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I am new here, so I am not sure if this topic has been brought up before. It may already be in development by more than one person for all I know.

I am currently moving forward on an idea for a mobile application, but would like some input and some counsel. I have made a few important contacts, begun to gather financial support, and am working on a promotional video to help explain the concept. My hope is to gather more interest/support and hopefully be joined by some like-minded friends along the way.  I feel that if the product doesn't already exist, this would be a great place to gather info and ideas to help make the App more functional. I will most likely be starting a Kickstarter.com account to see if I could get the whole thing crowdfunded by believers online.

There are many Bible apps, but are there any true evangelism apps that allow you to download your videos and store them in one location outside of the phone video library? The number of excellent video "tracts" and discussion starters are growing, but why is it so hard to find and gather them? To complicate the matters, I have come across many people that have no idea how to add media to their phone via computer.

There are many videos that are only available online (such as the I Am Second series). Streaming an evangelism tool is tough, and there are many places where streaming is not practical or even possible. With the growing storage space available on mobile devices, it is possible the time is right to be able to download and store all of your tools in one app without even having to use your computer. While such an App my have to start out as the product of one media producer, it would be ideal if there was one location where you could access tools from Campus Crusade, The Jesus Film, The Billy Graham Association, Josh McDowell and more- most of which could be free. This would be a cross between a modern storehouse of independent producers such as Worshiphousemedia.com or Sermonspice.com and The American Tract Society.

Add to this the ability to bypass translators when needed by having tools in multiple languages. Then utilize the power of the mobile phone to include follow-up emails for new converts, the ability to link with missionaries on the field you are working with, data collection of new converts (photos, contact info, phone, email, etc.), GPS for missions teams in dangerous areas, a map sent to the new converts of Bible-believing churches in their area, and endless possibilities when it comes to getting discipleship materials into the hands of those who need it most.

Maybe it is all a little too much. Perhaps something similar has been discussed for years on these boards. However, it has been on my heart for years and I feel the Lord wants me to move forward. Even if the idea doesn't happen, I feel I need to be obedient on my side and allow the Lord the opportunity to run with it if He sees fit.

If anyone feels like catching me up on what is happening in this area (or why it is not), I would really welcome it. I was so excited to find this group of like-minded individuals, and your combined expertise is appreciated.

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Replies to This Discussion

Jim,

We have been working on this idea with a couple of others over the past year.  We have several items that we should launch in June and others later on in the year.  Any collaboration that is available is welcome.  Maybe we can talk off site.

David Olson

David,

I would love to talk off site and hear more about your project. Is this something that has been discussed openly on this site? It would be nice to help if possible.

Of course it would also help to know how similar the App actually is so I can know whether or not to continue pushing ahead. Ill send you my contact info.

At Global Recordings Network (GRN) we are currently working on a very similar app.

It is designed to identify a user's language and present them with all the audio/video programs GRN has available in it. They will then be able to select which programs they would like to download. The app has an integrated audio player and shows a picture associated with each track played. We are seeking partnerships with other missions to provide follow up.

We have audio recordings of the gospel in 6,000 languages, so there is a wealth of evangelistic audio material just within our own library. However we do plan to also provide links to other sources of Christian content available in each language. Downloaded programs are managed within the apps media library.

We are targetting Android to start with. We also have a mobile outreach web site where our recordings can be downloaded (http://5fish.mobi).

A team of students from Taylor University has been working on the app. It is very likley that one of the students will be spending 9 weeks working full time on the app during the summer vacation. We aim to launch the app at the end of that time (August 2012).

Let me know if you are interested in combining efforts.

Jim,

Let's do.  540 760 7737 when you get a chance give me a shout.

David

Jim Zarbaugh said:

David,

I would love to talk off site and hear more about your project. Is this something that has been discussed openly on this site? It would be nice to help if possible.

Of course it would also help to know how similar the App actually is so I can know whether or not to continue pushing ahead. Ill send you my contact info.

Jim,

I agree there is not a great option I know of for this. I'm also interested in this and what David Olson is alluding to. I'm serving in South Asia so it is exciting to be in a market rapidly growing in mobile use. I'm working with folks serving throughout South Asia to help advance their use of mobiles in all phases of church planting. That would include equipping short-term teams coming for a week or more. An app to pull resources together and make it easy for the non-tech would be helpful. It would also help to offer custom sets of resources (e.g. specific religious background focused and language specific) or the ability to "pre-program" the app with resources the person or team would need. That would help them either have all they really need or help them get started.

The most effective use of mobiles here is using it as part of your EV tool or teaching (e.g. discipleship or church) OR sharing media via Bluetooth and (mostly) via Micro-SDs. Streaming isn't much of an option as coverage for 3G or 2G can come and go (due to all sorts of reasons to area construction, technical failures of the cell company or monkeys swinging on the lines -- ha ha)

I would love to know where you go with this. If you need some testing in South Asia, I can do that.

Mike

David,

I would also like to know more about what you are working toward. You can see my comment to Jim.

thanks

Mike

David Olson said:

Jim,

We have been working on this idea with a couple of others over the past year.  We have several items that we should launch in June and others later on in the year.  Any collaboration that is available is welcome.  Maybe we can talk off site.

David Olson

Mike,

What languages do you work with in South Asia? It would be great to have some tools in languages you could use in the app when it launches so that you could test it.

I am definitely designing the app with the needs of short-term missions teams in mind. Some of the things you mentioned are almost exactly what I have in mind. It also struck me yesterday that if the app has the ability to gather info and media, why not include the an option for team members so that they could upload photos, testimonies and video clips to one central location? Missions ministries always seem to have a tough time gathering the most powerful stories, yet they need these things to encourage others as well as gather support. Maybe these real-time journaling elements gets sent to a mission team leader first and allow him/her to determine what to do with it all. However, it could also be linked to an online Missions Album of sorts so that families and supporters can experience the trip almost as soon it happens.

There are so many things that can make this app exciting. The real trick is to make it simple, practical and useable. I will keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, I certainly welcome any ideas, help or prayers you can send my way!

David,

Sorry I haven't been able to call yet. I have however visited the MergeLane Media website. I liked the "Brokeness" video. I have a feeling it is a pretty powerful evangelism tool. Is that the type of video content you are hoping to include on your mobile app? I can't find much info on the project, so I am guessing you are keeping a lot of it under wraps. I am very interested in what your team's final product is going to look like.

I will try to call soon- or at least send a more detailed email.

There are about 20 significant languages (this list goes on). However, some of the top are Gujarati, Hindi, Bangla, Urdu, Kannada, Marathi, Nepali, Oriya, Tamil, Telegu, Mallayam, and Punjabi. Hindi and Urdu would be the first two to include.

That all sounds interesting. Praying that things progress well!



Jim Zarbaugh said:

Mike,

What languages do you work with in South Asia? It would be great to have some tools in languages you could use in the app when it launches so that you could test it.

I am definitely designing the app with the needs of short-term missions teams in mind. Some of the things you mentioned are almost exactly what I have in mind. It also struck me yesterday that if the app has the ability to gather info and media, why not include the an option for team members so that they could upload photos, testimonies and video clips to one central location? Missions ministries always seem to have a tough time gathering the most powerful stories, yet they need these things to encourage others as well as gather support. Maybe these real-time journaling elements gets sent to a mission team leader first and allow him/her to determine what to do with it all. However, it could also be linked to an online Missions Album of sorts so that families and supporters can experience the trip almost as soon it happens.

There are so many things that can make this app exciting. The real trick is to make it simple, practical and useable. I will keep you updated on our progress. In the meantime, I certainly welcome any ideas, help or prayers you can send my way!

Jim and Mike,

We are beta testing our first app in June in Spanish but will, as funding et all permit, will follow along with as many languages as possible after that.  

The Brokenness video is an IMM product and yes it and other 30 second spot format videos - are the style of videos we will include.  We have maybe 100 of them in Spanish.  Also, we are linking with a new digital resource site that that includes kindle, epub, and other format publications that will be available across the network.  Imagine a bookstore in every church that provides encouragement and evangelism tools in multiple languages and you will have the idea for part of the system.  There are two other components which we have begun releasing but because of changes in their particular industries we are reviewing.

Connect with GRN, the Kiosk Evangelism Project, Open Doors, Door 43, TWR, and Logos. All are working on pieces to what you speak of.

Technically, you basically are looking to put a video library on a device, that segments the content for evangelistic purposes into its own app. That would mean your app needs to work a lot like a server, and it would be pretty difficult to do that and it NOT also meld with the native video/apps on the mobiles. Nice problem-solution there.

The largest issue you will have is with the organization of the content. To date, folks just flat out aren't categorizing their content in the same manner (TWR and GRN are addressing this with their solutions). That part is the biggest bugger. The mobile device isn't the place to categorize that content, even though the latest smartphones do great with tagging content and making content viewable by those tags only.

The app approach for this is an interesting one. The language groups spoken about so far in this discussion aren't heavy into "there's an app for that;" so you would effectively be changing th behavior of many groups. The idea of a central library (portal) that has all of this content for ease of downloading and viewing on feature phones (ref the regions and the mobiles they use for my reason for that specific type of mobile), is a hard one to work thru - see Kiosk Evangelism and how they have done this with just English and Telugu.

Interesting project. On my radar now ;)
Antoine,

I have a couple of apps that store video content outside of the normal iPhone video library. One is called Zumocast, which is designed to view and stream all sorts of content from a nearby computer. As a nice little bonus, the app allows you to download and store content (including video) so that you do not have to stream it each time. I assume that it accesses the cache and saves the video that way. With some changes, the Zumocast model would work very well for the app I have in mind.

I imagine that if there is a web site and/or server that receives content from ministries, the videos could be compressed to be compatible with the app and have the neccesary tags added during that process. Then it could be distributed as an in-app download or purchase.

I have a friend that owns an online stock footage business, and his website distributes content made by hundreds of different producers from around the world. The site is also set up to automatically compress the content into several different formats, attach search words, and post it to the store as soon as it is approved. I believe it is pretty close to the kind of automated process our app will need. If there is a process where ministries submit content and answer a few questions about it, an automated process can do the work for us.

I believe an app is the way to get this done. Now that things are synced via the cloud, videos will be easier to load on your phone. However, you will have to use the mobile video library. That means that if you are discussing your faith on an airplane and decide that you may have a short video that will explain a point more clearly, you will have to shuffle through several cat videos and the Star Wars original trilogy before you can get to the video you are looking for.

Also, evangelism tools are not as easy to collect and organize as they should be. In order to have a good selection of tools for any given mission trip, I would not only have to spend days searching, but I would also have to know how to rip videos from a number of websites and format them correctly.

The video section is less than a third of what the proposed app could do. Using GPS to your advantage with a missions group would be a huge help on some trips. Follow-up is one of the most difficult parts of evangelism. Any way to include tools to aid in follow-up is a huge step forward in preventing new believers from falling through the cracks. I haven't even gotten to the group journal and praise reports and the value they would bring to any ministry looking to collect powerful testimonies on how God is working in their midst.

I realize that there are some countries that will not use mobile apps on a regular basis, and I don't assume that this app will change that any time soon. I assumed that the app would first and foremost be used by believers that are trying to share their faith in a missions setting. A team of medical missionaries on a river boat in the Amazon. A group of teenagers on a missions trip to Portugal. A man visiting Tokyo. Sure, a person from a third world country would also be able to use it with his neighbor if he felt lead to do so. However, the target group for the app is the believer that has a mobile phone and wants to share his faith in a creative way. Also, it provides a way for that person to bypass the immediate need for a translator should he be in the position to share a gospel video with someone that speaks a different language.

There is obviously a lot that I don't understand yet about the process and you have made me think about some things I haven't considered up until now. Maybe as I look at the examples you mentioned, I'll get a better feel for what I'm up against and how I should pray! Thanks so much for the direction. I appreciate anything that helps me get closer to where I believe God wants me to go.

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