Social responsibility: Life with 3000 Friends

Twitter IconThis week if the current trajectory maintains I will cross the 3000 mark in terms of twitter followers. Just to point out I don't write this to brag - im not even sure what I've done to gain 3000 followers to be honest with you - but for one reason another I have. The point is it got me thinking about our own levels of personal responsibility over what we do online. I am no public figure, nor celebrity or in any official sense a leader. However I some how feel a sense of duty to those 3000 people and in a wider collective sense to the world to take my place in it with a certain level or care.

We've all seen what power social media, freedom of speech and willingness to speak out can do to the world - this year more than ever and I can't help but feel at some point as a Christian and as someone who is just as concerned as the next guy about our economy, government etc - that it may not be long before I along with all those who are confused, concerned and can communicate will need to join together to help get things done. And when that time comes - I hope I will. And if you follow me on twitter, well I hope you will too.

As is becoming a norm this thought manifested itself in poetic form before I even realised I felt this way so here is that poem. It's called Social Responsibility for all the obvious reasons.

Social Responsibility

What happened when The self righteous are unseated By the murmuring of the crowd The twittering of the unseen masses of minds bending flowing and ebbing as one

What happens when the pedastle crumbles under you When the unseen jibes become the scene that brings it all to the fore the fall too much to bare when you know it was your own whittering that got you there.

What is happening when the digital nudgings of those unsettled and unsettling, spills over into the those who just live destruction. Uinformed, Unchecked and Unkempt let loose on the Unwilling and Unforgiving, who try forbidding the outcry of a generation lost in the postcode bidding war for the riches of those stealing from the poor. What are they all aching for?

What will happen when the ones who finally found their voice have it hidden again? Drowned out by those with so much to gain from keeping the down trodden down and out of the spot light. What happens when we don't see the pain? It is us who bare the shame.

Knowing and being known

(FYI - For those of you looking for the presentations from Saturdays Conference - read the post and scroll down!) James Poulter - Recommendation EconomyA big thank you to all of you who attended my sessions at the Christian New Media Conference on Saturday at City University, and a massive thank you to all who have contributed thoughts, ideas, comments and criticisms to the blog in the past 12 months as we have sought to explore together how we act out our faith in this changing time of communication, community and media. I am very proud to have picked up the 'Best Newcomer' gong at "The Bloggies" - the awards section of #CNMAC10 (Christian New Media Awards and Conference 2010) - but I really have you guys to thank for it.

At the conference on Saturday I explored how the Recommendation Economy is changing the way we create public persona's for ourselves, by sharing our likes, dislikes and recommendations  with one another online and how this will not only effect the way we spread the message of Jesus, of our churches and organisations and our own opinions through the web.

One of the keys to understanding the impact of the recommendation economy for the Church is understanding how it is affecting the way people come to "know and be known" - how we understand our place in the world through the exchange of information with one another. I think this is an interesting way to look at what community (that often overused word) really is. Community should always be a place where we are coming to know others and be known by them.

The recommendation economy is having real implications for the way we live our lives, with so many of us spending increasing amounts of time online as we migrate other communications and media consumption to the web, we inevitably begin to seek out community in this changing world. We have an innate need to search out others who share our likes, values and beliefs, for it is only in a context of community that we understand our place in the world - and I would argue that this is our default state of being, because it's God's default also.

We clearly see in scripture that God in three persons lives out his own existence in community, the Father, the Son and Holy Spirit loving one another in the purest of senses, and that when God put Adam in the garden, his primary purpose was to share that state of knowing and being known with us, his people.

So is it any wonder that this evolving world of social media is so appealing to us at a human level? Do we not see in this place of technology, communication and ideas a reflection of the father, the Son and the Holy Spirit? Do we not see ourselves seeking out other to know and be known?

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Sociality: Twitter, The Church & The Trinity

Last night as a part of a theology night run by my church St Marys London I explored a little about what we can learn from looking at how God behaves as the Trinity (God in three persons, bound together by love), particularly in the light of what we see now as the social communication revolution (or Social Media Revolution - but as will become clear, I am not a fan of that term). Below is both the audio from the talk, along with the accompanying Prezi presentation (click through on the right arrow button to follow along!)

Sociality: Twitter, The Church & The Trinity by James Poulter by jamespoulter

Finding Space

I write this from the place I do most of my writing, the Starbucks on Baker Street (up by the station), just a few blocks away from church (St Marys). I usually would be sat here with Holly but in her own words "ditched me" to escort her mum and god daughter home. It was that phrase - ditched, that got me thinking. To Holly and to many others the idea of giving someone two hours to do nothing in particular can be a negative, but not for me. I think we could all do with ditching ourselves once in a while, partiulaly if you are like me a coffee junkie city type with a schedule that has a mind of it's own. It's somethig that I have been thinking about for a while, the fact that we have gradually let a subtle form of consumerism creep into our lives that makes us feel that if we don't allot a task to a empty spot of time that somehow, we are not living life to it's fullness.

Maybe we aren't individually to blame for this, in fact I am not sure that blame lies at anyone's doorstep, but collectively many of us seem to have duped ourselves into a busyness that consumes so much of our time that we rarely get a moment to realise just how busy we have become.

Workplaces, family life and sadly the church has not helped in this. The 9-5 is a myth, extra curricular activities for many occupy more time than the curricular, and we in the church have got our meetings down to a fine art, so much so that it just seems wrong not to cram ever evening of a week with another one.

We seem to as a society become so good and developing, editing, polishing and delivering content that we have lost sight of the reason we developed it in the first place - that reason, I think, is connection.

We saught to create courses, classes and creativity thinking that by giving people something to do, connection and community would just burst out, but somehow there is still so much disconnection, isolation and busyness. Maybe our content got in the way of that connection ever forming in the first place?

So what can we do? How do we get back to a place where we can connect at a truely human level? Well I think it's by opening up some space, in our spirits and in our diaries to just... be. Because how will we ever hear the footsteps of God walking with us if the sound of our own thundering to the next meeting drown his out?

So may you next time you get ditched, dumped or deserted, allow yourself, give yourself permission, to have some space, to reconnect with the one whose diary is always free for a chat, and who set the rhythms of the universe in motion.

Inspiring leadership

Thought you may like this quote I came across today on leadership from JackWelch the former CEO of General Electric- He said that there are times that come when a leader

"cannot be this thoughtful, in-the-corner guru. You cabot be a moderate, balanced, thoughtful, careful articulator of policy. You've got to be on the lunatic fringe."

We all know that sometimes there comes a point when things have been processed into oblivion and you as a leader have to take charge and make the tough decisions. Decisions which affect the lives of those around us and the futures of those we lead.

The past two weeks at the church I attend here in London we have been exploring this theme of leadership through the eyes of the apostle Paul as he handed over leadership of his early church to Timothy - you can hear the sermons here.

As John (our church leader) so helpfully explained, the mantle of leadership is on a constant cycle of passing on the younger generations, the men and women who will lead the church/office/country in years to come. I find myself in such a position now, as I seek to train and lead in some capacity a team in the work environment, and also find new places to lead and explore in a church context.

On the work front as I seek to train a team of highly credible and swithed on individuals, I begin to feel pangs of what I like to call the Moses syndrome- the symptoms of which are highly unpleasant, however they manifest themselves differently in all of us. You may know it yourself, that feeling that you are called and chosen for a task, but in many ways feel wholly inadequate to take it on.

When Moses found himself upon mount sinai and heard God himself tell him that he would lead the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, i think two things were happening in his head. Firstly he felt crushed with the weight of the task ahead, and secondly he was being confronted with a calling from God, an undeniable calling.

This is difficult to comprehend, as we read in Genesis Moses wrestled mentally and spiritually to get his ear in the place where he could walk into the courts of the Pharoah and command him to let his people go. However any leader who has ever felt that call to lead will at some point or another feel that pang of moses syndrome, as they face what seems to be their own mount Sinai moment.

The crunch of all this (as John so helpfully illustrated last night) is that we who are called as leaders should be able to stand with out heads held high when we acknowledge our gift and call to leadership. We do not need to apologise for this, and it is in no way un-Christian or boasting. Because the point is our leadership (or perhaps the best kind of leadership) is to SERVE. It is only in servanthood that our leadership life can truly thrive and grow.

So whether you are leading a team in the workplace, the church, the factory, the home or the hospital, seek to serve those whom you lead. No one likes to be led, but we love to be served.