Dean Sweetman (00:00):
All church technology is, in my mind, is utilizing computer chips and speed and silicon to make tasks easier, because a lot of admin goes into the life of church volunteers and church leadership. We can make that easier and scale that to be so much faster by using the text so they can actually do ministry, be with people, prepare some and teach kids Sunday school, that's what church leaders should be doing.
Frank Barry (00:32):
Hey, everybody. This is Frank with the very first introductory episode of the Church Tech podcast. Myself and my amazing partner over here, Dean Sweetman, not coming live,-
Dean Sweetman (00:46):
Here I am, everybody.
Frank Barry (00:46):
... but we're here to talk church tech all day long.
Dean Sweetman (00:49):
Right. I'm pumped for this because we talk church tech all day long anyway, so we thought we may as well take half an hour, 40 minutes and let everybody in on the conversations we're already having all the time.
Frank Barry (01:04):
Exactly. Exactly. It's, I don't know, slightly awkward. We may not have anything interesting to say, but we also might have really interesting things to say, so it's going to be fun.
Dean Sweetman (01:14):
Look, there's times where you call me at six o'clock in the morning or send me a text about an idea and I do the same to you at midnight. That's just how we live, so I think we're just going to bring that passion, energy, excitement around church tech and just include some friends and make some new mates and have a party around church tech.
Frank Barry (01:36):
Just because this is the first and some people may not know our backgrounds, you should say how did you get into church tech and I'll say how I got into church tech, and then we can talk about what church tech is. What are we talking about?
Dean Sweetman (01:47):
100%. Well, I was a pastor in some capacity for 30 years. I traveled as a missionary for 10 years and I planted churches in North America, but from Australia. But always was techy, always just loved technology. I can remember before the iPhone came out, trying to get recurring giving on [inaudible 00:02:09].
Frank Barry (02:09):
So on your BlackBerry. You were on your BlackBerry.
Dean Sweetman (02:11):
Dude, I lost three BlackBerrys in one day once. I love those things. It had something to do with going to the toilet, which I'm not going to go into, but [inaudible 00:02:21].
Frank Barry (02:21):
That'll be for the future podcast. That's a teaser. That's a teaser for a future podcast, guys,-
Dean Sweetman (02:26):
Frank Barry (02:27):
... so make sure you come back.
Dean Sweetman (02:27):
I was massively the church guy into technology, and then literally the story of how we built our business that you and I work in every day. It came around from just solving a couple of problems around giving, and we can expound on that another day, but I just love what technology can do. I'm a massive reader of, I probably should read Christian material more, but I read more non-Christian material around business and technology and software and all of that, always have, and then just always try to apply what I was reading from... I remember investing in Cisco in year 2000. Actually, I started in like '98 and it ran all the way up Cisco Systems and I'm like, "This thing's never going to go down," and then the dotcom bubble came and I lost all my money in all my Cisco shares, so that's how long I've been [inaudible 00:03:24].
Frank Barry (03:23):
That story's all too close to home right now, like [inaudible 00:03:28].
Dean Sweetman (03:31):
Oh, the Nasdaq's down. I don't know what [inaudible 00:03:32].
Frank Barry (03:31):
Yeah. That whole story is repeating itself right now.
Dean Sweetman (03:35):
I'm not looking. Anyway, so always into it. Love God. Love the church. Always thought technology could help the church. Then when I start doing church full time, started a tech company with you and here we are.
Frank Barry (03:49):
And here we are, yeah. And again, just so listeners have a little context, actually, I grew up a little bit techy addict, a computer mom, single mom, but mom got me a computer somehow. The internet was starting to be a thing and so I got online. So when I got, fast forward into college, I had no clue what I wanted. I went to school first because I wanted to play football and then I had to figure out what am I going to do. I was like, "Oh, I like technology, so I chose computer science." Little did I know that was incredibly difficult, but I made it through. I was on the CIS get degrees plan and I made it through, got my degree. I always had this interest in tech and was into it, but then I became a youth pastor for about five years. As lots of youth pastors do, you end up doing the church website and email. You're fixing people's laptops and you're doing all the things.
Dean Sweetman (04:48):
Using Dream Weaver.
Frank Barry (04:49):
Dean Sweetman (05:50):
The rest is history.
Frank Barry (05:51):
Oh, my gosh. Technology and church coming together is like my perfect world. You couldn't make something better. You've heard me say that tons of times.
Dean Sweetman (06:03):
Yeah. You think if what would be a great outcome of this podcast is if we can get church leaders to, I think, A, not be afraid of technology and maybe even get to the next stage, embrace. We might have to deal with some fear issues and then we want you to embrace the tech. That is going to become one of our goals here, I think. It's for our audience.
Frank Barry (06:29):
I think yeah, absolutely, educate church leaders on technology. Talk about maybe some current and future things that are coming, things that you're maybe hearing in the news or when you're that pastor that's reading up on what's going on in the world. You're hearing about metaverse and crypto and a bunch of stuff. We'll get into those topics, but maybe we can talk about a little bit just what is church tech.
Dean Sweetman (06:55):
Frank Barry (06:57):
Why is that even a topic that makes sense to talk about?
Dean Sweetman (07:02):
Yeah. Look, obviously, when you look at applications that are built and put on computers, those applications essentially take complex things and make them easier and they provide you a platform to do things at scale that you couldn't do with pieces of paper. All church technology is, in my mind, is utilizing computer chips and speed and silicon to make tasks easier, so ultimately, and especially if they're administrative, because a lot of admin goes into the life of church volunteers and church leadership. We can make that easier and scale that to be so much faster by using the tech so they can actually do ministry, be with people, prepare some and teach kids Sunday school. That's what church leaders should be doing.
Frank Barry (08:00):
Dean Sweetman (08:00):
In my mind, what we do is we build technology to take care of the mundane things. But we can also make them fun and solve other problems, but in my head, that's what it is.
Frank Barry (08:11):
Well, absolutely. We all know there's technology in the world. There's technology going back to-
Dean Sweetman (08:20):
Frank Barry (08:20):
I don't even know when the first bit of technology was developed, like the wheel. I don't know. Technology just keeps evolving and has evolved year by year, and you think about the church and you go, "Okay. A church is a very unique thing. I'm not building software for the business, some business that sells something on the internet or has a manufacturing plant." There's all kinds of businesses in the world. A church is a very unique thing and does specific types of things that other entities like businesses and nonprofits may not do the same. I think about church technology is really thinking about technology from the lens of the local church.
Frank Barry (09:05):
How do you build the tools that those pastors and volunteers and other church leaders from the accounting folks to the pastoral care folks, to the worship team, all the volunteers that come across all those different parts of the church to the executive staff? They all do things that technology can make better. Not the care of people per se. That's the people thing. The church is not that, but there's technology that can make things more efficient, things faster, things easier to do. Computers are great at these basic things.
Dean Sweetman (09:42):
Right. 100%. Then the last 10 years, pushing all of what was on a desktop or then into a laptop is now in your pocket, on the phone. I think our big passion is, how do we take that technology that used to live on a desktop or a personal computer and how do we make that mobile friendly in a way that takes it to the next level, makes it easier, faster, simpler, beautiful, like all the things that we like to do when we build products and just lead with mobile? If you think about iterations of technology in a secular sense, it's the same in the church or it should be. We should be keeping pace. Maybe we should even lead when you think of all this back office stuff that used to happen on mainframes and then it got smaller and it's smaller and now it's all in your hand. We're passionate about that too.
Frank Barry (10:38):
Yeah. One of the most basic things that church keeps track of is membership. Who are the people in the church?
Dean Sweetman (10:48):
Who's in my church?
Frank Barry (10:50):
Who's the flock? Who are the people that I need to take care of? Whether you're a 10-person, super small like house church or you're a big megachurch, that's what church leaders and pastors are doing, is taking care of these people and helping them get closer to God, right?
Dean Sweetman (11:05):
Frank Barry (11:06):
So that member list that maybe way back in the day, you had on a piece of paper sitting on your desk.
Dean Sweetman (11:12):
Dude, I still remember. I started my church in Atlanta in '96 and I remember getting my compact or was it Packard Bell? It was one of those, and I had my-
Frank Barry (11:22):
I remember the compacts, yeah, [inaudible 00:11:24] the queue.
Dean Sweetman (11:27):
Was it the 14-9 modem, whatever that was, and AOL and I had Excel and I remember filling out the first members and putting them in an Excel spreadsheet.
Frank Barry (11:36):
But you jumped. It used to be on paper, right? It's like [inaudible 00:11:39].
Dean Sweetman (11:39):
Oh, yeah. I started with Excel.
Frank Barry (11:41):
Yeah. It used to be written down, and then it went to Excel.
Dean Sweetman (11:44):
[inaudible 00:11:44] in boxes.
Frank Barry (11:47):
Sticky notes, that was the tech of the day, and then Excel spreadsheets became a big thing.
Dean Sweetman (11:54):
Frank Barry (11:55):
There's still churches using Excel spreadsheets.
Dean Sweetman (11:56):
Oh, there's a lot of churches using Excel spreadsheets, let me tell you, sadly, but now you think about what we can do. We can put your whole church in your hand. You can find what small groups you've got in your app. The jump in the last, just call it five years, of what we can serve back to church leadership now, it is almost unthinkable five, eight years ago.
Frank Barry (12:25):
Yeah. Tons of things we can discuss. It feels like even in the topic of church technology like having a website and having a digital, on the internet, cloud-based member contact system, like a basic member management for your church and your volunteers and your small groups, and even having the ability for someone to give to the church online, a lot of that stuff, it's almost shocking to think that somebody wouldn't have some of those things like today as we're sitting post or later half of COVID and a bunch of stuff went online. So there's all that. It's like table stakes. Those are just all things that churches should have.
Dean Sweetman (13:22):
Frank Barry (13:22):
But then there's new stuff that's happening that churches are being forced to think about and they get to jump into it feet first or hide from it. Everyone's going to do what they do, but things like metaverse and crypto and other stuff that will come, those are new church tech. There's new things happening as the world progresses and technology progresses that are pretty interesting. How do you do church in the metaverse? I know we're going to do a show on it, but church in [inaudible 00:13:54], that's a thing.
Dean Sweetman (13:54):
I think we'll end up talking about that stuff a lot. Because you and I, we're thinking about that stuff inside of our business. We're trying to work out what technology could be available and applied for our customers. We're just going to let the audience in on the stuff that you and I sometimes just riff on and it goes back to that first point. We want our listeners to not be afraid of technology, to embrace technology. If you got to go slow, go slow. I was talking to one of our sales guys yesterday and I said, "Hey, Brandon. How many people are switching from other platforms as opposed to brand new churches signing up for tech?" He's like, "I'm shocked at how many people are signing up that don't have anything."
Dean Sweetman (14:42):
So still today in 2022, there are churches that are just coming online to do some of the things that other churches have been doing for 15 years. Well, we want those guys to listen to this podcast too, not just the techy church guys that are like, "Oh, yeah, we're into this and nerd out on it." We want these church leaders that are like, "Okay, we know we've got to progress into using some of this tech and letting it work for us." I'm excited about that group of people because they're still out there. There's plenty of them.
Frank Barry (15:13):
Totally. So what kind of topics are we going to cover?
Dean Sweetman (15:17):
I think we're going to-
Frank Barry (15:17):
We're going to see metaverse, crypto. We'll hit some of those super future things, but what other things are we going to-
Dean Sweetman (15:22):
Look, I think the stuff that we know works and so I think we're going to be able to educate our listeners around best practices around, hey, do I need a church app? Maybe, maybe not. We'll describe what it does and we'll talk about [inaudible 00:15:39]-
Frank Barry (15:38):
Everybody else has an app.
Dean Sweetman (15:41):
... where it's going. Obviously, you need to know that you need a website, but we'll talk about what the website should do, what it shouldn't do, what the website can do, what it can't do.
Frank Barry (15:50):
Dean Sweetman (15:51):
I think we're going to cover a range of technology that we both build and sell, but beyond that, know that as a fundamental basic, this is what a church needs to be using. But then I think we'll be able to give them the best practices around how I should be using this so to elevate productivity for this back office stuff and so I can get on with the business of ministry.
Frank Barry (16:15):
I think we spend a lot of time thinking about member engagement. We'll definitely cover church online and hybrid church and the role of tech and engaging your community and people that need what you have as a church and all the things, just online church and hybrid church and church apps and all the tech involved and doing that well, because churches are trying to figure that stuff out too. And like you said, as well as just the fundamentals like the websites and the church management platforms and volunteer management and back office like accounting and banking. We're going to hit all the things. Hopefully, we hear from you guys that are listening and you guys have good questions that we can explore on the podcast as well.
Dean Sweetman (17:06):
Yeah, totally. That goes to how we run our business. We're listening to our customers so much. We've got thousands of customers in private Facebook groups just for the sole reason of hearing what's going on from their perspective. We're going to love our audience participation in that sense. I think we're going to have some pretty cool guests over the... We'll find people who are experts, maybe know more than us, about certain things. We'll get them on the show. We'll debate. We might agree with them. We might disagree with them. It's going to be fun, but I think there's going to be high-value takeaway for people who listen to this podcast and pretty excited about it.
Frank Barry (17:47):
Dean Sweetman (17:48):
It's going to be awesome, man.
Frank Barry (17:49):
Well, man, [inaudible 00:17:50]-
Dean Sweetman (17:50):
So how do people find out about where to listen?
Frank Barry (17:53):
Well, we got all the places. If you're a podcaster, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, all those good places. I'm sure there's a plethora-
Dean Sweetman (18:05):
I'm still an Apple guy, but I did just get a Spotify account [inaudible 00:18:06].
Frank Barry (18:06):
Yeah. I'm an Apple guy myself, for sure, but I also go YouTube. We've got our Tithely YouTube channel. You can look up the Church Tech podcast or you can just go to the Tithely YouTube channel. You'll see it in there.
Dean Sweetman (18:18):
Yeah, and which has thousands of subscribers. If you go and watch this on YouTube, which we love, just become a subscriber and you'll get notified of all kinds of stuff that we put out there.
Frank Barry (18:33):
Yeah. If you're a Tithely fan, there'll be other content too. We interview church leaders. There's the Modern Church Leader podcast that shows up there. We do our big product launch events and we publish those on our YouTube channel, so there's tons of great content there. Then I think we also have the domain, the churchtechpodcast.com.
Dean Sweetman (18:53):
Yeah, churchtechpodcast.com. We'll put it up on the outro and you'll be able to see it and it's going to be fantastic, mate.
Frank Barry (18:59):
It's going to be a good time. Always fun to talk about this stuff. If you caught the trailer and you're interested, wherever you got this, give it a like or give it a comment or subscribe or whatever it is you do, whatever platform that you're using, do that. Help us spread the word and get it out there.
Dean Sweetman (19:16):
Amen. We'll see you next time.
Frank Barry (19:18):
All right, man. See you, guys.
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