As you probably already know (since I posted a lot about it on Thursday) I attended and spoke at GodblogCon. I had a great time: First, I learned a lot about some new technology and the new media; Second, there was great conversation, especially at round table discussions about the new media and its impact on different spheres of life; Third, I believe, as do many others, that the new media is going to impact (and it has in many ways already) how we do church; Fourth, meeting people in person that you only know by a blog or website, has a great humanizing effect.
First, in regards to new technology. Nothing new to the world, but new to me in how I want to use it. Mars Hill Church in Seattle did a workshop on podcasting and video casting that I thought was informative and I’ve been thinking more and more about doing some podcasts with some other people, as well as making and posting some more videos. I really enjoyed getting to know Wade Tonkin and he interviewed me with the Flip and I so liked it I purchased one myself. You’ll be seeing the results of this on my blog very soon.
Second, discussion around the new media is nothing new, but this was the first time I had been involved in a discussion with so many people that get it. The new media (however you want to define it) has already had, and will continue to have great impact on our life and the different areas that we inhabit. It was nice to be involved in a discussion with people in groups of 3-5, to sometimes 30, to sometimes 50, about the new media. Everyone had their own thoughts and opinions about it and it was great to put all of our heads together. Usually a conference like this is geared specifically towards tech issues and how to use and apply the tools. Our section of the conference was more about the theology, philosophy and reasons and application behind it. Which was very refreshing. Just because you have the means to purchase the tools, doesn’t mean you should use them. So it was good to think through these tough issues.
Third, I’m not going to say much in this post, because I will say more later. But my whole talk, which you can listen to here, will just give you a very, very small glimpse of how the new media, specifically social networking, has influenced and is changing our ministry. I think one of the take aways for me from the conference that I continually heard over and over again was how the new media tends to level hierarchy in various spheres of life, and there is no longer a “gatekeeper” (a word which Al Mohler used in his talk), or the one person, or group in authority that can demand allegiance to thoughts, flow of information, etc. As I sat in small group discussions it was evident how these technologies are changing the way that many people do ministry. I think this is a great and exciting time, but not without some caution, or thought as we move forward.
Fourth, it’s one thing to know someone only by their blog or website. And when that is the only way we know someone, it’s much easier to make harsh judgments, be critical, and sling arrows via the web. But when you actually meet people, you realize just how human we all are. You realize that we have much more in common, especially Christ. And you realize that we are all trying to generally accomplish the same thing (share Jesus Christ with others) even though our theologies and techniques may differ. Some of these people I have met before and some were new friends. I had a great time hanging out at dinner with Joe Carter of Evangelical Outpost, Matt Anderson of Mere Orthodoxy, Andy Jackson of Smart Christian, Eric Jones of Transformed Daily and Abraham Piper and Josh Sowin of GodblogCon conference. It brings us out from behind our computers where it’s easy to disagree and usually doesn’t take any courage to write posts or make comments, to up close and personal interaction with one another, where it gets us away from our computers, and where it takes courage and authenticity to discuss our agreements, as well as our disagreements with each other…in person.
There were a lot of other interesting things that happened, and I met a lot of great people. Of course Mark Roberts is as great in person as he is on his blog, but I’ll stop for now, and say thank you to Dustin Steeve a Biola Torrey Honors Student. Thanks to Dustin and his team.
Last, I really had a great time getting to meet and know Dr. John Mark Reyonlds who is a professor at Biola and who is the Director of the Torrey program. He did an amazing job facilitating discussion, and for making the conference not just about tech tools, but about the reasons behind us using them, and why we as Christians have a higher cause in mind when we employ the new media.