Intentional Software Manifesto


The following draft was shared with friends in early 2018. This draft is incomplete, but if you find yourself agreeing, get in touch.

We are a group of individuals who desire to build technology — tools, products, systems, platforms, frameworks — and establish technological guidelines and principles to advance God’s Kingdom in the Bay Area and around the world.

Who We Are

The founders of this group live in Silicon Valley. Much of the technology which we use daily is designed and developed here. We are witnesses to the massive number of people who are unchurched among us, especially those who are young. We live in a region with incredible wealth, diversity, and influence. We desire to see our region transformed by the Gospel and for a revival to begin right here.

Our Opportunity

God’s kingdom is here and now. We have the incredible opportunity to develop constantly advancing, open, and interconnected technology that allows His kingdom to expand through the sharing of the Good News and the formation of thriving communities.

We see an incredible opportunity to use skills we developed working for Silicon Valley technology firms for Kingdom purposes.

We are asking many questions while prayerfully seeking how to advance and establish His kingdom through our craft and the skills He has given to us:

People

  • How can we empower the Church to connect people into great offline relationships where the gospel is shared, Jesus is preached, prayers are lifted, and people are transformed?
  • How can we cultivate new habits and behaviors with our daily use of technology to better enrich our relationship with Christ and relationships with our fellow-creatures?
  • How can we empower God’s people to leverage the new medium of smartphones, tablets, and ubiquitous connectivity as useful tools instead of sources of distraction?

Partnerships

  • How can we create an organization which exists to develop software which can equip the Church and also bear witness to those outside of Christian community?
  • How can we help partner with organizations like Faithlife Corporation, Ministry Centered Technologies, Spark Development Network, LifeChurch, Pushpay, SecureGive, ACS, Arena, and so many others who are working in silos on important ministry challenges? Many of these corporations are building the same exact tools and do not interoperate with each other.
  • How can we set up an organization of Jesus-following technologists to carry this mission from God forward until Jesus returns?

Product

  • How do we best use smartphones as a medium for others to be introduced into their local church community?
  • How can local churches be established on their own platform (where they own their data) and do not need to be concerned with how to connect calendars, giving, newsletters, community, small groups, Sunday experience, kids check-in, and other specific technology needs in a cohesive way?
  • What will be the replacement for Facebook Groups? See cake.co. How can we work toward building what’s next instead of a church-flavored copy of Facebook?
  • How can technology allow the Church to build the best, most life-giving, most attractive communities on the planet?

Help from Christ

We believe the Holy Spirit uses people to spread the gospel not because we’re good teachers but because we worship a great God. He uses us despite us. As C.S Lewis writes, “If there were no help from Christ, there would be no help from human beings.”

People who were not Christians themselves helped me to Christianity. But usually it is those who know Him that bring Him to others. They is why the Church, the whole body of Christians showing Him to one another, is so important. You might say that when two Christians are following Christ together there is not twice as much Christianity as when they are apart, but sixteen times as much.

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Changing Technology

Technology is changing. Ten years ago, smartphones were not commonplace, RSS readers were popular, Facebook and Twitter were much smaller, and many content creators published on their websites. The Internet — and the way we use it — has changed. Smartphones are commonplace and with it comes a new age of distraction and disconnection. RSS readers are dead. Facebook and Twitter are sources of all kinds of news at a rapid clip. Content creators are dependent on Facebook and YouTube to distribute their content.

Yet there is opportunity. We have amazing connectivity to the global Internet in the palm of our hands. Smartphones are being deployed to poor places which never commonly used computers. Folks have access to many tools to create their own content distributed across millions of devices. People are growing weary of large corporations controlling the majority of the Internet they use. Open source technology for building Internet applications is at the highest level of quality we’ve ever seen. Amazon and their competitors have transformed expensive physical server infrastructure into code. We can build things in days which would take months before.

Further reading: Rebuilding the Web We Lost

New Habits

People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.

F. Matthias Alexander

Following Jesus is a choice. Our weakness has never been more apparent. We are supplied with instant access to any of the world’s information, resources, opinions, and advice. How do we consistently choose Christ when we are weak and consistently choose the weaker options around us?

It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, and Other Addresses

Indeed, we have weak desires. Our eyes need to be opened to the infinite joy is offered to us in the light of Scripture and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

We also have the ability to take the helm of our lives and to choose to place ourselves in this light.

The tools we use daily often place us into well-defined comfortable ruts which are likely not the best for us. How can we create experiences which replace the bad with the good?

One example of adding a new habit for transforming lives are the apps Read Scripture and Bible in a Year. These apps replace the daily checking other sources of triviality which do not satisfy in our smartphones with the daily renewal from soaking in Scripture and offering up prayer in response.

In the same way, how can we create experiences which we desire to come back to — which set us up for knowing more about the character of God, which strengthen us against the enemy’s attack, and which help us become better connected to our fellow-creatures?

Typically such platforms desire to let people stay as long as possible in order to finance the operation through advertising. There is a better way. We can never optimize for time spent. We must optimize for life transformation, which often means the time using our tools will become less and less.