Hey Vicar: Who Are You Writing That For?

blogThis morning I blogged about how The Church ™ so often fail to engage with people in the age bracket 20-40.  Statistically The Church ™ is not good with people in this age group.  A small group of us met to discuss how we could connect people to the ongoing story of God without worrying particularly about The Church ™ side of things.  For lots of people it can feel like engaging with The Church ™ is a bit like jumping on a moving train whereas there is often an openness to “faith”.

Whilst we were discussing how to do this through online content I had an epiphany that starts at a bit of a tangent.  I have been designing the new website for our church, Holy Nativity.  When stuck in the car for 5 hours Ruth and I were discussing content for it.  The essential information began to come together but we kept dreaming up epic descriptions and justifications to add to each page.  A description of “morning prayer” began a conversation about “why we pray, what we pray, how we pray”….

“Why are we putting this on the website?  It feels more like we’re putting it up to justify ourselves to other Christians in the area rather than for people who are just discovering us for the first time.  We seem to be saying that we are ‘sound’”.

You have been to websites dear reader.  How many times do you find opening phrases like “we are a bible believing church…” or other long phrases in christianese and jargon?  Perhaps the front page has giant lettering of Revd Kirk’s bold statement: “Our ongoing mission to make disciples of Christ where no one has made disciples of Christ before”.  Things that are purely designed to show how ‘sound’ we are to the other Christians.  We probably don’t even realise we are doing it.  And it doesn’t matter which particular flavour of “sound” we are – just so long as other Christians know it!  “We are a forward in mission shaped, biblically based, congregation of the Father’s heart”.

As I recounted this to our small gathering I searched the annals of my mind for content I’ve encountered that is purely for engaging people outside of The Church ™ with God’s story.  Surely there must be some good straightforward online content for people of no faith background that invites us and our modern context to engage with Jesus life and this strange thing we call ‘faith’.

I couldn’t think of anything.  When we engage, we tend to engage with each other.  Christian Leaders blogging for other Christian leaders.  Pontificating for the approval of our peers.  Vicars blogging for other vicars to show how good we are at being vicars.  Heck, I’m doing it right now. 

You dear reader, YES YOU!:  if you have got this far you are a Christian leader of some shape or form or you are very strange indeed.  I mean, why would anyone else read this content?  It’s a vicar talking about vicaring.

When I reflect on what I have written, I have written stuff for other Christians.  I talk about engaging with people outside of the church but what I write is in essence an instruction manual or theological reflection for other leaders.  OK, probably 90%.

But it is not all doom and gloom!!  Whilst this epiphany took place during our meeting, we did look at how we can buck the trend and create meaningful encounters for people online.  In the next few weeks I will ask you for your help to bring the story of God to life in the modern world.

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Personalisation – The Internet Filter Bubble and Facebook

This Ted Talk came from Carole reminding me of a blog I wrote for the Big Bible site about Theological Ghettos.  The way the internet works at the moment disturbs me as it edits out the things it believes I don’t want to see.  Google shows me what I want to see.  An algorithm decides what my world should look like.  Google essentially feeds me pictures of Mother Theresa, Desmond Tutu and Eddie Van Halen.  That kind of thing.  Give the people what they want!  And why not?

Facebook recently introduced a change to the way it works.  It has started to push content to your friends when you click “like” or comment upon a post.  I assume this means that every time I click like on a Star Wars meme is is pushed through to some of my friends.  As they are friends with me they must clearly be interested in the same things as I am – this is the logic that Facebook is employing.

This has shattered my internet filter bubble.  The world now looks a little different than before.  In the past week I have discovered that a “friend” of a “friend” likes the EDL.  I’ve seen numerous racist memes.  I’ve discovered that there is a more unpleasant underbelly to the society I am part of.  A less pleasant world that I was happily living without.  No doubt my friends have discovered that I talk about ‘vicar things’ a lot more than they thought previously.

It won’t come as a surprise to you to discover that I am “politically liberal” and so are a large proportion of my friends.  However, Facebook has just let everyone’s guard down.  Everyone is now less able to hide “the real you” from the world of Facebook unless they choose not to engage with it.  Every click potentially outs you as the person who “likes” pictures of fluffy kittens.  Alternatively you may find your more sinister side on display for the world to see as you are “outed” as a secret Belieber.

An Exercise in Collaboration – Daniel

On Tuesday Fr Simon posted on Facebook that he needed lots of different voices reading from Daniel.

I plugged a mic in to pro tools, grabbed a bible and read.  Dropped it into dropbox.  Lots of other people did the same and Simon did the rest.  Social media in action to create resources for God’s church.

 

Guest Post

This month my guest post over at bigbible.org.uk has the word “Cathedral” in the title. This took me by surprise as much as everyone else.

If you want to know why I would be mentioning a Cathedral in a post, why not check it out.

Christmas in 50 Words

This is a beautifully done look at the nativity.

Again this is from Igniter Media who aren’t very open source with their resources.  If you would like a version that doesn’t have a watermark you will have to pay the piper.

A Social Media Christmas

I’ve a few videos to share with you before your christmas services.

If you remember last year there was a social media video of the nativity.  This one is more poignant than the comedy one.

They are both from Igniter Media.  Sadly they aren’t very open source with their resources.  If you would like a version that doesn’t have a watermark you will have to pay the piper.

Twitter Resurrection

I stumbled upon this video.