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
Engaging in Discipleship in a Digital Age
Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, CODEC, Durh...
Overview
 The Digital Age/Digital Culture, and the place of the
Church within it.
 The Voices of the #DigiDisciple(s)
 ...
http://ww2poster.co.uk
Image Credit: Seed Resources
Just a big timesuck?
Image Credit: Facebook Meme
Twitter:The New Poster?
 [E]very historical event and social movement
sooner or later finds some kind of reflection on th...
Twitter Spokesperson:
 Twitter brings you closer to the
things you are passionate about
- and for millions of people
acro...
http://www.complex.com/tech/2013/02/the-most-
embarrassing-deleted-celebrity-tweets/kenneth-cole
… in Christian circles
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/92
88015/Sin-is-such-fun-vicar-faces-calls-for-
sack-over-...
‘Social Media for the Scared’
http://www.churchcommstraining.org/socialm
edia.php
Bad things
can happen
anywhere
Coming: February 2014
http://www.lionhudson.com/display.asp?k=
9780745956046
 The ‘myth’ of the
‘digital native’
 The kn...
@6% 360/6636
 Persistence
 Perpetual Beta
 Scalability
 Searchability
Who might read it?
 God
 Parents
 ‘The kids’
 The newspaper
 Your worst enemy
Rev Prof DavidWilkinson
God is a communicating God:
“In the beginning was the
word, and the word was
God…”.
God is extrava...
https://twitter.com/Snapchat/status/363717681653886
977/photo/1
The Church Front Door?
 For many churchgoing is no longer the ‘cultural norm’.
People don’t actively ignore the church: t...
 We are not selling something to the world
that will make more people like us, believe in
our story, join our churches. W...
Why are we sharing?
Christianity Magazine, May 2012
Friendship?
 “… Out of a commitment to an ideal of
Christian relatedness that sees us all as
God’s children, each worthy ...
Voices: http://bigbible.org.uk
#DigiDisciple
 A Disciple is one who, by following Jesus, grows in
their faith in Christ and in so doing models and
teach...
Being Human or Being a Disciple?
Black Mirror (2013)
Image Credit: Digital Spy
http://www.channel4.com/programmes/black-
mirror/4od#3490648
Humanity &Technology?
 There were elements of Isaac Asimov’s work
and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go in this
tale in re...
http://liveson.org
https://audioboo.fm/boos/1577833-what-does-it-mean-to-be-a-
digital-disciple-with-changingworship
Broadcast Medium?
Image Credit: iStockphoto
Engagement (Stats)?
https://www.facebook.com/JesusDaily
Authenticity
Image Credits: iStockPhoto
Defining “Authentic”
http://www.wordnik.com/words/authentic
Human Enhancement?
Image Credit: Dr Bex Lewis
Can we just ‘put a plug on it’?
Image Credit: Stockfresh
http://youtu.be/8j-Iy8fP0Ek
The Hyper-Local: who is ‘the audience’?
 How might our approach to
preaching change if we
understand that we have two
aud...

Some ‘Authentic’ Forms of Sharing?
Tearfund.org
/bloggers
http://www.biblesummary.info
http://bigbible.tumblr.com
http://pinterest.com/bigbible/bible-verses/
Celeb/Power Structures
http://ww2poster.co.uk/2009/07/dr-bex-lewis-
quoted-in-the-new-york-times/
Top Men of the Church = Online
NOTVirtual/Real
Image Credit: iStockPhoto
Human Beings at Machines, not “are machines” …
Image Credit: iStockPhoto
 Antony Mayfield, digital strategist, offers a really interesting
concept – that we often think of the web as a ‘digital
...
Broken Binary?
 These delineations are increasingly blurry and will
become so much so that the ‘on/off’ dualism we
use no...
Craig von Buseck, Netcasters, 2010
Craig von Buseck, Netcasters, 2010
https://audioboo.fm/boos/1577938-tweeting-in-church-and-church-
2-0-with-artsyhonker
Tweeting in Church?
http://richardlittledale.wordpress.com/2011/0
3/24/tweeting-from-the-pew/
The Church as a Black Hole?
 Church: “The Sacred Space”: disrespectful to tweet
when someone is giving a sermon?
 What i...
Sacred/Secular Divide?
 I do not want to live a split, compartmentalised life. Sometimes, though, I look at the
Church (w...
Humour
http://anglicanmemes.com/2012/11/24/what-
its-like-trying-to-get-women-bishops-
legislation-through-general-synod/
http://bigbible.org.uk/2013/03/looking-
for-an-opportunity-changingworship/
Who is my neighbour?
 What does it mean to ‘love your neighbour’ in a world in
which a ‘friend’ might as easily be the ki...
A Sense of Community
 Whilst I cannot conclude my thinking in a wholly positive
way, I acknowledge that great use of all ...
Vulnerability
 The social media is a great place. Until you are
where I am, and where others are – in a world
characteris...
A question of ethics & morals?
 We want to ensure that the
use of images on this site is
legally and ethically/morally
co...
BIGBible, all over the web…
#DigiPilgrim
http://sheridanvoysey.com/join-me-for-the-
digipilgrim-online-pilgrimage-to-durham/
#CNMAC13 (09/11/13)
http://www.newmediacentreofexcellence.org.uk/cn
mac/conference
@drbexl @digitalfprint @bigbible
Image Credit: iStockPhoto
http://j.mp/disc-digi-age
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Engaging in Discipleship in a Digital Age

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Paper given at 'The Word and the World' Consultation, 2013, Chester (Global Network for Public Theology)

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Engaging in Discipleship in a Digital Age

  1. 1.  Engaging in Discipleship in a Digital Age Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, CODEC, Durham University This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. http://j.mp/disc-digi-age #GNPT13
  2. 2. Overview  The Digital Age/Digital Culture, and the place of the Church within it.  The Voices of the #DigiDisciple(s)  Powered by Humanity or Technology?  The Online/Offline Problematic  Humour, Vulnerability and Sharing
  3. 3. http://ww2poster.co.uk
  4. 4. Image Credit: Seed Resources
  5. 5. Just a big timesuck? Image Credit: Facebook Meme
  6. 6. Twitter:The New Poster?  [E]very historical event and social movement sooner or later finds some kind of reflection on the hoardings, and even a trivial and ephemeral poster advertising a play, film or chocolate drink can tell us more about society than volumes of historical analysis.  Hensher, P., ‘The Poster as a Pin-up’, Mail on Sunday April 19 1998, p.40.
  7. 7. Twitter Spokesperson:  Twitter brings you closer to the things you are passionate about - and for millions of people across the globe that is faith.  http://news.sky.com/story/10228 00/senior-bishops-to-tweet- christmas-sermons
  8. 8. http://www.complex.com/tech/2013/02/the-most- embarrassing-deleted-celebrity-tweets/kenneth-cole
  9. 9. … in Christian circles http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/religion/92 88015/Sin-is-such-fun-vicar-faces-calls-for- sack-over-Facebook-posts.html
  10. 10. ‘Social Media for the Scared’ http://www.churchcommstraining.org/socialm edia.php
  11. 11. Bad things can happen anywhere
  12. 12. Coming: February 2014 http://www.lionhudson.com/display.asp?k= 9780745956046  The ‘myth’ of the ‘digital native’  The knowledge you have (of parenting, etc.) is still valid
  13. 13. @6% 360/6636  Persistence  Perpetual Beta  Scalability  Searchability
  14. 14. Who might read it?  God  Parents  ‘The kids’  The newspaper  Your worst enemy
  15. 15. Rev Prof DavidWilkinson God is a communicating God: “In the beginning was the word, and the word was God…”. God is extravagant in communication – he is not a silent God who has to be tempted into communicating with people. Image Credit: Durham University
  16. 16. https://twitter.com/Snapchat/status/363717681653886 977/photo/1
  17. 17. 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. http://www.churchgrowthrd.org.uk/blog/churchgrowt h/growing_churches_in_the_digital_age Image Credit: Sxc.hu
  18. 18.  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)
  19. 19. Why are we sharing? Christianity Magazine, May 2012
  20. 20. Friendship?  “… Out of a commitment to an ideal of Christian relatedness that sees us all as God’s children, each worthy of attention and care.” (p145)  Where is the balance between conserving our sanity/deeper relationships, and ensuring that all feel valued?  What about friendship clearouts?
  21. 21. Voices: http://bigbible.org.uk
  22. 22. #DigiDisciple  A Disciple is one who, by following Jesus, grows in their faith in Christ and in so doing models and teaches Christians the precepts of the Bible, prayer, doctrine, relationship, Christian living, service, and worship, to name the main ones.  A ‘digital disciple’, or, as we are calling it, a #digidisciple is someone who seeks to live out their Biblically-informed Christian faith in the digital space, whether they are dipping a toe in, or are fully immersed in the digital worlds. Image Credit: Seed Resources
  23. 23. Being Human or Being a Disciple?
  24. 24. Black Mirror (2013) Image Credit: Digital Spy http://www.channel4.com/programmes/black- mirror/4od#3490648
  25. 25. Humanity &Technology?  There were elements of Isaac Asimov’s work and Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go in this tale in relation to the resurrected version of Ash (Domhnall Gleeson) – with the lines between humanity and technology blurring. But the conclusion was that no matter how much technology connects us, it can never replace human interaction and the human experience.  http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2013/02/11/rev iew-of-black-mirror-be-right-back/
  26. 26. http://liveson.org
  27. 27. https://audioboo.fm/boos/1577833-what-does-it-mean-to-be-a- digital-disciple-with-changingworship
  28. 28. Broadcast Medium? Image Credit: iStockphoto
  29. 29. Engagement (Stats)? https://www.facebook.com/JesusDaily
  30. 30. Authenticity Image Credits: iStockPhoto
  31. 31. Defining “Authentic” http://www.wordnik.com/words/authentic
  32. 32. Human Enhancement? Image Credit: Dr Bex Lewis
  33. 33. Can we just ‘put a plug on it’? Image Credit: Stockfresh
  34. 34. http://youtu.be/8j-Iy8fP0Ek
  35. 35. The Hyper-Local: who is ‘the audience’?  How might our approach to preaching change if we understand that we have two audiences – the faithful who sit close to us and a broader public, listening-in from a distance? Image Credit: Stockfresh
  36. 36.  Some ‘Authentic’ Forms of Sharing?
  37. 37. Tearfund.org /bloggers
  38. 38. http://www.biblesummary.info
  39. 39. http://bigbible.tumblr.com
  40. 40. http://pinterest.com/bigbible/bible-verses/
  41. 41. Celeb/Power Structures http://ww2poster.co.uk/2009/07/dr-bex-lewis- quoted-in-the-new-york-times/
  42. 42. Top Men of the Church = Online
  43. 43. NOTVirtual/Real Image Credit: iStockPhoto
  44. 44. Human Beings at Machines, not “are machines” … Image Credit: iStockPhoto
  45. 45.  Antony Mayfield, digital strategist, offers a really interesting concept – that we often think of the web as a ‘digital Narnia’, a place we don’t all need to engage with, but that we’d be better off thinking of the digital environment more in terms of Harry Potter:  There are places that are apart from the world, but mostly it exists all around us, simply out of sight to the uninitiated. That leaves a lot of people feeling like Muggles, then. Worse, Muggles who get glimpses of what the digerati are up to. What to do? Ignore them? Rally against them? Or pick up a wand and see what happens? The web is increasingly become a layer over our physical world – augmenting our ability to make the most of it.  Mayfield, A. Me and My Web Shadow A&C Black, 2010, pxix
  46. 46. Broken Binary?  These delineations are increasingly blurry and will become so much so that the ‘on/off’ dualism we use now will be laughable in a few years time. Our technology will become a bigger and bigger part of us, in terms of dependency – and potentially physiology – that to speak of this ‘on/offline’ as a clear divide will not make sense. So I get twitchy when people make a very clear delineation between them as if they were two separate spheres. Where does one start and the other one end? http://vickybeeching.com/blog/camerons- terrible-advice-on-cyber-bullying/
  47. 47. Craig von Buseck, Netcasters, 2010
  48. 48. Craig von Buseck, Netcasters, 2010
  49. 49. https://audioboo.fm/boos/1577938-tweeting-in-church-and-church- 2-0-with-artsyhonker
  50. 50. Tweeting in Church? http://richardlittledale.wordpress.com/2011/0 3/24/tweeting-from-the-pew/
  51. 51. The Church as a Black Hole?  Church: “The Sacred Space”: disrespectful to tweet when someone is giving a sermon?  What if I tweet all other aspects of my life, but as I head into church it’s a black hole?  What can I access  Check in on Foursquare  Pictures on Instagram  Reading the Bible on @Youversion  Tweeting elements of the sermon  Checking facts on Google  Sharing significant thoughts Image Credit: Stockfresh
  52. 52. Sacred/Secular Divide?  I do not want to live a split, compartmentalised life. Sometimes, though, I look at the Church (which I love dearly) and I see and dabble in the pull to compartmentalisation. On the one hand there is the world of mincing niceness, all scrubbed up Sunday best image with its faux piety. Those sermons which drone on and the answer is always Jesus or ‘what the Bible says’ no matter what the question. (By the way I am a big fan of real preaching… more of that some other time). Then there is the rest of life – a wonderful, muddled, muddy, joyous, awful, funny, confusing, hideous, delightful ride. This is the world of new born babies, beautiful sunrises, cancer, idiots who should be banned from driving, internet Trolls, deep passionate love, chemical weapons, unspeakable sadness, depression and stand-up comedy – to give a lightning sketch! I want to live a biblically literate life in that world – the world I know. I want a faith that doesn’t ask me to pretend to be someone I am not, or to suppress the difficult edgy questions in order to keep ‘Churchville’ pink, saccharine and safe. http://bigbible.org.uk/2013/08/bin-your- sunday-best-ipreacher007/
  53. 53. Humour http://anglicanmemes.com/2012/11/24/what- its-like-trying-to-get-women-bishops- legislation-through-general-synod/
  54. 54. http://bigbible.org.uk/2013/03/looking- for-an-opportunity-changingworship/
  55. 55. Who is my neighbour?  What does it mean to ‘love your neighbour’ in a world in which a ‘friend’ might as easily be the kid from down the street you grew up with as a woman in Botswana whom you’ve never seen in person and only know in the context of Facebook status updates, photos, and notes? What is the nature of community at prayer in a compline service tweeted each evening by the cybermonks of a Virtual Abbey? What is the ecclesiological and liturgical significant of worship in various churches across the theological spectrum on the quasi-3D, virtual reality site ‘Second Life’? How can we negotiate spiritual interaction in these contexts without losing sight of basic elements of Christian faith expressed in traditional embodied and geographically located practices of prayer, worship, and compassion towards others?  Tweet if You Heart Jesus, p.xiv
  56. 56. A Sense of Community  Whilst I cannot conclude my thinking in a wholly positive way, I acknowledge that great use of all of this to my own personal discipleship. I am a broader Christian, a better informed Christian, a more readily supported and sustained Christian and for that I love this digital life. If that makes me a better Christian, then perhaps its purpose is served if a purpose exists and indeed if a purpose is needed. However, I shall continue to pray that someone, somewhere, can say with absolute clarity that because of this digital community, they came to Christ. @FrDavidCloake
  57. 57. Vulnerability  The social media is a great place. Until you are where I am, and where others are – in a world characterised by depression. Social media largely demands interactions by lone individuals who coincide in a central, digitally enabled place. That place is distinct and detached from anyone partaking of it, but it becomes the realty, the venue, the place. Standing at the centre and looking out, social media is a collective of people, alone. http://bigbible.org.uk/2013/08/digital-lunacy- and-new-acceptance-frdavidcloake/ Image Credit: SXC.Hu
  58. 58. A question of ethics & morals?  We want to ensure that the use of images on this site is legally and ethically/morally compliant. Either below an image (using the URL), or at the base of each post, please indicate source images.  http://bigbible.org.uk/about /policies/image-policy/
  59. 59. BIGBible, all over the web…
  60. 60. #DigiPilgrim http://sheridanvoysey.com/join-me-for-the- digipilgrim-online-pilgrimage-to-durham/
  61. 61. #CNMAC13 (09/11/13) http://www.newmediacentreofexcellence.org.uk/cn mac/conference
  62. 62. @drbexl @digitalfprint @bigbible Image Credit: iStockPhoto http://j.mp/disc-digi-age

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