By Alexander Carpenter
Greetings good readers. Dawn it just breaking this Sabbath morning, lighting up the white-striped English cottage across the road from my room at Newbold College. I’ve been up for several hours thanks to over-the-pond jet lag. I arrived in England yesterday and presented a workshop at the General Conference’s Global Internet Evangelism Network meetings. Basically GIEN is a mix of young tech guys and older communications heads from around the world church — yes, a disproportionately male crowd, but pretty international.
A couple of months ago, Ray Dabrowski called up and invited me to share what we’re doing with the Spectrum Blog and to talk about social justice. After I reattached my fallen jaw and the Spectrum leadership graciously agreed I put together a presentation called: Radicalizing Adventist Community: Blogs, new media and evangelizing for peace and social justice. Yes, they actually let me print that. Thanks to a certain foreign policy it’s getting so that people almost want peace these days. . .
Several people showed up — including folks who actually read The Spectrum Blog! It may be the jet lag but being here at plenary sessions by Spectrum crowd radicals like Zack Plantak and Jim Coffin gives me hope that parts of our church are getting serious about turning our faith into social action.
Also, don’t tell the GC, but there’s also another dynamic I noticed. The Friday afternoon breakout sessions are headed disproportionately by young tech guys.
In some ways it looks like some genius said “let’s get our world communications leaders together and make them listen to the next generation of technologists.” For example I attended a session by two hip fellas from Adventist World Radio, Marvin King (web manager) and Daryl Gungadoo (global distributing engineer). (Shout out to Marvin, who reads the Spectrum Blog!)
They did a heartfelt presention about the need for the church to run its media more effectively by using a media Asset Management system. Behind it lies a radical concept, as it would create a de-hierarchical, less-balkanized church decision-making structure. I heard one attendee whisper to another: “this won’t happen, it’s too political. But it’s a good idea.” At another session, sharp Wolfgang Schick from the Trans-European Division exposed the crowd to online gaming. He helped the attendees understand that there is a whole generation out there that spends 4.5 hours a day online. Television is old news and that gaming juggernauts like CounterStrike and World of Warcraft and social media fads like Twitter are changing the way that the world communicates and perhaps we need to think of some new participatory ways to create meaningful Christian communities.
Right now, I’m going to get away from this computer screen and go talk to real humans. Happy Sabbath.
Post Script: As per England, I just read this post by Jim Wallis about Gordon Brown and it’s an interesting perspective on the new guy at 10 Downing.
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I had a dream last night, a dream of General Conference Sessions past and future. I stood in the center of a stadium, packed with people, all captivated by the music and stagecraft in front of them. I looked around and felt a sadness that kept growing inside of me until it was overwhelming.
Some time ago I was sitting in what quite possibly was the most boring church service I have ever been in. (No, I won’t tell you where I was.) There couldn’t have been more than 50 people in the sanctuary, and I’m being generous. We sang no less than 5 hymns. All hymns were sung in a dry, slow manner. The sermon seemed uninspired, barely prepared, and was presented with no sense of conviction. It felt like we were in church for three hours. We were in church for about 70 minutes.