At the Turn it up! conference church communicators from across Europe met on 20-22 September 2017 in Paris. It discussed and deliberated on the implications of living as a church in a more diverse and in most places secular Europe.
In his opening remarks CEC Vice-President H. E. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France said that “communicators are the voice of the Church and are the key to give life to the gospel”. He urged the participants to rethink how the gospel is translated into people’s everyday life.
Marc Deroeux, General Secretary of the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France, encouraged churches to focus on being rather doing. He said there is a need to create space for reflections in a society which communicates at an ever higher pace.
That led the conference onto another emerging trend: as church members and citizens in general consume media, on and offline, our attention span has grown shorter and shorter.
This has implications also how churches communicate with their different audiences.
One of the participants, Simona Menghini from the Waldensian Church in Italy, summarised this discussion by saying that there is a need to combine slow theology with fast communication to bring together what is eternal in the church with a world that is rapidly developing.
Professor Grace Davie, from the University of Exeter, presented a framework to understand the religious landscape in Europe. Davie suggested there are two parallel developments: first that Western European societies are increasingly secular overall. At the same time, in parts of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe Christianity has grown in importance both in people’s everyday lives and in societal influence.
Also, there are many pockets in western Europe, particularly in big cities, that are growing more religious with London being one example of that development.
“The encouraging response to Turn it up! confirms that there is a demand to discuss how we Christians and churches communicate”, concludes Henrik Hansson, Communication Coordinator of CEC.
The event was organised by Conference of European Churches in partnership with the French Protestant Federation and the Federation of Evangelical Baptist Churches of France.
The purpose was to provide a platform for discussion about communication on a strategic level. The aim is that it will become an annual gathering.
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The Conference of European Churches (CEC) is a fellowship of 115 Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic Churches from across Europe, plus more than 40 National Council of Churches and Organisations in Partnership. CEC was founded in 1959. It has offices in Brussels and Strasbourg.