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IPM placing the christian church in a digital age

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See abstract for this conference paper, to be given 8th September 2017: http://drbexl.co.uk/2017/08/18/edit-conference-abstract-inclusive-placemaking-placing-christian-church-digital-age/

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IPM placing the christian church in a digital age

  1. 1. Inclusive Placemaking: Placing the Christian Church in a Digital Age Dr Bex Lewis Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing, Manchester Metropolitan University For http://www.placemanagement.org/ Tweet @drbexl 1 http://bit.ly/ChurchPlaceIPM
  2. 2. Paper Overview • Church as geographical place • The digital environment: reality and place? • Discipleship online: The Big Bible Project • Researching the church and digital Tweet @drbexl 2
  3. 3. Church as Geographical Place Tweet @drbexl 3 Photo by Alexandre Perotto on Unsplash
  4. 4. Church of England Tweet @drbexl 4https://www.churchofengland.org/
  5. 5. Grenfall Tower Tweet @drbexl 5 http://bit.ly/churchtimesGrenfall Image: Diocese of London That trust exists because of the care and compassion they have received for decades… we actually live here… urge those who speak about it to avoid the ambiguous and woolly term “local church”, but to speak proudly, precisely, and powerfully of the “parish church”. The parish church is a living icon of God’s love, connecting with people in ways that we hardly begin to understand and so often underestimate. Revd Dr Alan Everett, Vicar of St Clement with St Mark, Notting Dale, and St James’s, Norlands
  6. 6. Methodist Church Tweet @drbexl 6http://www.methodist.org.uk/
  7. 7. Foodbanks "Faith in Foodbanks?" recognises the ministry of many churches helping people who cannot afford to eat, looks at why there has been such a growth in foodbanks, and suggests ways churches can take action to tackle the underlying causes. It offers worship and bible resources to help Christians to reflect on food and poverty in Britain today. Tweet @drbexl 7 http://bit.ly/FoodbanksMC http://re-dish.org/projects/food-action/
  8. 8. United Reformed Church Tweet @drbexl 8http://www.urc.org.uk/discipleship.html
  9. 9. Baptist Church Tweet @drbexl 9http://www.baptist.org.uk/Groups/287921/About_us.aspx
  10. 10. Catholic Church Tweet @drbexl 10http://directory.cbcew.org.uk/
  11. 11. Theologians & Place Tweet @drbexl 11 2003 2014 2017
  12. 12. The Digital Environment: Reality and Place? Tweet @drbexl 12 Photo by PixelsAway on Stockfresh
  13. 13. Communities of Practice To be effective in the role of digital (technology) steward (Cochrane 2010; Narayan and Baglow 2010; Wenger, White, and Smith 2009), a person needs on the one hand to be capable with the technology, experimenting with innovations to explore their utility, whilst also aware of the various ways in which those innovations may be brought into the practice of the community. To achieve this effectiveness, the steward needs to devote time to increasing their own knowledge and abilities in the technological and community aspects of the role. Lewis, B, Rush, D. Experience of developing Twitter-based Communities of Practice in Higher Education, 2013, 3 Tweet @drbexl 13 https://journal.alt.ac.uk/index.php/rlt/article/view/1310
  14. 14. Digital on its own terms Even though in practice, face-to- face communication can, of course, be angry, negligent, resistant, deceitful and inflexible, somehow it remains the ideal against which mediated communication is judged as flawed Livingstone, S. Children and the Internet: Great Expectations and Challenging Realities, 2009, 26 Tweet @drbexl 14
  15. 15. For many churchgoing is no longer the ‘cultural norm’. People don’t actively ignore the church: they don’t even think about it. Matthew 5:13-16 calls us to be salt and light in the world, and for thousands in the ‘digital age’, that world includes social networks such Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. With literally billions in the digital spaces, the online social spaces presented by churches need to be appealing, welcoming, and not look like they are just an afterthought: they are now effectively the ‘front door’ to your church for digital users, and you ignore those spaces at your peril. Lewis, B. Growing Churches in a Digital Age, 2013 Tweet @drbexl 15 http://bit.ly/ChurchDigAge Image: Flickr
  16. 16. Online Church? It may be possible to set up an online mega-church of millions of people but it is more likely that a long-term online Christian community will be small and quiet rather than large and exciting, and may not be understood by the wider Church…the commonest question I am asked about online church is ‘What do you do?’ and it is hard to explain that we don’t ‘do’ church – we are church to each other, despite the lack of sacraments or a building, because we are committed to each other’s journeys in the faith and in Christ’s love. Smith, P. Online Mission and Ministry, 2015, Introduction Tweet @drbexl 16
  17. 17. Online Church? Tweet @drbexl 17Image: https://harperganesvoort.files.wordpress.com/2008/01/epiphany- cathedral-3.jpg Hutchings, T., Creating Church Online: Ritual, Community and New Media, 2017, 2
  18. 18. Discipleship Online: The Big Bible Project (2010-2015) Tweet @drbexl 18 THANKS FOR FUNDING TO THE JERUSALEM TRUST AND Photo by Nina Strehl on Unsplash
  19. 19. #Digidisciple Tweet @drbexl 19 http://archive.bigbible.uk/digidisciple/
  20. 20. [If we are…] means by which God communicates and reveals himself through his Spirit, then our blog posts, status updates, tweets, artistic images, and online comments should be products of a life transformed by Christ and indwelled by his Spirit. As restored image bearers, our online presence and activity should image the Triune God. Byers, A. Theomedia: The Media of God and the Digital Age, 2013, 196
  21. 21. Emerged Themes • What is a theologically informed view of digital engagement? • What is good practice for being a Christian online? • What is the impact of digital on religious practice (online/offline?) • What does a welcoming church look like in a digital age? Tweet @drbexl 21
  22. 22. Media Interest Tweet @drbexl 22http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b091sz8x http://drbexl.co.uk/press
  23. 23. Researching the Church and Digital Tweet @drbexl 23 Photo by Oakozhan on Stockfresh
  24. 24. Digital Religion Reseach Scholars are identified as having moved from excitement at this ‘new thing’, to the digital becoming a part of everyday life to be analysed, to understanding what the lived ‘reality’ of digital religion is. The three academic waves that Campbell identifies here—the descriptive, the categorical and the theoretical— are echoed throughout the rest of the book, as we understand how ‘digital religion’ has matured as a field of study. Lewis, B. Book review: Digital Religion: Understanding Religious Practice in New Media Worlds, written by Heidi Campbell, 2015, 249 Tweet @drbexl 24http://bit.ly/CampbellReview
  25. 25. Intermediate Outputs British Academy Funding Bid: Planning: Interviews: communications leads, major British church denominations Design: Content analysis: online content produced (nationally?) by churches Reception: Survey: Responses from users of church digital content • 2019: ‘Being a Christian Online: How the church and its members are adapting to the digital age’, The Information Society (to submit summer 2018) • 2020: ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age: concerns and policies for British churches’, Business History (to submit summer 2019) Tweet @drbexl 25
  26. 26. Bigger Project: Being a Welcoming Church in a Digital Age Tweet @drbexl 26Photo: iqoncept, on Stockfresh
  27. 27. Q&A Tweet @drbexl 27 HTTP://BIT.LY/ChurchPlaceIPM