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  • • a year-round resource guide about web, mobile and digital media outreach
  • • an encouragement for churches and other groups to hold a focus day, to look at the potential of digital evangelism and discipleship

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Digital outreach training days: London, Tirana, Accra, your town?

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One of the best ways to envision people to see the potential of digital evangelism and ministry: draw them together for a training day in their locality, or their own church.

The international team called Indigitous, a broad umbrella of CRU (formerly CCCI) team members, is very active in setting up training days across Africa, Asia and Europe.

Calling all Brits: Training Day in London, UK, Tuesday 26 May

The next Indigitous day conference is in London, 9.30am-4.30pm at the Evangelical Alliance HQ at 176 Copenhagen St, London N1 0ST.

More details on Indigitous site | More details on Facebook

Whatever area of digital ministry interests you, this is for you!

Training days in Albania and Ghana

There are scheduled training days in:

Other training days

You need to keep an eye on the Indigitous site, their Twitter feed, their Facebook group and Facebook community page, to get news of training days in other countries. There does not seem to be a single email update option for new Indigitous resources like these.

Churches need a digital advocate

Consider appointing a digital advocate for your church – someone who can help resource and envision members in using digital media, especially social media, to appropriately share the good news. And perhaps set up training sessions for members too, either in the church or as a cooperative town-based event with other churches and groups.

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Storytelling – key to effective communication

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Helpful look at how and why storytelling works so well.

The Science of Storytelling #infographic

Check other recent posts on storytelling.

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Heartwarming Reese Witherspoon film The Good Lie – free discussion materials

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Culturewatch team Damaris are offering free official community resources for The Good Lie. This engaging and heartwarming film, starring Academy Award winner Reese Witherspoon, reflects the real-life stories of the “Lost Boys” of Sudan’s 1983 civil war, their challenges to integrate with Western culture, and how their beliefs and values encourage others to find a wider understanding of family and community.

This film, and the true events on which it is based, are deeply moving. Sudan’s civil war displaced 20,000 children who were forced to run from their homes, walk hundreds of miles in search of refuge and then wait indefinitely for resettlement.

The Good Lie
uses an authentic approach, featuring a cast including real-life Lost Boys and their children, and former child soldiers. It is a hopeful and engaging film which encourages us to think about how to deal with differences in cultures, and what “family” and “community” really mean in this globally connected world.

Damaris’ free resources encourage discussion about these important issues and provide a wonderful means to get the most out of a group viewing. (Film now available on DVD in USA, releasing in UK 24 April.)

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Are you a maven*? Do you want to publish curated content?

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It’s an obvious truth that you should only write about what you know, and what enthuses you. The CopyBlogger infographic below gives you guidance and ideas about how you might write a curated email newsletter. On anything. See also What can I curate?

Many of these choices apply equally to curating a visual topic on Pinterest, writing a blog – or even creating a website – around something that excites you.

I have often suggested building a website or blog around a special interest or hobby. It’s a great way to connect with people who share your own interests. It is one aspect of using the bridge strategy. Connecting with people through aspects of popular culture is a related opportunity with enormous potential.

Do You Have What It Takes to Publish a Curated Email Newsletter? [Infographic]

Like this infographic? Get proven online marketing advice from Copyblogger Media that will give you an unfair business advantage.

* maven: a trusted expert in a particular field.

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A language that Christians mostly refuse to translate text into

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English is unique in being a world language. In a review of new book What is English? And Why Should We Care? (Tim William Machan, OUP), London Times columnist and language-use expert Oliver Kamm writes:

…debates over the nature and purpose of English are longstanding. It’s not only the language but its speakers who are different from the past. In the middle of the past century, about 400 million people spoke English. The total is now 1.5 billion, while the proportion of them living in Britain, North America and Australasia has declined. There is no historical parallel for this growth in English usage and the shift in the language’s center of gravity.”

That’s over 20% of the world’s population who can speak English to some degree. And since English is the language of the Internet, much higher education, and the majority of websites, there is a big incentive for young people in every nation to learn it. With only about 360 million people as first-language speakers, 80% of the 1.5 billion are using it as a second language.

Of course, in an ideal world, there would be adequate Christian resources, online and offline, in the heart language of everyone. But failing that, we should be making our evangelistic and discipleship resources as accessible as possible to all second-language English speakers. How?

The concept of simple or international English

Of course, every user of English is somewhere on a spectrum of grammar and vocabulary, and most people can read a language better than they can speak or write it. But although TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) recognizes different levels of attainment, there are few specific standards or guidelines to write for second-language speakers, and few Christian groups have seen the significance of easy-English for literature, books, or online material.

This remains a huge and largely un-noticed opportunity for the Kingdom.

To their great credit, Wikipedia have embraced simple English, and a percentage of their articles have easy versions.

Of course, avoiding jargon in any writing is a related issue.

Christian use of simple English: radio

Frank Laubach was a Christian pioneer in world literacy and the learning of English. He developed word lists of simple words to use in easy English, graded at 500, 1000 and 1500 words and published by Syracuse University.

Voice of America developed a similar word list of 1500 words and associated style, to use in easy English.
This was adapted by FEBA Radio in the past, and is now at the core of the daily audio programme Spotlight. The programme has a Christian worldview, is broadcast on radio stations around the world radio and is freely available online. The Spotlight team say, “Our young and technologically savvy audience is increasingly listening to Spotlight on our new Spotlight App for both Apple and Android devices.”

Christian use of simple English: literature

SOON Ministries’ easy-English outreach SOON paper goes back over 50 years, and was inspired by the work of Frank Laubach. It is, sadly, ceasing paper publication during 2015.

Volunteers with MissionAssist (formerly known as Wycliffe Associates UK) have been working on both a simple translation of the Bible, and matching book-by-book commentaries. After 20 years work, the entire Bible has now been covered, and everything is available for free download from EasyEnglish.info.

Manna Publications also offer free-to-download commentaries in easy-English and French.

There are several other Bible translations which are very accessible to second-language English speakers. The Easy-to-Read (ETR) version is particularly simple and readable. The NIrV was produced with second-language speakers in mind. Both the NLT and CEV are very accessible. The Jesus Book (NT only) is of comparable simplicity to the ETR.

Happily, many of these versions are now freely accessible online, for instance via Bible Gateway, and integrated into the YouVersion phone app, whose current 1000+ Bibles in 700+ languages are also viewable on their Bible.com resource.

“Let it go, let it go!”

It is sad when mission groups and other teams own the copyright to various Bible translations or discipleship materials which are culturally appropriate for parts of the Majority World. And then, they restrict distribution to print media, often only by selling, with minimal financial return. This sort of desire for control means that distribution figures may only be in hundreds. But if they were to let them go, out into the wild, as free downloadable texts in whatever formats best suit them – specially those which work on mobile phones, the only device most people will use to access the Web. Do this, and distribution is likely to be in the tens of thousands!

Any evangelism or discipleship strategy for the Majority World which fails to put mobile phones at its heart, will not achieve its potential. Read more posts about the significance and reach of mobile. Check the online resources, training and April conference of the Mobile Ministry Forum. It is not too late to book for the April 17-18 conference in Netherlands.

Also follow the news and updates on the Indigitous blog, which also includes details of their various training days across Africa and Asia.

Photo credit – “Easy button” by User:Yskyflyer – own work (2 feet from my computer, On my Desk). Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

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Questions that release stories and space for change

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Grounded questions, says Mark Strom in this short 16-min TED lecture, have the power to release stories, creative thought, and transformation.

They are not yes/no questions, or even questions about facts or feelings. Mark’s insights are helpful in any area of life, work, or ministry.

And here’s another explanation, from the Slideshare blog, of why storytelling engages with our minds and hearts, in ways that facts cannot.

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“You win, infographics!” Print: not so quick

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“You win, infographics!” In communicating overall concepts quickly and simply, visual beats text.

When creating a slide presentation, we must think visual, not text. See this helpful guide to effective visual slide presentations.


Source: Rickmann’s Posterous

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Damaris discussion resources for Exodus and Unbroken

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The Damaris team offers resources for two new films; Exodus Gods and Kings and Unbroken. These provide a great opportunity for groups of churches to get together around a purpose, share the social experience of going out to a cinema and then enjoy some food and some insight and discussion from their Leaders/Discussion Guide.

Exodus: Gods and Kings brings the story of the exodus to the big screen as never before. The film is a wonderful example of art inspired by the Bible. Ridley Scott draws us into the mind and heart of Moses in a way that will challenge and inspire audiences; and the free official resources from Damaris at www.damaris.org/exodus are designed to help everyone to reflect and respond – including digging into the Bible for themselves.

They provide a full Leader’s Guide plus video features, which is available to download or to order as a free printed pack with DVD.

Unbroken brings to the big screen Louis Zamperini’s unbelievable and inspiring true story about the resilient power of the human spirit. Unbroken encourages people to engage with the themes and ideas it raises – redemption, resilience and forgiveness. Damaris are confident that churches will understand the nature of the film and that these resources provide to help them engage with the wider community in this way. Damaris offers free official resources for this film at www.damaris.org/unbroken .

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Mobile evangelism: Indigitous digital conference in Bangalore, consultation in Europe

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An Indigitous digital evangelism conference is coming to Bangalore on February 13-15, 2015. This is an exciting opportunity for any follower of Jesus who has an interest in digital technology. As far as I am aware, it will be just about the first training conference on digital ministry anywhere in India, by anyone. Previous Indigitous training sessions have been held in East Asia, various African capitals, and Europe.

Indigitous is a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital strategies. Their conferences offer the opportunity to learn new digital strategies, network with others who can partner with you to achieve your goals, and collaborate to create new tools and projects that will increase the effectiveness of your ministry.

The conference’s theme will be ‘Reaching the Unreached Using Mobile Technologies’. Among the keynote speakers will be the CEO of an international media company that specializes in social marketing, film, and Facebook games. In addition to hearing from keynote speakers who are experts in their fields, there will be live learning sessions where you will join other digital influencers and work together on projects that will be mutually beneficial to your respective ministries. Indigitous conference attendees leave the conferences inspired, equipped with new digital tools, and with great new contacts to collaborate and partner with in future endeavors.

More details on this conference, and all Indigitous activities.

Europe too

After arranging several annual consultations in Florida, the Mobile Ministry Forum plan their next in Zelhem, Netherlands, April 17-8 2015. Learn more of these amazing mobile ministry opportunities, with particular reference to the Majority World.

Mobile ministry by distance learning course

The 6-week distance-learning Mobile Ministry Course will be offered three times during 2015, the first starting on 10 Feb. You will need to spend a total of about 4 hours during each week on study at home, at times that suit you.

More on mobiles

Read other recent posts on mobile ministry opportunities.

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A new (to me) Christmas folk story from Germany and Ukraine. About spiders!

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Out in a small town the other day, I stumbled upon a one-day Christmas market, and some hand-crafted glass jewelry caught my eye. Or, more specifically, beautiful hand-made spiders about 3 inches/8cms high, sitting over the other jewelry on display. I chose a spider for one of our daughters, and then the jewelry maker suddenly said, “I nearly forgot, I must give you the story about these,” and handed me a printed sheet called ‘The Legend of the Christmas Spider’.

This is a folk tale from Germany and Ukraine, I don’t recall ever hearing this story before. Or, to be more exact, this range of stories. Because in the hands of oral storytellers down the centuries, there are many variants. All of them link to the practice of placing a spider decoration and tinsel on Christmas trees – Google will show you many variants.

But I like the version I was given, and here it is:

Once upon a time, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had left their cosy corner in the ceiling and had fled to the attic to avoid the housewife’s busy cleaning. At last, it was Christmas Eve. The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. The poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, not the presents that waited for dawn. The oldest and wisest spider suggest that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see this glorious sight.

Silently, they crept out of their attic, down the stairs and across the floor. Suddenly, the door opened a little and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. The Christmas tree was breath-taking and so they crept all over it, up and down, over every branch and twig, looking at the pretty decorations and presents. But alas! Everywhere they climbed, they left a trail of threads. Seeing what they had done, they become very afraid that they would be killed, so they prayed for mercy. Suddenly, an angel appeared and said, “I’ll save you, but I will need some help. One of you must stay to save the rest.”

One volunteered with the agreement of the others, and then the angel touched that spider and turned it to ice, and their webs became shimmering silver and gold.

Since that time, we have hung tinsel and a spider decoration on our Christmas trees to remind us of the sacrifice of the One to save many.”

The other online versions of the story lack the redemptive parallel of the voluntary sacrifice of one the spiders, and merely have alternate visitors to the tree (the Christ-child, Santa, or just the sunlight) turning the spider webs to silver and gold.

Free resources for Christmas

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