What Would Jesus Hack? Code for the Kingdom Hackathon Comes to Big D
This weekend, Dallas will be the latest outpost for a Christian-inspired hackathon, an event that is expected to draw about 100 hackers from around the region.
Chris Armas, who has organized the effort since its launch in 2013, says the idea is to leverage technology’s ability to shape culture within a Christian context.
“The world has been transformed by entrepreneurs; some of them happen to have Christian values,” he says. “This is a way to really tap into the crowd and engage to release those creative forces.”
Code for the Kingdom hackers tackle challenges such as human trafficking, apps and other ways to engage worshippers with scripture, and games to teach generosity. (Armas says that non-Christians are also welcome to participate.)
The event was first held in San Francisco in 2013. Since then, the hackathon also has been held in Austin, Seattle, and Bangalore in India. Armas says there are plans to host hackathons in 12 cities on the same day in October. The Dallas event, which is sponsored by Leadership Network and Faith Comes By Hearing, both North Texas organizations, will start Friday and run through the weekend at the Dallas Entrepreneur Center.
The Christian-themed hackathon joins other cause-oriented events that bring together programmers interested in using their skills for projects with social goals. Last year, organizers held the first National Day of Civic Hacking, drawing support from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as corporations like Intel.
In Houston, weekend-long civic hackathons focused on projects to provide a comprehensive list of the city’s bike trails or a better way to seek out and pay for city permits for parades. (The next Houston Hackathon is coming up May 20.)
For Code for the Kingdom, some of the most successful projects to come out of a hackathon are mobile apps that help Christians share prayer with each other or to better understand the Bible. One of those is called Abide, an app developed in the first hackathon that helps people pick an individual or group from their contacts or social media lists, record a prayer for them, and send the person the prayer in an audio file. Another notable project, Armas says, is Scriptive, which was created during the Austin hackathon in 2013. This app asks a series of questions to ascertain a user’s emotional state and then finds Bible verses that might help them the most.
No cash prizes are on the table; fruits from the hackathon are shared with the sponsors’ and Code for the Kingdom’s network of more than 50,000 church leaders. And, for the most part, Armas says the hackers are motivated by, well, a higher calling. “We’re really focused on how to bring [our] skills to use for the greater good,” he says.