This past Sunday we wrapped up our first Code for the Kingdom hackathon (#c4tk) in San Francisco, in partnership with Carpenters and Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. The event was a phenomenal success, bringing together dozens of developers, designers, entrepreneurs, pastors, and Kingdom investors to serve up real world challenges and allow talented and passionate technologists from across the country to form teams and develop solutions. In the coming days we will give a more full report of some of the new technology that came out of the weekend. For now I want to focus on a more personal story.
One of the phrases heard often leading up to, as well as during this weekend’s event went something like this: “I can’t believe the Church would be interested in doing something like this.” For many Christian technologists, the path for connecting their talents and passions to something of eternal significance seldom runs through the local church. Instead, they are left to try and launch out on their own or are forced to use their gifts only for marketplace purposes. That shouldn’t be.
We want to change all that. Why?
In order for the church to be successful in a digitally-centered world, its leaders must actively seek ways to leverage the untapped potential in their pews and outside their walls. Leaders need to think beyond website management and sermon slides, allowing those with this critical skill set to be released in an environment of freedom and support. We saw amazing things develop in just under 48 hours with limited resources, minimal planning, and very little sleep. Imagine what could be done with plentiful resources, weeks of planning, and, well, at least a little more sleep. Furthermore, God has gifted these men and women for the same reason He gave gifts of pastoral care, leadership, prayer and discernment: so that Christ’s body might be built up and matured as each does their part. The gifts of Kingdom-minded technologists are needed by the Body!
But enough of the sermon; on to the story.
It was evident from the beginning this hackathon was about more than just technology. What transpired in a quirky concrete space in downtown San Francisco was powerful and redemptive. Its somewhat difficult to describe. So instead, listen to this comment shared by one of the developers:
“It was truly a memorable event. Twelve years ago, I would have never seen myself (who was then an atheist that adamantly denied God) using computer programming to help facilitate studying and understanding God’s word. Truly I feel so blessed that God has even redeemed this skill which I thought could only serve the purposes of men. A sincere thanks to the organizers of the event for finally giving me a reason (and excuse) to begin making my dream and vision, and for the team members who brought in their critical skills and talents (blessed by God, of course) to make that vision come to life.”
That’s one of the reasons we’ve called this the ‘Beyond Digital Initiative’. Technology is a tool that, in the hands of Jesus, has the power to transform lives for all eternity. But it isn’t about the technology. Its about the people who create the technology and those that lay on the other side of the screen. Its about affirming the men and women who can develop the tools to reach into places and impact lives in ways we currently can’t. If you are a church leader reading this today, begin prayerfully considering how you can discover, connect with, develop and release technologists for Kingdom good. Consider the development of digital tools as significant a mission effort as sending teams to the inner city or to the other side of the world. Give them a platform to place their ‘loaves and fishes’ before Christ, and watch them multiplied so that all who hunger and thirst may be filled.
Are Tech Tools Central to Your Church's Strategy?
If you are investing in technology as a key strategy to reach, develop, and deploy people for the Kingdom, I'd love to learn more. Leave a comment or send me an email. I look forward to connecting.