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September 2, 2020
My name is Dean Sweetman. I'm the CEO and one of the co-founders at Tithe.ly. I want to tell you a little bit about my story.
I grew up as a teenager on the northern beaches of Sydney. I lived for surfing and surfing alone. I'd get home from school, go straight to the beach, and go surfing every day. Iit was my whole life. I wasn't very good at school. I didn't like school. I actually left school in the 10th grade. I got this deadbeat job. I had an apprenticeship, but I didn’t have any vision for my life. I didn't really have a sense of calling. I had no sense of what I wanted to do with my life.
And then something amazing happened. A guy I worked with found Jesus. He had a radical salvation experience, and all he would do every single day is tell me about it. I, of course, was not looking at all to have anything to do with church. I grew up in church, but never wanted to go. Church was forced upon me. I rejected the whole thing. But this guy at work kept telling me about Jesus. It was just infectious.
And so finally I told him: "Steve, if you just will stop talking about this, I will come to church one time." Of course, I went one time, and I had a radical salvation moment with Jesus. This was in 1981, and it completely transformed my life. Not only did I find Christ, receive salvation, all the forgiveness that comes with the salvation (I needed plenty of that), but I started to get purpose.
Within a very short amount of time, I enrolled in a part-time seminary. I started to learn the Bible, and I discovered some things about myself that I didn't know. That often happens when you find Jesus—you find yourself. I loved people. I loved being around people. I was very sanguine, and finding Christ really bought that out of me. Before you know it, a couple of years later, I'm a youth pastor. Then I started traveling as a missionary, went around the world through Asia and Africa, preaching the gospel. After that, I started to get this desire to plant a church. So in 1996, I moved with my family to Atlanta, Georgia, and planted a church. Fast-forward 20 years, I had a very successful, wonderful church, and oversaw the planting of about 50 other churches in North America.
In 2013, when the iPhone had come out, the app store was just taking off. I started to look at mobile devices in such a way that I thought they could solve a bunch of problems for the church. I was always a very tech-forward guy. I was very a tech-forward pastor. I used technology whenever I could. I lined up at the AT&T store for the first Apple iPhone. That's how into it I was. People that know me know that I don't like lining up for anything. That's how into the tech I am. There was a moment when, one time, I put my credit card into a Starbucks app and paid for my coffee. I was astounded more than anything by the novelty of doing it at the time. I didn't even know it was going to work. It was very new. I put the card in, I go up to the scanner, I buzz it, and low and behold, I paid for my coffee. And that was a real moment.
I had a bunch of problems that I knew could get solved with technology. That's what began the quest to provide technology to churches in and around the generosity area of giving and beyond. But that was just the beginning. Through a series of personal situations, I decided I was going to step away from leading the church. I had a great team in place—still going today, it’s very strong, terrific church. I took some time off to kind of regroup and rethink about what God was calling me to do, and I got really serious about creating this technology company that was going to serve the local church in order to solve a whole bunch of problems.
That's a little bit of my background. That's how I got to where I am today, and I couldn't be happier than I am right now serving the local church in the area of technology.
Watch the video of this episode here: get.tithe.ly/blog/dean-sweetman-intro
Today on Modern Church Leader, Tithe.ly CEO Dean Sweetman tells his journey from planting a church to building the world’s leading church technology company.
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