These past couple of months have given me a new perspective on being a digidisciple. This summer is one that I’m referring to as nomadic. In the last couple of months I’ve been in six countries on four continents and have found myself in places where I have been about as alone as one physically can be and then within 24 hours surrounded by close to fifty people who know me well.I’ve visited churches that have felt foreign and unwelcoming, and those that have been open and hospitable. I’ve visited a church which had welcomed me for over two years as a member of its community and though surprised by the changes was glad to be greeted and enjoyed.
In the midst of rejoining communities from my past, I’ve seen the ways in which the digital environment has served to make those short visits and time together an enriched experience. How wonderful it is that social networks help us to keep updated on the large decisions and the day to day (of sorts) – so that when we have spent time together we have felt able to both ask difficult questions, probing questions, that may not have been answered in the variously public fora of social networks, while also being able to just ‘be’ present with one another and laugh and talk without feeling like we had so very much to catch up on. More than once the comment was made that ‘isn’t it great that it just felt like we could all jump back in’ – It has been a curious experience and one that has only been made possible because of the social networks in which we participate.
I’ve found that the commitment to being singular in my expression of faith, work, and life has made this long stretch of being away from my church community in Scotland a much less tumultuous experience. I have found being able to listen to sermons both from there and from other teachers that I respect helpful (although no substitute from being with people and studying the word with others on a weekly basis). I have valued the daily bible studies delivered by YouVersion helpful as I have my smartphone with me (being able to place a new SIM in it no matter the country has vastly increased my ability to communicate as I have traveled.
I have found it encouraging to feel that even when I am not in the same physical space that there are those that know me who I can be present with in digital contexts. It is no substitute for physical presence, but there is great benefit to it in helpful me to stay grounded even as these experiences invariably change me.
Do you feel known by those you communicate with in digital or online contexts or do you feel as those there are barriers to real, unguarded or genuine communication and fellowship?