From the Archives: Why Every Missionary Needs a Smartphone

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originally written February 2, 2017

Last month during a brief furlough I took some time to evaluate ministry in the 2016 year and came up with two big ministry goals for 2017.

  1. To disciple three young men in Barrouallie

  2. and develop a real relationship with prayer supporters as well as supporting Churches

now the truth is communication is always a goal of mine, but I would probably give myself a low “C” (and in some cases a high “D”) during 2016.  The problem isn’t that I wasn’t sending email updates.  However those updates weren’t resulting in effective communication.

For me effective communication is a back and forth conversation between two people. My emails did find their way to inboxes, however they rarely resulted in further communication.

At the same time my communication on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram exploded however it wasn’t directly connected to supporting Churches or prayer partners in a specific way (meant for lots of people not just them).

For years missionary have had to choose between an email based relationship with supporters (good for sharing info but difficult to communicate back and forth) and a social-media relationship (great for constant communication but lacks privacy or direct communication).  Thankfully with today’s smartphones you have the best of both worlds.

It’s my personal belief that every Missionary should own a smartphone…not so they can use it as a status symbol, but because it allows them to communicate directly with Churches and supporters from anywhere in the world.

For instance using my smartphone this morning I was able to:

  1. Contact a supporting Church in Virginia to make sure I had their updated contact info
  2. Leave a message on a supporting Churches answering machine
  3. Communicate with my father to make sure the 336 area code number I’m using for communication in SVG works properly
  4. And send text messages to my field-administrator who is currently in Brazil!

I am aware that smartphones are incredibly expensive (especially if you buy them without a contract) but the relationship it develops is worth every penny.

Update to post written 3/16/22:  

Since that post was written I’ve continued to work on using things such as social-media to create a more “day to day” relationship with supporters.  At the same time I began to notice that Facebook was taking up too much of my time and energy.  Because of this in November 2021 I moved almost all of my communication to a closed ministry group of prayer supporters, and just recently began using my main Faceook feed again.

But I cannot help but think smartphones give opporutnities for much deeper relationships than Facebook 

I am still very thankful for the wonderful tools that these phones give for missionaries to communicate with prayer supporters.  But I also see hwo incredibly easy it is to have “shallow” relationships that don’t really communicate in a deep way.

God has given the gift of technology so that we can go past just one click relationships with our supporting churches and prayer partners.  He has given it so we can lock arms with them, and stand firm through true relationships based on strong communication.

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