Tag: Mobility

Nintendo 3DS Looks Awesome

I own an Iphone 3g, which has pretty much been my portable gaming device of choice thanks to a MMOG called Kingdoms Live where I lead a clan of 170 people.  Previous, I owned a Nintendo DS, which I bought the day it came out.  It was the old silver clam shell version, and there were 5 games available at launch. The only one really worth mentioning was Super Mario 64 DS.  Oh, it was swell, to have an N64 in my hands with two screens.

Well, I stopped using that clunker of a video brick, and started downloading apps – which is how I prefer to have games now – on a hard drive.  Nintendo basically dropped off my radar until just now.  Articles have begun to spring up about the 3DS.  It is a 3D (without glasses) portable gaming device, with more power than the iphone and psp – and with double the amount of pixels on a larger screen.  Sounded enticing, so I investigated.

It’s going to cost about $200, but seeing that this really does look like the beast of a gaming set (3D, megavisual, download store, two screens) – its going to be worth it.  Google it and see all the buzz.  I’m excited. (PS – the 6 yr and under warning doesn’t affect us adults, but parents take heed.)

Technological Lifestyle: All the Internet Tech I Actually Use (Life and Ministry) And Why


(everything i actually use on the internets)


(1) Apple Computers (2008 Intel Imac, 2004 G5 Imac, 2004 G4 Powerbook) – My first computer was a 486 Digital Equipment Corp, and then later bought a Pentium IBM Aptiva.  When viruses and reinstalls, and craziness got me in a fever pitch, I invested some college money in my first Apple.  The G4 Powerbook is still used, and the G5 and Intel Imacs I use at home and office are the sleekest, easiest to use tech enablers I have today.  In a year or so I’ll have to update my G4 Laptop to a MacBook Pro.  Can’t wait.

(2) Iphone (3g, OS 4.2) – My first cell phone was a Nokia free phone I got with my first AT&T plan in Florida.  I’ve carried the same number to different carriers and different states, but with the Iphone came out, I tossed my current flip-phone, and handed my ipod touch to my wife, and have been wowed by the amazing smoothness (though not without bugs) of the Iphone.  I love the no-feedback keyboard for my fat thumbs, and the amount of games I download and play – well, its ridiculous.  Best thing my wife likes – Being able to course correct using Maps app in Atlanta traffic.  That’s the win guys.

(3) Firefox (3.6.13) – I used to use Netscape back in the day, but when that went under, I moved to Safari.  I kept having kids in my youth group install Firefox on my pc’s at church, so I checked out Firefox – and it is really robust.  It saves your tabs if you want, and I’ve had twenty tabs going with minimal slowdown and multi-tasking like crazy.  I like the skins, but don’t pay too much attention to the design of it – it just works, unlike explorer  :/ IMO

(4) Facebook (online, app) – I switched from Myspace because I got sick of the raunchy ads on News Corps ad machine.  Also, html edits kept crashing my browser, and Facebook was cleaner, and so much more simple.  It was like a business card for life.  Now, alot of our church is on there, I have almost 900 friends (which I know em all – wow), and do alot of communication that I would otherwise do on the phone or through email by this app.  I don’t play games on it though, because I don’t like third parties using my information.  http://www.facebook.com/dannonhill (but I’ll only add you if I know you in real life somehow or respect your research in your field).

(5) Twitter (online, app) – I was an early adopter of Twitter, but it didn’t catch me for about a year.  I had a dormant account.  Then I started finding other youth ministers on there, and found out that they linked their blogs.  I also found all the news sources I like on Twitter, and some experts on adolescent and religious development, so I basically had a stream of what others thought was the most important content in my field.  Basically predigested research.  I’m now an avid twitter reader by surfing articles and blogs, and the Favorite tab allows me to Star important articles so I can share my favorite feed with others, or save it for later.  My twitter is @dannonhill if you want to say hey 😉  On a side note – the Twitter App is well worth it (used to be Tweetie until bought by Twitter) and I manage 8 twitter accounts there now.  It works well.

(6) Pandora (app) – Basically, I listen to music (like the Moody Blues) in feed style on this app.  It basically just takes whatever style I want to hear and keeps playing songs in that genre.  Kind of nice, and you can thumbs down any song you don’t like. I have the unpaid version, so ads happen sometimes, but that’s no bid deal.  I hardly use my ipod app anymore because of this.

(7) Kingdoms Live (app) – I have been a huge player in Kingdoms Live, and even lead up a clan of 150 people (my code: 2ps1r).  My name is Muad’Dib there, so drop in and say hey if you have a profile.  For gamers, this is a stats based Multiplayer Online Game like an RPG, based around building a strong profile and fighting others by buying gear.   Use this app in conjunction with Palringo Chat Application where the players go for talking off the record.  Great game, lots of fun – though watch out – some of the trash talkers are more than pg-13 (but you can report them to Storm 8).

(8) Playstation 3 (Sony) – I watch DVDs on this mostly, with my wife, but  I have a few FPS RPG games (Fallout Series) that I enjoy exploring in.  My brother bought it for me for my Seminary Graduation gift, and its been in non-stop use since then because it really is a one stop media machine.  Thanks Aaron.

(9) Xbox 360 (Microsoft) – We bought this with the Kinect for our youth group, and it was a big hit.  It gets em jumping around, and people laugh at the silly pictures of you playing after your done.  If you have a group of Middle or High School students this is great leisure, and for personal use, its similar to the PS3 in gaming and has a broader user base as well.

(10) Wii (Nintendo) – I had the Wii when it arrived by being a Nintendo fanatic and waiting in a cold New England line.  I love Zelda, Mario, and Metroid, so it was an easy decision.  Lately, however, its main use has been to play Guitar Hero III at youth group.  The wireless guitars are great, and always get a room talking.  Love it.  One side excursion, the mini-game Lit is freighteningly good even with its PS2 like graphics.  Download it now.

(11) Real Books (For Real) – I’m part of a Sci-Fi Book club, and read fantasy and other epics from time to time.  Lately, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins have my attention, but the Dune Series by Frank Hebert and his son have enthralled me.  I’m also a CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien fan, but who isn’t.  Just bought the whole Chronicles of Narnia collection in one book at the library for $3.  Nothing like having a solid book to read, and I still don’t feel good about the digital book revolution.  I’ll wait til the kinks are worked out.

(12) Dropbox (on computers, iphone) – All my important files that I need everywhere are now wherever I go.  Dropbox gives me 2 GB free of storage space, and then pay for more if you need it, to have your files in a cloud.  I can access them on all my macs, and amazingly, my iphone as well.  I’ve used this so much – try it out.

(13) Evernote (app, online) – Just got tipped off on this by Adam McClane (Twitter @mclanea, Blog: http://adammclane.com/) who uses this to collect his thoughts for blogging, pics, and notes etc on the run.  I’ve used it several times and am getting more and more into it.  Especially the ability to take a picture, sync it, and be able to access the picture on my computer later for blogging without having to sync my phone.  Excellent app, thanks Adam.

(14) Camera, Contacts, Calendar, Clock, Safari, Photos, Notes (app) – SO basic – So Necessary.  I use these constantly.

(15) Flickster (Movies App) – My wife and I love the movies, and this has been a great app to easily grab movie times, ticket prices, phone numbers of theaters, etc.  They have lots of other integration that I don’t use with their internet website.

(16) Word, Powerpoint (Microsoft) – I’ve always been a Word guy, and when I went over to Apple, I didn’t think that Apple’s solutions were as good, so I bought a school copy of Microsoft Office, and I’m glad I did.  The Mac version of office is very robust, and it means you can communicate easily with .docs with the rest of the world. I like the ease of use, and that’s why I stick with this suite.

(17) Photoshop/Illustrator CS1 (Adobe) – If you want to do any Graphic Design, you need Photoshop!  And for logo design, I am a big fan of Illustrator.  If you’re a youth minister, these Creative Suite applications are good to save you lots of money in sending out graphic design work if you have time and creativity to pursue it.  I’ve been using these tools since High School, and continued in Graphic Design classes in college, and continue to aid the visual culture of my and other youth groups with these programs.  It’s well worth it, but initially pricey.  May have to budget it in.

(18) Garage Band (Apple) – Every once in a while I like to record something.  I was in a band in college called Dj Why and the Image, and I miss those days – so I tinker.  Google my name with For Sheriff and maybe you’ll find some of my stuff done in Garage Band.

(19) Holy Bible (app, by Paul Avery) – Of all the Bibles out there in the App store, this is the one I’ve latched to.  I know there are some internet dependent ones that are better, but this one is completely offline, and has lots of versions including some Hebrew and Greek versions.  Even Russian.  I like that, and have used it since I got my Iphone.

(20) Tumblr (online, app) – I’ve just gotten into Tumblr, because I like the quick microblogging that is possible.  I’ve wanted to make a Youth Ministry specific blog, and I now do that through Tumblr.  Still learning how it works, but so far, I’ve found some youth ministry sites on there that are great.  Only issue right now is that unlike wordpress (which is my personal regular blog), you don’t seem to get alot of random google traffic.  I don’t know if that even matters, but my ego likes to see numbers.  One nice thing about Tumblr is that it has easy Twitter integration, so it can autopost to a corresponding Twitter account.  Check out my integrated sphere here (http://twitter.com/multempire, and http://multempire.tumblr.com).

(21) Gmail and Google (online) – Quite simply, I use Gmail as my personal, and work email.  Its easy to organize everything, easy to search, and I have it integrated on my iphone to pick up all my accounts.  I use Google to search everything I need, and I love my tailored Google News feed.  I know I’m feeding a big machine, but if that machine is good, I’ll go along with it.  Thanks Google.  “Don’t be evil” 🙂

(22) WordPress (online, app) – This is by far the best blogging service all around that I have experienced.  It is highly mod able, though I’m not proficient enough to dig like others I’ve seen blogging.  I like the ease of use, and the ability to make regulars like me look better than I really am thanks to skins, and automation of many tasks.  This very blog is going out to you on WordPress, and so are 115+ other blogs I’ve done in the last year and a half.  The stat tools are good for OCD folks like me, and in combination with StatCounter, the site is well thought out, and fun to surf blogs on.  Look down below, and you can start your own blog.  Take the time – its fun.


So there you have it.  Everything I actually use, that I can remember…right now.  Let me know what you use and post a link to your blog on the same topic.  I’d love to learn of some new things.  And if I forgot something, remind me 😉

Reality is Closing in on the Virtual World

Reality is Closing in on the Virtual World

by Daniel Griswold

Originally Run in “The Island Packet” Newspaper on Aug 10, 2010

I knew the world had officially changed when I clicked to add my grandma as a friend on the social-networking site Facebook.

I’m proud to say my mom joined as well, but I distinctly remember how hard it was to teach my sweet mother how to use a mouse without the expression of fear.

Perhaps the world is changing too fast.

More people now create their own image in the electronic mirror. On this mirror, we play out all our hopes and dreams, and the brokenness of our humanity with the friends we have found online.

How easily we forget that behind each profile is a real person.

A war game for the iPhone, with several hundreds of thousands of players, recently had an event that went largely unnoticed: One player committed suicide. It was quietly announced among the player’s army mates, and the account profile that once had been a bastion of warlike activity, suddenly went silent.

Pictures of virtual tears flowed, but no one really knew how to grieve the loss online. Because the people in the player’s army were from all over the world, no one would be able to attend a funeral. And without a connection to anyone who actually knew the player, there would be no one to talk to who actually had met this friend.

As if trapped in the portion of Scripture stating, “I have forgotten happiness” (Lamentations 3:17), the fun stopped for a little while, as the players had to grapple with a real life that existed on the other end of the WiFi. A human soul is missing from among us. He hadn’t just disconnected for the night; no, he was never going to reconnect again. The players had to feel some very human emotions, and eventually we all had to talk.

“I called on your name, O Lord, out of the lowest pit. You have heard my voice, ‘Do not hide your ear from my prayer for relief, from my cry for help.’ You drew near when I called on: you said, ‘Do not fear!'” (Lamentations 3:55-57).

In the game, players began to offer prayers of support for their fallen friend. In a game where every player is artificially immortal, we all remembered how truly mortal we are. Somehow in the virtual world a very real world thing had happened. We mourned and supported one another.

I’ve heard of this happening more and more as we connect to one another in the electronic world. On Facebook, people leave comments on the pages of their lost friends; in the games, a player’s profile becomes a memorial for thoughts, prayers and grief. And clips of this activity are now included in the evening news.

Though none of this will ever replace the warmth of a real hand and a hug, experiencing a new form of community has opened my eyes. The virtual world is no longer a separated space, but rather, part of reality.

And the world continues to change.

Daniel Griswold is director of youth at St. Andrew By-the-Sea United Methodist Church. Twitter Name: dannonhill

Read more: http://www.islandpacket.com/2010/08/10/1334504/reality-is-closing-in-on-the-virtual.html#ixzz0zoWzRgxC

New Kingdoms Live Strategy


Image: http://images.macworld.com/appguide/images/317/989/188/ss0.jpg

Okay, I’ve learned quite a bit since my last post on Kingdom’s Live, and I want to update everyone.  For those of you who don’t play Kingdom’s Live, it is a Storm8 game on the Iphone/Itouch, and is a stat based Massive Multiplayer Online Game.  You can play it in quick bursts, but you are always open to attack whether you personally are on or not.  Everytime you pop on there are new things to take care of.  No real graphics, just full of imagination – you know,  as if you are a real warrior.  I love the game.

Strategy: Since I attained the goals in my previous post, I’ve shifted strategy.  No matter how long I camped, and no matter how much I gained, there was always someone who could hit me harder and longer and faster.  I also realized that there were things in the game called Clans, which were bands of players who have gone outside the game (to chat programs and personal Networking sites) to create realms where they could stay connected, chat, and strategize without littering their comments wall in game.  It also allows for stealth when deciding to war against “Farmers” aka someone who continually attacks the same weak players maliciously, and for hitting other clans who are just mucking about, or calling out your clan.  In other words, it makes things more fun, and more deep. (So I joined the clan: Gods of Wars or GOW, and their symbol is a flame with a TradeMark logo.  There are about 200+ members and about 30 of them are more active).  The clan also makes the games more personal because you can chat with people who are just as geeky as you.  For example, my name in game is Muad Dib (add me to your army: 2ps1r if you’re still reading ;).  From my name alone, I’ve made friends with people who actually know what Muad Dib means (The Mouse in the Desert, from the Dune series of books).  I am somewhat obsessive with the series (I’ve read all 17 books), and this is an easy way to find other techies who are as interested as I.  To date, I have not met one person in the real world who has also read the Dune Series from cover to cover.  In Kingdoms Live, no less than four people have read most or all of the books.  Good times.

So what is my current strategy?

(1) Continually add more land.  My gold levels are never enough, and I’m leveling up again, so there are stronger players. Currently at 4.7 mil gold/hr.  Seeking to get to 7 mil.

(2) No camping until level 100 – 115 (which is the cut off before you are able to be seen by all people over level 115 and up, making you the bottom of the pond of big fish).  Once at 100 I will camp indefinitely and seek to strengthen myself.  I’d been at level 60 for about 2 months camping in the previous strategy.

(3) Work with the clan to build up my social knowledge of the game.  By joining a clan, I’ve been exposed to a new element of the game.  Diplomacy.  As Clans clash, there are negotiations that can mean life or death (or being bounty listed forever).  War is fun, but peace is needed from time to time to work on your profile, so there needs to be an ebb and flow.  Diplomacy makes that happen.  Right now I am a Lt.2/Recruiter in GOW, which means I have little role at all.  I hope to move up to a Don of War, which would have good amounts of responsibility, and the ability to declare war.  But ultimately I would like to help give peace to the clans members.  By being level 100, this would give me some more status, and the ability to show off to Farmers at the lower levels, but not enough to be noticed by the Bigs at the top who are always fighting and cut throating.

(4) I will also be buying some of the New Weapons.  Currently I have 350 Runic Helms, 350 Dragon Eyes, and 350 Heavenly Restorations.  I would like to buy some of the new hardware Storm8 just put up and some Death Curses (of which I have 100 for attacking).  But I need to build up my ability to support all that.  I want to convert from Dragon Eyes to Griffin Bows, from Runic Helms to the Crusader’s Chestplate, and to have dual spell support with Heavenly Restoration and a set of Death Curses.  A tall order, but I may be able to pull it off in the next two months.

On the side I’ve also discovered that GOW clan is stronger and more mobile in Imobs, also a game by Storm8 so I’ve started an account there to make friends who are also on Kingdoms Live.

So there you have it.  How are your strategies coming along?

Pass It On – 10 Levels of Intimacy in Today’s Communication

I noticed this while trolling “teh internetz” and its blogs.  I thought it was valuable enough to pass it on since it really gives a picture of all the different ways that we communicate today beyond face to face and the phone.  There are so many options.  While I have no problem switching and multitasking all these options (I am a tech-head and am the first part of Gen-Y/Internet Gen), I wonder how healthy it is, since I hear so many nay sayers to all these choices.  Certainly, there is a good balance, and it is often good to abstain/fast many of these options to remain sane and remember the center of our identity (built on love of God, neighbor, and self).  Take a look:

Isn't this so true.

Tech and My News Lifestyle (review of Instapaper)


My life has been revolutionized.  When I was a kid, I had to either subscribe to a Newspaper made of actual paper, or I had to go to the convenience store to purchase a copy.  I loved flipping through the pages, but it was never very portable.  I also hated how to make it portable, I had to make annoying creases that made it harder to turn pages when you were at Dunkin Donuts.  But other than for coupon clipping (which is also going online), I now no longer use a physical paper.  Why?  Because two services online have completely streamlined the process for me in a much more efficient manner.  The two programs are Twitter and Instapaper.

On my Ipod Touch, I have a program called “Tweetie” which takes Twitter and makes it very easy to post and read other’s posts.  I get a steady stream of information about my peers in Youth Ministry, as well as from friends who are doing whatever.  Much of the info, I just scroll through, but when there are interesting headlines from local news sources Twittering, or from “The Economist” or CNNBRK – I click it.

That is when I have some options.  1) I can just go to the article and read it in Tweetie’s built in browser.  That is fine if I have time, but often I’m moving about, so an option to put into “Instapaper” also comes up.

Instapaper is an online program that saves blogs, articles, and online content for later.  You sign up (rather easily by putting in an email) and then you click on a button to install the “Read Later” bookmark in your browser.  Every time you surf through an interesting article on something like “Youth Saves Lives”, but don’t have time that second, just click “Read Later”.  You can later go to the Instapaper website, and click on your list (and make folders to categorize them) and the articles come up on Instapaper’s servers.  It is your own private newspaper collection.

Then, I take it further.  I found out that Instapaper has a free (and a paid – worth it!) app on Apple’s App Store.  The paid app costs 4.99 but gives you such flexibility that it is lightyears beyond the free version.  Now, on my Ipod Touch, I upload my “Read Later” articles through the app when I have Internet access, and then later (when I’m at the Dentist’s office where there tends to be old “Time” magazines and “ESPN” – which I don’t read), I open Instapaper on my Itouch and BAM!  I’m have about 45 minutes or so of reading material I’ve downloaded to the Itouch’s harddrive.

It’s hard for me to explain how this has streamlined my news intake.  A possible critique of this is that I’m only getting the news I want.  Well, I tend to go to many news sources on Twitter to balance myself out.  I read many headlines, and I like to think I’m fair and balanced in finding opposing viewpoints in order to get the big picture.  On the side, It’s been great to categorize good Youth Ministry (my profession) blogs for later, so that I can go back to the article later and print it out for Youth Leader Training, or for encouragement, or whatever.  Truly fantastic.

Even if you don’t have an Ipod or Itouch, check out Instapaper.com, install the Bookmark, and see how neat this is.  I never really go to Google News anymore thanks to this little wonder.  It’s so much more efficient, and I like to use up those quiet moments (like at the DMV) when you could be stressing, for good reading and current events instead.

(Picture from: http://rickyopaterny.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/M1Uu3MXnGd4ymx185Ne4deV5_r1_500.png)

Just for Fun: Kingdoms Live (My Master Plan)


For anyone interested (with an iphone/touch), I play a game called Kingdoms Live.  It is slightly obsessive because the game is based completely on stat grinding.  You buy weapons, armor, and spells, and your character levels up, so that you get a total number of attack, and if your attack number is bigger than someone else’s, then you win when you battle.  Battles are instantaneous based on stats.  You buy weapons, etc. with Gold, which you earn by either attacking other people online, or by buying land.  Land is expensive and it gets more expensive as you buy more of it.  You also need land because it provides income which is used to support the upkeep of your armor, weapons, spells.  Each sword, ax, etc, has an upkeep cost.  You also need to invite others online to join your army.  This is a very impersonal task, the main goal is just to get a high number, because the more people you have, the more weapons etc. you can equip and the higher your attack number.  Lastly, when you’re all armed, you can go on quests, which are like battles, but have tag lines like: “Invade the Kings Castle” and there are requirements.  You have to have a certain amount of people, and certain amounts of certain weapons, and you have to expend Mana to do them.  Anyways, if you’re interested, here is the link to check it out:  here (you need itunes and an iphone/itouch).

For the geeks out there, or anyone who plays the game is obsessively addicted to it, here is what I just did, and I think it is awesome.  I spent all my time accumulating land so that I had a combined income of 100,000 pieces of gold per hour.  In the meantime, I’m being mercilessly attacked by those who are spending all their money on weapons.  I calculated that I could buy the most powerful equipment for 67 of my soldiers with 2.7 million pieces of gold.  So I bided my time, bought land, and more land, and got attacked more and more.  I also memorized names of those who attacked me while I was weak and mined me for gold.  I then had 100,000 per hour income, and 2.7 million in gold this morning.  I bought 67 Mithril Axes, 67 Mithril Sheilds, and 67 Teleports (the most powerful and expensive spells in the game at my level), and I began attacking them back (particularly a character called Chan Tihn).  They have been devestated.

I don’t know how long my power will last, but right now, the hunting is good.  Let me know if you play, and what your strategy is.

Life Enmeshed in Tech

My brother wrote My brother quoted Conan Obrien on Facebook this morning and it  got me thinking: “In the year 3000…youtube, twitter, and facebook will merge to form one mega time wasting website called YouTwitFace!!!”  It was his Facebook status.  Like him, and many in my generation, I spend a lot of time on social networking sites.

It seems that everyone is talking about it too.  On my Twitter account, most good Tweeters use a site called TinyURL to link to their blogs.  On the blogs (Blogspot or WordPress), they talk about Life, Politics, Theology, Interests, and then the talk about how to use Twitter.  How do you use Twitter?  It seems like everyone has a different answer.

Some use it to promote their company and brand images.  Some use it to stay in touch with friends, much like a streamlined Myspace or Facebook.  Some people use it in lieu of Texting on a cell, while some use their cell phone to update Twitter like maniacs.  Some like following American Idol’s Twitter Representative to get the latest gossip, and are friends with Oprah, Ashton, and Miley Cirus.  Personally, I follow Matisyahu, and I love reading about his exploits in an old RV covered in bugs while he tours.  There are so many different ways to use it.

Then there is the way that I use Twitter…because I am a techie, and anytime any new advance happens, I like to be on the forefront.  I was on Myspace before Myspace was bought by NewsGroup.  I jumped ship to Facebook back in the day when I realized that Facebook didn’t have as intrusive advertising, and have found it to be a great hub for photos, notes, and for commenting on others statuses.  And when I started using Twitter a bit more a year after its introduction, I found out that I can use Twitter to update my Facebook status, switch over to Facebook on my Ipod Touch, and then read what others are saying about what I tweeted.  Okay, a bit narcissitic, but come on, it is fun.  And when you’re stuck waiting for a car to get fixed, or sitting in a mall waiting for your wife to get done shopping, Why not?  And then I’ve found a way to enmesh myself further.  Like a mad scientist, I can write a blog here on WordPress, Tweet about it, and then it automatically shows up on Facebook.  The really good blogs, I star as a Favorite on Twitter so I can easily get back to it by clicking on a link, and now that is the way I organize my favorite blogs.  I also write down thoughts on Twitter that I’m afraid I’m going to lose later, and star them if they are worth writing about later.  I have become a Frankenstein of the social networks…and I like it.  And it’s not even the year 3000 yet!

But to cap this off, I would like to let everyone know, that this has not changed how I value real face to face interactions with live human beings that I care about and who care about me.  Part of my enmeshment, is that my life seamlessly flows from the internets.  Rather than call someone, I Direct Messsage them, and we have a chat conversation in private.  We make plans, and two days later we’re hanging in Boston Common having a cup of Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts depending on the mood.  And we’re not talking about Twitter, or facebook, or what’s happening on the blogosphere in Digg.  We’re actually joking around, enjoying each other’s company and catching up on life and creating moments together.  It isn’t until after the fun that the Twittering begins.  I never had to learn this, since living life has always been a primary concern of mine.  Tech is a means to a good life, not a good life in itself.  But I realize that there are others who do not realize this, and so I see how many “How To’s” and Etiquette reports, and Warnings against the decline of civilization as we know it…etc.

Personally, I’m not afraid.  I think its all just new, and there will hopefully be something newer tomorrow.  Let’s just enjoy what we can understand and feasibly use, and not stress about it.  Maybe you’re not enmeshed like me.  That’s cool, I’ll call you sometime.  We’ll chill.

The Mobile (Youth) Minister

I’ve been thinking through what being a “Mobile” Youth Minister means.  Primarily because I’ve found that so much of my time ministering to youth has been spent on the road in my little tan Chevy Cavalier on the various winding roads and highways around Boston.  My students lived in Concord, a rolling hills kind of farm country; they live in Cambridge, a sprawling expansion of Boston full of hip shops and in diversity there is also poverty.   I drove to Woburn, where the bowling alley is; I hung at the Starbucks in Burlington, and I found myself on hayrides in the apple orchards of Andover.  You’re getting the idea.  That’s just the tip of the iceburg.  Natick, Bedford, Lexington, Stoneham, Wakefield, Marlboro, Westford, Westborough, and all the East’s and Left’s and Right’s.  I’ve been there and have met parents and kids and had great and sometimes challenging times.  So this is why being “Mobile” has come to the forfront of my mind.  At the beginning of my ministry I spent hours at the desk doing administrative work and getting little things done here and there, but the more I built relationships with the various communities our church served, I cut down desktime to one day a week and learned how to do everything else on the road, in a coffeeshop and my desk was replaced by rented tables paid for by the coffee I bought.  Wherever my laptop sat, I became a hub of relationships, communications, and learning.  My hope here is to lay down a picture of why ministers become Mobile, but also to start a dialogue about “Pros” and “Cons” of such a ministry. The lessons learned will probably apply to others beyond youth ministry to other ministry contexts, so feel free to join the conversation whoever you are.

A google search for “Mobile Ministry” brings up ranging articles about ministers preaching on circuits, trucker ministries, and various other long distance traveling ministries.  The kind of ministry I’m talking about is not long distance as these people are doing and are focused on.   The context I am talking about is the kind that develops around a “regional” church.  When people find a church that they are willing to drive 35 minutes or so to reach, you have a “regional” church.  These churches have families from wide and varying communities from urban to countryside, and so the ministers quickly learn to live beyond their own hamlet, and see the varying contexts interacting all over.  The congregants have wide and varying ways and views on living life,  so the minister needs to be creative to connect and serve, unify and challenge wisely.  It would be easy to use the church as a hub and never leave it, because so many people come to this beacon set in the proverbial waters of the communities.  But this is an unhealthy mentality, because then the minister, like an academic who never leaves the seminary and finds themself trapped in an ivory tower, the minister may find that he or she is trapped in a cave with only enough room for congregants to come and go.  The light on the outside is just a fable to that minister, and eventually the sermons and the advice of the minister makes little sense to those who live on the outside of the cave.  No, the minister must go out and be in the community.

Look at Jesus: He did not spend much time in one place, and it seems to have been a reality of the Jewish culture, that his family traveled for various reasons.  When Jesus was born, a census had people traveling and forced him to be born in a stable (Luke 2:7).  After his birth, his family went to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous attempt to stop the future claim to Kingship (Matthew 2:13).  As a youth he ended up at the temple asking questions of the teachers (Luke 2:46).  After his ministry began, he then set out on a traveling ministry, that spanned the heights of Samaria to the depths of the Dead Sea towards the Mountains about Jerusalem.  Jesus and his disicples were on the move, an urgency of mission moved them, and Paul and successive generations have moved from context to context with little time to remain static, and if so, only to teach for a time.  So the question is, if Jesus was on the move, we, as his followers must consider and act on the power and energy of movement.  But what is so good about movement? And in modern terms, is being mobile worthwhile?

Reasons for Mobility:

(1) American culture is nomadic/moving. American government has spent trillions of dollars building a massive road system that enables people to go anywhere they wish to go if they have a car and money for gas.  The car symbolizes freedom, and it is a status symbol of being able to “get there.”  Even the impoverished of our country own cars, and it is the first thing on the minds of teens when they reach the age of 15.  “When can I get a car, and not be dependant on my parents for rides?”  In essence, they are thinking about the freedom.  Freedom of movement, freedom from constraint, and choice of where they wish to be and who they want to be with.  Because of this, they are everywhere.  How do you minister to people on the move if you are not moving with them, or at least towards them?

(2) People only get together once or twice a week. The main church service happens for a few hours on Sunday, and these days, there are multiple services.  There may be midweek ministries, but these often are divided throughout the week rather than just having a traditional Wednesday night family ministry night.  So you have 4-5 hours a week divided by hundreds of meetins with different families while people are coming together.  How much time we ministers spend with someone gives us equity in their lives to speak truth and have influence.  4-5 hrs is nothing, and in the 15 minutes we can speak to someone one on one just isn’t enough time for a good investment in that person (though this may be some for some).  Sometimes we need to target people who need some more time with a caring counselor, a shepherd, a mentor, or a listener.  These are the people we need to jot down on a list and make time to visit every so often for a cup of coffee or for a  quick lunch.  These are the families that want us to come for dinner, or to visit and have some time to talk.  Some of your leadership on the ym staff may feel this way too, considering how little time they get with the one leading up the Youth Ministry during staff meetings.  Look out and read the faces in the crowd – How many of them need more than 15 minutes?  Some of them might need an hour a week, or five.  In order to do it, you’re going to have to become mobile.

(3) The internet and mobile devices have scattered users. You’d think that more communication would have brought people together, and in many ways it has.  But something new is beginning to happen because of all the connectivity:  People can be together while they are far away, thus, people can get away with being farther away for longer periods of time without feeling disconnected.  This allows groups to scatter and still be together.  In the past, a youth group clique would have to get together at the same McDonald’s to have shakes together (I don’t know if this ever happened other than in my imagination, but just work with me).  Now, the six kids can be at six different McDonald’s and all be telling stories on Twitter or Facebook, or most likely Texting each other about how horrible the service was in different ways.  Whether they get together or not, they are together.  Business people now do it rather than teleconferencing and only use the phone or meetings for more serious matters.  Basic Questions and instructions can be given to anyone at anytime on a Blackberry or Iphone.  Why wait for a meeting when everyone is together.  So as a minister, you can’t just walk into McDonald’s and find all your youth.  Technically in this situation, you would have to do two things.  (A) Know how to text, and be in on the digital conversation, and (B) choose one kid and meet em there, then choose another, and meet em elsewhere.  Imagine in this kind of world how important Youth Ministry Events and Weekly’s will become in this great “Scattering”.  Face to Face conversations and basic social norms are now something that you have to ensure that your students are getting alongside the message of Faith in the Gospel.

Possible Pitfalls of Mobility:

Many things can go wrong when it comes to being mobile.  If you are a creative spirit like me, organization can go out the window of the car while driving to the next destination.  Schedules are harder to maintain, and being connected to your church’s ministry team can be tricky if you are not intentional.  I’ve found that a few things help me keep myself on track.

(1) Develop a good memory and keep a backup. My mind is a strong tool that I can easily leave fallow.  But if I intentionally try to memorize my responsibilities for each day, and go through them with others vocally, I find that my memory gets stronger.  When I have to be in four different places in one day, it helps when I have thought everything through the day before or days before so I have the directions printed out from google maps, my cell phone is charged for communication on the go, my laptop bag is packed with any documents I need to give out, and I have a checklist on Ipod Touch and Laptop in case my memory fails me.   Multiple backups ensure that I will have one of my many devices with me for quick check in to keep myself on the right track at the right times, and relationships don’t get messed up because I’m late or just don’t show up.  Thankfully, I’ve never not shown up.

(2) Keep your routine office hours and plan some time to connect with the rest of the church. This is important, because being on the road can disconnect you for long periods of time.  You have resources at the church, you have relationships that give you life and energy, you have an admin assistant, you have a hub where meetings are held, and these things are a big part of being a minister.  Sometimes, you won’t have to be out on the road as much, if people know you’ll be around the church at a certain time consistently.  People you know, or a mother might need to drop by and hand in the latest Missions Trip forms and have no other way to get it to you.  You might have a question for the Tech Director and this is the time to do it.  You’ll also need time to do reimbursements and place receipts to the budget so you’re not paying for everytime you grab a hot chocolate for your students.  Balance yourself out by being “grounded” for a time, so your time on the road is more valuable.

Benefits and Conclusion:

The nice thing about being mobile, is that you become a central command for the community.  After four or so years, you’ll find that people trust you to relay information, and your events become unifying events for the diverse communities surrounding you.  Like a plant reaching out and connecting to new plots of soil and spreading life, you become the shoot that seeds love and hope in many different pots full of fertile soil.  After many years of being a “runner”, or a “Mobile” Youth Minister, you begin to see the harvest come to bloom.  God begins to bless the work, and you may see others becoming runners themselves.  Often Seniors in the High School ministry that stick with you to graduation will see what you have modeled and become hubs in their own communities.  It truly is a blessing to see this begin to bloom, and if it is done well, it will nourish the many.  Here’s to the hubs and nodes – keep connecting, keep moving, and bring the truth to your many communitied region.

-Daniel Griswold