What does it mean to be a public Christian? @changingworship #Digidisciple

What does it mean to be a public Christian?  The world has changed. Politicians and the BBC no longer have a monopoly on issuing public opinion. The same is true with The Church(TM).  I have had several interactions in the past few weeks that have made me reflect upon the way in which we are public Christians. More specifically, how do we interact with the world through social media as Christians?

http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1197469

There is lots of talk about how we behave as digital disciples, but I’m pondering how we hold our faith publicly, you know the doctrine stuff, the what we believe bits. And how do we hold our church communities or wider church politics online?  I recall two years ago when the Telegraph newspaper used several tweets from various people I know as authoritative quotes. @frdavidcloake found himself a minor celebrity for a whole afternoon by having an opinion on twitter.Personally, this week has been frantic.  When this is published we should have moved from my first post as a curate to the place where I will be licensed as vicar in the coming weeks.  I’m writing this on a tablet as the sofa is carried out to a van!  As part of this whole process, I was contacted by the local press who wanted to run an article about my leaving. As you may expect, I missed the phone call and discovered the message on my answerphone. When I rang back  that afternoon they had sent the article to print as the deadline was looming. They had managed to quote me and my fondness for the people I have been ministering with and amongst because they found my blog. And they follow me on Twitter. As do the local paper where I am moving.  Now there’s a sobering thought.  I have gone from an anoymous blogger who was an RE Teacher to a person who the local press follow.  So how do we hold our faith publicly?Last week a friend talked about how their fresh expression’s Twitter account became a target of grief when they discussed praying for an event that was in the news.  A debate ensued about the efficacy of prayer.  As I sit here typing I read another blog about the #prayformuamba hashtag.  One very positive experience of twitter praying and one very negative.  In these situations we often feel as though we must defend the Almighty.  As though the omnicient and omnipresent creator of the cosmos needs to hide behind little old me.

When we are publicly Christian there will be some people who don’t like it. There may be crititcism.  Certainly in the last few weeks I’ve encountered a few angry atheists fueled by Ricky Gervais Twitter stream. From my perspective, the solution is not to shy away from having a public faith but rather to be intelligent within our interactions.  Be thoughtful.  Be prayerful.  Be honest.  Be real.  Be humble.  And if or when people are critical of your public profession, continue to be these things whilst remembering it is God who stands before us not cowering behind us.

About Robb

Robb is a priest and a vicar in the Church of England. His academic interest is in liturgy, alt:worship and the emerging church and is particularly keen on exploring the sacramantal within worship. He lives in Yorkshire and has a passion for heavy metal, playing in a pub band and riding a Harley.