What’s all this about #digidisciple then?

What is a digidisciple?

Whether as a Christian or a digital explorer, you’re a newbie or an old hat, a rookie or a bishop (and in the digital sphere, there will be some who fit in all categories), we all have something to contribute to the digital space. The concept of the digital as ‘space’ is important as we come from a perspective in which:

  • As Christians we live 24/7 for God, in whatever spaces we live in or engage with (see LICC for more on this).
  • There is no such thing as ‘virtual’ and ‘real’ worlds: only online and offline space/cultures – the connection between the two is different for each individual.
  • We need to take seriously our Christian presence both online and offline.  Are we the same person, living by the same values in both ‘spaces’?

Discipleship

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.

Digital Discipleship?

A ‘digital disciple’, or, as we are calling it, a #digidisciple is someone who seeks to live out their Christian faith in the digital space, whether they are dipping a toe in, or are fully immersed in the digital worlds … and, yes, there are lots of different digital worlds, including some more well known ones: Facebook, Twitter, blogging, Second Life, the increasingly mobile and interactive nature of the digital space… just as the online world has moved from read, to read/write, to immersed.

We are not sure exactly where the term #digidisciple emerged from, but Krish Kandiah (@krishk) used the term in a number of talks last year, and a search to see if anyone else was already doing this brought up this book, which I’ve yet to read!

What are we asking our #digidisciple(s) to do?

We are looking for Christians who who would be prepared to blog on a regular basis on The Big Bible Project site, allowing us to share your journey in the digital space(s), whether that is from a practioner perspective, or as an expert… and let’s have ‘Bigger Bible Conversations’, flooding the online space with positive Christian material. When we started The Big Bible Project last autumn it appeared that very few Christians in the digital space were talking to each other (aside from informal networks), and people were therefore re-inventing the wheel. Resources are so tight (particularly in the Christian sector), we’re keen to highlight the positive Christian work already occurring, allowing others to be inspired. We’re also very aware that there are many who are too scared to go into the digital spaces, or don’t understand why we need to be, and we’re keen to address that also.

How often do I need to post?

We’re keen that being involved as a #digidisciple in the @bigbible project is a pleasure rather than a pressure. You can define whether ‘regular’ for you means, e.g. monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annually. We do ask that you commit to a regular schedule/specific dates, as we will be creating an overall schedule (anyone know of a good online system for doing this? Especially one that emails reminders!). Those who are keen to get started, we’d love to have people blogging immediately, as the regular calendar falls into place.  Please just contact bex.lewis[at]durham.ac.uk.

The project is intended to be an ongoing, so if you want to take a sabbatical, change the frequency or focus of your posts, just keep us informed in plenty of time please.

What do I post?

We’re all for authenticity here, so blog about what you’re already involved in!

BigBible has been seeking to ensure that there has been at least one story a day on the site since it’s launch in August, with positives stories about digital/new media use within the Christian sector, practical guidelines for social media, how the digital impacts your Christian living, and, because of The Big Read, stories about engaging with the Bible, and small group studies! We’re therefore interested in blog posts in these areas, and will seek to provide suggestions for topics for blog posts (e.g. we are considering a month with a particular focus on Twitter), but are interested to see what you feel you can offer… from philosophy to the practicalities.

From the start of The Big Bible Project we have floated the idea that it could become ‘the Mashable of the Christian Media world’, providing links to the best that is going on in the Christian digital space (as well as connecting with inspiration from the not-necessarily-Christian digital space where appropriate), challenging people to think about the issues involved in being engaged in the digital space, and providing rich content that is created collaboratively.

Mashable will publish around seven stories a day, so you can see there’s scope… once we get a large enough author base.. for multiple authors to post in a day. We are keen for you to post about the things you are already interested in/involved in/want to experiment with. People who blog about the things they are already passionate about… the passion comes across in the blog post! See below for some of the areas that people are keen to look at, whether that’s apps that have caught their eye, a regular hobby such as geocaching, or the theology of being online! There’s no problem with people covering the same topic more than once, as it is likely to be from a different perspective, but we will monitor that through the use of the calendar.

Once timings are agreed, it is fine to cross-post on your own blog. At the base of each blog post, we can write “This blog post has been cross-posted on bigbible/own blog” encouraging traffic between these different sites.

Does it have to be a particular format?

The Big Bible Project uses WordPress, which allows most types of electronic format… text, images, video, audio, slideshare… so there should really be no limit aside from what helps you get your thinking or your message across!

We are keen to encourage creative expressions, and in the words of Erin McKean, it’s not always about ‘putting a plug’ on what is already pre-existing, but the old ways are also sometimes the most appropriate, so please don’t let the technology impede your content! If all you are comfortable with is emailing us with content for us to upload, that’s OK, although we will try to provide you with enough information to do it yourself if you’d like to!

Can I sign up?

Yes! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never touched a computer before, but are keen to share your journey (the good, the bad, and the ugly) with others as you dip your toe into the digital waters; whether you work with social media for a living and are keen to share your insights and expertise; whether you are a philosophiser/theologian discussing the issues that the digital space has raised; or something else that seems to fit within The Big Bible Project remit, we’d love to hear from you, and be encouraged, inspired and challenged by your insights!

We are all on a journey in the digital space, and can help each other along… as with the Christian faith, there may be no ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’, but some can lead us along the digital space, whilst we can encourage others. As you can see from The Conversation Prism, there’s many different social networks and no one can be an expert in all of them!

Please contact Bex with:

  • Your name/contact email/Twitter handle (if you have one)
  • A sentence describing your “focus” (which can be generic or specific, but should fit within the Big Bible brief)
  • How often you will commit to providing a blog post.

So what next?

The Big Bible Project is creating blog posts to help users on their way to being able to blog. You are already able to sign up for an account, and we will be posting material about how to use WordPress, where it’s OK to get images from, what a good blog post looks like, blog post ideas, etc. Please do let us know what would help you become a better #digidisciple.

Join the early birds:

The #digidisciple suggestion was only informally put into the online space last Friday, and it appears to have hit an ‘interest nerve’, as the following have already responded via Twitter, Facebook, email, and we are incredibly thankful to have such a strong starting point… without having yet contacted everyone, and not yet heard from those we don’t yet know about!

  • Kevin Bennett (@kevinleebennett), bi-monthly, from the perspective of a small group leader
  • Paul Blakey (Christian Nightlife Initiatives), deciding focus/frequency
  • Jonathan Blundell (@jdblundell), about to start blogging monthly on “How technology helps us share and live out the Kingdom in the world around us”
  • Father David Cloake (@frdavidcloake), about to start blogging monthly on accessibility and infectiousness of the Gospel
  • Sally Coleman (@sallysjourney), about to start blogging bi-monthly on theological reflection in a digital age, digital media as a tool for reflection
  • Rev Joanne Cox (@revjoannecox), frequency/focus to be decided
  • Share Creative (@sharecreative), will blog bi-annually
  • Simon Douglas (@sadbuttrue), about to start blogging on the digital divide, and positive steps we can take to minimise it, testing monthly
  • Anna Drew (@annamdrew), bi-monthly, from July.
  • George Elerick (@travelersnote), deciding focus/how often
  • Andy Frost (@andythefrosty), deciding focus/how often
  • The Rev’d Canon Dr. Kevin Goodrich, deciding focus/how often
  • Dot Gosling (@dotsters), engaging with regular bite-sized Bible chunks, monthly
  • Will Grady (@willgrady), deciding focus/how oftenWayne Grewcock, deciding focus/how often
  • Gareth Hill (@Rev_Gareth), random posts at random times
  • Mark Howe (@mvahowe), about to start offering “Diary of a reluctant Facebook missionary”
  • Social Media Consultant, Ant Hodges (@anthodges), will be sharing about how social media now creates online communities that the Gospel has to be taken into by Christians online, monthly
  • Tim Hutchings (tim_hutchings), about to start offering “Fieldnotes: stories and ideas from a digital researcher”
  • Micha Jazz, a contemplative friar journeying towards the heart of God whilst engaging in mission as a peacemaker and whole life therapist. In discussions, blogs here.
  • Faith Jegede (@faithjegede), about to start blogging monthly on “Trending Topic”, about the lifestyle of a digital Christian, each entry to start with a hashtag
  • Richard Littledale (@richardlittleda), probably digital authenticity, to discuss Tuesday
  • Bex Lewis (@drbexl), would like to write a more in depth article once a month… in my polymathic style the focus is likely to vary
  • Simon Lucas (@simonlucas), monthly, will come back with topic once read Tuesday’s blog
  • Thomas Mathie (@headphonaught), about to start blogging about “Things that have caught my attention”, testing bi-weekly/monthly
  • Adam May (Christian Nightlife Initiatives), deciding focus/frequency
  • Alan Mellor (@almellor), frequency/focus to be decided.
  • Ali Mepham (@kneewax), deciding frequency, exact focus, but is an enthusiastic geocacher!
  • Helen Nicholls (@hels_bels_1), offering reviews of materials that have caught her eye over the month.
  • Peter Ould (@peterould), about to start offering “Ecclesiology of cyberspace”, monthly/bi-monthly, and as triggered by specific events
  • Pete Phillips (@phphillips), about to start offering a theological perspective on engaging the digital world, monthly.
  • Holly Poulter (@hollylinda), deciding whether personal/Tear Fund capacity
  • Phil Ritchie (@philritchie), monthly, linking physical/virtual communities
  • Dave Roberts (@emptybelly), deciding focus/how often
  • Ruth Robinson, SAT-7 Trust, Middle Eastern focus (Bible/Media), deciding frequency
  • Ed Ross (@edaross), deciding focus, bi-annually
  • Tim Ross (@timrossminister), deciding focus, bi-annually
  • Angie Shier-Jones, deciding focus, monthly
  • Rev Pam Smith (@revpamsmith), deciding focus/how often
  • Andrew Salt (@asaltbde), social media officer at @stpaulscamb, monthly, Android phone apps
  • The Church Sofa (@thechurchsofa), “My So-Called Digital Life”, monthly, and as triggered by events
  • Muriel Sowden (@fragranceofgod), from October, monthly, on online religious community
  • Simon Sutcliffe (@vfxhanley), deciding focus, how often
  • Bryony Taylor (@vahva), about to start blogging monthly on all things faith and social media related, from July
  • Anders Tingström (@webchurchgbg) is going to blog from the ECIC conference: “User Experience: From Content Strategy to Emotional Messages”, 15-18 June, and then see!
  • David (@davidwalljones) and Lorraine Wall-Jones (@loozeta), trying to be digital followers of Jesus, testing bi-monthly
  • Dave Warnock (@dave42w), quarterly, starting with “Discovering what you believe through social media: thoughts for Extroverts”
  • Tony Watkins (@tonywatkins_), deciding focus/frequency
  • Pam Webster (@pamjweb), blogging Bible passages, deciding how often
  • Ron Willoughby (@hoosier1964), deciding focus/how often
  • Tony Whittaker (@soonguy), ideas for sharing faith online, monthly
  • David Wyld (@phoce), fortnightly, practical advice as well as thoughts on DigiDisciple’s, to tie in with @digimission

We will be keeping a realtime list here: http://bit.ly/digidisciple, and as users sign up for WordPress accounts, their name will become a link to articles written by that particular user.

Can I talk about this with others?

Yes. Comment on this blog, share this with your Facebook friends, tweet about it, using the #digidisciple hashtag. This is very much a project in progress, and we’d be interested to hear your ideas, suggestions, support, etc. for it, and it will be interesting to see what will be said at the meeting this afternoon to discuss The Big Bible Project (please pray for us in that). Richard Littledale, who will be at the meeting, gives us a helpful reminder that we are also keen to have prayer supporters for The Big Bible Project and its #digidisciples!

About bigbible

The #BigBible Project. Educating in the digital spaces, creating 'bigger Bible conversations' between #digidisciple(s). Look out for #bigread14.