Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twits for Christ

I did it. After an initial phase of something like laziness (thinly disguised as moral high ground), this summer I did it.

I became a twit. Or a twitterer or tweeter or whatever you call someone who uses Twitter to talk to the world.

It's long been a subject of debate around our church what our take on the internet ought to be. On the one hand, we want to take seriously the apostolic command 'Do not love the world or the things in the world' (1 Jn.2:15). It'd be short-sighted not to see the that 'the web' can be sticky and tangle Christians up in immorality, time-wasting or whatever. On the other, intensely conscious of the Great Commission and the desire to get across God's goodness by whatever means, we've not been shy of cyber-missioning: was one of the earliest Christian websites to get up and running.

But it's all moved on. Fast. Tech know-alls call it the move from 'web 1.0' to 'web 2.0'. Nowadays it's not just static websites with their content - it's all about interactivity, networking, instant exchange. MySpace, then Facebook, and now 'share this with everyone you know - now!', 'Twitter your "now" stuff all over the place - now!'...

Anyone who knows me will tell you I'm not a tech-guru. (My friends who are would laugh at the notion.) But I do a lot of work for our church in communications - writing and editing mainly - and that has meant I've had to get my head round this stuff. Paper is so last millennium. Even websites are so pre the bursting of the 'Dot-com bubble'.

'I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some' (1 Cor.922). That was how Paul described his voyages to the centre of the culture of his day. And now it's our turn.

So I tweet my life in a colourful Christian church into the web-stratosphere. Mainly it's still received by friends and friends-of-friends. But others have joined in. (It was an exciting moment when the Religion Correspondent of The Times started following me.) Meanwhile my mate is debating with Paul Daniels whether the resurrection is a magic trick, and another is exchanging emails with Alastair Campbell about compassion towards those who suffer from mental health issues.

Evangelising on the streets (that good, old fashioned, first century, method of mission that we still do a fair bit as a church), I often exchange Facebook details with people so that the discussion of the gospel continues online. Meetings are tweeted and Facebooked and bookmarked and left around for others to 'stumble upon'. All the articles I and others write for our website can be commented on and these comments are instantly Twittered. And on it rolls.

But even so, I often feel we're really rather behind the light-speed movement of the world at large when it comes to these things. The (Google)wave sweeps onward.

So the other day we got together a group to talk through the different cyber-channels that may be worth exploring when it comes to expressing the gospel and the life of the church online. On top of social networking and Twitter et al, we considered web forums and fringe interest sites, 'viral' publicity, video and picture sharing, iphone compatibility, blogs, vlogs, plogs (actually, there's no such thing as plogs - yet - before you look them up) - and linking them all up so that we 'scatter our seed' as far and wide as we can.

We agreed the future is in the tributaries that make up the river. Individuals and little groups sharing personal stories (with words, pictures, videos, music whatever) which capture the imagination of the iGeneration - this is where its at.

I started this blog to chronicle my experiences of leading a Christian community which I still believe to be a remarkable way of living and in the hope that it would capture the interest of seekers out there. But it's got bigger than that. Now the challenge is before us to express Christ to a world which is suddenly enabled to watch - and listen and answer back - more than ever before.

(As it happens, today the EA are running a a synchronised blogging day called 'DigiMission' today to explore 'creative ideas for how Christians can use the digital space to impact mission'. Check out the link here.)

1 comment:

Aidan said...

Good one