Connecting Churches and People Through Technology | Brad Hill

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Brad Hill, Chief Solutions Officer at Gloo, shares how their tools help Churches and People better connect through technology

Podcast Notes

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Podcast Transcription


Jason Hamrock: Well, hey, Brad, welcome to the show. How are you doing today?

Brad Hill: I’m doing great guys. So good to be with you. Thanks for making space for this conversation.

Jason Hamrock: Oh, thank you for jumping on. We are pumped about what you’re going to talk about, and especially with all that Gloo’s got going on. And so first of all though, for our audience, just give us a little background as to who you are and a little bit of just a history of Brad and your family and then what you get to do at Gloo.

Brad Hill: Sure. Yeah, I live here in the Denver, Colorado area and serve as Chief Solutions Officer at Gloo. And, you know, it’s a crazy title because, I think it’s made up, I don’t know. And people are like, does that just mean everyone brings you their problems and you have to have the solutions? But, at any rate, I’ve been serving here at Gloo on the executive team about six years and have bounced around, and moved a lot of places. My wife and I have two teenage daughters, so that’s a very real part of our story right now. We’re on the a little bit final approach toward college, figuring that whole season of life out as we speak. But, yeah, I’ve been, you know, professional journey for me and ministry journey, I guess I’ve really been at this intersection. I always talk about three circles of business, ministry, and technology or innovation, and I love being at the intersect of any two of those. But, man, if you can get in that sweet spot, bull’s eye in all three business, ministry, and technology, that’s great. So, you know, for me it’s been starting some companies running some companies, site organic ministry brands, Gloo, and a few other crazy startups that have nothing to do with any of that, that I’ve done.

Bart Blair: So aren’t you the guy that started Uber? Aren’t you the guy that. Oh, no, sorry.

Brad Hill: We’ve been having different a conversation right now if that were the case.

Bart Blair: I just picked out of the air another startup that had nothing to do with any of those others since…

Brad Hill: Yeah, that one turned out okay. But I tell you what, Bart, we talk about Uber a lot as it relates to Gloo because, you know, we use the word platform really intentionally. And, you know, I think sometimes people overuse the word, but, you know, a platform is, and this will get us into Gloo, a platform is a set of tools or infrastructures that allow people to connect to each other, like drivers and riders, or hosts and guests. And we just look at the whole church landscape right now, and we see a real need and an opportunity to get people connecting. So in terms of our big job at Gloo, we see really being almost the pipes that connect everybody. So we love to talk about Uber or other platforms because we think it’s a really good analogy.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah. Modeling what they’re doing. Yeah. Yeah. Totally. So yeah, I do like your title, Chief Solutions Officer. Give us a little bit of insight into what is it you do. What does the day-to-day look like?

Brad Hill: Sure. We’ve got a team over here at Gloo of about 130 folks, who are building things and, you know, figuring out the next iterations. We do a lot of tech over here, but, you know, my particular area, Jason and my team, the way I like to simplify it, we really help, we’re out with pastors, we’re out with all types of church leaders as well as denominations, networks, even donors. And what my team’s job is, is really to help everyone in the ecosystem use the tools that others in Gloo are building. So that could be as simple as just getting them on and teaching them how to use, you know, a tool, a software. But really, we prioritize how to get two or more parties exchanging. So that could look like how does a church leader benefit from the chosen. Or how might, people coming to a hackathon, building AI tools, then get those tools in the hands of churches, you know, from an awareness and utilization standpoint? So we’re in the business of connecting, and I’ve got teams that focus deeply in denominations, I’ve got teams that think just about black church leaders, Hispanic church, city movements, and a range of other, you know, wings of this vast thing we call the church. So that’s what we get to spend our days on.

Jason Hamrock: I love that, I love that stuff. And you’re in that sweet spot that those three circles, it sounds like with what you got going on. Okay, so, a lot of our audience are comm directors or XP’s or lead pastors that listening to this right now. So give me some tips or tools on how can I, as a comm director at a church, how can I use the Gloo platform to help further my ministry?

Brad Hill: Sure. Well, I mean, there are so many answers to that question. And I think, you know, Gloo if anything, we’ve got a challenge, we’ve always had a challenge of people even knowing what it is and how to use it. What I would say simplistically is that Gloo is going to help you in any context in a church do a few things. One of those is to reach more people that you’re not reaching, and we can dig into that a little bit, right? you guys are all too familiar at Missional Marketing with the outreach and, you know, marketing jobs. So that’s that’s one area. Another would be better engaging the people that we have currently. You guys may know we do a lot of work in texting and in communications overall, really helping churches kind of hone in on how can we get people connecting to each other and kind of close the back door, a lot of those sentiments.

Brad Hill: We also think about data, and what I’ll just call knowing K-n-o-w, knowing. And that’s sort of a nod to, yes, some basic analytics and dashboards, but there’s a whole deeper conversation about how we keep score in the church. What are the things that we count? What are the metrics that we lead by? You know, and most of us, if we’re honest, it’s probably going to be attendance, giving, maybe baptisms, which are all good things, by the way. Like it turns out they are in Acts, they are in the Bible, we should count those things.

Brad Hill: But we would also contend that there’s kind of a new movement afoot, we like to kind of call it the connected ministry movement, and it’s really about putting the person at the center. And so Gloo, we’ve got a number of tools and different capabilities on our platform to help you start to actually measure discipleship, like measure the growth, or as we say, the flourishing of people. And churches that are adopting that mindset. There’s a massive amount of implications for what that can mean, or even what it could change in terms of everything from our weekend experience to our marketing, to the way we communicate. So, you know, kind of understanding resources, data, technology, and even funding, those are all ways that church leaders can use Gloo to basically do more of what they’re trying to do.

Jason Hamrock: I love that. So not only, of course, the external marketing, we’re passionate about that because we want to go after the one, you know, ahead of the ninety-nine, but also marketing internally. But I think I’m probably most excited about your answer is that discipleship tool, discipleship path. And what you’re saying to me is if you utilize Gloo, what you can do is help your people recognize that you know about them. You know where they are, perhaps on their journey, if they’re in a small group, if they’re giving, serving, attending, said yes to Jesus and been baptized, which is huge. You know, a lot of churches can’t say that they even know where anybody is on their journey unless they go look at sub-data points. But how are you making it easier for people to see that, you know, quicker? If I’m a staff person, I can use the Gloo tools in order for me to connect with and communicate with people?

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we have churches as simple, Jason, is coming on first to leverage our texting platform. Which a lot of folks know, about a year and a half ago, we decided to make that free to every church. So there’s a, you know, really robust set of free tools that let you use SMS and any phase of your weekly ministry. It’s really designed, though, we call it a relational texting tool where, if I’m a pastor or a small group leader or any kind of lay leader who’s trying to get someone else to grow, trying to get someone else a step further in their journey, it’s built for that. It’s really made for those one-on-one conversations at scale. You know, there’s a principle we talk about at Gloo. Maybe this will help somebody, but Gloo spent about the first ten years really studying how people grow. We looked at marriage ministry, we looked at counseling, we looked at, you know, good old-fashioned discipleship, and even education. And what kind of emerged from that, what we saw, was a pattern that no matter what discipline you’re in, there’s kind of three simple stages in a cycle that people grow through and we call it simply know, match, catalyze, and that’s again k-n-o-w, know, match, catalyze.

Brad Hill: And so to put it in an example, we could all understand, like let’s say you’re in a church lobby Sunday morning and you’re standing there, you’re at the church, maybe you’re on staff or you’re a regular, someone comes in the door you don’t recognize. So instantly you sort of connect with that person and you may walk over, hopefully, if you’ve got a good culture of hospitality, you walk over and shake hands and say, hey, I’m Brad, what’s your name? And now you, you know, where are you from? What’s your family? So you now know something about that individual. And you’re like, oh, you have two teenage daughters, that’s great. You need to go over here and meet my friend blank, who also has the same age kids. We do this intuitively, but that’s a match process to that other person. And why am I doing that? Because I believe that that connection is going to catalyze something. It’s going to cause them to grow or get in community. So that’s an analog example. And what we see is there’s an opportunity for us to know our people better at scale. Yes, using sometimes digital tools like assessments or, you know, simple communication signals that come through, so that we can match each person better to what we think is going to grow them or catalyze them, know, match, catalyze, and then measure and do it again. So that’s the framework that drives a lot of what we build on across our whole platform.

Jason Hamrock: So you’ve been doing this for a long time, and I know that you guys have been around for a while, you’ve been learning all this stuff. What’s been some of the results, if any, come to mind on how some churches have implemented this, have really seen that that needle get moved.

Brad Hill: Well, we’ve had, first of all, we’ve done a lot of work over the last few years to just really spread the word and get churches kind of taking a first step on Gloo. So the result of that is Gloo now is a platform of about 71-72,000 churches that have accounts, like, that’s not a mailing list, they actually have a login they’ve used or are using Gloo for certain things. So that’s kind of cool in and of itself, you know, as best we can tell, Gloo really is becoming sort of the largest platform for churches that are trying to practice connected ministry. Most of those churches, by the way, are on the platform for free, taking advantage of those tools. On the texting side, we have hundreds of millions of messages coming through the system any given month.

Jason Hamrock: Wow.

Brad Hill: One cool stat we see, one of the features built-in is really designed to catalyze more prayer in a church. And what we commonly hear back from a lot of the churches is when they use texting for prayer, which is just an interesting comment in itself…Somebody recently was like, if you pray over text, does it count? Like I would say, yes.

Jason Hamrock: Yes, it does.

Brad Hill: At any rate, this is new ground for a lot of churches. But as they do it, what they find is that they report overall prayer activity increases in their church by ten times, just by virtue of using the tool and the modality that so many of us are used to every day, right, which is texting. So a simple thing, but pretty dramatic kingdom results we’re seeing there so far. And then one additional thing you guys may know about, we have a program we’re really proud of called Explorer Connections. And this is connecting all sorts of people from various digital campaigns, big movements, live events, big Jesus campaigns in the Super Bowl, and things like that, who want to connect, right, and who want to may want to connect into a local community, local church, or maybe need help. We’re doing that about a thousand times a day, nationally. So we’ve had, you know, at this point, north of 350,000 people. who, by the way, people who normally would not just set foot in a church, are coming in maybe for a reason other than just visiting on the weekend, but they want to talk, pray, go to coffee, and things like that. And we really see that as a new harvest that’s forming. That’s hopefully a strong antidote to all this depressing news we hear about, discouraging, and churches on the decline, we think there’s actually a strong reverse to that story.

Bart Blair: Brad, let me speak to the Explorers Program platform because I’m using it. So my wife and I are part of a church planting team, we’re planting a church in a small but growing community just outside of the Dallas Fort Worth area. And we saw the Explorers platform as a viable way for us to actually make connections with people who live in our geo-targeted area, who we might not otherwise have the opportunity to intersect with. And I’ll say, by and large, just because of the geographic area that we’re in, a lot of the explorers that we get connected to us are probably a little far out geographically from where we are. However, I have a young man that I have been mentoring, meeting with, and mentoring since October, for about six months now at the time that we’ve been recording this, who’s just going through a world of life stuff, and he texted on an ad and ended up in my inbox. And now we have a relationship, and he is not a person who follows Jesus, he has told me over and over again that he’s not necessarily all that interested in God, although he’s in a 12-step recovery program and recognizes that the higher power is going to be a part and part of that at some point. But I’ve had the opportunity to share my faith journey with him, you know, 1 to 1 sitting at a coffee shop, numerous times. My wife has another lady who, she’s connected with, who’s going through some marital challenges and has been meeting with her and kind of encouraging her. I also do some coaching in church revitalization space, and I’ve got a church that I’m working with in Colorado Springs that has been using the Explorers, and they have 2 or 3 people who are currently attending their church now, who all connected on the Explorers. So, you know, I’m attesting to the fact that it’s a great way to connect with people. You have to be patient with it, it’s not easy, there is no part of ministry that’s really easy. And when you’re connecting with people who are willing to look at an ad and respond to it, and a lot of times I think they feel is somewhat anonymous because it is digital and it is online, especially with a lot of younger people. I don’t know that they always recognize that there’s going to be a human being on the other side who actually receives the message and responds to them. So, you know, the journey to actually make real relationships out of that is tricky and it’s nuanced. But, you know, at the scale at which you’re doing it, I’m sure that there are a lot of other churches that have great stories and great testimonies as well, but I just thought I’d share my own.

Brad Hill: Well, Bart, first of all, thank you. Like, I want to give you a virtual hug here. I mean, every time we get to connect with people who are not just using it but are really putting the time in and the care and the love that you are, that’s exactly the type of, you know, we call them responders. You guys are responders to these explorers who are reaching out for help. I heard such a great analogy the other day, that in today’s culture, we’ve become so self-reliant on getting information and kind of solving problems ourselves. And the statement was many people go to Google, they go online and they’re searching for 411 right to get information when really what they need is 911. And you guys are supplying that in the pathway.

Brad Hill: And you know, it might be good just for a second because we got a communications audience. There are a couple of really important principles, and you touched on them. First of all, this whole thing is not at all meant to replace or supplant or compete with anything you and your church may be doing already to market or to get the word out. We celebrate that, like churches should absolutely be using every available channel. And what this is really doing is a layer on top of that that’s kind of a cooperative advertising model. You know, we use the analogy of God milk sometimes to reference how a bunch of dairy farmers got together and mounted a campaign way bigger than any one of them could have done. So in that sense, we’re putting lines in the water that any one church could not because we’re not advertising any one church. It’s just this message that churches care, you know, God loves you, you should explore Jesus whether or not you’ve had experience with the church, and we get them connected to you. We also are using AI increasingly, the people that connected to you, Bart and your wife, and everything else. what we’ve realized is the biggest factor of them writing you back is time. And when that connection comes in, it’s kind of like a clock is ticking, and we used to have humans make every single match. You know, our average distance is about 13 miles. Sounds like a little further in your case sometimes, although in the metroplex 13 miles could be like nothing

Bart Blair: Yeah, 8 to 10 miles is like it’s a completely different world when you’re 10 miles away.

Brad Hill: So we’re working on that, but man using technology and training these models with a large data set, now we can get that connection time from like three hours down to milliseconds. Which really what we’re trying to do there is just hand you those hours back so you have time to get in connection with that person, and that’s been a really cool, powerful way to apply some new technology to solve that problem.

Bart Blair: Well, let me let me say this, my parting shot on this, and then I do want us to talk a little bit about AI and some other things that Gloo is doing. But I will say this, the texting platform is, because our audience is primarily communications professionals and communications volunteers, the texting platform is an amazing tool for communication. You’re communicating to your ring one audience. Our listeners know their ring one audience, you need to be able to effectively communicate to those people in a timely manner, so it’s great for outbound. For inbound, the truth is it’s, with the Explorers program anyway, Explorers is not necessarily a communications tool as much as it is a care and compassion ministry tool. So even in the context of a church, this is not just a tool for the communications director or a tool for care and compassion ministries. It’s really a tool for the church as a whole, and figuring out how each different ministry can benefit from the use of Gloo, whether that’s inbound or outbound. Right? So Crossover is one of the ad campaigns that’s running a lot, and the inbound that we get through the Crossover campaigns is almost always teenagers, right? It’s high school students or young adults, I know it’s targeted towards young adults, I think, or at least that’s my impression, but we get a lot of teens, a lot of high school students in Crossover. So, you know, again, it’s really not a communications director tool, but you got a student ministry pastor, student ministry director, those Crossover campaigns, or a young adults pastor, are likely going to connect them with people that they wouldn’t otherwise connect with. So you have to think about it holistically as a whole church tool, rather than just one single department or one single solution. So there’s my $0.10 worth there.

Jason Hamrock: As a comm director, my job is to help our ministers and ministries connect with people. It’s not only our people, but people outside, and I think we’d be more passionate about going after people who are not yet a part of the body. And so that to me, I just, I get excited about that. So I think you said it best where this isn’t supposed to replace, it’s in addition to, and that’s the mindset that we have to have. There are lots of tools in our tool bag, and being able to pull out those different tools and those different kinds of ideas and settings is really the key to that, so you really want to investigate this.

Jason Hamrock: But let’s move on because what I really want to do is talk a little bit about AI, and how you guys are using AI to enhance, enhance, probably not replace, but enhance, and you said kind of speed up things. Tell us what’s on the latest and greatest.

Brad Hill: Well, I think, I mean AI is such a fascinating subject in general, right? We were talking earlier, like any of us going out to conferences or events, it’s typically 1 to 3 questions in, and someone’s asking about it. It’s on our minds, and there’s a lot of great research coming out. You know, we’ve been working closely with the Barna Group, doing some monthly research lately on pastors and churches in AI, and just really interesting sentiments, but also some hesitation, and trepidation coming back, right? And there’s so much to say, and before we’re done, guys, we can share, a couple of resources where we’ve tried to put out a lot of just helpful info that’s freely available, we actually just recently did a kind of a primer on everything you need to know about AI for the uninitiated, all the way into those who like to nerd out on terms like AGI and LOMs and, you know, we’ve got a little bit more on that. But you know, what you’re seeing, I think right now is, it’s we’re moving, right now it’s early 2024, we’re moving from kind of this fascination shiny object stage into like, maybe I should look at this, maybe there are some useful ways, but also like, maybe I should be thoughtful about how I do that. So leaders I think more and more are really kind of digging below the surface right now and looking at, you know, asking the should I question, not just like, what could I do? I think most of us have probably by now seen some Gee-Whiz experiments with ChatGPT or Midjourney or Bard, and it’s cool. I mean, there’s like, it’ll blow your mind, but then you’re getting into like, what should I do?

Brad Hill: So at Gloo, we’re simultaneously kind of using the tech. I just mentioned an example on the Explorer piece and we have others, but we’re also, even more so, trying to really help leaders navigate through the conversation in a meaningful way. That doesn’t come from a pro-AI or an against-AI standpoint necessarily. But for us, it does come from a vantage point of all technology is something that God has allowed to come into creation, and we know that the rest of culture is already using AI, and is exploring its its applications and use cases. And so we don’t believe that there’s a choice for the church to decide whether we’re going to embrace new technology, we want to do it thoughtfully. But our statement is we believe there’s actually a moral imperative for church leaders, comms leaders, and every persona, to think well about how to use this technology redemptively when the rest of our culture is going to be using it for cultural things, right? So we think it’s a good and it’s an important conversation, and right now AI is the shiny object. I think, you know, you guys may agree, we’re probably moving quickly toward a day where AI just kind of is there, like the internet, we don’t really think about the internet too much anymore. You know, but I think there are some important patterns right now that we need to contemplate, to do this well.

Jason Hamrock: Well, I’ll add to that, because I agree, and the good news is we’re still, and David says this on our team, we’re in the wild, wild West, it’s still changing rapidly. So that’s either good news or bad news for pastors. The good news is you’re not going to be too far behind if you want to catch up because if you try to go back from a year or so, we’re so far beyond that, but yet if you just hop into the stream now, you can kind of catch up fairly quickly, but it’s constantly changing. And that would be the bad news is if you choose to ignore it, that’d be like saying, well, I don’t want to use this thing called the internet, we don’t need to go online. Well, okay, but that’s where a lot of the mission field is. So I think embracing that, I think, and using it for good, not for evil, is the key there, and balancing that. Educating your congregation about it as well, I think, it’s a responsibility as pastors to be able to know what the Bible has to say about this, and how do we balance that, and how do we educate well? And, you know, starting to use it in our staff is really key. I know you guys are pushing that, and we’re pushing that here, as well as a bunch of other great companies who are Kingdom-minded, are all in on this thing called the AI, and helping, utilizing it for good. So I would encourage pastors to just keep tapping in, keep listening in, right? And keep paying attention to great, solid companies like Gloo that have Jesus in on the forefront and the focus, and what His role is here and what he wants us to do. That’s kind of where you’re going with it.

Brad Hill: Right. And I think, you know, to me, AI is a how, it’s a super powerful accelerant to so many jobs. We talk to pastors all the time, and, you know, if I hear one thing, it’s honestly like, don’t give me one more thing to do. Like, I am already full up, I’ve got a lot on my plate. And so I think what’s helpful sometimes is to think about what are the things you’re most trying to get done and accomplish, whether it’s reaching more people better, engaging the folks I have, dealing with volunteer retention, like all those things that kind of are they keep us up at night issues. There are either new or emerging ways that AI could help in that job, even like repurposing your sermon. I talked to several pastors last week who were like, you know what if I’m honest, I preach on Sunday, and we put it up on our website and on YouTube, but I, I feel like all that work I invested in that sermon kind of dies a slow death. There are a lot of ways to use AI, and also a combination of AI and smart people sitting in chairs to repurpose that content to make it go further. So let not your heart be troubled, right, about having to become an AI expert. I think it’s more just like it’s a great tool to help you do the things you’re already trying to do.

Bart Blair: I think one of the things that makes people wary is this idea that the artificial intelligence tools are going to create some sort of content that once it gets out of the bag, it’s fraudulent or it is inconsistent or it isn’t what we thought it was going to be. And I think one of the things that’s really important, especially when it comes to repurposing sermon content, because that this is a song that Jason and I sing constantly, and we’ve got AI tools and things that we’re teaching people to use in order to do that, the AI is only as good as the person who is working with the AI tool. I can’t start up my lawn mower and just leave it in the yard and expect it to just mow. I mean, it’s got an auto setting, I could, you know, I could clamp down the handle and just let it run, but if I’m not there to walk the lawnmower through the yard, it’s never going to do the job that I want it to do the way I want it done. The same thing is true with Gemini, Bard, Claude, and ChatGPT, whatever you’re using, you as the user have to be really explicit about what you want it to do, and then also editing the work or auditing the work to make sure that it’s giving you the results that you want from it.

Bart Blair: Let me ask you a question, Brad. When it comes to these AI platforms, things that you see emerging, things that you see, you know, on the horizon, or things that we have accessibility to right now. What are some things that you see churches doing, how they’ve gotten on board or utilizing tools that are simplifying or economizing their workload?

Brad Hill: Yeah. Well, I think we’ve sort of started to look at this as maybe a three-act play, maybe it’s going to be an eight-act play. But we are and have been, in a stage recently with generative AI where we’re seeing it get applied to what I’ll call administrative tasks. So it could be, you know, analyzing a large body of text, you know, go through all of R.C. Sproul’s sermons, or let me find the right Bonhoeffer quote that applies to this situation. AI is great for that, it’s generally good at synthesizing large bodies of content or maybe super practical, like here’s the Weather Almanac from the last five years. Based on that, what might we be thinking about in terms of planning around weather percentages for this coming fall season in our church? You know, a lot of administrative things, even volunteer scheduling and the like. And I would gently put repurposing sermon content a little bit in that bucket, I think there’s a little more judgment to that often, but that’s something that probably many churches have people doing today that takes 10, 15, 20 hours a week, and at minimum, we could speed that up with AI tools.

Jason Hamrock: So that’s kind of like been the state, you know, a great tool, for example, we use a lot of is out there and does a phenomenal job. You can upload a sermon, and it’ll give you Bible studies, and small group discussions, and social posts, and the like. I think next we see AI starting to come on the scene helping discipleship and growth patterns. So if I’m an individual and I have a desire or I have a goal in my life, I could set that goal and I could then set a plan for me, maybe nurture me through it, keep me accountable, be a little bit of a, you know, little virtual assistant, sparring partner, whatever. And you’re seeing some apps begin to emerge that have that little bit of like, hey, you’ve set a goal and we’re going to help you create the steps and the conditions to succeed. Which I think is super interesting for us, again, in a discipling context. So many pastors think about scale, and how could I possibly personalize what I’m doing because I preach to the masses on Sunday, but how could I get to Jason, or how could I get to Bart, you know, individually? I mean, in a sense, AI lets us, like, infinitely personalize at an infinite scale.

Brad Hill: But the third part and this is the risk, is you said it’s only as good as the person using it, which I agree with. Like, the prompts. But I would maybe add it’s also somewhat beholden to what it’s trained on, like the underlying large language model, right, and the engine under the hood. And obviously, today we’re working with effectively general market LLM’ that we can argue about, you know, doctrine and theology and what’s trained, but I think we’re very interested in the need and the opportunity to have more of a Christian or Christian aligned LLM, that I think could inform a lot of the tools that are, and are yet to come. So, you know, when you get to that point, you get into real, you know, ways to process decisions and judgment to some extent in ways that we wouldn’t trust maybe ChatGPT today to write my whole sermon because it may come up with something heretical. So that’s something we see on the horizon.

Bart Blair: Yes. But I will say, if you do prompt ChatGPT to write you a sermon and it comes up with something that’s heretical, you as a pastor are responsible for weeding that out before you deliver it. Like, so at the end of the day, yes, like this recent road show that Jason and I were at, I remember a gal talking about the fact that she was trying to use, I can’t remember which tool it was to write copy for some social media posts, and she immediately saw some bias in it that was probably heretical or close to heretical. Right? And I said, well, the way to get around that is by being much more clear with your prompts and asking the generative tool to ask you clarifying questions before it actually even responds. So you have to really give it a lot more detail about what you’re looking for in order to get the results that you’re looking for. And I think that’s the mistake that a lot of people make is they’ll just type 1 or 2 sentences in, and then this is what I got, and that’s not enough. You have to really learn how to use the tool effectively to actually get the pro results that you’re looking for. And I play around it enough to know that you know that the more you practice in the tool, the better you’re going to get at it as well.

Brad Hill: No, you’re spot on. And yeah, it turns out you still have to do some work here, right? You got to work on the input and then the output might get you 80% there, but you need to check and, you know, really review it because you’re right, you’re responsible at the end of the whole story.

Jason Hamrock: Well, if that 80% shaves 80% of your time off, it’s worth it. That’s the whole point.

Brad Hill: I’ll tell you guys one other quick practical thing. This is a true story just from my life. Your congregations right now are also really navigating/struggling with how AI applies in their life. For my wife and I, we’ve got high school kids, and as parents, we were confronted with, you know, I didn’t see that coming, we have a teacher that accused one of our kids of cheating at school with AI, like, multiple times. And, you know, we’re like in partnering with the teacher, that’s our mindset, so we’re not going to rush and just helicopter in. But we were really kind of at a crossroads as parents, like what do we do? Who do we trust? How do we check what our child’s doing? And you know, what should and should not be allowed? We said to each other at one point, I don’t know why we came up with this, but like, man, it would be great if someone in our church and our small group had been through this or could help us navigate this as parents. And I think as a pastor, you know, this is something our research with Barna is showing again and again, people are not expecting you to be like an AI wizard and understand the technology deeply. Or for that matter, if you’re a comms director or marketing, same thing. However, I do think there’s a really good opportunity for us to shepherd our people, teach discernment, and just give folks tools or good questions to navigate real-life experiences. Because AI, this wasn’t on my bingo card a year ago, is to have, you know, a student accused of cheating. By the way, we verified, looked at her laptop, and she really wrote the paper, she did it herself.

Bart Blair: She’s just so intelligent, it looked artificial, I guess. I don’t know how that works.

Brad Hill: Yeah. But, yeah, wow. So that was, you know, we’re like, hey, maybe as the future unfolds here, the church could be a place that really equips us to navigate this in our own lives, not just like using it in the business of the church.

Jason Hamrock: Good stuff.

Bart Blair: I recently wrote some stuff that I ran through Grammarly for, a plagiarism check, and it accused me of plagiarizing all kinds of stuff. About 99% of it was the scriptures that I use from the Bible were all considered to be plagiarized, but that was okay because that was exactly the point, I’m plagiarizing God’s Word by repurposing God’s Word into other things that I’m writing.

Brad Hill: Yeah. So we still have some work to do on the AI, is what you’re saying?

Bart Blair: Yeah.

Jason Hamrock: Yeah, a little bit. Well, we better land this plane. This is a great conversation. Brad, you know, where do you kind of get inspiration from? Who do you tune into? Who influences you?

Brad Hill: Well, I think, you know, I talked about my three circles earlier, right? So I try to balance a lot of my intake with business, podcasts books, and leadership ministry, etc. I actually love what you guys are doing here. There are some great Facebook communities and other online communities that are out there that are really good peer-to-peer. I, you know, I love keeping up with innovation as well, right? I hope until I die, I’m going to stay curious, right? So I’m always trying to learn new things. I’m a big EV nut, so I listen to podcasts on Tesla and Elon Musk just in the same breath as I’ll listen to sermons or whatever. So I like the idea of being a well-rounded leader and learning. And I have a routine too, every quarter, as I keep notes on things and keep what I call impact ideas, I revisit those. So just this past Sunday, I went back and kind of spent a few hours just relooking at the highlights and the things I had noted, and I was relearning lessons all over again. So that’s been a good practice that’s helped me out.

Jason Hamrock: Fantastic. All right.

Bart Blair: Well, Brad, we really appreciate you hanging out with us, it’s been a super interesting conversation. If people want to know more about Gloo or want to connect with you in some way, where should we direct people to do that? Any any specific places?

Jason Hamrock: Well, since we talked about AI a good bit, guys, I would probably go ahead and direct people to our website, Gloo. And that’s Gloo, for those who may not know,, and that’s a public spot where we’ve got a lot of good resources out there. And incidentally, if you’re representing a church that doesn’t yet have a Gloo account, from that page, you can click and create one real quick, and that’s going to unlock an incredible amount of resources for you, not the least of which is the texting we talked about. But Gloo is really becoming something of an Amazon for the church, so we have a marketplace, we have a number, well over 150 different ministries that are supplying things they want to get in your hands. So if you go to that, you can nerd out on AI for a minute, but then you can create an account and use everything else we’ve got for you there.

Bart Blair: That’s a new one, the Amazon for churches. I’ve noticed when I go to my Gloo account that there are more and more resources and things available all the time, but I didn’t know that you were aiming to be the Amazon for churches, so that’s pretty cool.

Brad Hill: It’s hard to find everything that’s out there, right? So we’re, once again, you know, with all these churches in one spot, we’re finding a lot of creators of things feel like it’s important to be on this platform. So you’re only going to see that hopefully growing over time, in the next year or two, Bart.

Bart Blair: Wonderful. Well, thanks so much again, Brad. We’ve been Gloo fans for a long time, and it’s been fun for us to watch sort of the evolution of what Gloo started out as, and what it is today. And we’re really excited to see what Gloo ends up, I don’t know that it’ll end up being anything, it’s just going to be this continuous, growing, evolving, changing platform to meet the needs of churches. And we really appreciate the heart that you guys have for serving the local church.

Bart Blair: For those of you who have actually listened to this entire podcast, you’ve got all the way to the end, congratulations. This one’s a little longer than normal, but hopefully, you found the content to be helpful. And if you do find the content to be helpful, we’d love for you to leave us a rating or review wherever you listen to your favorite podcast, that’ll help more people find the podcast. Or grab the link and send it to somebody that you think might find this particular episode to be helpful. Until we do this again, thanks for joining us on the Missional Marketing Podcast.

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