by Tom Kuster, CMI Executive Director

Adding another level to their ten-year-long unique and invaluable service to the Lord’s work, our friends at WELSTech recently announced the launch of an online directory of resource persons they call WELSTech Skills. Talented people interested in making themselves available to work on projects are invited to create a brief profile on the site, and those looking for tech helpers can consult the listings to find someone who fits their needs. If the site draws the kind of response and registrations it should, it will be a valuable resource. Want to contribute your experience or skills? Sign up now!

And please don’t think such a directory should include only tech people. The TEAMS required for media work will call on a wide range of backgrounds, skills, and abilities. We emphasized that back in 2012 at the first Christ in Media Institute in-person conference, the 2012 Media Outreach in World Missions (MOWM) Conference hosted on the Bethany Lutheran College campus.

The proposed skill directory reminded me of that conference because the launching of such a directory was one of the recommendations on the wish list that the conference produced. After hearing expert presentations and discussion on each of the Seven Challenges that must be managed by anyone interested in Christian media production, conference attendees in their final session endorsed the “action items” they hoped would become real in the future. One of them was this:

2 Technological Challenge…

b. Create online directory of resources (professionals, advisors, best practices, writers, etc.), including people in world fields with skills

Several other proposals from the conference’s list of 46 “action items” have been realized in the six years since then. In addition to the one above, progress has been made in these:

1 Cultural Challenge

c. Create courses in colleges/seminaries about cultural differences (available also to mission volunteers)

Our colleges and seminaries have enhanced their previous robustness in cross-cultural studies.

2 Technological Challenge

c. Hold meetings between experts and directors in both WELS and ELS to discuss best practices and create partnerships.

Numerous conferences of people with technology expertise have been held regularly by WELS agencies around the nation, although the emphasis is usually more on “inreach” (technology for congregation and classroom) than outreach.

3 Creative Challenge

j. Create new culture-relevant music for worship.

Terry Schultz and others have made significant advances in producing culturally-appropriate worship music in both Spanish and Urdu, although the proposed online resource of world music described in detail in GOWM 2016 has not yet materialized.

q. Consider military families as an audience.

The Lutheran Military Support Group has begun a wide variety of services to active duty and veteran service members, including an excellent website.

Many other proposals on the 2012 wish list, however, are still to be realized. A sampling follows – I’ve chosen a couple of items from each of the Seven Challenges categories, along with the conference’s recommendations of agencies that might be asked to address them. If you wish, you can see the entire list.

3 Creative Challenge

b. Create Gospel-bearing media that start with where people live (in different cultures); work with nationals; get writers on-site

Refer to: synod mission boards, production companies

c. Provide support for creative people in form of pay / release time. Give similar support to those who write for audiences of unbelievers or beginner Christians.

Refer to: synod missions leaders, schools

d. Develop media writers through targeted courses, challenges and competitions.

Refer to: our colleges, high schools, CMI

e. Create an online “Lutheran Media Writers” discussion/ support group.

Refer to: CMI

4 Legal/political Challenge

a. Make more material copyright-free.

Refer to: publishing houses

b. Create central knowledge base for managing challenges/ finding attorneys/ experiences and strategies

Refer to: synod mission leaders

5 Teaching local production Challenge

a. Form a tech team to train national workers, and send them abroad along with equipment.

Refer to: synod mission leaders, Stone Path, Kingdom Workers

c. Create online international forum for learning tech operations.

6 Stewardship Challenge

b. Create online giving system on KickStart model

Refer to: Synod tech workers

c. Find “patrons” to support creative people.

Refer to: synod publication groups

Discipleship Challenge

b. Continue to develop the technology of virtual congregations.

c. Start a worldwide virtual congregation in English from headquarters at Bethany.

Refer to: Multi-Language Publications, Stone Path, BLC

One can argue about the advisability and viability of any of these ideas, but there is no question about the following: the MOWM conference had a lively vision, we have made some significant progress since then, and there is still much more we can do.