Biola University Digital Ministry Conference

Last week I attended the Biola University Digital Ministry Conference (, and it was a very informative, innovative conference.  There were amazing speakers there and even though I didn’t get a chance to attend every session, I did attend some good ones and learned some very interesting things. Ranging from mobile ministry strategies, web content strategies and where digital ministry will be in 20 years, I think that overall the conference consisted of educated digital ministry specialists teaching other digital ministry specialists.  With that being stated, here are my notes from the conference.

  • did a session on their christian social media platform.  This social media platform is the next step in the evolution of social media and a great place for christians and non-christians to network, interact, learn, shop and operate in a great online environment.  I am sure there is more to and I look forward to visiting their offices which are located near our offices.
  • founder Antoine Wright did a session on mobile ministry strategies and it was a great session indeed.  First and foremost, he taught the session from a mobile phone, the slides and entire presentation was from his Nokia phone.  Not my phone of choice (iPhone fan here) but the “practice what you preach” was in full effect for this session.  
    • Coca Cola’s mobile strategy is 70/20/10 - 70% sms, 20% website, 10% apps.  Most people think that apps and mobile websites are the first steps in a mobile strategy but SMS was surprisingly the most effective approach.
    • 52% of new phone purchases in the US are smart phones
    • 70% of mobile web use is searching
    • Before you get started develop a strategy that answers “what are my mobile goals” and “what are my mobile issues”.
    • opera mini is the most used mobile website
    • main questions of mobile users initially (and even non mobile users) is “where is the church located” and “what time is the service”
    • (web service that takes a website and makes it mobile) works with wordpress
    • Develop a strategy for users that have less that smartphones, which is quite a few users of developing nations where bandwidth is at a premium.
    • Going from a mobile website to a mobile app is whole bunch easier then going from app to website. Build the website and from there take the best parts of it and add that to an app.
    • Dont add high res photos and anything that add unnecessary downloading
    • Dont add complex features
    • Dont limit your website to just high end mobile devices
  • Clyde Taber gave a great explanation of Visual Ministry and the continuing transition of the entire online audience moving to a majority visual exprience online.  Also, there was a strong emphasis on telling a compelling story online.  Your ministry’s online properties should tell your story and not just try to push information.
    • People are talking and reading less, viewing and social networking more
    • A good book example is by Nicholas Carr - The Shallows - our brains are being reconfigured to consume information and push it out in small bursts
    • The internet has gone visual
    • Youtube is the second largest search engine
    • People are becoming visual
    • People love a story
    • Know your audience
    • Know your goals
    • Know your technology
  • Digital Ministry Trends session was about what trends are apparent in digital ministry today and what will be relevant in the next 20 years.  There was one consensus about anything digital, forecasting one year out is good, three years out is possible and five years out is just guessing, anything further than that really is pointless because technology will move faster than you think and the intangibles come into play.
    • Social networks are integrated with everything online
    • Everything will begin online, including ministry (85% of young people check out a website online before coming in and choose church based on website)
    • The majority of churches ministry starts on the website.  
    • 17% of searches now include a map or geographic feature
    • Still many low-tech areas and people, billions are entering from the developing world and rural america
    • For global reach you need low bandwidth sites and high bandwidth sites
    • Your internet reputation is everything, you are being evaluated and researched online before people even come in the door.
    • People are initially looking for location, service time, and children's ministry.
    • Content needs to go from device to device
    • Format wars (Apple, Android, Windows) will continue into near future but finally a universal format will win out
    • Keep it simple
    • Most people hate technology but use it because they have to.  They don’t want to feel confused, helpless or stupid.
    • Live chat boxes will be helpful, people want instant interaction
    • Customer service will be a winning factor
    • Mobile devices have changed the entire landscape of the internet and they have been the fastest adopted technology in the history of mankind.
    • Social Media will lead to a more customized internet experience and that is what people will come to expect.
  • Web Content Strategy session with Drew Goodmanson from This was easily one of the best sessions of the conference.  Drew and his company Monk Development has been one that I have been following for quite a long time and I have went out to San Diego and met with them and talked about opportunities to further work with them.  Therefore, I was very much looking forward to Drew’s session and learning quite a bit from him.  
    • There are 6 web strategy problems that most ministries have
      1. Skymall syndrome - whatever the church sees it wants to do without thinking about strategy
      2. Ministry schizophrenia - people more dedicated to their ministry within the church than the entire church vision
      3. ministry narcissism - ministry web strategy is designed for internal people and not the normal world. They don’t know who is visiting their website, what they want and they expect people to figure out what the ministry is trying to say.
      4. Blind men and the elephant - no one has experience building a website to reach the people. they believe that their previous experience is what makes them qualified to do this project.
      5. Death by committees - technology moves fast, the decision process is extremely slow
      6. Volunteer hostage situation - volunteer holds website hostage
    • Discovery phase in developing website strategy consists of:
      1. How are people using your ministry and website?
      2. Survey members, do interviews. Use them for validation of what you are doing or want to do, not discover a whole bunch of new ways because you will lose focus of what you are trying to complete.
      3. Use your previous website analytics
      4. Plan your social media content calendar
      5. Realize that your website is the first connection for people

    • The church is a corporation, cause and a community

Overall, this was a great conference and I look forward to participating again next year.