Biblical literacy survey – keen to repeat in 2014, as in 2011, year of ‘Biblefresh’ were lots of Bible related activity, and we focused particularly on the digital … came my partic 2 part focus – biblical literacy/digital literacy…
How can we communicate a 2000 year old message relevantly? Mix of Biblical (Pete) and digital literacy (Me), also preaching (Kate) .. Now termed ‘digital theology, digital discipleship and preaching in a digital age’ - how being human in a digital culture will affect church life, discipleship and ministry. Interactivity, social media and open access to vast quantities of knowledge bring change to every aspect of life, and not just for young people. The digital environment is increasingly accessible and influential in all age groups, changing both lifestyle and social engagement. Increasingly, our national institutions will engage digitally by default. Digital culture cuts across age profiles, social strata and ethnographic groups. Already, churches and church leaders have moved into podcasting, blogging, on-line churches, evangelistic and discipleship web sites. A few theologians and parachurch organisations are using the opportunities of the web to make the Bible accessible in new and imaginative ways. This month’s Churches New Media Conference saw nearly 600 attendees, triple the number of just 3 years ago.
130 writers, about 60 currently active – trying to up the academic context – mix with pew, pulpit … encourage Lent reading – but people still tend to use as a resource by default, rather than engage…
Interested in efficacy of preaching in a digital age (so of interest to lecturers also) – found people were keen for substantial content in an age of soundbites…
How can the chuch be heard in a post-modern world, where it’s not at the centre of people’s lives, and where there are many other things competing for people’s attention…
Network building, BA/MA supervision, finding those with expertise not in academia, attaching as research fellows, encouraging them to undertake a research seminar…Built up links with Universities of Yale, Texas A&M, Lugano, Graz, Glasgow, Lancaster, Anglia-Ruskin, Hull and Greenwich with further conversations ongoing - and also with number of Christian organisations - House of Lords, Church of England, Methodist Church, Premier Christian Media, Bible Society, Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Evangelical Alliance, SPCK . Constantlyapproached by AHRC, Leverhulme, Laing etc.
… re started research seminars this year – over lunch – but gaining an interested crowd = good for the College students to have access to this knowledge, but also livestream. Also MediaLit – intensive week on media literacy (which we’re seeking ways to turn into an MA on Theology, Media and Digital Culture).
Publications starting to emerge in the field, including from our own Andy…
This book written to help fight against ‘moral panics’ – we’ve survived every other technological development … and we need to think what differences it makes to our lives … but not be over-awed by it all… Covers a lot of digital culture, designed to take the fear out of using it – seen as the biggest sticking point for most… so useful for all, but with particular focus on those aspects that affect kids
Other work projects from Third Sector organisations, government agencies or think tanks, but this was one of the first we thought of (e.g. Twitter emotions) – data centre info could assess what people reading (interfaith texts), emotional readings, etc.
Note: All my interest in the digital kicked off from blogging about my PhD … so encourage students to share their knowledge – benefitted at the time from people responding to it, and gained a huge amount of press coverage, which sent traffic…
Codec Research (A Brief Overview)
Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social
Media and Online Learning,
CODEC, St John‟s, Durham University
Commissioned Research, Methodist Church
• Anonymous vs Pseudonymous
• Theology of anonymity,
including questions of power:
“If the weak use anonymity to
try to level the playing field
against the powerful or wealthy
(basically the Arab Spring
argument) then few of us have
a problem with that. When the
powerful (or relatively powerful)
use anonymity to reinforce their
inherent power then we see it
• As such, the key fact to
remember is that your data,
your church‟s data, and the
Church‟s data is unlikely to
represent a level of abnormality
which would be of interest even
in a “surveillance-addicted”
society. If we lived in a police
state where religion was
prohibited, then the algorithms
would highlight the Church and
its officers and members as
targets. But we don‟t.
The Church Front Door?
For many churchgoing is no longer
the „cultural norm‟. People don‟t
actively ignore the church: they don‟t
even think about it. Matthew 5:13-16
calls us to be salt and light in the
world, and for thousands in the
„digital age‟, that world includes
social networks such Twitter,
Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest.
With literally billions in the digital
spaces, the online social spaces
presented by churches need to be
appealing, welcoming, and not look
like they are just an afterthought:
they are now effectively the ‘front
door’ to your church for digital
users, and you ignore those
spaces at your peril.
Image Credit: Sxc.hu
Data Centre with iARC
Religion in a Digital Age
• provide a cache and storehouse of data not
give access to a network of remote data sites
offer search and retrieval processes for both
archived and remote data
promote cross pollination of data resources
discover or create new data sources and
develop new ways to visualise and analyse
data searches and findings
enable management of data resources and
technology and, where appropriate manage
intellectual property rights applicable to that
secure the preservation and guardianship of
data and to share some of the innovative
methods from data-trained researchers at the
Work Package e.g. Our
• Increasingly first contact is
being made online, and
Turkle refers to the „second
self‟ or „photoshopped self‟
that we produce online – a
deliberately created self in
which we share only those
things that make us look
good (or part of the crowd),
and those that are easy to
share, without taking the
time to think.
Emotion Wall, Propaganda Exhibition,
British Library 2013
As with other communication revolutions, the church needs to be encouraged
and at times cautioned by the opportunities and challenges for the gospel by its
transmission in a new media. For example:
• How do we theologically support young people who want to use the
web to share their faith – they have no problems with the technology,
they want some help with the apologetic approach and personal
What does discipleship and accountability look like for the person who
spends much of their working and leisure time on-line?
How do help Christians understand, interpret, critique and use the
media dominated culture in which they live?
Can the web do more for education, evangelism and empowerment
than simply broadcasting a video of someone giving a lecture?
How do the expectations of the person in the pew differ when
encountering a sermon in a digital age?
As we become more and more dependent on technology to download
our memories, extend our ability to communicate and to have our
physical attributes enhanced – what does it mean to be human?