In July I had the opportunity to meet Adrian Harris, the first Head of Digital of the Church of England (CofE). Adrian has been in charge of online activities since October 2016. His department now has six employees who produce content and campaigns, among other things. Impressive what the church posted in the social media in July alone, here is an excerpt of the (translated) headlines:
- Nomination in four categories on the shortlist of the Digital Impact Award 2018
- The Church of England Digital Lab is expanding
- We are looking for a Digital Content Producer
Adrian brings not only a lot of experience, but also a lot of momentum into the role. He was previously responsible for digital communications at the Conservative Party and Tesco. I learn that the CofE has 16,500 churches across the country and is the national, established Church. If I have understood this correctly, the CofE is not financed from tax revenues, but from some historical assets and the money that congregation members give. The controversies and the loss of members on the island are comparable to the German challenges.
I address him to the dwindling trust among young people in the church institution in Germany (83 percent do not trust religious institutions „at all“ or „rather not „*). Adrian is shocked, the problem isn’t the same in England.
- I am interested in what support the „national office“ offers to the 16,500 worshipping communities across the country? A lot, I see! This gives e.g.
- a website for churches to add local events and services, with lots more functionality on the way (this site receives more than 13 million page views each year): https://www.achurchnearyou.com/
- the search function is also available as an Alexa Skill, which has lots of other functionality
- Resources for the biggest campaign of the year: #FollowTheStar is the motto for Christmas 2018 and planning is already underway
- A national website (www.churchofengland.org) with lots of video and other resources to help bring people to faith and grow people’s faith. This receives more than 9 million page views per year.
It’s 1 pm, Adrian and I go to the roof terrace to watch the Royal Air Force air show. He is an aircraft enthusiast and does not want to miss the 100 planes that fly over Buckingham Palace.
I ask Adrian if he can tell me more about Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. I’m interested in how he got his 125,000 Twitter followers!? The next day Welby will announce that he wants to grow 100 new churches. The 27 million £ program focuses on places of greatest need and uses new forms. The whole programm stands for renewal and growth.
We come to the Alpha Course. I learn from my research that HTB Church, to which Alpha founder Nicky Gumbel belongs, belongs to the Anglican Church. I am not only one of Nicky’s 18,000 Instagram followers, but also a huge fan of his work. I recommend Adrian watch one of his last video posts: Nicky filmed his wife at a lecture. The quality is miserable, but the emotion conveyed is simply wonderful. A smile is inevitable!
I am very impressed with the activities that I got to know on July 10th. The CofE seems so agile, forward in a positive sense not interlectual and focused on people and communicating with them.
The CofE is very transparent with their activities. The further links are definitely worth reading: