier, why are churches hesitant to get into this? I think they're hesitant get into this, because they think that somehow we're trying to substitute all of this online activity for the very important need for us together with one another. And I think wise churches understand those two ideas are not at odds with each other. Yes, I agree with you, they ought to complement one another, you know, talking to about the idea of understanding that it's a tool I was thinking, you know, Jesus in john, chapter eight, when he came across this woman or the woman is brought to him who was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus, at one point, knelt down and he started riding all the dirt. Everybody around, it didn't start saying, oh, wow, we got to start riding on dirt. I mean, that's the way to try to really reach people. No, they didn't do that. What he did was incredibly effective. You can't read that story without reading that part. And just being amazed. It always has to go back to the message.

Kenny Embry:

I agree with that. But I would also say, this is your introduction. This is the way you figure out is this a bunch of people where I might fit in?

Mark McCrary:

Yeah. And you communicate that through the content that you put online. Here the way sermons that's one of the things I've I've tried to learn and grow in over the years and preaching. And and part of that is understanding that you have a wider audience now because of live streaming, and things like that, you know, preaching, sometimes it's very hard, and there's a place for hard preaching. It has helped me preach and think more compassionately about the messages that I preach. And I'm thankful for that.

Kenny Embry:

I think you're exactly right. It's easy for us to take potshots at things that don't affect us. Oh, yeah. And then we don't recognize that the things that are easy for us are not necessarily easy for everyone.

Mark McCrary:

Right? And you know, the more you interact with other people, people of different faiths, people who have no faith, the more you do that, the more if you have not gone through any of those things, it should change the way you interact with people. I don't suffer from depression. I may get bummed out for an hour. But after an hour, I start thinking this a waste of time. And I bounce back, you know, right. But some people don't do that. When we all come together and we're assembled with each other and everyone looks nice or dressed up nice. Everybody has this perception that we got it all together. Yeah. When in fact, none of us. Do. You remember Iris Hadfield, a wonderful lady in our congregation, she has a saying we judge our insides by other people's outsides. And that's especially true when we come to the assembly. Everyone looks nice. And I'm looking at my life inside I'm gone. I'm a wreck man. They need to know that there is a place that they can go that will help them and sometimes their first foray into that is going to be online. Case in point I had a Bible study with a young man the other day who came to visit us He's somewhat agnostic grip that a Christian home, he's fallen away. But he he came. Well then last week I sent him a text. And he responded by saying, Hey, could we get together? He came over to my office, we talked for a while. And at one point, he's fidgeting. And he says, Would you mind? If I've FAPE? real quick? Well, I gotta tell you, I've never had anyone to vape in front of me. But that's where he is right now. I said, Well do what you need to do. And so he did we continue the conversation. Do I think vaping is the best thing in the world for a person? No. But I didn't think it was helpful for me to get on a high horse.

Kenny Embry:

I think you and I agree, we're just going to differ a little bit on how we're defining something. Because I think what, what you would say is, it's that coffee table conversation that's making the difference, which I don't disagree with. What I would say is, it's the text messages that got him to the coffee table, I do think it is easier and more intimate face to face. But I wouldn't argue if somebody decided that they were going to have that conversation, via text message. I'm thinking about half a dozen students right now, who are scared to death or be in a classroom, but are very bold and assertive. behind the screen, if that's what gives them confidence. Good.

Mark McCrary:

You know, that's interesting, because that was one of the charges leveled against the Apostle Paul, by teachers in Korea. Oh, he's so bold in his writing. But when you see him, he says weekly here. You know, that's all true. Everything that we've been talking about comes together, I think in that statement, and I think it places digital discipleship, social media, Facebook, YouTube, zoom, it places it within the context, those texts to the young man had a role in bringing him to the point where we could sit down together with one another. Yeah. And again, you know, thinking through what you were just saying, I think some churches and some leaders have a hard time with social media and using that as a means to get the gospel out there, because they think it's just my relationship is texting. And we all inherently know that that's not going to be a satisfying relationship. But once I started understanding that texting is a part of that relationship, yeah. And it builds that relationship. Teresa, and I text all the time. My girls, one of my girls listen to York City, another down to Florida. I text them all the time, we call each other, we FaceTime each other. I love those things. Because what I really want is that moment where we're together with each other.

Kenny Embry:

Yeah, I get that. I get that. And I would still argue we are together. We are not in the same physical room. This is a conversation you and I would have at Starbucks too. And by the way, I would love that more. Yeah, it's just not possible. Mark Udall as well as I do, we could go three more hours. And we're not. You understand me? Yes, we're not? Yes, sir. I end all of my podcast, be good, and do good. What is good

Mark McCrary:

boy that say, an incredibly simple question that is so complex and deep in answering that God is good. And when you come to the end of Genesis one, when God did everything that he did, he said, it was good. Good. Was the card. Good was that relationship man had with God in the garden? So I guess my answer would be anything. That brings me back into harmony with God is good.

Kenny Embry:

Well, listen, man, I appreciate this. Like I said, we could go far longer you and I will go far longer.

Unknown:

But if somebody

Kenny Embry:

wanted to touch base with you, how would they do that?

Mark McCrary:

Oh, you can do it easily. He go to our churches website, Douglas hills church dot o RG. You could go to our Facebook page, look us up there. And you can contact me through there. And if there's anything I can do for anyone, I'd certainly love to do it. Kenny, I've always loved talking to you. And I love talking to you, man. I've appreciate the way that you You think I appreciate you know what you're doing with this podcast. Because ultimately, the Christian life, it has to be balanced. And unfortunately, it's so easy for us to get out of whack and we start putting the wrong priorities on things. But I think your podcast is fulfilling a really needed role. Appreciate it. Appreciate you. I appreciate

Kenny Embry:

you, man. Well, I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Mark. I'm truly impressed with what they're willing to try. You're doing good work there, my friend. Keep doing. Next week, I want to introduce you to my dad. This was the first interview I ever conducted for the podcast, and the one I wanted to wait for so I could get it right. So until next week, let's be Good and do good