[Conference Abstract] MediaLit: Engaging Faith and Media in a Digital Age #ECSM15

Keywords: Social Media, Learning and Teaching, Mature Learners, Digital Age, CPD

medialit15-250MediaLit is a week-long conference held at St John’s College (Durham), designed for those training for Christian leadership and those already engaged in Christian ministry. The course explores Christian ministry and the media, encouraging media literacy amongst those who (will) hold public positions within and related to the Christian church. This intensive conference, deliberately kept small, has attracted 18-30 delegates per year since 2010, with delegates including ministerial students, ordinands, ministers, media professionals and diocesan and district communications officers. The course addresses media as a whole, including mass media, broadcast media, social media and community media.

Delegates are reassured that they do no need to know how to ‘do technology’ to partake in the course, but are encouraged to engage with the learning opportunities provided via social media, through both discussion and practice. For the last five years, a hashtag based Twitterfall (wall of tweets) has run in the sessions, which has encouraged a large number of delegates to develop their own (on-going) Twitter profiles, as well as conversation as to the nature, purpose, benefits and drawbacks of both the Twitterfall’s presence in the classroom, Twitter’s reach beyond the classroom, and what this means more widely about digital culture, and our contemporary age.

The overall structure of the programme is focused upon learning and teaching outcomes. Students are expected to gain an understanding of media theory, theology, and practice within a digital age through interaction, participation and engagement, especially facilitated peer-to-peer conversation. The majority of students are mature students with life experience from a range of sectors to share. Using an andragogical approach, the learner’s background is viewed as an essential component to both what they learn, and what they can contribute to the cohort’s learning.  Feedback from 2014 included:

If you want to be challenged in your thinking; be at the cutting edge of thought in media literacy, experience discussion and practical sessions on creativity and broadcasting you need to be at MediaLit15!

Social media also offers scope beyond the immediate classroom, including live blogging sessions as reflective practice and/or to reach a wider audience, opportunities to collate outputs via Storify or Epilogger, lists of wider reading and films, and the opportunity to continue conversations for group alumni via a Facebook group. This session will reflect upon the course, and how it has developed in order to provide the strongest learning outcomes for each cohort, as media continues to change.

For the European Conference on Social Media (5,000 word paper due by 5 Feb, conference in July).

A Reflection on the First #MediaLit Course

“Have you ever wondered how the media works, or watched a TV programme and asked yourself what values underpin it? Ever pondered the ethics of media production and consumption?  Is there a theology of communication? How might the church engage with and support those who work in the media? Ever thought about how the national church engages with the media? How do church press offices work? Could your local church engage more effectively with the media? What might the digital future look like? How might social networking develop? Today Twitter and FaceBook,  tomorrow…?

MediaLit gave the opportunity to explore all these issues and more. Based in the wonderful setting of St John’s College, Durham,  MediaLit was a week long, intensive course – both hands on and theoretical – which brought together media practitioners, journalists, the Churches Media Council, those exploring how to use social media in relation to Christian faith, trainee ministers, vicars and other interested parties.”

Read the full reflection by Kate Bruce and indicate your interest in future MediaLit courses. Find Kate on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/johnschaplain

Guest Post on @thechurchmouse #medialit

“A few days ago Pete Phillips from CODEC guest blogged on the Church and Media Network Conference, and mentioned an upcoming course organised by CODEC and the Church and Media Network, called as MediaLit.  The course describes itself as “an opportunity for first class training and resources in media for ministry for those engaged in formal pre-ordination training, those already engaged in local or national ministry and anyone concerned to connect Christian faith with communication in a digital age. ”

MediaLit has now taken place, and Mouse wanted to bring it to your attention.  Below is a guest post from Dr Bex Lewis on what it was all about.  Bex has a PhD in Second World War posters (http://ww2poster.co.uk), teaches History & Media Studies, whilst working on Blended Learning projects for the Universities of Winchester & Durham.”

Read the full post here.

How Preparing A Sermon is Similar to Writing Blog Posts

Darren Rowse, now Problogger:

“On Sunday I preached a sermon at my local church. I used to do this weekly when I worked as a minister years ago – but it’s been a while since I had to do it (funnily enough I find it a lot more nerve wracking getting up in front of a couple of hundred people to speak than writing a post for tens of thousands!).

As I was preparing for preaching last week it struck me how similar my ‘workflow’ for it was to putting together a blog post (although a blog post is usually a lot quicker in my experience).

This video identifies some of the stages I went through last week that are similar to how I go about writing many blog posts.”

Read the transcription on Problogger. I thought this would be particularly interesting for those who are interested in #medialit.

Review of #medialit

Key Learning Points & Actions

  • Should be important for all to take this, media is so central to our society.
  • Is it OK for all to have wi-fi when many still don’t have water?
  • If you can’t do something really well it’s better not to bother or pay others? If all that means is that noticeboard is smart, etc. and is all can manage, then go with that.
  • Given more confidence to use technology, especially new media.
  • Use simpler new media more effectively – use good values. Make own material that like – not just moan about Rob Bell, but make better.
  • Is it my fault that in The Times that Christians look stupid – so stop blaming the media & engage with existing, and stand up for own thoughts.
  • So many thoughts. Difficult to stay up to date & be savvy, and how naïve we are with broadcast radio/tv media. Would be good to have refreshers to keep people engaged. Need to step back from the computer screen & think what is this really showing/doing – the right tools!!
  • There’s a role for lots of people in our congregations, particularly those who find it difficult to get involved in other areas.  What can others bring to it.
  • Fun, creative & gets juices going. Much of the Church fairly joyless & hard work – how get some of this excitement across to congregations.
  • Preaching, etc.? What connects everyone in this room? Creativity – given by God. Whatever use of media (or any other role in the world) – do it well. Take more risks, leave space to fail!
  • So much creativity in the Christian community…  Politics of the Church tends to lock a lot of that down – so how do we find ways of releasing that?
  • The media is not the Messiah or the Devil.
  • Find different platforms for your own creativity.  All try – at least we’re going somewhere.

David Wilkinson

  • Take more risks…
  • Be honest about failure – breed confidence by honesty! When we get things wrong admit it & don’t try and involve the Holy Spirit as a justification!
  • Find a network of people you can trust & work with on collaborative projects.
  • Theology – so easy to get drawn into the mode of communication, and forget the theological basis for what you’re trying to achieve. Theological support or constraint you might have.  Remember the WHY and the HOW through a theological lens. Paul – justification for missionary movement moving on out..
  • Bringing together media professionals & theologians v. important.
  • What kind of support/encouragement, etc. are you going to offer to those e.g. making radio programmes on Sunday morning – and what are you going to learn from them. Theology & technology – keep it together.
  • God is much bigger than our laptops & there are more questions that just how we interact with media. Every initiative needs to be critiqued through issue of justice. Work out strategically what’s important – accept compromises/balance, but keep asking questions.
  • New Media – give access to information, etc. for both developed/developing nations. Africa – never be cabled, but mobile phone – making a huge difference!  What could you do that would serve the local community where you are? E.g. buying Wii for Friday night clubs, etc.
  • Do we need to take this on the road as a 2-3 day course? Can we identify those who are passionate and can lead this?  General congregation can get involved, but identify those with particular passions.
  • http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/divinity/research/projects/media-theology ?
  • How do we see God involved in this? Is media a gift (community, communication, being fully human in community)? Can be a gift that can be corrupted by us so need theological understanding. Similar questions between science/faith – until see science as a gift can’t deal with it theologically.
  • In our richness, how do we share in a way that isn’t patronising, but is liberating. JUSTICE issues… Divide between those who have access to free information, and those who  only have access to advertised information.

The Church and Media Network

  • http://churchmedia.moonfruit.com/
  • Media understand Christians better
  • Help Christians understand the media better
  • Support Christians working in the media (http://www.themedianet.org/)
  • Pray for those working in the media?  If you hear them, pray for them – let them know you’re praying for them..


  • Individualism vs community nature of the gospel
  • Christian media vs Christians working in the media (Just say yes if asked to contribute. Sucks the talent out, and takes an “out” for mainstream media as “they have their own space” – mainstream – have to be GREAT to get it out there – so we should aim to be good enough to get on BBC1, rather than putting it on own channel; what about e.g. getting Delirious in the charts, what about e.g. Athlete – band happen to be Christians, but they’re not KNOWN as that. MAKE good TV (not  necessarily “Christian” TV) – maybe you’ll get asked further questions, maybe you won’t.  Do we have to know, do people have to wear a label?
  • How support those who we want to take on roles in the congregation – not “oh, the vicar does it”.  Digitally enabled laity (those who are keen to use, enable them)
  • Where to start in applying it. What are they ALREADY communicating through notice board/their physical presence, the people in it, etc..

You are the light of the world, not you might be.

Use the right TOOL for the job.

New Media vs Old Media – midweek that seemed to be the way… now that divide also seems not to be there…  Don’t be AFRAID, just experiment, take risks, think about the MESSAGE that you have.  Sharing and more COLLABORATIVE seems to be more of the mood that’s coming out..