Category Archives: Effects of Mobile

Security and Comms, Your Mobile Concerns

As I’m sure that if you are reading MMM, you are aware of much of what’s happening in and around the NSA/Snowden topic and its effects. In an article read recently at The Atlantic, something stuck out that made me wonder a bit:

One senior collection manager, speaking on the condition of anonymity but with permission from the NSA, said “we are getting vast volumes” of location data from around the world by tapping into the cables that connect mobile networks globally and that serve U.S. cellphones as well as foreign ones. Additionally, data are often collected from the tens of millions of Americans who travel abroad with their cellphones every year.

I just wonder, and maybe its just me more than things that are already spoken – do folks who work in IT/IS for organizations who do travel and need secure communications understand this? Are they putting together security plans which are easy to follow and clearly lay out why “mobile as normal” isn’t the lingua franca anymore?

In a conversation with the CEO of GSMK Cryptophone some months back, amongst the security topics we talked about, the way that mobile is perceived as an area of concern – or not – for faith-based orgs/NGOs came up in one of the questions, here’s a quote from my notes:

What would be some recommendations that you’d have for religious organization who have a need for secure mobile communications, but aren’t sure where to start?

  • think hard about what your threat scenarios are; what are the potential problems
  • what areas/people that need to be protected
  • think of the entirety of communications
  • lots of problems can be solved with open source software
  • pay attention to the range of suppliers and the range of solutions out there
  • understand that mobile devices might not be usable at all

Are these concerns that you hear in your planning sessions for mobile ministry efforts? Or, do you only think about security, political, or other implications only after they have happened? How do you address mobile concerns, if at all?

Additional Note: After investigating several mobile security solutions, GSMK seemed to have the best overall solution. I was very convinced after conversing with them that not only would it be a tech solution, but a behavioral one. Plus, for those who like those modern devices, their security-hardened version of Android is hard to beat. Check them out for your personal or organizational needs.

Reflections on #mobmin13 Conference

Am still working through notes and such from the 2013 Mobile Ministry Forum Consultation, but while doing so, I wanted to jot down a few things which are still sticking out as points of reflection.

  • For those who usually follow me, you know that I draw my notes during conferences, workshops, and Bible studies. I did the same here. Here’s the PDF (because you’ll want to zoom in for the really, really small stuff) and here’s the JPG – posted on Twitter and Google+ if you want to share too
  • I actually was very surprised to see so much paper used during the conference. And then Clyde Taber pulled out using an Apple TV and his iPhone – from a happy-in-tech moment, that was one of the best (4 years ago, he gave me a blank look when I did stuff like that).
  • Pay attention to Heidi Campbell’s work – some good data backing observations said here and other places; her upcoming study on digital religious creatives will be great
  • Talked a bit about version 2 of the Mobile Ministry Methodology – even gave a preview of the analytic tool that will be launched alongside it. Guess who has more work to get done. See Version 1 of the Mobile Ministry Methodology
  • Distribution using SD Cards is all the rage. Lots of folks wanting pure voice solutions though.
  • The range of age was nice to see, and not like it was a few young and a lot of old; there was a lot of everyone (except women – conferences as a whole just need to be better on that end)
  • If you get to meet Kent Shaffer – just listen. The Spirit of God rests on him. He was live-blogging the conference too (PreviewRecap 1Recap 2)
  • Each year, someone comes with a heavy bat of stats and info. This year it came twice: Faith Comes By Hearing and Tomi Ahonen – loved it
  • Best quotes: “Information is not transformation” (John Edmonston of Cybermissions) and “Recharging and Redemption” (Tomi Ahonen)
  • TWR 360, Ekko Mobile, Estante, Lightstream, C2C Story
  • There were rumblings from some folks about how to pay more attention to the rise of the church in sub-Saharan Africa and SE Asia – I can imagine that next year, those folks will be represented well.
  • I didn’t have the best of attitudes at the beginning of the conference, just kind of didn’t feel like hearing the same things (its been a long time in this space); by the time it ended, I changed – and got some timely and appropriate honesty from a few folks. I’m grateful for those in the Body who still pull us aside and let us know about ourselves.

That’s all for now. I’ll figure out something else in terms of reflections on another time. Check out the #mobmin13 and #mobmin hashtags on Twitter and other social media spaces for reflections from others. Or, go out there and experiment a bit.


Once again, the Church has entered into the Advent season. Many of us take this time to not just prepare for the holiday but to reflect towards how the entrance of Jesus into our own lives has upset the norm and changed things.

If a mobile app helps you get to that point of reflection, this small listing is here for you (found a ton more for Android here). If the traditional Advent calendar is more your speed, there are several for sale still – with candle holders and other peek-a-boo doors – for example, this one for Outlook and similar apps.

May you take the time to reflect on the soon-coming Messiah, and draw your strength in grace of his birth.

Two Sides of Feeling

Was pointed to this piece about two sides of owning a [smartphone] mobile on Twitter by @AdamGraber. Here’s a snippet of the piece:

10. Desired/Disappointed “I love getting new messages and feeling the love, but I check my phone so often that I’m more often disappointed than not. We’re constantly checking our phones for new notifications. Because we get texts, emails, Facebook messages, tweets, and calls all on our phones, each new notification makes us feel like we matter. We love this. But if there’s nothing new, we have this pinprick of regret. Since 2010, we’ve gone from checking our phones every 10 minutes to checking them every 6. That’s a lot more pinpricks. 9. Accessible/Obligated “I feel good knowing my friends are within reach, but sometimes they text me and I don’t want to text back right away. Am I a jerk?” Texting is perhaps the most complicated communication medium we have. Sometimes the responses are immediate; other times, they can take days to respond. But we never quite know the reason for one versus the other. The expectations around it are a minefield of miscommunication and frustration.

Read the rest of 10 Reasons We Love/Hate Our Smartphones at The Second Eclectic Some of these make a lot of sense. And given some of the counseling bent of some ministries, there might be a window towards ministry opportunities which are mobile in focus, but not ministry done with mobiles.

The God Stamp

Have had the Halloween/Harvest Celebration comic from Wes Molebash (Insert [IMG]) opened in my browser for a few weeks now (it seems). Part of it is because Wes is the kind of artist-with-faith that its easy to support. But, there’s also the aspect of the community that he’s created which occasionally offers the kind of mature comments which shows there’s more to this life than the wonton opinions that many times fills the web.

Of note, in this comic there was a comment that made me stop – hence the reason for it being open for so long – and consider that there just might be other motivations at stake in this space that I’m watering – an unintended consequence of seeing an intersection of faith and mobile tech:

Where I do have a problem though is when we try to put a God stamp on something to make feel ok to participate. I think that this is what God is getting at when the Bible says, “do not to take the name of the Lord your God in vain.” The heart of the principle is that We shouldn’t put His name on something to curse or bless it for our purposes.

I feel like our attempts to create Christian adaptations of cultural practices do more harm than good.


There’s only so many ways to say it – and thankfully, Wes actually said it another way in another comic soon after – we can’t go about mobile ministry, doing mobile and then putting the God stamp on it, expecting that others will respect or honor those efforts, or even that God will. Just like we’ve said before that digital has to be native to your ministry, ministry has to be native to those things you do digitally. If not, its nothing more than a fish on a car as it cuts in front of you on the road. It gets there first, trumpets something about Christ is known in there that’s being ignored to get there first.

If you are like me and enjoy Wes’s work, support his efforts by donating or commissioning a work for your organization.

PwC’s 9 Digital Trends Rewriting Business

The New Digital Ecosystem Reality: Nine trends rewriting the rules of business

Came across a solid piece of writing at PwC towards CEOs, which should also be applicable to leaders of pretty much any domain, talking about nine trends to consider as digital has become more and more the normal way of doing business.

CEOs have faced disruptive shifts before, but this one is different for two reasons. First, the impact of new technologies overlaps more than ever before (e.g., the increase in mobile devices feeds both social collaboration and big data). The challenge and the opportunity of creating a “connected experience” is bigger than ever before. But at the same time, the changes are coming faster. Dealing with both greater aggregation and acceleration means that companies have to do no less than adapt their internal DNA, as they move to new revenue and cost models brought on by a variety of nine key trends.

Read the rest of The New Digital Ecosystem Reality: Nine Trends Rewriting the Rules of Business at PwC (PDF)

The points raised in this piece aren’t too unfamiliar to most, but its packaged for those leaders and influencers who might not hear enough that digital is the present not the future (or take on that statement has been said in the past – mobile is the present, not the future).

Of course, once you hear it, you’ve got to do it (evolve from Romans 10:17 to James 2:14-18). CEOs have to evolve, so do ministries.

November Videocast & Kolo Group Mobile App Video

Two videos this month to profile. The first is our monthly videocast, titled Mobile Experiences:

The second comes from the folks at the Kolo Group talking about the app and the mobile evangelism opportunity with it:

Check them out and if there are other videos we should be profiling, get in touch with us, or share via social networks so that we can promote those along with you.

Stupid Uses of Paper?

Some weeks back, there was an Evernote conference and the CEO Phil Libin said something that’s really stuck out in the discussion of being paperless.

“The goal is to get rid of stupid uses of paper”

Now, he said this in respect to a new partnership that Evernote announced with 3M (see WSJ article). But, I think its a very profound way of looking at how we are treating digitally native experiences versus those behaviors which might have had a better context in print. Evernote’s association with 3M is looking at the use of Post-It Notes and making those small notes digital. I’m thinking similar, and sparked by a conversation with LJ of Urban Scholar, I think we might have some other “stupid uses of paper” to consider.

LJ was telling me about a men’s group that he engages in and they are reading the book Why Church Matters: Discovering Your Place in the Family of God and I asked him if he’s making notes in Amazon’s Kindle service or reading in print. His response is that he’s reading the print version for not just that book, but also for other books that the group is reading. I wondered, in the case of a group of men sharing insights and progress if that’s really a smart use of paper. In contexts like this, we usually share items and it would seem that digital is the appropriate place for this part of the interaction.

I guess that I have to make the appropriate statements concerning digital texts: cost of devices and services, access versus ownership, and those folks who would rather have that page turning, ambient lit action. Eh… you know those already if you are reading here.

What matters isn’t so much our comfort, but what we enable as a result of the activities we pursue. If when we are getting together, we spend more time passing out materials and reviewing the instructions on them, than we spend in making sense of what those materials mean.

I don’t mean that there’s not a place for paper. I mean that when we have digital text available, we should probably take advantage of what digital offers instead of constraining it to what we only know from a paper context. If that means displacing the time when text is contemplated from the group meeting, then we make the meeting time profitable for things that digital can’t do as well – like cohesive, corporate prayer. And when we do those things that digital does do well, our experiences through the faith grows past stupid uses into something that more authentic, and viable to living by Christ.

Mobile-Led From the Wrong Voices

Another part of the package that makes mobile ministry an interesting topic is that of who is heard evangelizing what makes sense and what works well. In some respects, its easy to say that anyone who is doing anything with mobile can be an evangelist of its uses, but that’s not the case. The voices in leading mobile best come from those who are using it most directly (via Elezea).

…Now, a second question: when was the last time you heard that teachers in Africa are not trained properly, are demotivated and that the formal education systems in which they work are weak? My hunch is that you’ve heard much more about this than you’ve heard teachers praising mobile technology.

My concern is that some people use the problems with education systems to justify excluding teachers from the design and development of mobile learning interventions. Teachers’ voices are marginalised. And mobile operators association GSMA (to take just one example) characterises the teaching profession in a way that divorces it from progress and innovation.

The difficulties teachers face are used as a starting point for criticism, rather than as a motivation to address systemic issues…

That’s a hard win-lose. To see the prospects of mobile and then run to it feels like a success point, but then who is calling it a success? The person evangelizing it, or those putting it into practice?

How many of your mobile ministry efforts are founded in the context of the direct users? How many of those persons contribute directly to your project, and then to the local assimilation of mobile for that activity? Or, is this where your project hangs? Like we said in previous posts, do you understand the context of where you are asking for mobile to go?


As I’ve been working on this magazine/project – answering of a question – a good chunk of what comes out isn’t so much about the technology or behavior of mobile and its ministry intersection, but about the pieces which goes into answering what makes the most sense about the context around those streams. Ethnography is very much a core discipline within this endeavor.

…Taylor claims that the secret behind Starbucks’ appeal is the incredible amount of control it exercises over its image. All decisions start and end with the company’s ringleader, Howard Schultz. Everything at Starbucks is planned. It is not just a Starbucks’ coffee that you get when you walk through the café doors; it is a Starbucks’ experience.

It was after careful psychological research that the company first decided to have white cups with green writing, “tall” lattes, natural materials, and round tables. Starbucks interviewed hundreds of coffee drinkers, seeking what it was that they wanted from a coffee shop. The overwhelming consensus actually had nothing to do with coffee; what consumers sought was a place of relaxation, a place of belonging. They sought an atmosphere…

Starbucks is a familiar experience to many pastors I know – some of you might even be at Starbucks or a similar coffee shop while reading this. The environment is just as key to understanding mobile as is the technology or your content. What Starbucks has done has been often talked about, but in reference to mobile ministry, rarely practiced.

Some of the most immersive experiences in mobile ministry come from ethnographic-based approaches. And in an opposite view, the reason why we see so many of the same approaches to the same problems is because while there are plenty of builders of tunnels, there aren’t as many students of roads.

It’s still so frustrating to see how many companies embark on their redesigns or MVPs without doing contextual research first. You might get the usability of your product right, but without utility, it will still be useless.

Its probably safe to say that many folks miss doing that part of the project that asks for research and analysis. Asking questions is an important first step here. Then we can build or lead into fuller experiences of Christ by mobile or any context.