Indigitous Amsterdam

What do a Dutch pastor, a South African businesswoman and a Hungarian photography artist have in common?

They were all part of Indigitous Amsterdam, held in the Dutch capital from May 15-17, 2014. With them, another 120 people gathered around their passion to connect people to Jesus, using digital strategies. And no, these were not just techies – in fact, most of them considered themselves non-technical.

This was not your typical ministry conference. Located in the heart of the city, with a program that ran for just 48 hours and speakers from a wide range of expertise, it was more like a boiler-room experience. Unique also because Cru’s two European areas joined hands in organizing this event.

The event focused on Europe, a continent unlike any other. The diversity of culture, traditions, languages and economic realities is greater than anywhere else. Over the last fifty years, large parts of Europe have been secularized, becoming in effect post-Christian. In marketing and business, the trend is ‘experience economy’, emphasizing the importance of offering something memorable rather than selling a product. Consumers have become participants and co-creators. Networks have taken the place of hierarchies. And on top of that, the social media revolution disrupts the balance of power in virtually any area of society.

At the same time, we seem to suffer from the ‘horseless carriage syndrome’ – we use new media and technology like the first cars that still looked like carriages, unaware of the possibilities it offers. We use a website as a brochure; our twitter account serves as an extended billboard. In ministry, we replace our traditional outreaches with ‘Digital Outreach Days’ or use Facebook to invite people to our events. But what if we really designed our strategies towards the unique and unprecedented opportunities of the digital age?

Keynote speaker Lieze Langford, a Digital Strategies consultant based in Glasgow, Scotland, did a tremendous job of helping us rethink the way we interact and engage with audiences. What ‘memorable experiences’ do we have to offer? How do we create online experiences that connect with the audience expectations? She challenged us to think ‘outside in’ instead of ‘inside out’.

Live Learning sessions allowed participants to learn from the experience of many others and were inspired by innovative ideas like gamification and Dutch social entrepreneur Marc van der Woude addressed three digital disruptions that create new opportunities for missions: mobility, communities, and the sharing economy. The morning sessions kept us spiritually refreshed by opening the Word of God.

But participants did not just sit and listen, they also joined forces to apply their knowledge and skills in Experience Teams, creating a landing page plus strategy for a local church, designed an app for student leaders, and much more in just a few hours.

In their closing talks, conference directors Tom Seely and Mark de Boer challenged participants to join the movement. You can join too -  even if you missed this unique event.

If you are passionate about connecting people to Jesus, read more about Indigitous, or join the Facebook group to download slides and reports from the Amsterdam experience.

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