A Well-Considered Plan for Technology Innovation

Leveraging technology innovations for online engagement can be enticing. Exciting new apps and social media platforms can feel like you’ve hit on the “next big thing” – “must-haves” to reach an increasingly connected audience and cause your message to go viral.  

But like most things, jumping on the latest technology bandwagon isn’t wise without a well-considered plan that first weighs initiatives and tests the process. 

To that end, we offer the following helpful excerpt on harnessing innovation from Alan George, who spent almost a decade as the Church Online Pastor at Life.Church:  

“I have learned so much from David Farmer, VP Restaurant Experience at Chick-fil-A, and his formula for the Chick-fil-A innovation process. Here’s how it goes:


Understand > Imagine > Prototype > Validate > Launch


Understand: Even before imagining, understanding your audience by doing the necessary research for the target audience is essential.

Imagine: Now that you have spent some time understanding your audience, you can consider different ideas to solve a specific problem. Don’t just come up with ideas for the sake of ideas. Ask yourself this question, “What problem am I trying to solve?”

Prototype: Next, pick a prototype. You create a quick, cheaper version of this idea that you are not emotionally tied to. Not every prototype will lead to a launch but this gives you a safe place to test out your ideas.

Validate: Do the customers love it – do they reorder, do they like it, does it taste well? Do the operators support it – are they bought in, do they see sales? Does it financially make sense?

Launch: This is when your team goes all out! Everyone is aligned and ready to move forward with the best, and most proven ideas.

Leveraging a process like the one mentioned above does not require a lot of time. The more you employ this strategy, the more your team will become increasingly agile and mobile as you create a safe place for collaboration.”

The above excerpt is from The Top Three Digital Engagement Mistakes to Avoid by Alan George.



Ten Things an Evangelist Should Believe

by Stephen Trout

Do you long to reach people with the evangel (good news) of Jesus, and see them come to new life in Him? 

If so (and we hope you do!), you must understand how people tick. 

Maybe you’ve been taught that effective evangelism boils down to a formula: memorize the “Romans road” passages (a good thing to be sure), and have a “Four Spiritual Laws” tract in your back pocket to whip out whenever the occasion arises. 

That rote approach might have been more effective 20 years ago, as pastor and author Tim Keller has said, when…

“… most Americans not only had a rudimentary knowledge of Christianity but also tended to respect it… 20 years ago, the hyper-individualistic narratives (“You have to be true to yourself”; “No one has the right to tell anyone else how to live”) weren’t as deeply entrenched in as many people. Today Christianity is culturally strange and not respected. This is the world in which we share our faith now.”

If Keller is right, and those are the narratives that hold sway in our day, how do we proceed?

We suggest Thomas Cranmer gives us a hint with his famous dictum – itself, well supported by Scripture:

“What the heart loves, the will chooses, and the mind justifies.”

What Cranmer recognized is that if someone is going to make a choice for something (or someone), their heart must first be engaged and gripped by a new affection.

Arguments won’t do it; in fact, psychologists have noticed they tend to have the exact opposite effect of what is intended, causing the will to harden. (Check it out – it’s called the “backfire effect.”)

The story of Jesus, on the other hand, has power (Rom. 1:16) to pierce the heart. When told with imagination and a view towards his radical grace and love to broken people (like us), cold hearts begin to warm.*

Even if the hearer is not sure they believe it, vivid proclamation can stir the imagination and capture the affections, causing them to wonder: 

What kind of love is this? Maybe this Jesus is worth looking into…  

There’s a sense in which the same is true for us. Before we can effectively share the good news, we must have our own hearts warmed again. 

It’s another way of saying that when we see Jesus anew with the eyes of faith, zeal for him begins to burn within, and we are propelled outward to love – like him.

Yet because we often lose sight of this and our doubts rise so easily within, here are 10 “gospel reminders” to come back to, on a regular basis: (These are adapted with minor elaboration from Glen Scrivener of Speak Life):

  1. God is mission.

As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit our God is Sender, Sent, and Proceeding. His being is irreducibly bound up in sending – in mission.  He is the outward focussed God, the spreading God. In the words of David Bosch, he is “a Fountain of sending love.”

  1. In Christ, I’m already who I need to be.

I already am salt and light (Matt 5:13-16). I am a witness (Acts 1:8). I am priestly (1 Peter 2:9). I’m his ambassador, and beloved child. 2 Cor. 5:20, Eph. 5:1

  1. The Son is the One proclaimed – the substance of all our proclamation (Colossians 1:28).

Good thing too because He is unbelievably attractive.  Speak of Him and you cannot go wrong. The gospel (the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for me, aka the “great exchange”) is the power of God, and God is unleashing divine potency as we testify to Christ (Rom 1:16).

  1. The world is utterly lost – yet unbelievably loved.

The natural state of the race of Adam is disconnection from the God of life – it is perishing. It’s what men choose, and it’s hell to be Christless (Ephesians 2:12). Yet God so loved the world, he was willing to die for it. (Jn. 3:16)  

  1. My greatest problem is not the culture, but me. I still need Jesus!

My flesh is the real enemy to evangelism – not a lack of evangelistic techniques. My flesh curves me in on myself when mission means to extend myself into the lives of others. 

If I do approach mission as a “culture war,” trying to morally reform the world without Christ, I miss the power of God and turn people off. Weakness evangelism joins Paul in saying “I am the Chief of Sinners,” so that Christ may be exalted. 

  1. Christ has earned me the right to speak.

All authority is Christ’s (Matthew 28:16-18) and he gives it to his people (Matthew 28:19-20). I don’t earn the right to speak, the Risen Jesus has earned it already. “Therefore go!”

  1. Giving myself away is the truly happy life.

As I share Jesus I benefit hugely – I come to appreciate all the good things I have in Christ as I articulate them (Philemon 6). And as I give myself to others I follow in the way of Christ, the way of blessing.  (Mark 8:35) 

  1. The community in its unity is vital (John 13:34-35; John 17:20-26).

Before I have loved the unbeliever, my love of the believer (if done in view of the world) has already witnessed powerfully to Christ. Do the people around me see me as part of an engaging, humble community?  

  1. The community in its diversity is vital (Eph 4:10-12; 1 Peter 4:10-11).

I have been uniquely gifted in the evangelistic task and I am surrounded by others (who I need) who are likewise uniquely gifted.

  1. I don’t have to be polished first and then a missionary.

My life on mission is how I am discipled. As I go I learn. And all I really need is the testimony of John 9: “I was blind but now I see,” and to continue to love, with all humility and reliance on Jesus.  

In conclusion, there are dazzlingly glorious promises for those who let their light shine, sharing this great news of divine rescue:

“Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)

*Note: A new heart affection for Jesus is always how real change in the believer’s life happens. The old Scottish minister Thomas Chalmers called it “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection” in one of his sermons, which you can find here.

5 STEPS to Engaging People Online

“Crisis,” Clint Rogers notes, “tends to create community engagement with little effort.”

Consider just two examples from recent memory:

In the days following 9/11, thousands streamed into churches to process life’s fragility and ultimate meaning after the twin towers fell. Many heard the gospel and came to faith in Christ.

Similarly, last year as the pandemic was ramping up, online church engagement also began to rise. (I personally know of a church that averaged 150 attendees on a normal week, pre-pandemic. After sheltering-in-place began, they saw nearly 3,000 viewing their online live stream).

Our point, of course, isn’t that we should hope for a crisis — there’s beauty and brokenness to be found around every corner. Rather, how do we maintain momentum, when typically, “as the crisis wanes, so does the engagement”?

Rogers, Founder of Pro Media Fire, suggests the following ‘5 D’s of Digital Engagement’:


To communicate effectively and foster engagement, you must know your audience — their language, contexts, and culture. So who are you designing your online engagement for?

Rogers asks, “Are you designing for an urban or a rural crowd? Younger people or older people? You may even be trying to reach a combination of many different groups of people, but the main idea is to at least recognize the people you desire to reach.”

We see this in the Gospels, as Jesus spoke to different people in different ways. He engaged a Samaritan woman differently than the paralytic lowered through the roof or the religious leaders. Of course he knew their past, and often he engaged his hearers with good questions that were aimed at the heart.

“Once you have recognized your target audience,” notes Rogers, “everything you design should be created with those particular people in mind. Designing with a heart for the audience means caring about their needs and listening to what Jesus wants to speak to them.”


We must always remember that engagement is not about numbers and statistics, it is about real people who need to know the love of God and experience a transformed life…’

Are you speaking the language of your audience? Missionaries to foreign lands appreciate the importance of this, often spending years learning the intricacies of a language and culture so they can communicate most effectively.


Creating a discussion — rather than just pronouncements — encourages dialogue — a key to engagement. This is the beginning of an actual relationship, implicit in “love your neighbor.”

You begin by aiming for your audience to become “active participants in the online conversation,” says Rogers. “In other words, the people who are struck by your design make a decision to comment, like, or share your content. When people love a post, they may make the decision to share it.”

Excitement and interest rise when people want to engage, and they typically want to share it with others. Rogers continues, “When someone chooses to share your content to their feed, story, or profile, your content is exposed to a brand new audience.

This simple act of sharing opens up a door to those outside your reach who may choose to follow you and even interact with your content further… discussion online should transform into a real-life habit of discovery… we can walk alongside people by answering their questions and inviting them into something deeper.”


People love video — it engages the senses — and Youtube and other video sites have given us a library of engaging online content to learn from.

So too, Rogers says, “for your church to succeed in the discovery level of engagement, it requires a library of binge-worthy content online. If you start a discussion with people and they like who you are, they want to know more. They liked the video shared with them on social media and now they want to go deeper into additional messages and content from the church.

This is exactly what happened with Pastor Michael Todd of Transformation Church in Tulsa, OK. A young girl shared a video of his that went viral. People began to search for the church on YouTube and found a library of past messages of binge-worthy content. They went down a path of discovery with the Transformation Church and the online ministry exploded.”


The church isn’t a building; rather, it’s people in community who belong to one another by grace. Together, they are learning (like the first disciples) what it means to be a follower of Jesus.

As Rogers says, “engagement at the discovery level is merely dipping your toe in the water to see what it’s like, but discipleship is diving right in.

Our digital engagement also goes hand-in-hand with discipleship. We live in a highly digitized age where the majority of people spend a huge chunk of their time online consuming and engaging with content. The church is positioned in a unique time where people are looking for answers and often turn to the content they find online to find those answers.

We can meet people where they are (i.e. online) and invite them into the greatest relationship they will ever know — a relationship with Jesus. Jesus had 12 disciples and he trained them in community while doing life together. From small groups to training of all kinds, we must look to foster community online and physically.”


“Just as a soldier gets deployed to serve,” Rogers says, “when someone puts their faith in Jesus, they are eventually sent on a mission that is much greater than themselves.

This does not mean everyone is destined to leave their home, move to a third-world country, and dedicate themselves to mission work. What this means is that every believer has a distinct purpose over their lives which they will use to advance and strengthen the Kingdom of God.”

Every Christian, by virtue of being the body of Christ in the world, takes on the mantle of ambassador:

“We are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” 2 Cor. 5

To be deployed as an ambassador means we not only follow Jesus as disciples but lovingly invite others to as well.

So says Rogers, “The last step in digital engagement is to raise up a digital team and give them a mission. Your digital team should be part of the discussion and building relationships with the seekers online… the last aspect of the overall engagement cycle…

This emphasis on relationships at the deployment level leads you right back to the start where you can use your gifts in media, teaching, writing, and more to engage those hungry for hope.”

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480–8791.


Do ‘Thoughts and Prayers’ Work?

I know an ardent skeptic of Christianity who likes to wear a t-shirt with the following slogan:

Thoughts and Prayers Don’t Work.

Maybe you’ve seen different versions with a similar sentiment: Thoughts and Prayers Don’t Stop Bullets, Thoughts and Prayers Mean Nothing, Policy Change not Thoughts and Prayers, etc. 

If you’re like me, your knee-jerk reaction is to think, “Well, that proves you don’t know prayer! I’ve actually seen prayers answered — so it does work.”

But let’s pause a moment and consider: What would the skeptic actually hear us saying? (We might also examine our level of humility and graciousness as well). 

The implication of the “Prayer Works” argument is that “God responded and did exactly what I asked him to do.” Sort of like pushing the buttons on a vending machine to get what I wanted, as writer Carey Nieuwhof says.

Except that real prayer isn’t a button we push to get what we want. And the skeptic sees right through the impersonal, “vending machine-god” or genie with a lamp who doesn’t come through and give them what they want…

Nieuwhof writes,

“There are scores of people inside and outside the church whose spirits are crushed because they prayed (fervently) and:

They didn’t get the job.

Their mom died of cancer.

Their child was born without a heartbeat.

They ended up in a car crash that left them permanently disabled.


“Prayer is not a button to be pushed; it’s a relationship to be pursued.”


Nieuwhof continues,

“Prayer does ‘work,’ but it works very differently than we’d like. It still ‘works’: 

When we can’t trace out any direct result from our prayer.

When the opposite of what we prayed for happens.

In those moments when we feel very distant from God.

When we bang down the door of heaven for years and are not sure anything is going on up there at all…

… The parade of saints across the centuries would have been shocked to see prayer reduced to God-doing-what-I-asked-him-to-do-when-I-asked-him-to-do-it. God is not a puppy to be trained or a chef in the kitchen who prepares food to suit our every whim. He is sovereign.”

The issue then comes down to this: which version of prayer and which God does the t-shirt wearer really need to see? A vending machine imitation that we’re supposedly in control of? Or the true and Sovereign King who rules the world in ways that we don’t always understand (read Job 38–40), but is good, and meets us in our neediness?

The Truth about Prayer

Prayer is a privilege for God’s children, the opportunity to pour out our hearts (praises, laments, confessions, requests) to our loving Father. He doesn’t need it from us but actually desires it because he loves us and knows that we need it.

Prayer helps us come back to our right mind and place in the universe as we engage with him.

Does the idea of talking to God as Father seem hard to grasp? Jesus said, ‘If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father’ (Jn. 14:9). If you want to know the Father’s heart, look at Jesus. He alone is the doorway into the Father’s presence.

So prayer helps us remember who our Father really is, and also that he’s so much better than we give him credit for. And when we don’t get what we ask for, we can thank him that he’s not a vending- machine-god, but a personal God and Savior who gives us exactly what we need most: a relationship with himself. 

Truepath’s vision is to empower Christian organizations and businesses to take full advantage of their online presence by providing affordable and best-in-class applications and dedicated, live customer support. You can reach us at: (760) 480-8791.