#0: Who am I?
I am Antoine RJ Wright, and I am the Founder and Primary Voice behind Mobile Ministry Magazine (MMM, mobileministrymagazine.com), a web-based magazine and consulting service which asks questions, presents approaches, and occasionally experiments at the intersection of faith and mobile technology. In effect, we look at those efforts that are enabling the sending and/or receiving of Christ in mobile.
I represent MMM as a part of the Mobile Ministry Forum (MMF) committee. The MMF is a gathering of representatives from several ministry groups who have a shared interest to using, better understanding, and drawing light to next/best practices of mobile in digital faith contexts (multimedia, missions, journalism, etc.). Some of these groups have already started mobile efforts and are looking to share lessons learned and create next/best practices. By no means does this group encompass the entire depth of efforts and experiences in mobile globally, it merely serves as a rallying and connection point that we hope will unify the voice around mobile as part of ministry movements locally and globally while adding to the collective knowledge and understanding of this significant paradigm shift in communications.
1. Why is there a need for a Global Mobile Ministry Movement?
I think that Eric Schmidt said it best when he stated that Google's approach in 2010 and beyond would have the perspective of "mobile first." In the same light, the Church's response to engaging within digital faith contexts has approaches that's best served by going mobile(-first). Mobile, compared to other forms of media, has characteristics which endear it to being a more suitable mechanism for ministry endeavors across every demographic.
It's our collective opinion that a Global Mobile Ministry Movement would capture just that. These specific contexts (mobile as/is: personal, portable, always-on/accessible, point of sale/transfer, point of creative impulse, point of response/measurement, contextually social, and bridge to real-world and virtual world intermingling) can be taken upon by any ministry to address all aspects of going, teaching, discipling, and living out the Gospel message (Matthew 28:18-20). In calling it a movement, we are deliberately calling every use of mobile in ministry as movement in this direction.
2. It seems like most of the contributors in the movement this far are from Western based agencies. How global is the movement at present? What will be done to expand it?
As stated earlier, those groups represented in the first Mobile Ministry Forum are only a part of the picture of the impact of mobile within ministry contexts. Several of the groups represented are on the ground in Western and non-Western contexts. The MMF represents groups which are on the ground in every world region except Antarctica. I'd argue that makes it quite global so far, but there are definitely more eyes and voices of the world needed.
At the current time, we leverage the relationships that many of the existing groups within the MMF have in order to explain the purpose and enable other individuals and groups to walk alongside the MMF's goals. We've also taken to public relations, word-of-mouth (WOM), and social network channels to build the conversation and expose the MMF's efforts to a larger group of current and potential mobile ministry practitioners. Groups represented within the MMF will also be sharing a voice/stage at various conferences and gatherings in the coming months around the world to advocate the movement and some of the efforts that are underway.
3. The vision statement says that the movement wants to reach every unreached person with the Gospel within 10 years. Does this mean every unreached person owning a cellphone? How are you planning to work to reach this goal?
Not just a cellphone, every mobile device capable of communicating, contributing, or consuming content - phones, tablets, PDAs, media players, and wearable computing devices would all fall under this goal.
And yes, we mean every unreached person. There are currently roughly 6.9 billion people in the world today. At the best estimates, 4.6 billion people have had exposure of some kind to one of the four major world religions, and about 2/3 of that have been exposed to Christianity at some level. Separately, there are about 4 billion individual mobile phone users of the roughly 6.3 billion people who could possibly use a mobile (600 million of the total world population are children 0-5yrs old, ideally not using a mobile). So even with the best overlapping of those numbers, we've got a significant portion of the mobile (phone) using public that hasn't yet heard the Gospel in any form. And a similar sized number of people that have had no faith encounter at all. Both faith association and mobile use point to increasing numbers, with mobile the faster growing curve in regions that are also experiencing growth in the adoption of the Christian faith. It is therefore very possible to tap every unreached person even as the reach of mobile and other technologies reach to the ends of the earth.
We have several mini-tasks occurring to help build and keep momentum towards this goal. Some of these include creating next/best practices for media creation and distribution; the development of training materials and a mobile ministry certification course; expanding the connections to and the relationships between practitioners and at-need efforts; and increase the use of PR/WOM/social networking efforts for advocacy and recognition of mobile ministry efforts. All of our efforts encourage partnership and collaboration not only with the groups so far represented within the MMF, but also groups outside of the MMF whom are in mobile and other applicable fields.
4. To what extent do you think cellphone evangelism can replace face to face evangelism?
There are some documented uses of mobile where it has replaced the face-to-face encounter. In these instances, environmental context dictated a different level of engagement to which mobile fit where a face could not. As believers, we walk like Philip and take advantage of every opportunity given as the situation warrants.
However, it shouldn't be looked at as a replacement for face-to-face or any other evangelistic media effort. Mobile is another tool which enables an evangelistic opportunity where there might not have been one previously. Mobile (and this is me drawing on the characteristics of mobile as spoken in question #1), has abilities to enable an evangelistic opportunity to not be lost because a physical presence isn't there. There may be specific applications of mobile, for example SMS prayers, where mobile can allow for the security, privacy, and immediacy that face-to-face, or even voice-to-voice interactions might not. But, it’s not a replacement in every case. As practitioners of ministry using mobile, we'll draw light to those opportunities, and where appropriate give the right light to be used effectively.
5. When will we see the first ever "getting started in mobile ministry" course that is under development?
Soon… I'd really like to say exactly when (I'm part of the task-group that's to address this specifically, so you can blame me), but we can't just yet. It is best to stay tuned to the groups mentioned within the MMF Summary Report as news about this and other types of trainings/course offerings will be spoken through these groups in unison.
Some groups are already imparting lessons that will be a part of this larger "getting started in mobile ministry" offering, and its best to ask them directly, as they would be working on items based around their areas of expertise. For example, the group Kiosk Evangelism has already begun demonstrating to individual missionaries the practice of SD card evangelism. As these kinds of activities happen more often, documentation, course offerings, and demonstrations will be advertised through all usable PR/WOM/social networking channels.
Thanks for posting this Clyde; I'd probably had waited until it was published, but at least in this wise people can see some more of what we are up to as a mobile ministry group.
I'd encourage all of you to connect with those folks named on the Mobile Ministry Forum's Executive Summary; besides being able to draw on their specific veins of wisdom, you will also be enabling yet another outlet for the Spirit to engage us all.