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  • • 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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Understanding media and evangelism – Phil Cooke conversation video

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Lots of challenging wisdom from Phil Cooke | @PhilCooke, author of Creative Christian Media, on creatives, media, culture, storytelling, film, evangelism and effective communication.

Here are 18 minutes of high-value insights – do make the time to watch over the weekend.

A Conversation With Phil Cooke from Future of the Church on Vimeo.

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Collaboration leverages effectiveness for gospel: video and free ebook

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See what can happen when mission agencies collaborate AND use digital effectively, in this video by Create International, producers of films for the Majority World: listing. (Other related groups that may help you: Visual Story Network and Mobile Ministry Forum.)

Of course, collaboration is vital in any area of ministry, in whatever location: “All of us are smarter than one of us.”

The definitive book to read is Well Connected – Releasing Power, Restoring Hope Through Kingdom Partnerships by Phill Butler, available as a free PDF download. He is a member of the visionSynergy team, who are facilitators for collaboration projects. “It’s a must read,” says Bob Buford of Leadership Network.

Video also available in Mandarin.

Graphic credit: Vanessa Miemis/Flickr | Creative Commons. Other collaboration graphics available in her collaboration set.

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Understanding creatives – and exciting vacancies in UK

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Creatives think and function differently to many of us. Understand them. Give them space. They are often the best communicators in your church or team. Or could be if you’d let them. See 18 Things Highly Creative People do Differently.

Len Wilson is a Christian creative and storyteller with many insights. Check his latest blog post Five Places to Spot a Good Idea. You can sign up to receive email updates of his blog posts – I highly recommend them for learning more on creativity and good communication.

Check also the well-reviewed Kindle ebook by Ed Cyzewski: Creating Space: The Case for Everyday Creativity – short, but costs less than a coffee (Amazon gives a ‘look inside’ preview option). Ed’s other books include the currently free-on-Kindle A Path to Publishing: What I Learned by Publishing a Nonfiction Book. Ed blogs at In a Mirror Dimly.

See other recent posts on storytelling and effective communication. And please share in our comments section any helpful resources for creatives that you know.

Vacancies for creatives in UK

Damaris in Southampton UK has vacancies.

And also for creatives living in UK, there are some exciting and strategic vacancies in Brighton, in a new base for evangelistic literature and digital ministry:

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Call2All video on the potential for ‘media missionaries’

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What are ‘media missionaries’? This Call2All video explains the strategic nature of different types of digital media in the Majority World:

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Sheridan Voysey: being heard in a secular world

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Sheridan Voysey is an Australian writer, speaker and broadcaster currently living in Oxford UK. You may have see his recent new book Resurrection Year, which has helped many. Check his blog.

Here he is speaking at the November 2013 Christian New Media Conference in London. His insights into appropriate effective evangelism apply across the spectrum:

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New City Vision distance course for digital ministry

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City Vision announces the launch of their Master’s degree course in Science, Technology, Society and Ministry. This distance course will take a year to 18 months to complete.

The program is designed to help students answer the following questions:

  1. How can my current career path in technology and tech skills be used in the God’s Kingdom?
  2. How can I expand my interdisciplinary understanding of technology including theological, historical, social, psychological, systems, business and other perspectives on technology?
  3. How can I expand my “soft skills” and knowledge in order to move up and improve my effectiveness in my current ministry or professional field?

There is a great need to bridge the worlds of science, technology and religion for lay Christians who are in science and technology fields and also for technology professionals in Christian ministries and churches. In secular schools, this need to bridge science, technology and social needs has been met by interdisciplinary programs in Science, Technology and Society. The goal of the MSTSM program is to approach Science, Technology and Society from a uniquely Christian worldview with a focus on practical ministry.

City Vision College has a good track record in providing accredited distance courses for ministry, especially relating to the needs of inner city, and is part of the TechMission and ChristianVolunteering ministry.

Learn more about the Master’s in Science, Technology, Society and Ministry.

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iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives – new book by Craig Detweiler

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Communication scholar, film-maker, and cultural commentator Craig Detweiler’s new book iGods: How Technology Shapes Our Spiritual and Social Lives (Brazos Press 2013) should be essential reading for any Christian interested in the impact of contemporary technology on their faith. In one of the most thorough and eclectic studies I have encountered, Detweiler examines how the technologies, web services, and social media networks of Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram hold the potential to transform contemporary theology and practices of worship.

Read sample pages using Amazon’s Look Inside feature. Book available on Kindle | best price for the paperback in many countries (with free delivery worldwide) seems to be The Book Depository.

What are ‘iGods’?

Detweiler’s central term ‘iGods’ refers to the power these technological monoliths hold to become idols in our lives as well as to the god-like features they possess: Google’s ability to amass seemingly infinite information and answer seemingly every possible query, Amazon’s ability to predict our likes and interests, and Facebook’s way of networking us instantaneously across the globe, throwing geographic boundaries to the wind. There are facets of contemporary technology that seem omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent, and Detweiler asks us to consider: What are we, as Christians, to make of this? How can we use technology to build instead of erode our faith? How can we more conscientiously approach the adoption of technology in our everyday lives, worship practices, relationships, and churches?

An iGod per chapter

In each chapter, Detweiler takes on an iGod, exploring the theological risks and potential positive spiritual benefits. In his chapter on Apple, for example, he considers how the sleek simplicity and beauty of Apple’s product designs can remind us of God’s love for aesthetics and approachable but wondrous design. It can teach us about how we might design church spaces to draw guests. But he points out as well the symbolism of Apple’s logo — a bitten apple — which serves as a reminder to not be consumed by the lust for more and more products, upgrades, and iDevices, convincing ourselves that the next product will complete us, or committing ourselves to a commercial brand rather than more eternally-valuable causes.

In his chapter on Google, Detweiler considers how the act of searching is inherently religious and how the act of seeking is central to Christianity. However, we must avoid the ‘Tower of Babel’ trap, or the notion that we can be masters of knowledge because it appears so readily at our fingertips with just the click of a mouse. We must avoid the lure of the eternal search as well, keeping in mind that, in Christianity, seeking ultimately leads to finding and contentment. In the chapters on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram, Detweiler discusses the dangers of self-promotion and oversharing while considering the potential benefits for ministry, relationship, and spiritual conversation.

Diverse sources

One of the great strengths of this text is Detweiler’s ability to draw on a diversity of sources to support his arguments: his knowledge of scripture and ability to apply it to our contemporary context is adept and insightful, but he is also equally familiar with the theories and scholarship of a diversity of works by theologians, philosophers, and communication and media scholars. He draws on both popular and academic sources as well, guaranteeing that all readers will be able to connect with his claims and evidence.

Other strengths of the text include the discussion questions that conclude each chapter and the practical suggestions for how a more conscientious approach to technology adoption might be applied. For example, Detweiler suggests the value of using private messages rather than public comments to reach out to friends on social media, both as a way of avoiding the trap of self-promotion and of showing greater care for personal relationships with the potential of engaging in more authentic conversation. Another wonderful suggestion is the idea of an electronic Sabbath, or one day a week in which we disconnect entirely from technology to become more connected and engaged with our immediate surroundings and relationships.

Marshall McLuhan and Edgar Allen Poe

While Detweiler stops short of condemning specific practices of churches or individual Christians in regards to technology use, he does firmly push for much more regular, purposeful, and prayerful critical thinking, resisting any sort of mindless or passive adoption. He is firmly in the camp of scholars who maintain that technology is hardly a neutral force and could easily change an entire culture’s values and shake its core foundations if not approached with care.

I was reminded frequently of communication scholar Marshall McLuhan’s analysis of Edgar Allen Poe’s tale of the maelstrom. McLuhan describes how it is only the sailor who is able to analyze how the storm functions and identify its effects from within the swirling currents who will ultimately survive its force. McLuhan’s point is that if we are not “studying the process as it happens,” that is, studying how technology is shaping us, it will be given free reign to do so without our consent. We will be swept away by the storm rather than mastering it.

The lens through which Detweiler suggests we go about mastering the storm of social media, the web marketplace, and the abundance of technological devices that consume our world is biblical. His claim is that technology can teach us both about God’s original and desired intent for humanity as well as provide us with reminders of the particular types of vices — self-promotion, greed, jealousy — that our current technological moment must lead us to side-step. Detweiler neither suggests that we abandon nor wholeheartedly embrace technology; rather, we should maintain an arms-distance posture, taking its best assets, using it to draw us and our neighbors closer to God and to better our world, leaving its detrimental effects behind.

amberGrateful thanks to Amber Stamper for this guest post.

Amber M. Stamper holds a Ph.D. in English (Rhetoric and Composition) and is an Assistant Professor of Language, Literature, and Communication at Elizabeth City State University in North Carolina. Her research and publications center on religious rhetoric and communication, especially issues of Christian evangelism and the digital church.

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Digital alters everything, everywhere, for everyone

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“My two-year-old is teaching my one-year-old to use the iPad,” a Christian writer tweeted recently. As these two young ‘digital natives’ grow up, they will barely distinguish between online and offline, face-to-face or virtual. They will be unaware of that strange world just 20 years ago, which was almost untouched by digital media. They may never see, except in a museum, such ancient artifacts as typewriters, rotary-dial phones, or film cameras. Their use of digital will be totally instinctual, a seamless extension of minds and fingers. As the years pass, they will effortlessly handle digital tools and platforms yet to be invented.

Digital has transformed our societies faster than any previous media revolution. And it is transforming evangelism and discipleship too.

Read more on the new Evangel-vision blog, produced by the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton.

Photo credit: po1yester/flickr | Creative Commons some rights reserved

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3 Revolutions Impacting Internet Evangelism: new shareable infographic from Global Mapping

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Infographics are a great way to communicate a strategic visual overview of any topic. Global Mapping’s new series of mission-related infographics are very helpful. This month they have summarized some vital trends and opportunities for digital evangelism, in this ‘missiographic’ entitled 3 Revolutions Impacting Internet Evangelism ▼

Grateful thanks to GMI for creating this valuable resource, coincidentally in the very week that the Mobile Ministry Consultation is taking place.

What opportunities does this infographic highlight for you? What other areas of digital ministry would you like to see crystalized into an infographic? Please add your comments.



Infographic by GMI Missiographics. Add to your site or blog | Sign up for twice-monthly email alerts with new infographics on global mission.

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Prevent your site visitors being confused and leaving, says Jakob Nielsen

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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.

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