• an annual worldwide focus day on a Sunday in Spring, as the culmination of Digital Outreach Month. Churches and other groups are encouraged to create a focus spot or digital training day, either on that Sunday, or indeed at any time of the year. Next IE Day is 1 June 2014.
• a year-round resource guide about web, mobile and digital media outreach
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My mum and dad’s first date, as undergraduates in Oxford during the war, was to hear C. S. Lewis preach his sermon The Weight of Glory at the university church St Mary the Virgin. As a student at Lewis’s Magdalen College (pronounced MORD-lun), my dad saw him around the college, though was never taught by Lewis or even spoke with him. He also remembers the regular sight of Lewis’s brother ‘Warnie’ walking in from their house The Kilns in Headington, to visit Lewis in his college rooms.
50 years ago this week, on 22 November, C. S. Lewis died in Oxford. The news was overshadowed by the assassination of President Kennedy on the same day. (Writer Aldous Huxley also died that day.)
His remarkable legacy remains with us. The recent publication of a new biography by Alister McGrath – C. S. Lewis – a Life: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet – brings valuable insights into a man whose books continue to have a worldwide spiritual impact. In North America, it seems to be mainly available in hardback (and Kindle) so far. In UK, it is widely available in paperback (as well as hardback and Kindle).
It is hard to imagine anyone better suited to be a Lewis biographer than McGrath. They share Irish heritage, and the experience of academic life in Oxford as both student and faculty. McGrath, like Lewis, is a Christian writer of distinction, penning numerous apologetics, theological and history books (plus a children’s fiction fantasy). His spiritual journey also echoes that of Lewis – from atheism to faith.
“I wish it was longer”
This book is a highly readable and well-researched study. I was constantly wishing it could be twice as long, to give us more detail and background! Happily, there is more material – in McGrath’s academic Lewis study The Intellectual World of C. S. Lewis.
Unlike most earlier biographers of Lewis, McGrath is too young to have known Lewis as an adult, so he can develop a more dispassionate balance. He also avoids speculation – this is an evidence-based biography using detailed study of published or public sources, He has chronologically crosschecked the relatively recent Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis with the rest of Lewis’s timeline and all his published books, leading to an interesting new discovery.
Professor McGrath provides a helpful understanding of Lewis’s purpose and strategy in fiction writing, with two chapters analyzing his use of storytelling in the Chronicles of Narnia to smuggle in embedded spiritual truths and create a sense of sensucht – longing. I’d have loved even more on this!
A very detailed set of footnotes and extensive bibliography make this a definitive ‘wardrobe door’ into the life and world of C S Lewis, for those who wish to study and explore some more.
Use Amazon’s Look Inside feature, or the Google Preview button ▶ to get a taste of the contents.
Until 23 November, you can listen to McGrath speaking about C. S. Lewis in the BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship programme for 17 November, broadast live from Headington Quarry Parish Church (where Lewis attended).
This is an edited version of a post that first appeared on the BigBible blog.
Photo credit: Statue “The Searcher” by Ross Wilson, depicting C. S. Lewis looking into a wardrobe (located in East Belfast) | Genvessel/Flickr | Creative Commons
Two very helpful pages from Jakob Nielsen about website usability. A confusing website is one that visitors will leave. Quickly and permanently.
Jakob Nielsen is a recognized website usability expert. You can sign up for his AlertBox newsletter here.
1. Flat vs. deep website hierarchies
Virtually every website that has more than a few pages uses some structure for organizing the content. The most common (and most easily understood) structure is to categorize pages into groups, often with distinct subgroups. The end result is a hierarchy of content, a structure familiar to most of us from our interactions with organizations, families, and the natural world. Read more.
2. The halo effect
The Halo Effect is when one trait of a person or thing is used to make an overall judgment of that person or thing. It supports rapid decisions, even if biased ones. Websites can be impacted by the halo effect. Read more.
Related page: You cannot escape the blink test
Human brains are wired up a certain way. You cannot break human cognition rules and still communicate – this applies to a vast variety of situations. That the message is ‘spiritual’, or otherwise beneficial, makes no difference. Online, everything is subject to the brutal ‘blink test’ – the lightning fast algorithm our brains apply to a website, magazine article, video short, or anything else. Read more.
Mobile is the most incredible opportunity for evangelism and discipleship, not least in the Majority World, where a mobile phone is perhaps the one piece of digital equipment that many people will ever own.
Kologroup (team pictured above) have launched their Kolo Africa app (Android and iOS) that acts as a portal for video clips from the JESUS Film, audio Bibles and clips from Faith Comes by Hearing, and FCBH Digital Bibles, all in multiple languages. Plus various text discipleship resources. Read more here, and download ‘Kolo Africa’ app from Google Play or iPhone App Store.
YesHEIs.com video sharing app
Video shorts, social media, and mobile phones are a ‘three-stranded cord’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12) that together can enable any Jesus-follower to share their faith online, across existing relationships. YesHEIs is a curated collection of video shorts in multiple languages, ready to share to Facebook and other social media with a single click.
They have now released a smartphone app so that this sharing process is much easier, 24/7, using a mobile. Search for ‘YesHEis’ app available in Android and iPhone flavors. This can be by one-click posting to social media, or face-to-face sharing. Read more about the app. And this video short explains the concept of using YesHEIs.
Their videos are available in multiple languages, and also in Africa- and India-related options.
The growth in mobile phone usage across Africa, Asia and the rest of the Majority World has been phenomenal and transformative – see detailed study from AllAfrica.com. 99% of Kenyans accessing the Internet do so on mobile phones, reports the Communication Commission of Kenya.
While over 96% of the world’s population has access to a mobile phone, 1.5 billion people do not have access to electricity. In the Majority World, 79% of people have no electricity. But they can talk on their phones while they carry drinking water home. Mobile access is not just for urban dwellers.
So what is the best way to reach these people for Christ? Their mobile device.
Come to the Consultation?
The Mobile Ministry Forum (MMF) Consultation at the Wycliffe Bible Translator Headquarters 9-11 December 2013, in Orlando, FL, is the key gathering for people interested in learning how to use mobile technology for ministry outreach. This 3-day conference includes TED-style presentations, discussions, ministry field reports, workshop breakouts, and networking time. The call is to anyone using mobile technology in a ministry context, creating apps or content, or anyone interested in starting a mobile ministry.
Keynote presenters include…
Tomi Ahonen – Forbes ranked this former Nokia executive as #1 “power influencer in mobile.” He lectures at Oxford University and has been quoted in over 400 articles and presented at over 250 conferences.
Ken Cochrum – is currently serving as VP for Global Digital Strategies. Ken and his wife, Ann, recently founded Indigitous.org, a movement passionate about connecting people to Jesus using digital means.
Gary Nelson – has 35 years of senior and executive management experience in the domestic and international financial payments industry. He currently serves as Chairman of the Nelson Family Foundation, Chairman of Every Tribe Every Nation (ETEN) and Founder of Alkami Technology.
“The content was exceptionally good and I’m still amazed at the quality of the participants and the key ministries represented. Of all the different conferences I attended this year–and I do this a lot–yours was overall the most valuable experience.”
- Tom Watkins, Director of Strategic Initiatives & Partnerships, TWR
The opportunity for cross-cultural missions
Mobile ministry is not some special esoteric thing only for specialists. Any mission agency, any pastor, any national believer anywhere in the world, can be leveraging the huge opportunities for mobile evangelism and discipleship right now.
Missions – consider sending a representative to this Consultation! You will be glad you did.
The Mobile Ministry Forum (MMF) is a coalition of ministries working towards the goal of giving every unreached person a chance to encounter Christ and His kingdom in a compelling, contextualized fashion through their personal mobile device by 2020.
Ministries include: Biola University, Campus Crusade for Christ, Christian Broadcasting Network, Cyber Missions, International Mission Board, and Wycliffe Bible Translators.
Videos and animations are a key to sharing the good news in the Majority World. Yet the range of materials in other languages, and especially in a culturally-appropriate format, is shockingly limited.
The YWAM School of Animation and Cartooning for Missions has just released an evangelistic animation called Coconuts ▼
Dave Hudson writes:
And now, here it is… at long last… the finished Rajasthan cartoon, Coconuts. We started this project over a year ago, and now the first of ten language versions is complete. Thanks to everyone who contributed!”
Next year’s School of Animation and Cartooning will be in Taiwan and starts 14 March.
Animation is an especially appropriate medium to communicate spiritual truths, not only because it is storytelling, but also because it operates at a different level from normal film realism, so we process the story differently. Read more on animation and storytelling. Animations can be shared on Facebook, other social media, or one-to-one using mobile phones or tablets.
Human brains are wired up a certain way. You cannot break human cognition rules and still communicate – this applies to a vast variety of situations. That the message is ‘spiritual’, or otherwise beneficial, makes no difference.
Online, everything is subject to the brutal ‘blink test’ – the lightning fast algorithm our brains apply to a website, magazine article, video short, or anything else, as the infographic ▼ below explains.
His other valuable books, to understand more about human cognition. Whether you are a communicator or just want to understand more about how you, and other people, tick, these simple and non-academic insights are vital.
Infographics are a hugely significant way of portraying complex truths visually.
Missiographics, from the mission researchers at Global Mapping International, is a new twice-a-month newsletter designed to bring together mission data and powerful visuals. Each issue will include an infographic with a link to download it, plus suggestions to help you think through the implications it may have for your life and ministry. Sound like something you can use?
I happen to know that one of their infographics in course of preparation will cover the whole scope and significance of digital evangelism.
This publication will launch in October, but you can get a sample by signing up now. It’s free. Subscribe here.
You may have seen the Kevin Spacey movie Pay it Forward, which illustrates the biblical principle (in both OT and NT) of the far-reaching effects of random acts of kindness performed with no expectation of return.
Indeed, it is acts of mercy that often pave the way for people to even hear the good news, as the Gray Matrix concept graphically demonstrates.
This moving short Thai film portrays the same thing:
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