A month of #digidisciple posts – October 2011 round-up (including #CNMAC11)

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#CNMAC11

October was an exciting month for The Big Bible Project, as we, as part of CODEC  co-hosted The Christian New Media Conference with Premier Radio, on 15th October, to which over 350 people came. The Christian New Media Awards were the evening before, and we grabbed interviews with a number of those who were shortlisted for the awards.

Many were already tweeting via #cnmac11 on Twitter before the conference, but it also influenced a number of #digidisciple posts:

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres,  identified that ‘The Church porch is now on your website’. Bex also interviewed a number of people before/during/after the event for ‘audioboos‘. Talking of audioboos, Helen Nichols was inspired after #CNMAC11 to produce her #digidisciple post as an audioboo, having already produced one of the ‘official unofficial’ videos from the event. This was greatly encouraging for The Big Bible Project as we seek to challenge people to stretch themselves a little by experimented with audio/video… as Pete Phillips did here.  

Fr David Cloake commended us to celebrate ‘technological visionaries’ such as Tyndale and Steve Jobs, who have changed our means of communication, and without whom events such as #cnmac11 would not necessarily have taken place, whilst Thomas Mathie raised concerns that ‘I am a digital disciple who does not get “Christian New Media”, raising worries that this provides a ‘safe bubble’ which doesn’t fit with the idea of the great commission… . Reassuringly many of the comments borw out the intentions of the awards/conference: to celebrate excellence, and to inspire and equip people to go out and be in the wider online spaces. Will Grady tied in with these thoughts, wondering how best we can give opportunities to those ‘waiting in the wings’, whether through encouragement, or a challenge from passivity.

Vicky Beeching, who won ‘Best Blog’, and hosted the conference, challenged us to use our phones with gusto. Ali Gledhill compared this with Patrick Dixon’s challenge in the last keynote of the day to turn them off ‘for a while’, challenging us to think about why people might want to read what we have to say before we tweet it.  Thanks to the enthusiasm for #digidisciple, we ran a session at the conference.

Authenticity & Identity

The themes of identity and authenticity continue to make frequent appearances, as we consider what it means to ‘be online’, with Dave Roberts considering what it means to ‘be yourself’, Bryony Taylor at how the new Facebook timeline (coming to all shortly) could be used as a spiritual exercise, and The Church Sofa challenging us to share our lives whilst standing up for what we believe in. The theme was further picked up by Sally Coleman, who called for us to remember our ancient roots as we engage in the fast-paced world of social media, and to ensure that all is seasoned with Salt and Light, and Anita Mathias, who inspired us to think about how we engage with others via blogs, winning their trust by sharing the realities of whole-life Christian living, before others will listen to what we have to say.

Robb Sutherland then took up a big challenge to present his ideas about constructing online identities via video, in which he debated whether he was hiding behind the username @changingworship. Ned Lunn continued with the discussion of identity, authenticity, and anonymity in ‘Are Profiles Masks’, questioning whether it’s possible for us to be authentic online as we’re not aware of our own flaws, and calling for us, as social beings, to allow our selves to be defined by others, in particular by God as Love Incarnate. The final post for the month was from Dean Seddon, who considers whether Christianity has been branded as irrelevant in the modern world, and challenged us to think about what our church ‘brand’ should be about, which he’ll be talking more at #digimanc.

Cultural Awareness

Whilst we need to be authentic, it’s clear that we need to be in touch with our own cultures, and those we aim to reach, for which Richard Littledale gave us ‘Slow Message Coming’, and Lorraine Wall-Jones with ‘Why Atheism is becoming the new ‘cool’’considered the need to cut through cultural boundaries. Nancy Wallace joined us with her first post on (Who Needs a Drink? Woman Fetching Water) ‘Blogging Women of the Gospels’, looking at the woman at the well within its cultural context, and then challenged us to think about our cultural contexts, including the effects of social networking.  It was encouraging to see the ways that digital media are being put to use with Ian Black in Dundee: Light in the Digital Spaces, and Simon Sutcliffe in Hanley: The (Digital) Stations of the Cross, which used QR codes. Joanne Cox  took the new British Airways ad as a starting point to create a poem for discipleship, from then to now.

The Social Effect of Technology

An excellent range of posts which seem to fit within this as a theme. George Morley continued her theme of ‘My Plastic Brain’, is technology reducing our attention spans, and how often do we take time to sit still with God and let him make himself known to us (without ‘searching’ as if on Google). Friar Micha Jazz considered the question of self-regulation of the press, in a world in which news is available 24/7, finding the debate rather anachronistic, noting that we have always been selective about the data that we will engage with. Laura Sykes (another #CNMAC11 award winner), defined the tendency of to enjoy the company of like-with-like, but that social media strips away the physicality: a liberating effect.

Paul Blakey considered his enforced 2.5 weeks without a broadband connection, and reflected how far the internet has become integrated into society, wondering how things will have moved forward in another 10 years time, challenging us to remember that we have the greatest message of all to communicate, and we need to ensure that we’re at the forefront of doing so. Bex Lewis reflected upon her choice to go #digifree for week whilst on holiday abroad, considering how far technology has become embedded in her life, which certainly includes many online relationships. Anna Blanch drew upon Hebrews 10:19-24 to reflect upon Collaboration in Digital Media, and a challenge to consider how we can support those working in the creative industries, by using materials in both moral and ethical ways.

Influence

There’s been plenty of Twitter conversations about Klout and other such programmes, which attempt to numerically value the investment we make in social media. James Robinson looked at means of measuring online influence such as Klout, and took it to the wider question as to how/why we try and influence people through different mediums, and to consider whether online spaces are always the most appropriate.

Tim Hutchings, also challenged by Patrick Dixon’s talk at #CNMAC11, considered how it’s possible to ‘take’ and ‘measure’ influence, but challenged the concept, saying that we have but taken ‘attention’, so how do we we change how people think and act. Our job as digital disciples is not to “take influence”, but to take responsibility for our influence. Work out what you want to change, and then find something valuable you can offer to start that change.

Evangelism

One area where many are seeking to make a change is online evangelism. Many work on the basis of relationship ‘evangelism’, but church websites in particular have particular considerations. As Richard Chartres mentioned, for many, a church website is the ‘doorstep’, and will people decide to come in. Tony Whittaker, who runs Internet Evangelism Day, idenfied how church websites really can reach outsiders). The book ‘Killing Cockroaches’ gives good advice on engaging online, and how to create a buzz around what you’re doing, and considers how the church is ‘competing’ not with other churches, but with places such as the cinema and the shopping centre.

Anders Orsander, who encourages online church in Sweden, and is one of the administrators of  ‘The Bible’ Facebook page, questions whether most churches are still in the ‘broadcast age‘, or whether their online presence offers opportunities for engagement. In ‘What is Christianity good for?’ considers why a number of Christian pages are the top 20 ‘most engaging’ Facebook pages.

Tool Kit

We’ve had a number of conversations around the #DigiLit section of the site, which we want to develop with practical advice. There’s great material here.  Andrew Salt continues to give us advice from the perspective of a Church Press Officer, and looked at what should be in the kitbag, notably a smartphone. Jonathan Blundell and Father Kevin looked how the digital toolkit can augment our engagement with, respectively, the Bible and prayer. Ed Ross gave brilliant practical advice for working with youth groups in the online space (remember also the Saving Face article), and towards the end of the month we looked at how Facebook had helped provie ideas for engaging with Halloween, a festival that’s growing.

Thankfulness 

We welcomed ‘Mr Blunders’ for his first post, in which he reflected upon the creation of #3goodthings as a hashtag, and how it can challenge us to count our blessings so that we can realise the work that God has done in our lives. This was reflected in a number of other blog posts: Dot Gosling challenged us to remember that in the midst of life’s emotions and challenges, we need to remember what Psalm 95 taught us, that God was, is and will be through the ages, and that we need to thank God for his company and allow him to ‘be’ a constant in our lives. Kate Bruce continued her journey with a smartphone, considering both the positive and negative aspects of Twitter that she has observed, including the pastoral potential. She left us with the challenge: ‘What have I tweeted today and why where, and where was God in that?’

Pam Webster echoed the call for thankfulness in ‘Thank God for Social Media’,  and highlighted how she’s particularly thankful for social media, as medical issues have restricted her physical freedom, but social media has given her back a voice and an opportunity to be involved. Muriel Sowden is also thankful for how digital technology has opened up her world as she loses her sight, and how important technology allows us to form relationships with those we may not expect.  In another post, she identified the value of an audio Bible, not as a ‘last resort’, but in providing a new perspective of its own.

Other

  • On October 10th we celebrated with @YouVersion who hit 30 million downloads.
  • Premier Radio ran the Unbelievable Tour –  for which we grabbed Justin Brierley for a quick interview.
  • On October 28th we featured in EA Idea magazine, a celebration that #digidisciple has such a high standard of contributors.
  • The #bigread12 is being prepared for Lent 2012: Facebook Group.
  • There’s a little more to come from #GB11.

Events

Check out the events that we know about, let us know if you have one to advertise (we’ll publish a blog post too).

Phew: This has been a bit of a marathon… what an ’embarrasment of riches’. I think we may have o go to fortnightly at least, as this will also form the basis of a newsletter (I’ll let you know how to sign up). Hope you’ve enjoyed it!

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About bigbible

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