Monday, November 30, 2015

Hope for the Post-Digital Church




I really admire Archbishop Justine's PR machine and greatly value having a feed from his Facebook Page! So I was upset to hear criticism of him and other church leaders for not "speaking out"!
In response, I mentioned Archbishop Justine's Facebook Page.  Bad move!! I had not been aware of of the degree of antipathy towards digital communications among churchgoers! I think it both sad and disappointing!

I was at a benefice meeting of a rural group of parishes in Norwich Diocese where the diocese's digital communications are improving year by year. Google Graham James Bishop of Norwich and you get 355,000 links. Bishop Graham, like Archbishop Justine, has a strong communications team supporting him.

The church in the countryside has been going through profound changes. No longer do people live, work, shop and take their recreation in the same community. No longer are communications limited to snail mail and newspapers and no longer does each village have its own vicar!

For centuries people with get up and go have been getting up and going from our rural communities. That's so much easier now the majority of people have cars. This means that if the village church is boring, or irrelevant, has a different style to the one we favour,  we just get in our vehicles and go elsewhere. And there are so many things other than church on offer on a Sunday morning!  I think its amazing anyone attends the local church!

Except, of course, there are some of us who are deeply committed to the idea that God calls us to be Christians where we are and, if that means enduring a church that is sometimes irrelevant, boring or displaying a style we are not comfortable with,  so be it.   For such as us the internet, the world wide web, great radio programmes and occasional journeys to Christian meetings, teachings and services elsewhere are life lines. They put us in touch with lively Christianity, ways we can  be  inspired and become inspiring!

Without intending to be sycophantic, Archbishop Justine and Bishop Graham on the internet,  on the radio are all part of  the network that sustains me

The complaint, "Why don't church leaders speak out!"and the anger at the mention of Facebook suggest to me there's  a battle line in the rural church!  Honestly brothers and sisters in Christ digital communications are not the problem for  rural church.  They are part of the solution! 

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