We’re excited to have been involved in pulling together such a strong line-up for the fourth Christian New Media Conference (9th November 2013, The Brewery, London), so we’ve given all the speakers the opportunity to answer a few questions:
Who are you, what do you do, and how does your story feed into #CNMAC13?
I am Rachel Barach, general manager of Bible Gateway, a digital resource for accessing Scripture in many translations and languages. Both the website and our native app for iOS, Android, and Kindle Fire also feature study resources like devotionals, commentaries, and dictionaries. Bible Gateway is one of the oldest and largest Christian websites on the Internet, started in 1993, and now with more than 17 million unique visitors each month, from across the world. As such, BG is one of many digital tools people are using, in and out of church, to explore aspects of their faith and connect with God.
Can you give us a ‘sneak peak’ into your session at #CNMAC13?
I am excited to be talking about “Reimagining the Word.” This isn’t just about how technology is changing the way we read the Bible, but how it shapes the way we share, experience, and understand what it actually says and means for our lives. The good news is that more people share the Bible online than ever before. The bad news is that it may not be having the kind of impact we think it should.
The theme for 2013 is ‘Reimagining Church’. Share a dream for what church could look like in 2023
My dream for the church is, and I think always has been, unity. We are divided – into categories, denominations, regions, languages, age groups, etc. While the Internet has enabled networking across geographic boundaries, our technological evolution has also provided platforms for targeted messaging that highlights our differences, and for the broadcasting of polarized views within the church, church and denominational splits and bitter disagreements. The digital age has created isolation and loneliness in many ways, and the church is absolutely built, from the ground up, to counter loneliness and isolation with hope and love through Christ. I’d like to see us use technology to emphasize our similarities, build authentic, in-person community, and present a broken world with the beauty of unity in Christ.
We have a number of #digidisciple(s) writing for the @bigbible project. What do you think the digital age means for discipleship?
I think the digital age has brought great responsibility for those of us called to discipleship. It is easy to think that we are being good disciples (or good enough) just because we share Bible verses via Facebook, or help our church build a website, or purchase a devotional e-book for a friend. And those are all good things – don’t stop doing them! But they are not a substitute for human contact, for in-person community and accountability, for time, and touch, and corporate acts of service, worship, prayer, encouragement and admonishment. Online communities should augment, not substitute, our face-to-face to time with others.
Outside of your own session, what are you most looking forward to at #CNMAC13?
There are so many great presentations lined up! I’m definitely eager to hear Tim Hutchings talk about digital Bible publishing, and Sheridan Voysey’s talk about communicating our faith in a secular world. But, of course, being the Anglophile I am, visiting London from the United States is always a treat in and of itself, and more than anything, I’m looking forward to connecting again with my UK brothers and sisters.
Check out Bible Gateway, or more on the conference itself where we’d love to see you (easy to book here), or some of the videos we’ve started to upload with reactions from last year’s conference delegates.