The Open-Source Church

I am currently reading S.H.A.P.E. by Erik Rees. While I am not yet finished with the book, it is insightful and I believe it can help people to discover their Kingdom Purpose, or what God intended them to do to share His love with the world and contribute back to the body of Christ. One of the ideas that Rees talks about is how talents are related to spiritual gifts; that we should use those things that we love to do and are good at to glorify God.

One area of specialization that I have been studying fairly intensely for the last few years is education technology, which to me involves using technological, usually computer, tools to reach students in new and innovative ways. As a teacher and a member of the technology integration staff in my district, I have had great personal experience with open-source software in general and Moodle in particular. The principles of open-source software align nicely with Christian principles and can be used to further God’s Kingdom.

Before I go on, I feel that these ideas require some explanation. The difference between open-source and proprietary, or “normal,” software is quite simple. Proprietary software, like Microsoft Office or Apple OS X, is copyrighted and made exclusively for a profit. Users cannot make any real changes to the software, they are not in control, and it is usually quite expensive. Although they pay for, they do not really own it. Open-source software differs philosophically. Open-source software is made to be distributed freely; anyone is legally allowed to change the code any way that they want. No one should charge for open-source software and the community of users supports each other. When someone makes a change that could help others, that person gives the change back to the community and everyone benefits. Open-source software has grown to the point where it is powerful enough to run full systems just as well as with proprietary software like Microsoft Windows.

Moodle is a specific type of open-source program. It runs online and allows the users to run fully-fledged online courses at no cost. My thinking on this is quite simple. Moodle can be used to run free courses on any number of Christian topics. Remember that Moodle is free. I already have experience running a Moodle server, as well as designing and implementing courses. I would be willing to teach a class myself or help another person to do so. The facilitator, whether myself or someone else, would be a volunteer, and thus participants would not have to be charged anything for taking the class.

Since Moodle is web-based, you can participate from anywhere with an Internet connection. If you would be interested in this idea, whether to participate or to help build it, please leave a comment. Also, please let me know if you have any suggestions in the comments.

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