3 Questions with Scott Magdalein

Scott is the founder of TrainedUp.church and the former team leader for the YouVersion Bible app. He's an experienced entrepreneur and pastor with a calling to serve church leaders. He lives with his wife and two kids in Jacksonville, Florida and serves at Chets Creek Church.


Here are 3 questions I recently asked Scott: 

When it comes to technology and the church, why do you think it is that the church has always lagged so far behind?

The church’s track record with adopting new technology correlates perfectly to its track record with accepting change. Change is hard for humans to process and since churches are nothing more than a bunch of change-averse humans, change happens slowly. Adopting new technology is always about accepting change. Whether that’s changes to the way we distribute content or facilitate community or worship together, allowing new technology into those processes is hard and often slow.

And, just like any other type of change, adopting new technology takes clearly articulated vision from a strong leader. Just talking about cool features or “what we can do with this tool” will never be as effective at fostering technology adoption as a leader casting vision for where we’re going…and simply letting the technology be the platform that enables that vision to become reality.


As you are pioneering online training for churches and creating an incredible discipleship tool, how do you respond to the naysayers that believe that training and discipleship can only happen in a face to face context?

The easy response is to point to the growth of online learning at every level of education. From elementary through graduate school, people are learning on connected devices separate from an in-person learning environment. And they’re not just learning little things…they’re picking up highly complex concepts, shifting the way they understand the world, and forming entirely new world views from their online learning experiences.

But in reality, just stating facts and trends isn’t going to convince a leader that online discipleship and leadership development can be highly effective. There’s often several reasons for pushback that are rooted in emotional connections. For example, most pastors love a crowd. They love getting a good laugh to a joke or raised hands when they’re teaching on a complex topic. They love the pats on the back after church and after-class discussions with the most curious session-goers.

Helping leaders embrace online tools for training is as much about helping them cope with a fundamental change in their understanding of their own value and role in their church as it is convincing them of the effectiveness of the method or mode of information transfer. It’s about helping leaders set new standards and metrics and marks of success when it comes to discipleship and leadership training.


As you look to the future of technology and the church what do you get most excited about and what do you think this all will look like 5-10 years from now?

I believe we’re at an inflection point in how churches make disciples and develop leaders. In 5-10 years we’ll see more churches embracing online and mobile tools for higher level learning within their church, not just sermon video distribution and daily devotionals. We’ll see churches training leaders (staff and volunteers) at multiple campuses from one central location or source. Those training resources will be accessible 24/7 on any device. Leaders at each location will be able to followup with the learners within their own context, but not be responsible for the creation of the learning content.

Church leaders will be better equipped to produce their own training content and the era of the "content house” (companies that provide pre-made content) will begin to fade. Church leaders will embrace their own culture and vision and train from within that context. Instead of training on-location and then releasing/deploying people for ministry, churches will realize that the training can happen “on the ground” where their people are already serving needs in their community or leading groups of believers in well-defined discipleship pathways.

The winners in the future will be those who equip the equippers; not just resourcing church leaders with content, but training church leaders on how to train others.


For more great insights from Scott you check out his blog (https://trainedup.church/blog/). You can also follow him on Twitter (https://twitter.com/scottmagdalein)