The New Media Project at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York has published six theological essays and four sets of recommendations about using social media in ministerial, congregational, and institutional settings. The material—located under the Findings tab on the project website —provides a resource for religious leaders seeking to interpret new media in creative and theological ways.
In the midst of the massive shifts occurring in digital communication today, the New Media Project explores how pastors and lay leaders might employ new technologies to strengthen their communities. Pastors need more than the technical know-how required to build websites and use social media. They also need broader, theologically grounded reflection on the lasting effect these technologies will have on the church and its global ministries.
Essays by the project’s research fellows explore the following topics:
- “Faith communities in high relief: Reflections on the Trinity,” by Verity A. Jones, project director
- “Models of the church and social media,” by Jim Rice, editor of Sojourners magazine
- “X-Reality and the Incarnation,” by Kathryn Reklis, Assistant Professor of Modern Protestant Theology at Fordham University
- “New media: A savior for the digital age,” by Monica A. Coleman, Associate Professor of Constructive Theology and African American Religions at Claremont School of Theology
- “Practicing virtue with social media: An ‘underdetermined’ response,” by Jason Byassee, Senior Pastor of Boone United Methodist Church, Boone, NC, and a Fellow in Theology and Leadership at Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School
- “How media changes American culture and religion,” by Lerone A. Martin, Assistant Professor of American Religious History and Culture at Eden Theological Seminary
Each essay includes study questions. General questions about social media and religion provide another way to approach the essays and other material.
- Why think about using social media
- How to use social media well
- When to be cautious and concerned
- How to know if what you are doing is working
A Frequently Asked Questions document and the six case studies conducted in 2011 round out the material to encourage theological thinking about new media today. The lively project blog continues commentary and reflection on the most recent ideas about the use of new media in religious communities.
Follow the project on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NewMediaProjectAtUnion) and Twitter (@NewMediaAtUnion), or sign up for the e-newsletter on the bottom right column of the website to receive bi-weekly updates.