God and new media

The third annual Christian New Media Conference took place in King’s College Waterloo on Saturday.

Reported to be a sell-out, the conference aimed to inspire and equip individuals to make an impact in the digital world.

The theme for this year’s conference was ‘The power of story in a digital age’ which had a dedicated seminar stream educating participants on to how unlock their story telling potential.

"The digital age is a great age for us to tell stories. The many tools we have access to are free for us to do exactly what Jesus called us to do," said keynote speaker and blogger Sheridan Voysey.

Guests at the conference were encouraged to be bold about their faith online.

They were also educated on how to utilise social networking sites to spread God’s message.

"There is something in the human spirit that just seeks to push the boundaries," said Kevin Bennett, Director of new media at Premier Christian Media.

"This is a trait that God has instilled in us."

Sheridan continued: "I really like what Justin Brierley is doing with his radio programme on Premier.

"He gets conversations going between Christians and non-Christians, between theists and atheists. He’s crossing into new territory. The result he has is atheists around the world are now subscribing to his podcasts. Well done Justin."

In addition to radio, social media has also proved to be a powerful tool in encouraging the public to engage with God. Social media consultant Bryony Taylor shed some light on how the Twitter hash tag #prayForMuamba sparked prayer across the nation for footballer Fabrice Muamba who collapsed during a game earlier this year.

She said: "Twitter seems to have broken a barrier in talking about praying. ‘Pray For Muamaba’ was not the only hash tag with the word ‘pray’ in it . There was a ‘pray for Japan’ hash tag last year after the earthquake. It seems to me that it’s become a copied phrase, a normal response to a crisis on Twitter."

Between March 17 and 19 there were over 600,000 tweets with the hash tag ‘Pray for Muamba’ in it. Among those were tweets from Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney.

News publications are also picking up on trends sweeping across social networking sites. Earlier this year, the prayer tweets for Fabrice Muamba made the front page of The Sun with the headline ‘God is in control’.

"People pray, everyone prays. As it says in Ecclesiastes. God has placed eternity in the hearts of men. We have that longing for God in us," Taylor continued.

"People are looking for God and people are willing to say so on platforms like Twitter. Although we’ve seen this year some evidence of violent bullying on Twitter, the big story should be this one about Muamba."

She added: "I wonder about St Paul writing on Twitter if he were around today. He certainly [believed] writing letters was using the best technology available to him. Being in the world of social media makes me consider when Jesus said go to the ends of the earth a little bit differently."

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