Digital discipleship: Being a presence of grace

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Recently, many of us have grown increasingly comfortable in digital spaces. We may have worshiped on Facebook, connected with family via Zoom, engaged in a meaningful Twitter conversation, or joined a prayer group on Twitch. All of this virtual connecting raises questions about what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ online.

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The Rev. Ryan Dunn, Minister of Online Engagement with RethinkChurch, joins us for a conversation about digital discipleship. How can you and I be a pleasant presence of grace when we’re online?  

Ryan Dunn

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This episode posted on June 30, 2021.

Transcript

Prologue

Joe Iovino, host: Welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape, United Methodist Communications and UMC.org’s podcast to help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Joe Iovino.

My guest today is one of my colleagues at United Methodist Communications, the Reverend Ryan Dunn. Ryan serves as minister of online engagement for Rethink Church. And he’s just beginning to host a new podcast called Pastoring in the Digital Parish. In this conversation we talk about our spiritual lives as we use social media—how we can continue to grow and serve as disciples of Jesus Christ, even when we’re online.

Conversation

Joe: Ryan Dunn, welcome to Get Your Spirit in Shape.

The Rev. Ryan Dunn: Thank you so much for having me.

Joe: You and I have been working together, I think, four and half years. Does that sound right?

Ryan: Yeah. Just a little over 4 years I’ve been here.

Joe: And you have one of the more interesting titles that I’ve seen. Your title is Minister of Online Engagement here at United Methodist Communications. What does it look like to be a minister of online engagement and how does that play out in your daily life?

Ryan: It’s funny because 4 years ago when I accepted the job I would drop that job title and then I would have to go on for like 10 minutes describing what I do. And I feel like we’re in a day and age now where people kind of get a sense for what that means.

Like, okay, here is this minister who is doing digital stuff. He’s online. And as a minister of online engagement really it’s just my job to kind of be a point of contact—or even a point of invitation—for people to participate in the community of faith. So within what I do at United Methodist Communications is I’m really directional about trying to engage what we call a ‘seeker audience,’ people who are curious about faith, but aren’t necessarily involved in a faith community. My goal is to meet them, build relationship with them, and then see if I can be kind of a conduit to inviting them to a local ministry or local congregation.

For the most part that involves being, one part internet troll for Jesus. I am very…. I have targeted, direct engagement. So I tend to go out into social media spaces and look around for conversations that I can engage in.

Joe: That’s what you mean by ‘internet troll for Jesus.’

Ryan: Yes. So, I am not, you know, like dropping in to say, “Judgment’s coming to you; repent now.” It’s more like, how can I drop into this conversation and be a person who they might be interested in talking with more? Or even more so, how can I drop into a conversation and represent some kind of grace here? So, that’s one part of it.

But then, content creator is really the bulk of what I do. So I want to generate content, whether that be video or blogpost or even just like a social media meme that engages with the seeker audience so that we can start to form some kind of conversation and community around that.

Joe: Are there people that you know through this role, like, are there relationships that have been built that you get a sense of who they are?

Ryan: Yeah, and it changes over time. In one way the role in a sense of community building is kind of fleeting because we work with the Rethink Church brand and our goal is not to be an end point. The name itself is kind of misleading because we are not a church. For us the ‘rethink’ is important part of it. We want people to rethink the idea of becoming a part of church, you know, to kind of revisit that idea of becoming a part of church. So our goal is to meet people and then kind of push them towards a relationship with their local faith community. For our purposes that’s the local United Methodist congregation.

So, there are specific folks who we’ve met along the way who, you know, we are able to engage with and then say, you know, for these means like, “Hey, have you made contact with a church around you? Is there somebody who you can talk to, who can really engage with you regularly on this topic?” That’s really one of the first questions I always ask when people are coming to me with questions.

Instead, we’ve built kind of archetypes of people who we’re speaking with. And they’re all based on real people that I’ve come across either through the digital realm or that I might know in real life who kind of fit this seeker audience. There are folks who may have grown up in the church who have had some church hurts in the past and so feel a little unsafe around the institutional church and we want to speak to their condition like, ‘Hey, how can we safely plug you into a faith community or get you thinking about that again?’

There are people who may be fresh to faith and have heard some of the Christian language, but aren’t altogether familiar with it. So, how can we start to invite them into the practice of discipleship, and starting to grow in their faith a little bit more when the predisposition to faith is already there?

Joe: There’s this evangelistic side of it, because you’re in the Rethink brand.

Ryan: In fact, when I first started like really that was my tag line. You may remember this. We had this campaign around the office where we all had to put on name tags. I’m making the little name tags symbol here. And we were encouraged to use kind of pseudonyms for our actual job descriptions. And mine was Internet Evangelist. Like, very much so. My job is to be an Internet evangelist.

I see that really coming out of our Wesleyan tradition. John Wesley himself going to the open air spaces. In his case it was, outside of the coal mines or in the marketplace, and being a presence of grace there. So for him it was open air preaching. But what I want to entertain with my job is, well, what are the open air spaces today? And very much so that is social media, that’s where people are kind of congregating and hanging out. It’s a platform for the open sharing of ideas. So how can I drop into that space and offer those points of grace, offer a presence of grace in digital space.

Joe: We’re releasing this episode on Social Media Day, World Social Media Day, which is June 30th. And so I want to spend some time talking about how we can be present as members of the church on social media. Let’s start with this evangelist approach. How can the average member take that posture, be that person that’s just there to enter into the conversation.

Ryan: I’m going to go ultra-Methodist, and we’re all familiar with it. Like, the three general rules are do no harm; do good; and well, tend to the ordinances of God. When I think about applying that to a digital space, the first 2 are kind of self-explanatory, right? Do no harm in your digital presence. Seek to do good in your digital presence. And I would say, like, seek to represent or communicate grace in your digital presence.

There’s this word ‘incarnation.’ It’s funny. I’ve been doing a podcast on ministering in the digital space. And incarnation is a big buzz word there because we tend to think that digital ministry is not an authentic ministry because we’re not in person. Right? We’re not incarnated with one another.

Joe: It’s literally disembodied.

Ryan: Absolutely. So, the idea of a digital ministry is, well then, how do we incarnate presence to one another within a digital space? What we want to do, all of us, the invitation before us is to incarnate goodness where we are in digital space, which comes in any number of ways.

So for me what that looks like is I purposefully join things like Facebook groups around ideas or interests that I have. I’m a middle-aged dad. So I joined like the middle age dad fitness group. And obviously I’m into podcasting. So I’m a member of several podcasting groups and Methodist clergy groups. But within all of that, like, I am looking to just be a presence of support and friendship for people.

When we get into the idea being leaders in digital space oftentimes we have this mindset that we are going to produce content and then we’re gonna try to get people to look at our content. I’ve found that it is far more beneficial to just let go of that idea, to not drive people to my content, but rather to show up in digital spaces and just be there for good.

And as I start to form relationships…so when I go into a…to the dad fitness group and somebody is asking a question about, (I don’t know) what’s a good amount of protein to consume within a day? Well practical. Right? I can say, Oh, well, you know, try to shoot for one gram per one pound of body weight. The more I’m able to drop into those conversations the more people feel comfortable with me, and the more that they want to get to know about me. So, my presence has become a form of invitation. Right?

So, I’ve also been very directional about how I’m representing my ministry in my personal space. And we can start to talk about this idea that we all have a personal brand online, whether we like or not. It’s there. People are looking at the things that we post. People are looking at our Facebook profiles or what we used to call our Facebook walls. And they’re forming opinions about who we are and the kind of things that we value.

So I tend to be very directional about what I’m sharing in that space because I know that other people are going to look at it and they’re going to form opinions about what’s important to me.

And this comes out of this idea that back in the day… Maybe we still do this today. Some of us still do this today. We’ve decorated our homes according to what was important to us. The things that we put on our walls communicate to outside people or inside people what it is that’s important to us. So, when family’s important to us we tend to have pictures of family all over our houses, right? Maybe we appreciate beauty. So we have some beautiful pictures hanging on our walls.

Very much in the same way, people are looking at our digital walls or profiles, and they’re making the same kind of assumptions. So I just kind of carry that awareness with me in digital space that folks are looking at what I’m posting up there, and they’re making judgments about who I am, what I value. And if (for lack of a better way of putting it) if they’re attracted to what it is that I’m about, then they’re gonna look to try to engage with some of the things that I’m engaging at.

Joe: What I hear you saying sounds very much like what we would do if it wasn’t in digital space. It’s this relationship building which is not that different than what you would do in your local church or with a neighbor.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Once upon a time, I went to an evangelism training where they talked about fishing ponds. So that was to kind of identify this space where you can just be a consistent presence.

For me, in practice, like, I had a coffee shop. It was, like, my third space, as they say. It was my substitute office. In fact, I got accused of spending a little too much time there. But it was such a beneficial space because I would just happenstance meet people there. Friends of friends who I could engage in conversation with. Or I started to get to know the staff there. That was a great place to just kind of be to build relationship with people.

These Facebook groups or digital spaces, they can become quote/unquote fishing ponds for us. They can become those third spaces. They already are for so many people. And I think it behooves us to entertain the idea of how we, as people of faith, represent a sense of grace within those spaces.

Joe: I think I know what you’re gonna answer to this, but the question I think a lot of us have is: Is it really possible to create real relationship in a digital space?

Ryan: Part of the answer to this is generational. So, once upon a time I would have wholeheartedly said no. But I also have a 13-year-old son. And my 13-year-old son includes among his closest friends a kid in Ontario, Canada who he has never met in person but has only gamed with online. There is another young person over in South Carolina. Again, who he has not met in person, but has engaged with in gaming online, that he counts as real friends.

At one point we were at home. I was trying to get him to go someplace and he was gaming. And in my mind it’s just like ‘turn off this stinking video game, we have to go.’ So I did that. In my moment of anger I just kind of pulled the plug. And it was terribly upsetting to him because he didn’t get to say goodbye to his friends. Like, this was the real relationship for him.

There’s a whole generation, this digitally native generation, which may span more than just an age range. It’s a mindset. There are digitally native people of all ages, where these relationships that they’re forming in digital space are real relationships. They’re relationships where people are able to be vulnerable with one another, to provide support for one another. So if we think about the characteristics of a good friendship: Is this individual gonna provide me support? Is this individual gonna be there for me when I need him or her? When I need them? That’s available to people in digital space. And so, yes, they are turning to those digital spaces for authentic friendship. And, you know, whether it’s somebody of my age or mindset sees it that way or not, whether I can engage in real friendship that way, a lot of other people can. A significant portion of the population can, and is doing that.

Joe: It seems like it’s growing, too. With the pandemic we were all stuck in this digital [space]. We weren’t able to do face-to-face and so we had to find ways…. Or maybe it was just getting more comfortable with, calling my mom over Zoom, you know, or even my kids. I was in touch with my kids via Zoom more than I was physically.

Ryan: Yeah. My family, we’re spread all across the country. And we have grown closer over this past year.

Joe: It’s funny, isn’t it?

Ryan: Yeah, because now we’ve been directional or intentional. Now we have been intentional about sharing time with one another. For the first time ever we have set up a weekly time when we’re all touching base with each other. That didn’t happen before.

The proliferation of our relationship has continued and in fact gotten deeper because, or due to, the availability of engaging in a digital way. We haven’t seen each other in person for over a year, and yet our relationship has grown deeper.

Joe: It’s amazing. It really has been an amazing year to just kind of get used to that. And we’re getting used to online church and online small groups, and Sunday school, all of those opportunities that we have, that would have seemed so foreign, a year and half ago that now are seeming natural and comfortable.

Ryan: Yeah. Well, if we carry that over to church, think about how it has opened up our availability to participate in things that we may have been precluded from participating otherwise.

From my experience and maybe you’ve come across this, too, is somebody who has been connected to the church for a long time, but moved around to a number of different places. Like, I have been able to maintain relationship with old congregations that I’m no longer a part of or would otherwise no longer be a part of because of geography. Now, I’m joining them for worship just about every Sunday because it’s available to me now. And all these old friendships are rekindled because I’m able to share this time with them.

Joe: That’s remarkable. I have not done that. I need to explore that. That sounds like a lot of fun.

You are beginning a new podcast that’s… Probably it’s gonna release after we record, but maybe before we release this episode. So…

Ryan: Yes.

Joe: We’re not really sure. But it’s Pastoring in the Digital Parish. Tell us a little bit about the podcast and then I’ve got some questions I want to get to.

Ryan: Yeah, sure. Definitely. Well, really the flashpoint for me was going to an online conference. It was for pastors, leaders in church about communications. And every time we got into a break out group somebody was expressing some anxiety or frustration about being called to be a presence in the digital space, but for those of us who have been in the ministry game for a while, we don’t have any training in it. When I went to seminary there weren’t any classes on doing a podcast. We talked about Facebook, but it was just kind of in passing, right? It almost was in a derogatory way. Like oh yeah, you know, you can kind of meet people on Facebook, but the real deal is getting people into the church building.

And I think we have woken up to the fact that anywhere from like 40-60% of our congregations are going to now seek to engage with us digitally first, over in person. So,,a majority of our congregations are going to stay digital even if things fully back up. Like, they’re looking to engage digital first.

This podcast is coming in response to the fact that so many of us are in this situation where we’re being thrown into a situation where we need to speak to a digital culture, but we haven’t really gotten the training to do so. So we’re just offering some tips and some community support for all of us who are in that situation of trying to just be there for one another, to share best practices, and even….

I’ll tell you what I’ve had a ton of fun doing, pulling in some practices from the secular world. People who are building community online, whether that be through,  marketing practices or just around the idea of building a business. How can we take those principles and put them to work in a congregational sense? How do we build community in a digital space for our congregations?

Joe: As you’ve done these interviews, what have you learned about growing in our discipleship digitally. Where are the digital spaces where we can develop as disciples of Jesus Christ?

Ryan: Yeah. I will say this now and it’s probably going to change in a few weeks, that’s what I’m finding as we go along. It’s like, I have the best practices today, but you’re gonna have the best practices next week. And it’s gonna be different for me then. I’m gonna be running to catch up.

I think where we’re seeing, I guess, the best discipleship happening…. For me the best practice of discipleship revolves around the idea that discipleship happens when we put people in contact with disciples of Jesus and then invite them to do the kinds of things that Jesus does, or the kinds of things that disciples do.

I see that happening best within, specifically in social media, on Facebook. It is the one social media platform that is truly social. All these other platforms are really kind of broadcast platforms.

On Instagram, like, I’m showing you something. It’s not so much about conversation, but Facebook has been very directional, especially the past couple of years, about making it a space where people are talking to people. To the point where their algorhythm, like, ignores things that don’t start conversation. And that’s important for us to note as church leaders because a lot of what we tend to use Facebook for is broadcasting. We want people to know about us, what we’re doing and then how they can be a part of it.

Joe: It’s not the place to do that anymore.

Ryan: Right. Facebook doesn’t prioritize that. Nobody’s going to see what you’re doing. Facebook prioritizes the…really what they prioritize is any kind of content that keeps people on their platform. But what that is, is when people start engaging with other people and having a conversation.

So utilizing Facebook then to have conversation, and specifically where that happens the best is within Facebook groups. So there are a number of churches who have found that Facebook groups have become a place where they are able to foster a real sense of community much like they enjoyed when they were fully in person, where they’re getting down to sharing prayer requests, where they’re celebrating in each other’s lives, where they are sharing about the ways that they are serving one another. Even some are going so far as to break up groups within their groups where they’re hosting Bible studies or full-on contemplative practices or whatever online, through the facility of a Facebook group.

Joe: So I imagine one of the advantages for a member is that you can go and find those things that might not be offered in your own local church. Like, you can find people who are into contemplative practices and you can go try it out. I mean, is that cool? I mean, is that okay? Like, if you show up in this group over here where you’re not really connected to that church?

Ryan: It depends. Some groups have different levels of entry, if that makes sense. Some are open to everybody. Some are ones that kind of feel you out a little bit. That’s all up to the group administrator. So, they might put up some questions to make sure that your intent is genuine, number one. But also that this is gonna be kind of a respectful place for you to belong to.

So, yeah, you’re like totally free to go and check out these groups on one level. You may not find that it’s the best place for you to engage with over all. But that’s part of being in the open market place, so to speak.

And I think part of the beauty of Facebook group is that it is far less intimidating to check out a Facebook group then it is to show up to church. Or even on the next level, to show up to a Sunday school class and find that this group has been meeting together for 15 years and they’re super tight with each other,

Joe: And clearly, you have never been there before.

Ryan: Exactly. Yeah.

Joe: That makes a lot of sense. It’s a great way to experiment and find your way around.

Ryan: Yeah. And most of us find that within something like a Facebook group new people are showing up all the time. So it is totally expected that new people are going to be participating at any given time, which is a great thing, right? We need to kind of reclaim that in a lot of our church practice, like the expectation that new people are gonna be there.

Joe: Are there other places, other than Facebook, where you might want to go to find that community?

Ryan: Really you can go anywhere. People are using Zoom. One of the exciting ways that I’ve seen starting to develop is a platform like Twitch which….

Joe: Which I just learned about. So tell us a little bit…. Within the last 6 months I’ve heard of Twitch, ‘cause I’m old. So…

Ryan: Me, too. You know, it’s funny…again I’ll harken to my 13-year-old son. Like, he was super into it. And I just didn’t get it. It is a video streaming platform.

By and large the people who have really grabbed onto a platform like Twitch are video gamers. And so I was so confused because my son would log on there for like an hour at a time watching somebody else play video games. And I didn’t get it until somebody else, my age, pointed out to me, like, what did you do when you were a kid and you went to the arcade? You’d use your own quarters and then when those were up, like, you’d hang out with your friends and watch them play video games. This is exactly what’s happening on a platform like Twitch.

There are some creative pastors out there who are using it as a platform for kind of, well, sharing in life together. So, some of them are on there. They have dedicated video game times where they do a play through of a game. Some are very creative in being able then to, on the spot—on the fly…. This isn’t something I can do, but they do it amazingly well. They’re able to draw a connection between what they’re playing and a Scripture source, or somehow make it a spiritual theme, which is wonderful. Or, other times I’ve dropped in on some Twitch conversations or some Twitch streams (they would call it) where people are praying for one another. There was one where they had a, like a social counselor who is able to kind of offer some support for people like that. Here, let’s talk about some of this anxiety that we’re feeling right now, this peculiar time, and how we’re able to deal proactively with some of that stuff. And so it’s a way of really kind of dropping in on one another.

Joe: It  really does harken back to…and you mentioned this earlier…you know, back to Wesley. But it’s just meeting people where they already are. Rather than inviting them into our space we’re kind of entering into their space, which is also our space. But, you know, entering into a space where they already are and beginning to build relationship with them there.

Ryan: Yeah, and I think it’s probably important to note that we don’t have to force ourselves into places. The beautiful thing about social media is that we’re already engaged there already on some level. You know, some of us are Instagram people. Some are Twitter people. Some of us Facebook people, or Twitch people. I’m not all of those. I just kind of concentrate on the places where my people are, and I can make connections with those people.

 I don’t think the calling before us is to all of a sudden decide how I’m going to become insta-famous and build a million followers there. It’s just to be a pleasant person of invitation and grace within the space that I inhabit. Do so directionally, again, keeping in mind that we have a personal brand. People are looking at it and it all comes back to that.

Joe: Pleasant person you came to. That was one of the things that I had in mind, is that sometimes social media tends to bring out the worst in some of us. I mean, my Twitter feed gets nasty at times. And it’s church people for the most part—at least identify as church people. How do you guard against that? There seems to be people who are immediately wanting to draw you into a controversy. What are some tips you have for maintaining that pleasant presence online?

Ryan: Well, as the Minister of Online Engagement really the big thing that I stick to when it comes to like a controversial topic or when I feel like somebody’s maybe trying to pick a fight or something, which happens, I default to the idea of grace. Is it possible for me to represent grace in this situation. And if I can’t see a way to do that, then I don’t engage.

Joe: It’s time get out.

Ryan: I find the more and more that I kind of pass over some of these conversations, it doesn’t make a difference. So I might be moderating a group where one day we have to shut down a conversation because it’s drifted from the vision of the group. Oftentimes our groups are built around ideas of support. So, if we have a conversation where we’ve gotten to cutting each other down instead of building each other up, I believe it’s totally okay to say, “Hey, we’ve lost vision for what we’re doing here.” We want to support each other in our daily quiet times, or we want to support each other in our podcasting pursuit, or something like that—whatever the group is built around. It’s okay to shut that negative conversation down. Usually, within 24 hours, as long as you’ve led with that vision, people are okay. Like, and we’re just gonna pick the ball up. We’re gonna commit to the vision of what this group is there to do and we’re gonna keep running with that.

Joe: This conversation has really inspired me because I have gotten away from, especially Facebook. I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook anymore because it seems so disengaged. But I don’t spend a lot of time in the groups. And that idea of having a presence in the groups is really attractive to me. And I think that’s something that just anyone can do.

You and I are both clergypeople in the United Methodist Church, but if someone who’s not clergy, you know, a member of the church has a passion for this, how would you advise them to begin that presence?  And what tips would you say, like: go down this path and not necessarily this path. Do you have anything along those lines you would offer?

Ryan: Yeah. I’d start by going where your interests are. And particularly that revolves around the idea where you may be able to bring some kind of value to the conversation.

So, if you’re into like model airplaning, then you know what? There are model airplaning groups out there. Go ahead and join in. You may find that you’re just a fly on the wall for quite a while before you find a way to engage. That’s totally fine. But also, to keep in mind that you can leave a group at any time. And it’s not our job as participants to redirect where a group is headed. So, like, if we drop into a group and it just doesn’t set well with us. It’s not our job to redirect where that group is going; we can simply just leave. We don’t have to be the point of correction for other people who are already there and invested in that group.

Joe: But it’s generally following your own interests, outside of church. Like you said, model airplanes or whatever that might be.

Ryan: Sure. It’s kind of crazy the way that people get into deep conversations even around topics that you wouldn’t believe lean towards deep conversations. So, I’ve gotten into some crazy talks about anxiety in a podcasting group, because that’s just where people are…their minds go there. And that’s okay. All these groups are finding ways to support one another in the various ways that that shows up. So, I would say that you know, you don’t need to cut towards the groups that may model their vision on lifestyle change or anything like that, or mental health…anything cutting deep like that. It’s okay to go just where you feel pulled and things that you want to learn more about.

Joe: I’m laughing because one of the things I’ve noticed is that …on Twitter which is my primary…. You said we kind of chose one. Twitter seems to be my primary….

Ryan: Good for you. I’m not a Twitter guy.

Joe: I get more response from people I don’t know when I Tweet about baseball than anything else. And I’m by no means an expert on baseball. I just root for my team. And it’s amazing. You get likes from people. And I don’t know who that is. I’m not used to that. But it’s just generally following that passion.

Ryan: And the person who’s liking that, like, they’re looking at you and are like, Joe’s another Mets fan. What else is Joe into? And they’re going back and looking at your profile, Joe. And they’re seeking…So Methodists are Mets fans, too? (They’re also Cubs fans.)

Joe: I did get a message one time about exactly that. You’re a Methodist and a Mets fan; we should be friends. You know, that’s an interesting…. And I never mentioned that I was a Methodist in that thread. We were just talking baseball. It’s amazing what people find. And again, I did not capitalize on that opportunity to start that digital relationship that maybe would have been fruitful. And like I said, you’re kind of inspiring me to spend more time doing that.

Ryan: Yeah, within that space you don’t have to push that, though. So that person who commented that, they probably also hit the follow button on your profile. And they’re being exposed to everything else that you’re Tweeting, too. It’s gonna come. You know, Friendships don’t happen overnight. They’re built over time. And I think that’s the point of being consistently present. You know, as you join these groups look to be a present participant within those groups. Over time. Accumulate it. Please some drops in the trust bucket.

Joe: I’ve been trying to figure out how to get at that because I think that’s exactly…. It sounds like that’s really important. But there’s always this temptation to kind of come in, really strong. Like, you know, I come into the group and I was like, I’m the Methodist or I’m the Christian and I’m gonna come into this with an agenda. And I hear you saying it’s…again, we’re back to relationships and a slower build.

Ryan: Yeah, very much so. Just give it time. Be yourself. Represent grace. And things will be fine.

Joe:Ryan, before I let you go…and I feel like we’ve just scratched the surface. We have so much more…

Ryan: Are we done already?

Joe: …we could continue to talk about. Before I let you go I want to ask you the question that I ask every guest on Get Your Spirit in Shape which is: how do you keep your spirit in shape?

Ryan: I listen to Get Your Spirit in Shape.

Joe: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ryan: Do you get that all the time?

Joe: No. But that’s for another employee to say.

Ryan: Seriously, like, for me it is… you know, as much as possible I try to like stay attuned to the ordinances of God. So I try to connect with people of faith around me. For me a huge way to do that is by listening to podcasts. I do it a lot. But I alluded to it earlier, about kind of surfing around on worship services. You know, it’s not uncommon on a Sunday morning for me to drop in on like 3 or 4 different worship services. And again, it’s connecting to the people of faith. In this day and age it’s all in a digital sense. But you know, for me I keep my spirit in shape by…. It goes back to the idea of discipleship…of coming in contact with disciples of Jesus and then trying to involve myself in doing what disciples of Jesus do.

Epilogue

Joe: That was the Reverend Ryan Dunn, Minister of Online Engagement with Rethink Church and the host of a new podcast called Pastoring in the Digital Parish. I hope that conversation was as inspiring and challenging for you as it was for me.

If you go over to the notes page for this episode, you’ll find some links to Ryan’s podcasts, both Pastoring in the Digital Parish and The Compass podcast. We’ve also included some other links so you can learn some more about Ryan and see some of his work. And, as always, there’s a transcript of the conversation there and my email address so that you can send me your thoughts and ideas about Get Your Spirit in Shape.

Thank you so much for listening. I’ll be back soon with another conversation that’ll help us keep our souls as healthy as our bodies. I’m Joe Iovino. Peace.