Perusing the Church Times this week – yes, I know, it is hard being this cool – and I saw one of the comment sections was from a blogging Bishop, Alan Wilson. Bishop Alan blogs about all manner of things, but his comment section in the CT was about new media in general.
I thought it was a great article. It laid out clearly the different varieties of social media: social networking, content-based, and blogs. He then described the challenges that these forms bring about, particularly for the Church. Your average CT reader would have found it helpful, informative, and probably quite baffling. But the essence of the piece was to tell the Church to get in on the act – there is a wealth of possibility within Web 2.0.
I commend the article, and I think Bishop Alan pitched it just right. However, I find it sad that we’re in 2011, and the CT gets round to publishing an explanatory article about new media. Sure, it needed to be done. But it’s a little discomforting that only when the ball is well and truly rolling, and very much in danger of rolling away, does the Church think its time to get involved.
Of course, there are your fringe types, who have always been involved. Krish Kandiah, Johnny Baker, Bishop Alan, and others. There are others who have seen the bandwagon, and successfully jumped upon it because they saw the need and importance of engaging with the internet. And then, unfortunately, there are still a whole host of people who decry the internet as a passing fad. This third group make up the majority of the Church.
Perhaps I’m being unfair to both the CT and the Church, and my opinion is coloured by experience with a variety of Luddites I have known over the years. Not necessarily people who are stubbornly refusing to get involved, but people who just don’t know how. I suspect their main fear is that any attempt to engage will be seen as half-hearted, uncool or neglecting ‘what they should be doing’. I suppose in that sense, that’s where things like Digimission, and Premier Christian Media’s involvement comes in, with their attempt to provide the church with a training ground for using new media.
I just worry that the Church has a habit of arriving to the party late, investing a lot of time and energy getting involved (or completely hammered, if you’ll follow the metaphor) then waking up in the early hours with no money and the mother-of-all-headaches, to find that everyone has already left. I hope for our sake – that is, the Church – we don’t do that. We’ve got a gospel to tell, and an internet ready to be told.