Open Digerati initiative at Life.Church
Brandon Donaldson leads Open Digerati, the open-source tech initiative from Life.Church. A pastor at Life.Church for over 17 years, he specializes in the teams focused on digital missions. He led through the creation and launch of the Life.Church Online ministry, which welcomes more than 275,000 visitors each week, and helped build Open Network, which serves more than 519,000 pastors and church leaders around the world. He’s passionate about Jesus and unity in the global Church. Brandon and his wife Christi just celebrated 23 years of marriage and have five children from the ages of 4 to 18.
Stewarding Kingdom Technology
We live in an unprecedented time in history where both the population of the world and the technology to reach are exponentially growing. We live in a technology culture that embraces open collaboration, open source, and open innovation. In this setting, what responsibility does the church have to steward technology for Kingdom impact?
This is the question driving our new Open Digerati initiative at Life.Church: how we’re thinking about it, what we’re doing to answer it, and where we see big opportunities for all of us to make a huge difference in Kingdom technology. I truly believe each of us, who love Jesus and build technology, are here at such a time as this. How will we invest our time, energy, and skills in Kingdom technology for God’s glory?
Communications Director, Christ Church Nashville
Chad Barlow is Communications Director at Christ Church Nashville (TN, USA). He oversees the internal and external communications activities of his local church while also developing media production software for use in large churches around the country. Previously, Chad worked as college pastor at The Falls Church Anglican (Washington, DC) and consulted with the Convocation of Anglican Churches in North America regarding outreach to young people. Chad has written apologetics curricula and taught worldview studies in private Christian schools and classical academies across the country. He studied Practical Theology at Oxford University and Strategic Design at Parsons School of Design.
The Anti-Social Network (or, A Modest Proposal for the Newest Killer App)
America has a loneliness problem, and it is killing people.
Rates of loneliness the U.S. have doubled over the past three decades. Today, over 40% of adults report feeling chronically lonely. The U.S. Surgeon General has called this ‘a public health epidemic’, and it’s easy to see why. Chronic loneliness increases the odds of premature death by one-third: the same risk factor as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.
Whence the world’s first interpersonal plague? Why has it befallen the most ‘connected’ population in the history of the world? Part of the answer, of course, lies with social media. Studies show that networking services that do not reliably introduce people to each other ‘IRL’ tend, instead, to broker connections that are more transactional than interdependent, more abstract than embodied, and more achingly impermanent (or, as the case may be, more creepily perpetual, undead) than life-giving and sustaining.
I propose to build a social networking app that helps remedy the condition commonly diagnosed as ‘loneliness’ with the somewhat less commonly prescribed spiritual disciplines of silence, solitude, and self-knowledge. The application I propose to build is designed to help the user to shore up the contents and boundaries of a mature self. The application will also work to initiate the user into a sympathetic, local community that can collectively bear witness to shared truths about the human experience, in real life.
Attendees to this seminar will be granted access to an alpha prototype of the proposed application (called ‘Fig’). Attendees will be asked to offer feedback on all aspects of the proposal.
Frontend Software Engineer, LifeWay
Dan is a frontend software engineer at LifeWayIT. He specializes in React/Redux, and tinkers with Scala and various lisps. Dan is also is a slow cyclist, guitar nerd, tube amp collector, and armchair theologian. He started asking tough theological questions long before he could spell theology, and hasn’t stopped yet.
Hear, O technologists the LORD is one
“He’s such a rational thinker, I can’t believe he’s religious”. Have you ever head a comment like that? Maybe you’ve seen the subtle smirk of lost-credibility when you mention your faith to another technologist. Maybe you’re scared to mention your faith at all, because you know other technologist won’t take you seriously. What’s behind these false ideas and how did they get here? What does the gospel really say about faith leading tech? In this talk we’ll take a brief tour of greek philosophical dualism in the western world. We will contrast that with Christocentric Hebraic thinking dating from The Shema, through St Paul, and all the way through Einstein’s theory of Relativity. By deconstructing our western dualisms and rediscovering the Pauline/Hebraic worldview, we will gain freedom from greek philosophical thought structures that divide our faith from our humanity.
Data scientist creating AI for good, Intel Software innovator in ML/AI.
Daniel Whitenack is a PhD-trained data scientist with over ten years of experience working on ML/AI applications in industry and academia. Currently, he is working on missions-related projects that seek to accelerate the spread of the gospel through applied AI. Daniel also organizes Code for the Kingdom and FaithTech Chicago, co-hosts the Practical AI podcast, and speaks at conferences around the world (ODSC, PyCon, DataEngConf, QCon, GopherCon, Spark Summit, Applied ML Days, and more).
Open My AI that I May See
In the midst of increasing concern over misuse of data and the implications of AI, the church has a unique opportunity to demonstrate positive applications of AI/ML that help those in need and ultimately accelerate the spread of the gospel. What if seekers of Christ in oppressive countries could be targeted with personalized outreach connecting them to Biblical resources and missionaries? What if advanced machine translation techniques could help provide valuable print and video materials to low resource language groups? What if natural language models could help augment sermon preparation and exploration of the Bible?
In fact, believers around the world are already working on tech that is making these, and other, dreams reality! In this talk, I will introduce AI/ML techniques generally and then motivate their utility in accomplishing God’s work. I will highlight a few existing projects and will give a live demonstration of some of the technology. Finally, I will provide resources and suggestions for learning ML/AI, getting involved in related projects, and thinking about where these sorts of techniques could be integrated in your technology projects.
Gabe founded G2i in 2012. What began as a front end development and UI/UX shop eventually transformed into a hiring platform for React & React Native engineers. Gabe is a passionate follower of Jesus and hopes that is reflected in G2i by how people are treated and the mission to help street kids in Kenya.
I met Brian Karuru on the streets of Nairobi, Kenya and that changed it all for me. He was 10 years old, hungry, addicted to sniffing glue and I just fell in love with the little guy. I searched and found him weeks later in a trash dump and that day, we made a snap decision to take him off the streets and bring him back to our home. That one experience changed my life forever.
As G2i has grown to work with companies worth billions of dollars and our team has expanded, how do we stay on course for the Gospel? How do we stay mission driven? How do we focus on “the things above” rather than the glitz and glamour of the silicon valley startup world? To start, one of the biggest mission fields we are focused on at G2i, is eradicating the street kids problem in Kenya. It’s a huge task. One we know God is doing already and its our desire to join Him.
Dean of Enrollment Services and Educational Technology and Adjunct Professor of Media Arts and Worship, Dallas Theological Seminary
John Dyer is the Dean of Enrollment Services and Educational Technology and Adjunct Professor of Media Arts and Worship at Dallas Theological Seminary. John has been a technology creator for more than 20 years, building tools used by Facebook, Google, Apple, Anheuser-Busch, the Department of Defense, and the Digital Bible Society. His open source code is now used on more than 30% of websites. He has written on technology and faith for a number of publications including Gizmodo, Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, and in the book From the Garden to the City: The Redeeming and Corrupting Power of Technology. John and his brilliant wife Amber have two bright and hilarious children, Benjamin and Rebecca.
Why Pastors and Theologians Need Designers and Coders
What is the place of technology in the story of God? Depending on the church or tradition, Christians tend to either be wary of technology or embrace every new gadget uncritically. This talk will present a biblical vision of technology as God-given transformative force that we can celebrate and implement while also speaking to the ways it can shape individuals and communities in helpful directions. We will encourage pastors and technologists to work together to bring wisdom, insight, and joy to ways we use technology in service of God’s kingdom.
Justin Trapp & Wade Bearden
Pastors and Entrepreneurs
Justin Trapp and Wade Bearden are pastors and entrepreneurs. Their vision is to provide church leaders with tools to further spread the gospel and equip the body of Christ. After launching Ministry Pass, a teaching resource and multimedia service for pastors, the two realized they could help pastors write their weekly messages more efficiently and effectively by providing them with a word processing tool geared specifically for sermon construction. Soon after, they founded Sermonary, a cloud-based sermon writing platform. Within six months of its public release, Sermonary had been used by pastors to write over 20,000 sermons.
Disrupting Entrenched Systems with New Technology
Innovative ideas aren’t simply reincarnations of what’s worked well in the past. They’re new opportunities. They’re disruptors. They don’t just make something better, they say: “Here’s a new way.”
The same is true within the church. The printing press changed the way the Bible was read. Podcasting changed the way we listen to sermons. It very well may be that a new innovation to further spread the gospel is just around the corner—if we can see it.
In this talk, the founders of Sermonary—a new cloud-based sermon writing platform—will share the lessons they learned while launching a startup in an industry where Microsoft Word, Google Docs, and Evernote dominate the field. From concept and development, to their Kickstarter campaign and public launch, Justin Trapp and Wade Bearden explore their victories, mistakes, and continued struggle to help share the message of Jesus using new, exciting technology.
Director of Digital Solutions, LifeWay
The Need for Agile Leadership in the Christian Culture
As our Faith is challenged and our world becomes unstable, we can apply the Agile Manifesto and the principles of Agile to our own walk of Faith and work life. I propose if we live like Christ, we are Agile.
Individuals and interactions over processes and tools Working software over comprehensive documentation Customer collaboration over contract negotiation Responding to change over following a plan That is, while there is value in the items on the right, we value the items on the left more.
Lead Software Engineer, Aviture
Change the World With Software Engineering
In 2008 my mom was diagnosed with ALS. Over the next 18 months, software played a huge role in her life, particularly in how she communicated with her family. The software she used was able to change her world and give her a voice. Thankfully, not everyone will receive an ALS diagnosis, but everyone will interact with software in their life. This fact places a great responsibility on software engineers. Will you develop software that honors the dignity of humanity, software that recognizes that your users were created in God’s image? Will you develop software in a way that recognizes the value of your coworkers?
This talk explores the role of software engineering in human flourishing. You’ll learn how the software you write today impacts the lives of your users, and how you can make that better. You’ll also learn ways to improve interactions with your team, considering them not just as coworkers but as co-image bearers.
Executive Director, CV North America
Leaning on his background as an executive with a 4-time INC 500 winning startup, Nick leads the team at CVOutreach.com to leverage technology, process and digital marketing strategies to connect communities with over 1,300 local church partners. Nick is also the Founder of Media Tractor, a boutique marketing and business strategies company that serves both industry and non-profit clients. Nick co-hosts the Social Media Church Podcast, has provided coaching and marketing training for more than 50 non-profit organizations, and is Chairman of the Board for Initiative Network, an organization reaching and equipping the millennial generation for impact in their communities.
Connecting People to the Church
The speed at which we can transfer information has never been faster than it is today. The Internet has given the church the ability to reach people at the click of a button from across the world with the life-changing news about Jesus Christ. But, the Christian faith is is rooted in relationship, and delivering content alone isn’t enough. How can a search for truth lead to a local connection into the vast network of Christian churches that have been established through centuries of taking the Gospel to the ends of the earth?
Hundreds of thousands of people search Google each month for answers to their spiritual questions. CV Outreach is helping the church by directing the power of Google search and Social Media. The opportunity that we are working towards is to instantly take people from Internet Search to a Local Church, establishing discipleship in the context of relationship with a local pastor. With a growing network of over 1,300 local church partners, we are on a journey to introduce the world to their local pastor. We hope you will join us.
Creator of Viz.Bible
Robert Rouse is an analytics consultant with a knack for translating data into meaningful insights. He began collecting Bible-related data more than ten years ago and builds interactive graphics at Viz.Bible. Through this project, God opened the door to his tech career and brought influence in an industry that dismisses the ultimate inventor of information. Robert is a husband and father of three boys, the oldest of whom is obsessed with maps.
Bible Study Beyond Words: Using Data Visualization as a Teaching Tool
How do otherwise boring genealogy passages become a viral hit? Why is there a map in the back of most Bibles? In this talk, you’ll discover the importance of data visualization for telling stories and how exciting new technologies can convey timeless truths about biblical people, places, periods, and passages. Robert will share his most popular designs and give his vision to build tools that help people understand scripture as more than words on a page.
Global Leadership Team, Code For The Kingdom
Shamichael Hallman is passionate about all things faith and technology. In 2014 he became a co-organizer for a faith-based hackathon called Code for the Kingdom. As a part of this movement he helped organize hackathons all over the world. This work enabled him to travel to Nairobi, Kenya to work with a group of Christian technologists to help combat corruption in 2015. He is the author of Hacked: How a Christian Hackathon is Shifting Traditional Engagement Models and Creating an Ecosystem for Life-Transforming Technology.
Better Together: Synergizing Towards Life-Transforming Technology
There are two groups of people more in tune with the opportunities that lie ahead of the church like tech-minded church leaders and faith-driven technologists. We are now in and have been for some time, the Digital Age. With this has come an entirely new way to communicate with others, solve complex problems, and advance the Gospel. And what is perhaps needed most in response to those times is a synergy between the tech-minded church leaders and faith-driven technologists. They are uniquely positioned to see the challenges and implement the changes needed.
VP, Design Partnerships, InVision
Saved sinner, husband, father of three, designer, researcher and VP of Design Partnerships at @InVisionApp. 🔊 Casting @ http://parable.design
Our Technological Imperative
In this from-the-heart talk Stephen will explore tough questions like: What is the professing Christian’s responsibility when it comes to the use of digital technology? Can technology be inherently good or evil? What does the Bible have to say about this topic? If a Christian pursues the pioneering of technological advancement instead of merely following trends set by others, what opportunities might they unlock? What does doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly in this digital age practically look like?
Co-founder of Dwell
Joshua Bailey is a serial entrepreneur, and co-founder of Dwell, the new Scripture listening app that’s helping people cultivate a habit of hearing God’s word. He is also the co-founder of Lightstock, a two-sided marketplace that collects, curates, and licenses faith-focused, cheesy-free stock content, and also the former co-founder of Graceway Media. Josh is also a student in the Master’s of Humanities program at the University of Dallas and writes at growdai.ly. He and his wife, Kim, have been married for eleven years, and have three children: Hannah, Eden, and Samuel.
Beauty Before Utility
Earlier this year, one of Google’s co-founders, Sergey Brin, said that we’re living in a “technology renaissance.” While Brin may have his terminology mixed up, as the tech space isn’t undergoing a rebirth or revival, it is certainly flourishing.
Those of us who’ve embraced the utilization of technology for kingdom purposes wake up salivating over the possibilities. But in our enthusiasm to build, we can miss key ingredients to long-lasting impact. And it is the real Renaissance that teaches us what one of those key ingredients is—beauty.
When beauty is given its proper due in the things we make, we nourish the souls of those who come into contact with our creations, and end up building products, services and companies with perennial impact. But if we only consider utility, the things we build will soon become useless.