As I embark on research for May's CEN column here is April's.
Another month surfing the internet to save CEN readers the trouble. Thanks for those of you who got in touch or left comments at Mustard Seed Shavings. I have archived last month’s column there if you want to revisit it. You can also leave your comments and ideas.
Many churches have websites with a range of attractiveness. I googled (searched using the Google search engine) three well-known churches, St Paul’s Cathedral, Christ Church Clifton and Jesmond Parish Church. They all had good sites. Jesmond, impressively at www.church.org.uk, must have been a very early adopter.
One of the best sites you brought to my attention was the Godbit Project a bunch of Christian techies who want to help Christian organisations and individuals make the most of the internet. There you will find helpful articles, discussions and advice. Church leaders please note that an out-of-date website is as bad as an out-of-date notice board. I was criticised last year for advertising a different Alpha course start time on-line to that printed in our church notice sheet. Let’s get it right. People are looking. Make it someone’s responsibility.
Other suggestions from readers included sites where on-line book ordering could take place. I like to support smaller Christian businesses. There are www versions of independent shops as well as hypermarkets. The Good Book Company promotes only those books which uphold or defend evangelical faith and belief. Eden, which took over the Christian Bookshop.com domain, sells books and CDs. It also has a small Christian job vacancy database.
A site which took a sabbatical but is now back in action and is one of my favourite places to drop in during sermon preparation is Dissonant Bible. In its own terms:
‘Dissonance - when the Bible simply refuses to fit the streamlined, systematic theologies so beloved of many conservative evangelicals.
Dissonance - when the Bible sounds discordant to our ears, at odds with what we believe to be right, just, and humane.’
The whole emerging church scene is the subject of much discussion on-line. Emergent is a beautifully designed site and relaxing to browse. Fresh Expressions is an Anglo-Methodist initiative to promote new ways of doing and being church, full of stories. There is a forum where mission-minded church leaders grapple with post-modernism at Organic Church. Some of these sites are a jargon jungle. Take a virtual machete. Radical Congruency is a site updated by a teacher and a software engineer in Seattle. They have deliberately chosen to live in a poorer area of town from where they reflect on spirituality, technology and emerging spirituality. Their observations are speedy and on the agenda of the day.
More edgy, Shuffle is part of One Small Barking Dog’s media site. It is ‘…a safe space to think: discuss: and discover what is happening in emerging culture and spirituality.’ Editor Barry Taylor has a thought-provoking blog called Nevermind the Bricolage.
If you want a debate in the real world look at Blah… online for details of a series of conversations on mission, worship, church and Christianity in today’s rapidly changing culture. CMS and partners host.
Or if you need reinvigorating in the endless task of engaging with the world why not drop into the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity site, to browse and learn. Lecturer in contemporary culture Brian Draper has a lovely blog called Youarewhatyoudelete full of great photos. Bloggers don’t go a bundle on gaps between words.
Hands up if you remember youth worker Pip Wilson’s column in this paper. That’s just me then. Still I keep up with him at his blog. Other blog-type sites-of-the-month for me include, Mark Oestreicher of Youth Specialties and author, speaker, emergent networker and Christian activist Brian McLaren.
We all need to laugh at ourselves from time to time. In my case everyone else is laughing at me so I may as well join in. With apologies to anyone with a humour by-pass you may be entertained by Ship of Fools or Lark News (Rapture Insurance – for those who get left behind).