( cowritten and deeply inspired by Jon Swanson) Emilio rises at six and starts coffee. His RSS reader has many blogs to read, plus links to a “Bible in a Year” website that sends him daily updates. It’s no longer strange to be reading the Bible in his RSS reader. It just feels like another way to connect. Emilio is thinking of setting alerts for his community in general, plus for specific issues facing the people in his congregation.
Emilio has a personal blog for reflections, and a website for the Church, as well. Most recently, he’s added a section for using UStream.tv to show live sermons. Not that every house has a broadband Internet connection, but if this is another way that someone who can’t make it to the church can feel connected to the community, why not give it a try.
Other churches are putting up sermons and special events on YouTube and GodTube. Emilio has found ideas for sermons online regularly, or rather, ways to refresh his own ideas with the wisdom of others.
Some churchgoers in his extended online community are doing things like Twitter their local service. Others have been confronted for bringing technology into the church. In some affluent churches, there are even Second Life outposts, and online campuses. It’s a balance of concerns and considerations: are you still part of a community when represented digitally? Does God hear your prayer in pixel form? Emilio leans towards yes, but he knows that others aren’t as understanding.
Emilio knows that there are more challenges to taking religion into social media. He’s read and studied the book UNCHRISTIAN, by David Kinnamon. In this book, Kinnamon talks about what outsiders think about Christianity: hypocritical, focus on conversion, antihomosexual, sheltered, too political, judgmental. Emilio feels there’s a much greater risk of these concerns spreading in the online world, where some context is lost.
Emilio recently upgraded his cell phone, which allows him to receive email from people with questions, receive text messages from people seeking a quick check-in during a rough moment, and it’s allowed him to be able to take pictures and share them online with the larger community. As Emilio visits a lot of hospitals, he sometimes records quick audio messages with someone sick, to be able to store and play this message for a family member later on.
There’s still so much face to face that he does, and much that doesn’t require an Internet connection, but through these options, Emilio has reached out far beyond his local congregation. He feels friendship with people from all around the world, and he understands the larger struggles people are having through his exploration of other blogs and online media.
With so much more to do, Emilio is happy for his first steps, and looks forward to even more respectful contact with others.
How does this sit with you?
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Photo credit, Chicago Eye