The cultural challenge of digital media

This afternoon, I sat down to have coffee with Rev. Scott Wells, a Unitarian Universalist minister living in Washington D.C. He’s started a effort to organize a congregation that will make use of social media, and new ways of organizing. I asked Wells what he sees as the major cultural change facing Unitarian Universalism today.

“From my Internet and blogging experience, I’ve seen it’s possible to develop deep communities of friends around online tools, including Facebook and Twitter,” he said. “It goes back to a basic need to reach out and maintain relationships, even if people can’t be immediately, physically present.”

“Unitarian Universalism, like most mainline religions, is rapidly aging on the one hand,” he said. “On the other hand, younger people need to express their faith, and learn about faith, in familiar ways for them. They also want to organize their lives in ways that they are familiar with.”

“I’m almost 42, and include myself in that younger generation,” he said. “Bricks and mortar aren’t enough. Tomorrow’s church members … will expect access to a community of faith online and at all times.”

The new congregation that Wells is organizing is going to make use of Facebook, Twitter, and other online tools. He’s expecting to launch the face-to-face congregation in 2013; in the mean time, he’s blogging about it, and there’s also a Twitter feed for the effort.

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