T-Mobile G1 smartphone
– seminary textbook?
One of the things I have been excited about lately is a project I recently started on; a mobile phone-based system for theology training and banking.
To set the context, on the continent of Africa in the last few years, there has been rapid growth in the church. An estimated 20,000 new churches started, most running now without a trained pastor. On the continent of Africa there are about 26 seminaries or centers for theology education, the largest of graduating 50 students a year. Doing the math, you can see there is an enormous need for theology training for pastors in Africa!
Even if you added enough seminaries to equip 20,000 churches with a trained pastor (you’d need 40 new seminaries that can graduate 100 students to equip these churches in the next 5 years!), you would still have the problem of getting these pastors to leave their families for a year, leave their jobs, and travel a long way. Money, time, and family considerations make this simply impossible.
But in the last five years almost half of all Africans acquired a mobile phone. Each of these phones can do two things: send text messages and interact with their account at the phone company.
If you add to this picture a smartphone, like the HTC Hero, you now have a platform for delivering seminary training to the pastor at the location of his church! Add to this a micro-finance loan and you have a way for almost any pastor in Africa to acquire a smartphone. Put it all together and this is a way to train 20,000 pastors in the next five years!
This excites me.
Right we are partnering with a university-based team of programmers developing software to do just this. The software is now in the testing phase, and we hope to deploy it in a test setting this summer. I hope to visit the Campus Crusade for Christ seminary in Nairobi, Kenya in the next couple months and be involved in launching this test.
If all goes well in Kenya, I will start looking for ways we can use the same technology in India or East Asia.
And there’s more….. I’ll write another post about it.