Last week, I attended an outstanding conference at Claremont School of Theology called Theology After Google. The goal of the conference was to encourage progressive Christians to “leverage new technologies and networks for transformative ministry.” The event was hosted by a passionate group of progressive theologians including Philip Clayton and Tripp Fuller, founders of Transforming Theology, a grassroots project to get theology out of the academy and back into the church. (Read Philip Clayton’s excellent article, “Theology After Google,” for some background here.) A stellar line-up of presenters included leading voices from the progressive and emergent movement including Tony Jones, Spencer Burke, Doug Paggitt and Barry Taylor, as well as some surprising, more secular guests such as Jeff Jarvis, author of What Would Google Do?
“Progressive Christian theologians have some vitally important things to say,” said Tripp Fuller, event co-creator, “things that both the church and society desperately need to hear. Our hope is to equip progressive Christians to effectively use the new technologies, social media and social networking. When it comes to the effective communication of message, the Religious Right is running circles around us.”Check out the Transforming Theology website to listen in to most of the lectures given at the conference. There was much to absorb — theologically and practically –around how the new media is changing the nature of relationships, transforming human conceptions of God, Jesus and Christianity and what the church will (and should) become as a result. (And for some comic relief, don’t miss Jana Reiss’ presentation on The Twible: What Can We Say About God in 140 Characters or Less? Now that’s creative!)
It is clear that we are in the midst of the massive cultural and societal shift – how we will as the church embrace and embody new technologies in our ministry and service to the world? I, for one, left the conference hopeful and excited about the future of the Church and how new technologies can enhance our lives as people of faith.