The Homework of Visionaries and Ministers (Part 2)

Continued from Part 1

These views (The Internet Services Disruption and Dawn of a New Day) of technology then take us back to this understanding – or growing body of knowledge – to what mobile ministry is and how it fits in this conversation of visionaries and ministers. Mobile ministry is a genre of a genre. And in many respects its a term that means something to those who still see computing as a noun rather than a verb. For its brief history, mobile ministry has been characterized by the communication media (7th mass media) and the application/layer of the Gospel message on top of that media in order to further evangelize and disciple others into an understanding of the Christian faith.

It can and should be seen differently. Mobile as a technology presumes personal connections, micro-interactions, macro-infrastructure concerns, and an interconnectivity that will soon pull another mass media to the forefront. Mobile as a ministry should therefore pursue those personal connections, chance interactions, and mass elemental/environmental effects which cause us to meet at the result of the Gospel’s implication – John 17:20-26.

And so I go back to that MMM Mobile Experiment and those lessons learned, those lessons that weren’t technological, but spiritual. Where was the application of the Gospel? There was innovation, but where was that innovation centered on the relevant approaches to community advancement which spoke towards characteristics we are familiar with in the history of the faith? It wasn’t there, and for that viewpoint, mobile ministry took a backseat to a vision that while great, just wasn’t framed right.

The homework of a visionary is then quite clear – where is the framing for the vision? Is it based in the reality of what is needed right now? Certainly, this is the case for many of us whom are involved in approaches to ministry and media where there are practical needs such as shoe-string budgets for multimedia-needs/wants. There are those who are in missional fields where the needs are to serve or record certain types of content, but there is no understanding of the cultural dos and don’ts towards what should and should not be transmitted, even if we are talking about the experience of the Gospel.

And then there’s that homework that’s based on what will be needed? What are the impending implications of the various economic and environmental issues which will mean that we have to be better educated/equipped to handle multiple streams of thought (resources, languages, core utilities, etc.). How does the visionary teach “go forward” when the resource says “make best with the bread you have today.” In other words, you have to be both disruptive and directive at the same time – and do so while crafting an understanding around what is understood and what is accepted about those things digital and those things traditionally assumed as spiritual (analog).

To the minister/ministry who is taking a look at the digital landscape and wondering what’s next, your assignment is nearly as simple as Paul’s statement in Romans 12:2 – with the context of going digital (active, participant) from digital/analog (passive, responsive, reactant) in our response to the needs of the culture ability to hear the Gospel that we present. It is more than just having the understanding of the silo of mobile or web, it is taking our approach from nouns to verbs. When computing becomes a verb, we start looking at how it connects and adds relevant value to our lives. In the same view, mobile ministry as a verb looks and acts a lot different than just adding a mobile phone or snippet content to an effort. Yes, this is part of it, and certainly such formatting of hardware, software, and services breaks down the ability to change the applied tense of the word we are using. Yet it is a step beyond – and that step takes a change to how we behave towards the history of ministry.

The Christian living in today’s context sees no difference between online and offline – computing is a verb. It is either engaging their abilities to touch the world with the Spirit of God, or hindering their ability to see clearly the Body in motion they heard about which provoked their faith at the start. And while the context of how someone gets digital might be different, mobile shows us that the disruption that is come to technology and culture is meant to bring the kind of light to all people – at least to all people that can be served digitally, we need to walk to the rest – the kind of light which is going to be a fundamental change to them because as the object of the Spirit, the tech will point.

Also published via Google Docs for comments/discussion