I'm Alex Kerr, I live in London, UK, grew up in the countryside (and still love it like a fish loves water!) and enjoy street skating (rollerblading in big groups on the streets on London), snowboarding, and windsurfing. I think I like high speed sports because it's the direct opposite of sitting at a desk pondering about software, and thus gives me life balance!
2. How and why did you become involved with mobile ministry?
I've developed software for 25 of the last 28 years (since the age of 10), first as a hobby/interest, then running my own software label at 16-19, then later starting my own mobile phone software company about 6 years ago. Around that time I started making the move from being a "less engaged" Christian (had the belief and prayed and attended church about once or twice a month) to being much more engaged, finding Christian friends etc. 3 years ago God called me strongly into developing mobile ministry software and I've been working on it ever since. I've found I have a particular heart and passion for reaching people through lower end phones (non-smartphones) as that's what most people in the world use, and that won't change any time soon.
3. What excites you about mobile ministry?
The chance to reach people with God's word instantly, for free or very cheaply (i.e cost to the user), and en masse, but even more than that the knowledge that God wants to use this medium of mobile phones and the privilege of being allowed to be a part of that.
4. What aspects of your background/training, books, websites, tools, etc. have been most helpful to you as you’ve moved forward in mobile ministry?
Looking back it is amazing to see how my technical experiences in various contexts - my own interests, university projects, work experiences, have played into giving me the right mindset and experience to help me do what I do now. Also I've found the abundant social life that my church gives critical to enable me to work long hours on my own at home, and also on that note, the 3 years prior to this calling also working on my own in the same situation prepared me for this. I guess most of all, God being with me in it all and helping me in so many ways has been the thing I'd most credit.
5. What are some of the biggest obstacles to implementing effective mobile ministry? For you/your ministry? For the Christian world in general?
A couple of things I think need to be overcome in mobile ministry in general to see it being as effective as it can be. Firstly, a raising of awareness amongst churches globally that the mobile phone is a channel to reach people in general, and especially youth (though most certainly not limited to them). I know big, globally known churches, that don't even have mobile on their radar. It does depend who your audience is for a particular outreach - maybe mobile really isn't appropriate for something - but generally I think awareness needs to increase considerably, just so it's at least on the table in people's minds as an option (along with other routes to reach people). Secondly I think (and again depending on who your audience is) that there needs to be a significant shift in mindset regarding which mobile platforms a mobile ministry initiative addresses. The developing world for example does not generally have the current smartphone platforms (e.g iPhone, Android), and I strongly believe they will not any time soon to the extent we can forget about those who do not have those platforms. Much more consideration and thought needs to be given to non-smartphone platforms, or even, non-iPhone and non-Android platforms. Even in the UK, a leading market for the iPhone and smartphones in general, only 3% of people have it, and less for Android.
6. What is one recommendation you could make that would help an individual or ministry be better able to move forward in mobile ministry?
I'd say consider what phones your audience has, and will have going forward, and use software tools and platforms that will help you reach as many people as possible - i.e. as many different phone platforms as possible. It can look daunting, but depending on what you're trying to achieve there are a whole variety of software tools and websites can makes things much easier for you.
7. What is one hard earned lesson in ministry you would want to pass on to others here?
I think it's the same as any other ministry that one really should try and seek the Lord's will in things. If you don't, how do you know you're doing what he wants? I've gotten immensely excited about all sorts of technical projects and possibilities and the like before but those things haven't always aligned with the Lord's agenda, which is what's most important in a ministry I think.
8. What part of mobile ministry does the Church need to bring more effort and focus to?
Just being generally more aware of it's existence and possibilities would be a good start!
9. What aspect of mobile is overrated in your mind? Why?
iPhone and Android. The media radically overrates them, and it's very easy to get caught up in that. In the grand scheme of things they really are very, very minor platforms. Even in rich Western markets many more people have simpler phones. I think we in mobile ministry REALLY need to put people first - what phone they have in their pocket, what their skills levels is with it, and work backwards from there.
10. Is there anyone else you’d like to see interviewed regarding mobile ministry?
I'd love to see some churches interviewed that are on the cutting edge of mobile ministry, to inspire the rest of us with the possibilities. I'm not aware of any, and just having an official iPhone app doesn't cut it! ;-)