Enhancing missions work with digital solutions at MMS

Enhancing missions work with digital solutions at MMS
At Song Roi Phee Methodist Church, laptops were provided for the children's computer learning camp

Methodist Missions Society (MMS) embarked on a Digital Transformation Journey to do missions more effectively through digital means when the Covid-19 pandemic hit and its impact was felt globally. The Covid-19 pandemic had disrupted the traditional way MMS conducted missions work and magnified the gaps in our digital capabilities, hastening the need to implement change.

To ensure the continuity of our missions work, we had to catch up with the times and transform the way in which we did our work. The MMS leadership team took swift action to set up a Digital Transformation Taskforce to decide on solutions that would enable us to fulfil the call that God had given MMS.

We knew one thing with certainty—missions work could not, and does not, stop in the face of a crisis. That was our message to all who had asked us how we would deal with the nasty repercussions of the pandemic. At the heart of our discussion on digital transformation was this question: How might digital solutions advance the Great Commission and the work of MMS?

The most immediate challenge was that our missionaries (and mission-trippers) were forced to stay put wherever they were as travelling came to a standstill. How would we continue sending missionaries to the MMS mission fields for community development work? How was the gospel going to be shared to local communities?

As we looked to digital solutions, we were confronted with another big challenge—first addressing the digital needs of various MMS mission fields, some of which were still in the development stage of setting up primary digital networks and infrastructure. The top action items on our list were to ensure that these church members could access church services online even when they could not meet physically, and continue providing English lessons online when teachers could not travel.

To derive a framework for our digital solutions, countless conversations and assessments were conducted between the Singapore Home Office leadership and the co-workers of our seven mission fields to understand what was required to build digital capabilities, skillsets and digital infrastructure for ministry work. This exercise helped us identify and decide on the crucial areas to allocate our resources.

Our digital transformation can be categorised in these three ways:

Equipping co-workers in the fields with digital and computer skills

They were taught to use Zoom via mobile phones and laptops for church services and training sessions, dialogues and partnership conversations between Singapore and the mission fields.

For example, for our ministry work with the Methodist Church of Nepal, a Digital Lab was set up to develop digital, video, and audio content and train the youth leaders in digital skills. If this proves successful, MMS hopes to replicate this model in other provinces and mission fields.

Purchasing IT equipment, software and licenses

Laptops, Zoom subscription plans, software licenses, projectors, data cards, monitors, and even power supplies such as generators had to be purchased for our mission fields.

At the Song Roi Phee Methodist Church in Thailand (a partner of MMS), we provided laptops for the children’s computer learning camp where they learnt how to type using the Bible as the primary teaching material.

Improving data storage and governance standards

The Singapore Home Office had to be trained in the regulations pertaining to the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) and online fundraising.

Learning to type with the Bible as the primary teaching material
Learning to type with the Bible as the primary teaching material

It has been two years since these digital solutions have been implemented, and God did indeed see MMS through it. There were many engagement opportunities that came out of the difficulties we faced.

Truly, as the Bible says in Romans 15:5-6 (NIV), “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This verse came to life as I witnessed many like-minded leaders, brothers- and sisters-in-Christ coming together to share the love of Christ through action during this pandemic.

As the travelling restrictions across borders are lifted, we look forward to having more mission-minded friends joining us in making a difference and creating more opportunities to share the love of God. Missions doesn’t stop! Contact us today at mms@methodist.org.sg

Grace Chung is the Digital Transformation Chairperson at Methodist Missions Society (MMS). / Photos courtesy of MMS