It was Atticus in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird who said:
“… you never really understand a man unless you step inside his shoes and walk around in them.”
Last week at the Cork, Cloyne & Ross Clergy Conference I learnt a lot. The speaker was Nick Baines, Bishop of Croydon and he spoke to us on “Old message, new media: communicating the Gospel in the digital age”. Key points included understanding what it was like for the person who has no experience of church or theological language coming into a church service and how alien an experience it can be for them. How do we present and share the gospel with a 16 year old and / or someone from a completely different background or cultural environment than our own? What language do we use, does it make sense?
Another point Bishop Nick made was the importance of engaging with people through blogging, Twitter, Facebook etc. It was like the penny finally dropped for me; yes I have been blogging for a while but now I see a greater purpose in it. Likewise I have been on Facebook and Twitter for some time, but have never really got going with either. Now even in the past few days I have found myself joining in a debate with some Atheists on Facebook – what an opportunity this is, to share the gospel with people who are never going to go anywhere near a church! Compared to many I do not get huge numbers of visitors to my blog, but the numbers reading my sermons on line would fill all the church pews several times over – this is exciting stuff but it will only work if I am able to communicate in a way that those who I am trying to engage with understand what I am trying to say. That of course is a huge challenge…