Friday, May 6, 2011

Bishop Alan on social media

Good stuff from Bishop Alan Wilson, who has a comment piece in today's Church Times on social media and blogging.  There is a slightly comic feel to it as he gently introduces the CT's readers to the big new world -  "Twitter: a site for comments and links in a tiny format of 140 characters, called Tweets" - but he does it well, and still has room for some more insightful comments. In particular he is very strong on the challenge that online media present to the Church's way of doing things. How about this:
New media are inherently anti-hierarchical - some bishops may not take kindly to a world where nobody cares who any of them are, in which they are only as good as their last job.
It's quotes like that which make Alan one of my favourite bishops, even if he is rude about evangelicals sometimes.  Most of our episcopal leaders have not yet grasped that, increasingly, authority has to be earned rather than assumed. Alan has, and he doesn't mind poking a bit of gentle fun at his more authoritarian colleagues.  Or, as he puts it "in social media, authenticity is gold dust". 

But he doesn't just see social media as a force threatening the bastions of the church. It's an opportunity too:
Christians have much to say using social media because churches contain many ordinary people with engaging stories to tell.  Now they have the means to do so personally and conveniently. The more they get out there and speak freely, the richer a view of Christianity the world will get
That's right! Christians online can offer authenticity and a message that deserves to go viral.  The Gospel is good news, so tweet, blog and who know what else it as much as you can.  Full marks to Alan Wilson for being one of the very few bishops to grasp this and implement it effectively. Let's hope his authenticity and communication skills are recognised by the church hierarchy, and that he is not seen as an eccentric or a boat-rocker.  Nick Baines has become the first blogging Diocesan Bishop, but there should be room for another one at the top table.

1 comment:

Ray Barnes said...

Hear Hear, and if there is room he is perfectly qualified for the job. Always well on message but also with a lightness of touch and slightly zany humour, his approach needs a few echoes.