When I started out in mobile ministry not so long ago mobile ministry meant mobile phone empowered ministry. With the advent of the Kindle, iPad and other tablet computers the definition of mobile ministry has seemed to expand to include such devices. My premise has remained, though, that if it doesn’t fit in your pocket it’s not really mobile. Why do I say that? If a device doesn’t fit in your pocket it is a huge order of magnitude less likely to be with you or the person you’re interacting with when you stumble into an unplanned ministry opportunity. The mobile phone is eminently pocketable while iPads, Kindles, and tablet computers are not. Beyond its pocketability, the function of the mobile phone, being your connection to the world, means that it is a device that you almost always want to have in your pocket. This combination of a mobile phone’s pocketability and utility mean that most every time you step out of your house for more than a few minutes the mobile phone will be with you.
The key advantage of mobile ministry lies in you being empowered by the mobile device at the point of ministry contact (oftentimes that unexpected meeting in the park, on the bus, etc.) and I don’t believe a Kindle or an iPad will be with you at that point the great majority of the time. I feel emboldened to make this statement following the release of new findings from research carried out by Conde Nast. These findings, flowing from in-depth research conducted on iPad usage, showed that people use iPads as a shared household appliance rather than a personal mobile device. The iPad is not mobile, it is not with its owner when they go out according to these findings!
I agree that the iPad brings amazing capabilities and potential to the table and these may very well prove of great value in Christian outreach. At the same time, though, I want to strongly argue the case that mobile ministry requires a device that will be with you the majority of the time you step out your front door and iPads, Kindles, tablet computers, etc. are not such a device. The mobile phone is!