We’re excited to have been involved in pulling together such a strong line-up for the fourth Christian New Media Conference (9th November 2013, The Brewery, London), so we’ve given all the speakers the opportunity to answer a few questions:
Who are you, what do you do, and how does your story feed into #CNMAC13?
I’m Tim Hutchings, and I’m an academic researcher of “digital religion” with a PhD from Durham University. I’ve studied “online churches”, online evangelism, digital reading, death in the digital age, and I’m interested in anything involving Christians and new media. I’ve just started work at CODEC in Durham on a new project, working to build up digital resources to support a pilgrimage route across the north-east of England.
Can you give us a ‘sneak peak’ into your session at #CNMAC13?
In the last five years, the number of people who read the Bible on phones, tablets and computer screens has exploded. There are now lots of different “digital Bible” products you can choose from, downloaded hundreds of millions of times all over the world. There is a really big shift underway in how we engage with Scripture, and my session at #CNMAC will discuss what this might mean for the future of the Bible. What’s gained and lost when someone reads the Bible on a screen? Can software shape how we think? Is there anything special and important about the paper Word of God?
The theme for 2013 is ‘Reimagining Church’. Share a dream for what church could look like in 2023.
In a world of digital media, anyone can have a voice, but some voices reach wider audiences and influence more people. The greatest attention goes to the best communicators. We’re already seeing some Christians start to share their message in new ways, and the most successful projects are attracting audiences all over the world. By 2023, I think we’ll see a very different kind of church, gathered around new networks of media communicators representing lots of different theological views. My dream for 2023 is to see Christian leaders I respect and admire learning to get their voices heard among the world’s best communicators.
We have a number of #digidisciple(s) writing for the @bigbible project. What do you think the digital age means for discipleship?
The digital age makes some aspects of discipleship easier, and it makes some aspects much harder. We use digital media to share something of our lives and personalities with the rest of the world, building up connections and relationships with the people we want to know. Discipleship is all about witnessing and relationships, and the internet is really good at those things. That’s not the whole story, though: discipleship is also about humility, mistakes, accountability and living in community, for example, and it’s not easy to find those on Facebook. Perhaps we need a new theology of sharing?
Outside of your own session, what are you most looking forward to at #CNMAC13?
I’m looking forward to hearing Andy Byers talk about his new book, TheoMedia.
Read some of Tim’s blog posts on @bigbible; check out more on the conference itself where we’d love to see you (easy to book here), or some of the videos we’ve started to upload with reactions from last year’s conference delegates.