Book Review: The Social Media Gospel by Meredith Gould

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This review first appeared at the Big Bible Project.

 

Some of you will know that I am currently studying for a BA in Theology and Ministry at Cranmer Hall, Durham. For my dissertation I am exploring social media and evangelism. So instead of writing my usual digidisciple posts for the next few months, I am going to kill two birds with one stone and review some of the books I am reading in my research. The first one is a book new out this year by the wonderful Meredith Gould.

Bryony Taylor with Meredith Gould's book
Bryony Taylor with Meredith Gould’s book

The Social Media Gospel – Meredith Gould (Liturgical Press, 2013)

This is a book designed for busy people who are involved in any form of ministry and who want to learn how and why they should use social media. It’s a slim volume – each chapter (appropriately) has the immediacy of a short blog post. This meant that I read it comfortably in one sitting (over about an hour). There is a good combination of some theological reflection alongside practical application in the book. What I enjoyed the most was Meredith’s comical style and pithy statements that contain much truth, such as:

‘Online tools provide us with the means to teach with a previously unimaginable reach.’ p.11

Meredith sees it as part of our calling as Christians to use social media, and I agree with her:

‘The cloud of witnesses takes on new meaning as we use social media to live out our baptismal call’ p.11

This is, I think, what we are trying to do here at the Big Bible Project. She goes on to describe community:

‘Social media has opened up yet another portal for seeing and being seen, for knowing and being known, for being in and belonging to community.’

I can say that this is personally true from my own experience of being involved with Big Bible and the community of digital disciples (including you!)

The book is a clarion call to the naysayers, opening the eyes of the sceptical in a gentle way to the opportunities that are available to us through social media to share the love of Christ with the world.

I disagreed with Meredith’s views on looking at age cohorts (such categories as ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Millennials’) to decide which social media tools to use. I just don’t think those labels really work – I often find myself behaving like people in all those ‘age’ categories. But having said that, her advice is practical and grounded and also realistic – she acknowledges how fast moving the world of social media is.

I would definitely buy this book for a church leader who was wanting to get into social media but not sure where to start.

I’ll leave you with Meredith’s wonderful adaptation of the famous prayer of Teresa of Avila:

Christ has no online presence but yours,

No blog, no Facebook page but yours,

Yours are the tweets through which love touches this world,

Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared,

Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed.

Christ has no online presence but yours,

No blog, no Facebook page but yours.

 

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