The human touch in digital ministry
Digital technology makes it easier to connect than ever before. In a world where more people have a smartphone than have a toothbrush, it is easy to see why digital strategies are needed to bring the Gospel to all corners of the globe. The problem is that digital connections are often superficial. Commenting on a post on Facebook isn’t the same as having a face-to-face conversation. Sharing a YouTube video about an important issue doesn’t mean that thought will go into or it or even that it will be viewed. For digital ministry to be effective, it needs a human touch. It needs to be about personal growth.
“I think what the Lord cares most about when we talk about digital strategies, or any type of strategy… is the one,” said So-Young Kang, founder of Gnowbe, when speaking at a recent digital strategies conference. “It’s about my journey, my heart, the state of my condition… God is much more concerned about you and me and our personal journeys than He is about any strategy that we come up with.”
The technology sector has learned how to create apps and platforms for sharing information, communicating, and staying in touch. The biggest challenge is to build authentic human connections using digital. That is what So-Young is trying to do with Gnowbe, a mobile “microlearning” platform.
What am I trying to accomplish?
Working with a lot of tech startups in Silicon Valley, So-Young learned that a startling number of them paid little attention to design principles. “Our whole lives are being totally transformed by Facebook, by social media, by the narrative that the world is creating around technology and the people who design those things have never stopped to ask, ‘why? What am I trying to accomplish through this technology?’ It’s actually quite terrifying.”
That is where you come in, as technologists, creatives, and strategists who know the power of digital in terms of reach but more importantly, know the power of the Holy Spirit to change lives. No strategy you devise or product you create can lead someone to Christ – only God Himself can do that – but you can create products and strategies that open the door, that help build relationships, and that help create useful habits that contribute to life change.
“It’s not enough to just transfer knowledge anymore,” said So-Young. Technology that will make a difference in people’s lives is “about the really hard stuff, the character-building stuff of actually walking with the Lord every day and being human.”
Many digital strategies and tools are attempting to do this. Digital tools like GodTools and Voke help people share their faith. YouVersion helps create a habit of daily Bible reading. MissionHub helps you see God at work in the lives of the people He has put on your heart. The success of apps like these is dependent on creating that human element within the technology, of helping people grow instead of simply learning or connecting. And, of course, they’re also dependent on the Holy Spirit. It’s difficult work, and none of those apps have mastered that transformative growth yet, but such is the job of modern missions.
“That’s where I think there is something very powerful in how we can use technology to embed behaviors and to drive lifestyle changes and transformation,” So-Young said. “That’s what the world needs.”
Watch So-Young’s full talk below.
Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. (Habakkuk 2:2)
- Discuss: How does your app add the human touch? How does it help people grow?