Its now a few days after Christmas, and you might have been blessed to receive a new device, a gift card to an app store or two, or just want to refresh your wares with something different. Here are some #mobmin-tuned recommendations:
I might just come back to this and add a few more items to it as the days continue. These were just a few of the items that have come up over the course of 2013 and been impressive in their respective contexts.
What would you recommend? Make a strong case and we’ll add it here.
Over the years, some of the conversations about mobile ministry have started (and sometimes stalled) at the outreach tools ministries and individuals use for their efforts. A common thing I’m seeing now is mobile apps for rich countries and DVDs/SD cards for poorer ones. Its interesting, and somewhat disheartening.
When you get out of the bubble of being immersed in mobile technologies and behaviors, you start to realize that mobile has a long way to go – mainly because there are methods that media organizations are used to, methods that audiences are used to, and a ground that’s transforming beneath them.
Questions asked to media ministries whom are looking at mobile, but already have distribution methods include things like:
Is the content you currently producing/distributing able to be viewed on mobile devices
What kinds of mobile devices are being used where you distribute that content
Can your pre/post-production processes respond to mobile formatting and distribution
What kinds of metrics does your org, its donors, etc. require
And then there’s just that simple basic thing of culture. Does the content you are bringing to that community already speak towards their culture, or is there some kind of teaching involved to make some of those points translate cleanly? If so, do those outreach tools actually work for outreach, or are they access points towards education (an in-reach activity)?
When someone hands me a DVD or CD today, I as them if they are more interested in getting their message to me than in me being able to use it? I should be asked if DVD/CD is a method that I’m apt to receive for this kind of material (am never asked that). If/when I respond if they have it available to share with me from their mobile and they say no – I have to ask again if they are more concerned with their message than in me receiving it.
When mobile comes into the picture, outreach tools have to not only reflect the intent of the message, but the ears of the audience.
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)
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.
The Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) has again opened the door to their winter session and the course we designed and will facilitate – Creating a Mobile Ministry: Mobile Ministry Introduction and Relevance – is going to be offered.
This course is designed to provide participants a better understanding of mobile technologies used in ministry practices. Upon completion, the participant should have a better understanding of the current information that is known in this space, be able to ask/answer questions of that information, and then generate new questions that will lead to sound research and applications of mobile technologies in ministry applications.
This course intends to lead the participant into an understanding of mobile technologies and behaviors which influence faith practices within Christian and other religious spaces, with the goal of creating a theological and sociological framework for analyzing, discussing, and leading local/global communities in mobile interactions. The participant will have the knowledge and foundational skills to supplement existing ministry activities, or start new ones which utilize mobile technologies, communications, and/or behaviors.
You can register for Creating a Mobile Ministry: Mobile Ministry Introduction and Relevance at the CLA website.
As with the previous offerings, if you have specific questions which are not answered on the course website, do ask.
Coming up in about a week, MMM’s Founder and Primary Voice – Antoine RJ Wright – will be speaking at an event called The Geek Fest, hosted by Central Piedmont Community College. Here’s a bit more about that event:
THE Geek Festival (TGF) is an exciting and eclectic annual celebration of the “geek” in all of us; an event designed to educate, energize, and inspire the minds of our students and the community through highlighting the constant creative innovations in technology, media, and industry. It not only recognizes the imaginative efforts made by individuals and companies in their respective fields but also provides a venue through which we can explore the technologies that have become so integral in our everyday lives as well as those that are new and foreign. Geek is chic; not only that, it is everywhere.
And about what Antoine’s presenting, here’s the title and abstract:
What Mobile Experiences Are Left?
A lot of what we think about mobile has been shaped by the entertainment industry’s imaginations, manufacturer’s designs and marketing, and the wonderment of friends and family. In light of that, it almost seems like there’s nothing else left for mobile to unveil. I think mobile has a bit left to unveil. This talk will explore what’s happened and what’s to come, and why its not so far away from your fingertips.
If it sounds like fun, that’s because it will be. The Geek Fest has a lot of exhibitors from the Charlotte area, as well as several national and international orgs. If you are a ministry and looking to sponsor – presentation slots are likely filled up – you’ll want to get in touch with them via their website. As for attending, its free, so just come on out and check out an intersection of education and technology.
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?
A number of persons have written in over the year asking about various aspects of the two mobile ministry courses that have been on deck. With the CLA course on pause , the MMF/Cybermissions Mobile Ministry Course has been able to target the #mobmin audience with a unique and decent offering. And as such, there are discussions and comments that come forth that don’t always make their way into press clippings. For example, the following case study was posted as a discussion response to the question:
Describe the advantages and disadvantages of these social media platforms (for Christian ministry) – in your particular area?
Here’s that answer, posted from one of our friends at a large media ministry:
I work at a global level so it is difficult to address this week’s discussion topic specification “in your particular area.” So I thought I would pick a particular part of the world where others in the course might think it would be challenging to use social media and share how it is being used effectively and discuss the advantages and disadvantages in this particular area.
Our Digital Strategies leader in Eastern and Southern Africa did not receive the memo that internet strategies and social media do not work effectively in Africa! He is building very effective strategies employing internet-based strategies, particularly social media-based strategies.
Facebook Jesus is the latest strategy and has been run effectively in Ethiopia and Rwanda and will soon be launched in South Africa. Facebook Jesus is an evangelistic strategy mobilizing students and young professionals in a one-week focused effort to influence their Facebook friends with the gospel. Using African communal cultural concepts, people gather in groups for several hours and work together to post videos, stories, poems, Bible verses, and other content on their Facebook pages and interact with their friends who show interest. They pray together for interested friends. They celebrate together for those who respond. They repeat this for several days.
An info graphic gives an overview of the week [click here]
32 people contacted 1006 friends with a total reach of 77,531 engaged users and a viral reach of 195,020 people. (Note: engaged users and viral reach are Facebook social media terms helping measure the impact of the campaign and are based on Likes and Comments.)
Since Ethiopians tend to be friends with Ethiopians, the impact of this week of social media outreach is staggering.
Miheret Tilahun, the Digital Strategies leader for Eastern & Southern Africa, has written and collected guest posts on how to run effectective Facebook Jesus evangelistic campaigns. He has not yet collected these into a specific category so you will have to browse through his website at http://miheret.wordpress.com/. His site is full of excellent tips on how to engage and mobilize people for a Facebook Jesus campaign, how to train online missionaries, what to put on your Facebook page, how to followup, and many other tips.
The Facebook Jesus strategy was taught as part of the recent Ubuntu National Student Conference in Durban, South Africa. You can watch this video of the excitement of some conferees, including a pastor invited as a conference speaker:
Discussion about internet ministry starts around the 3 minute mark in the video.
Here are some comments I transcribed from the video:
Social media is a new mission field
By being intentional and using the tools that exist on the internet, I can do much more [evangelism and discipleship] than I am doing currently.
Social media evangelism is something I hadn’t heard much about before. It’s a very unreached area. It’s something most believers are not aware of. It seems more effective.
I was affected by how much I use Facebook and even become an online missionary. It is something I had never thought about. I have a lot of friends on my Facebook page but I hadn’t seriously thought about ways to seriously impact them effectively.
Some advantages of Facebook include: Africans who use Facebook tend to be younger and rising leaders. They are willing to take risks and to try new strategies.
Disadvantages continue to be technological limitations.
There’s a lot to be explored and discovered as the mobile ministry field grows wider and deeper. Courses like the Mobile Ministry Course help individuals and organizations get there. Don’t look past what these can offer for you. And if you have something to contribute, come on in and do so.
We’ve talked about various ways to share the Gospel via mobile devices, and highlighted some of the groups which are doing innovative things in this space. Here’s one example of this from the folks at Renew Outreach. Haven’t gotten a full play with it yet… that will happen soon. For now, just think about what it means to carry a hotspot and a number of connectors for various types of mobile devices, along with Bluetooth connectivity options. Pretty neat stuff.