I’m not sure I am qualified to talk about the Digimission project and digital mission, since ‘real’ mission is a concept I neither fully understand nor am engaged with. However, if we want to use all the communication tools we’re blessed with, we need to understand them and I’ve been in the midst of a lot of discussion about new media and Web 2.0 lately. So partial qualification there. And my part-time research – looking at ‘old’ new media, church websites, means I’m relatively knowledgeable about what is happening there.
This research suggests there is still a huge gap between what churches as individual organisations are doing with web 1.0 – a static website – and where the rest of society is. You might have the most vibrant congregation and the most blessed successful church going, but if you don’t show up on Google, someone from a few streets away looking for a local church might never know you’re there. But this ‘get them to come to us’ mentality is not how I understand the concept of mission. It’s the going out there.
So how do you do that digitally?
First I think you have to do it well. One has to engage with the technology. If Dr John Sentamu can tweet, so can you. These technologies are not just the preserve of teenagers. In fact, the average user of Facebook or Twitter user is, in the US at least, in their thirties. (Figures from Pew Internet & American Life project).
And literate. So forget the corny down-with-the-kids text spellings. One has to understand the way digital communication happens. It’s mobile. That means small screens, short sentences, designed to be quick and easy to digest. (Yes, I know – almost the complete opposite of ‘serious’ faith).
It’s fast. There’s no point in spending hours on content that’s out of date within minutes.
Who are the leaders? We all know Stephen Fry tweets. Who else is worth following? Who else writes good blogs that will give you good ideas, inspiration, help you negotiation pitfalls? (I don’t have answers here).
Perhaps we should engage more with the rest of the blogosphere. Let’s add our reasoned comments to blogs that extol racism or extremism. Let’s do that as ordinary citizens, rather than sermonising in the comments box. Let’s exploit the connectedness we have as individuals through digital media and not allow get sidetracked by the kind of theological wrangles that affect the church.