It has been an interesting and fulfilling trip doing this All Books Project. Besides seeing first hand some of the issues related to user interface design, application optimization, content availability, and general usability (UX), I’m just enjoying some of the impressions that come from those I’m able to speak with about this trip towards a different (better?) approach to Biblical literacy.
For example, a few weeks ago while connecting with a brother, I mentioned the All Books Project as one of the new things happening since he and I last sat together. I pulled out my mobile to show him what it was and he was genuinely impressed. I explained to him that building this is challenging me to take just having a Bible on my mobile beyond simply having the text with me to being able to make it relevant. So then questions and discussion about design decisions, the amount of books, and even the choice of translation became part of the “reading” experience that I’m cultivating in this. It got me thinking a bit more about that point made a few times about Biblical literacy being this ability to not just read the Bible, but create it.
A mobile Bible reading application motivating you to create the Bible, not just read it? Yup. Let me dive a bit more.
Its already understood by all of us that when we read, listen to, or watch something that we are engaging within this process of consuming it. But here’s the rub when it comes to the Bible and the general function of faith-texts, we’ve got to expel something. Now, hopefully, its a good thing we are putting out there, but sometimes the case is that no matter what we are putting in, what comes out doesn’t look/sound/taste so great (Matthew 15:11).
So, we get out communities to this place now with mobile where they are eating on the right things. We’ve got them with Bibles on their devices, and some of us have even pushed to using small group or community reading plans to encourage some deeper reading behaviors (contemplation, discussion, etc.). But then what? What’s next after they have read it? How do we broach that piece about understanding and wisdom (Proverbs 4:7)? And even more than understanding, what does it look like when what’s being read, contemplated, and discussed becomes relevant?
Thing is, I can answer those if I’m looking at faith and faith development through our familiar cultural lenses (faith produces works which validate faith, preaches a Gospel that saves, entreats a Gospel that advocates justice and mercy, etc). But, when I’m sitting with my friend, and he’s asking a similar question, how he can take what it is that he’s most passionate about and turn that into a “version of the Bible?” I’m sometimes sitting looking at this mobile and say – “is consumption of this all that this tool is able to do?”
There’s probably a “no” to that. I mean really, we can look at John 4:1-42 and say that its more than simply having a behavior and tools that makes faith demonstrated equal to faith lived. But, with mobile (mobile ministry), where to we start to see faith lived as being the validation to this channel, window, magic wand, opportunity? Or, is it only worth for being a channel to be broadcast to then consumed.
Which would be a shame if you think about it. Just because you eat three meals a day doesn’t mean that you eat healthy. Can mobile ministry be more than a meal substitute? Does it provoke digestion and nutrition beyond simply taking it in?