Religious Leadership/Digital Age

IST - 2163 1 (Hybrid)

Spring 2019

Instructor: Jeffrey Mahan


Campus Meeting: Thurs, April 25, 1:00 - 5:00PM, Fri, April 26, 8:00 - Noon

Religious leadership must be appropriate to the culture within which one leads. We live in cultures increasingly shaped by the digital. This course explores ways that understandings of church, membership, religious identity, are changing in digital culture, and examines how both online and face-to-face expressions of faith are adapting to that. It asks what sort of leaders will guide faith communities into effective life and service in a culture shaped by its digital experience.

Below you will find links to the required readings, assignments, and an outline of the course organized by week (Click the text to download, or the link to open the document within Canvas.


Purchase or borrow two books:

Media, Religion and Culture: An Introduction, Jeffrey H. Mahan (2014, Abingdon: Routledge)

Note #1: This volume is now selling for $50.00. You can access it digitally through the Iliff Library. Or, I picked up a few copies with an author's discount and would be happy to pass the savings along. Let me know if you want one for $25.00. JHM

And, one of the following:

The Social Media Gospel, Meredith Gould (2015, Collegeville: The Liturgical Press)


Click2Save Reboot, Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson (2018, New York: Church Publishing)


Net Smart, How to Thrive Online, (Howard Rheingold, 2012, Cambridge: MIT Press)

Note #2: We will also read and discuss several essays or book chapters to be posted in Canvas.

Assignments and Grades:

Participation in online discussion: 45 possible pts

Group project: 25 pts

Gathering Days: 10 pts

Locating ourselves in Social Media: 5 pts

Interview a Leader: 10 pts

(This may take several conversations. If possible interview them face to face, but phone or online is necessary.) Post a 2 – 3 page, reflection of what you have learned for the instructor’s review, in week 7.

Final Short paper: 15 pts


Quarters Grades as follows:

A+       100 - 105

A         93 - 99

A-        90 - 92

B+       87 - 89

B         83 – 86

B-        80 - 82

C+       77 – 79

C         73 – 76

D         60 - 69

Religious Leadership in the Digital Age

Spring 2019

Monday, Intros, leadership setting, media experience and training

Tuesday, Mahan remarks, “Net safety – Google yourself”

Wednesday, Read and discuss: Trustworthy Leadership, link posted in Canvas

Thursday, Mahan remarks, “What difference does the digital make?”


Monday, Read and discuss: “Relating Media, Religion, and Culture,” in            Media, Religion and Culture

Tuesday, Mahan remarks, “The church in digital culture”

Wednesday, Read and discuss: “Networked Religion: Considering How Faith is Lived in a Networked Society” in Networked Theology, Heidi A. Campbell and Stephen Garner, posted in Canvas

Friday, Due:  Ourselves in Social Media assignment


Monday, Read and discuss: “Making and Articulating Religious Identity”, Media, Religion and Culture

Tuesday, Mahan remarks, “Identity”

Wednesday, Read and discuss: “Believing and practicing in a digital world”, Media, Religion and Culture


Monday, Read and discuss: “Stability and Change," Media, Religion and Culture

Tuesday, Mahan remarks,  “Communities and Networks”

Wednesday, Read and discuss: “Organized religion in the age of digital religion,” Media, Religion and Culture


  1. April 28 8:00 – 1:00
    1. Read and discuss: “Leadership is Convening”, in Community: The Structure of Belonging, Peter Block, posted in Canvas
    2. Mahan remarks, “Leadership in digital culture”



Tuesday, Discussion of interviews with class

Thursday, Due: interview reports for instructor


Monday, Group posts Click2Save Reboot,Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson

Tuesday, Group posts Social Media Gospel, Meredith Gould       

                  Discussion of Click2Save presentation

Wednesday, Group posts Net Smart, Howard Rheingold,

                  Discussion of Social Media Gospel presentation

            Thursday,  Discussion of Net Smart presentation

Monday, Closing Discussion

Tuesday, Instructor Feedback

Wednesday, Due: Final short paper

The Rhythms of the quarter: As  you review these materials you will see that we are engaged with each other online quite intently for the first four weeks. Then week-five, we are together f2f for Gathering Days. We will take a recover week after Gathering Days and then we move into a less intense reporting period for weeks 7 - 10. We will continue to connect online but you will have time to talk with a leader you respect about their work and the conversations we have been having, to engage the additional reading, to work on a final short paper, and to report out about these things. JM

Potential Graduates, please note : You are final paper must be submitted no later than noon on May 23, so that I can confirm that you are passing and keep you on the graduation list. Simply post it early in assignment slot for May 28. JM

Mar 26, 2019TueIntroductionsdue by 05:59AM
Mar 27, 2019WedNet Safety - Google Yourselfdue by 05:59AM
Mar 28, 2019ThuReading Discussion: Trustworthy Leadershipdue by 05:59AM
Mar 29, 2019FriMahan remarks, "The Digital Metaphor"due by 05:59AM
Mar 30, 2019SatReminder, Return to and extend conversations.due by 05:59AM
Apr 02, 2019TueReading Discussion: Media, Religion and Culture, "Relating Media, Religion and Culture"due by 05:59AM
Apr 03, 2019WedMahan remarks, "church in digital culture"due by 05:59AM
Apr 04, 2019ThuReading Discussion: Networked Religion: Considering How Faith is Lived in Networked Societydue by 05:59AM
Apr 05, 2019FriTwitter due by 05:59AM
Apr 05, 2019FriReminder, return to this week's discussionsdue by 05:59AM
Apr 06, 2019SatDue: Locating ourselves in Social Mediadue by 05:59AM
Apr 09, 2019TueReading Discussion: Media, Religion and Culture, "Making and Articulating Religious Identity"due by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2019WedMahan remarks, "Identity Construction"due by 05:59AM
Apr 10, 2019WedIdentifying your additional readingdue by 05:59AM
Apr 11, 2019ThuReading Discussion: Media, Religion and Culture, "Believing and practicing in a digital world"due by 05:59AM
Apr 12, 2019FriReminder, follow up with discussion due by 05:59AM
Apr 16, 2019TueReading Discussion: Media, Religion and Culture, Stability and Changedue by 05:59AM
Apr 16, 2019TueTwitter Assignmentdue by 05:59AM
Apr 17, 2019Wed Mahan remarks, "Communities and Networks"due by 05:59AM
Apr 18, 2019ThuReading Discussion: Media, Religion and Culture, "Organized religion in the age of digital Media"due by 05:59AM
Apr 19, 2019FriHoly Week, No follow up discussion.due by 05:59AM
Apr 23, 2019TueFYI - Gathering Days Outlinedue by 05:59AM
Apr 26, 2019FriGathering Days, Reading Discussion, Cheong, "Authority" in Digital Religion, Heidi A. Campbell, eddue by 05:59AM
Apr 27, 2019SatFriday Gathering Days re: Social Mediadue by 05:59AM
Apr 30, 2019TueRecovery Week, no post-Gathering Days readings or discussiondue by 05:59AM
May 01, 2019WedTwitter Assignment, Responding to Gathering Daysdue by 05:59AM
May 02, 2019ThuNo response required due by 05:59AM
May 08, 2019WedInterview a Leader, Discussiondue by 05:59AM
May 10, 2019FriInterview a Leader, post reflection paper due by 05:59AM
May 11, 2019SatReturn to discussion of Leader interviewsdue by 05:59AM
May 15, 2019WedDiscussion of the additional reading which you selected due by 05:59AM
May 16, 2019ThuLogistical Discussion due by 05:59AM
May 16, 2019ThuTwitter, Quoting your author due by 05:59AM
May 22, 2019WedPost Additional Reading Report due by 05:59AM
May 23, 2019ThuClass Discussion of the Reading Reports due by 05:59AM
May 24, 2019FriSocial Media follow updue by 05:59AM
May 28, 2019TueReading Assignment, Brock, "Leadership is Convening" from Community: The Structure of Belongingdue by 05:59AM
May 29, 2019WedPost your final paper due by 05:59AM
May 30, 2019ThuClosing Discussiondue by 05:59AM