Last updated: July 7, 2023

In 2003, before smartphones were in every pocket and social media platforms became mainstream, microblogs like were rapidly growing in popularity. On his Louisiana college campus, a young Chad Brooks watched with interest as people began expressing and living their faith online. During this time, he noticed when Asbury Seminary emerged as the only seminary with an official blog.

“Oh my goodness; it was crazy,” Brooks says.

The blog was called Web Parish. Faculty, staff, students and alumni posted short reflections on growing in the knowledge of God.

Brooks was already interested in how spiritual relationships uniquely cohabited online, and the Seminary was having these conversations. Once he found Web Parish, he knew he wanted to engage in a similar ministry.

He enrolled in Asbury Seminary on the Kentucky Campus in 2006.

Brooks worked toward his Master of Divinity and held a student job at the Chapel Office from 2006 to 2011 while exploring what he calls “cohabitated digital faith.”

“I lived on that leading edge for five years,” says Brooks.

His Seminary professors were supportive of his efforts to forge new paths in ministry. For Method and Praxis, Dr. Larry Wood enabled Brooks to start a website featuring articles on eschatology. His other professors also encouraged such experimentations and permitted him to “do all kinds of crazy stuff,” from creating a digitized Scripture journal to tweeting during class.

Upon graduation, Brooks served as a consultant for social media in the Church, an Associate Pastor, and then a Church Planter in the United Methodist Church in Louisiana. Through intentional focus on his local demographic, he grew his church plant to 350 members. Simultaneously, he continued to expand his digital ministry through various platforms.

The Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst leading Brooks to recognize his full calling. In 2022, his official appointment became “Extension Ministry,” which occurs almost entirely online. While many found themselves in uncharted territory during this time, Brooks aggregated everything he had learned through his many years of digital experimentation.

“This is my call. This is who I am,” Brooks says. His ministry is now primarily through his Productive Pastor podcast, YouTube channel, Facebook group, Twitter account,, and his work as a congregation developer and coach through Passion in Partnership.

His podcast, Facebook group, and Twitter account minister to pastors. His YouTube videos reach lay Christians and people wrestling with Christianity, particularly his videos on reading the Bible with a generous approach that’s historically Christian yet doesn’t fall into restrictive interpretations.

Our digital age is a learning curve for churches that are still communicating linearly, according to Brooks. Yet, anyone under 35 is accustomed to running conversations that are relational, like a web. “Think of a rat’s nest. It looks confusing, but it’s strong and stable,” he says of digital relationships. Ultimately, digital ministry is built on relationships and conversations, and tons of them happen through comments to his posts and videos.

Brooks says the “best forward step for pastors is to realize they are pastors online. The person you are online is the person people expect you to be 100% of the time.” To anyone who asks whether online ministry is valid, Brooks points out that our people are already being discipled by a digital world. Digital discipleship is therefore part of the pathway of discipleship for people under 40.

“Prior to Covid, people looked at me like I was crazy,” says Brooks.

Now, they would likely agree that being “a United Methodist pastor and misfit” work well together.

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