International (MNN) — As recently noted, the “Next Generation” is much more likely to pick up their smartphones than books or magazines. It’s yet another indicator underscoring the rising preference for digital over print media.
Yesterday, Helen Williams shared how the battle between print and digital media affects World Missionary Press. WMP started out by printing and sending Scripture booklets all over the world. They still continue their printed ministry today, but they’re also digitizing their massive library and putting it on the World Missionary Press app.
“That (the app) is being updated daily, because we have 348 languages and almost 700 different titles, so we are continuing to add to this,” says Williams.
“As far as the audiobooks go, we have 38 different titles in 14 different languages right now, and we’re working on more.”
Williams says WMP’s partners in Africa are especially excited about the app because they sometimes have to wait six months for a shipment to arrive. Now, they have something people can access right away.
However, this app doesn’t mean the print ministry of World Missionary Press is going away.
“I think there’s a place for both,” says Williams.
“We don’t believe that literature, the Scripture booklets, will become passé…but I do believe we have to acknowledge that technology and use it.”
Print vs. digital? “Both/and” not “either/or”
World Missionary Press is pursuing a “both/and” approach to print and digital media because it fits virtually every situation they encounter.
For example, says Williams, getting Christian literature can be very difficult in some countries because the resources simply aren’t available. So, when people receive a Scripture booklet, “there’s a personal attachment to it; there’s a personal ownership,” she explains.
“When people receive…the Word of God in their language, in their hand — that they can hold and read — there’s just a ‘warmth’ there.”
WMP prints nearly 100 million Scripture booklets in 348 languages every year, and they ship these materials all over the world.
“Last week, we sent four 40-foot containers to Brazil…8 million booklets out the door on their way to Brazil,” says Williams.
However, some situations call for a different approach. It can be risky and sometimes illegal to give out printed Christian literature in certain countries, Williams explains. This is where the WMP app comes in handy.
“They can have it on their phones…and then they can share it with others,” she says. “Basically, it’s all right there in the palm of your hand.”
Another approach might involve using the app to reach young people. Williams says the “inconspicuous” nature of WMP’s app allows teens and young adults to explore Scripture at their own pace.
“They might do that in their own privacy, whereas if they’re handed a piece of literature, they might just push it aside.”
Leaning on the Lord
No matter which communication channel they use, Williams says everything their ministry does comes back to one simple principle.
“As we wait on the Lord, He’s the One who makes the way,” she explains. “He’s the one who makes things happen.
“Try as we might…we don’t get anywhere until He opens the doors. Where He leads, we will follow, and it will serve His purpose in His time.”