[SPEAKER] Digital & Social Panel Discussion for @StrongerNetwork Conference

Yesterday I took part in this (50 minute) session, chaired by Matt Hogg, and in discussion with Emma Sijuwade and Igor Demba. The session was advertised as:

Hear from experts about how the digital landscape has changed over the last year and how as individuals and organisations we can make the most of the opportunity to connect with our client base, customers, or community for the Kingdom of God. Don’t miss a great discussion with thinkers and practitioners who will be able to us us level up our digital game.

You can watch the recording back here – an enjoyable chat, or look out for other future/past sessions at the conference.

*Decided it was a day to get out the pricey NHS wig – what you (hopefully) can’t tell is that about halfway through, the nausea started to roll in, and the wig started to feel really tight!


[LIFE] It’s #IWD2018, and I’m so excited to see @Project328 and #MindingtheGap18 Launched Today

I loved seeing this campaign on Facebook, although as always don’t read below the line!

So, I’m really excited to see a couple of initiatives from the church being launched today:

Project 3:28 Database

For years I’ve been asked to speak, or recommend other speakers for events, and we started off a simple Excel spreadsheet (not specifically for women). In the meantime Gathering of Women Leaders was continuing it’s excellent work (next one 17th March, near Monument station in London), including seeking to understand the barriers to women in leadership, which includes women as experts and speakers.

I was involved in early conversations about the database, but when Project 3:28 took off with it’s ‘simple’ challenge to gender imbalance within the church, notably counting and reporting on the gender imbalance at Christian conferences and events (as work out by volunteers working their way through programmes). The group’s impact has already been felt, but one of the complaints was that it was ‘difficult’ to find women speakers with the right expertise … so this database has been in the works for the last couple of years. I’ve been one fo the testers on the project, and really excited to see it finally come into being today at

Beautifully designed by David Bunce, the database is very simple to use, whether you are searching for a speaker (yes, you will need to set up a simple log-in), or whether you are putting forward information about yourself as a speaker. Searching for a speaker produces a random generation of names (so different names will come up each time), which can then be filtered by keyword, subject, or conference/media experience:

Once you’ve found someone who looks interesting/in your range of topics click on ‘View Profile’ at the bottom of the box, and get something like mine (in which I specify the kind of topics I can speak on, the kind of media/conference experience I have, my social media connections, a bio-summary that can be used in programmes, and then links to external links):

We suggested to users that they link to e.g. a YouTube video. As someone who has helped arrange conferences, we typically go and look online at speakers that we don’t really know to see the kind of style, and whether it’s a good fit for the type of event that we’re running!

I’m really looking forward to seeing this make a difference. It’s very easy to become a ‘name on the conference circuit’, and this should be great for introducing some new names. We had conversations about whether this should just be for women, but that’s where there’s an identified need within church culture, where the funding and volunteer hours have come from. There is an expectation that the system that has been built could be white-labelled for other similar databases in future.

Minding The Gap 2018

Gathering of Women Leaders emerged partly in conjunction with the Sophia Network, and so this report, based on over 1,000 responses earlier this year looks at the following: “Women make up around 65% of the UK Church. But who are these women? What are the unique issues they face in church spaces? Where are they finding space to flourish, and how is the relationship between men and women in Church? In our work at the Sophia Network, we often hear stories of when things aren’t quite going right – where women’s experiences of Church are found wanting, where their gifts and talents are not recognised. But what is the true picture?”

The Minding The Gap 2018 report gives some insights into this, using qualitative and quantitative research:

Other Things?

I’m sure there’s been other excellent reports and initiatives, meantime, I’m going to finish with shoutouts to YBCN, UK Breast Cancer Support Group, Beyond Chocolate, and #WIASN – all most definitely not church initiatives, but lifelines in various ways this – and past – years.


[STORIFY] Tweets from #PremDac17 (Premier Digital Conference)

I’ve essentially collected most of my tweets, retweets and interactions from last Saturday (Featured image by Jez James Gondleton):

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[BLOGPOST] Social Media Fast for Lent? Not for me! for @themedianet

Read full blog post about why I am not a fan of giving up social media for Lent, or regarding it as a ‘waste of time’, when it’s a strong tool for building relationships.

<edit – November 2018 – the blog post appears to have been taken down, so content reproduced here):

I wrote a piece for Christian Today last week, which reflected that according to OpenBible, social networking is the number one thing that people tweeted that they were giving up for Lent! For many, this reflects the negative perception of social media that persists: that it causes us to disconnect from those around us, and that we have become ‘slaves to machines’. Some feel that they are simply reflecting upon habits that have become ‘all-consuming’, but this assumes that time online is time wasted. Abandoning social media feels less helpful than adjusting and experimenting with our interaction with it: our mobile devices and social media are embedded parts of our everyday lives, and places that we connect with ‘real people’. It is right to question if we are using them healthily, but disconnecting entirely can make life poorer both for those who give it up, and those who connect with them online.

There are so many possibilities for the church to engage online, to see it as a space with real potential for connection, especially in seeking to equip members of the church to speak out with confidence about their own faith experiences. There are many aspects of the digital in which it is easy to experiment, to try things that are low cost financially and reputationally, and for which the rewards in community engagement, local and international, are potentially powerful. We live in a culture which has become obsessed with efficiency, with getting things right, with wringing the last economic drop out of every penny, without regard for other costs.

How can the church be a leading light within our society, if we are seen as irrelevant, refusing to engage with the latest technology? Can we lead by example, and show that we are not afraid to experiment, not afraid to fail? If we’re not in the digital spaces, the latest ‘public square’, then we can’t offer an ‘example’ to influence the wider world. We need to be part of people’s everyday conversations, and not just arriving when we have a message to ‘sell’. Sharing our everyday lives, in which stories of humour and vulnerability are particularly powerful, allows us to connect – including with journalists, who find spaces such as Twitter a useful hunting ground for stories, and to build up trusted relationships with potential contributors to stories.

A number of platforms have offered a range of ways to get involved in Lent, from the Big Read that I ran 2010-2014, in which we sought to break ecumenical boundaries by encouraging ‘bigger Bible conversations’, to the multi-award winning 40 Acts, to the email series I am reading via Brain Draper, to options to share a picture each day from The Bible Society, to listen to 40 voices from the Diocese of Canterbury, whilst there are Facebook book reading groups, support groups for those decluttering for 40 days, and all kinds of other opportunities, the large majority small groups who have self-organised.

The digital age has brought with it a desire for personalisation, and a recognition that one size does not fit all. Whilst being wary of commercialisation, the digital gives us the ability to encounter the richness of many great theological minds which we would have had no access to before, allowing challenges from those of us who are ‘everyday theologians’ with a hunger for connection, for spiritual development, and for theological knowledge, as we learn that God loves us as we are.

The digital allows us to read on the move, we can access the Bible in many translations for free, use apps to manage our prayers, can move beyond our geographical limitations, whilst also enriching our communities through the ‘hyper-local’. Social media often brings small glimpses of theology into our everyday lives, through the people we connect with, and the content we encounter. Much of that content has become increasingly visual, particularly on platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat, both incredibly popular with teenagers. We need to be present to participate in conversations, demonstrating that we have something to say about the smaller aspects of life, means that we can demonstrate the relevancy of a faithful life, and may even be asked to comment on our lives, our faith, and the organisations we represent.


[ENDORSEMENT] Church Online: Social Media and Church Online: Websites, by @ltreneer

Back in October 2014, I ran a workshop for CPO, encouraging staff to think about how they could use digital within their work. Last year I was pleased to be sent drafts of these books that Laura Treneer was working on, have a few (e-mail) chats about the content, and then to say:

Balanced, supportive, encouraging, practical, with an emphasis on the online/offline mix. A total thumbs up!

I am liking the colourful covers, and the books are so short and focused, it should help even the skeptics get on board (buy here).

There’s more content being developed on CPO toolkit site, where I was very chuffed to see this quote on my book: