So, yesterday, I really enjoyed attending the Church of England ‘Live Labs’ digital sprint. Last year was the first year that the Church of England digital team (first formed in 2016) tried this, and they gave everyone attending an open brief to come up with an idea that the Church of England could use… this resulted in some grand ideas, and also two very useable ideas that the church has taken up in the past year:
- A Resource Hub for A Church Near You, to be used by church web editors.
- An audio opportunity, which has led to the CofE Alexa Skill
Over the past couple of years, the digital team has been working very hard to get all of the basics in place – a solid website, putting resource behind A Church Near You (ACNY), and developing a strong social presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
So, for this second event, people were invited to apply to take part, around 200+ applied, with participants chosen based upon their skills-set, joined to a private group, with an invitation to think about 3 problems that the digital team identified as important, to be considered from a digital perspective, including how this could encourage church attendance:
- How do we maximise reach of our church-finder tool A Church Near You for our key audiences?
- How do we better equip young people and students who are Christians to reach out and share faith with their friends?
- How do we encourage daily Christian rhythms and rituals in people’s lives?
I joined at lunchtime (at The Lowry, Salford), along with the other judges (after presentations, including on young people):
The Digital Labs Live 2019 expert judges, @BishManchester, @adrianharris, @lyndada, @drbexl and @mikeshaft, are now hearing the pitches for the ideas that our teams have been developing throughout the day #CofELabs ?
— The Church of England (@churchofengland) March 16, 2019
By this point, the 50 people working on the brief were being led by James Poulter and James Doc through a sped-up version of the Google Sprint Methodology (5 days work in 5 hours), so had come up with ideas, put their ideas on post-it notes, been given 3 dots to assign to their favourite projects, then split into 5 groups to develop those ideas. As the day went on, they continued to develop and fine-tune the ideas, as we joined at points to overhear discussions, as well as chatting amongst ourselves.
The groups created presentations to submit to the AV team before dinner (lovely curry), before presenting to us. There was 5 strict minutes for each presentation, and 5 minutes each for the judges to ask questions to seek to understand the audience, feasibility, and impact of the projects, before we disappeared to make our decisions – and whether 1 or 2 projects would be taken forward for development, thinking about the potential of all 5 projects… with the 2 ideas taken forward a set of plug-ins for ACNY to enable greater social interaction and time-saving, and a daily creative brief (a bit like #oneminutebriefs) to encourage creative responses to the daily lectionary (although rather than for 3 years, to be for key seasonal times). A very intense day, but very positive…
Below is all the (unsorted) tweets collected, as well as links to a couple of Instagram posts and Facebook live feeds from The Church of England official presence.
Digiexplorer (not guru), Senior Lecturer in Digital Marketing @ Manchester Metropolitan University. Interested in digital literacy and digital culture in the third sector (especially faith). Author of ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’, regularly checks hashtag #DigitalParenting.