Sharing Faith Using Social Media – my new publication out now from @grovebooks

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img_20161019_135818Followers of my blog will remember that I carried out some research for my BA dissertation in 2013 into how people share their faith online. This work is now available to read in a Grove Booklet. This short booklet outlines where we are in terms of mission today, how people are using social media to share their faith, the reactions they get when they do and how each of us can be encouraged in our own witness online. It’s an illuminating read for anyone interested in what it means to be a Christian in the online world.

 

May I take this opportunity to thank all of you who contributed to the research by responding to the survey – keep on sharing your faith with your friends online!

Click here to buy your copy:

https://grovebooks.co.uk/collections/evangelism/products/ev115-sharing-faith-using-social-media

Here is some early feedback  on the book:

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‘Startling results’ of poll of young people stating that looking after family more important than having religious belief #bbcrethink

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The BBC is currently running a festival of Religion and Ethics called RE:think. As part of the festival they have released details of a poll of 585 (not that many people when you think about it, not even a school’s worth) 16-24 year olds about their beliefs. Here’s an extract from the BBC article about this:

The poll undertaken by TNS BMRB among 585 16-24 year-olds asked them to rank the most important moral issue for them, from a list of eight options. These options were:

  • Paying taxes
  • Having religious faith or beliefs
  • Caring for the environment
  • Buying ethical products
  • Being faithful to a partner
  • Looking after family
  • Playing a part in your community
  • Putting others before yourself

Fifty-nine per cent of 16-24 year olds said looking after family was the most important moral issue for them. Only four per cent said having religious faith or beliefs was the most important moral issue. The same percentage listed paying taxes and playing a part in your community 12 per cent said putting others first, eight per cent said being faithful to a partner; five per cent said caring for the environment. One per cent listed buying ethical products as the most important moral issue.

Having ranked the eight issues in order of importance, religious faith or belief was considered to be least important by almost one third (32 per cent) of the respondents. This was followed by 22 per cent who said buying ethical products was the least important, and 15 per cent who put paying taxes at the bottom of their moral list.

The head of religion and ethics at the BBC called these results ‘startling’. I can’t understand why. If I were asked to rank the statements in terms of importance I think I’d put caring for others and family first too, despite being a ‘religious person’. It’s a case, yet again, of people thinking that religion is something abstract – something that sits over in its own category. My religion gives me the motivation and desire to put others first. Anyone knows that simply holding a religious belief means nothing if it doesn’t bear out in the person’s life. As James writes in the New Testament:

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

– James 2:14-17

I don’t find the results too disconcerting. It’s true that religion is being put more and more to the boundaries of society but part of me is glad about that. It’s not religion I’m interested in, it’s the outworking of belief on our wider society that is important. If religion had come top in the poll with caring for others or family much lower down I think there would be much much more cause for concern.

This poll is the equivalent of saying ‘what’s the most important issue in society?:

– being a member of a political party

– providing free education to all

– having good roads

– having good hospitals

– building a strong economy

The likelihood is that no one would choose ‘being a member of a political party’ but those who were members of a political party would care very much about the list below that.

Still, the talks at the festival look pretty interesting anyway so I’m glad this has brought discussion of religion and ethics into the public sphere.

The best thing you’ll hear all year on faith, belief and religion – Frank Skinner in Conversation with Rowan Williams

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This ‘conversation’ between Rowan Williams and Frank Skinner is absolutely brilliant.

I heartily recommend it to everyone, whether you’re a believer or not, they discuss some very important issues of life and faith with real depth, intelligence and honesty.

There are some fantastic quotes in this, those I can immediately remember are:

“Faith is the opposite of certainty”

“Religion is the wound not the bandage”

and I loved it when Frank Skinner said

“I prefer to describe myself as a person of doubt than as a person of faith”.

You can listen to it here or download it. It’s available on iTunes – look up Church of England Podcast.