This past March, CO:members Chance Smith and Kevin Adelsberger attended Code For The Kingdom (a weekend hackathon network that hosts coding and development competitions aimed at ministry projects) in Nashville without having formal experience in similar events.
While there, the duo teamed up with youth minister Kristin Lucas from Atlanta-based Dunnwoody Community Church to actualize a long-simmering idea: creating a mobile application that integrated both devotional plans and social media so that students could interact with their church communities on a platform more similar to what they are accustomed to.
Adelsberger, having seen the opportunity to meet an un-invited need in his time working in ministry, immediately gravitated towards the idea and was excited about contributing. “There is a gaping hole in apps to serve this space,” Adelsberger explained. “When Kristin announced her idea, I thought, ‘Yes! This is a way the Church can stop fighting the technology and embrace it to help disciple students in a way that we have not before.’” Much to their surprise, the group’s efforts for Formed, the chosen name for the app, won Best in Show at the competition, which supplied enough inspiration and confidence to move forward with the plans and develop a marketable product despite the distance between home bases.
Recently Lucas and her brother Jason Ardell, a professional app developer, traveled to Jackson for a weekend of brainstorming and idea-testing at theCO, beginning with a focus group meetup consisting of several youth ministers from the surrounding area. After hearing about the vision and seeing mock-ups for Formed’s interface, the group unanimously offered to pay for a beta version upon its release and voiced that it would meet not only their particular ministry’s need but also—more importantly—a universal one amongst churches serving a digitally saturated generation. The rest of the weekend consisted of trial runs ranging from content to web marketing.
Lucas serves as the primary content provider and vision-caster, while Adlesberger has focused on the visual layout and website design thus far with plans to begin a marketing campaign once the app is finished. Smith and Ardell handle the heavy-lifting of back-end development, are currently choosing amongst the available coding languages to use and thinking through how to scale a project that will hopefully expand beyond what this team will be able to handle on their own. “We’re currently self-funded and just working towards having a workable beta version. But ultimately we would like to be in a position where we are hiring our full-time developers to grow and refine what we have,” Lucas commented.
The team will continue to collaborate remotely yet weekends such as this one at theCO will be pivotal over the lifecycle of Formed, Adlesberger noted. “I enjoy being a part of a distributed team, but being in the same room makes idea sharing so much easier for developing a rapport and learning how the others think.” Regardless of how frequent this kind of summit takes place, the Formed group has every intention of progressing forward until your neighborhood church has it at their fingertips.
Author is Joseph Smith