Definition and Contexts of Mobile Ministry

Antoine RJ Wright

Founder/Primary Voice, Mobile Ministry Magazine

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QR Code to ICCM 2011 Presentation: Definiton and Contexts of Mobile in Ministry

Summary of MMM: Mobile Ministry Magazine (MMM) was started in the Fall of 2004 as a response to joblessness, and a heart to do more with my growing knowledge of mobile technology beyond the reviews and editorials that I was writing for BarganPDA (later Brighthand). The first issue was produced for a small audience of 50 persons who agreed to test out the magazine's delivery and format. However, none of the 50 persons read it, nor gave feedback. The project was shelved untli the Spring of April 2005 when in response to repentence, MMM was given a dual home as a downloadable magazine and a (near-daily) website. The magazine would soon morph into a blog-only offering, and successive site changes and downloadable issues later, would become featured around the web for its notable difference in how it presented mobile technology. For a long time, it was one of a few sites that would even broach the topic of faith and technology in a manner which was a bit more enjoyable than traditional publications. Several posts and topics gained attention, including attention from the BBC, Dallas Morning News, National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) and more. MMM's brand has remained a pecular one, even with much of the world now paying more attention to mobile. And indeed, the early question of what is happening with the church and mobile techhnology is being addressed by several entities. Currently, MMM provides an alternate perspective on matters of mobile/social web technology and faith through its team of writers, and maintains resource listings of software, services, and research articles which point to existing contributions which further the understanding of mobile as a ministry tool. MMM has also expanded ot offer training, speaking, and consulting services to those wishing to engage the practice of mobile ministry, in whatsoever capacity they are looking to be involved.


QR Code to PDF Version of Mobile Ministry Mindmap/Sketchnote Mobile Ministry Sketchnote Mindmap - Share on Ovi

Additional Discussions on the Mindmap/Sketchnote

  • Sketchnote: Mobile Ministry Mindmap (MMM)
  • Further Discussing the Sketchnote/Mindmap (MMM)
  • The idea for this sketchnote came out of a few conversations at the recent GCIA Conference. It was here that in talking with several persons, that I realized that while there was indeed a lot of passion and theological directive towards using mobile (and Internet) technologies for evangelism, discipleship, etc., that there wasn't as much understanding towards how each of the end-results of the endeavors required an understanding of so many pieces.

    It was some days after collecting my thoughts around what we presented at GCIA that the idea for doing something like this came to mind. Over the course of two days, this was composed using the Adobe Ideas application on my iPad, and then later published to MMM with some high-level/near-vague explanation towards what it was trying to convey.

    Philosophically, this is essentially the graphic that details how MMM understands and communicates the various functions of mobile technology that intersect with life. And yet, it also opens the challenge of making sure that the end-points are understood in their appropriate contexts, that data is collected and organized in a way that's reasonable and resizable, and that the Body has a clear understanding of how mobile plays the role of tool and/or enabler, not necessalry a role as the main pivot of faith-centric operations.

What is Mobile

QR Code to Vision Mobile's Research Paper Downloads

Communication and computational events facilitated through the use of handheld devices which expand from personal contexts to mediated and shared life experiences.

Handheld devices: Mobile is defined in the marketplace by any devices which have screens of less than 5in in diameter. By physics, however, mobile devices can include any computer which is not dependent on wired (tethered) power for normal operation. This adds tablets, GPS devices, laptops, and even some game systems into the fold for what is considered mobile computing.

Mediated and shared life experiences: This can include some of the obvious items such as talking on the phone, sending text messages, using the mobile Internet, and social networking. But, can and should be expanded to shopping, using professional/government services, and environmental tracking (weather, crops, sex, etc.)

Various Internet and Mobile Statistics

  • Roughly 2 billion persons on the Internet
  • 1.2 billion PCs (non-mobile) in use
  • 5.2 billion active subscribers, 4.25 billion unique subscriptions y.e. 2010
  • 298 million smartphones sold y.e. 2010
  • 4.2 billion active users of SMS at roughly 119 billion dollars of revenue
  • Re Q4 2010: Kindle books overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on


8 Characteristics

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3 Layers

Mobile Ministry Mindmap Segment - Share on Ovi

Mobile is thought of as a single entity. It is even misunderstood as only being about the device as a channel endpoint., But it is really made of up three disparate layers. Depending on the skillsets of the companies and individuals whom are working towards solving a problem (communication or event), they will take on mobile in one, two, or all three of these layers.

Devices specifically refers to all matters of mobile that concern themselves with just the device. This can be accessories for mobile devices, software that targets specific hardware form factors, and to a lesser degree targeting specific hardware platforms.

Services refers to the software and transaction layers of mobile. This also includes communication and event data. Services include practices which run against applications, SMS, media streaming, and the aggregration of information gained from offering these services (re: Facebook, YouVersion, etc.).

Experiences refers to the aspects of mobile which might be defined by intentions/companies, however the end result is graded by the consumer. User experince, development, marketing, and the application of aggregrate data all apply to mobile here.

Every company that is working in mobile at some level deals with all of these layers. But, it may be their specific function or practice that they center on one of these three layers and then create a product from there.

What is Mobile (in) Ministry

QR Code to 2010 Mobile Ministry Forum's Executive Summary/Report (Google Doc)

The skillful use and application of computer technology classified as mobile for the context of fulfilling the religious practices which forward the proclamation of the key ideals and history of the faith, following form to and innovating on top of cultural and faith traditions within modern contexts.

In December of 2010, a group of 13 men representing various missional, evangelitical, journalistic, and educational ministries came together for the first Mobile Ministry Forum (MMF). It was at this forum that a definition for mobile (in) ministry was proposed. MMM has taken that initial definition and continued to poke and prod at it, utilizing an approach of looking for those areas where ministry has occurred and mobile technology was a primary driver towards the experience of indenting the Gospel, faith traditions, or faith-actions towards an intended community. This definition presented here seeks to establish mobile (in) ministry not just as a construct therefore for the evangelical or missional Christian space, but for the entertity of faith traditions which might be looking towards better understanding the context of mobile as it relates to their specific faith practices.

6 Identified Areas

QR Code to 2010 Mobile Ministry Forum's Executive Summary/Report (Google Doc)

Identified Applications of Mobile Ministry

  • Mobile in Missions/Evangelism: as those efforts which contextualize Gospel messages on local and global cultural scales.
  • Mobile in Media: creating and distributing visual/audio/text stories; or, building and implementing specifications and best practices around mobile multimedia opportunities.
  • Mobile in Discipleship/Education: those activities which facilitate curriculum development, address targeted and special education needs, and explore new styles of learning made possible by mobile technology.
  • Mobile Marketing/Analytics: the produced product; lso include search engine optimization, security, access, local media channel development, and then the use of mobile applications alongside and independent of broadcast channels.
  • Mobile in Moment: the use of connected services and applications and/or SMS/MMS; the implications towards towards social and linear networks starting from a context of personal use and associated theological constraints/precedents.
  • Spiritual Implications: theological constraints/precedents; psychological/cultural effects of mobile vs. other personal/connected technology media elements.


Once we've been able to define and see those areas where ministry and mobile truly intersect, we can then start asking the questions of those persons/groups whom are interacting in those spaces. As we noted earlier, there are billions of unique impressions that can occur with personal mobile devices, and yet the point for us is the same - to demonstrate the unity of the faith which services the good of others ot be an example of the God we serve the Savior He sent (John 17:20-26). When this happens, the context of mobile (in) ministry takes on another dimension, usually adding to the wealth and depth of communities, rather than just speaking to the affluent or ignored noise created by a few.

The Fruit Inspection of Mobile

John Dyer - From the Graden to the City



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