Ok, I’ll admit it, I am a fan of technology and how it can impact youth ministry. Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook have all recently introduced more and more advanced face recognition technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the web once again. The way it works is that through now common digital photos, the computer analyzes facial characteristics and matches them with other photos. The result is pictures of the persons face can be identified in photos other than the one the software used the first time. So if you have a bunch of photos, your computer can now identify people in multiple photos in multilple settings and at multiple times. I tried this with some photos I took of Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and it identifies him everytime. (Gotta love those Bishops and Cardinals! I also realize this makes me a Catholic fanatic – guilty as charged!)
1. Digital Face Recognition:
So for youth ministry, with someone taking digital photos at your events, it is possible to now use those photos to have instant recognition of teens attending your events. Over the years, I have always worried that some teen would show up at our parish and then somehow fall through the cracks and stop attending without anyone ever noticing. I dreamt of a conversation I would have in later years, when I met the teen again and he or she would say that they used to attend, but when they dropped out, it didn’t seem like anyone noticed?
With face recognition running on our computers, we can at least have some time to match faces and names and even categorize them with the number of times the faces are showing up. We can then follow up with teens we haven’t seen in a while. To avoid that creepy or stalking aspect to this, make sure your participant forms include permission to take photos of that teen. Assign someone to take official digital photos for your ministry and then have them organize them on one central computer if possible. I use an Apple computer and the iPhoto application works great on picking out faces.
2. Real Face Recognition:
While I’m a fan of technology, I am a much bigger fan of something called Real Face Recognition. This type of real face recogntion only comes from spending real face time with teens and knowing who they are. It is more important for us to spend more time with this type of real face recognition, than spending more tinkering with any computer software that recognizes faces. Computers can aid our ministry, they should never become our ministry. A good ministry friend of mine was at our house one day and he was sitting at our kitchen table working on his computer. My 6 year old daughter, Sophia, sat next to him for a few minutes and then asked him a great question. She asked this – “Why are you looking at your computer and not at me?” He immediately shut his laptop and answered – “Sophia, I don’t know why I’m looking at my computer and not at you!” Don’t judge my friend – we all have probably been guilty of this at least once. How many of us have teens in our parish who could ask the same question of us, of why we are looking at our computers and not at them?
3. Ultimate Face Recognition:
What I’m absoluteley fanatical about is Ultimate Face Recognition. The ultimate face for us all to recognize is the face of Christ. Once teens recognize His face in thier families, friends and yes, even their youth leaders – then the world changes for them. Once we as youth leaders look at teens faces and recognize the face of Christ in them, then we will have no problem identifying them as His and by the way having no problem remembering thier face and name.
What level of face recognition are you striving for?