At ClearPurpose, I most often write at the intersection of business strategy, technology, and entrepreneurship, but I appreciate the opportunities to factor in a fourth important vector — a Christian worldview. Recently I’ve had some discussions with a well-known Bible college about their digital strategy and it caused me to reflect on how the four major waves of the Digital Revolution have impacted Christian ministries.
I’ve written at length in the past about the four sub-revolutions within the Digital Revolution, but as a quick reminder, they are:
4 Waves of the Digital Revolution
- the microprocessor or PC revolution, when everything started to be digitized,
- the Internet revolution, when everything started to be connected,
- the mobile and social revolution when everyone and everything became connected everywhere and all the time, and
- the Connected Intelligence revolution, when data and algorithms change the way we understand our world and how we make decisions.
I often talk about the power and the danger of new technologies. Winning organizations will capture the power while managing the danger. To me, this seems like a much more important challenge for Christian ministries than for most for-profit corporations.
The Digital Christian Revolution
Jesus summarized God’s commands as “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37–39). While technology has tremendous potential to be used for good, too often it is used in ways that dishonor God and that harm people. As we’ve especially seen in recent weeks, sometimes the real damage isn’t even seen until years after the technology is introduced.
So to me, this is an essential issue. Are there ministries that have done a good job of capturing that power of the digital Christian revolution while managing the danger? If so, how have they managed to pull it off?
It’s not as if I’m ignorant of this space. Throughout my career, I’ve looked for opportunities to capture the power while managing the danger specifically in leveraging digital technologies in loving God and loving my neighbor:
- In 1995, Gordon Martin, David Cordeiro, and I felt led to form Digital Frontiers, LLC, the first web development firm in Oklahoma. We committed to encouraging our employees to dedicate 10% of their time to pro-bono work for non-profits, leading to the creation of some of the first church and ministry websites in the state.
- In 2002, I founded Seek First Networks, LLC to help small churches and ministries leverage the power of the Internet to connect their people.
- During that same timeframe, I also served as online director for Business Reform. I helped create an online subscription model for the primarily-print Christian business magazine, and created an online community and bookstore.
- In 2009, I helped my son and other homeschooled students start CXfriends, the Facebook alternative for Christian families, a faith and family-centric social network. The concept was ahead of its time and we shut it down after a few years of great learning opportunities.
- In 2015 I became Entrepreneur in Residence for Oklahoma Christian University (OC). In that role, I helped launch two digital startups leveraging intellectual property developed at the university, Altimeter Software, LLC and VisuALS Technology Solutions, LLC.
- Altimeter helped 5 Christian colleges and universities to redefine their spiritual development programs through a mobile app and cloud-based solution that provided students with more control over their own spiritual journeys while providing the schools with actionable insights into the choices made by different student populations.
- VisuALS serves families by providing loved ones who have been cut-off/locked-in due to debilitating conditions (like ALS) to once again communicate with those around them.
- From 2009 to 2018 Russ also served as a Contributing Editor for MinistryTech magazine, which now appears as the Tech Channel at ChurchLeaders.com.
Those experiences have given me a good perspective on the potential for technology in serving God and His Kingdom, and each has been a blessing that has touched people’s lives in important ways. While most of those efforts have been successful, I can’t claim that any of them demonstrated the kind of success at a large scale that I hope is out there.
So, over the next several weeks I hope to talk to leaders at some Christian organizations that seem to have had great success at scale in capturing the power and managing the danger of digital technologies to increase the richness and reach of their impact.
This article on the digital Christian revolution originally appeared here, and is used by permission.