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Communicating our ancient faith in a digital age

By Dr Bex Lewis, Research Fellow in Social Media and Online Learning, CODEC, St John’s, Durham University.


omophobic, judgemental, hypocritical”; three words I heard at a recent Evangelical Alliance event. Disappointingly but not

all that surprisingly, these were the top three words collected in a large survey, conducted by The Barna Group in 2007, on 16-29 year olds’ perceptions of ‘the Church’. At a recent workshop a delegate commented that before friends drew him into church, he thought that all Christians were weird, and that everyone “had two heads”. These are the people, outside the church, who even think about church at all. For many, churchgoing is no longer the ‘cultural norm’. People don’t actively ignore the church: they don’t even think about it.

Why does digital matter? Matthew 5:13-16 calls us to be salt and light in the

world. For millions in the ‘digital age’, that world includes social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest. With literally billions in the digital spaces, the online social spaces presented by churches and church organisations need to be open, appealing, welcoming, and not look like an aſterthought. Online spaces are now effectively the ‘front door’ to your church for digital users, and you ignore these spaces at your peril. These spaces demand a new approach and new way of thinking, but there’s no need to start from scratch. We can look for simple ways in which the digital can augment what we already do. This includes sharing more widely materials we already produce, and details of activities we participate in.


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