We need to understand “the culture” that we are engaging with…
… this is what many people think the internet is about … just a big ‘timesuck’, but thankfully the attitude is changing amongst those I’m meeting – question changing from ‘why should we waste our time’, to ‘we know we need to get with it, but we don’t know how…’
… but when we’re talking about ‘the internet’ and even ‘social media’ – we have to remember that it’s not something homogenous .. If you want to know more – download this 6-7 page document I try to keep updated.. , and you’ll see different tools are use for different things!
Far too many times when people talk about social media, they focus on the word ‘media’ (or technology), rather than the word ‘social’ which is surely what we should be focusing on … we are looking to build relationships, which require good communication (rarely do you want to get “the IT Guy” doing your social media … you need someone who is good at comms)….
… allow people to communicate the joy that they see before them… as we did on our recent Tearfund trip…
We are created by a God who rejoices in our 2-way communication with him… we are called also to be extravagant communicators… want to highlight a handful of ways that people have engaged ‘differently’ online… Image taken from Durham University website.
Chris Juby – reducing every chapter to 140 characters … did this personally, but decided to send out a local press release – got picked up by national & international press – got lots of people engaged with the Bible – even if they were only interested in language/the novelty of what he was done… it’s still a touchpoint (online = lots of touchpoints)…
Phil, who’s here somewhere … summarised entire Bible in around 9000 characters… makes you think about what it’s really about.
… and we’re been playing with what each Bible chapter looks like as a wordle – where the bigger the word, the more times it’s mentioned in a chapter…
.. And this ties into an increasingly ‘visual turn’ online – particularly with the advent of Pinterest which gained popularity at the beginning of 2012 – with people sharing inspiring pictures (and the picture links to the website behind it).
Important in our thinking on this is the notion that we are talking about ‘online/offline’, not ‘virtual’real’ … relationships online have a different nature, but they are as valid and real as offline relationships, and for many the edges are entirely blurred as conversations online in between face-to-face meets change the nature of offline conversations (sometimes allowing for deeper conversations in either space)…
… and at all times we want to remember that we are talking about ‘human beings at machines’ nor replaced by ‘human beings as machines’.
… and this is what we are looking at with The Big Bible Project – seeking to allow a range of voices (from the pew, the pulpit & the academy) – how do we increase both Biblical literacy and digital literacy?
For the last 200+ years we have grown used to this model of ministry (in preaching, and in much of our other communications) (and I’d question if the arrows are even coming back the other way…)
… but the digital environment allows much more of this. Some people talk about a flattening of hierarchy, but although the digital allows more people to have their say, I would still say it is the ‘known’ and the ‘celebrity’ that get read more!
The ‘digital age’ has brought with it a concept that it has increased a number of risks, but often when we look behind the headlines, we’ll see that many risks have been accompanied by new ways to solve it (e.g. with kids, if bullied – it carries on outside the school gates, but e.g. text messages can be recorded as ‘proof’). It’s not all bad, and it’s doesn’t solve every problem!
The expectations of the younger generation may be different (although much also the same – forget ‘digital natives’) – but the nature of the technology has also changed, and the better we understand that – the more we are capable of using it well – and encouraging all of our community to use it well: 1) Material is persistent by default – difficult to remove2) Material is easy to change, replicate & share – making it difficult to distinguish between originals/replicas3) An isolated prank can go viral … may not be what the original person chose – but what the community chooses to amplify4) Anyone can be found/identified
Come to know yourself, what gifts and passions God has given you, and look to live those out authentically & with integrity online… what I call a ‘digital fingerprint’ – you were made to be unique, so be unique … and look for others to engage with in that area…
… it’s the world of the ‘long-tail’ – don’t compete online to be known as ‘church’, but to be a particular aspect of church – good to find people to connect with…http://www.empowernetwork.com/rlane/files/2013/04/long-tail-keywords.jpg
.. And example of how this has helped many people is this website (also on Twitter, etc.) and how they have got these people together… something many people don’t want to talk about… but these people do –it’s healing
So much of what we talk about is about collaboration & community … and re Big Bible Fr David Cloake had this to say about participating as a #digidisciple “I am …”
In all of this we are thinking “who is our neighbour” – within the church community we seem to particularly “value” f2f contact (a lot is down to the incarnation of Jesus), but this notion needs a lot more thought – we now have global neighbours!
We also have limited time to engage – we can’t be spending all our time online (same as you wouldn’t spend all your time in the pub, or the gym, or Tesco)…. But if you are going to respond to something it’s better to be quick..than to be BBC quality! Quality often comes second to missing the opportunity… Whilst you’re thinking about that, remember also that the time for ‘control’ has largely passed online – especially once something is online… and also that UK laws about privacy, libel, etc. still apply …
We’re seeking to be salt & light in the digital space – a good example (and many non-Christians are, so what will make us stand out?)
You might decide that you want to think further about what your “10 commandments” of engaging online might be… but a few final thoughts…Here I want to emphasise from Ian Aspin who spoke at CNMAC11 … that it’s a “pull” economy – we have to earn the right for people to take notice of us – most of the public wouldn’t see us as having a ‘God-given right’ – we need content that will be interesting & draw people in…
.. Which I think is summed up nicely here.
Something to leave you thinking about … “what Biblical values do we want to see in our (digital) world?” (digital in brackets, as it’s part of our whole world…) …
… what do the fruits of the spirit look like online – what does it mean to be patient & self-control … do we need to hold back from posting that thought at the moment we think it?
.. In particular what does it mean to share with ‘grace’ … we want to be invited to share, but we also want to ensure that we respond to things ‘gracefully’ – this doesn’t mean like a doormat but not flinging around some of the insults that I can see from people online at different ends of Biblical interpretation…
So – what do you think? What does it make you think about engaging online, how we share our faith, how we make Jesus real to people?
Understanding digital culture
Understanding Digital CultureDr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, CODEC, Durham UniversityThis work is licensed under a CreativeCommons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.http://j.mp/understanddc
Rev Prof DavidWilkinsonGod is a communicating God:“In the beginning was theword, and the word wasGod…”.God is extravagant incommunication – he is not asilent God who has to betempted into communicatingwith people.Image Credit: Durham University
A Sense of Community Whilst I cannot conclude my thinking in a wholly positiveway, I acknowledge that great use of all of this to myown personal discipleship. I am a broader Christian, abetter informed Christian, a more readily supportedand sustained Christian and for that I love this digitallife. If that makes me a better Christian, then perhapsits purpose is served if a purpose exists and indeed if apurpose is needed. However, I shall continue to praythat someone, somewhere, can say with absolute claritythat because of this digital community, they came toChrist. @FrDavidCloake
Who is my neighbour? What does it mean to ‘love your neighbour’ in a world inwhich a ‘friend’ might as easily be the kid from down thestreet you grew up with as a woman in Botswana whomyou’ve never seen in person and only know in thecontext of Facebook status updates, photos, and notes?What is the nature of community at prayer in a complineservice tweeted each evening by the cybermonks of aVirtual Abbey? What is the ecclesiological and liturgicalsignificant of worship in various churches across thetheological spectrum on the quasi-3D, virtual reality site‘Second Life’? How can we negotiate spiritualinteraction in these contexts without losing sight ofbasic elements of Christian faith expressed intraditional embodied and geographically locatedpractices of prayer, worship, and compassiontowards others? Tweet if You Heart Jesus, p.xiv
Push/Pull Care for others - genuinely Know that the world doesn’t revolve around you Be ‘remarkable’, be different Earn the right to have others take notice of you Be grateful if ONE person cares what you’re doing Have something to say that matters Do stuff that matters – make an impact Strive to bring value to everyone you connect with Be fantastically generous with our time, money, and kindness Be outrageously committed to making the world better It’s all about relationships – build & nurture them Thanks @ianaspin (http://bigbible.org.uk/2010/10/the-eleven-commandments/)
What Biblical values do we want to see inour (digital) world?Image Credit: iStockPhoto
What do the fruits of the spirit look like online?Image Credit: Kezi
What does it mean to share with grace?Image Credit: Seed Resources