Rich is the associate director of Arab World Media. In this interview, he shares about an exciting new addition to our ministry…

Tell us about Media to Movements… What is it?

Media to Movements is a team within Arab World Media, though not limited geographically to the Arab world. We’re here to enable other teams to incorporate media strategies into their plans for church planting.

How do you do this?

We identify and evaluate trends in technology, media and ‘customer’ engagement to see how they might impact church planting and be applicable to a team’s ministry. We’re in touch with about 200 individuals from different organisations, including Pioneers, who have an interest in making the best use of media – how to get the right message across to the right people at the right time.

When did all this begin?

It’s hard to pinpoint when it began – the formation of a separate team is something that has been evolving – but I suppose it started to take shape when AWM merged with Pioneers back in 2010. We held a media day at a conference and things grew from there.

Tell us about your team…

There are just two of us at the moment, but we’re looking to grow. We’re based in the UK and the US. I’ve served with Arab World Media for 36 years, while Frank has served with Pioneers in Southeast Asia and the US since 1991.

What do you do with your time?

A lot of our time is spent doing research. We look at technology, marketing, advertising, customer service, user experience, and traditional and digital media. We seek to identify trends, concepts, principles, technologies and methodologies that open opportunities and have applications for reaching people with the gospel. Not everything that is used in the secular world applies to our field, but we can learn a lot from different methods of engaging with people.

One of our aims is to connect with teams within Pioneers (which has more than 300 teams among 207 least-reached people groups in 108 countries) who want to be equipped to use media as part of their ministry. We’re looking for people with the skills to work together to start a media strategy with their team. So far, we’ve worked with teams in Southeast Asia, North Africa, North America and elsewhere. Currently we are at various stages of engaging with some other teams.

Another primary aim of Media to Movements is to be a catalyst for disruption in the Christian media sector – to lift the conversation from the practical aspects of media production and distribution to talking about, studying and implementing seeker identification and engagement. Our sector has yet to fully appreciate the depth, breadth and speed of digital transformation affecting our audience both online and offline. To that end, we have consulted with numerous other organisations, projects and initiatives outside of Pioneers. Also, the articles from our blog have been used as the basis for an online course. These articles are being translated into Arabic and Indonesian to provide access to speakers of those languages.

The word ‘media’ can be a bit vague these days. What does it mean in this context?

It’s a very broad term and encompasses lots of things. Over the years, we have seen the convergence of technologies that have been integrated into the term ‘media’. First, traditional media like print, radio and television moved from (primarily) analogue to digital, and we saw the convergence of the 3 Cs (content, communication and computing) into what we used to call new media. The use of the term ‘new media’ has mostly been absorbed into ‘media’. For a while now we have been experiencing the current wave of convergence – the 3 Ms (manufacturing, medicine and media). The term media continues to expand to encompass new aspects as life experience becomes more and more digital.

Why is embracing media important for church planting?

Humans are unique in our ability to make, use and incorporate tools, including technology, into every aspect of our life. While new technologies may be ‘opaque’ and possibly awkward or difficult to use at first, eventually they become transparent and integrate with our lives so well that their use becomes invisible to us. As new technologies and media become more transparent, we adopt them, and since they are primarily digital, we leave an ever-increasing trail of seemingly meaningless fragments of data and personal information in our wake. However, all this information, when analysed and interpreted, can help us to identify spiritual seekers and their needs, allowing us to provide the appropriate information to the appropriate people at the appropriate time.

How can we pray for you and your team?

Firstly, we’re looking to expand the Media to Movements team with additional competencies and capacity to coach, mentor and assist an increasing number of field teams. Please pray that God would provide the right people for our team!

Secondly, we’re constantly seeking to identify teams within Pioneers with interest and capacity to adopt media strategy as part of their church-planting strategy. Pray that we would be able to identify and link up with these teams.

Thirdly, we need wisdom as we research. At the rate of change in our areas of interest, there’s always lots to learn but we need to be able to filter out the things that are not appropriate for ministry. Pray that God would grant us the discernment needed to identify the right opportunities and to maximise our use of the tools God has provided.

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