I had the opportunity to speak on theology and social media recently at the Christian Education 2.0 conference at Pfeiffer Unversity, which gave me a chance to think about three distinct challenges facing churches as they engage social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, blogs, etc.). I posted the presentation “The Theology of Twitter” on SlideShare, where it was featured several times on the homepage, and it’s now been viewed nearly 1,800 times:
To get the full content, be sure to view the “Notes” tabs on each slide.
In summary, the three challenges that I identified at this point in history are:
- Be reverse incarnational
- Maintain the physical in the sacramental
- Promote spiritual practices, such as fasting from media and devices
Just days after giving this presentation, I was intrigued to find out that the world’s first “online baptism” had occurred through the Internet campus of Flamingo Road Church in Cooper City, Florida, of a woman (Alyssa Eason) in Fayatteville, Georgia:
Having quoted at length from Gavin Richardson’s blog series on “Spirituality and Social Media” for my own presentation, I was intrigued to read Gavin’s comment on the “online baptism” post at ChurchCrunch: “I’ve been a part of some worship communities a few years back which actually did some baptism via the Internet within the virtual worlds there. I’m not a fan of them as I see a sacrament needing some physical proximity to it. However, from what I am told the instances I knew of, people eventually went to counseling or into a church community through the encouragement of the [Second Life] community that they were baptized in.”
I just hope that churches like Flamingo Road that are going down this path of disembodied sacraments are asking the theological questions and counting the cost.
I didn’t really delve very much in my presentation into the whole debate over “virtual community” with Shane Hipps, which I’ve written about elsewhere. And here’s another gem from N.T. Wright that I had planned to include in my talk, but unfortunately it was left on the cutting room floor:
There is a video of me giving my presentation on “The Theology of Twitter” out there somewhere that I’m hoping to get my hands on. If/when I can get that posted online, I’ll update this blog post with the video. Stay tuned …
UPDATE: Well, thanks to the Twitters, I received a DM (that’s “direct message” for all my non-Twitter readers, all two of you, hi Mom and Dad!) from Jake Johnson alerting me to the series he’s writing currently on “Ministry in a Post-Christian, Digital Society.” At first glance, I can tell there’s great food for thought and conversation fodder there. Here’s just a snippet: “I’ve been thinking that post-modernism is dying. It’s on its last legs. Taking its place is what I’ll call Digitalism. Whereas Post-Modernism (in simplified terms) was the subjection of truth to cultural context, Digitalism is the subjection of truth to personal context.” In his first post, he also shares a brutal quote from William Gibson. Check it out »