I missed my own denomination's general assembly in minneapolis a couple weeks ago, so I suppose it's only fair I attend a workshop on worship for another faith. the presbyterians are meeting for their general assembly in the same place as the unitarian universalists--the minneapolis convention center--and my teacher jann cather weaver (who's united church of christ) gave a presentation focusing on church and social media, a topic in which I'm particularly interested (and which I am studying in greater depth with her this fall).
jann's presentation was sparsely attended--I counted about 25 people over the course of 3 hours--but it struck me as one of those poorly attended lectures like 1928's "what to do if the stock market crashes" or 1979's "protect yourself from immune deficiency viruses." she had a lot of worthwhile things to say to people who heard her and were aware they were listening to a treatise on the reality churches find themselves in today, not in the future: a place where a rapidly dying demographic ventures 1 day a week with the expectation of hearing that it is a good and gracious group whose children, if they could only put down the electronic whizzbangs, would soon find themselves as valiently articulated. the fact they don't find their children beside them--or when they are beside them, find them checked out--seems either not worth notice or is evidence of their children's deficiencies.
jann's message was that social media are themselves works of the spirit to bring about the kingdom/kin-dom/realm of god, communicating the way we live out our faith. this was a good message to hear since it is not an endorsement or denial but a recognition that facebook, google, youtube, texting, iphones, ipads, and whatever other communication application is hovering around the corner is a way, not of holding one another off at arm's length but of drawing one another closer in ways never considered before. I sit here now in the crystal court of the ids tower in downtown minneapolis, utilizing public wifi, watching no fewer than 5 people around me texting while listening to whatever they're listening to--music, talk, phone conversations--on earbuds. 2 are reading from kindles. a man in a 3-piece suit and with several piercings in each ear walks by chattering into a bluetooth handsfree plugged into 1 ear. the little girl with her family who looks about 6 around the corner from where I sit is involved in some online game while her parents talk to each other in spanish. this is not the future. this is today. if we are honest in our profession that church is not simply a 2 hour a week phenomenon and if we are successful in our attempts to bring it into the quotidian, making our everyday time liminal, then this is a part of that: not as a method of shutting each other out but of bringing one another in.