Techmissionary – Antoine RJ Wright – Mobile Ministry Magazine
I first came across Mobile Ministry Magazine somewhere between 2006 and 2008. I was working for MAF.org and we were exploring ways in which mobile devices could be used to share Gospel resources and digital Bibles to isolated people.
Then in 2010 I met Antoine Wright the primary voice behind MMM, at the BibleTech conference in San Francisco. Here was a guy who was passionate about Christ, the good news and using mobile technologies. Passionate and super smart! A combination which makes Antoine a valued leader and contributor to discussions on technology use to enhance life!
First up, tell us what things you enjoy doing when you’re not working with Mobile Ministry Magazine?
When I am not dealing with MMM… that’s a busy one. I work as a UX Designer, Consultant-Trainer, and speaker. When not in transit to one of those things, I’m cycling or spending time w/family and friends.
What is Mobile Ministry Magazine all about, describe your ministry?
MMM is an online opinion piece – a really old one – talking about the intersection between faith practices and mobile technology/behaviors. In 2004, we started more as a resource guide to point pastors and other faith leaders in the direction of thinking about mobile. Over time, it has evolved into a leading thought-space for mobile technology practices around various aspects of ministry engagement. I’d almost call it a marketplace ministry more than a specific evangelical/missional/academic context.
What inspired the development/creation of the ministry?
I got tired of walking into churches and being asked to either “put my Game Boy away,” or explain what it meant to have a palm-sized computer and what was possible to produce with/from it.
How do digital technologies support or enhance your ministry?
I’d have to argue that it’s not a “how” but it is just that being digital is a part of the DNA of mobile. There’s no support structures within MMM that happen in non-digital spaces – and most of the activity happens when digital equals connected. Whether that’s communication or production, it all just happens.
Are there any key or specific scriptures which motivate you in tech ministry?
Deut 6:1-9; Matthew 28:18-20; James 1:22-27; John 17:20-26
If you travel to different countries, what differences stand out to you regarding technology uses you’ve observed?
Given how “open” I am with what and how I use things – I tend to stand out. Depending on areas, there might be a lean more towards needing person-to-person interactions (Bluetooth for files, payments, etc.), Android or iOS focus, and sometimes even a disregard for using a tablet-sized device in favor of smaller mobiles w/laptops (or netbooks). It all depends on the areas within the areas I visit. Tech changes more with economic boundaries than national ones.
What ways do you use technologies yourself for your own spiritual growth or for introducing others to Christ?
I’m big on reminders and music. I do reminders via any of my devices for moments to think about either important points or prayer needs. I’ve been having a lot of fun with the Amazon Echo and having that just play the role of an ambience-creator when I need to dial down from engaging with others (random music playlists are great). Lastly, I’ve kept a practice of keeping my sermon/bible study notes in a publicly accessible sphere (notes.antoinerjwright.com) – because I travel a good bit, it allows me to talk with others about what I’m hearing/thinking as I study alongside others – plus a little public transparency towards what I hear is always good.
If you had an unlimited budget, what technology would you equip your ministry and yourself with this week?
An iPad Pro (WiFi + Cellular); lifetime Evernote Premium subscription; lifetime domain/email account; lifetime Slack Pro subscription; and some kind of VoIP service that would tie all of the above together (hypervoice style). Those would allow for the kind of seamless connected experiences across all aspects of communication and productivity.
How do you collaborate with others in ministry using technology?
I do my best to keep up with conversations/groups such as the Mobile Ministry Forum, International Conference of Computing and Mission (ICCM), Church IT Roundtable, Story, and several others. Much of that happens through either attending events and keeping an email/Slack chain, or using social media to interact with folks.
Are you closely connected with any other ministries because of technology?
I make a point to stay near men’s, mentoring, academic, and bicycling efforts – not so much because of the tech but because tech allows for that kind of knitting.
What hardware and software do you find yourself using most frequently?
- iPad Mini, Apple Watch & iPhone: Evernote/Penultimate, TiddlyWiki, Amazon (Store, Music), Paper, Twitter, IFTTT/Workflow, Verse3, Adobe Creative Cloud
- Jolla Tablet: Evernote, Tidings, Browser, and a few Android apps to test from time to time
- Chromebook: a whole lot of extensions
What technology developments over the last 5 years have impacted your ministry activities most significantly?
Probably the most impactful was that others started looking as heavily into collaborative spaces for conversations. I still find it hard to get folks near a common core (Google, Evernote, etc.), but it is neat that recommendations to services like Slack aren’t shut down so quickly – we move from linear email conversation to branched activities much faster.
What technology skills are you looking for if recruiting new ministry staff?
Communicator and learner – because tools and methods change so much, it’s more important that instead of being simply dialed into a specific tool or method, that one can navigate learning new methods, and then communicate the differences/gains/losses. But, they would need to be very-close to mobile or tablet-first. Not looking for keyboards to shape the communications or the outputs.
Where do you go for new technology information as you plan ahead for future ministry activities?
Anthropology and sociology studies; the payments space; and my 4 year old niece
What trends in technology are inspiring developments in your ministry?
I don’t know how to answer that cleanly – MMM has been defining trends long before they have been recognized as mobile ministry trends. Approaches such as using gestures and notifications as the main interactive space, or starting with the question, “what will an iPad look like to someone who is 4 years old now” tend to shape how I think about technology’s role going forward. I see ministry as participating in shaping those answers, and the tech within ministry as enabling the telling of those stories.
How do you use available technologies to communicate what your ministry is doing?
Delicately. Most information starts with one of two streams: blog or Twitter. That’s done to keep the influx of information at a minimum – but that also offers the best means for being interactive with a conversation, not just nodes within it.
Where do you go for technical support in using digital technologies?
Everywhere. I’ve got friends who specialize in all kinds of things – I go to where they are and open the conversations from there. That puts me everywhere from Twitter to IRC to my phonebook.
Within the Christian mission community are there other ministries you regularly connect with for support or collaboration?
Everyone that’s listed under the Mobile Ministry Forum’s About page in some way or another.
Is there a software or hardware reseller you’d like to give a subtle promotion for?
What influences your technology purchasing decisions the most?
Speed to acquisition and what’s behaviors it enables beyond my current state
As you observe people around you using digital technologies how do you see them using technology missionally?
I’m constantly challenging myself with the notion that if I’m seeing the technology being used, then it’s probably not being used in its best state – meaning that when it’s fluid and you don’t notice it then it’s most likely being very effective. For example, I like what Open Garden’s FireChat does, but it’s not something I see all that advertised in being used unless I specifically ask about it. It looks like chat – and largely fits the model of invisible tech. The other side of that view is that tech used missionally looks normal on the side of the context it is being used. It only looks missional to me when I’m outside of that context – I shouldn’t see those fissures while inside of that cultural context.
From your role in a technology ministry what technologies do you see in the next five years having impact for the Gospel?
Non-English resources becoming more accessible, image-based search, alternate payment methods being supported at point-of-sale, and recommendation-engines within niche fields replacing search and directories (tags, categories, etc.).
What app are you using more than any other?
How can people best connect with your ministry?
Contact Antoine RJ Wright