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Premier Digital: Online Church as Real Community


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Slides prepared for Premier Digital Webinar on 7th October 2020:

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Premier Digital: Online Church as Real Community

  1. 1. Dr Bex Lewis @drbexl Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing 07 October 2020 Premier Digital Webinar Online Church as Real Community
  2. 2. My Twitter Bio Life Explorer, author, speaker, SL #digitalmarketing MMU, Christian, digital culture, @digitalfprint, #KeepCalm, #BusyLivingWithMets #WIASN #Pockets #Cheese
  3. 3. Being Visible If someone can’t find you online, they’re actually going to think there’s something very strange about that and not trust you. In the digital sense, not having great profiles online is the same as not turning up to a meeting. Natasha Courtenay-Smith (2018) Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash
  4. 4. Digital Religion Research Scholars are identified as having moved from excitement at this ‘new thing’, to the digital becoming a part of everyday life to be analysed, to understanding what the lived ‘reality’ of digital religion is. The three academic waves that Campbell identifies here—the descriptive, the categorical and the theoretical—are echoed throughout the rest of the book, as we understand how ‘digital religion’ has matured as a field of study. Lewis, B. Book review: Digital Religion: Understanding Religious Practice in New Media Worlds, written by Heidi Campbell, 2015, 249
  5. 5. Technological determinism is a reductionist theory that aims to provide a causative link between technology and a society's nature. ... Technology is viewed as the driving force of culture in a society and it determines its course of history.
  6. 6. Digital on its own terms… Even though in practice, face-to-face communication can, of course, be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed Livingstone, S. Children and the Internet: Great Expectations and Challenging Realities, 2009, 26
  7. 7. The [constructivist] philosophy that technology is not neutral and is shaped by the dominant social, political and economic values of society. As a result therefore, changes in values lead to different technological outcomes, and as a result, social science considerations can be used to shape technologies.
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  9. 9. The ‘face’ of God? [If we are…] means by which God communicates and reveals himself through his Spirit, then our blog posts, status updates, tweets, artistic images, and online comments should be products of a life transformed by Christ and indwelled by his Spirit. As restored image bearers, our online presence and activity should image the Triune God. Byers, A. Theomedia: The Media of God and the Digital Age, 2013, 196
  10. 10. p47 Vulnerability @revjoannecox
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  12. 12. #WaitingRoomFeet #BusyLivingWithMets #IAmThe31
  13. 13. Celebrate our similarities “The original disciples gave each other that which each needed, were honest and true, were respected by people, and sought to live both the good and difficult parts of life together. Will others say that of us? My thought whenever someone thinks different from me is to think, how interesting, and to want to have a conversation about the journey they took to reach that understanding! We need to celebrate our similarities, rather than focusing on our differences.” Bex Lewis, ‘Church as Family’, 17/02/18, Day by Day with God
  14. 14. Grenfell Tower That trust exists because of the care and compassion they have received for decades… we actually live here… urge those who speak about it to avoid the ambiguous and woolly term “local church”, but to speak proudly, precisely, and powerfully of the “parish church”. The parish church is a living icon of God’s love, connecting with people in ways that we hardly begin to understand and so often underestimate. Revd Dr Alan Everett, Vicar of St Clement with St Mark, Notting Dale, and St James’s, Norlands Image Diocese of London
  15. 15. Galatians 5:22-23
  16. 16. ‘Theological values of “interdependence and openness to others,” however, encourages sharing which enables users to see some acts of surveillance “as a good and necessary act of care.” Yngvesson (Lewis 2017c) notes that where surveillance is used as a bridging mechanism, this creates a healthy community, whilst when used in a demanding and exclusive way, it becomes unhealthy.’ Lewis, Bex. 2018. Social Media, Peer Surveillance, Spiritual Formation, and Mission: Practising Christian Faith in a Surveilled Public Space. Surveillance & Society 16(4): 517-532.
  17. 17. Before you post…. Photo by Michal Czyz on Unsplash • God • Parents • Younger Kids • Employers • Newspapers • Your worst enemy
  18. 18. Vision & Values • What is important to you? • What do you stand for? • What do you stand against? See: Photo by Nathan Lemon on Unsplash
  19. 19. What makes people share? • Social Currency: We share things that make us look good • Triggers: Things need to be in our consciousness to want to share them “Different locations contain different triggers. Churches are filled with religious imagery, which might remind people of church doctrine…. And once these thoughts are triggered, they might change behaviour.” • Emotion: We want to share the things we care about (exciting and fun is more shared than sad: see • Public: If something is public, and on show, it's visible to others and enters their consciousness • Practical Value: People like to share useful bits of information that we think will help people • Stories: Humans tell stories - and useful information can be embedded in what seems like idle chatter!
  20. 20. Questions? • What is good practice for being a Christian online? • What is a theologically informed view of digital engagement? • What does a welcoming church look like in a digital age? Photo by Camylla Battani on Unsplash
  21. 21. Connect further: @drbexl