Bishop Welby’s elevation to Canterbury was announced by Downing Street on Twitter:
UK Prime Minister (@Number10gov) November 09, 2012
In his press conference, the ABC-designate said, “I intend -if I am not stopped – to go on tweeting.” (Currently he tweets here, but that will change.)
If these are early signs that the incoming Archbishop understands the communications world in which we now live, that is a good sign.
Learnstuff.com has an interesting infographic about the downside of workers and students accessing social media in between tasks. It is US-based, so needs some translation for us Limeys in Blighty. It’s also aimed at the general (‘normal’?) workplace, rather than the peculiar environment of church work. It also seems only to conceive of social media in terms of leisure.
Nevertheless, there are some sobering thoughts here. I guess this is the converse to yesterday’s post. Perhaps I should tell you to get off this blog and get back to work!
I’m not sure who I saw refer to this recent video, it might have been Vicky Beeching. This is an interesting seven-minute interview with Dr Stephen Holmes of St Andrew’s University. I’d be interested in your views.
A couple of the points for conversation that struck me were these:
1. Dr Holmes says that the church is often slightly behind the curve when it comes to adopting technology. This is my experience, too. We cannot adopt things as wholeheartedly as people like me would like to, because inevitably several of our older members do not have access, and we don’t want to treat them as second-class. However, that also means we lag further behind in contemporary means of communication. And like it or not, one of the things the Christian church is about is communication.
Furthermore, I even find among many Christians who are connected to the web that they are reluctant to embrace a lot of social media, with the sole general exception of Facebook. Sometimes it seems we are only using electronic technology as a new form of typewriter.
2. What about his point that it’s only in recent times that our culture has been so private? There is a lot of nervousness about the way privacy is broken down in social media, but Dr Holmes suggests near the end of the interview that we are merely reverting to the way society once was, and that such openness is a good thing. What do you think about that?
Here is the video:
Here is a brave attempt by a country parish to use social media (in this case, YouTube) to advertise for a new vicar. They seem to know they’re struggling with the technology but are not afraid to laugh at themselves. It’s amusing, yet touching:
Via David Keen.
Apparently, the more time you spend on Facebook the unhappier you will be. According to this research,
“Those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook “friends” agreed more that others had better lives.”
An earlier study conducted last year by the American Academy of Pediatrics also found that children and teenagers can develop “Facebook Depression” when being overwhelmed with positive status updates and photos of happy friends.
It all seems to be down to the image we project on Facebook. We’re all shiny, happy people, apparently:
Why would this be? A few possibilities occur to me:
1. We like to play pretend, and portray a good image of ourselves.
2. Being honest is altogether too dangerous in some circles. “I’m fine.”
3. Despite all the trend towards openness encouraged on social networks (watch out if Facebook changes the privacy controls again), some of us are careful about posting negative things, even if we honestly believe or think them.
4. We’re prone to a ‘grass is always greener on the other side’ mentality, due to a lurking pre-existent sense of dissatisfaction with our lives.
Of course, none of this is true in the church …
Apparently, the revolution will be tweeted,
says Jason Gardner in an article which begins by reflecting on the use of social media such as Facebook and Twitter in recent people movements in North Africa. You may have read about the Egyptian who called his newborn child ‘Facebook’ in tribute to the way that site was used to spark potential social change.
So Gardner asks us to pay attention to Web 2.0, which
is about customisation and collaboration … That means that the story of the world is no longer dictated to us: we write it together.
Even powerful dictators’ efforts to use kill switches on the Internet have run into trouble as international people movements such as Avaaz have solicited funds from tens of thousands of people around the world to provide satellite links and other means for the previously disempowered citizens to keep communicating with each other and the outside world.
When I have written about this before, I have quoted Rex Miller‘s maxim that it isn’t that the medium is the message; rather, the medium is the worldview. Collaborative media mean collaborative approaches to life. And Gardner rightly says the church needs to take heed.
His particular application is in involving youth, and he makes the point that God is involving us collaboratively in his kingdom.
However, it’s worth thinking about for the whole church. While we have a long way to go, it gives me great pleasure to be involved in leading a church that already has signs of taking this seriously. I have a Leadership Team that meets weekly at Knaphill, and although I’m seen as the overall leader we take counsel together.
Or for another example, you’ll notice this is one of those weekends when there is no new sermon on the blog. That’s because it’s All Age Worship Sunday, and we have a team that plans these services. While I might bring a general overarching theme or message, I couldn’t possibly put together the services we lead. The creative gifts present among the team are amazing, and the worship is all the richer for it.
OK, if I get round to it, I might put up the short PowerPoint presentation that accompanies my brief talk on a site like Slideshare, but it isn’t a conventional sermon. It’s a talk on the theme of ‘belonging’, because we’ve just had Founders’ Day for the Scouts and Thinking Day for the Guides. And actually, did I come up with the theme this time? No. I couldn’t make the planning meeting, due to an emergency. Two other people prayed and set the theme, and I have attempted to fit in.
Of course, we need to go much further, but one thing is for sure. However much I am set aside to pray and discern, there is no going back to the world where an Anglican rector friend of mine saw his calling as to come down from the mountain with the tablets of stone, and for the people simply to accept his word to that effect.
As ash from the Icelandic volcano continues to blow across the UK, I am only too aware of ministry consequences from it. Tomorrow I take a funeral, and the next of kin will not be able to be present. Please pray for this family.
I also know of people returning from a mission trip in the Far East, who will be at least six days late back. They were delayed in Russia, but somehow are getting a flight to France. Then they need to travel across France and queue for a ferry.
In all this, it is interesting to see how the Internet in general and social media in particular are helping people. Rory Cellan-Jones posted an informative blog about this on the BBC website.
Tomorrow, I shall do something I never achieved when batting at cricket. I shall reach a half century. After receiving an email from the Causes application on Facebook, I wondered about asking my friends to donate to a good cause. To cut a long story short, I couldn’t find any of the officially supported causes that would be just right.
However, here is a fantastic story of a man (admittedly with more abilities and connections than me) who was inspired to do something amazing for others through social media when he reached forty. Read the story of Danny Brown and be inspired. There is no hint this guy is a Christian, but there is so much we could learn from him.
Through reading an article on social media and the Gospel in the latest edition of the Evangelical Alliance‘s magazine ‘IDEA’, I came across World Wide Open. It’s a social network that aims to connect and empower Christians across the world in order to share expertise and thus further mission. I wondered whether anyone who reads this blog has come across it. What are your experiences?
I thought I would at least register, because some things can only be experienced from inside. The introductory videos are impressive in laying out the vision. However, beyond that, my first impression is that registration and getting going are hard work. You need to supply a lot of information, type in lots of text and click several text boxes to create the kind of profile that might lead to fruitful contact with others in the future. I’m not sure how it could be simplified, but if it could, I think that would be helpful.
Other tools could do with a different approach. There is an opportunity to blog at the site, but only by creating blog posts there. I noticed no facility to import posts from an existing blog. I would think many likely contributors already have their own blogs, and would not want to create another one. Another worthy Christian social network, Missional Tribe, and my reaction was, I don’t want to go to the effort of duplicating my posts.
The IDEA magazine article tells one or two wonderful stories of worthwhile links being created between different agencies. I hope that will come to fruition at WWO. It says (as seems to be the fashion for a ‘Web 2.0‘ site) that it is in ‘beta‘, and that seems to be accurate to me. It isn’t quite the finished article yet, but I hope it soon will be, and become a helpful tool for the mission of God.
UPDATE, Tuesday 2nd March, 11:15 am: World Wide Open is beginning to kick into action. This morning I received an email from them with my ‘customised updates’. Based on the interests I selected when I signed up, it offers to put me in touch with other registered users. This can be on the basis of leveraging their experience, resources they have uploaded, opportunities to put faith into action, groups I might like to join and people with whom I might like to connect. Naturally, only a minority of them will prove directly relevant, but it is a start and a sign of how the site works.