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  • What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    What are we thinking? Reflections on Church and Society from Southern African Methodists.
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    Methodism in Southern Africa: A celebration of Wesleyan Mission
    by Dion A Forster, Wessel Bentley
  • Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    Christ at the centre - Discovering the Cosmic Christ in the spirituality of Bede Griffiths
    by Dion A Forster
  • An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    An uncommon spiritual path - the quest to find Jesus beyond conventional Christianity
    by Dion A Forster
Transform your work life: Turn your ordinary day into an extraordinary calling. by Dion Forster and Graham Power.
Download a few chapters of the book here.
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Entries in social media (17)

Thursday
Feb102011

Got sins to confess? There's an app for that!

I enjoy Daniel Mosley's tweets and blog posts. He recently posted this post on the Catholic Church's use of an iPhone app to support the sacrament of reconciliation (confession and penance).

Please see his post here: http://danielmosley.posterous.com/got-sins-to-confess-theres-an-app-for-that

I thought this was a great idea at first glance! I am all for the Church finding contemporary methods (and tools) to reach and serve a much wider audience to aid faith, transformation and wholeness.

The Methodist Church in Britain has done something similar. See my post on this here: http://www.dionforster.com/blog/2010/5/17/methodist-church-launches-an-iphone-app-now-thats-missional.html


And, of course there are a myriad of 'ministries' and 'individuals' who have created tools and apps for devotion, news, encouragement or interaction. Some, like the two mentioned above are 'discipleship' tools to support believers, while others are evangelical tools to reach more people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I would highly recommend that you read Tallskinnykiwi's post on evangelism in this space here: http://tallskinnykiwi.typepad.com/tallskinnykiwi/2011/01/social-media-talk-at-lausanne-.html

Back to the confession app, I wonder if I would use it? Of course one major problem is that this sacrament is not part of my theological and spiritual tradition. So, that does cause me to value it a little less for the specific task it performs.

Let me ask, if you are from a tradition that applies this sacrament would you feel comfortable (or not) using such a tool? I'd love to hear why.

Also, are there any other tools or apps that you use, or know of, that you find as important in your faith and spiritual life?

Personally I use the Methodist app mentioned above, and I use the Olivetree Bible app daily on my iPhone and iPad.

Monday
Dec132010

A world map of social networks

When we were preparing for the social networking thrust for the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town we tried very hard to build relationships with people across a variety of social networking platforms.

Communication across a variety of platforms is key!  In the social networking world being able to find where people are 'located' is as important as being able to speak their language!  If you speak Chinese on facebook it will reach a few million people, but if you speak English on Qzone you may reach more!  Of course if you speak Chinese on Qzone you'll be able to reach hundreds of millions of people!

So, here's a very interesting infographic that shows what social networking platforms are popular in different regions of the world.

Tuesday
Dec072010

He said She said... Web design and gender

It would be an understatement to say that the brains of men and women are wired differently for communication.

I sometimes wonder whether we're even from the same species! Only kidding (watch out for the FLAME war!)

But, the simple truth is that men and women have different approaches to sharing information and consuming information.  We relate differently to facts and emotions.  Some persons prefere a story (narrative) to facts.  Others prefer safe spaces for interaction and relationship, while some prefer clinical repositories of ideas...

This helpful infographic (download a LARGE VERSION here) gives some wonderful insights into research on how women and men design their websites and blogs in different ways.  I found it fascinating to read.

I see from this that I am 'trustworthy' and 'approachable' (brown...)  Perhaps I should get a little red or pink on here to spice things up a bit!?

So, do you think this infographic is accurate?  Has this been your experience?  I'd love to hear your feedback!

Friday
Dec032010

A Russian tale - don't get left behind! Social Networking, New Media and Mobile

In Russia, just after the 1917 communist revolution, Russia was quite a progressive country!  The new Russian leadership had a good idea of how they wished to restructure society for the good of the people and they were intent on using new technologies of the time to do it.

So, they invested in rolling out the infrastructure for a new technology at the time - except they got it all wrong!  While the rest of the world was pumping money into rolling out telephone systems (exchanges, cables and handsets), Russia chose to invest in loudspeakers... That's right!  They laid cables, planted telephone poles, and fitted loudspeakers to them!

Of course their intention was to motivate the people with patriotic songs, and inspire them with communist propaganda...  The one point they missed is that people are far more likely to get behind you if they feel involved.  If your opinion gets validated, your idea gets heard and incorporated, then you'll support the system.  Nobody likes being 'talked at', much less so through a loudspeaker.

I have come to realise that this is how most companies, and of course many ministries, use the social networking technologies today! In fact you can see what they're going to use it for when their strategy includes the words 'social media' - they are wanting to use social to broadcast their old media (whether it be messages, ideas, sermons, adverts whatever)!  

Social networking works because people are more important than technology! My userbase on facebook and twitter swells when I interact with my friends.  They tweet and retweet my ideas when I tweet and retweet theirs.  When I am interested in them and their ideas I get @ replies and their followers hear about me and my stuff and I meet new people and connect with them...

I'd love to hear what you think about the thoughts I share in this little video about 'The Russian Tale'.

I have a sense that one of the areas in which technology is moving is the mobile space!  And in particular accessing the internet through mobile devices.  Think about these statements and see if you agree with me:

 

  • The number of active internet users is increasing rapidly (in fact I believe that internet usage has increased from 35% to 83% among 19-54 year olds worldwide between 2006-2009).
  • Most internet users spend the majority of their time on social networking platforms (facebook, myspace, linkedin and a host of others).
  • For most people under the age of 35 their primary means of going onto the internet is via a mobile device (phone, iPod etc.)

 

This must change the way we engage and how we do business and share messages!  Take a look at this graph below - look at what OS versions dominate the web (Symbian is huge in Africa!)

I've just finished reading 'The Starfish and the Spider' which gave some fascinating insights into the social dynamics of online communities.  Last night I started reading 'Open leadership:  How social technology can transform the way you lead' (written by Charlene Li) - it is incredibly insightful!

Monday
Nov222010

Adding twitter and facebook buttons to your squarespace blog

Some months ago I moved from blogger.com to squarespace when blogger stopped supporting FTP to personal domains.  I had been contemplating a move for some time since blogger was getting quite slow and restrictive.

I am so pleased that I made the move - squarespace is a hosted blogging service with incredible templates, great feedback and stats, and it just seems to meet my blogging needs.

Today I added two more features to my blog - a retweet button that will allow readers to easily send a post to twitter and a facebook like button. Social networking and social media sharing are a key part of my communication strategy!  As such it is critical to make it as easy as possible for readers to interact with the content on this blog in order to save it, forward it, retweet it, or like it on facebook.

Squarespace has a built in 'share' function (see the bottom of this post for the 'share' button - if you click on it you'll see that it allows you to share a blog post to multiple social networking locations and platforms).  However, since it is an embedded service very few people make use of it.  Quite simply, most of us look for the familiar blue icons of twitter and facebook to share content.

If you have a squarespace blog (or even a wordpress or blogger blog) you can add these buttons to your blog as well.  Simply follow these links:

Now, here's where I would like to ask for your help!  Please could I ask you to find one article on my blog and test the facebook 'like' button or the twitter 'retweet' button?  I'd love to see how they work!  Any feedback is welcome (I made the retweet text a simple reference to my twitter username, the reader can add his or her own text to describe the post).

Thanks! 

Dion

Friday
Oct222010

you google, you SMS, you chat... do you poken!?

Earlier this week a new friend @metaMeerkat dropped by the Cape Town international convention to give me a really cool gift!  She gave me poken!

Poken Cape

This super little social networking device makes connecting with people at social gatherings and conferences so cool and easy!

All that you need to do when you meet another poken user is give them a 'high five' and your details are automatically swopped.  When you next plug your poken into the USB port of your computer it will exchange your data with theirs (giving them access to as much, or as little, data as you want).  In my case I share my web page, phone number, twitter account, facebook details and linkedin profile.

It is super easy to use, much easier than having to swop business cards, as I've been doing here at the Congress all week.

So, if you've got a poken please give me a shout - I'd love to connect!

If not, then why not fire up your blackberry, iPhone, or Nokia phone and scan this QR code?

 

Friday
Oct152010

How to follow the Third Lausanne Congress in Cape Town

It is now just 2 days until we kick off with the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization at the Cape Town International Convention Centre (CTICC)!  We have been working on this congress since early in 2007, and the pace has picked up considerably among our working teams here in South Africa, and elsewhere in the world, over the last few months.

I've been here at the CTICC for the last few days undergoing some orientation and training with hundreds of volunteers, stewards and staff.

I have the great privelage of attending Lausanne as one of the 50 invited participants from South Africa (as a theologian in part, since I serve on the Lausanne Theology working group, but also as a ministry practitioner and new media / social media strategist). 

However, I am also on the Lausanne staff as the Social Networking Manager within the digital communications office.  I'll also be speaking on Friday and participating in two of the 'streams' (the Marketplace / World of Work group and the Resource Mobilization Working Group).

What makes this Congress different from the previous two is that we now have the technology to allow much broader direct participation from all over the globe!  First a one or two points that have stood out for me; among the 4500 participants more than 25% are from Africa.  In fact the majority of participants are from the 'two-thirds' world with a strong emphasis upon younger leaders (headed by Grace Sampson from Nigeria / South Africa), and the input of women.

This is truly the most theologically diverse group of persons I have ever had the chance to gather with.  Among the participants are notable 'conservative' Christians such as Jon Piper, and at the other end of the spectrum on of the best known names in the Emerging Church movement, 'Andrew Jones' (better known as tallskinnykiwi).

So, there is a wide range of culture, a good mix of age and gender, and a great deal of theological diversity.

Back to participation:  I'm not sure if you realise this, but this is the first time in history that we are able to truly contextualise the inputs, discussions and outcomes of a gathering such as this?  No matter who you are, or where you are in the world, your voice can be heard!  You can have a direct input into the plenary, multiplex and discussion sessions through the Global Conversation site.

Moreover, when the Congress is done the conversation is NOT OVER!  In fact, that's when we can truly shape the strategy and theology of the Lausanne movement through our participation.

So, how do you get involved?

1.  Follow the Lausanne Congress on twitter @CapeTown2010 and Facebook.

2.  Join in on the Global Conversation (all of the video, audio and reports will be posted here and you can comment, discuss and engage with millions across the world on the issues and the presentations).

3. Go to a Global Link site (if there is one in your area).

4.  Encourage others to blog, tweet, and post their ideas and feedback on their own sites and feeds.  We would ask you please to consider using the hash tags #LCWE and #CapeTown2010 in your posts so that my team can track what you're saying and highlight it to the rest of the world!

Below is an encouragement from Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi):

The global mission event of the century is only a week away! Its the Third Lausanne World Congress on World Evangelization also known as Lausanne 3.

Its HUGE!. We're talking 5000 invited delegates from all over the world.

Its bigger than Lausanne 1 and even bigger than Lausanne 2.

Its bigger than Edinburgh 1910 and 2010

Its the most wired, webbed, blogged, twittered, streamed missions event EVER!

Its also more SOUTHERLY than any missions conference you have ever followed. It happens in Cape Town, South Africa and it starts next week. Like Oct 16 - 25th

Its time to point your computer towards Cape Town for a MEGA MISSION RUSH that's going to:

TURN your tiny view of the global church upside down!
SMASH your small ambitions into pathetic, wriggling inadequacies!
REAWAKEN your inner William Carey into the 21st Century!
REPOSITION your priorities into the groove of what God is doing NOW in the world that He loves!

Here are the links you need:

Official Lausanne Cape Town 2010 website and blog

Tall Skinny Kiwi blog right here for happenings, thoughts, images, trivia, whats for lunch, the coolest haircuts and the dorkiest ties and worthy blog moments in general. I arrive in Cape Town on Oct 14th and leave Oct 26th and I will deliver the congress to you in blog sized bites.

Notes on Lausanne - Outreach Magazine's dedicated blog page for Cape Town featuring ME and my more profound thoughts and responses to the presentations, speakers, events and takeaways for you and your church.

Follow CapeTown2010 on Twitter. Add the column to your Tweetdeck.

Watch these Twitter hashtags: #CapeTown2010 #LCWE #CapeTownIdeas #CapeTownQuotes

Join Lausanne on Facebook

Stay tuned and I will keep you streamed with all the right stuff.

UPDATE: Thanks Jon Hirst for these others links:
GlobaLink locations:

Online Participation:
RSS of CT2010 news (includes Lausanne blog)
Video Podcast which is also on iTunes and an
Audio podcast which you can also get straight from iTunes,
All congress video and an email newsletter (for daily news summaries/highlights):

And here is another one from another one of our Lausanne Blogger Network team, Stephen Murray:

In just over four days time the most significant evangelical congress to ever take place on South African shores will kick into action. Over 5000 participants, volunteers and staff from all over the world will converge on the Cape Town International Convention Center to participate in hearing and adding their many voices to some of the most pressing issues in world evangelism today.

You can follow the events as they unfold through the following links:

Cape Town 2010 official website

Cape Town 2010 blog

The Global Conversation

Alongside this you can follow @capetown2010 on Twitter or join the official Facebook page.

I, along with some colleagues will be onsite observing and microblogging the event live through the official twitter feed and on the Facebook page. The aim of the congress is to truly allow for global participation through technology and various forms of media. So we really want to encourage you to follow the congress and interact with the content through the various platforms.

Finaly!  If you are a member of the Lausanne Blogger Network, a participant or a volunteer at Cape Town 2010, then please make contact with me!  We are planning a tweet-up during the congress!  It'll be great to connect with everyone who's been tweeting and posting about Lausanne.  Please DM me @digitaldion or give me a text message or call on +27834564855.

Sunday
Oct102010

One week to go until the start of the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization!

In one week from today (Sunday the 17th of October 2010) the Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization will kick off at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in Cape Town!  To view a short video (or read about) the history of the Lausanne movement please follow this link.  And, for a post that has information about all the sources where you can get information about talks, videos, publications and intereactions around Lausanne please visit this link.

This congress is the culmination of years of physical labour (preparing the venues, booking flights, securing VISA's, getting hotels sorted out planning programs, inviting participants etc.) and prayer and theological work! I've had the privelage of serving in various capacities on the Lausanne team (heading up Social Networking, serving on the Theology working group, the 'World of Work' / Marketplace group and also on the Resource Mobilization working group.  Together with that I am part of the arrangements team that has planned and executed the practical arrangements for the congress (the CTICC, volunteers (which my wonder wife Megan has managed), transport etc.).

This is going to be a truly significant meeting of leaders from all over the world coming together to do theology and develop strategy for the establishment of God's good news, God's gracious Kingdon, all across the earth!

If you're interested in my previous posts about Lausanne please visit this link.  Here's a general link of Lausanne related posts that I've made since I joined the team early in 2008.

Steve Hayes, one of the most respected bloggers in South Africa, wrote a great article on one of his blogs asking why there is not more 'buzz' and interest around Lausanne in South Africa.  It got me thinking!  Here's my response to Steve.

Before you dive into it - please can I encourage you to pray for the 4500 people from over 170 nations across the earth who are traveling to Cape Town for the congress?  Please pray for the proceedigns, and PLEASE make your voice heard!  Even if you're not in Cape Town please join our Twitter feed and stay up to date with what is happening and share your comments, ideas and feedback!  Our twitter feed is @CapeTown2010 and you can join our facbook page here.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the post! I am continually grateful for the exposure that you give to Lausanne on your blogs.  Thank you.

The idea that Lausanne is not gaining much attention or favour among South African Christians is valid to a point.

I've thought about the reasons for this often.  In part it is because we can only have 50 'chosen' participants - that is a tiny representation per nation who are at the congress!  You may find that everywhere (except America) has a similar problem with getting ordinary Christians excited about something that is not easy to participate in.

Second, I have thought that we in South Africa do not have a traditionally large 'evangelical' Christian community.  Rather, we have main line conservative and liberal Christians, a growing number of pentecostal and charismatic groupings, and of course a massive African Initiated Christian grouping.

I'm sure that there are many other reasons as well.

However, let me add to this that South Africa has more active participants in the official blogger network than any other country (except America).  Among the official Lausanne Blogger Network participants from South Africa are many of the top 20 Christian (Religion) bloggers.  They include:

Stephen Murray, Mark Penrith, Peter Houston, John van de Laar, and my blogYou (and here) have also done a sterling job to promote and highlight many of the issues of Lausanne directly and indirectly.

I have asked Stephen Murray to come to Lausanne as a 'social networking' and 'blogger' champion.  We shall also have Andrew Jones (tallskinnykiwi) and Aaron Marshall (techsmo and churchsmo) on site.

It is my hope that we shall generate a great deal of content and participation during the congress, and continue the interest once the congress is done!

The simplest way to stay up to date is to either follow Lausanne on twitter @CapeTown2010 or join our Lausanne facbook page.

Finally, because each country was only able to have 50 delegates present we have set up 'global link' sites across the world.  These sites are open for anyone to attend and the proceedings, presentations and discussions of the Cape Town congress will be beamed out via satellite.

Thanks for posting your thoughts and for the opportunity to post this response.  I'll add it to my blog as well.

Rich blessing,

Dion

Please check in on my blog for more as we share from the congress itself.

God bless,

Dion

Friday
Sep242010

Why do you use twitter !? Here's what I say...

If you're a twitter user I'm sure someone has asked you 'Why on earth do you use twitter?' I have many people saying to me 'I just don't get it... What is the purpose of twitter?'

Most people just don't get it...No harm!

Well, here's my answer to that question!  A great little video that explains where twitter fits into the social networking and digital communications landscape! It is only 2 minutes long and really explains why (and to some extent how) I use twitter!

Remember when twitter used to ask 'What are you doing?'  Those where the good old days!

PS.  FOLLOW ME on twitter @digitaldion  ... You won't be sorry (well, not too sorry!)

Wednesday
Sep012010

The breakdown of social control and the democratization of intimacy

I remember when I was conscripted into the army more than two decades ago. I went into social isolation - it was long before cell phones and the remote military base where I was trained only had one working public telephone for the few hundred troops stationed there.

I forgot my birthday that year! The 14th of January came and went... It was some days later when I met the only other guy from my town at the dining hall when I realised that I had turned a year older.  Because I was completely cut off from my regular social circle during my basic training I had no concept of the social milestones of life.

This is an extreme example, but in reality contemporary society is shaped towards social control.  Pre-schools for infant children are little more than places in which children are lovingly (I hope!) taught to endure longer and longer periods of isolation from their regular social circle.  The children learn to be away from their families for extended periods of time.  They also learn to perform tasks that will make them a productive part of society at some point. Primary and secondary schooling takes this a step further (children dress in a uniform to differentiate them from home, they are ranked in classes and groups according to their language, age, and even intellect - all the while they are punished for using cell phones to phone or text friends and parents). Of course the workplace is another setting that enforces social control.  How many companies do you know that do not allow social networking technologies, such as instant messaging, skype, and facebook and such tools? With the advent of separate working and living areas people often leave their familiar surroundings behind for hours at a time (perhaps most of their waking hours) to enter into an environment that is not geared towards social support and intimacy.  The workplace is intended to restrict such distractions.  Sometimes there are safety concerns, but most often it has to do with productivity and finance.

However, with the rise of accessible social media technologies I have seen a remarkable trend towards the democratization of intimacy - what does this mean?  Well, let me give you an example.  This morning I arrived at my office at 5.45 AM.  I had an early meeting - however, at 7.30 AM I pulled myself aside and used my cellular phone to call my wife and children at home to 'connect' with them and wish them well for the day.  I was taking back my need for intimacy with my family.

I frequently travel (this weekend I shall be in Johannesburg, and in just over a week I shall be in Hong Kong and China for a week).  Skype makes this much more bearable!  It started for me back in 2005 when I was on a sabbatical in America.  While staying on the Duke University Campus in North Carolina I would connect my Apple Powerbook via wifi and use iChat (I have of course since moved onto Skype) to connect with my wife and infant daughter back in South Africa.  We would leave the video camera running as I worked, ate my meals, watched TV etc. My wife and daughter would go about their daily tasks.  It was almost as if we were in the same room!  We could see and hear one another, yet we were separated by thousands of miles!

More recently since my son was born I have truly come to appreciate this technology anew - for some years he was too young to talk on the phone.  Video conferencing (that is mostly FREE!) is an incredible way to cultivate and sustain a relationship when one has to be away from home - particularly when your son is too young to talk.

Of course there are many other ways in which people are subverting social control and 'taking back' intimacy! Text messaging is perhaps one of the most pervasive forms of 'communication technology'.  It is affordable and has a very broad reach (most people have cellular phones). For the wealthier population, facebook, twitter and other such social networking tools seem to be mechanisms of choice.

I wonder how long it will be before corporations realise that you can't stop people from connecting with one another; soon we will move from separating workers from their lives, towards integrating their intimacy needs with their family into a healthy working environment. I know that Google, for example, provides on site child care, flexible working hours and other such benefits to help staff deliver their best work while keeping this social balance.

The sociologist - Stefana Broadbent - did an amazing talk on this topic of social networking and intimacy at TED. It is well worth watching.  Her research shows how people are taking back intimacy in a world of social control. 

I'd love to hear how you keep contact with your family and friends in spite of the constraints of social control. What works best for you?  Is it the trusty old phone call, or do you use text messaging, skype, or even Apple's 'facetime'? I know a few people who have turned to Blackberry Messenger of late, and of course for those of us in the iPhone 'Whatsapp' is a great IM alternative!

Tuesday
Jun152010

The secret powers of time - video games, porn and the rewiring of the brain

In this incredible video Professor Philip Zimbardo shows how our relationship to one of the 6 perspectives on time frames our whole lives.

Among the many interesting quotes are this one:

By the time a boy is 21, he has spent at least 10,000 hours alone playing video games alone, probably more watching pornography alone. And you put that together and it means A) They haven't learnt social skills (emotional and social intelligence) B) But also it means that the live in a world that they create.... Their brains are being digitally rewired.  Which means that they will never fit in a traditional classroom that is analogue; somebody talks at you without even the nice pictures, meaning IT'S BORING, meaning you control nothing, you sit there passively.... these kids will never fit into that.  They have to be in a situation where they are controlling something...

This is a fascinating thought.  I found Zimbardo's research on the relationship between one's perspective of time and one's cognitive processes (such as decision making, meaning making, and identity) extremely interesting, and certainly quite plausible in many instances.

Let me know what you think of the video...

By the way, this video is another exceptional example of how to communicate complex ideas in a memorable and useful manner.  In my lectures I often help students to understand that textual communication is a very difficult means with which to share ideas - visual stimulation is a far more direct and emotionally engaging means of sharing an idea.

Wednesday
May262010

Shift happens - where is the Christian faith heading? A reflection on GDOP 2010

Last week was an incredible week of blessing, encouragement, discovery, friendship, and learning.  We had close to 1000 persons at the Cape Town International Convention centre for the Global Day of Prayer 10th Anniversary Celebration conference.  The Global Day of Prayer started at Newlands Rugby stadium in Cape Town in 2001 and this Sunday (23 May 2010) was the 10th anniversary of what God has done in and through the Global Day of Prayer.

As Graham Power, the initiator of the prayer movement, says - the Global Day of Prayer is truly a testimony to God's power and grace.  No person or committee or organization could ever have put together such a massive prayer movement.  In 2009 and again this year in 2010 every single country on earth registered their participation in the Global Day of Prayer on Pentecost Sunday.  From the rising of the Sun in Fiji until it set over the Hawaii Islands there were people in cities, towns, rural areas, schools, stadiums, Churches and homes praying together in repentance and prayer.  It truly is the largest recorded prayer gathering in history!  The conference was as great a blessing as the day of prayer.  Our team started working on putting together the venue, speakers and participant care well over a year ago. I was in charge of setting up the program (simply visit the GDOP 2010 website and click on the list of speakers in each of the 5 streams for details of the speakers in the Church, Transformation, Prayer, Missions and Youth streams).

What struck me most significantly was the fact that God is using 'new', 'fresh' and 'emerging' movements and groups to achieve great things across the earth.  The them of the conference was 'His Story, His Glory, His Call' and we emphasised that we wanted to hear from the global South and the emerging world.  This was indeed the case as speakers and groups from Asia, Latin America, and Africa shared incredible testimonies of what God is doing to redeem both people and places.  There were many stories of salvation coming to individuals and groups, as well as many stories of God's justice and mercy bringing healing and tangible transformation to political, social and economic systems throughout the world.  It was such an encouragement.

I spoke in three sessions (a plenary and two track sessions).  In the Youth / emerging generation plenary I used a quote from Philip Yancey (that comes from Philip Jenkins' great book The Next Christendom:  The coming of Global Christianity (Oxford University Press), 2002):

As I travel, I have observed a pattern, a strange historical phenomenon of God “moving” geographically from the Middle East, to Europe to North America to the developing world.  My theory is this: God goes where he’s wanted

Now of course this observation is true (I add a few subtle steps).  Christianity began in Israel, then shifted to Asia (and North Africa), from Asia it moved to Europe under the rule of Constantine, then from Europe to England, from England to North America, and from North America the 'weight' of global Christianity has shifted to Africa, Asia and Latin America.

But, where is Christianity shifting to next?  I my presentation (entitled 'Shift Happens') I made the conjecture that Christianity's next global shift will not be a geographical shift, rather it will be a shift onto the internet.  If you were to take the registered users of facebook as a population group, facebook would be the 3rd largest country on earth (behind China and India).  It is a simple fact that most of the emerging generation do not posit their primary identity in their geographical or primary cultural context, rather their identity and sense of being is shaped by global interactions through the internet, television, movies and others forms of rich media!

The title of my presentation 'Shift happens' comes from the incredible video below:

The question is:  If this shift is so powerful why are there so few ministry groups and Christians doing strategic work on and through the internet?  Most of the Christian groups I know use this 'new media' in an 'old media' manner - i.e., as a broadcast mechanism (posting reports, putting up text that does not allow for interaction, using 'long form' posts (such as this one!) instead of the short form posts like twitter's 140 characters...)

I've made a short video reflection on my thoughts in this regard which you can watch below.

Reflection on GDOP 2010 new media and ministry from Dion Forster on Vimeo.

 

The two persons I mention in this video post are @jaesonma and @olgalvaro - check them out. Of course you can also connect with me on twitter @digitaldion.

Also, consider this.  Long after the next Lausanne congress has met, hundreds of thousands of people from all across the earth would have interacted around the issues of bringing the whole Gospel to the whole world.  And, after the participants in the third Lausanne Congress have left Cape Town, after the World Cup Soccer has come and gone, the conversation will continue!  Rather than a 'static' medium (such as a journal with conference papers) the collective wisdom, and immeasurable wealth of international connections and relationships will be the force that sustains and informs evangelism going forward!

Shift is happening - my prayer is that more Christians will get ahead of this shift.  This does not mean an abandonment of the 'established' ways of being faithful in worship, service and community.  But, we do need to engage people where they are moving to!

The theologian Helmut Thielicke summed it up best when he said:

The Gospel must be constantly forwarded to a new address since its recipient is constantly changing his place of residence.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this point!  Do you think I am missing something?  

By the way, I have a more critically researched article on this phenomenon being published in the Lausanne World Pulse in the next month or so.  I'll post a link here once it is published.  That has both statistical and empirical research as well as clear references.