The mission task is changing in many ways. Some concern the content of missions. Others, such as what I’m writing about today, concern the context of missions.
In the past, missionaries were “prepared for everything”. The context of missions today, though, allows us to prepare for focused, precise opportunities and outcomes.
Through the rich information available to us today. Through the way the internet is allowing rapid collection of metrics and the rapid dissemination of what we are learning back into the spiritual context of changing lives.
These changes are affecting many aspects of the missionary enterprise. But perhaps the most jarring aspects are in technology and traditional Information Technology. Server uptime or minimizing help requests are no longer the primary measures of success. Engaging people in meaningful life transformations are.
What is driving these changes in the role of technology? There are several significant trends, including:
- Social networking. Mashable says it well, “Once, Twitter was a place where you could read about someone else’s cat. Now, it’s the first place you go to when there’s breaking news.” Recently, to repair the door handle on my car, I went to YouTube to see how someone else did it.
- Mobility. Facebook statistics indicate that users are twice as engaged when using a mobile device. Most people are rarely more than 3 feet from their mobile device.
- Cloud computing. Information is stored so that it is available anywhere, all the time. It is no longer “at home on my computer” or “at the office”.
These drivers are leading to relevance-driven engagement with information. A friend commented to me recently that when she was looking for something for her children, she did not use information-based searching such as Google.com, but searched through her social networks such as Facebook for what her friends recommended. What do my friends saying about this new movie? What are my friends doing this weekend? I’m at the local coffee shop, and I wonder who of my friends might be nearby?
Technology is at the core of these opportunities. But we have to think about the opportunities in non-technical, mission-driven ways.
What ideas do you have to engage in using information to lead?