At some point in the coming days, we will be giving a presentation opening the discussion of tablet computers in ministry contexts. This is by no means a new topic, tablets have been a part of computing for a very long time and many vertical industries have long used them. That said, the consumer attention placed to the iPad, Kindle, and Android tablets now means there is some discussion towards how these can be used in ministry.
There was a direction that we were going to take this discussion. But, less than a week before the 2011 Mobile Ministry Forum Conference, things changed. A situation changed how the discussion was to be framed. The following story is how that discussion changed. As for the presentation, well, you’ll just have to make sure that you peep it and the notes with it:
The Story That Changed This Presentation
I had something of a good idea towards what I wanted to present today. However, a situation that I encountered recently changed this presentation, and really reset me in a variety of ways towards ministry. This story frames what we’ll look at today in respct to tablets in mobile ministry (if you follow @mobileminmag on Twitter, this will be something you’ve seen.
It was Tuesday, I’d awoke before the sun and had to get on the road to Greensboro to teach a SharePoint virtual class. I got there with such a small amount of gas that it was nothing but God’s provision. I’d been given breakfast and lunch there. My stomanch stopped aching. My lap, on the other hand, did smart a bit. During the class I spilled my second cup of coffee all over the front of me. Embarassed, even though it was a virtual class. I was compensated for work from some months ago. Not all that I wanted, but enough to supply needs for a time. Then I travelled back to Charlotte to connect with the Charlotte Area Bicycle Alliance for their monthly meeting. Learned about brain injuries and shared my own stories. Then went to Amelie’s Bakery to work on this presentation. That’s when I got rocked.
I usually position the iPad close to me. The wireless keyboard is stetched out in front of me and I basically get a suitable and erogonmic position to type. I gentleman walked past me, then he came back. He wanted to know what I was typing on. It looked like I just had a keyboard and was typing on the glass table. But, then he saw the iPad and remarked that I had to be doing something different because Facebook wasn’t on my screen as he’d seen on others’ computers. We had a brief conversation. He told me of his situation. Homeless. Wife in a city about an hour away. I didn’t want to listen, but EJ was compelling. The poem probably was it the best. Chock full of confidence and conviction despite his state. I was complaining just the other night about mine, he was about to sleep in the cold and wet.
I know better than pulling out a wallet in these moments. I had a few bucks from dinner that didn’t go towards food nor the tip and they became his. I wanted to do more, so I tweeted that he had a need. Between the city tag for Charlotte (#CLT) and the handle for Amelie’s Bakery, I was sure that someone might see and be able to offer him a room at one of the shelters. The CLT handle was vital. There are several people and agencies that monitor it for services and opportunities in this city. There had to be a response. But, my tweet didn’t get any replies. Minutes felt like hours. There wasn’t a poke of a reply. Then there was one. One of the people (I think we met at the VSN Leadership Conference a few years ago). She was in Arizona.
You can see the tweets at @mobileminmag. Emotionally, I was shot. After that guy walked away, many minutes after. It hit me that I should have done more. I should have had a listing of temporary shelters in my mobile, or at least been somewhat better adept at searching for them. Jenese Cook helped where my emotions stopped me cold. But, I couldn’t find him. Drove a 2 mile radius around the area, asked around, nothing. People didn’t even see him. I couldn’t do what I set out to do. I could only sit in my car and stew at myself for not being able to respond better here. After a talk with a friend, I just went to sleep.
The next day I set out to work on this presentation. It would be this story that framed this presentation.
I was told days before, there is a difference between ministry and the work of the ministry. This nailed that one in quite well.