A bit late this month, but on the way to the ICCM Conference, took some time while driving to record the June videocast. The info is a little bit dated since ICCM is now over, but its still more than worth the watching.
Sorry for not getting this out sooner, but between ICCM activities and some site issues, this really needed not to linger (it didn’t if you are following via Twitter).
The aforementioned Mobile Ministry Class with the CLA and Azusa State has been cancelled due to insufficient registrants. I’ll have an update as soon as I’m able to give notification.
In the meantime, do take a look at the Mobile Ministry Training Course offered through Cybermissions and the Mobile Ministry Forum. That class is similar in parts to what we were doing with the CLA.
Mobile is the present and near-future of ministry. So don’t be surprised if more classes like these pop up soon.
Its been a good bit since we’ve taken a swing at looking at things a bit further out than a copule years, and so I found it pretty refreshing to come across an article in which several mobile, web, and tech thought leaders took at asking the question what will work look like in 2020? Its a neat question and one where I think we both over-estimate what could happen and under-estimate what does happen. Here’s a piece of one of the views from Helen Keegan from Heros of Mobile:
…It’s hard to predict the future of work, and seven years is not that far away. Seven years ago was 2006. I had moved to a Symbian Smartphone – probably the N70 at the time. I was using the odd app and game and had limited use of mobile web. I had started to use Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. Fast forward to 2013 and I’m using an Android smartphone with email, web, games, music, alarm clock, messaging, social networking and more. I’m still using my laptop for ‘work’ stuff but my media consumption is primarily mobile. By 2020, we’ll have devices that are lighter and smarter, with better battery life. We may have broadband connectivity across the whole of the UK. All sectors will be affected in some way by mobile technology – whether it’s remote monitoring of our health or checking that our washing machines are working properly. People will need to adapt and learn and not be afraid of technology. It should be seamless and invisible to take the fear away and proper respect should be given to privacy and data. Whether we’ve worked that all out by 2020, time will tell…
There are several things to like and dislike from these kinds of viewpoints. I thought Helen’s was one of the better balanced ones in that it didn’t paint the broad “this will happen” brush. And yet, I still think that parts of this view of work is based too much on information-heavy industries, and middle to upper-middle class workers in thsoe industries. I see a lot more disruption for pretty much everyone else. And as such, I think that its probably a bit better to look at what a worship community might look like in 2020 to get a view of general tech trends:
- I see many faith communities beginning to move away from Facebook; not because its not capable, but becaue they will utilize another upcoming comms/connection service that has a bit less of a presence in security scares
- I see more new faith communities opening with shared online and offline community spaces as normal (not just a website, but online, interactive streaming media)
- Sure there will be more devices used in hand, but fewer variations outside of mainstream smartphone platforms as by then, most smartphone owners will have swapped out whatever they are using now at least 2x
- Trust for cloud services will need to be brokered by churches and their leaders as personal trust levels will have diminished in increasingly larger circles
I’ve probably got a few more items to throw out there. I’ve weeded out things like multi-media sermon elements and bible study apps because they are here. There are too many gradients of faith communities to call those something that all will implement. Still, its a true-ism in the USA, and probably in some other countries, where the faith community goes, so follows the rest of culture.
What are your thoughts? Will 2020 look different or more like normal for faith communities?
Just got off the phone with one of the members of the Mobile Ministry Forum steering committee and he reminded me that there are some upcoming webinars that should interest many of you who are looking to get into more about mobile ministry.
- June 27: Steps to Get Started in Mobile Ministry – Strategy, Social Media, and Apps
- July 18: Toward a Theology of New Media
I’m not sure who will be leading these webinars, but am sure that more information such that will be revealed in the coming weeks.
Straight from the folks at the Christian Leadership Alliance, this is something (else) that I’ve got on deck in the coming weeks:
Do you have a mobile strategy? If you aren’t maximizing the use of today’s technology, you could be missing one of the key ways to fulfill the kingdom mission God has given to you as a leader. That’s why I want to invite you to register to attend the 10-week online class I’ll be teaching this Summer in the Christian Leadership Alliance Online Academy. This module, powered by Azusa Pacific Online University, will help you to establish a successful mobile ministry. The best news is that CLA’s online classes are designed in a way that works well with your Summer schedule, allowing you the flexibility to coordinate your studies around your schedule. Sign up today to reserve your spot – June 10 is the registration deadline. www.
Registration deadline – June 10
First class – June 17
This module, led by Antoine RJ Wright, Founder/Primary Voice, Mobile Ministry Magazine is designed to provide participants a better understanding of mobile technologies used in ministry. We will explore mobile technologies and behaviors which influence faith practices within Christian and other religious spaces, with the goal of creating a theological and sociological framework for analyzing, discussing, and leading local/global communities in mobile interactions. The participant will have the knowledge and foundational skills to supplement existing ministry activities, or start new ones which utilize mobile technologies, communications, and/or behaviors.
And check out the 12 additional modules CLA offers this Summer in the areas of Board Governance, Financial Management, Executive Leadership, Marketing & Communications, People Management & Care and Resource Development: www.
A series of articles that sit near my reading pane have me thinking a bit. I want to knit them into a question that I feel mobile and internet ministry need to solve that’s more important than spreading the Gospel.
“Shape the digital world or robots will do it for you”
That sounds like something out of science fiction novel, or a futurists’ website. Its really from the latter, because the former is no longer fiction. The abiltiy to build and program machines to do transitional tasks isn’t reserved for a particular person or people group. Its something that anyone can do. When we go about creating more and more of thse automated spaces, then we have to come to another bump in the road: are we the product of what we program, or does what we program project who we want to be?
“…If there’s an enormous problem with the world, and we can convince ourselves that over some long but not unreasonable period of time we can make that problem go away, then we don’t need a business plan,” Teller says. “We should be focused on making the world a better place, and once we do that, the money will come back and find us.”
I’m sitting at some kind of cross-roads where I know that I want to continue on this course with MMM, but not as it was done before. I want to be like Google X is described as in this Business Week piece, a place where its not just building or disecting mobility in ministry for the sake of it, but actually challenging and answering the problems that present themselves most at this intersection of faith and mobile tech. For example, why does someone need to know how to read in order to receive the Scripture? Shouldn’t all they need to know is how to ask from their device and the representative services make the answers available in the best possible manner. That’s how John Dyer’s Bib.ly service works in terms of presenting various sources for Bible verses. Why isn’t that pushed even further so that I’m not spending time trying to figure out how to translate, but how to share a recipe for a favorite dish that makes the salvation conversation something that just happens to save a whole house.?
“From my point of view, technology is not only your computer on your desk anymore, it’s part of your life. It made sense to me to have a design that felt more accessible, that didn’t make you feel all the time that you’re just reading a tech magazine…”
I feel the same way about reading a bible on a mobile device. I’ll use my Sermon/Bible Study Notes archive as an example. I don’t need to necessarily read the Scripture again, but I do want to experience what was going on when I did read it. I want to have the pictures, images, and even video that speaks what is going on, just as much as I want the links to the content from encyclopedias, news articles, and academic journals that challenge the very thoughts that I’m being exposed to. And then when all I do want is a basic instruction before leaving earth note, can it come to me in a way that is accessible to the moment, not one that makes me change into someone else’s designed point of view.
If all we are doing is repacking the printing press or radio broadcast, then we aren’t doing anything that gets people closer to God. We are called to be like moons and reflect the light of the Son. How about we start designing, collaborating, and connecting using the web and mobile tech as if we are reaching for something more? What are the moonshots in this space?
Let’s start with one that I can’t believe has never been designed: turning a mobile phone into a magnifying glass for your Bible (there are magnifying glass apps, just none that purpose into helping folks read those nice small print bibles, go figure). What happens if in the effort to teach people about mobile in ministry, we simply just enable them to see?
In the coming weeks, MMM will be heading to the ICCM USA Conference in Taylor, Indiana. And as with the last two conferences, the focus on mobile makes for a decent opportunity to share insights and forward areas of discussion. For example, a conversation at ICCM last year led to the acquisition of a Nokia N950 and a few conversations on open source technologies used on the mission field.
At this coming ICCM event, MMM will be in the mix for at least three of the mobile sessions happening, and given their topics, it should make for some interesting pathways forward.
The first talk MMM will be in on is called The Theology of Mobile Ministry. Here’s its abstract:
The speed of acquisition and use of mobile devices presents a sociological argument for understanding mobile ministry. The emphasis on services and applications presents the technological arguments we are already well familiar with. This presentation will present some of the theological points for understanding and engaging mobile ministry.
A theology-first discussion on mobile tech? Yup. And I’m hoping that it will lead towards an opening of tech and faith discussions on this wise outside of the academic community. This is a topic designed to fit alongside our goals for 2013, so this conference probably won’t be the only one that this information is shared.
After that session, MMM will be leading a panel discussion on the subject of BYOD (Bring Your Own Devices) and what that means for your ministry. This isn’t totally a new topic (think: laptops), but it has caught all kinds of positive and negative press because what it has meant towards IT teams supporting efforts, folks on the field making evangelistic efforts, and ministry leaders who want to stay on top of keeping all of this activity cohesive.
The third and final topic that MMM will be facilitating is a mobile workshop titled Sharing Content FROM Your Mobile.
The challenge for many ministries who want to go about using mobiles in ministry is that the practice of sharing info when on the field doesn’t match what’s done at home. This will be a workshop demonstrating methods of how to share content from mobile devices using several conventional and unconventional methods. Attendees will be active participants and all will be required to use some kind of mobile device during this session.
Now, this seems like it would be one of those easy topics, but the audience attending ICCM works in places where doing something like attaching a file to email, sending a Dropbox link, or even throwing up a server, just doesn’t make sense. Where the wrench happens here is for those groups who are ministering in communities which already have a significant mobile base who is sharing content, but they don’t know how or what’s going on. This workshop will have folks learning how to share content from their devices right in the session, with some notes about what’s happening in the ministry space around them.
At this point, I do have to apologize if you’ve not heard of ICCM before and this is a conference that you want to attend (were you not subscribed to the #mobmin Calendar). Registration is closed. We’ll do our best to make sure the presentation decks to hit the site right around the time the presentations happen on our end. You will want to stay tuned to the ICCM website and its social media hubs for other presenters’ decks.
The International Conference on Computing and Mission (ICCM) is an annual informal (NOties allowed) gathering of women and men who have
a common interest in computers and mission. We share a vision of cooperation for effective use of technology, bringing the Gospel to every nation.
This conference has been going on for almost 25 years, and from what I understand from those who have been there many times, its always a point of not just hearing something new, but being refreshed towards ministry efforts personally, in family, socially, and in organizations. Yea, there’s a helping of geeks whom are there, but its always quite friendly no matter where you are technologically.
One thing that I will note, just in case you miss this one and want to come to another. ICCM is a family-friendly conference. Meaning that there are several attendees who bring their kids along (a couple on the planning team brought their new addition to the conference last year). I’ve noticed that there are women-only sessions, there was a psychologist there last year to help with personal/internal items, and there’s always a section of the time devoted to prayer in small groups and community worship. Its indeed not a normal conference, and at the same time, its how the Body connects with itself.
For more information, including conference information about the Europe and Australia editions of ICCM, visit their website. And if you will be there in June, I look forward to connecting with you there.
Was good to see this note of Dave Bourgeois’s book Ministry in the Digital Age now being available.
…What are the best evidence-based practices to implement? How do you best truly integrate digital, rather than just bolting on a few social networking options to an unchanged structure?
For these things are no longer optional luxuries. Any ministry or non-profit without an effective digital and social media policy, owned and understood by the whole team, is doomed to near invisibility and likely failure.
Dr Bourgeois takes you through both the strategic planning and the practical steps for implementation. On his book page, he explains the background to the book, with an online preview of the introduction and appendices…
That news was found via our friends at Internet Evangelism Day, who also highlighted that post with a contest to win a copy of Ministry in the Digital Age. Here are the details:
Do any of these things before the end of May, then email me to say where I can find it along with your postal address, and the winner, chosen at random, will receive get the book:
- Tweet about this page using this ready-made link, or include the #ieway hashtag
- Share this review on a Facebook group or personal page
- Link to or republish this review (an edited summary is fine) in a blog
- Syndicate our blog posts to your Facebook personal or group page using Networked Blogs
- Embed our daily Paper.li news roundup into the margin of any webpage or blog – just copy the code from the ‘Share > embed this newspaper’ link at top-right of Digital Evangelism Resources.
Makes for a solid investment, and once my summer swing gets done, I’m sure we’ll have a copy of this in hand to get reading on as well.
The folks at Renew Outreach have been kicking out the activity in mobile ministry lately. From our literal witness, they’ve gone from having a passing impression of mobile for ministry in their space, to becoming an on-the-ground leader towards enabling their ministry activities forward with the aid of mobile ministry techniques. One of the features they’ve introduced that really impresses me is a Media Conversion Training Center. The Media Conversion Training Center is a “step-by-step guides to convert Gospel media (whether that’s the Jesus Film, the audio Bible, GRN, other media or your own creations) into formats that will play on various different platforms.”
What’s really neat about this training center is that its not only for the content that Renew has for their devices, they’ve essentially given some depth to standards for mobile media distribution for anyone. See the below images for what they are doing:
The fruit of that work can be seen in this video produced by Renew from work in Inquitos, Peru:
Really neat work and something that many ministries have been looking to do for sometime. Renew has been working on a series called Mobile Ministry in Action which gets into more specifics about these activities and what they are doing as an organization to move forward.
For more information and to engage Renew Outreach for mobile ministry efforts, visit their website.
The other day, a friend and I were talking about the use of a call-in service for Bible searching, reading, and evangelism. In a sense, looking at the market of those folks who might be still tied to a paradigm of looking towards a voice for information (rather than having content on a screen, sent passively, or directly searched). One of the things that was striking in the midst of this conversation is how he stated that at his church, that the age and culture of the population poses some resistance towards those who use electronic devices for Bible reading in the community (a trait that John Dyer once spoke towards very well). In that, I wondered a lot about this idea about the identity of the Christian in this changing society and if there is something to be said towards these devices, services, and experiences that are gathered about these days.
You see, for those of us who pay attention to these things, there’s a clear sense that the identity of the Christian is being challenged on several fronts. Emotionally, there’s a drawing towards more expressive (some would call this transparent, others would call it performance) means of showing one’s views/feelings. Socially, there’s a bent towards urban centers in some metropolitan areas with pockets of intentional communities. While in more rural areas, there’s a bent towards a (romantic) preservation of the community and faith that was remembered by those who haven’t moved to urban centers. Theologically, it seems that just about every branch of the Church has not only gone through revisions of the text into a common language, but seen a shift from the leanings of the West towards something more charismatic and dynamic – moving south and east while doing so. All of this is happening in different shades across at least three existent generations of people groups. That’s a lot of shift to account for.
And yet, here is that nearly always present mobile. I like how Jan Chipcase squares this topic of identity alongside this totem we carry:
Much like the paradox of the toga in ancient Rome, some objects can connote high status in one culture and low status in another. A suntan on someone who lives in London or New York is a sign to others that that person can afford a tropical vacation, or at least a trip to the tanning salon. On the other hand, a tan in China or Thailand is a mark of peasants who toil in the fields. Thus on the shelves of pharmacies in Bangkok you’ll find dozens of skin products with whitening ingredients; in the United States, expensive moisturisers are tinted. Does this mean that the people who use these products are all that different from one another?
What are we saying if we are affirming or denying the use of mobile devices in community gatherings? What if part of the impact of what we are saying is that your identity has to have more depth than what you carry? We could stand to have a faith that does that. It would mean though that those making such a declaration have to be able to been seen without their totems as well.
Or, what if we said that you can carry it, but that it has to have an influence beyond just being your own screen? What does it mean when we cultivate the personal content and activity of a mobile device, but in some social situations mandate that it has an open or community-accessible aspect to it? Not just “you can see the photos I just uploaded to Facebook either,” but a more sincere – “here, let me help you understand why I took that kind of note” kind of feature.
What I thought about my friend’s declaration about his church’s specific culture is that they asked for folks to affirm the church’s identity, but gave nothing in return to those who needed a bridge to become that manifested character. If you will, “live the way I tell you, but I won’t give you my eyes to do it.” For many today, their identity is tied very tightly to what’s in their palms. The style of phone, the case on it, the ringtone, and even the applications preferred are a part of who they are. When we ask them to remove the device from the presence, we are asking them to set aside themselves for something they are not. In a sense, ignoring the traditional declaration of “come as you are.”
If I am also what happens on this little screen, then to engage the depth of who I am means that you have to be as willing to dive into me, as you want for me to unplug into you.