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)
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.
Most Information Technology based work is solving the question of “How”. How do we communicate with individuals quickly and efficiently? Email. How do we enable team collaboration through great distances? Intranets and collaboration software. You get the idea. Here’s some of the “How” questions we’ve been working on lately or are continuing to work on:
How do we get people from billboards to a website? Use mobile/cell phones via text messaging/SMS & QR codes as well as making sure the website looks good on mobile phones. This was the question our partnership in Turkey asked when they were running a billboard campaign asking the question “What if what we believe is wrong?” to the 99.9% muslim population of Istanbul. Our first run had over 1200 visitors in a 3 week period, many texting in requesting a phone call while others filled out the online form to request literature and so many more saw and began to think about the possibility.
How do we take some training that was originally for 10 hours a day for 10 days and use it for people who don’t have that kind of concentrated time? Video tape the training breaking down all the elements of the training into smaller chunks. Then break up the training by bringing the trainees together for a 4 day face-to-face session using the videos and live instructors and then create a “hangout and training area” website for them to exercise what they learned, share their experiences and receive more training through online coaching, peer interactions and videos. They can also review the materials from their 4 day face-to-face as all the videos and materials are provided through the website. This was our answer to our mission’s training group as they’re working to train church planters on a process called T4T (which we’re calling Discipleship Multiplication Training i.e. DMT – here’s our website still in progress).
How do we interconnect 31 short term mission teams that are serving throughout a large city during one of the largest events in the world? We go back to interactive websites and mobile phones. When people can’t be face to face, technology can fill the gap and that’s where we’re building a website that will allow members of these short term teams to post pictures, videos, stories and prayer requests and allow them to see all of these things from the other teams working during London Summer Olympics 2012. It will give them the ability to not only see the difference they are making in their area of London but to see how they are part of the larger picture. We’re “under the gun” on this one and are feverishly working to get it ready in time.
Have you ever been some place and just felt at home. It’s not the place but usually it’s the people that make you fell that way and it’s usually with people who share similar passions. That’s way I feel every time I get to go to ICCM Europe. This is a place where computer geeks from all over the world come together. While we all like talking about the latest gadgets, discussing whether Apple or Google is going to produce the next “it” thing that people are going to “just have to have” or challenging each other to program using a new programming language, however the true passion of everyone there is for everyone in the world to have an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
We just finished our fourth annual conference for ICCM Europe (International Conference on Computing & Mission) in the Netherlands. 62 technology enthusiasts came from many different mission agencies (and some are those who just want to be a part of it but are in the professional world volunteering their time & knowledge to further missions). Many walked away with new skills and new ideas but most importantly, they built relationships with others that have the same passions. Wow, what a rush to know you are not alone. Until next year!
5 Years ago today, we arrived in Germany to begin a new phase in our journey on God’s path. As you can see, we were bleary eyed from the all night flight but adrenaline was flowing through our veins in anticipation of what was ahead. We really didn’t know what was going to happen or what God was going to do – we just knew we where God wanted us to be. Some of the more prominent memories I have of the past 5 years are:
- Meeting & hanging out with Yoyot from Indonesia and so many other fascinating people from all over the world in our language school
- Krista & I doing “rock, paper, scissors” to take care of a bill which we didn’t understand what it was about (of course, it all had to be done in German)
- First day after language school – working in the office with the eDOT team and the excitement I felt in using my computer skills for developing frontline mission solutions to expand God’s Kingdom
- Alex’s first day of 1st Grade at Black Forest Academy where he was interviewed by the principal and had the whole school laughing hysterically and him innocently not knowing why
- Traveling to so many places, not to see the sights, but getting to meet the people where they are, where they live. Hearing their hearts, getting to speak words of encouragements and bringing them ideas & technology solutions that bring them closer to their Creator
- Sleeping in a church’s closet with Bob (construction supervisor) on a work project only to realize later he was always up so early because of my snoring – not his desire to get the day going
- Getting rushed into a Ukrainian church 3 minutes before the service was starting and being asked if I wanted the 1st, 2nd or 3rd sermon slot (it was assumed I would give at least one of them)
- Having the first time I worked with Windows Vista be in Russian as we configured a Mobile Outreach Center in Ukraine
- Getting to work on an Internet Cafe in Moldova in a town where there was only one paved (barely) street, horse drawn wagons, and out-houses and then hearing about the life-changing effects that Internet Cafe had on people’s lives
- The countless number of plates set before me where I couldn’t identify what was on it but ate it all (and usually wanted seconds)
- Surprising my son when my sister showed up “unexpectedly” for his birthday
- Getting to work with men & women who pour their lives into other people in grace filled ways so that they can know what life in Christ is like
- Hearing 1st hand stories of imprisonment & persecution because of their faith and realizing that we can help minimize that through technology security techniques
- Seeing the joy in my wife’s eyes as she came home after a couple weeks of teaching a women’s Bible Study and knowing that she had found her place
- Continuously getting to seek out how God wants technology to be used to expand His Kingdom in ever innovative ways
Those are just some of my highlights for the last 5 years. There’s so many more things I could share but I think I would go on forever. Thank you to everyone who partners with us in both prayer and finances to allow us to be in this place. We are truly blessed.
If you ever wonder why we spend time trying how to figure out how to leverage SMS/Text Messaging – this info graphic shows the impact texting is having on the world. Now let’s use this not only to improve people’s physical well-being but their spiritual as well.
Check it out:
Created by: MBA Online