At a technology conference last year, a presentation of technology uses among the under-30 crowd was lacking something: young people themselves.
So this year, organizers are making a point to bring in a group of young presenters who can speak with authority on the subject.
“Many people attending this conference haven’t had the opportunity to see what these kids are exposed to and what we’re competing against when we produce material,” says John Torres, media relations specialist at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s world headquarters.
“The more people who are aware of that, the better off the church will be in reaching this generation,” Torres says.
A workshop at the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s Global Internet Evangelism Network forum starting in Denver July 9 and running through the 13th will bring together several youth and young adults to help church leaders understand how many people in younger generations live using personal convergence devices, the Web or other technologies.
The conference, the sixth international gathering of its kind, is scheduled to draw nearly 100 attendees, including tech industry professionals, church communication directors, evangelists and church members interested in learning more about the Internet.
Organizers are hoping church leaders learn more about the methods of connecting through technology and tailoring effective messages through new media.
“I think there may be a perception that technology prevents real life interaction. I’m not convinced of that,” says John Beckett, director of the church’s Office of Global Software and Technology. “I think what you see more is that people prefer being close together, talking to each other, but technology as a substitute when that can’t happen.”
The forum isn’t necessarily to invent new platforms for communication, says Bryan Collick, Web manager at the church’s world headquarters, but to foster collaboration in using preexisting technologies.
“It’s not for us to say, ‘There’s MySpace, let’s create a better “Adventist” MySpace,’” Collick says. “It’s about saying, ‘There’s MySpace, how can we create an Adventist presence there that falls into the acceptable scope of MySpace but still retains our core values that we want share with the rest of the world?’”
“We’re wanting to understand the kinds of people who live this way so we can more effectively reach out to them.”
This year’s conference will also feature the first presentation of the netAwards, established this year by the world church Communication department to recognize outstanding contributions to online ministry in communicating the church’s message of hope.