Book Club Channel
Following a Sticky Jesus: An Q&A with Toni Birdsong
In the first paragraph of their new book on living your faith online, @stickyJesus, authors Toni Birdsong and Tami Heim declare that seven hundred fifty million people connect on Facebook each month, producing some thirty billion pieces of content. Birdsong and Heim—both professional communicators and faithful Christians, who also happened to meet on Twitter—saw this expanding digital landscape as holy ground for sharing the "good news" of the Gospel while fostering a closer relationship with God. Their new book @stickyJesus is the result of their passion and practice, aimed at equipping Christians to "take to the net" with conviction and confidence.
As part of the Patheos Book Club on @stickyJesus, Toni reflected on the inspiration for the book, what she means by "sticky Jesus," the spiritual practices she hopes people take away from the book, and some of her favorite stories of how people are living out their faith online.
What inspired you to write @stickyJeus?
The seed for the idea was planted in 2008 when Barack Obama won the presidency. Not only had an unknown taken the white house, he had done it with a digital grassroots movement—namely social media. Anyone involved in media, marketing or business saw the power of social media globally and immediately began to study and implement Obama's methods.
It was clear that with the incredible growth of Facebook, YouTube and soon Twitter, that anyone with a message needed to get their heads around these tools—quickly. Both Tami and I were practitioners and early adopters of social media simply by virtue of our trades. More than that, we are both passionate about our faith and outreach.
We originally connected on Twitter professionally so when we met face-to-face at a networking meeting for Christian businesswomen, we instantly had a personal connection. The idea had been percolating in my head and heart for quite some time. Once so I met Tami—who shared a passion and vision for the fusion of online platforms and faith—I was inspired to get it all down on paper and share it with her. The rest is history.
We had a sense of urgency about the book for a few reasons. First, because social media tools and rules change by the minute so we needed to herald the message quickly. Everything we were learning about social media in the business world could easily and logically be flipped to apply to the Christ follower's/Church's task of communicating the gospel. This created it's own momentum.
The second reason we were compelled is because there's a true void in the Church when it comes to this topic. Pastors may mention it, bloggers may do a post or two but there's no definitive resource a Christian can go to and to learn the biblical and practical ways to live out their faith online. We truly felt called—and were compelled—to provide that resource.
What does @stickyJesus mean to you?
Sticky is a marketing term that means "to attract and make stay." The goal of any marketer is to craft their message, their platform, or their website to be "sticky" so that it is engaging, sticks, and makes people stay and look around.
Deborah Arca is the former Director of Content at Patheos. Prior to joining Patheos, Deborah managed the Programs in Christian Spirituality at the San Francisco Theological Seminary, including the Program's renowned spiritual direction program and the nationally-renowned Lilly-funded Youth Ministry & Spirituality Project. Deborah has also been a youth minister, a director of music and theatre programs for children and teens, and a music minister. Deborah belongs to a progressive United Church of Christ church in Englewood, CO.