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The Reformation was one of my favorite periods to study when I was an undergraduate. Coming from a staunchly Protestant background (first Lutheran, then Methodist, and finally Episcopalian), guys like Luther and Zwingli and Calvin were heroes. If there had been trading cards for these guys (like these Torah Personalities cards), I would have had a shoebox full. It was the whole cultural upheaval thing that got me. The world was changing and everyone was caught up in it. If I had been around at that time, I could only imagine myself as being on the side of “Veritasiness,” as Stephen Colbert might say. No way I would have been fooled by all that Roman Catholic rigmarole. The truth was pretty plain to see, some 400 years or so after the fact.

But then on further reflection, I realized that I probably would have had a pretty low tolerance for being burned at the stake or boiled in oil. So I was just as glad to be on the tail end of the Reformation thing. Plenty of nice, cozy churches to visit if I wanted to. Lots of books to read about the history of religion and spirituality and what have you. And no one harassing me to believe this or that or the other thing. So after a few years of staying away from churches all together, I took a leisurely stroll over to the Unitarian Universalists, and I’ve been here ever since.

There’s something about all that excitement, though, that I miss. I mean, how often to people get defenestrated these days? The good news is that I’m starting to feel some of that excitement again, and I think it’s because we are, indeed, at the beginning of a new Reformation, a Digital Reformation. What does that mean? Here are a couple of quotes from Elizabeth Drescher, author of  Tweet If You ♥ Jesus that might give you some idea of what we’re talking about:

What is the Digital Reformation? A revitalization of the Church driven by the often ad hoc spiritualities of ordinary believers as they integrate practices of access, connection, participation, creativity, and collaboration, encouraged by the widespread use of new digital social media into all aspects of daily life, including the life of faith.

And what will it take to be a Luther or a Zwingli or a Calvin this time around?

Being known as a leader in the Digital Reformation…does not so much depend on whether or not you wear a collar, what color your shirt might be, or what your title is, as much as it does on your ability to effectively participate in or establish wider conversational spaces where others are encouraged to share their own perspectives.

There may be little risk of getting burned at the stake during this Reformation, but there are dangers for our liberal religious tradition. I’m thinking obscurity. Maybe even oblivion.


One of the things I hope to accomplish with this blog is being a test case for parish ministers and other religious professionals. What I mean by that is simple: rather than making a bunch of almost impossible suggestions for religious professionals to follow, I want to offer my own experience as a gauge of whether or not my suggestions are actually doable. In this case, my suggestion is that ministers, religious educators, congregational life directors, membership coordinators, etc., post regularly to blogs on their congregational websites. The reason? Blogs remain (in spite of what the pundits say) the centerpiece of any social media strategy. You can tweet on Twitter and post on Facebook and update your stream on Google+ all you want, but unless you have an anchor, so to speak, that holds your social media strategy in place, you may just end up with a bunch of interconnected webby stuff that doesn’t necessarily add up to a complete picture of who you, the religious professional, really are.

So that’s what this is about. As I noted at the beginning of the month, I’m trying to follow Chris Forbes’s plan for engaging in social media as a pastor. Chris suggests that you (the religious professional) add fresh content to the internet at least three times a week. Truth is, that can be a tall order. In my case, I try to do one Small Group Ministry plan a week (usually posted on Sunday), a significant post about some topic that’s on my mind (most recently about writing sermons from the inside out), and one more post, something that doesn’t take as much time. And this one is it. My plan is to practice doing a brief post once a week, a post that takes only fifteen minutes to write. It may not be as focused as the SGM session plan or the longer posts on a hot topic, but it’ll be something to keep folks, er, posted on what I’m thinking.

So with about six minutes to go, here’s what I’m thinking: you need a blog, religious professional, and you need to keep the content fresh. And yes, it shouldn’t take a lot of your time. So think about what your three posts a week might be about. One thing I would encourage (have encouraged, actually) is using one of your posts to let folks know how it’s going with your sermon writing process (if you’re a parish minister, that is). I think a post along those lines is incredibly important because as we move further and further into the Digital Reformation (as Elizabeth Drescher calls it), what we offer online will become increasingly important. I envision the day when congregations truly are fifty/fifty: split evenly between face-to-face, physical ministry, and online virtual ministry. And if we want the sermon to remain at the center of our ministries (which is has been for both the Unitarians and the Universalists since their beginnings in this country), then we need to make them accessible to those whose connections with our congregations are primarily virtual.

Okay, I never said this would be pretty. But I’m giving it a try. With less than a minute to go, I’ll say “Good-bye” until next time.

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