A happy 2016 to all of you and welcome back to Mobile Ministry Magazine (MMM). It has certainly been a long time since there’s been an article here – not as long for the video posts, which won’t go away – but definitely been a good while. So welcome back – and let’s talk a bit about the Urbana 2015 Student Missions Conference and our presence there.
MMM’s Antoine was invited as part of the LightSys Technology Services team (who also paid for travel, lodging and conference expenses) to represent the services offered by LightSys (and LightSys Associates of which Antoine/MMM is) and explain those services as well as what technology and missions looks like to the over 15,000 students and other attendees of the conference. Despite fighting a very serious case of the flu, Antoine and 2 of LightSys’s full-time missional-employees held up the banner of tech and mission the entire time of the conference.
A few points of note:
- While many students didn’t have a problem with the presence of technology-missions groups, it took some reorienting of some persons (“hey, look around – see all the laptops and phones all these missions groups are using?”) to see exactly the place of IT/IS (information technology and information services) in missions
- There was not a nominal amount of folks using a mobile device; in fact, several (myself included) using the Urbana mobile app (several points about mobile @ Urbana comments on my personal blog)
- Excellent developer-UI-UX focused side event called #Hack4Missions went on during Urbana; while not getting a chance to see all of the finished projects, I was able to contribute some feedback to some of the teams (really, really impressive work by all of them)
- A number of folks will tell you about the sessions at Urbana – due to my sickness and the time spent on the exhibition floor I wasn’t able to attend. Catching up with these will take a while but it well worth it
- There was a session talking about persecuted Christians in several nations. It was a no-social-media talk too. That one was interesting (all of the 20min I caught of it)
- We (LightSys) was interviewed right before the conference got started, Antoine ended up being quoted in one of the last dailies published.
If you are involved with tech and missions, you have to not just use tech on the mission field, but be able to speak towards why tech is useful in every missional context. Of the conversations that I had the most visible impact, were the ones where I talked to several students who might have had only one in the group who did IT/IS, and the rest got a story knit before them on how their passions towards ministry point towards God using tech in their spaces.
I could see going to the next Urbana – and honestly wish that I had a chance to speak on stage to the greater student body. What folks don’t get about tech could have easily filled the Edward Jones Dome a few times. But, what folks haven’t see about how God is using tech – and what He’s been ready to do with us in this space… well, its more than an app and a flexible website.
There’s a lot more to take apart in terms of my experience there – and am more than happy to answer questions/comments (via Twitter – you know how we role here).