Archives For TIEN

During the first week of March, as many of you know, I had the pleasure of being a speaker at the Turkey Internet Evangelism Network’s 2010 conference in Istanbul (TIEN).  I was invited to speak about my research in the areas of best practices and strategy, and also to share my insights into some of the current trends we are starting to see. There were over sixty different people in attendance, representing dozens of different groups from Turkey and around the world.

The Turks are serious about the Internet.  Turkey is now the #4 country in the world in number of Facebook users behind only the US, UK, and Indonesia. The government has banned YouTube, but everyone I talked to knew a way to get around it.  Wireless access was everywhere, and the quality was good.  At the conference, I was struck by the fact that everyone had laptops and cellphones, including Mac laptops and iPhones. When I spoke at the conference, I never felt like anyone there did not understand what I was talking about – in fact, they were more Internet-savvy than many of the church leaders I have talked to here in the US!

In many ways, I felt right at home in Istanbul: most everyone dressed Western, many people spoke English, and I saw many of the same stores and brands that I see at home. In fact, at the local Starbucks, I could order the exact same thing I order here, no Turkish necessary (see picture).   Yet in other ways, it was very obvious I was not at home: mosques were everywhere and the Muslim call to prayer was heard five times a day (see my Facebook video to hear what this sounds like – Facebook account required).

My time in Istanbul was a pleasure (at least once my body figured out that day was night and night was day).  The people were wonderful. And brave.  To live as a Christian in Turkey is to be different from the majority. It is to always wonder if the government is going to add some new restriction to your ministry’s efforts, or even remove you altogether. Though it is legal to be a Christian in Turkey, it is still not easy.

The title of this post,  “They use the Internet in Turkey too”,  is obviously meant tongue-in-cheek. Many times, when thinking of ministering to muslims in a muslim country, we picture something out of Indiana Jones. But it is not like that, as I have described here in this post.

To be successful in fulfilling the Great Commission, we are called to understand other cultures and then determine how to best share the good news within them. This conference gave me a look at how this is being done; both through the people at the conference and through the Internet.  The Lord is working in Turkey and, indeed, throughout the world. The Internet is being used as a tool “that everyone may hear”. And they all will, very soon.

Kicking off 2010

January 8, 2010 — 5 Comments

A belated “Happy New Year!” to everyone. I wanted to start off the new year by dusting off this old blog and making it what it was always meant to be: a resource for those who are doing ministry online.  In particular, my focus is in the area of research and education for online ministry, though any topic regarding online ministry may show up here. So take a look around, you may notice that I have cleaned some things up and added some new information here and there.

So what is in store for 2010? Glad you asked:

  • I will be on a “half-sabbatical” this entire year at Biola, which means that I will only be teaching a half-load of classes and the rest of the time can focus on a research project. In my case, that research project will be a book on online ministry.  This book will be based on the research that I have been doing, along with my experiences teaching a course in the topic and working with various ministries. As I am writing, I will be sharing ideas and questions on my blog and asking for your feedback.
  • I will be teaching a course in Internet Ministry this summer at Biola. This will be similar to the course I taught last spring, but with one big difference: it will be online.  If you are student at Biola or another university (grad or undergrad) and would like to participate in this course, let me know! I will be writing about my ideas for this course on this blog as well.
  • I will be going to Turkey in March as part of TIEN 2010 where I will meet with church leaders and others interested in using the Internet to reach that part of the world for Christ.
  • I am part of a team putting together some sessions around the idea of online ministry at the CLA 2010 conference in April. Most of the ideas and writings for that are being done over at State of Ministry Online, but you will hear about it from time to time on this blog as well.
  • As any good researcher should do, I am actively seeking out others who write, teach, and research in this area.  The goal of this is to stay informed and to be sure I am not duplicating the work of anyone else. I am now actively using Google reader to track what those people have to say. As I find articles or information that I find very valuable, I will share them on Google reader, which allows others (such as you, dear reader) to subscribe to these shared items and interact on them. I will be highlighting the best of what I am reading and sharing on this blog approximately once a week.

A lot of work on Internet ministry is going to happen in 2010 – stay tuned to this site for the latest. I would love to know what you are doing in the field of Internet ministry this year, or if you have a recommendation for someone I should be keeping up with. Let me know in the comments.