I guess the prospect of spending a whole day in a lecture theatre with hundreds of geeky Christians would fill some people with utter dread. But 'The Christian New Media Conference 2011' this weekend was far from the ghastly haven of stereotypes you might think...
There was a point during yesterday during my time at The Christian New Media Conference (or #cnmac for those "in-the-know") that had me wishing I could "take a mental picture" (click!) Being in a small university lecture theatre listening to a Benedictine nun (known on Twitter as @digitalnun!) talking about the importance of real relationships online was noteworthy enough but then without missing a beat, Sister Catherine Wybourne, said "with my other hat on as a web designer...". There was a surreal reaction in the room as around 50 people tried to work out if it was appropriate to laugh or not. You could not have scripted a more gloriously unexpected moment - and to be fair, her seminar was equally inspired.
There were other great moments too, in a day that could have been over-dominated by tech and jargon. Vicky Beeching guided us effortlessly through the day despite having apparently swapped her guitar for an iPad. PR man James Poulter really cut to the chase regarding "tweeted outrage" and while his "What Would Wilberforce Tweet?" might have been a little less lofty than "WWJT", it still left an entire audience feeling ever so slightly more self-conscious the next time they hit 'send'. Patrick Dixon finished the day with a genuine challenge to use our "digital resources" wisely and an unexpected, but ultimately well-observed, moment of digital silence. Undoubtedly there were other great moments in the breakout sessions I was unable to get to and countless important connections going on over coffee and sarnies too.
I'm pretty sure there's another blog post on this event for me yet to come but for now I'll simply say this: #cnmac did everything it had promised me. Affirmation for our efforts in a community still running to catch-up with the digital revolution. Inspiration to press on, break new ground and make more connections. And challenge to do so remembering why we adopted these peculiar new toys in the first place - to make a genuine difference.