Resources for Christian Hackers

I confess: even more than I love technology, I love books. And I’m so excited to share with you all some of my favorite books leading up to the hackathon at Urbana. On the same shelf as books like From Jerusalem to Irian Jaya and The Heavenly Man are books about typeface, digital culture, games and design. Next to Church Planting Movements are books about media and mass collaboration.

And I like it that way. Because at the end of the day, these are the same skills: learning to navigate cultures, build tools, engage people in community, communicate clearly, and add value. And technology can inform and support our approach to missions every bit as much as mission can allow us to redeem technology for higher purposes. (Now, we won’t get into how many versions and copies of the Bible I have…)

In consultation with the Hack4Missions team, here are a few of the resources we’d recommend people to check out:

On sharing Jesus in a technology-driven culture:

 

Subtitled “How Using Today's Technology Can Bring You Back to Deeper Relationships, Real Conversations, and the Age-Old Methods of Sharing God's Love,” this great book invites us to explore how technology can create meaningful relationships instead of distracting them.

Neil Ahlsten’s How Can Technology Help Us Encounter God Passion Talk asks, “If the Bible contains meaningful values and behaviors, can these behaviors fit into technology models that enhance the motivation, ability, and triggers for users of spiritual practices and help them engage more deeply in spiritual experience?”

On the theology of technology:

How can technology enable the local church to help people experience foretastes of God’s Kingdom like never before? How can it help churches deliver life transforming experiences of God’s grace? Read Accelerating the Gospel with Technology for Chris Lim’s reflections on these questions.

John Dyer’s Theology of Media for Coders and Artists is exactly what it sounds like: great Biblical background on how we engage a digital world. Find other resources from Biola’s Digital Ministry Conference at Open Biola.

 

I haven’t read this one yet, but I’m excited to check out Derek Schuurman’s theology of technology. Theology nerds, I’m looking forward to discussing this one!

On culture and vision:

 

Christians are called to be culture-makers—and technology is one of the most universal cultures in our modern world. Culture Making examines how we discover our calling and partner with God to transform culture.

“What I Wish Someone Had Told Me:” Pastors of the 100 Fastest Growing Churches Share on Vision and Alignment shares power-packed wisdom on why vision and alignment is so vital to our work’s success. We often overlook how important strategic vision is and these quick reminders are inspiring.

On design and user experience:

One of the most universal contexts that we think about user experience in the Christian world is reading the Bible in a book vs. on a smartphone. How the Physical Form of a Bible Shapes Us reflects on the personal implications of that simple experience. You’ll have to be a subscriber to read the full article.

This is a great practical resource offering a range of powerful approaches for inexperienced UX designers to apply when they may have limited time or resources.

On gaming:

TED talks are some of my favorite ways to learn, and Jane McGonigal’s Gaming Can Make a Better World talk explains how games teach the habits of heroes.

 

This is the other book on this list which I haven’t yet read myself, but it suggests that “gamers are expert problem solvers and collaborators because they regularly cooperate with other players to overcome daunting virtual challenges.” I want to build that kind of culture!

What will make Hack4Missions rich and powerful will be the diversity of experience we bring to it. Teams that include technologists, designers, strategists and gamers will be stronger and build more robust solutions, as they each bring unique perspectives and skills to the table.

What are your favorite books, videos, or blogs on the intersection of technology and mission? We’d love to add to this list!

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