Wi-Fi as Ministry | Part 3
Content to Share Using Wi-Fi as Outreach
There are many types of media that can be presented for outreach using Wi-Fi. The following list is not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive, but to give examples:
- Jesus Film Media: the Jesus film continues to be useful for sharing the Gospel in orality-based cultures. Jesus Film Media has taken the feature length film and split it into useful segments (averaging three to five minutes) that may be used for discipleship purposes where it is unwieldy or not appropriate to share the entire film in one sitting. The entire film and the segments of the film are available through the Jesus Film Media site: jesusfilmmedia.org. The film and the segments are available in many languages. Additionally, Jesus Film Media has made a version for children, and added several trailers that encourage people to consider Jesus.
- Biblehub: this website contains many free-to-share resources for use in Wi-Fi as ministry: http://biblehub.org/.
- Podcasts: from a pastor’s sermon series or an outreach-based ministry.
- Renew Outreach videos: this ministry creates devices to provide Wi-Fi in remote locations (this device will be explained later in the series), and also hosts content. Links to content from Renew Outreach and other partner ministries are available at this site: http://www.renewoutreach.com/get-media/.
- GEMStone Media videos: GEMStone Media is a ministry of Greater Europe Mission. GEMStone Media has produced several outreach videos (language neutral) that will reach target audiences in Europe, South-East Asia and North America. These videos are available for review and downloading (in various file sizes) from this site: http://vimeo.com/gemstonemedia/videos.
- Content from BibleBox.org: The people at BibleBox have about 100MB of content that is freely available to share. This includes apologetic texts, Bible versions and evangelistic video clips. Available from this link: freefiles2share.
The question may be asked: what benefit does Wi-Fi bring to a ministry?
Using Wi-Fi as ministry allows the church to take advantage of existing popular technology to spread the Gospel and make disciples. Just as in Jesus’ day with the use of the Greek language and travel over Roman roads, so the use of Wi-Fi for ministry allows believers to continue using technology for the glory of God.
One benefit is that it forces each of us to think digitally about ministry. Much of our audience, whether in the church or out on the street has a mobile device. That device is an extension of the person, being used so frequently the individual doesn’t even recognize it as “technology,” it is simply a tool to make life easier, faster, better, or more efficient. Our ministry needs to appropriately embrace the benefits of technology. Offering resources digitally in a form that people with mobile devices can accept is a step in the right direction.
Wi-Fi Outreach Tools
There are many tools available for Wi-Fi outreach. eDOT will list several that we have explored, tested, utilized or assisted with in the development phase. Each of these solutions will be evaluated on the criteria of: cost, ease of use (both as a sender or receiver of media content), portability, security and number of concurrent users per Wi-Fi device.
Of the options listed here, the AirStash is one of the easiest to use and the most compact. This device can be used almost directly out of the packaging. Plug the device into a USB port on a computer; charge the internal battery, load an SD-card with content and insert the SD-card into the AirStash. Turn it on and the AirStash device is ready to use.
- The AirStash will support several simultaneous (5+) users accessing data.
- The AirStash will operate on a charge for 7 hours of continuous use. This length can be extended by using a portable battery pack that has a USB output of at least 500mA. The AirStash will continue to transmit a Wi-Fi signal while charging.
- The AirStash can be made secure using WPA2 standards; making the device similar to a home or office network—only the people who know the password can access the data on the device. This may be a disadvantage. For the best user experience, it is suggested that the security of the AirStash be left open (unprotected). After each outreach event, simply replace the SD-card—this will ensure that the data is not corrupted from previous users.
- For the best user experience (and this is true regardless of the Wi-Fi device used), create a QR code that directs users to the content of the device directly through their device.
- The AirStash requires little operator input. Once the content has been loaded onto an SD-card, all that is required is to insert the SD-card into the device and power it up. Plugging the AirStash into a USB charging device (whether that is through a computer, a wall charger or a charger in a automobile) will begin the recharging process.
- Content on the AirStash may be accessed in multiple ways:
- Devices may use AirStash+ app to connect with the AirStash. These apps can be obtained for free on the app stores of the devices. Since the AirStash does NOT contain internet connectivity, devices will need the app PRIOR to connecting to the AirStash (in other words: the AirStash will not be able to transmit the app to a device).
- Devices may connect via a web browser from their device to the content on the AirStash. The AirStash has a built-in web server that will host content from the SD card (it is suggested that a QR code be created to point users directly to the content available on the AirStash).
- AirStash device.
- SD-Card. The size of the card will dictate the amount of content that may be shared. The AirStash device supports SD-cards up to 2 TB.
- The AirStash is one of the simplest devices to use and operate. It is also one of the lightest weight solutions to offer Wi-Fi.
- The AirStash allows a user to operate either with open security or with WPA2 security features (similar to those seen on a home wireless router). Using the WPA2 security features means that other users need to know the network password to access the content stored on the SD card. In ministry contexts, this may not be desirable. This is mentioned to contrast with the other devices listed in this article that would allow security to protect the content while allowing other users to connect to the device.
- The AirStash will work right out of the box, assuming three things:
- The AirStash device is charged.
- An SD-card pre-loaded with content is available to insert into the AirStash.
- Mobile devices have the AirStash+ app pre-installed or have web browser capabilities.
- Requires an investment of $50-150 for the AirStash device and a suitable SD-card. Actual price will vary based on the size and speed of SD-card purchased to used in the AirStash. A suggested minimum SD card size would be 32GB.
- This device is recommended because the unit (the AirStash) is readily available through online and local retailers, SD cards are also readily available and may be easily loaded with content. The AirStash has a long battery duration and the device is very easy to use. The limitation of this device is the number of simultaneous users.
This Wi-Fi device is available through Renew Outreach ministry at http://www.renewoutreach.com/lightstreams/, by selecting the LightStream model for your needs.
eDOT has not been able to test this device to the extent of the previously mentioned Wi-Fi devices. In our ministry context, there is not a significant need for microSD-card distribution, nor the ability to push audio and video clips via Bluetooth. That context may change in the future, but the LightStream has not been seen as a solution to a problem that we are experiencing.
- Give up to 15 simultaneous users access to your media via Wi-Fi.
- Push audio and video clips to 10 users per minute via Bluetooth.
- Copy up to 4 microSD cards simultaneously.
- Access statistical information on Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and SD card copying through the easy-to-use admin dashboard. Export to CSV function available for reporting purposes.
- Customize the content of the Wi-Fi user interface with the simple but full-featured administrative panel.
- Easily change the name of the Wi-Fi hotspot and Bluetooth push signal.
- Wi-Fi automatically redirects the user to the LightStream user interface without the user having to type any special address or codes into their browser.
- Easily translate your LightStream Wi-Fi user interface into another language. The LightStream supports all UTF-8 characters (most written languages).
- Quickly swap out media using either the LightStream’s built-in Wi-Fi Media Manager or the included media-loading flash drive.
- The LightStream is a for-profit product of RenewOutreach. As such, it is necessary to purchase the devices and optional power extensions through RenewOutreach. These devices may be purchased from the following website: http://www.renewoutreach.com/lightstreams/.
- If there is a desire to distribute microSD cards, those cards will need to be obtained.
- Content to share.
- The LightStream is the most expensive device for Wi-Fi as ministry that eDOT is aware of, starting just under $400. Because of its cost, this is not a product that can be discarded easily (in the case of security in closed countries).
- The LightStream is significantly heavier than the previously mentioned devices, especially if purchased with the optional (and recommended) battery pack. The LightStream can be carried in cargo pants or a shoulder bag, but the weight will be noticeable in either place.
- The LightStream is by far the most versatile device. The ability to transmit content via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, while simultaneously creating 4 microSD memory cards is helpful in many circumstances.
- To be fair, this is a very capable device, in the right context. If a ministry doesn’t need the ability to distribute audio or video via Bluetooth, nor the ability to distribute microSD cards, then this device may be unnecessary in that specific ministry context, and other Wi-Fi devices may meet those needs.
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 Be aware that for large audience viewing, Jesus Film Media requests registration with the site. This is primarily for them to know how the film is being used. This author is not aware of any royalties associated with downloading the film or segments of the film from this site.
 Other Wi-Fi devices suggested here overcome this difficulty and limitation by allowing users to access the data on the device, but restricting the ability to load new content on the device or change existing content.
 That limitation can be overcome by having multiple AirStash units strategically placed around a room or outreach event.