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Season 7: Formation Everywhere You Look | Episode 4

Formation and the Phygital Space


This is a first for us: we recorded this bonus episode on location at a gathering we hosted in Austin, Texas! You’ll hear from eleven amazing leaders and practitioners of physical and digital ministry, or “phygital” as we’ve now learned to say. These pioneers in digital ministry will share their experiences, questions, and ideas for what the digital space makes possible for formation. From designing apps that reach younger generations to exploring virtual reality in the Metaverse, and so much more, this episode is interesting, informative, and inspiring!

In this conversation, you’ll hear:

  • What formation is and what the digital space makes possible? (3:20)

  • Three experiences of digital ministry: worship, an app, and campus ministry (18:38)

  • Experiments in the Metaverse and the possibilities of virtual reality (34:36)

  • Ethics and digital ministry (44:37)

  • Reaching the unchurched or dechurched in digital space (51:54)

Meet Our Guests

Rahel Billups

Rachel Billups

Rachel Billups is a visionary, leader, speaker and author. Currently she serves as Senior Pastor at New Albany United Methodist Church, New Albany/Columbus, Ohio. Rachel draws on her love of people and passion to explore new venues for ministry and mission. Rachel is an ordained Elder within the United Methodist Church and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Bible/Religion and History from Anderson University and a Master of Divinity Degree from Duke Divinity School. Rachel is a popular speaker for national gatherings and has recently authored BE BOLD: Finding Four Fierce published by Abingdon Press. You can find her on social media at: @rlbillups.

Rachel Billups on Rachel Billups on

Rahel Billups

Dan Bracken

Dan has been on staff at Ginghamsburg Church since 2006, where he serves as Ginghamsburg’s communication director. Dan also leads the Ginghamsburg Design Studio, the church’s in-house creative media resourcing team where he practices all aspects of communication – video production, graphic design, social media, website development, app creation, creative storytelling, marketing and wayfinding.

Rahel Billups

Phil Dieke

Phil is a Deacon in the North Texas Conference, currently serving as the Associate Pastor of Discipleship and Digital Ministry at White Rock UMC in East Dallas. He chairs the Board of Church and Society for the North Texas Conference, is a facilitator for Project Unity's Together We Dine, sits on the Executive Board of Texas Impact and the Leadership Council for Faith Forward Dallas. Phil believes technology, like human nature, has the potential to do good and all kinds of harm in this world, and creation as a whole.

Rahel Billups

Rohini Drake

Rohini Drake is the Director of Welcoming and Online Ministries at First UMC Richardson.

Rahel Billups

Rachel Gilmore

Rachel is a former Peace Corp Volunteer who spent 10 years as a church planter and spiritual entrepreneur in Virginia Beach before serving as the Director of Recruiting, Assessing and Training of Church Planters for the United Methodist Church at Path 1/Discipleship Ministries. She now serves as the Director of New and Vital Faith in the Desert Southwest Conference and lives with her husband, two kids and two dogs in Phoenix, Arizona. She has also authored two books and launched two podcasts and co-founded Intersect: a Co-Planting Network in the fall of 2021.

Rahel Billups

Aaron Manes

Aaron Manes is a Spiritual Director, Enneagramist and haphazard participant in spiritual practices. Aaron is the Director of Online Ministry and Spiritual Engagement at Arapaho United Methodist Church where he produces content and leads small groups. Aaron is also a trained and practicing Spiritual Director and is nearing completion of a Somatic Inquiry certification (a meditative prayer practice using the body as a guide for healing).

Rahel Billups

Matt Rawle

Matt is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, and he loves meditating on scripture, listening to the heart of God, and inspiring people to build God’s kingdom through radical love. He currently serves as Lead Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Bossier City, LA. He has authored eleven studies through Abingdon Press (Including Jesus Revealed, The Grace of Les Miserables, The Redemption of Scrooge, and Faith of a Mockingbird). Matt is a Louisiana delegate to the General and Jurisdictional Conferences, and the LA Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. He has a BA in Music from LSU and a MDiv from Duke Divinity School. His website is

Rahel Billups

Derrick Scott

Derrick is first a follower of Jesus. He seeks to offer everything he does, all that he has and all that he is in response to all God has done for him. His passion is raising up a new generation of leaders and laborers who will live as disciples of Jesus Christ to transform the world. Derrick believes all of life flows from our spiritual being. He believes the deeper we go into understanding who we are as souls, the more we are able to experience life in its fullness. Wherever he goes, his goal is to inspire individuals to steward this moment we are in by holding space for all to bring their true selves.

Rahel Billups

Jeremy Steele

Jeremy Steele is a writer, technologist, conspirator and spiritual entrepreneur who refuses to give up on Christianity. He is the Founder of the Zoay app and currently works two jobs as the Church Translator for the Changemaker initiative in Silicon Valley and as the Executive director of the Wesley Foundation in Mobile, Al. Jeremy also consults with digital ministry innovators and churches on developing new ministry and scaling up their digital strategy to impact more people and reach sustainability. You can find more about him and his work at

Rahel Billups

Christian Washington

Christian Washington serves as lead pastor of Upper Room Heights, an intentionally multiethnic community of Chapelwood UMC. Prior to his work in ministry Christian started REAL Coaching, Incorporated ( in 2004 as the first “rapid solutions” consulting practice that focuses on faith-based and non-profit organizations. Much in demand as a public speaker, Christian is a native of Los Angeles (It’s true, he is from Compton!) and enjoys inspiring leaders to make a significant impact on the world. He studied theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and management science at the University of California in San Diego. Christian sits on numerous non-profit boards, is a Project Curate Lily Fellow and a Fellow of the Loyola University Institute of Politics.

Rahel Billups

John Whirledge

John believes he was placed in the world by God to be a shepherd of people. He has served churches as a youth pastor, worship pastor and now finds himself immersed in all things related to digital ministry. His greatest joy comes from seeing people connect with Jesus, wherever they are physically, spiritually, emotionally, or anywhere else in between.

Show Notes

This podcast is brought to you by the Leadership Ministry team at TMF and Wesleyan Investive. Leadership Ministry connects diverse, high-capacity leaders in conversations and environments that create a network of courage, learning, and innovation in order to help the church lean into its God-appointed mission.

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