I signed up to attend months ago, pretty much as soon as tickets were available, and as it turned out I ended up going as a contributor, leading a seminar on ancient-future lessons and what the Tradition of the church has to say to us today.
The first thing I want to say is that I had a blast. I hardly knew anyone. One other person in the conference was a friend from r/l (that’s real life to non-geeks) and I had conversed with a few more on Twitter or via this blog, but most were brand new to me.
For me to walk in a room and not know anyone isn’t my ideal cup of tea, but actually it went fine and, despite that, I had a good time. Interesting talks and seminars, lots of fun with the Twitter feed absolutely blowing up, and met one or two really interesting people interested in similar things to me.
Here are ten things I take with me from #cnmac12.
- I really am such a geek
I guess sometimes I doubted. I guess sometimes I’ve not wanted to be. But when you’re beyond excited to go to a geek conference and when you’re surrounded by other people and in each and every one you see in their passions and interests a mirror of yourself, it should be telling you something. Inhabit who you are. I am a geek. I am proud.
- Twitter is a tool that connects people
As a contributor, I put my Twitter Handle on my presentation. It was also carried in the conference’s promotional material. Number of followers rose by over 100%. More to the point, a good number I think will be very useful and interesting contacts to both follow and be followed by. I also picked up one or two interesting contacts from the Twitter feed in the main hall – responding to their tweets, led to some interesting conversations over lunch. I had wondered what Twitter was about, I’m starting (but only starting) to see.
- We may lack a bit of depth
Said in the nicest possible way, I think we’re just playing in the shallows at the moment. A lot of the seminars, a lot of the discussion wasn’t that deep. Sadly, some people decided to use the Twitter feed to talk garbage rather than listen and contribute to what was being said. My own seminar was an attempt at depth – what we can learn theologically from the tradition of the church, and seemed very well received for that attempt. We need more. It was also noticeable that anytime Sr Catherine Wybourn spoke or prayed, people were utterly silent. A life clearly lived in calling and commitment commanded respect. Is she the chaplain to the Christian new media aficionados? Looks like it. All round, more depth is good and needed.
- There is potential for new media in worship pt I
It was good to see streams of seminars for beginners, experts, a theology stream and more. I guess I was sitting there thinking – where is the worship stream? I know people are doing some very interesting things in worship, making use of new media. I’ve blogged about a good few on this website. What a chance to share good ideas – using the PS3 in worship, asking questions of the sermon via Twitter or why sermons using Powerpoint may not be a great idea.
- There is potential for new media in worship pt II
Why stop at having a seminar stream? Rather than sitting in the final session looking at which person had the sorest thumbs from using Twitter the most that day, what an opportunity to show people what is possible in worship with the use of new media. Video reflection? Tweet prayers to be read? Text a confession? I’m sure there’s lots of possibilities with that many geeks in the room.
- Sort out your church website
Before you step into a room with 400 Christian geeks, and especially if you’re about to do a seminar, make sure that redevelopment of the church website that you’ve been promising yourself you will get around to finishing is actually finished. I’ve been at my new parishes for a year and, when you’re full-time ministering, it’s hard to find time for it. But now I know I better get it sorted. I’m so ashamed it has taken me so long. This blog might need a new look and feel as well. It’s been more than a while… but first things first.
- You’re gonna need a bigger boat
The conference sold out its 400 tickets. I know of two people I know well who wanted to come but couldn’t. I also know of certain new media and communication professionals who didn’t even know it was happening. If this thing builds (and it could), a new venue is going to be needed but, organisers, don’t try to get too big, too fast – keep the frisson of exclusivity, hard to get into. It works.
- Talk about sex and geeks will giggle. If they’re Christian geeks, you’ve got no chance.
Vicky Walker‘s excellent discussion of what we can learn from 50 Shades of Grey was somewhat lost (not entirely) for the fact that a good number of people couldn’t stop giggling because, gasp, shock, horror, somebody at a Christian conference dared to mention sex. Despite the fact shockingly few people admitted to reading it, apparently most people seemed to know of the general themes. Fact is, Vicky had some excellent points to make. Not sure how many heard them.
- How do you handle churchmanship?
Let’s face it, when Premier Radio is your primary sponsor and organiser, the churchmanship will have a certain slant. That’s fine – I’ve no concern with that. Maybe it’s why worship is a no-go area? I don’t know. But I know there are some good people, experts in new media, in other streams of church life and I’d loved to have seen them at cnmac too. Some of them could have been speakers and good ones at that. I’ve no answers to that one (when does anyone ever have an answer to that one?) but just the question.
- cnmac12 is only just beginning
by which I mean, new media opens up conversations. It creates discussions. If the people who were there and those who followed online don’t now take those conversations forward, well we’ve missed the point. My hope is that those who came to my seminar will follow me up, follow the subject up. I want to speak to some of the guys I spent time with and learn from their experience. I’ve already got somebody’s MA dissertation to read. Just as the end of the church service is the start of our mission, so too the end of cnmac in London ought to be the start of the digital conversation (and mission).