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Preaching: Lessons from a Digital Age


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1/2 hour session for 'Preaching and Teaching in the 21st Century', with Fresh Expressions and CODEC, St John's, Durham University (1st March 2014)

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Preaching: Lessons from a Digital Age

  1. 1. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Preaching: Lessons from a Digital Age Dr Bex Lewis Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, CODEC g-lessons-from-a-digital-age for
  2. 2. hurchgrowth/growing_churches_in_the_di gital_age • 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.
  4. 4. • We are not selling something to the world that will make more people like us, believe in our story, join our churches. We are trying to be something in the world that invites connection and compassion, encourages comfort and healing for those in need, and challenges those in power to use that power in the service of justice and love • (Drescher, 127)
  5. 5. Image Credit: Purchased Stockfresh Social Media: More than the cherry on the cake!
  6. 6. Image Credit: Purchased Stockfresh Networks of Networks
  8. 8. Matt O’Reilly (2010) • Shane Hipps writes from within the Emergent movement and favors a dialogical preaching form which closely resembles that advocated by Pagitt. The Emergent worship scene described by Hipps includes a pastor who “periodically shares a Bible verse and a few brief thoughts, eliciting dialogue and feedback but being careful not to exude an aura of too much authority.” • m_Hearing_The_Scandal_of_Preaching_in_a_Digital_Ag e_
  9. 9. pmM02IE6oI
  11. 11. nsdownebaptist/featured
  12. 12. John Wesley “I look upon the world as my parish.”
  14. 14. Sermon Soundbites
  15. 15. Is Using an iPad in preaching unholy? • …If I am a true priest, I can be so with a telephone in my hand, with a Bible in the other and I can be so with a newspaper under my arm, because it isn’t these instruments that speak alone, but our faith which is made of flesh and which speaks to the flesh; that is why my flesh will be the true synthesis. • • Digital Preparation Tools: • 5/digital-sermon-prep/
  16. 16. ar-salesmen-preachers-and-the-art-ofpersuasion/ • I loved working up a sermon in the lead up to giving it. Researching, looking at what others had to say on the topic, piecing together thoughts, looking for illustrations and examples (tangents) and then practicing giving it and making the last minute tweaks and additions in the day before Sunday arrived. •
  17. 17. ew-church-small-sermon-longsermon/ • The conspicuous and central Protestant sermon is one of these. It made sense in a educationand resource-poor (and frankly, entertainmentpoor) age, but if I held forth for twenty minutes or more every Sunday, I expect to be regularly challenged (perhaps mentally, and in an unspoken way) by people who would Google for facts during my oratory.
  18. 18. ee/belief/2010/dec/08/preaching-takingpulse • It's a sermon, not a lecture. Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles was praised for leaving the pulpit to "walk about in front of the altar as he spoke, looking in all directions so as to include everyone". • That was fine, but too much departure from traditional delivery into flat-out entertainment plays badly. One pastor "came over more like a stand-up act than a preacher", said an unhappy Mystery Worshipper. "Not that I didn't appreciate his message, but in terms of content it was light as air, like the froth on a cappuccino.
  19. 19. Connecting via The Feedback Loop • By posting my sermons online, I can get much more feedback than I can after church on a Sunday morning. People can leave comments on the sermon blog itself (though, like most blogs, this is rare). I get statistics about how many people read each post, so I can tell what resonates. I also share my sermon on both my Facebook profile and the church page. This is where I get most of my feedback. The likes, comments, and messages (or lack thereof) give me an indication about how I’ve connected, or not. •
  20. 20. TALK LENGTH… • We also saw that, contrary to popular wisdom about what goes viral, neither “difficult” subjects nor fact-filled presentations scare people off. Nearly 20% of the people who watched a deep dive into American health care policy thought it was worth passing along to their friends. A powerful historical video of a teacher giving her young students a firsthand lesson in bigotry was viewed more than 3 million times. And four of the posts in the top 100 were about the important (but thoroughly unsexy) topic of income inequality. the-most-upworthy-topics-of-2013
  21. 21. inistry-tools/main/18801-are-my-sermonsmaking-a-difference • "The digital age isn’t killing off preaching, but what the survey suggests is that too much preaching is doing too little to motivate people to look at the world differently and therefore live in it differently," said Paul Johns, a director at the College of Preachers. "If that’s so, we have to question what we preachers are actually saying about the Bible and about contemporary issues, and how well we’re engaging with our congregations."
  22. 22. RESOURCES:
  23. 23. QUESTIONS?