Our Spiritual Formation in the Digital Age : Jay Kim
How do we approach spiritual formation in the digital age? In this week’s conversation on FrontStage BackStage, host Jason Daye is joined by pastor and author Jay Kim, as they look at spiritual development for pastors themselves and for the people God has entrusted them to lead.
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Additional Resource Links
Analog Christian by Jay Kim – Jay’s most recent book that explores how followers of Jesus can cultivate the contentment, resilience, and wisdom to not only survive but to thrive as they navigate the specific challenges of our digital age
Analog Church by Jay Kim – Jay’s previous book that explores the ramifications of church in the digital age, from our worship and experience of Christian community to the way we engage Scripture and sacrament
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WestGate Church – Jay serves as lead pastor at WestGate, a community of people learning and living the way of Jesus in Silicon Valley.
Connect with Jay Kim – www.JayKimThinks.com | Twitter | Instagram
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Ministry Leaders Growth Guide
Key Insights and Concepts
- We all are living with the juxtaposition of embodied in-person reality and a digital reality. Both coexist and will continue to coexist.
- Although there is much to be grateful for when it comes to technology, it does fall short in terms of the most human types of connections we can have
- As church leaders and pastors, it is imperative that we navigate the intersection at which both digital and analog coexist thoughtfully, carefully and contextually
- Every pastor needs to put in the time and the energy, to pray, fast, and exegete not just the scriptures, but also exegete our cities and our towns and our neighborhoods. We must know the communities God has called us to serve so that we can faithfully make an impact.
- Metrics (attendance, giving, engagement, etc) are important and must be approached in a healthy way. However, they are important in so much as they reveal the effectiveness of a pastor and a church in actually forming and shaping followers of Christ who are living the way of Jesus.
- As a pastor and as a church you must answer the question: why do we do what we do? Then you must discern if the you are getting nearer to the desired outcome by what you are actually doing.
- Online spaces, by their nature, are becoming increasingly performative spaces. As pastors, we must be careful because we can become attached to the performance. Typically, what you want from a performance is the approval and applause of the people. But in ministry, sometimes the truth we speak into other’s lives is not received with approval or applause.
- Pastors are not called to critique their people, but they are called to confront idolatrous lies they are believing or embracing with the truth of the gospel. Sometimes that confrontation is difficult, but it’s always moving toward hope. Digital spaces can make this calling to confront more challenging for pastors.
- Every church must have an intentional way to help people understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus
- As humans, the direction of our lives is dictated to us by whatever mediums and realities are most pervasive in our lives. If we are not living with intention, then our lives will be formed by online realities because we allow those things to be overwhelmingly present in our lives. Our lives will be formed by the internet, by social media, by news media, and the stories and the narratives that they tell us about what is true, and not true about the world and our lives, rather than being formed by the truth and reality of the way of Jesus and the Gospel.
- The work of the Church often begins with un-forming disciples of the digital age, so that they might then become formed as disciples in the way of Jesus
- Many people are not experience contentment because we have a misunderstanding of what love, joy and peace actually are. Love is a vocation, a decision to live in a particular way by both receiving love and extending love. Joy is the sustaining energy that undergirds the mountaintops, the valleys, and the long plateaus in between in our lives. Peace is pursuing the putting “right” of relationships and systems in our own hearts and minds.
- Biblical resilience is far less clenching our fists and standing in opposition to anybody who stands against us. Rather, it’s living with patience, and exuding kindness and goodness, in the face of utter hostility.
- On social media, where so many are being hostile to one another, the most resilient thing you can do is to be patient, kind, and good to those who are not necessarily patient, kind or good to you
Questions for Reflection
- In what ways is the digital world helpful when it comes to people connecting relationally? In what ways does the digital world fall short when it comes to people connecting relationally?
- How has our church used digital spaces in a healthy way?
- Why is embodied, in-person connection so vital for the local church? How are we creating space for in-person connection?
- How am I putting in the time to really understand out unique context? What am I learning that is influencing the way we are doing ministry? Are there changes we should prayerfully consider to be more effective?
- When we look at what we are measuring as a church, is what we are measuring giving us an accurate picture of how effective we are at making disciples of Jesus? If not, what metrics should we be measuring? If so, how effective are the ministries of our church at making followers of Jesus? How do we know?
- Take time to look at the various ministries of your church and answer for each: why do we do what we do?
- As a pastor, how willing am I to lovingly but honestly confront the idolatrous lies our people are believing with the truth of the gospel? What does that look like in my ministry?
- Does the ministry we are doing in digital spaces focus primarily on performance?
- Does our church have a specific, intentional way that we are helping our people understand what it means to be a disciple of Jesus? If so, how effective is it? If not, what next steps do we need to take?
- What would it look like in our church to un-form disciples of the digital age so that we can guide them into being spiritually formed by the ways of Jesus?
- In my life, what is most pervasive at this time? How am I being influenced by the internet? By social media? By the news media? What changes do I need to make?
- How am I experiencing contentment in my life and ministry right now? What does love, joy, and peace look like in my life today?
- How can we invite others to experience biblical contentment in their lives? What will that take?
- What does biblical resilience look like? How am I being resilient in this way? Are there changes I need to make in regard to resiliency?
- How are we helping people live with such a deep hunger and desire for the things of God that they are inviting God by His Spirit to actually bear fruit in them, rather than just become people who get a golden ticket to heaven when they die?
How do we approach spiritual formation in the digital age?
In today’s conversation with pastor and author Jay Kim, we look at spiritual development both for ourselves and for the people God has entrusted us to lead. Are you ready? Let’s go.
Hello, friends, and welcome to FrontStage BackStage. I’m your host, Jason Daye, and I am super excited for today’s conversation. Now, as you know, we come to you every single week, and we’re all about encouraging and equipping pastors, just like you, for healthy, well balanced leadership, both in life and ministry. We’re proud to be a part of the PastorServe Network and, every week along with these episodes, we provide resources so you can dig more deeply into the conversation and the topic at hand. And you can find those resources at PastorServe.org/network. So be sure to check those out. And you can use those for your own growth, but also the growth of your ministry team. If you’re watching on YouTube, we are glad to have you with us, please give us a like, be sure to subscribe and drop a comment below. Let us know where you’re joining us from. We love to get to know our audience. If you’re listening along on your favorite podcast platform, again, be sure to subscribe so you do not miss out on any of these awesome conversations. Now, as I said, I’m very excited about the topic for today and the guest for today. I’m pleased to be joined by Jay Kim, who is a pastor and also a best-selling author. And we are going to get into some really great stuff both FrontStage and BackStage. So at this time, welcome to the show, Jay! Good to have you with us.
Yeah, so happy to be on with you, Jason.
Yeah, brother, I was thinking about it, and it’s good to be with you again. It’s been a while.. I think it’s been over a year since you and I last jumped into kind of a deeper conversation. But you and your family have had some amazing updates in life and ministry over the last several months here. And so before we dive into today’s topic, just Jay, if you would just share a little bit of an update about the Kim’s life and ministry.
Yeah, I think the last time we chatted, I was on staff at a church called Vintage Faith in Santa Cruz, California. I was co-leading the church there with my dear friend, Dan Kimball, who I’m sure you know, some people know from his writing and his work. And then in August of 2020, I made a transition to a church where I had been on staff before, a church called Westgate Church, kind of right in the heart of Silicon Valley, a mmultisite church here. And my predecessor here, Steve Clifford, was a hero of mine and a mentor and a dear friend. He had led this church for 20 years as the lead pastor. And actually going all the way back to 2018, he and the elders had begun a discussion with me about potentially coming back to begin a succession transition with him. And so at the very beginning of 2021, I took on the role of lead pastor at Westgate. So that’s been a significant shift for us, for our family. Still very close ties to Vintage Faith. I was just texting with Dan this morning. And but yeah, I’m leading a multisite church here in Silicon Valley now and learning all the ups and downs of that, but but loving every minute, so thanks for asking.
Yeah, so awesome. As I’ve been, you know, tracking with you and seeing the updates and hearing reports from you about all of that and praying along with you… super exciting to see that happening, and know there will be great days ahead. In fact, we’ll probably need to jump on and have another conversation in a year or two and talk about succession in your transition and how that all works. Because yeah, I’ve really admired from a distance how you guys have gone about it, how Westgate has gone about this, the succession and we all know that sometimes those things go really well, and sometimes they go really sideways. And so I’m very excited to see how God’s been at work and the faithfulness of the leadership there as they’ve, you know, gone and worked through this succession plan. But that’s a whole other conversation. And we’ll get into that for sure, at some point. But yeah, Jay, the last time as you said, you and I talked, probably a year ago or so in, it was at a point where as we all know, those who are listening, we were about a year into this crazy thing we call the pandemic, right. And so today we find ourselves about, you know, a year later and so the world is changing, it’s again, you know, it’s been in flux for quite some time, but we’re getting to kind of living more into this somewhat of a post-pandemic world. And over the past few years, even pre-COVID, Jay, you’ve been investing a lot of energy in really kind of processing how we, as people, develop spiritually, specifically kind of in the digital age in which we find ourselves, which is absolutely fascinating, fascinating work. And what’s been so interesting to see, and I know that you have probably reflected on this a lot over these last couple of years. It’s fascinating that you’ve been taking this on, and really focusing in on this during this time, because really, what other time in our lives, Jay, have things changed so dramatically, and has there been such this interesting tension, if you will, between kind of analog life and digital life, because of the pandemic and really what that did? It feels like it’s been a lifetime, but it’s only been what, you know, to two and a half years, but it feels like it’s been been forever. So, Jay, to kind of start off, I’d love to get just a feel, a sense from you on how the experiences of you know, the last two, two and a half years, how have those either changed, or challenged, or maybe reinforced a lot of the things that you’ve been experiencing, and understanding about spiritual formation in the digital age?
Yeah, I mean, you’re right, the two and a half years have felt like two and a half decades. It’s hard to remember sometimes life before this pandemic, it just feels like it’s changed things in such pervasive ways. Yeah, you know, as I’ve reflected on it, like you mentioned, I wrote this book, analog church. And it released the same month that we went into lockdown. So I released the book, arguing for embodied in-person church right as that was not possible. And that was an interesting, it was an interesting experience. But it was actually in hindsight, incredibly helpful, because it forced not just me, but all of us to live in the juxtaposition between embodied in-person, and digital. And being connected, for sure, you know, I don’t argue that digital connection isn’t connection at all, it is a form of connection. But you know, I think if the last two and a half years have taught us anything, it’s taught us that while there is much to be grateful for when it comes to technology, it does fall short, in terms of the most human sorts of connections we can have. And I think maybe that’s the thing, that in some ways may feel opposed. But that’s the main thing I’ve I’ve learned in these last two and a half years, simultaneously, my gratitude for digital technology has increased, and my longing for analog embodied realities, and my belief that the church at its essence, is, at least at her finest, it is an embodied reality where real people gather in a real place at a real time. Both of those things again, I know it feels like they’re probably opposed to each other. But for me, they’ve both increased in, in tremendous ways. So I think it’s, you know, for church leaders and for pastors, it is imperative that we navigate, not a balance, but the intersection at which both digital and analog coexist. It’s really imperative that we navigate that intersection thoughtfully and carefully. And contextually, you know, I, I don’t believe that there is a sort of monolithic answer or solution to the problem. I think pastoral calling is, first and foremost, a calling to faithfulness, faithfulness to God and then faithfulness to the congregations and communities that we are called to. And when we talk about America, America is like 12 Different countries in one country. I mean, it’s such a, you know, you go from one city to the next. And so much of it is different, so much of the context, and the way people think about life, the pace of life, accessibility to particular, you know, technologies, all of that stuff has a tremendous impact on our pastoral calling. But what is universal? I’ve come to believe in the last two and a half years especially, what’s universal is that every church leader, every pastor, needs to do the work. We need to put in the time and the energy and pray and fast and exegete not just the scriptures, but exegete our cities and our towns and our neighborhoods, and our people and their lives to as faithfully as possible, serve them well, and hopefully guide them closer to Christ together. So that’s what the last two and a half years have have taught me.
Yeah, that’s so well said, I think is very interesting, because you talk about the intersection… I love the word intersection. You know, in my mind, I think, tension but, and although there is some tension, I like intersection, it’s a lot more positive, right? Because, you know, there’s this coexistence that we that we understand. But but when you were mentioning, the idea that our kind of appreciation for things digital has increased during the last two and a half years, but then also, our intense appreciation for, you know, relationship and gathering and being together has also, you know, exponentially I think increased. And we hear that in so many people’s stories and kind of the story of the world right now. Which is fascinating to think that both of those things could happen simultaneously. And you know, they don’t necessarily have to, you know, pull apart from one another. But there can be a appreciation on both sides. So I think that’s a great insight, brother. Now, I really want us to tackle this idea of spiritual formation in the digital age from kind of two angles, Jay, and you made this easy on us because you’ve, you’ve done this yourself in your own work. So this is going to be incredible for our audience. And so here are the two approaches that we’re going to look at and both are very different. The first focus is on, you know, the FrontStage. I’d love to hear your thoughts from the perspective of a local church pastor, a pastor looking at the ministries in their own context, the ministries of a local church. How can we be more effective in really developing Christ-followers through the life of our local church congregation? Alright, so that’s one side, in the midst of a digital age. But then we want to go BackStage as well. And we want to look at our lives, personally as pastors, you know, and this kind of picks up more of what you share in your newest book, Analog Christian. And I’d love for you to speak to the backstage life of of us as pastors, you know, to our own our own soul care, our own spiritual formation, what that looks like, personally for us, and it’s, you know, specifically in this digital age. And so, like I said, you’ve kind of set this up because your first book, Analog Church, which is absolutely fascinating, this kind of focuses on more that front stage stuff. Your next book, which is is releasing here very shortly, called Analog Christian, that kind of focuses more on kind of our spiritual and kind of our own personal, reflects on our personal development, which is awesome. And just real quickly, for our audience, I want to let them know that we have an opportunity, we’re going to be giving away copies of both Analog Church and Analog Christian to one of our audience members. So if you’re on YouTube, make sure that you like, subscribe and comment below, leave your name and your church’s name. If you’re listening on on a podcast, jump over to YouTube and make sure you comment and subscribe so that we can select one of you. Super excited, you will have a chance to win both of these books, both Analog Church and Analog Christian, and thank you, Jay, for sharing these with our audience. So let’s kind of dive into this. All right, let’s start with the FrontStage as a pastor, Jay. What do we need to really kind of consider when it comes to making disciples, when it comes to shepherding our people, shepherding our churches, in this intersection of both analog and digital?
In some ways, I mean, that is the question, you know, so I guess, initially, my response to the to the question is that the question itself is the response. That in all that we do as we serve and lead our churches, the way you framed the question, Jason, I think is so spot on. You know, I’m a believer in metrics. I don’t have a problem with measuring numbers. And you know, I think there’s a healthy way to keep an eye on attendance and giving and all of those things are critically important, but I would suggest that they are critically important in so much as they reveal to you a glimpse of your effectiveness as a pastor and as a church… your effectiveness in actually forming and shaping, you know, disciples, followers of Jesus who are orbiting their lives around Christ learning and living the way of Jesus in whatever context they find themselves. So what comes to mind for me is, what is the primary question you’re asking? You know, why do you do what you do? And why do you do even the nuts and bolts stuff of what you do? Why do you preach? You know, why do you sing songs? Why do you gather in a particular space? Why do you ask people to gather in homes in small groups or life groups or whatever you call them in your context? What is the end goal? You know, and I think for me, at least, my best understanding of Scripture, it seems to be clear, you know, there’s the famous, very well known Great Commission in Matthew 18, when Jesus, his parting words, I mean, his sort of final mandate to these young men who will eventually give rise to the Christian church. He says to them, Go and make, you know, not good people, not good moral people. Go and make not people who know how to sit and listen to a sermon for 30 minutes, or sing the songs or give a lot of money to the church. He says, Go and make disciples. And if you extrapolate that concept out, it actually leads to all of those other nuts and bolts, things that we’re talking about. People who are following the way of Jesus, living and embodying the way of Jesus, they inevitably, at some point, grow to a place where they do all of those things that we’re so interested in, and having our people do… you know, show up to church, give serve, joining a small group, give to the needy go on a mission, trip, outreach, community service, all of those things, you know, how it impacts marriages, and parenting and relationships, and career, faith and vocation and all of those things. But those things are byproducts of a life being formed into the image of the risen Christ. And I think we need to be able to answer that question, honestly, we need to be able to answer that question, you know, with very clear eyes. And I think sometimes, for me, as a pastor, I have a tendency to essentially surround whatever it is that’s happening in our church with a particular narrative. I mean, the reality is pastors are prone to hyperbole. You know, it’s kind of in our nature, we’re preachers at heart and preachers, when when we’re not careful, we’re prone to hyperbole. So it’s pretty easy for us. Most pastors are really good at talking, you know, right, pretty easy for a pastor, to couch everything in the positive and stretch the malleability of words, to frame everything within the context of discipleship and formation into Christ’s likeness, and all those things. But I think we have to really be honest with ourselves, by defining what we mean when we say people in our congregations are learning and living the way of Jesus, living a life of discipleship to Jesus apprenticing to Jesus, whatever the language and your context may be, we have to be really clear about what we mean. And that clarity has to play out in like practical, pragmatic, real life, real time, ways. And so that’s the first thing I would say. And as it juxtaposes with the digital age, there’s so much to say here, but one of the things I would say is that the digital age is by its nature, it is becoming increasingly, online spaces are becoming increasingly performative spaces. You know, there are places where people go to perform. And pastors if we’re not careful, we are also prone to performance. You know, your sermon can very easily become a performative monologue that you’ve crafted to impress the masses. And the sermon at its finest, I think all of us would agree is not that at all, but rather, it’s lots of things. But I would suggest one of the things it is, is an honest rendering of the truth of God and the gospel of Jesus, and the way that confronts the idolatry and the lies that we’re living and embodying. You know, I think a lot about the prophetic literature and the prophetic tradition. You know, these guys were not popular in their day. I mean, everybody quotes that verse from Jeremiah 29. You know, 11 For I know the plans I have for you to prosper you and everybody loves that verse and puts it on coffee mugs, but if you read the the entirety of Jeremiah, it is like one of the most depressing reads of all time. It is not a fun book. And prophets were not popular. And what I’m not saying is that pastors should be downers. I’m not saying that pastors should just, you know, critique. I don’t think pastors should critique. But I do think there is a very important distinction between critique and confrontation. And while I do not believe that pastors are called to critique our people, I do believe we are called to confront idolatrous lies with the truth of the gospel. And sometimes that is going to be difficult, but I believe it’s always going to be hopeful. And in the digital age, it’s really easy to lean on performance. And typically, what you want from a performance is the applause of the masses. You want them to clap, and smile on their way out, and make sure that they’re coming back for more, you know, the next week, and that’s not a bad thing we want to, we want to draw people in, absolutely, and make sure that they understand they’re welcome and invited. But I think the path forward there is to be really honest about the state of our lives and the condition of our of our souls. And I think that’s a part of what it means to say yes to the calling, of pastoral faithfulness. So there’s a lot to say there, I already said a lot. But those are a few thoughts that come to mind.
Yeah, yeah. That’s, that’s great. Jay. And the honesty piece, I think, is interesting. When you think of honesty in-person, you know, gathering people together, and honesty on the digital front. You know, people can be dishonest anywhere. Yeah. But as we look at the digital world, what we tend to see are the best of everyone’s lives, you know, the best moments of everyone’s lives. So it’s the highlights, yes, exactly. And so and you can control that, digitally. Whereas you can’t necessarily control that, you know, if you’re living in community with with people around you, right. And so I think that’s a very important point that you’ve made there in regard to that honesty piece. Because if we’re not careful, in the, you know, the digital realm, we can, we can cover up a lot of the authenticity of what it means to be, you know, living lives honoring Jesus, you know, and we, like you said, we always want to celebrate the beauty of it. But there are challenges. I mean, and Christ told us himself, you know, that there will be trouble, we would see trouble in this world but, you know, that we wouldn’t be alone in the midst of that. And so there are, you know, highlights, but there are also valleys, and there are also challenges. And so, I think that idea of honesty and recognizing that in the digital space, it’s much, much easier, and not only much easier, but it’s very tempting, quite honestly, too, because you can edit things out, right? Make things look look really good. So yeah, I think that’s important to keep in mind. Yeah. So that’s kind of looking at the front stage piece of it as pastors and ministry leaders, you were talking a little bit about being very clear about what it means to be a disciple maker or to be a follower of Jesus and what that was like. Can you give us some, maybe some examples of what that clarifying process either looks like, or some examples of even you in your own local context, whenever you are saying, Okay, you get your team together. prayerfully looking at okay, what exactly are we, as you said, how do we answer that question? What does it mean to be, you know, a spiritually formed follower of Jesus. So that clarity there.
Yeah, that’s great. I guess I’ll use our context, you know, because that’s the context I live in. So I’ll just share, and by no means is this sort of like, Hey, we’ve figured it out. We have not, right. Yeah. We’re, we’re just like everybody listening. We’re just learning and kind of building the plane as we fly, and especially post COVID. You know, we just did a survey at our church, and 33%, one in three, people who are attending our services on Sunday now have told us that they are, (at least 33% of those who took the survey and it was a lot of people that took the survey,) 33% have been at our church for one year or less. Not even, it’s not even the start of COVID. It’s like in the middle of COVID they started watching us online or attending in person then. And then nearly 50% of our church has been here two years or less. So half of our church are COVID folks. They found us during COVID. So one of the things that’s done for us is it’s actually forced us, it’s been a real gift, it’s forced us to reimagine how and how often and with what language, we communicate our values. So for us, you know, what we say here is that Westgate Church is a group of ordinary people who are learning and living the way of Jesus in Silicon Valley. And for us, what that means is to become a people who, we talk about the three loves at our church a lot. Again, it’s not rocket science, we didn’t invent it. It’s from the scriptures, and lots of churches use this language. But we talk about the three loves, you know, God’s call, Jesus’ call, specifically, to love God, to love our neighbors as ourselves, and to love one another… to love the brothers and sisters who make up this family in the context of our local church that we belong to. So the way we do it is we have an introductory class called Intro. It’s just called Intro. And it’s, it’s like a mixture of in person and video. So the beginning session and the ending session are all in person. And then there’s a series of nine videos that you watch. And those videos essentially get into the values of our church, which is essentially our rendering of what it means to be a disciple, to follow Jesus. So those nine videos they get into these three loves, and essentially what we do, again, answering your question, how do we practically do this in our church, we explain what we mean by love. And the reason that’s important for us is because culturally love, the word love, is elastic. It means all sorts of things to all sorts of people. So we try to do some work on what the Bible means when it uses the word love. And then we explain at least in our context, here in Silicon Valley, where it is very post Christian, very unchurched, 90 something percent of our area have no church affiliation, we try to explain what we mean when we say the word God, because also God means all sorts of things to all sorts of people. So we’re digging into like the name Yahweh. And, you know, we’re talking about a particular person when we say, God. And then we also offer Alpha here, you know, so a lot of folks who have questions at that point, they’ll, they’ll transition into Alpha, and that’s been really helpful for us. And then and then we just do the same exact thing. What, what does scripture mean when it says, neighbor… who is our neighbor? What does it mean to love them, and then we’ll do some work on one another, and we’ll do some work on the church and why the church matters and what the church is and what it means. Why it’s important that the scriptures use familiar language to describe the church, and what that means for our connection with one another. So, you know, there’s, that’s like nine weeks worth of content. But that’s essentially how we do it. We just try to go piece by piece, explaining each of those loves and, and we’ve seen some, some really good fruit from that.
Yeah, that’s awesome. Thank you for for sharing that kind of real life example of that, because that is one of the things that I think every local church, as you said, are wrestling with because we do need to be clear. And the more kind of, we find ourselves in a post Christendom world, the clearer we need to be honestly, yeah, so I appreciate the work that you guys are doing there. That’s awesome. All right. So front stage, awesome. Let’s go backstage down for our personal spiritual formation. And again, this aligns a lot more with your most recent book, Analog Christian, a lot of the things that you you share there. So what do we need to be paying to paying attention to ourselves as pastors as ministry leaders, when it comes to our own spiritual development, spiritual formation in the digital age?
Yeah, you know, the writer, James K.A. Smith, Jamie Smith, he’s got this fantastic book called “You Are What You Love” and I’m sure lots of people listening or watching have read it. It’s an incredible book and he’s got this line in the book where he says, “human beings live leaning forward,” and what he means by that is that every human on the planet, every human in the history of humans, has always lived with a telos and telos is a word that essentially means like an end, that essentially your life is headed in a particular direction and that you do not have a choice in the matter. Every human lives leaning forward, we live with a particular end in mind, the only choice we have is which direction. And if we are not aware, if we’re not careful, if we’re not intentional, then the telos, or the end or the direction of our lives, will be dictated to us, by whatever, whatever mediums, whatever realities are most most pervasive in our lives. And my concern has been for a very long time, that in the digital age in particular, because online realities, and the internet, and social media and news media, because those things are so pervasive in our lives, if we do not live with intention, that our lives will be formed, we have no choice in the matter. Our lives will be formed by those realities, by the digital age, by the Internet, by social media, by news media, and the stories and the narratives that they tell us about what is true, and not true about the world and our lives. And so, for me, you know, as I think about pastors and church leaders, but as I also think about just people in our church, the the men and women and the kids that I feel called to serve and to lead. That’s one of my greatest concerns. So I often think about the work we’re doing here at our church, as work to not only form disciples, but actually maybe first and foremost, or at least initially to unform disciples, unform disciples of the digital age, so that they might then become disciples of Jesus in the way of Jesus. And again, it’s not black and white, it’s not like, you know, the internet is diametrically opposed to the gospel. The internet is just a medium, it’s just a tool. This is something I say, in my first book, in Analog Church, tools are amoral. They’re amoral, basically, I don’t think that they have a morality in and of themselves, necessarily, although you could make an argument, the social media, and the algorithms do kind of have an inherent morality. But if you take like a hammer, for example, a hammer doesn’t have a built in morality, a hammer can be used, used to build up something really beautiful, and a hammer can be used to actually destroy stuff. You know, it just depends on intention. And so that’s really for me, maybe the most critical initial piece, how much intentionality are we living with? You know, are we aware of the things that are forming us? And if those things are not forming us into the likeness of Christ? How willing are we how much courage how much conviction? How much discipline are we willing to lean into, in order to detach in a healthy way, and to unform ourselves from those formative powers, and to attach ourselves to the way of Jesus in such a way that we grow more and more like him, you know, in our daily lives. So in a nutshell, that’s kind of what analog Christian is about. And more specifically, what I have discovered is, you know, Paul’s words, near the end of his letter to the Galatians, where he talks about keeping in step with the Spirit and embodying and bearing you know, the Spirit bearing fruit in our lives and those characteristics of the Spirit’s fruit, you know, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, self control, what I’ve realized is that those characteristics of the Spirit’s fruit are actually the antidotes to so much that ails us in the digital age. So I think essentially, what it comes down to is, can we be the sort of people who live with such a deep hunger and desire for the things of God, and invite God by His Spirit to actually bear fruit in us, not just become Christians who get a golden ticket to heaven when we die, but to be the sorts of people here and now in the day-to-day, who ask God by His Spirit, to come alive in us and to bear fruit in us, and if we can do that, I think the natural byproduct will will be that so much of that which again, ails us in the digital age, so many of the ill effects of social media and news media and all of the intake of the internet, so much of that will come undone as the Spirit of God bears fruit in us. And so that’s my hope with the book. That’s my hope with, you know, our people that we serve here.
Yeah, that’s so solid. And I so appreciate, Jay, how do you kind of flesh that out and kind of lay that out. I know that you write a lot about, you know, ideas of like contentment and resiliency. Yeah. And and as I think of pastors, you know, shepherding a church, those two things, one contentment, and the other resiliency are two things that have really come to the forefront in the last couple of years, especially, I think, in our lives as ministry leaders. So can you speak just just quickly to each of those areas? And how they apply, you know, as pastor to a pastor, you know, thinking through the idea of contentment, and then also that idea of resiliency?
Yeah, yeah, there’s so much to say here, I think contentment again, going back to the characteristics of the fruit of the Spirit, I think that the, you know, the fruit of the Spirit, the way Paul writes it out, they’re sort of set as a triad. So they they come in threes. And you know, the first three love, joy and peace, I think love, joy and peace, speak to the contentment we long for. I think one of the reasons why maybe we don’t experience contentment the way we will be want is because we have a misunderstanding of what love, joy and peace actually are. So often people think that love is sort of an emotional reaction or a feeling we have because you know, it’s the butterflies in the stomach when you meet that girl, you know, for the first time or whatever. And actually, you know, my argument is that love is actually a vocation, love is a calling to live a particular way. And that, you know, just as the human heart, it exists and keeps our bodies alive in a constant flow of receiving and giving, you know, it receives blood from one ventricle and then it oxygenates and then it gives blood through the other ventricle. And then it flows through the whole body. And then that same blood is received again by the heart to be re-oxygenated and to once again be given away. So the body stays alive, like literally our physical bodies, maintain life in a constant never ending flow of receiving and giving. Well, not never ending that 80 years, and then it ends. Right. Right. You know, that’s, that’s what keeps you alive. And I think love is the same exact way. You most deeply experience love, and receive love as you give it away. It’s the work of giving it away, that actually ends up giving you love, you know, and that leads to contentment. And the same with joy. I think Joy often is equated with, you know, happy feelings. And in fact, Joy is so much more than that, you know, Joy is the ability to find meaning in both the ups and downs of life. It’s the sort of sustaining energy that undergirds both the mountaintops and the valleys and the long plateaus in between. And so once we tap into that, once we understand that joy is not predicated on circumstances, or things, working out or breaking our way, but rather it is a gift from God that sustains us. That leads us to incredible contentment. And then peace. You know, peace is, many of us know this, peace is not just the absence of chaos or violence, peace in the biblical literature is, in the Hebrew, it’s the word shalom, which is actually the rightness of all things and the rightness and the putting right of relationships and systems and, you know, in our own hearts and minds. And so if we can pursue the shalom of God, that too, I think leads to contentment. And then, you know, when it comes to resilience, I mean, I think we could all use more resilience and that second triad of the fruit of the Spirit, you know, the characteristics of patience and kindness and goodness. I think that leads to resilience. I think often we think of, you know, when we think of resilient people, we imagine people with clenched fists, and you know, teeth clenched, and fists clenched, and like, no matter what you do, I’m going to outlast you sort of thing, you know, and that’s not untrue. But actually, I think biblical resilience, you know, you think about the upside down kingdom of God. Then you think about the way Jesus did everything. I mean, literally spending time with the people he shouldn’t have spent time with, going to parties he should not have gone to, winning victory over sin and death by dying, you know, just everything about it is backwards and upside down. And I think Christian resilience is the same way. Christian resilience is far less clenching our fists and standing in opposition to anybody who stands against us. But rather, it’s living with patience and it’s exuding kindness and goodness, in the face of utter hostility. You know, in our world, and especially in the digital age where everyone is hostile. Everyone is, you know, antagonistic, where on social media, everyone is shouting and screaming at one another, the most resilient thing you can do is to be patient, and to be kind, and to be good to those who are maybe not kind and good to you, patient with those who are impatient with you, you know, and that’s resilience. That’s actually true resilience, that gives you the strength to stand in for the long haul. And especially for pastors today, when I think about all of the data regarding how many pastors have left the ministry or are seriously considering leaving the ministry. I think resilience, meaning living with patience and kindness and goodness in our hearts, and exuding those realities. I think it’s one of the critical components of pastoral ministry in our day and age.
Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Jay. I love how you break that down. And how you share that with us and I know go into much more detail in Analog Christian. And I certainly appreciate that, because I just love how you provided the framework, you know, out of the fruit of the Spirit, and that just providesgreat framework, great guidance for us as we’re kind of digging in in that way. Man, it’s been such a great conversation, as it always is with you, Jay. And I certainly appreciate you making the time to be here with us. If our audience would like to connect with you. What’s the best way they can do that?
Yeah, best way is I have a little website, it’s just jaykimthinks.com and all my stuff is there. And then yeah, I’d love to chat with you. If you have any questions or thoughts, or if there’s anything I can do to help you just email me. Just my first name, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Awesome brother. And we will have links to all the things that were mentioned, including both Analog Church in Analog Christian, Jay’s books, we’ll have those available in the the weekly Toolkit, which is a downloadable toolkit that you can use with your ministry team to help you guys grow deeper, and to dig more deeply into this very important conversation that we’ve just had here with with Jay, you can find that at PastorServe.org/network. And also be sure for your opportunity to win a copy of both Analog Church and Analog Christian to on YouTube, Like, Subscribe, and then drop a comment with your name and church name. We’d love to get that out to you… again, one lucky winner. So again, it’s been so great to be with you, Jay. Certainly appreciate it, my friend. God bless you. And thank you for making the time to hang out with us here on FrontStage BackStage.
Yeah, absolutely. It was an honor. Jason, thank you.
Now, before you go, I want to remind you of an incredible free resource that our team puts together every single week to help you and your team dig more deeply and maximize the conversation that we just had. This is the weekly toolkit that we provide. And we understand that it’s one thing to listen or watch an episode, but it’s something entirely different to actually take what you’ve heard, what you’ve watched, what you’ve seen, and apply it to your life and to your ministry. You see, FrontStage BackStage is more than just a podcast or YouTube show about ministry leadership, we are a complete resource to help train you and your entire ministry team as you seek to grow and develop in life in ministry. Every single week, we provide a weekly toolkit which has all types of tools in it to help you do just that. Now you can find this at PastorServe.org/network. That’s PastorServe.org/network. And there you will find all of our shows, all of our episodes and all of our weekly toolkits. Now inside the toolkit are several tools including video links and audio links for you to share with your team. There are resource links to different resources and tools that were mentioned in the conversation, and several other tools, but the greatest thing is the ministry leaders growth guide. Our team pulls key insights and concepts from every conversation with our amazing guests. And then we also create engaging questions for you and your team to consider and process, providing space for you to reflect on how that episode’s topic relates to your unique context, at your local church, in your ministry and in your life. Now you can use these questions in your regular staff meetings to guide your conversation as you invest in the growth of your ministry leaders. You can find the weekly toolkit at PastorServe.org/network We encourage you to check out that free resource. Until next time, I’m Jason Daye encouraging you to love well, live well, and lead well. God bless.
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