Mobiles are the present and future of technology for ministry.
With that in mind, eDOT has been steadily increasing its presence into this realm over the past several years. We began by looking at how to harness text messaging for ministry follow-up and interactions, moved to “mobile first” web design, and we are now designing smartphone apps.
However, smartphone apps are not cheap. Even the smallest, most simplistic app can cost at least $3,000 to $8,000 to make. These apps are generally in one language and don’t require a BaaS (Backend as a Service) or database. More complex apps cost between $50,000 to $150,000 – or higher.*
Our eDOT team is small, and our funding is limited. But we see the huge need for apps that encourage and accelerate evangelism and discipleship. Therefore, we could not be deterred from entering into the world of app development.
First we figured out some of our needs:
- Apps needed to be for both iOS and Android with the possibility of other platforms as the demographics grew (like Windows 8)
- The learning curve couldn’t be too great for our programmer (right now we only have 1 full time programmer)
- We did not want to have to code in more than one programming language (so coding separately for each platform was out)
Initially, we began using Jquery Mobile to develop our mobile web apps. While it is a powerful and relatively easy framework to work with, it just didn’t have everything we wanted. It was then recommended to us by several different developers in the secular world that we look at Sencha Touch.
We’ve begun using Sencha Touch and are really liking its versatility. You can see our first published app at C2CStory.com. Here we created a type of Bible tract app that allows users to tell the story from Creation to Christ using visuals and a set script which is currently in 3 languages (English, French & Turkish). We’re continuing to build on this app with several more in the works.
(Originally written for GEMeDOT.com)
When you live overseas and travel a lot, the common question is “So how many languages do you know?” My answer is normally “Zero” because as I travel I realize how little I really know my mother tongue, English.
Additionally, I get asked the question, “So what language do you program in? English or German?” Well, code is code. It’s its own language but usually does draw from English. Normally I do document my code in English as that is the unofficial international business language of programmers however if I know the only other programmers that will look at it are German, then I try to document in German.
But in the end, the reality is that I speak “Geek”!
Growing up, my dad stressed to me that the greatest thing a husband can do is to love his wife like Christ loves the church. As men, our minds go to the heroic thing of Christ dying on the cross – giving the ultimate sacrifice – out of love for all people including the church. Most of us men would say that if it came to a situation, we know we’d “take a bullet” for our wives. Just look at the testimonies of several women in the Colorado movie theater whose men covered them to save them from the flying bullets of a disturbed man. This is what it means to love our wives like Christ loved the church – to be willing to die for her.
But is that all it means? Does it not also mean that we are called to “live” for her as well? Jesus came to earth to live a life here on earth. He had some wonderful times like going to weddings and having feasts. But He also endured the pains of life. With all the distance that He travelled in His life, there had to be times that He said to the disciples, “Hold it, I’ve got to get this pebble out of my shoe – it’s really irritating me!” He had to process rejection by His family and betrayal by friends. His disciples didn’t always “get” Him nor did they always understand His methods.
However through this all, He loved His church – His bride. When He saw 5000 people hungry, He didn’t send them away even though He was tired and hungry Himself. Instead He had compassion and fed them with what little He had. When His disciples kept “not getting it” and remained thinking in ways that were not His ways, He lovingly continued to speak with them and lived in ways that showed what He was about. He gave up His temporal wants and desires of a life lived His way for His ultimate desire – intimate relationship between His church and Himself which could only be done through living in God’s will. And isn’t that to be our ultimate desire in our marriages? An intimate relationship with our wives that is reflective of our relationship with God the Trinity!
How does this look and play out in “real” life? We’re not Jesus (the perfect man) but if “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”(Galatians 2:20a NIV), then we are called to live out Christ in us. That means that we follow His examples. Practically speaking (cuz we’re guys), when we come home from a long day of work tired and exhausted to a wife saying “Do you know what YOUR child did?”, have compassion with her that she too is tired and exhausted and, just as Jesus fed the 5000, listen to her and help satisfy her needs. When there’s a sense of rejection or betrayal, be forgiving just as Jesus was (James his brother became one of Jesus’ biggest cheerleaders) When you’re not being understood, live out Christ in you so that your response is telling or showing in a different way that reveals who you really are – a follower of Christ.
Not only being willing to die for your wife is loving her as Christ loves the church but making the decision every day to live for her as Christ lived for the church, will eventually make almost any woman love and respect you.
In December, I had the privilege of speaking at the Mobile Ministry Forum on the topic of using SMS/Text Messaging in ministry. They did a video of the presentation and you can find it below. I hope it helps others think about how they can integrate this type of technology into their ministry.
I sometimes have a hard time saying good-bye to things. Today, we decommissioned an old time friend: my Dell Inspiron 3500. Purchase around 1998 by my sister who used it for her business before giving it to me to run my side web business and for me to use during my seminary classes – it was “Designed for Windows 98″ sporting a Pentium II processor. Today, we tried to load the latest Ubutnu (Linux) operating system on it and it failed which told us that maybe this was the end of it’s usefulness.
The ministry that this laptop has been a part of is huge: from running my sister’s Christian counseling practice, to helping me with my seminary classes to being the laptop that I developed some of my earlier websites on to being the “guinea pig” for new software we developed or processes we designed, to helping run “electronic survey” outreaches in France to being a kiosk station for conferences in multiple countries around Europe, to numerous other projects over the years. It’s had to have had at least 6 different operating systems (including different flavors of Linux) running on it. It’s had a full life.
So with that, I say to my Dell – You have lived a long and prosperous life (for a computer). You have served us well and now we will over-write your hard drive and take you to the recycling center so that your various components can be reused in newer technology and what can’t be reused, be disposed of properly in today’s era. RIP.
In a few days, I’ll be traveling to the embassy to pick up my new passport. My old “friend” will have a hole punched in it and decommissioned from use. As you can see, it’s been in my pocket a lot. When I travelled with one group through Polish prisons, we had to turn in our passports with the guards. At the end of our times, everyone immediately knew which battered, old passport was mine without even opening it up.
This passport has been on 5 continents and over 20 countries (most countries multiple times) endlessly living in my pocket. It’s first use was to go to Brazil on a short-term youth mission trip which is where God began the final stage of preparations to move Krista & I into full time missions. It traveled with me through the explorations for where to serve and then through our first term of being based in Germany to use technology to build His Kingdom throughout Europe and beyond. It had to have the “extended pages” sewn into it mid-way through to handle the stamps and visas.
To me it’s a reminder of so many people I’ve gotten to meet. From the family I stayed with in Brazil to Anna, our translator in Ukraine, to Joe at the Anchorage Project in Ireland, to Igor in Moldova to Paul & Ruth in the Netherlands to the young guy at the crepe store in Serbia to the many friends in our town here in Germany and so many more.
Next week I’ll begin crossing borders with a new (RFID chipped) passport with all it’s new anti-forging techniques and security measures. I wonder where God will take us. I wonder who are the people I’ll associate with this new passport after the next ten years.
This morning, I looked out our window towards our car only to see that something wasn’t right. We’d been flying our German auto-flag from the side window to support our guys in the Europe football/soccer tournament (they’re doing good – to the finals guys!!!) but now the flag was missing. All that was there was the plastic pole that attaches to the window – and it was bent. Then I noticed a note had been placed on our windshield. Oh no, had we been flying it wrong? Was it too frayed to be flown? It had rained, should we have removed it during rain? What had we done wrong?
As I pulled the note off the windshield, I noticed it was a kind of form letter. For those who don’t read German, here’s a rudimentary translation:
Sorry that we have bent your German flag but we simply can’t take this $%!@ any more!
With anti-national greetings,
Your “Anti-fascist Action”
Interesting that this group, which originally formed to stand up against Hitler and the Nazis, is feeling the need during these times to go around ripping off German flags from cars – even in our small little town. Well, I’m out 1 Euro (yes, I think Germany’s flags are made in China too) but this gave me a good chuckle.