Deliberately Digital is a non-prescriptive approach to digital mission for the Diocese of Sheffield that helps worshipping communities recognise their hybrid context, embrace hybrid continuity and cultivate hybrid culture.
This will look drastically different across the Diocese. We are a network of diverse worshipping communities engaged in a diverse range of contexts. It may mean developing a calendar of sponsored Twitter posts in one context, providing anonymous online chat servers for the bereaved in another context, deep embeddedness in football forums in yet another context.
Deliberately Digital as a Diocesan approach to digital mission doesn’t elevate any single method, platform, tool or technology. Rather, by telling the story of our hybrid context, it seeks to foster a hybrid culture where the digital elements of church mission are given the attention they deserve.
Recognising our Hybrid Context
In our digital age, life is lived across physical and digital space, to the extent that our digital lives are in fact our ‘real’ lives. Our digital interactions are interactions with real people. We live in a ‘Hybrid’ context, seamlessly integrating digital technology into our embodied relationships and ways of life.
Therefore, our hybrid context, requires thoughtful hybrid ministry and mission; ministry and mission that wisely utilises familiar physical modes of engagement and less familiar digital modes of engagement. But prior to that we must simply and honestly, come to recognise the change that has and is taking place.
Embracing Hybrid Continuity
Hybrid Continuity is what happens when a worshipping community seeks to live out its calling in mission in the context that it finds itself in. Embracing Hybrid Continuity is the desire to seek authentic engagement with those who haven’t yet responded to the love of God for them in Jesus Christ.
Whether that engagement takes place in a physical space or an online space, or more likely across both over time, isn’t the important thing. The important thing is that the church recognises that it’s calling is to be translated into those spaces in ways that can be understood by those who are being served. Put simply, Hybrid Continuity, is the logical expression of the church’s missional vocation in our Hybrid Context.
Cultivating a Hybrid Culture
When we recognise our Hybrid Context and embrace Hybrid Continuity the result is not simply a list of digital practices that all churches ought to do. The practical principles of being effective in mission must also go further than executing a digital strategy. Rather than things a church must do to be effective, the Deliberately Digital vision for digital mission culminates in what a church must become – or a way of being that is appropriate for our hybrid times. Being culturally hybrid.
- Hybrid Foundations – What kind of world do we find ourselves in? What is it that God is doing in that world?
- Hybrid DNA – Are our fundamental self-expressions (purpose, mission, vision, values etc) formed for life in our world?
- Hybrid People – Are our people being equipped to flourish in the world we find ourselves in?
- Hybrid Presence – What’s our strategy for demonstrating the good news to those in physical and digital proximity to us?
- Hybrid Activity – What should we make a priority of doing in our world? And how do we decide?
- Hybrid Tools – What technologies might we need to explore, abandon and critique to achieve our aims in sustainable ways?
Cultivating a hybrid culture is one way to keep innovation, opportunities and expertise at the forefront of a church’s digital offer. It also provides a framework to engage critically with new digital technologies and platforms as they become available. A church with a Hybrid Culture may not be particularly cutting edge or have the resources and people to deploy significant online activities, but they will be alive to their context in mission, seeking the continuity of their mission in that context and routinely considering why, how, and what it means for them to be deliberately digital.
Whatever your experience of digital things or current needs, support will always begin with a conversation. Get in touch with Elliot today.