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January 27, 2010


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Ali Johnson

Don't think church has full taken hold on Social Media and its power to really enhance the spread of truth. Great to see you back blogging. Keep it up!

Gareth Hill

Excellent Pete. I agree with everything you have said. I have said in a response to Toby that using Twitter and Facebook within meetings can often be less disruptive than getting up, walking to the other side of the room and muttering in a corner with someone. An exchange of messages via laptops allows you to check on points of confusion, even set up proposals or points of order.
As people have said in another forum, the paper expects ministers to engage in social media "in their spare time" but most of us regard ourselves as never off-line from our calling, so how would we measure those spare time moments? And more importantly, who would police that?
Local Preachers are also officers of the Church but I understand there is already a tacit acceptance these guidelines could never be applied to them in the way they could be brought to bear on other officers. That seems an admission of defeat before the process even gets under way.


Hi Pete,

An excellent, well argued post. I, like you, am worried about the lack of understanding and the level of fear expressed within this report.

Gareth's point about 'spare time' is an interesting one and again shows that this paper has little understanding of the ways in which physical and virtual presence are intertwined



Thanks for this. I guess I'm the sort who can only do one thing at a time, but for those who can multitask, it's no surprise they tweet during meetings. You could argue that the paper going to Methodist Council is a piece of control freakery, but since I don't move in those exalted places I don't know what the atmosphere is like. What I do know is that the Pope is more positive than the Methodist Church - see my follow-up post.


Some good thoughts, Pete. I suspect that the paper is as long as it is because the author couldn't assume that Council would know what the new media were about. Blogging might have gone mainstream, but I still meet people who don't get it. As for Twitter...! I don't think this paper is negative about social media at all -- in fact, that we should be involved is taken for granted. And, whatever anyone says, I can't see anything in the proposals that suggests control freakery or a desire to suppress debate.

Stuart Bell

I'm also concerned that this document, which the author admits is only directuve, rather than advisory, for employees of the Church, will end up being printed in the Conference Agenda, at quite signficant cost, and with the risk or bringing ridicule on the Church for its apparent heavy-handedness. Come to think about it, isn't bringing ridicule on the Church a disciplinary matter? ;-)


great blog some very interesting issues, for me it is an issue of incarnation, to be in the world (digital , or real) as be as Christ inspiring as possible and it has to be a question of integrity how and what we do through social media. Isn't social media the place where people gather to talk and discuss? Wasn't St Paul on Mars hill the ancient equivalent?


I felt it important that I add a comment, even though I have not read the paper, and only today came across your blog. I hope you don't mind. Feel free not to approve it if it is not really relevant. Thanks.
A few days ago I found a site which seems a register of Methodist bloggers. This is great for me. I am a Methodist who has not been to church for about 18 months - not proud of this, but it is just fact. In the last 3 months I have discovered Twitter, and in the last few weeks blogs. One of the ways I am using both of these is to re-engage with Christianity. I really greatly appreciate, gently at my own pace being able to read tweets and shortish posts which reflect Christian beliefs, a working out of the Christian faith in today's world, and which deep within I can identify with. Tweets and blogs are currently helping to keep me in touch with (or re-engage with) what was a massive part of my life (my Christian faith), but which I have shut out (God and I know the reasons / circumstances).
So in relation to Social Media and the Methodist Church I am a Methodist who is gaining massive help from social media on my journey, and my hope is that in time I will re-gain the faith that was once so fundamental to my life. Currently, I am following a number of blogs by Methodist ministers, in addition to blogs and tweets by other Christians, and believe that God is using this to encourage me back to Him. Instead of verbal discussions with Christians, or going to church, this is a way that I am able to receive Christian communication/input. I hope the Methodist Church continues to allow ministers to engage with social media, in the same way as they engage in conversation with people i.e. freely.
Keep up the good work - please!

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