Matt Batten is a comms professional with lots of experience in how to get churches talking about God. He came to the course with lots of practical experience and professional expertise. So how did he find the MA in Digital Theology?
1. Tell us something about yourself.
I'm Director of Communication within the Church in Wales. I have over 20 years experience in communications and audience engagement. I live in Cardiff and am enjoying learning Welsh. He tweets a lot at @CommsGuyMatt
2. Digital native – visitor – resident - exile?
I’m a digital native. My partner and I are early adopters and love trying out new tech. I’ve been on social media since Friends Reunited and MySpace and now it’s part of my social life and my job as Director of Communications. I’m always looking at new and engaging ways to communicate with our audience and while digital channels are important, the most important thing is storytelling and an inspiring message. Basically, do what Jesus did!
3. Why did you want to learn more about digital church?
I truly believe church communication is ministry. Church communicators have a responsibility to reflect the values of their organisation or church and understand its traditions. We have to promote the Gospel message which means knowing the Bible and having an understanding of theology. I wanted to understand the theology of digital ministry and how churches can use digital to help people deepen their relationship with God. For me it’s much more than fancy camera equipment and beautiful aesthetics – digital church is about translating all that’s good about church into an unique digital culture.
4. Were you intimidated by a “postgrad/masters” course?
Digital Theology was a new subject for me so I was nervous about going in at Masters level with little knowledge of this theology. I have a MTh in Ecumenical Studies so being an academic didn’t frighten me. I was unsure how balancing a full time job with part time academic study would work out but the course tutors have been brilliant. I have loved every second of this course.
5. Did you find your digital ministry grew in the pandemic and was this good experience?
My digital ministry has definitely grown – both in how I advise churches to do online church and how I use online church. I appreciate more the difference between being a viewer and being a participant online – services online have to be more than livestreaming to be a fully participatory experience. So when I see good practice I share it far and wide and help our churches develop their own online identity.
6. What did you learn during the course?
I learned a lot about myself and what drives me. I have become far more aware that my job and my love of digital theology is a calling. Never would I have had the nerve to say that before! But the tutors have nurtured us to think deeply about digital theology and the future of church rather than simply accept that Zoom services are the final word in online church.The opportunities for translating existing ecllesiologies into a digital setting are an exciting prospect for the future of the church.
7. Would you recommend the course?
Definitely. I love this course and have met such wonder people who have been a great support over the last 18 months. It’s been a joy to study alongside people from very different traditions and that has broaden my understanding of church. I have also presented an academic paper at a theology conference and that came from the support I received from the tutors. I would say, if your looking to learn how to do Zoom and online church then this may not be what you need – this is about theology, ethics, ecclesiology in a digital culture. It’s an academic course that has challenged and inspired me.
We'll be holding a taster session for those interested in joining the group of new students in September: SIGN UP HERE