This is the second in a series I’m writing describing the books I’m planning on using in my upcoming course on Internet ministry. Last time, I discussed the Aubrey Malphur’s book ChurchNext. That book, written in 2003, was a relatively short book focused on explaining to church leaders why they should embrace change in the shape of the Internet. This book, released just a few months ago, shows what a difference five years can make. Written for pastors, educators, youth leaders, academics, and anyone else who who has a passion for sharing the message of Christ, this book explains why it is crucial to get involved with the Internet as a medium and describes how it can be used in a variety of fields. Its focus goes far beyond having a web site, blogging, or podcasting, and focuses on all the “new media”, including social networking, online education, and video.
The book’s full title is The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ. It is an edited compilation, with chapters by no less than fifteen different leaders in various new media fields. Edited by John Mark Reynolds and Roger Overton, the book starts off with a section entitled “The Landscape of New Media”.Â Â It is really the first three chapters here that sold me on the book for my course. In these three chapters, the authors (John Mark Reynolds the first two, Matt Anderson the third) lay out a philosophy of using new media (chapter 1), discuss its future (chapter 2), and caution us on using it uncritically (chapter 3). From the third chapter, Matt Anderson echoes one of the themes I have discussed before on this blog:
We do not control how technology shapes our lives as much as we might think. The notion that technology is neutralÂ is not quite accurate. It may open up new opportunities, but its development and implementation almost always comes with hidden costs.
Later in the chapter, he gives an example:
…the inundation of “events” happening around us prevents us from reflecting appropriately upon them, which ultimately stifles our ability to understand and express them in language that is distinctly ours. For the creator of new media who wants to be a relevant voice, all analysis is time-sensitive. This premium upon speed threatens to short-circuit the creative process of fitting the right words to our thoughts and reflections.
Sort of sounds like another post here, huh? I knew I liked these guys.
The second part of the book, entitled “Engaging New Media”, is written by experts who are already engaged in using new media for the cause of Christ. Each of these authors writes a chapter on how they are utilizing the Internet in their own particular field: theology, community building, youth ministry, pastoring, apologetics, academia, politics, bioethics, and social justice.Â Several of these chapters I found useful from a general research perspective on Internet ministry, while others may only be interesting to those who are in that particular field.
This book has something for everyone. At the very least, it will open your eyes to new possibilites of using the Internet to reach the world using new media. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in expanding their perspective on using the Internet for ministry.
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