We talked with James Doc about technology, faith in the future, and the work he does at the intersection of Christianity and technology.
So, you have Kingdom Code, LiveWires, and OneSheep – could you give us a brief summary of those?
The heart behind Kingdom Code is to work with Christians who are in the tech world. Helping them see that it’s not that they’re a Christian on Sunday and a technologist in their 9–5; the person God makes you gets expressed in lots of different spaces. So it’s not about whether you work for a corporate organisation or if you work for a church. Kingdom Code is about helping people think about how God has given them an innovative influence in the world of tech, and how technology knowledge gives you an innovative influence in church. What does it look like to shape the world of tech for Christ? What does it look like to bring God’s kingdom there?
LiveWires is working with young teenagers who are interested in tech, and we want to show them Christ. It is an evangelistic and discipleship summer camp for children. We get 30-40 kids a year, and we get them for a week, teaching them how to write Python code, solder electronics boards, and do video post-production. At the same time we teach them and introduce them to Christ.
OneSheep again sits at the intersection of Christianity and technology, saying, ‘We want to help Christian organisations use technology to further their ministry.’
If Jesus was a coder instead of a carpenter, how do you think he would spend his day-to-day life?
Jesus as the carpenter is the technician of his day. We think the Bible says nothing about technology yet it is a written document full of the technology of its day. Paul didn’t have a mobile phone, he used technology to serve and equip the church – while also using technology to build tents. So what does it look like when Jesus builds a chair or Paul builds a tent? I think, to do it to the best of their ability. To think, God has given me these gifts, so how do I not cut corners, how do I enjoy that skillset, revel in it, delight in it, do the best I can in it?
You’re not just thinking about what is technically the best bit of code to write or the best thing to design, but who will use this, what does it mean for me to build a chair that serves the person who’ll sit on it the best? What does that look like for me when I’m thinking about designing an app? Do I want someone to open it and think, ‘This is difficult to use, it gets the job done, but I just don’t think the person who built this cares!’ Jesus says to love our neighbour and who’s my neighbour? Well, anyone.
That’s just one fragment of what it looks like to be a Christian developer. Another would be working at a secular workplace and recognising: I might be the only representative of Christ here. What would it look like for me to love and serve people around me? That’s looking to glorify God by loving colleagues, caring and serving them, as well as doing a technically excellent job.
There’s another too – being aware that technology has an influence on you. I’m seeing this a lot at the moment – one friend described it to me as ‘I’m being discipled by my phone, my Twitter feed is my catechisms for the day.’
As someone who is responsible for building some of this stuff, it’s thinking, ‘I have a responsibility to understand and really push and think and teach.’ I spend a lot of my time now reading books about ethics. I never thought that would be the case, but the tools I’m building bake this into it.
How has partnering with Stewardship served what you do?
I met Daniel Jones (Stewardship’s Chief Generosity Officer) before a conference, frying bacon for a group of people about to attend. He was just serving people but turns out he was the head banana! That attitude sums up what I see in Stewardship: they serve the church and give at whatever level.
Stewardship sponsored one of the Hackathons we did through Kingdom Code, and they wanted to pay the sponsorship fee and give it to the people we worked with to get teams on board and help our partners use technology. That attitude, realising ‘this isn’t about us, but how we serve you and help you grow,’ is leading by doing!
Giving is part of their culture. It’s what they do, who they are. It’s beautiful – it’s that value I’d love to see in whoever comes to Kingdom Code and wherever they serve.
See all that James is involved in here.