THE Church of England’s national digital-media team will be using a variety of apps to encourage people to go to church in the run-up to Christmas through their #GodWithUs campaign. It is a follow-up to last year’s #JoyToTheWorld campaign.
The first part of the campaign is a series of three videos “that tell the story of the joy of going to your local church at Christmas”. Links will be posted on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. To have an impact, it will require churches to post these links on their own social-media pages. This is not something just for the church office or the priest to do: the campaign will be more successful if members of the congregation also share the videos.
The team will also be releasing a series of short reflections, introduced by the Archbishop of Canterbury, throughout December and into January, for “people who are new to faith, and to help us all grow in our love of God”. These can be received as texts, emails, or through social media.
The website A Church Near You is to be relaunched this month. Every C of E church is listed on the site, and there is information drawn from national and diocesan data. It is startling that so many churches ignore this site, especially when you consider that it receives 13 million page-views each year. The #GodWithUs campaign will direct people to this site; so it is essential that your church’s details are correct.
“We say we put God first; so wouldn’t it make sense that we give him the first five minutes of each day?” That is the premise behind the app First5, which is available on both Android and iOS. Published by Proverbs 31 Ministry, First5 provides a daily Bible reading, and a reflection. The reading is based on a series of plans which will take you through the Bible a chapter at a time.
If you do not want to join the current plan, you can instead choose to follow one of the previous 16 plans. Sometimes, these are whole books of the Bible, such as Genesis, Exodus, and Acts; and at other times it is a grouping of books, such as Romans and the two letters to the Corinthians, or Joshua and Judges.
Creating a profile on the site allows you to comment on the reflections and engage with other comments. You can do this in the main daily public thread; or you can join a group. Some groups are public for particular interests, such as for people with chronic illness, and members of the Salvation Army in the United States.
You can even set up your own group, which can be public or private. Private groups would allow members of churches or house groups, or groups of friends or family members, to study the Bible together and share their comments with each other.
The First5 app is free, although there is an option to make a one-off or regular donation to support its development.