Mashing up faith and technology: is such a thing possible?
Well, thanks to Canadian tech entrepreneur James Kelly it’s not only possible, it’s happening now. His new venture, FaithTech, is already spawning satellite groups beyond his home base of Waterloo, Ontario and is generating interest internationally. According to the FaithTech website the idea came out of a desire to “bring together Christians with a heart for Jesus, and a mind for technology to facilitate Kingdom-minded collaboration with tangible results”.
Recently, James spoke at a meeting of transformational pastors and marketplace leaders in Toronto to share his vision of transforming the digital world. He describes a story that’s emblematic of opportunities the church today is missing.
FaithTech is working to [bridge] the gap between faith and technology.
“I met a guy in Waterloo,” says James, “who started going to a local church and was trying to figure out a place to get involved. He said, ‘I don’t know my place in the church. I don’t preach. I don’t play a musical instrument. I’m a techie, so they got me running PowerPoint’. But this guy was an engineer at Research in Motion who helped build Blackberry Messenger!
“So I asked him, ‘Hey, do you think you could build a software platform that connects missionaries to local churches?’ He stared at the ceiling for a minute, then looked at me seriously and said ‘yes’. I was amazed, and asked him why he hadn’t done it already. He said, ‘because no one had ever asked me. I’ve just been running PowerPoint’”.
James went on to say that running the visuals and other tasks related to the function of churches are certainly important. But he has a passion for the church to start thinking bigger and to help people to live out their gifting in full measure.
FaithTech is working to bring this about by bridging the gap between faith and technology.
Reaching the digital generation
James also talked about how millennials and those growing up in the digital generation are turning to Google for answers, instead of God or the Bible. He stresses the importance, therefore, of the church being relevant in the digital world to help those who are searching or lost.
“Stats say that 70% of what we used to ask our fathers we now ask Google. Search engines know our secret fears; they know our addictions, because that’s where we satisfy them or talk about them. It’s time for the church to catch up to where we are in the digital age so we can bring God’s hope and wisdom in relevant ways.”
James was recently interviewed by 700 Club Canada where he discussed the question, “Is Google the new god”?
At just 30 years old, James has an interesting portfolio of experiences. He walks the busy halls of innovation in Waterloo and shares meals with some of the brightest minds at the world’s biggest tech giants. At the same time he is a pastor of sorts, complete with a Masters in Divinity, and has many opportunities to pray with tech executives and business owners.
And he has a desire to change the world around him.
One project that was borne out of FaithTech is a website that tackles suicide prevention. A team comprised of a 2 web developers, a communications manager and a psychologist took part in one of FaithTech’s Hackathons –
It’s time for the church to catch up to where we are in the digital age so we can bring God’s hope and wisdom in relevant ways.
described as a weekend-long ‘conference for geeks’ where teams ‘tackle challenges with technology to move the mission of Jesus forward’. Out of this event they created a way for people who are searching online for how to end their life to be directed to a website that offers videos and resources for those in crisis.
By helping to bring faith and technology together to solve real-world problems and extend God’s kingdom principles in the marketplace, FaithTech is growing into a truly unique transformational organization.
So if someone tells you God has no interest in Google, tell them to think again.
To learn more about FaithTech, visit their website at www.faithtech.com