Tech Innovation in Ministry Part 1

To app or not to app?

One of the values of Pivot NW is a commitment to fostering a culture of innovation and experimentation among our ministry partners. This was not just an idea tied to the origin of the grant, but very much the waters in which the church swims in the Pacific Northwest. And in the spirit of being incarnational, the Pivot NW team needed a way in which we might participate, stretch ourselves, and lead in a particular area of innovation.

Simply put, Jeff, the boss, really wanted me to build an app. While that is oversimplifying it (and I promise we were thoughtful about our approach to this) there were elements of adventure, exploration, being on the cutting edge, and playing in a new sandbox that were appealing. It is also “easy to understand” innovation by the general public and has the side effect of forcing us to think through important choices. Thus, this will not be just one blog post about building an app, but a blog series about harnessing technology to both good and poor outcomes.

This process also revealed to me what a luddite I had become: I have fallen deeper in love with classic vacuum tubes as my romance with transistors has faded.

So, you will find it here:

To be honest, it is really just an easy-to-navigate version of our website and RSS content (podcast, blogs, push notifications for events, etc.). If you have no idea what that means, you are in good company. To my surprise, even the first paragraph in Wikipedia about the acronym RSS revealed a debate about what the letters actually stand for. This debate feels like a kissing cousin to the Gif vs. Jif debate.

This will be the first in a series of blog posts about creating digital content for an audience and what we have learned about it. It will have practical elements such as costs, challenges, and conveniences. But we will also write about the philosophical issues and how and why a church may consider modernizing into these tools, or deciding ultimately to decline using a custom app, a twitter feed, or some Facebook-owned property (Instagram, Whatsapp, etc.).

As with everything we do, we will pay special attention to any issues that seem to suggest a way in which these technologies appeal to young adults or, conversely, become church community off-ramps. We will highlight what we think we know about intergenerational use and relationship building as it pertains to young adults connecting to the rest of the church body. And we may add in the occasional reference to a Pivot NW podcast where a piece of technology is referenced, as our churches continue experimenting with novel ways to connect with their young adults.

This post is the first in an occasional series written by Martin Jimenez, the Pivot NW Program Manager. As part of our open-source philosophy, we reveal the decision-making process behind some of our experimentation on using new technology to aid in our research and innovation efforts. We hope that our experimentation can inspire churches toward appropriate technologies, and in other directions as appropriate to their ministry contexts.

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