Celebration and social media: Resources

Posted May 28, 2013 | New Media Project


By Jim Rice

This is the final post in a six-week series on celebration and social media.

New media lends itself organically to the celebration of community. As people of faith find more and more of their life together mediated and abetted through digital channels, they’ll find themselves naturally engaging in their communal celebrations online as well as in person. The celebration of worship is enhanced and extended by our digital connections, as is the music that lifts our spirits and soothes our souls.

We hope the resources below can help you go deeper in your reflections on celebration and social media.


From “Celebration and social media: Series introduction,” by Verity A. Jones, April 23, 2013

  • The embodied conundrum,” by Kathryn Reklis, New Media Project, May 18, 2012. Verity: “We may still be fully embodied persons [online], but we don’t use our bodies in quite the same way as we do when hugging our neighbor at the passing of peace in worship.”
  • The Opera Company of Philadelphia sings the Hallelujah Chorus, a random act of culture at Macy’s, via YouTube, inspires Verity to think of celebration and social media.
  • Likewise, A Pep Talk from Kid President to You sparks a smile and a sense of gratitude for life’s blessings, and reminds us of the many ways that social media can be vehicles of celebration.
  • And even a Facebook update, Verity realizes, can be a way to connect with others and to celebrate together life’s ups and downs.

From “Celebration and social media: A new form of call and response,” by Frank A. Thomas, April 30, 2013

  • A visit to his church’s Facebook page was an eye-opening experience for Frank Thomas, as he discovered that perhaps those teenagers engaging their smart phones in the pews are actually very connected to the worship service going on around them.
  • He had a similar experience following his church’s feed on Twitter, discovering that he was able to participate in worship – even though he was miles away.

From “Celebration and social media: Creating and sharing music,” by Brenda Freije, May 7, 2013

  • Studio Ninety-Six, co-directed by guest blogger Brenda Freije, is a new community for worship arts and design based in Indianapolis, which recently invited music and visual art submissions through social media on the theme of “risk in faith.” 
  • Indie Vision Music, which focuses on “Faith and Entertainment With an Independent Perspective,” is an independent music webzine that seeks to offer hope and change of heart through “the heartbeat of great music.”
  • The blog Cardiphonia (whose motto is “The Word transformed: Prayer, Song, and Art for the Beauty of the Church”) is an “ongoing collaboration of artists and musicians giving their first fruits to the church.”
  • Vanderbilt’s Religion in the Arts and Contemporary Culture offers the Divinity Song Cycle, a compilation of original songs and music from students (past and present), faculty, and staff of Vanderbilt Divinity School.
  • IndieHeaven is an independent Christian musician/artist resource agency based in Franklin, Tenn., and an online music store where visitors can “discover the other 99% of Christian music.”

From “Celebration and social media: Worship as celebratory conversation,” by Matthew Myer Boulton, May 14, 2013

  • In his classic Life Together, HarperOne, 2009, Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked why Christians gather as a group when they worship. His answer: To proclaim the gospel, one to another. Matthew Myer Boulton explores the significance of that understanding in the age of social media.

From "Celebration and social media: Searching for beauty," by Elizabeth Myer Boulton, May 21, 2013

  • Nadia Bolz-Weber, pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, considers social media as natural a part of millennial culture as the air we breathe.
  • The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project recently released survey findings that 61 percent of Facebook users have voluntarily taken a break from the site -- citing, in some cases, a lack of interest in the site or finding an absence of compelling content.
  • St. Paul’s Church in Auckland, New Zealand, recognizes the connection between beauty, celebration, and their Christian faith. The church’s retelling of The Christmas Story has had more than 2 million hits on YouTube.


  • Getting #married: Using social media to celebrate the sacred,” an interview with author Meredith Gould, January 13, 2012. Dr. Gould, author of the new book, Getting #Married: Using Social Media to Celebrate the Sacred, talks about the use of social media in organizing and planning her own wedding as well as in other celebrations in the life of people of faith.
  • The old rugged hymnal: New songs and old media,” by Adam J. Copeland, October 12, 2012. Guest blogger Adam looks at the question of whether old-fashioned “dead tree” hymnals will survive in the age of Kindles, Nooks, and iPads.
  • How I want my music,” by Jason Byassee, Sept 7, 2011. New Media fellow Jason wonders if our social-media-fueled “age of participation” goes too far when it comes to music requests at concerts. What does this mean for our worship life?
  • Liberty University worships on Facebook: It’s not innovative, it’s intuitive,” by Lerone Martin. November 23, 2011. New Media fellow Lerone explains how Liberty, the largest Christian university in the world, moved its worship service to Facebook, talks about the school’s hip-hop promo video, and explores other social media-fueled celebrations. 
  • When we think of “celebrations,” we don’t usually think of the church’s rites around sickness and death. But several of our bloggers have explored the role of social media in these difficult life passages, including, “New media and public grief,” by research fellow Monica A. Coleman, December 21, 2012; “Top 5 challenges of using CaringBridge when something bad happens,” by guest blogger Deanna Thompson, December 14, 2012; and “Having cancer in a digital age,” also by Deanna Thompson, November 9, 2012.


  • Go-go preaching: New media at Community of Hope AME Church,” by Monica A. Coleman, December 8, 2011. Research fellow Monica Coleman’s case study article looks at how go-go music, a blend of funk, rhythm & blues, and hip hop that originated in the 1970s in the D.C. area, provides a back-beat and a plumb line for Community of Hope Church.
  • The New Media Project conducted a survey to learn more about social media use among young clergy, and 29 percent of the respondents said they use social media in worship and other celebrations of Christian community (check out the last page of the survey results PDF).
  • John McClure’s 2011 book, Mashup Religion: Pop Music and Theological Invention, Baylor University Press, 2011, takes a look at how sampling brings together old sounds and new technologies in “mashups” across a variety of genres, and explores how that can be a metaphor for new theological ideas.
  • The Network for New Media, Religion, and Digital Culture Studies website has an extensive bibliography of scholarly works on various aspects of faith, religion, and the Internet.

Jim Rice, a research fellow for the New Media Project, is editor of Sojourners magazine in Washington, D.C.

The New Media Project is a research project helping religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology. To request permission to repost this content, please contact newmediaproject@cts.edu.



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