The Digital Community – Is It “All That?”

Ok.  So I get that it took me way too long to blog after my last Theology After Google teaser.  You have my apology.  Mostly.  While you’re getting irritated with me, know that what I’m about to blog are the class notes from last week’s class.  Ok.  Get mad.  Ready, go.

Now that we’re done with that, let’s get to the class stuff.  Although it was the second session for the class, it was my first.  So to find out when I walked in that we were going to have three guest lecturers – two via Skype and one via a pre-recorded YouTube video – I geeked out a little.  Ok, a lot.  Let’s get on with the notes.  I’ll translate some of them into English rather than my note-taking “Bob-ish,” though often I will leave them as mostly an outline rather than prose.

Our first guest speaker was Mike Morrell who opened with a couple of book recommendations.  Along those lines, check out Jesus Freak by Sara Miles and Thy Kingdom Connected by Dwight Friesen (reviewed here).  He also suggested keeping an eye on TheOOZE Viral Blogger Network for other book reviews or to review books yourself!

He then got practical.  Among many things, we talked about ways that students and ministers can use their networks to connect with people.  Using Facebook, take advantage of the “friendfinder” tool to find people you already know.  Also “friend” people who have similar interests by checking out various pages that you’ve “fan-ed.”  Then, point people to your own blogs using both Facebook and Twitter.  How do you find groups or pages on Facebook?  Just use that handy search field in the upper left of the Facebook window!  Pretty quick & easy…

Our next guest speaker was Steve Knight.  No, not the guy in the California Senate.  I’m talking about the guy who edited and published Kamikaze Magazine, who travelled through Germany, Poland, Singapore, and New Zealand with Steiger International, and who even worked for Billy Graham.  Steve also does work for Emergent Village and Serving In Mission, and has an upcoming job with a TV network that wouldn’t exist without the Internet!

Steve spoke with us about The Theology of Twitter (though he admitted that he would be more broad than just Twitter – the alliteration is nice!).  His presentation can be found here.  And here are my notes on what he said as he went through the slides, occasionally with references to specific slides:

  • 3 challenges for the church in engaging social media
  • What is Social Media (slide 2)
  • Social media is storytelling – Sean Percival
  • It’s about interacting with the conversation that are out there about your organization (church company, etc.)
  • The Internet is a tool, a medium, but not just that
  • The Internet is a community
  • People are spending more and more time online, partly because all media is becoming social


3 Theological Challenges

  • #1 – Be “reverse incarnational”
  • Reverse of John 1, we are – in a sense -leaving our bodies and becoming words on websites, in blogs, in tweets, etc.
  • There is some tension between physical community and cyber-community; it’s a tension the church must address
  • Don’t count “conversions,” count “conversations”
  • If we’re always trying to convert people, we’re short-changing conversations
  • We must focus on asking good questions & focusing on relationship; conversion will naturally occur
  • Why do people visit the pastor’s bio page more often than any single page?
  • People want to develop a connection
  • Like the advent of the Printing Press, the web is a revolutionary media
  • The Internet is the town square – it’s where the conversation is happening and it’s where we need to be


  • #2 – Maintaining the physical in the sacramental
  • One argument is that an avatar receiving virtual sacraments indeed is a means of grace
  • The counter-argument is that this kind of ritual is not an “outward and visible sign”
  • Nor is unconsecrated bread & wine in front of a computer screen
  • It tries to take liturgy and make it more magical
  • It begs the question: must sacramental be physical?


  • #3 – Promoting counter-cultural spiritual practices
  • TIME Magazine did an article on people tweeting in church with member tweets shown on screens in worship
  • Lots of churches & clergy tweeting:  “The church that tweets together stays together”
  • On Twitter, follow @twitturgies & @tworship
  • There are benefits of Twitter Prayer (slide 24)

The real challenge here is not to connect, but to disconnect.  There is a need for the church to create some counter-cultural spiritual practices.  We’re plugged in to the web & mobile devices, and we need to unplug intentionally for periods of time.  We need to take a digital Sabbath!

Check out 5 ideas for ethical social networking (slide 26) and 3 challenges for the church (slide 27).

Finally, we watched a YouTube video from Callid Keefe-Perry (TheImageOfFish).  Rather than water it down with my own blather, here’s the clip.  It’s a touch over 10 min.

That’s it for that class.  We next meet on Feb. 9th and I’ll plan on continuing with the class notes.  I’ll also be posting some things here as assignments for the class.  Next up with be related to What Would Google Do? by Jeff Jarvis.

Until then…

3 thoughts on “The Digital Community – Is It “All That?”

  1. Glad someone discussed the stuff from class.

    As an aside I love playing guitar until late in the evening so we need to make sure they are present at the TAG event so we can have a good time at the evening social events.

Leave a Reply