The other week, I gandered into the tweet streem of @dlature where he was asking the (very relevant) question and a few other statements:
Isn’t it a logical place (home page) for a church website to give a flavor re: what it considers important? Economic justice not on radar?
This why so many of these movem’ts R “secular”; spirituality of most folks sees church ignore this & so is deemed irrelevant #occupytheology
That got me into looking a bit more at his website Theological as I was sure that given that question, there’d be some other insights about the things we discuss or not within our faith communities. What I stumbled upon was an article that asked the question about this idea of a social graph (the online services and conversations that can be indentified as coming from a single person/brand across all of the internet) and what its theological context might be.
…What has bothered me for years, before I even knew of “Social Graph”, which came into usage with the nae given it by Facebook, is how the technological community in the church has stopped thinking theologically when it comes to technology. In their embrace and efforts to be relevant and resist the accusations that the church is anti-technological, they (we) have adopted not only technology, but the vision for it from the world outside the church, which has kept us from realizing so much of the potential for a rich experience of relational data to connect us spiritually and theologically. If we could only come to the realization that Facebook did, and grasp some seemingly simple notions of how people develop their face to face networks, we could greatly enhance the extent of the reality of a Body of Christ, by taking our face to face community experience and shared stories, and find ways of extending those connections into the wider Web-o-sphere…
After reading this piece, I had the additional question to contemplate, “what’s the message in your messages?” As @dlature and I conversed on Twitter, there is a place on social media streams to talk about and engage in unfiltered discussions about economic, social, justice, and other issues. But, if this is missing on our church/denomination’s websites (no forums, blogs, or links to social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, Pininterest, etc.), then are these discussions even happening within the midst of these instutitions. Worse, there are many who are present on within these media channels, but don’t bother to converse. What do you think that conveys to others about what you/your org is passionate about?People do pay attention.
As I mentioned in that twitter-convo, there’s a sense of control that institutions feel and do lose when conversations get into media streams such as Facebook and Twitter, and there’s a genuine fear that when the conversation isn’t controlled, that the purpose of that website (marketing a specific image and perception of that church/org/denomination to an interested public) is lost. I had this explained to me in detail in a former church when I (often) commented about the posted sermon or other notes on the church’s website. Anything that I said that was in any way slightly contentious was not approved/deleted. In no way was there to be a marring of the pristine image of that church. And my response to them was simple, “you don’t want a blog, you want a soapbox where ‘church’ means you control the conversation, not mature the participants of it.” Suffice to say, I’m no longer a member of that church, and this is the point that @dlature was speaking to.
Are we present outside of the pews – outside of the environments that we created specificaly for the purpose of growing and maturing one another to be a demonstration of this faith in our world(s)? Or, are we just interested in insular conversations, ignoring the actions of the world outside of our walls until it comes in (and we can sweep it under a carpet, or into something that makes us look like we were talking this conversation all along)?
What mobile and social technologies enable is a conversation and living out of our faith beyond that “bubble.” I’d urge you to be more consistent in getting out of the bubble, or at least opening the window to the conversations the world has which will effect how you plan to survive.