11 November 2014

20% of people share their faith online, but that's only half the story

Posted in Social Media

twitter angelYou may have have seen the recent Pew report that 20% of people share their faith online, but that's not the whole story. Elizabeth Drescher and I discuss this report in The Narthex and reflect on the variety of ways people share and express their faith online.

Sharing one’s faith is much more than just about sharing religious content, like spiritual or Biblical quotes, check-ins at church, or personal testimony. It is interwoven into the relationships and networks of which we are a part in and across the lived reality of both online and offline settings. People share their faith in a variety of ways — as they create and nurture relationships, seek to be a gracious presence, affirm and assist friends, and engage with others in the things they find important and meaningful. The other day, for instance, a Facebook friend posted an offer to share an “inspirational quote and photo” for anyone who needed a “spiritual pick-me-up” during the day. Would Pew have counted that as “religious sharing?” Would the woman herself have thought of it in that way?

This reveals a limitation of trying to quantify religious practice, for demographic studies of religion require that certain behaviors be narrowly defined as “religious” while others are “not religious.”

Read the whole article here at The Narthex.

photo credit: Charis Tsevis, “Behold the Twitter Angel,” 2009. CC 2.0 license.

09 November 2014

Welcome to God's Hackathon

Posted in Social Media, Church

HackerPut on your hoodies, friends. We’re gonna rewrite that old DOS code that’s been running the Church for too long.

Check out my latest article about church innovation in The Narthex:

The church today is in the midst of its own sort of hackathon—whether or not it wishes to be. Many of the programs and structures that served the church well in the post-World War II period have lost their resonance and impact. The old ministry hymnbook that worked so well in the mid-20th century, seems profoundly dissonant at the outset of the 21st. Ministry leaders are furiously rewriting their ministry scripts, hacking away at roles and responsibilities, liturgies and committees, and the sites and structures of worship. It reminds me of a painting by Paris Bordone of the child Jesus teaching in the Temple. As he holds forth, the elders and scribes around him are tearing up their old scrolls and recording Jesus’ new message, like so many hackers throwing out old code, making room for the new. Except now Jesus is wearing a hoodie and Keds.

Today’s ministry leaders, if they are not already, must view themselves as hackers, iterating, and in some case breaking things, in order to help the church move forward.

Read the full article at The Narthex.

Photo Credit: Alexandre Dulaunoy, “Everybody Needs a Hacker,” 2013. CC 2.0 license.

31 October 2014

The Church Kids Will Be Alright...You're Welcome

Posted in Leadership, Church

Skateboard-WingtipsLost in the debates over generational shifts in the church between Boomers and Millenials is a forgotten generation, Gen-Xers. And we might have a chip on our shoulder about it. Check out my new post that's getting a lot of buzz on the new online magazine, The Narthex, which I edit with Elizabeth Drescher.

Here's an excerpt:

You see, Gen-Xers know that the church has never and will never belong to us — not that we would want that. We are deeply skeptical of institutions. We understand that we are a transitional generation. We console older generations in their lament for how things used to be, even as we pry their clutched fingers from the reigns of power and control. And we are hurriedly trying to prepare the ground for Millenials, with their much needed technological and cultural fluency, to have voice and shape the Church and American Christianity.

Most of us are not digital natives, but we love technology and lead digitally-integrated lives. We are the last generation to enter seminary or divinity school thinking that ministry was a stable livelong career choice. And it turns out — lucky us — that we get to help preside over the death of Christendom and nurture whatever it is that comes next. We grew up with Boomers — our parents—but we associate ourselves with Millennials.

Read the full post here at The Narthex.

Photo credit: Jay Mantri. CC 0 license.

26 September 2014

Mapping the 21st Century Ministry Landscape

Posted in The Digital Cathedral

How are you engaged with your local community and new digital neighborhoods? Check out my latest piece on making your neighborhood your cathedral at The BTS Center's new blog, Bearings.

Rose-WindowLike the expansive and varied neighborhood I mapped in my childhood, today’s ministry landscape is not made up of just church buildings, but of the array of local and digital gathering places that comprise widely networked 21st century neighborhoods. Increasingly, as church membership declines and the number of Nones rise, ministry is moving—and must move—from behind the closed doors of our church buildings into local and digital gathering places where people already gather, make meaning, and live out their faith in daily life. These locations include pubs, coffee shops, commuter train stations, bus stops, college campus sidewalks , local vet’s offices, food trucks, laundromats, as well as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other digital social media locales.

Read the entire post here at The BTS Center blog.

Program note: Though I will continue to post new content here on occasion, most of my new original articles are now published on various websites beyond this blog. For those articles, I'll include a small quote and a link to the website with the full article. Thanks for reading and staying connected!

Image: Photo by Keith Anderson, The Rose Window at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York

26 August 2014

The Digital Cathedral: Book Cover, Foreward, Pre-Order, and Cathedral Visits

Posted in The Digital Cathedral

TDC Cover

Just a brief status update on my forthcoming book The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World (Morehouse, 2015).

  • The cover is out! I'm so happy with the cover for The Digital Cathedral and grateful to my editor Nancy Bryan and the team at Church Publishing for putting together such a great concept. I love the way it combines the digital icon of the wi-fi signal and the classic look of stained glass—one of the defining characteristics of cathedrals. I also love the clean white Apple aesthetic with the small i's in the title.
  • I'm also grateful to Elizabeth Drescher, my friend and co-author on Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible (Morehouse, 2012) for writing the foreward.
  • The Digital Cathedral is available for pre-order here through the Church Publishing Website via Cokesbury. The book will be published in April 2015. 

Here's the working description:

Rapid cultural and technological changes through the last two decades have changed the context for ministry. The development of digital social media and advances in affordable, mobile technologies have dramatically changed the way most people interact with others, communicate, organize, and participate in communities.

The Digital Cathedral is a warm embrace of the rich traditions of Christianity, especially the recovery of the premodern sense of cathedral, which encompassed the depth and breadth of daily life within the physical and imaginative landscape of the church. It is for anyone who seeks to effectively minister in a digitally-integrated world, and who wishes to embody the networked, relational, and incarnational characteristics of that ministry. For lay and professional ministry leaders, congregations, judicatories, and partner organizations.

This last month of book writing has been a combination of creating new chapter content and editing my early drafts. The highlights of the project this summer have been my visits to two great cathedrals. In July, I toured Washington National Cathedral in D.C. with my mom and stepdad. My mom and I had travelled to Washington National in a field trip for my confirmation class around twenty-five years ago. It was great to reconnect with that experience and explore the cathedral in the behind the scenes tour. In August I toured the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (and the Hungarian Pastry Shop) in Manhattan. Both visits provided rich material and experiences for the book, which you'll read all about.

Look for more information and details about The Digital Cathedral in the months to come. Thanks for all your support for the project!

03 April 2014

Introducing The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World

Posted in The Digital Cathedral

CanterburyCathedralHello Friends,

I'm sure you've noticed that things have been pretty slow here on my blog of late. The reason is that I'm working on a new book:  The Digital Cathedral: Networked Ministry in a Wireless World, to be published by Church Publishing, the publishing house of The Episcopal Church. (Yes, they let Lutherans write for them too.)

I'm really excited about this project. It builds on many of the ideas I've been writing, blogging, and speaking about—and experiencing in my ministry—over last few years. It builds on ideas Elizabeth Drescher and I introduced in Click2Save: The Digital Minsitry Bible, but goes beyond the basics of how to use social media, and explores the character of ministry leadership that is required today in our digitally-integrated world. 

The Digital Cathedral is intended to evoke an expansive understanding of church in a digitally-integrated world, one that extends ministry into digital and local gathering spaces, recognizes the holy in our everyday lives, and embodies a networked, relational, and incarnational ministry leadership for a digital age.

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