Trends and opportunities for 2012 #digidisiciple (@soonguy)

year of 20212Digital technology years seem to run seven times faster than real time, like dog lives. What developments may be significant for us in 2012?

Mobile phones

Despite financial storms, worldwide mobile usage is growing strongly, and the percentage of smartphones (ie. equipped with touch-screens and easy web access) is increasing as costs come down and their advantages are realised. Why buy a smart phone?

This will be a year of rapid mobile growth in India, with an expected 200 million new mobile accounts and the release of the $50 dollar tablet for Indian schools: read more. Mobiles are strategic for evangelism and discipleship in the Majority World.

Worldwide mobile potential is also vast and growing: read more. You can follow the Twitter #mobmin hashtag for news and resources.

An exciting mobile app release due for release this year by a major UK ministry will enable conversational evangelism at a new level.

A 4-week distance-learning course in mobile ministry starts this week – there is still time to sign up.

Social networking

facebook logoSocial networking, especially Facebook, will continue to grow and be for many people their main online activity, almost a ‘web within the web’. To be effective, online discipleship and evangelism increasingly need to be totally integrated with Facebook and Twitter. Check this very valuable introduction to using Twitter effectively.

The significance of social networking for ministry is that conversations are built across existing relationships. Since effective evangelism is usually relational and discussion-based, we have an ideal match.

Interestingly, one result of Facebook and Twitter’s popularity is that many adults who would in time past barely put pen to paper, are now expressing their thoughts daily through writing.

At the same time, we have moved from the old Print Communication Culture to a Digital Culture where visual story, especially the video short, is significant. Many people do not find it easy to read and comprehend a 500-word article, but can easily grasp a message embedded in a 3-minute YouTube clip.

This is why last year’s release of ready-made evangelistic and conversation-starting video clips (in multiple languages) at is so appropriate and timely. With one click, Jesus-followers can share a video clip through Facebook or other channels.

Equally significant, the recently-released God New Evidence series of apologetic video shorts gives us accessible scientific presentations at a popular level. These too can be shared on Facebook and other social media, as well as used in youth groups or other meetings.

Digital resourcing for Christians at local-church level

computer userAlthough a majority of Christians in most Western demographics are web and social networking users, many are inevitably unaware of the best discipleship and evangelistic resources and strategies available to them.

Some of us in digital ministry are discussing how incredibly strategic it might be for local churches to appoint a ‘digital advocate’. Just like the ‘missions advocate’ (by whatever name) in many churches, he or she obviously need to be a web maven – a networker who knows a wide variety of online Christian resources/strategies and loves sharing them. Does your church already have such a person? Would you like to have one? What name would you give to this role? Read more and add your comments.

Internet Evangelism Day

This year’s Internet Evangelism Day is set for 29 April, with the entire month of April designated as Digital Outreach Month.
It is an ideal time for your church to investigate the options and resources available for sharing faith online. And perhaps also an opportunity to consider the potential to appoint a Digital Advocate? Visit the Internet Evangelism Day site.

2012 – a year of uncertainty?

paintingMany people will go through stress and worry in 2012. They will be seeking answers online, and need people to talk to.

Others, particularly those of alternative spiritualities, give some credence to the end of the Mayan Calendar in December, and are wondering if the world will end or be radically changed. We need to be able to answer their questions and engage sanely with them.

There will also be widespread awareness of the concept of unexpected disaster in April, the centenary of the Titanic sinking. This gives us a ready-made parable and conversation starter.

Perhaps more than ever before, 2012 offers us some amazing digital opportunities? Please share your comments below.

Photo credits: 2012 | Creativity103/Flickr | Creative Commons || The Great Day of His Wrath (Tate Gallery) | Pleroma/Flickr | Creative Commons

About soonguy

Tony Whittaker is coordinator for Internet Evangelism Day | Team member, SOON Ministries, Derby UK. Contact him here.