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Kristin T. (@kt_writes)

Great post. I really love the last paragraph, where you tie it to what we should be doing more of in the church. People's lives rarely change because of the so-called experts. Change happens one on one, face-to-face, in everyday settings and moments.


Thanks Jonny
Maybe I;ll read the paper you've given me now. I've spent the day updating my Blog, checking 2 Facebook groups. And joining Plaxo and Twitter. Plus a couple of Skype chats. Now I'm feeling, after reeading this, that maybe I wasn't time wasting.

Fat Roland

I'd argue whether change happens face-to-face as much now. Hence the social media 'revolution'.

I hadn't thought for a second that the leaders-on-video thing that Alpha does is a reflection of the established front-led church paradigm, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

I'd love to think more about lessons 'emerging church' culture (I will always put that label in inverted commas!) can learn from these new social media paradigms. Eek. That's a lot of thinking for a Friday night.


Re: Online social networks and Obama - what will be telling is how the reality on the ground matches what has been conveyed on line. To translate that into the church world - anyone can slap some logos and snazzy artwork on their blog, website or wikki and say they're a pastor, church plant, etc. Having been burned a few times too many by taking someone at their online word (in fairness to me, they were endorsed by others) - but then when I met them in person, I realized that their church plant was more their cat and a few candles and that what was billed to me as "integrative, nnovative incarnational imagination" was just a half dozen people doing a ritual that involved macaroni (or was that the dinner - oops). Nothing wrong with hanging out with one's cat and a few friends but often things online can get seriously overhyped. And then someone like Karen Ward will be amazingly mellow about what she's doing and then I get there and am totally blown away.

Your comments in the last paragraph confirm what I've been observing in my research - the really exciting stuff tends to happen below the surface once you get away from the branded bits that are served up by experts (as fueled by their publishers) -- most practioners I meet don't write books (and some like Karen Ward I wish would blog). And you do have to go to where they are - which is why I'm starting to make pilgrimages - there comes a point when a writer has all one can via online social networking and need to do the in person research.

Rick Meigs

Good post. I find that the point about empowering the super users/influencers important. These are the people who will take your message/idea/concept to places one can't reach and often don't even know about. They modify/use/expand the message in ways one hadn't thought about.

P.S., the term is "bully pulpit", not "bullying pulpit." Bully means superb or wonderful and has no relationship to the noun bully, i.e. a harasser or someone who intimidates.

Ricky Rew

Excellent post Jonny and I look forward to making time to read the whole paper.

Just one point though:

I don't believe the Alpha videos are provided due to a lack of trust in local churches to deliver effectively; my understanding is that local churches are encouraged to deliver the messages themselves, and that the videos are provided for those situations where churches don't have anyone suitable/able to deliver the message.


ok two misunderstanding by me - i'll edit both! thanks ricky and rick. maybe things have changed at alpha - it certainly used to be that the assumption was nicky gumbell could deliver the message better... glad to hear it's changed.

kate c

I've never done alpha, but others who have led it have commented on how people have seemed to open up better when the videos have been used rather than a live talk. They thought it might be because people felt more free to honestly comment/challenge/ask questions/doubt the content of the message without fear of how they appeared to the speaker themselves - which resulted in a much more real process. Don't know how that fits into the mix ...


this is a terrific post jb.
i, like you, have felt refreshment from the things i have witnessed in the past week. obama's campaign was a work of geniusand understanding. trusted people talking to people in their communities, either physical or online showed a complete understanding of how people work, learn and relate these days... it also showed an understanding that politicians were not trusted and that another way was needed.
the thing that really excites me... and the reason i feel a sense of the possibility for real change, is that i've already witnessed real change. when people who have never voted before, who have felt disengaged come out and vote in their millions and become the groundswell or bedrock of the vote you have your proof that something has shifted seizmically. these people would never have come out to vote without a new sense of hope, without feeling connected in a way that is completely meaningful and relevant to the reality of where they are at and how they communicate. the people have been empowered, motivated and given responsibility. it's brilliant... and i don't think it could possibly be overstated how important this was to obama's success and more importantly the very real possibility of even more and greater change.
as a uk citizen without a vote in the usa, i can't begin to express how much i've learned in the past weeks and how grateful i am for the vision of one man and his campaign of ideals, pragmatism and masterful politicking. thank you usa! (in the light of bush and the middle east etc... i'm amazed and delighted to find myself able to say that)... but hand on heart, thank you. now it's up to the rest of us to learn from this big lesson. i am (as you can tell) feeling very positive and i'm running with it.


Jon - I am filled with hope - I just got back from a major conference held at Trinity Church Wall Street where one of the speakers who proposed a bottom down way to get rid of Wall Stteet (the irony of this is quite telling). This conference was held the day after the inauguration and both events helped me to rethink the fact that I am flat broke (as are many of my fellow freelancers - the jobs that would fill the gaps when a check is late or a gig gets cancelled just aren't there).

The point I was making using the analogy of emerging church is to watch and see how this horizontal spirit that Obama is conveying is translated into the real world - I hope this time it can happen. But I keep my ultimate hope in Christ not any political leader.


Hi Jonny

This is a great post.

I too hope to read the paper in it's entirety soon.
If only we could really get to grips of going to where people are, on their terms, in their places, on their territory, whether that be phyisical or virtual/electronic.

I often think it is a mindset change that is needed as much as anything else. I am a Reader in an inner city Anglican church just north of Liverpool city centre. For us the big challenge is nit just "what works" but how can it be re-interpreted/contextualised so that it works in a tough urban setting. I have recently focused a great deal on transitioning my ministy les towards the "core" Reader stuff, and more towards pioneering areas.

I was hoping to come to the Resource training event in Reading in February where you are one of the speakers, (our PCC have agreed to provide the full cost of my attending)but unfortunately I have had to re-arrange so I am going to the April Resource weekend in Leeds instead.

The Independent have just finished a week of booklets on all the US presidents and Simon Scharma did the write up for Obama and hje focused on two areas which have had a hugh influence on him, namely his formative years in Hawaii and his more recent experiences forged in the urban USA church.

I think this President could connect in a way we have not seen before. I am not saying in any way that he will be perfect etc, but I think he will do things very differently.

Just like to say that I think your networking across the plethora of socuial networking sites is inspired. Keep up the great work.

Phil Green


phil in some ways leeds may be a better fit for you - it's more urban/community focused so i think you'll enjoy it. i think i'm at that too...


Hi Jonny

I’m sure you’re right in that Leeds will be the more appropriate weekend to attend given its urban/community focus.

I would have added that I was greatly looking forward to meeting you there, but looking at the info I have received from Kate Cooper, the course administrator, your name was not included in those who are contributing.

That may have been an oversight however, as a finalised schedule for the weekend was not yet available when I last contacted Kate earlier in the month.


i'm not teaching but try and go to all the weekends and hang out anyway!


Hi Jonny

What a star guy you are...coming up to Leeds just to hang out and network with mostly Northerners I would guess...although that may be a bit of a presumption/stereotype as, for all I know, you may be a Northerner yourself.

Though a born and bred Scouser, I am actually of semi-Southern stock in that my Mum was born in Southend and my maternal grandmother was a Cockney! Mind you that is countered by the fact that my Dad spent his formative years in rural North Wales and spoke Welsh as his first language until he was 10. So I'm a bit of a hybrid really!

Looking forward to the Leeds weekend...it is quite a happening city, not quite as happening as Liverpool of course... but hey....where is these days!!??.(is that the sound of a can of worms I can hear opening!) We are currently suffering cultural withdrawal syndrome following the news that we are no longer European Capital of Culture!

We've also got a pretty progressive "can-do Diocese up this neck of the woods. Not perfect by any means, but pretty good nonetheless.

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    i have been blogging for a decade or more in fairly eclectic fashion. i am an advocate for pioneers, lover of all things creative, an explorer of faith in relation to contemporary culture, a photographer and writer. explore the presences section below to find me in other spaces

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