Tuesday 29 December 2015
Young people seeking answers to life’s difficult questions will soon be able to log onto a mobile app developed by Bible Society Australia in partnership with Youth for Christ International.
Qbla is a peer-to-peer social platform through which young people can pose questions about life, faith and the Bible, and be answered in real time by bloggers around the world.
Adrian Blenkinsop, BSA’s youth ministry development manager, says a second version of the app is currently being developed and will be launched globally next year.
Adrian heads up a working group that is using the digital space to engage young people with Scripture around the world. It is one of six focus groups set up last year at the inaugural Converge International conference in Turkey.
Converge was created by evangelical organisations including One Hope, Youth for Christ International and World Evangelical Alliance to bring together global youth leaders with the aim of finding practical ways to support each others’ ministries.
“It’s really about those organisations saying how do we gather key youth leaders and Bible engagement specialists from around the world into one place to hear what’s happening around the world and to find out how we can better partner with each other,” Adrian says.
“That’s the heart of it – to share learnings and best practice with a kingdom focus. It’s quite ambitious.”
This year, as 85 leaders from 28 countries met in Rome from 1-4 December for the second Converge conference, BSA reported on the progress of its Qbla peer-to-peer blogging app which it developed 18 months ago.
This followed conversations last year with several organisations about whether they could use the app and what changes it needed to be really effective. Youth for Christ International, which has 50,000 staff around the world, offered to do some testing and get feedback.
“They came back to us and said ‘it needs these things.’ We said ‘Great, will you help us do it?’ And so now Youth for Christ have committed two full-time staff workers as part of the BSA team that’s building Qbla 2.0.”
Adrian believes these sorts of partnerships are breaking down the silo mentality in ministry that can lead to duplication of efforts.
“Qbla is a great example of how that collaboration can work but also there are also other resources that the digital group is looking at creating,” he says.
Another is the creation of a common space where young people can access various digital resources for engaging with
“It’s not to build one super resource but it’s about saying ‘here are some options to check out, a space to go and ask questions about faith and the Bible, here is where you can find all of them.’ So it’s about how do we collaborate and support each other in those ministries in digital spaces,” Adrian says.
“Converge is not about people big-noting themselves or pushing their product, or talking about how well their ministry is going. It’s genuinely about ‘we’re building this, can you use it? How can we support you, what does that look like in practice in a ministry context?’”