Richard Shipe of Harvest.Bible | Episode 006
In today’s episode, we have the pleasure of sitting down with Richard Shipe, Church Planting Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Ashburn, Virginia. We discuss how the church can turn technology into something with purpose instead of passivity.
Find out how technology is being utilized for the church, discipleship and the greater good.
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[ 6:54 ] I was excited about though on the idea of putting the core of who we are it, you know, right in our domain.
[ 7:37 ] And in particular with the Bible, one of the things that I challenge people on is don’t take the opinion of somebody else and make it your opinion. In other words, the claims that we’re making in clears, the Bible makes are so significant that you should read it yourself.
[7:49 ] In other words, the claims that we’re making, and the claims that the Bible makes are so significant that you should read it yourself. Don’t just take what you know, your favorite philosopher, atheist, whatever tells you about the Bible.
[ 10:45 ] Because on the Internet, people are always searching, and they’re searching for a home.
[ 12:22 ] I don’t know about as much what’s going on nationally or other parts of the country, but I think that we are on the cusp of a technology burnout in a sense in that there’s a longing, not that we’re going to reject technology. I’m saying that but that there’s a longing for, I guess people are starting to realize it’s not real. A lot of the relationships and the social interactions that you have.
[ 14:34 ] We can’t insist that the culture has changed in order to move to us. I think we need to take steps towards them and in all of those things are headwinds that even Christians have to wrestle with that are just designed into our community, you know, so you can’t just move in and through all those shackles off, and, but how can you adapt? And I think technology provides some of that.
[ 15:29 ] One of the things I’ve encouraged guys to do is that, okay, on your commute, you guys are in the car at the same time. Use the technology that’s available to actually invest in high quality technology in other words, you know, really strong Bluetooth system, all the, everything you need so you could communicate with other people while you’re driving.
[ 16:37 ] You’re saying is invest more in technology where some people will be having an allergic reaction. You’re saying it to do it with purpose, not passivity, right? So let’s use technology for good.
[ 16:50 ] Let’s come and get it and use it for our purposes and the way that exalts God and in our relationships with each other. But not take it as a passive, don’t be a victim of the technology, right? Do it for good.
[ 18:49 ] Just because you can’t physically get together, it doesn’t mean you can’t connect.
[ 20:23 ] It’d be nice if there was also a church tool that, in other words, you’re not just going to connect with all your Facebook friends or all your friends across the world, but also to connect within my church community, to build the local community.
Kenny: Hey Friends, This is Kenny Jahng, co-host of Future.BIBLE. I’m here with my co-host once again, DJ Chuang. Welcome to the show DJ. How are you doing today?
DJ Chuang: I’m doing well. How are you?
Kenny: It’s been a while. We are back in the sattelite in front of the microphones and today DJ, we’ve got a very interesting character here on the East Coast, Richard Shipe with us. DJ, I want you to tell us a little bit of what you know about Richard and maybe transition into Richard giving us a fuller background.
DJ Chuang: Shipe is a Church Planting Pastor with a Church called Harvest Bible Chapel in Ashburn, Virginia. And he’s one of our ministry partners of the .BIBLE top level domain. And he is church planting in the heart of the Internet. 70% of the Internet traffic goes through Ashburn, Virginia. A little outside of Washington DC. Yeah. And so perhaps being strategic with this domain name is pretty meaningful in the midst of all that Internet traffic. So we’re gonna learn about how he’s planting a church in the middle of all that. And you know what, there’s even a podcast that’s happening out on the, you know, on the popular web about church planting. So, Gimlet Media is doing a whole series on startups and church planting. So, we’re happy to have our version of church planting and the Internet. So, welcome to our podcast, Richard.
Richard: Thank you for having me guys.
Kenny: So why don’t we start with just the basics, you know the, like the back of the baseball card stats, tell us a little bit about you as a Pastor and then your ministry is you guys are flourishing there.
Richard: Okay. Yeah, so I grew up in Loudon County, is the name of the county that we’re in, and Ashburn and the western part, which is basically a run on the edge of the suburbs of Washington DC in Virginia, some sort of northwest of the city, for a landmark for people who don’t know the area, Dulles Airport is real close to us as well. So, right next to Ashburn is Dulles airport, if you’ve flown through DC, probably gone there. And we moved to Ashburn in April of last year and started the process of gathering people to try to launch this church. I, it was about, I think it was about that time or maybe no, it was in the summer of last year that we got the Harvest.BIBLE domain name. And then since then we’ve been just gathering people to, you know, other Christians who see the need because Ashburn is one of the fastest growing areas in the country. We’ve got a metro stop that’s being built, just real close in Ashburn, real close to where we live. Lots of extra density is going in around that and within the next 10 years, another 100,000 people are slated to come just to this little area. On top of that, all the other people that have been here, I have already come. It’s an extremely diverse area. I’m close to 50% of the people that live here were born outside the United States, but lots of tech, lots of government contracting. Because it is a internet hub, you know, I can drive down the street and actually see the Internet. It’s just lots of big, you know, buildings that have no windows and high security around them and those are, they cannot build them fast enough. The Mayor, they are just coming, going up everywhere. It’s unbelievable. So, it is a very high tech area it’s more of the, I guess the highly nerdy kinda more of the backbone infrastructure, a networking kind of tech. We don’t have the hip cool tech guys like you might have out west or I don’t know where, but let’s see. And so we, this past April 15th, we had our very first worship service and it’s been going pretty well so far. We’re still really small but slowly growing and we’re doing more of a public launch, so that was more of a soft launch of public launch at the end of August. And so that’s kind of a summary of it.
DJ Chuang: If Kenny is trying to teleport his thoughts.
Kenny: It’s the modern day problem video, right? So, one of the things that we think about when we start a new organization or church, etc. The first thing these days on the checklist obviously is our website and our website address. And so you’ve adopted an actually a unique URL using one of the brand new GTLD, Generic Top Level Domain Names that comes after the . right? Not a .com, not a .info, but the .BIBLE and some of the things that come up when we talked with ministries thinking and considering about using a .BIBLE URL is a hesitation. Could you tell us a little bit about that process with you? And then also it’s almost like, you know, a TV cooking show, the magic oven. You’ve got the before and then whoa, viola, you got the big product instantly available. So could you tell us a little bit about the after effects? Like how has it been? One of the major concerns I’ll just flag out there is that people think that no one will be able to find them ever on the Internet that they’ll be lost in space if you’ve adopted one of these new GTLD. Has that been the case with you guys?
Richard: Yeah. That wasn’t really concerned. My main concern heading into it was just how do I present it in print material so people recognize it. They know because when you see .com or .org, you know that you’re looking at a web address but you see .BIBLE, it’s like what, what is this? So we add www, in front of anytime we print it, just to make it very clear. But, it’s not been something that I’ve been super concerned about because of our area being very high tech. Also, I mean, Google has the answer to pretty much any question you have. So, you know, if anybody instantly wants to find us, they can find us super quick just via a search engine. So, that wasn’t at all concerned that I was excited about though on the idea of putting the core of who we are it, you know, right in our domain. And one of the things that we, an aspect of Ashburn is that it’s fairly secular, about only about 6% would describe themselves as evangelical, and well over mid 60% are basically in depth in different. And then there’s a lot of other faiths and I don’t have a full breakout in front of me, but one of the persons that I’ve taken is I, I don’t think it’s a good idea to shy away from fundamentally who you are. And in particular with the Bible, one of the things that I challenge people on is don’t take the opinion of somebody else and make it your opinion. In other words, the claims that we’re making, and the claims that the Bible makes are so significant that you should read it yourself. Don’t just take what you know, your favorite philosopher, atheist, whatever tells you about the Bible. Read it yourself, in fact and I tell them, don’t listen to what I say about it. You know, get the input of other people, but either read it yourself and so it’s a pretty fundamental thing to who we are as a church, and so we don’t shy away from it in that regard. We were really honest with people that, hey, there’s parts of it, it’s really hard and we’re not trying to say that it’s simple or easy. It’s not a book that you can just pick up and read like a book on the New York Times Bestseller Lists, but the same way, it’s got to be kind of explored. And so that’s one part of it for us.
DJ Chuang: Spiritual environment, what are some of the unique things that you’re doing as a new church and wanting to uphold the truth of the Bible with these nerdy techie people. Probably have a very busy schedule. There’s maybe not a lot of opportunities to do things in person. There are also some things that you’re doing online.
Richard: Yeah, I guess for us it’s more relational. If I’m understanding your question there, DJ. A lot of it is just much more relational for us. It is a community that has a lot of families, young families with kids and I mean they’re wrestling with what every family wrestles with in terms of the kids’ schedules and busyness and dealing with all that. So, that’s really much more of the approach that we take along those lines. We are starting with our public launch in August. We’re doing a series in a marketing campaign and online stuff around a series that we’re calling Come Home and so rather than just saying, hey, we’re a church in the area that’s new, you’re welcome, we’re kind of skipping some steps and implying that it’s time to come home and you’re not home. And so, we’re kinda hitting people were trying to be a little provocative in a respectful way, but rather than just invitational, but it’s kinda like, hey, you’re not home and, and deep down you know this. And so, we’re going to follow a lot of Luke 15, the story of the prodigal son. So, you know, the first part is going to be come home, rebel and then come home broken. And then, so it’s going to be targeted in particular people that are saying..
DJ Chuang: Because on the Internet, people are always searching, and they’re searching for a home.
Richard: Hey, that’s good!
DJ Chuang: It very much resonate with something. Kenny, what does it provoke for you as he shared that?
Kenny: I mean, I just loved the entire story and what you guys are doing there. And even just the soft launch aspect, I love looking at your website at Harvest.BIBLE, www.Harvest.BIBLE. The fact that you are external focus, not internal focus, you have a plan your visit section, which is one of the things that I advocate all the time. And on a recent podcast that DJ and I was on another show, one of the things that DJ kept on saying is, you know, where is your address? Where’s your times? I want to visit your site, I want to visit you and you’re making it hard for me, and I think one of the things that you’ve done really well is translate digital into what we do offline in terms of being invitational, right? And I think that’s something that we can’t miss in this big picture and all the things that are happening that it comes down to basics that we’re just using technology to scale personal relationships, right? You’re just trying to invite people to a gathering and you’re using the digital interwebs in that manner. And I love and I think you have these insights, these little things that are nuances that are hard to pick up from the big picture, but when you zoom in closely, that’s the stuff that I’m seeing that you are picking up Richard.
Richard: That’s good. I appreciate that Kenny. And I think another thing along those lines that again, I don’t know about as much what’s going on nationally or other parts of the country, but I think that we are on the cusp of a technology burnout in a sense in that there’s a longing, not that we’re going to reject technology. I’m saying that but that there’s a longing for, I guess people are starting to realize it’s not real. A lot of the relationships and the social interactions that you have. And so, and I wonder if that’s an aspect of Ashburn as well being a very tech oriented that there’s kind of a little bit of a movement of I need to put my phone away. It needs to be in my pocket more and relate to people face to face more.
Kenny: Yeah. One of the things that we, I recently was invited to an interesting conversation with church leaders that were gathered around a table, a physical table, like in a physical space instead of virtually. And one of the things that kept on coming from a conversation is the lack of the model of a table in today’s culture. The family unit doesn’t gather around the physical table for dinner every night, five days a week, seven days or two days a week, not even one day a week in many households. How do you see the church modeling that today? Especially with all the social media? Is there a digital equivalent to the table that you think can happen? What are your thoughts on that?
Richard: I, so that’s something that I’ve been working on and that’s a challenge because we also, Washington DC Metro has the worst commute times at any metro in the entire country. Watched a post in a store on that a couple of years ago and basically people live in their cars and so..
Kenny: Alone. They lived in their cars alone and carpooling.
Richard: But that’s right. You’re five feet, 10 feet away from somebody surrounded by people, but you’re alone. And people have long commutes. They have challenging jobs, their availability for things like community and small groups and face to face is limited. And so we’ve tried, some of the things we try to do is to break through that is, I mean we can’t insist that the culture has changed in order to move to us. I think we need to take steps towards them and in all of those things are headwinds that even Christians have to wrestle with that are just designed into our community, you know, so you can’t just move in and throw all those shackles off, and, but how can you adapt? And I think technology provides some of that. And so one of the things that we encourage people to do is that, okay, it’s absolutely best if you could get together face to face with your small group once a week at least. I mean, that’s the ideal. And there’s nothing better than face to face looking at somebody across the table, right? You can get a lot done in terms of communication, but what if you use those opportunities in the car, then the car to make more phone calls, you know, so one of the things I’ve encouraged guys to do is that, okay, on your commute, you guys are in the car at the same time. Use the technology that’s available to actually invest in high quality technology in other words, you know, really strong Bluetooth system, all the, everything you need so you could communicate with other people while you’re driving. And even so you can’t replace the face to face, but what if you called each other at 7:30 AM and spent 10 minutes just praying for one another and then hung up and you did that every day. You know, again, not as good as face to face, but add it up and it, you know, you’re starting to take advantage and redeem some of the things that are available to you because you do have that time in the car and you do have technology that’s available to you to make connections like that. So that’s something that we’ve encouraged. I’m not sure how well we’ve accomplished it yet, but that’s kind of stuff we’re working on.
Kenny: That is I think, I don’t know, my heart’s warm because what you’re saying is invest more in technology where some people will be having an allergic reaction. You’re saying it to do it with purpose, not passivity, right? So let’s use technology for good. Let’s come and get it and use it for our purposes and the way that exalts God and in our relationships with each other. But not take it as a passive, don’t be a victim of the technology, right? Do it for good.
Richard: Yes. Absolutely.
Kenny: And so are you guys planning to invest further in Podcasts and Facebook Live and other types of things of getting the message out? What about discipleship? Can you talk about that? How do you see technology aiding discipleship? Are there any things that you’ve been wrestling with that say, yes, this is something we’re going to test out or this is what we’re going to do?
Richard: Just along the lines of what I just said inspiring connection. So, you know, for us, we, a big part of our discipleship is really taking the text that we’re studying on Sundays and then in community, really applying it. So, how’s God speak to me through his Word? What type of action when you take or thing you need to stop or you know, and letting God’s Word really penetrate our hearts and to become not just hearers but doers of the word it says in James. And then, to me it’s also then creating those connections within those small groups. So I, you know, I think the power the rubber hits the road for the church in community in relationally. And so what we try to do is encourage people in small groups to, hey, let’s connect, follow up with one another. You know, to encourage, and then, you know, and like I said before, technology allows you to follow up in ways that, you know, like using a Skype call during your lunch break or, you know, a phone call during your commute. Those kinds of things, again, it can’t replace the, I’m trying to help guys to think beyond, just because you can’t physically get together, it doesn’t mean you can’t connect and I’m not sure I would never say that that face to face can ever be replaced. It can’t be, but more of a lesser value thing, you know, we should use it, we should take advantage of it, you know, so that’s the only kinds of things that we’re doing right now on of those lines.
DJ Chuang: The thing in Ashburn, Virginia, the heart of the Internet, people are very aware of how they’re building technology and working so hard at connecting device to device.
Richard: That’s true.
DJ Chuang: And what you’re doing is saying, hey, behind that device as a human being and people can connect with people and let’s make the most of that, the intentional tool that technology in that opportunity making great use of. Now one last question, here’s a wish. If you had a wish, what would you love technology to do for and with the Bible, we’ve already seen Bible technology developed to the point where you can have it at your fingertips, you can look up multiple translations, but people can read it, but maybe it’s a little bit flat and maybe people need a little more, something to better engage it.
Richard: Yeah, there’s a lot of great technology for the Bible out there. And the one thing that I guess that comes to mind for me now is you can, there’s a lot of tools out there and there’s a lot of social tools with the Bible, but it’d be nice if there was also a church tool that, in other words, you’re not just going to connect with all your Facebook friends or all your friends across the world, but also to connect within my church community, to build the local community. Not just a national or international community, but my local community. That friend should matter a lot to me. And so that kind of tool would be awesome.
DJ Chuang: Thank you. That seed of an idea may just build and build as we continue to have conversations here around Future.BIBLE because we’re looking ahead and looking into the future of where the Bible.
Kenny: Well, thank you so much Richard for spending your time with us today. Really appreciate it. I know as a church planter, it’s not like you’re taking two hour lunch breaks, going to the golf course everyday or anything like that. Sowing the seed in Ashburn for the Gospel, I think is, you know, roll up your sleeves working. Really appreciate it. Love seeing from afar what you guys have done so far to date. If someone were listening in today and we’d love to get in touch with you directly, what’s the best way that they could do that?
Richard: Yeah. So, our website Harvest.BIBLE. My email is Rich@Harvest.BIBLE and yeah, no, I’d love to be able to connect and particularly if you live in Ashburn area.
Kenny: Awesome. Well everybody, thank you for listening to the Future.BIBLE Podcast today. DJ, thanks for being a co-host again today. Love the conversations that we’re curating here. What’s one thing that you’re looking forward to in a future episode DJ, just to give a highlight and a tease for our listeners today,
DJ Chuang: We’re going to have more conversations about Bible and technology. So, we’re looking to invite some of the newest technologies that are developing, even those that are being developed behind the scenes. So, we’re looking at ones that are still incubating behind the scene and hope to give you some sneak peeks.
Kenny: If you are one of those entrepreneurs or people that are investing in the intersection of the Bible technology. We love to hear from you and talk with you on this show. You can get all the details at Future.BIBLE, and if you love this episode in particular, give us a favor, could you head over to iTunes and subscribe, rate, and leave a review. The best way that you can help us tangibly to share Richard’s story at Harvest.BIBLE further beyond with other enthusiasts and people who really support everything that we are doing with technology and God’s word. I’m going to leave today with a modification, Richard, your focus or focus statement on your website, you say vertical focus, horizontal impacts. I love to frame it here that we have vertical focus and we’re constantly searching for more digital impact with this show at Future.BIBLE. Thanks Richard again, thanks for being with us today.
Richard: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.