21 Sep Andy Walton: 5 Things I Learned From the Church & Media Conference
With less than a month to go until this year’s Church and Media Conference at the RSA, I’ve been thinking a little bit about what I learned at the last conference, and why you should join me for the next one.
1. Christians can laugh at themselves
Let’s be honest, some Christian events can be pretty po-faced. We’ve all probably been to events that were worthy but a bit dull or boring. Last year’s conference proved once again that being a Christian doesn’t mean we’re stuck in the mud.
A panel discussion on humour and boundaries revealed our own ability to laugh at ourselves. This year also has sessions that will make you laugh and I think that’s important. Despite the serious nature of the work that many of us do, it’s important to be able to laugh at ourselves a bit and realise that we’re not as important as we might sometimes think!
2. There are always new people to meet
Having been to a few Church and Media Conferences and knowing quite a few people in the world of Church and Media, I wondered if I’d meet anyone new. Of course I did!
Not only were there familiar faces and old friends to catch up with, there were also plenty of interesting new people to meet. From people just at the start of their careers, students and interns, to people who’d been working in media for years but just come along to the conference for the first time, there was a great buzz during the networking sessions.
I met new people, renewed old contacts and caught up with good friends – they’re all there at the Church and Media conference.
3. There are Christians everywhere
Because I’ve worked in fairly ’traditional media’ (radio, magazines), it’s easy to presume that media just encompasses those types of work. Last year really blew that up for me. I met charity press officers, social media experts, creative directors, independent producers, journalists of all stripes and many more besides.
As the media continues to diversify, it seems that there are Christians working in every nook and cranny, from sports coverage to children’s TV and from specialist journals to tabloids.
4. It’s good to be together
Having said that there are loads of us working in all kinds of media, it’s also worth acknowledging that we can easily feel isolated or alone.
Some areas of work can seem hostile to Christians, while others just don’t seem to have many believers working in them. When you add in the pressures all of us are feeling – from the intern struggling to make ends meet, to the senior editor having to fight for ratings – we can all experience tough times.
Last year, I got the sense from those feeling pressured at work as well as feeling isolated, that the conference wasn’t just a nice day out, or even a forum in which to learn about new trends or skills.
Instead, it was a massive encouragement and source of strength when heading back to the coalface.
5. 40 years is a long time!
Last year I became aware of the range of ages (alongside the many other forms of diversity – gender, geography, sector etc.) of people attending the conference.
When retired people mix alongside students and everyone in between there is a special atmosphere.
Not only was experience being shared and passed along, but I got a sense of the history of our organisation. For 40 years, the Church and Media Network (and its predecessor organisations) has been bringing together Christians who work in the media and giving them resources, encouragement and insight. This is a significant length of time to be carrying out such vital work.
Now, maybe more than ever, there is a need for this work. Different kinds of media are giving us the chance to interpret the world to an increasingly fractured and atomised society. Spending the day together to share, learn and have some fun has maybe never been more essential…
We can’t wait to see you at this year’s conference! Book your tickets here!