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. Continue reading
Welcome to the second issue of Mobile Ministry Magazine (MMM) simply titled Envisioning. There was a decent response from the year’s first issue and so we are going to continue down the same path with this package of observations and insights from the mobile ministry (#mobmin) space.
Welcome to a refreshed Mobile Ministry Magazine (MMM). Starting this year, we are going back to the simplicity of the issue format. Each month we will be hitting on those points where you can discover, observe, relate, or be released into mobile ministry (#mobmin) efforts. It’s a packed issue, let’s get into it.
At the end of the calendar year, its customary to have all kinds of lists going about where you summarize important things, or make notes towards what should be coming in the new year. To a degree, we’ll keep with that – we’ve got some resolutions to report on – but I do want to note a few folks who came to mind as having some kind of neat positive and disruptive effect towards moving #mobmin forward this year. We’ll just note them by their Twitter handles:
Like with the Mobile Ministry Recommendations article, we’ll append this one as we think of a few more.
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.
I’ve got a few pieces sitting in the tabs that I’ve wanted to expound on, but just haven’t made the time to do so. Here are some of those items sitting under that extended contemplation:
…One of the things I love most about technology is the space it allows us to dream and innovate. There’s always an opportunity for something new and people are hungry for it. So, if mobile technology has truly expanded to become a part of our daily life, how can we use this to reach people with the truth of Jesus Christ?
…Second, I’d like to point you to a great little book called Shaping a Digital World: Faith, Culture and Computer Technology by Derek Shuurman, a computer science professor at Redeemer University College in Canada…
…Vision must be aligned to the company’s mission: What is great about the drones is that they actually make a lot of sense given Amazon’s core business model. As I wrote previously in Amazon’s Dominant Strategy…
…this points to how important research triangulation is to make good decisions based on insights, not just data. Real insights are found at the intersection of different research methods. Not over in the corner with just one method…
In the case of the touchscreen, the spatial and visual meaning is not exactly gone, but is now floating and inflated. The touchscreen has multiple screens—each screen, a unique landscape. The single smooth surface offers itself for multiple landscapes and constantly changing meanings. At one moment, a swipe will unlock the phone; the next, the same swipe will answer an incoming call. Same motion, same locations, different meanings. The touchscreen’s agnosticism permits multiplied meanings.
…Digicel built its business model around going to small, difficult countries that larger companies would avoid. These countries are challenging environments that “you’d run a mile from” because they don’t seem to have the resources to afford mobile telephony, says Colm Delves, Digicel’s CEO…
These all might read like stars on a cloudy night. But, I’ve had them set because these all speak to various points about mobile ministry which might elevate opportunity, best practice, caution, or surprise. I don’t know what might consist of those items on your reading list, but these are just a few of mine. As you walk though the holiday – and a slower news cycle – perhaps part of what stays open in your tabs provokes your imagination or sense of opportunity.
Through the recent MMF Consultation, we connected with the group Christ for All Peoples. They are one of very few organizations whose missional impact takes the perspective of reaching out to immigrants, and letting that influence put them in the position to go to various people groups around the world. During our time chatting, one of the pieces of information shared came from the website Finishing the Task which not only impressed the state of the missions movement, but also begs the questions if/when/how mobile can help finish the task.
Some years ago, we talked about realistically looking at the impacts of mobile. I think this dataset allows for us to revisit that question, and then ask of our methods and activities if we are engaging the technology and behaviors of mobile correctly in order to finish the task. As we stated on the panel at the MMF Consultation – information is not transformation. We cannot make a mountain out of distribution methods, and do nothing about lifestyle. We cannot just put a bible on a device and expect that literacy rates will rise and with that people will engage Christ. There’s something a bit more… detailed about the point of using mobile that our methods in mobile ministry have to speak towards. And when they do, then we see without a doubt that mobile ministry is truly effective.
So, for your organization, what about mobile directly or indirectly finishes the task of getting the Gospel to the ends of the earth?
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 (Preview, Recap 1, Recap 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.
Its easy to continue down the consumer line that the holiday brings – talking new devices, apps, and services, and leaving weighter concerns to the opt-ed pieces which might hit a magazine or two. And then there’s that sense of responsibility. A condition of mobile in ministry is to understand the landscape and the challenges of just being in this space. In light of what we do, own, or promote, it our responsibility to pay attention to what might negate this landscape as well.
…Thanks to smartphones or Google Glass, we can now be pinged whenever we are about to do something stupid, unhealthy, or unsound. We wouldn’t necessarily need to know why the action would be wrong: the system’s algorithms do the moral calculus on their own. Citizens take on the role of information machines that feed the techno-bureaucratic complex with our data. And why wouldn’t we, if we are promised slimmer waistlines, cleaner air, or longer (and safer) lives in return?
This logic of preëmption is not different from that of the NSA in its fight against terror: let’s prevent problems rather than deal with their consequences. Even if we tie the hands of the NSA—by some combination of better oversight, stricter rules on data access, or stronger and friendlier encryption technologies—the data hunger of other state institutions would remain. They will justify it. On issues like obesity or climate change—where the policy makers are quick to add that we are facing a ticking-bomb scenario—they will say a little deficit of democracy can go a long way…
That segment is from an article that’s stayed open in a tab for me for a number of weeks now. The Real Privacy Problem at MIT Technology Review is a must-read, must-bookmark, and must share.
And yet, that’s not the end of things. We understand that its not just what we do which is being exposed, but what others are gathering about our actions which present very real challenges – if not outright defining characteristics – to what it means to have mobile ministry practices.
…The NSA has no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users would be relevant to national security. Rather, it collects locations in bulk because its most powerful analytic tools — known collectively as CO-TRAVELER — allow it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.
Still, location data, especially when aggregated over time, are widely regarded among privacy advocates as uniquely sensitive. Sophisticated mathematical techniques enable NSA analysts to map cellphone owners’ relationships by correlating their patterns of movement over time with thousands or millions of other phone users who cross their paths. Cellphones broadcast their locations even when they are not being used to place a call or send a text message…
The Washington Post and others have been very brazen in publishing items like this. Whether or not one can get around that kind of monitoring is one thing, understanding what that monitoring means is another. And the truth also exposed here has to be understood – if countries are advanced enough to pursue these complicated and powerful means of using data to make connections, countries/governments/organizations/individuals which don’t have that skill, or have the controls in place that might be present legally/ethically here, not only have that ability, but have been working in similar manners.
Don’t just be so naive to dismiss the dangers when running towards the opportunities.
Don’t be so paralyzed by the dangers that you neglect running towards the opportunities.
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.