Spirituality & Personal Growth
The College for Bishops Leadership Institute was established to provide educational resources for new bishops as well as trending informational resources for all bishops. Spirituality & Personal Growth focuses on specific resources such as:
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Faith Practices & Pop Culture
Try the Church of England’s Alexa Skill
What can Alexa tell you about the Church of England? New functionalities have recently been added to provide help on everything from daily prayers to learning about faith to finding a local church. This update comes from the Church of England’s website.
Christian rockers typically receive a double helping of disdain—from inside and outside the church—but it has only bolstered the sense that they were righteous rebels, following Jesus by challenging both the priestly élite and the dominant culture. Despite decades of mockery, Christian rock has proven remarkably durable, creating a lucrative and sometimes lively cultural ecosystem, which generations of musicians have been happy —or happy enough—to call home.
The internet has given a voice to the trolls, the comment hecklers, and the self-important. Of course, it’s also given a voice to those who actually have something important to say or those who have a product that will make the world better. But, as they say, “a rising tide lifts all ships,” so the wise and the foolish are both amplified. The internet is that tide. Churches must exist online to cut through the over-saturated advertisement market and get noticed—so we can reach people who are not connected to Jesus where they already exist. But in doing so, you’re going to have to deal with the comment hecklers and trolls. Here are a few pertinent suggestions from Courageous Storytellers.
Older adults, as much as any other generation, want to know what is going on and are turning to social media to find out.. According to a Pew Research report about social media use, their favorite site is Facebook, with 65 percent of those 60 to 64 and 41 percent of those 65 and over using it to connect with friends. YouTube has similar numbers. It is with these things in mind that churches can begin approaching how to communicate with people over 65. Building relationships is the central purpose for using digital media in a church and this article from the United Methodist Church identifies five keys.
Many Christian leaders want to make sure their institutions are using the right technology for ministry. But social media use is also a pastoral issue; social media spaces are places where people experience both joy and pain, writes an associate research scholar at the Yale Center for Faith & Culture.
Fred Rogers stands out starkly in our world, even today. Here was someone who truly believed he was loved and embraced by God, so much so that he was comfortable sharing his vulnerabilities with children, with neighbors, and with Senators. The Fred Rogers we discover in this new documentary is utterly consistent on and off the screen. Every life he seems to have encountered was left a little brighter, a little warmer for his presence. Read a review of the new documentary here.
Who are these people that police the season before Christmas? You will know them by their propagation of the Advent Gospel: No Christmas before Christmas. There is a calendar date for putting up your nativity and they want you to darn well stick to it. The Advent Police are the people who turn their noses up at Christmas music being played at the grocery store before Thanksgiving. The Advent Police have rules, rules, rules about Christmas trees, nutcrackers, and when it’s appropriate to listen to Mariah Carey’s Christmas album.
Deanna A. Thompson is a professor of religion at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She participated in the 2016 summer writing workshop Christian Spirituality and the Writing Life, with Lauren Winner at the Collegeville Institute. In this interview, Deanna discusses her book The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World, which was released in November 2016.
“Game of Thrones” offers a fantastic story, speaking eloquently — if brutally — to our morality, our mortality, our humanity, our quests for power, our needs for purpose, for family, for hope. However, for this author, “Game of Thrones” offers something else, something that caught her — a lifelong reader, student and lover of the Bible — by surprise. Watching “Game of Thrones” has made her a better Bible reader. Not despite the often despicable images — but because of them.
There have been many different articles written about the ineffectiveness of short-term voluntourism trips to developing nations. You know the kind of trips I’m talking about: a spring break spent painting an orphanage in Haiti as opposed to drinking all day in Panama City Beach. These types of trips often exploit the people and communities they pretend to help. How can we find a better way to serve?
As much has been written about declining numbers in today’s churches, it is possible that we now follow an even more powerful religion around which we have oriented our lives: economics. Think about it. Economics offers a comprehensive doctrine with a moral code promising adherents salvation in this world; an ideology so compelling that the faithful remake whole societies to conform to its demands. It has its gnostics, mystics and magicians who conjure money out of thin air. And, like the old religions it has displaced, it has its prophets, reformists, moralists and above all, its high priests who uphold orthodoxy in the face of heresy.
The author of this American Magazine article describes herself as a Sorta Catholic. A Sorta Catholic may have been raised Catholic and attended 12 years of Catholic schools, but now being Catholic is not a huge part of her deal. (She practices “Chipotle Catholicism”: you go down the line and pick out the parts of Catholicism that are most appealing.) However, when one Sorta Catholic marries another Sorta Catholic, family pressure for a Very Catholic Wedding provide new enlightenment.
Why would a church need a social media “campaign?” Increasingly used during conferences, meetings, and events, social media campaigns (unlike individual posts), focus on a shared experience. At the most basic level, campaigns help to collate and gather similar content, generate interest, and build a brand. The consistency of the idea ties together a host of common information from a sea of individual comments and posts, and makes it easier for followers or readers to see what they’re looking for in one place. Some campaigns however, create an experience, and the best ones always herald the start of a relationship between the brand and reader.
Whether it’s to find information, entertainment, or social engagement, we reflexively seek to be wired—sometimes obsessively, usually uncritically, always expectantly--into other venues. But for all the seemingly infinite benefits of connectedness, our intensifying screen time is stunting our attention spans. The underlying concern with the Internet is not whether it will fragment our attention spans or mold our minds to the bit-work of modernity. In the end, it will likely do both. The deeper question is what can be done when we realize that we want some control over the exchange between our brains and the Web.
In New York magazine, recovering blogger Andrew Sullivan warns that “an endless bombardment of news and gossip and images has rendered us manic information addicts.” What does it mean to choose to live in reality? What might this mean for our churches? As Sullivan says, “If the churches came to understand that the greatest threat to faith today is not hedonism but distraction, perhaps they might begin to appeal anew to a frazzled digital generation.”
The digital revolution has made visible a spiritual problem that has rocked our churches for a very long time — the idea that identity is found in frenzied activity. In most contexts, the “alive” church is one with bustling ministries, a cornucopia of activities, and a worship service choreographed so that there is no “dead space” — no silence — between singing and talking, talking and singing. Perhaps it would be better for churches to see what our smartphones are doing to us, and say to an exhausted world what Jesus once told us: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” That’s a good word for a web-weary world.
If you click around Facebook’s map of livestreams, you will notice a theme: Among the bored teens and driver’s seat narratives, there are tons of religious services to watch. Houses of worship are hoping to capitalize on Facebook Live as a way of widening their communities and reaching a younger crowd. Though the concept of livestreaming sermons is by no means novel — hundreds of religious institutions across the continent offer some form of online spiritual guidance — Facebook Live offers accessibility to houses of worship that once found the technology too cumbersome or expensive.
The Society of St. John the Evangelist monks who don’t use social media themselves have developed a worldwide following by offering spiritual guidance on the Internet. In the process, they’ve gained a new publishing platform that reaches tens of thousands of people across the globe every day with wisdom and practices from their monastic lifestyle.
Over the past few years, researchers have done a lot of work on the subject of attention span and how we are re-sculpting our brains with hours spent online. One conclusion they are reaching is that online life nurtures fluid intelligence but offline life is better at producing crystallizing intelligence, or "cathedral-like personalities."