How is Mobile Technology Changing the church and the Non-Profit Sector?

The title of this post is taken from a question posed over at ChurchDrop a while ago (along with an iPhone giveaway – great way of generating comments on the subject!) and I left a comment there so good I thought I’d repost it here [tongue in cheek] and add to it.  Actually, there’s a lot of great comments over at the original post, feel free to add to the conversation there, or here!  So here’s what I wrote:

Mobile technology is changing the church and non-profit sector in the following ways:

1. Real-time communication

People react quicker to what they are experiencing. (especially applicable to multi-site discussions -> see tony morgan’s observations) This also applies to the reporting of people on the field (i.e. missionaries, short term missions trips etc). It can be easier to communicate via mobile than any other technology from a user standpoint and this means that the message gets out and is widely distributed in a matter of seconds rather than minutes or days.  Sometimes whether we want it to or not.

Therefore, the real-time nature of mobile communication means that there must be an even greater awareness on the part of the church or non-profit to what message they are communicating in everything they say and do (even the unintended messages must be considered).  It has become (or will become depending on your context) increasingly difficult to change your message or modify it before it goes “public” because mobile makes everything public.

2. HOW things get communicated.

With the increasing penetration of mobile devices consideration needs to be given to how churches and non-profits communicate in ways that fully capitalize on the way people use those devices. In my opinion,  any church/non-profit that DOESN’T take this into consideration is at risk of losing a valuable avenue of communication for their constituency (granted this does depend on the particular penetration of mobile technology in the reach of the organization).  For much of the non-western world mobile IS the way to communicate.  North America is starting to catch up and the advent of smartphones means that more and more people are connected to the online grid 24/7.  Which brings me to the next point…

3. Social Media use.

In my eyes you can’t talk about mobile technology without including social media in the discussion (I think the rise of social media and mobile are connected).  It is really social media that has made mobile go from a tool used to connect with a few trusted friends and family to being a portal to online community.  The question then is what is the church or non-profit doing to connect and engage with this online-community?

4. Giving

This has only in the past year started to gain traction but the Haiti earthquake has a lot to teach on the ability of mobile technology to facilitate a quick and legitimate way of raising funds.  Check out a few articles on this:

The day is already here where churches can make it possible for congregation members to give via mobile during the service.  There are already companies offering that ability to churches (unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any that offer this service in Canada – we always seem to be a bit behind here up North).  I suspect that this will be one of the major ways in which mobile technology affects the church an non-profit sector.

So what do you think?  Are there any other ways you think we will see the church and non-profits affected by this tech?  Feel free to post your thoughts below.

At the focal point of history…

I read an interesting article a couple weeks ago about a little known guy named Ron Wayne who is actually one of the founders of Apple Computers.   You can read the article for the details on his story but it was fascinating to read some of the comments from this guy who sold away his 10% Apple Stock back in 1976 for $800.  That same stock would be worth about $22 billion today.  Yeah, that’s what I thought, wow.  But notice what the guy has to say,

  • “Well, I’m one of the founders of Apple Computer”
  • “I’m living off my Social Security and I do a modest trade in collectors’ stamps and coins”
  • “What can I say? You make a decision based on your understanding of the circumstances, and you live with it”
  • “We did get fairly chummy, had lunch together, dinner together and had conversations,” (about his relationship with Steve Jobs back then).
  • “What Jobs had in mind was that he and Woz [as Wozniak is sometimes called] should each have 45 percent and I would have 10 percent as mediator in any dispute that would come up,”
  • In talking about the growth of the company and the risks Steve and Woz were taking, “I could see myself getting into this situation again, and I was really getting too old for that kind of thing,…” (Ron had been unsuccessful at a slot-machine manufacturing business around this time)
  • “The way these guys were going, they were going to bulldoze through anything to make this company succeed. But it was going to be very rough ride, and if I wasn’t careful, I was going to be the richest man in the cemetery.”
  • [I’m] “…enamored with money as anybody else.”
  • “But when you’re at a focal point of history, you don’t realize you’re at a focal point of history,”
  • “I never had a real use for computers,”

Some interesting statements from a guy who because of  decision missed on a huge payoff.  All in all it looks like he’s not dwelling on it too much (although I wonder how much of his gambling is driven by a sense of loss for what could have been). In hindsight, it’s always easy to say “If I only knew then what I know now…”  How often do you find yourself saying that statement?  That’s why the blurb spoken by Ron that I bolded above really stood out to me.  The big moments in life – the crucial junctures, the “focal moments in history” where a decision could have a huge impact are not always so obvious.

Too often people avoid risk because they are focusing only on what they might lose.  Maybe justifiably.  After all, Ron already had the experience of failing in business and didn’t want to experience it again.

People avoid risk because they want to protect themselves from loss.  The risk takers, those who jump, are those who have focused on what can be gained, not lost.  That’s not to say they don’t consider what might be lost.  But what convinces them to GO is the crazy idea that it might actually work, that something might happen, that change will result.  Previous failures don’t intimidate them, they just learn from them and take what they learned in the next venture.

Here’s the thing, we will never know that we were at the “focal point of history” until after the fact.  The question then is this.  Is it possible that that decision you are facing personally, that decision you are facing as a leader, or as a church or other organization is one of those HISTORY making moments?

Is quitting, or cashing out because of the potential loss going to cost you more than the potential gain?

(Anything else that you want to add after reading this article? Feel free to comment below!)

(Oh, and by the way the picture with this post is a representation of the story of the apostle Peter stepping out of his boat to walk on water to Jesus.  You can read the story in Matthew 14:22-33. For some reason its a biblical story that came to mind when I was writing this post – I wonder why….)

What I tweeted the past week.

  • On my Blog ~~> What I tweeted the past week. #
  • RePost: What I tweeted the past week. #
  • If you're needing a tool to help with keeping your family safe on the internet this is a great one -> #
  • looks like there was a mild earthquake in Waterloo – staff hear @watpen said they felt the shaking. I didn't. #earthquake #
  • #tumblr is taking a tumble. I can't post anything 🙁 #
  • Unless the lord builds the house, all the work is pointless… #
  • To fear the Lord is to find joy –> #
  • What miracles of God are you missing in your midst? –> #
  • methinks there's going to be a lot of #iPhone4 talk on this twitter thing today – just wish it was being released in Canada today too 🙁 #
  • dang, I'm liking how the new #hootsuite connects with Google Analytics. #
  • I'm gonna give #smartytask ( a try for the next week or so. I'm digging the way things are organized. #
  • only thing I don't like about #smartytask is no offline capability on my ipod like I have with #rtm #
  • thinking I'm going to stick with #rtm instead and just redo how I use it. I like the layout of #smartytask but #rtm has more flexibility. #
  • I have added "SELFLESS GENE: LIVING WITH GOD AND DARWIN" to my wish list #
  • a well-thot out task management system/strategy supercharges productivy. One that's slapped together is worse than having none at all. #
  • today's gonna be a good good day… #
  • Gonna try and do some work on the next version of #organizeseries today #
  • RePost: Quick Organize Series Update #
  • At #dq with the family #
  • On my Blog ~~> Quick Organize Series Update #

Quick Organize Series Update

I just wanted to post a quick update for all of you who use my Organize Series plugin for WordPress now that WordPress 3.0 is out.

The big question of course is “Does Organize Series work with WordPress 3.0?”.  The answer is it should but I haven’t tested it completely and have not upgraded my own blogs yet.  I haven’t heard of any issues arising from any users yet so I’m assuming that things are okay.  As always though, make sure you back up your blog before upgrading if you are a user of Organize Series.

The other reason for this quick update is to let you folks know that I’m in the midst of a pretty major rewrite of Organize Series. Here’s some highlights:

  • WordPress 3.0 brought in some much needed love to the custom taxonomies api which makes a lot of the coding I did for Organize Series obsolete and redundant.  This rewrite will make OrgSeries leaner, faster and even more future proof against future WordPress updates.
  • I’m also going to add some goodies in to this next release thanks to some fine users in the Organize Series community who have mailed me some custom work they built around the plugin for me to include.  So there will be new features with this release.
  • A much broader api for developers to hook into Organize Series and extend it’s features.  This will also lay the groundwork for some exciting things I have planned for a “pro” version of the plugin.  There have been a significant number of users that have requested certain features that I don’t have time to code for free but will offer part of a paid upgrade package (built around support) down the road.  Don’t worry, the core of Organize Series will always be free and updated.
  • The new release will only work with WordPress 3.0+
  • I’m taking care to ensure that the new release will be back-compat with people using the template functions etc. in custom designs/development. What that means is that I’m going to do what I can to make sure the new release doesn’t break any custom work based on the older versions of organize series.

Feel free to let me know if you are experiencing any problems with Organize Series in WordPress 3.0 in the comments.

Oh, one more thing, while I am intending to get out the next release of Organize Series before the end of July, I can’t commit to any date because if any more freelance works comes up between now and then that will be the priority.

What I tweeted the past week.

#PAOCGENCONF2010 – Thoughts and Review

This entry is part 7 of 7 in the series PAOC General Conference 2010

As promised here are some wrap-up thoughts (albeit I got this published a bit later than I originally intended!) on the 2010 PAOC General Conference that I had the privilege of attending this year.  I’m so grateful for the opportunity granted to me by my church family that made it possible for my wife and I to go – it was our first ever General Conference in the 14 years that I’ve been a PAOC Pastor.

Overall, there are really two “themes” that kind of impacted me the most in all the things I heard and experienced at this conference.  There was nothing really groundbreaking or life-changing for me but it was more of a reinforcement of the things I’ve learned in ministry and a reminder of the importance of them.

1. The importance of working together in relationship in the Kingdom

The message was loud and clear this conference – what we accomplish together is far greater than what we’d accomplish individually.  Whether that is on the denominational level (i.e. supporting national initiatives or missions internationally), or the local level (working with others in our cities) there was a renewed emphasis on keeping the relationship strong in everything we do.

Another aspect of this is recognizing that a large part of who we are is made up by the people that God has put into our life that we have cultivated relationships with.  There was a great reminder (especially by Gordon Franklin) to remember to thank those who invested into our lives.  I’ve had time to reflect on that and I would have to say five of the individuals that had the greatest impact on me in terms of how they intentionally invested in me as a person are:

  • My Mom:  She showed the power of believing in you as a person.  She never stopped believing in what was possible for my sister and I and demonstrated that by her willingness to take the time necessary to take us and get us wherever we needed to go in all the different things we were involved in growing up.  Mom always had this to say to my sister and I, “You CAN do it”.
  • My Dad:  My Dad instilled me the value of hard work and doing things right the first time.  I’ll always remember the times (now fondly but then I hated it) when Dad would make me do something over again because I didn’t give it my best and cut corners to get it over with.
  • My Grade 7 and 8 English Teacher Mrs. Mclean:  Under her tutelage I gained an even greater love for books and creative writing.  She challenged me and gave me freedom to think creatively, write and speak creatively.  I remember being able to choose my homework rather than having to stick to the curriculum because she believed I would do greater things with that freedom.  And I did.
  • My Youth Pastor, “Barry Risto”.  At a difficult time of my life, Barry was one of the first people to show me I had leadership potential and I attribute much of my being in full-time ministry to his encouraging words and Godly example.
  • My friend and mentor, Merv Brockwell: Merv was the second Senior Pastor I worked with and under him I grew incredibly as a leader.  He also imparted to me the confidence to eventually lead a church.  Further, without Merv’s influence in my life there was a time when I might have left full-time minsitry.

There are many others, friends, and people who God used in particular moments. To many to list here.  But those five I’ve listed above are the first that come to mind when I think of who has had the most impact in my life.

2. The importance of investing in and releasing the next generation.

As leaders it is always important to be thinking not only of who you are leading but also who you are releasing to lead.  This means that leaders need to be intentional about investing in the next generation.  As Wayne Cordeiro put it, “What cage are you tapping on?” – a very powerful image (follow link to get context).  This investment must be intentional and will require time to be of greatest effectiveness.

Ed Stetzer also reinforced this theme when he drove home the importance of the church equipping people for ministry.

Personally I was really challenged as a leader to think about who I am investing in, and who I am actively equipping to be a future leader.

The questions for you are, “Who has impacted you by virtue of your relationship to them?” and second, “Do you have someone from a generation after you that you are investing in?”

What I tweeted the past week.

  • RePost: What I tweeted the past week. #
  • The Holy Spirit conference @watpen is off to an awesome start! #whenpeopleseekgod #
  • On my Blog ~~> What I tweeted the past week. #
  • my blog loads WAY too slow…I've gotta somehow find the time soon to swap out the theme and do some tweaking. #
  • I have added "Secrets of the Vine" to my aNobii bookshelf #
  • why does #WordPress alwasy seem to do a major update right around the time I'm about to go on holidays? #
  • On my Blog ~~> #PAOCGENCONF2010 – Ed Stetzer #
  • "The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever."" #
  • talking with @DannoDavis about how we might use #WordPress 3.0 in the new build of @watpen 's website. #
  • "Walking the line" took on a whole new meaning at church tonite. You had to be there #godisgood #
  • "For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation… #
  • I (and – my blog) have been written about in the latest issue of the "Seven" magazine. Kind of freaky. #
  • Oh. My. Gosh. This Avatar 2 trailer is simply astounding! #
  • Another great reason to use Gravatar -> #
  • your email address has a lot to say about you… -> #
  • I wndr if ths wll become a CDN problem as well, and if not – if there is an opprtnity for CDN chrches to gt eqpmnt -> #
  • I really hope my sump pump at home holds up #waterloostorm #
  • I have added "The Go-Giver" to my wish list #
  • WOW. Simply stunning drawings with pencil. I love it! #
  • #chrome has been crapping out on me tonite. Actually my whole computer has been kicking my tail. #frustrated #
  • computer update… figured out its Adobe's latest flash build. grrr. doesn't help their anti-Apple defense when they #FAIL so obviously. #
  • A big happy birthday to my friend David Buzikievich who is a missionary at #
  • there's a reason why JOY begins with a J #
  • just crossed a major milestone in the latest project I'm coding. yay! #