She may be best known for her music, penning well-known songs such as Yesterday, Today and Forever and leading worship at Spring Harvest, but there’s a lot more to Vicky Beeching than initially meets the eye.
For a start, she’s not as outgoing as her Twitter timeline may suggest. Keeping two blogs fresh with content and regularly updating her 20,000 followers on her life requires a lot of time, attention and input. You’d be forgiven for picturing her as a very outgoing and perhaps even loud person. But unlike many Christian leaders, Vicky says she’s an introvert.
That’s not to say she’s reluctant to talk about her life or gives short answers to big questions. Her experience in the world of media as both an interviewer and interviewee on a variety of platforms makes my job easy and results in a conversation that covers subjects as diverse as music, women in church, the internet and her PhD.
So without further ado, it's time to find out what's on Vicky Beeching's heart. In this first of a two part series, we ask, 'Would the real Vicky Beeching please stand up?'
Becoming a role model
Starting at the beginning, both in terms of age and calling, Vicky reveals she struggled to find role models when it came to leading worship.
“There weren’t any women. That was really interesting for me as a young girl saying ‘I believe God has called me to get involved in leading worship’. I didn’t really have anyone to look at.”
It’s this tricky start to her ministry that inspires Vicky to be a positive influence on the next generation.
“I want to be a woman that girls can look at and say ‘I can be a worship leader because I’ve seen Vicky doing it’. That’s what has kept me going in terms of travelling so much for the last 10 years, I just wanted to try and get in front of lot of young people and say ‘you can do this.’”
I want to be a woman that girls can look at and say ‘I can be a worship leader because I’ve seen Vicky doing it’
Vicky says that although the tide is beginning to turn, the Church still finds it difficult to mentor and train women.
'When are you getting married?'
Relaying an anecdote that she finds both funny and troubling, Vicky tells me about her experience with one American pastor.
“He said ‘what are you going to be doing for the next year?’ I said ‘I’m going to do a PhD’ and he said ‘that’s not going to help you find a husband is it? You’d better hurry up, the clock is ticking!’ My mouth literally hung open and I thought ‘I can’t believe you just said that!’”
Considering these experiences, it’s unsurprising that some of Vicky’s blogs and tweets contain strong views on women in the Church. Vicky doesn’t reveal whether or not she wants to be married in the future but appears keen to highlight the importance the Bible places on singleness.
Currently titled “Virtual virtues: retaining our integrity in a digital age”, Vicky's PhD was inspired by research for her newest blog Cyber Soul. The balance between contemporary and academic writing is one Vicky enjoys.
“I’m speaking at Greenbelt this year on social media and spirituality and I’ll be doing the same thing at Spring Harvest. It’s nice to feel like I’m not in an ivory tower. My heart is to always have one foot in academic stuff and one foot in media stuff. When you can share in the media, it feel like you’re reaching real people with the stuff you’re learning.”
Another key inspiration for writing on ethics, Christianity and technology was the need for deeper research.
“There’s a lot being banded about to do with the rights and wrongs of how to engage with social media as Christians. 10 commandments of tweeting and things like that. There’s a lot of ethical overlay over social media by Christians when they don’t have much of a foundation to what they are saying.”
“We can make statements like ‘it’s important you’re the same person online as you are offline’ or ‘it’s all about freedom of expression and God wants us to be free and we shouldn’t worry about how we come across’. There’s a lot of noise but we need some well thought through voices on this. I don’t suppose to be one of those yet but I definitely want to put the work in.”
Learning to control social media
Eager to build a community that discusses and debates important issues Vicky often causes a stir on her blog. Earlier in the year she wrote a post titled: ‘Why not to give up social media for Lent’.
“A lot of people have an all or nothing approach to social media,” she explains. “A lot of people see it as a completely separate realm and I think that’s a modernist viewpoint on the internet that it’s this thing we can turn off and walk away from.”
“I think where all of this is going, especially with the prospect of embedded technology, there’s a sense in which we’re almost always online.”
There will come a time where the online/offline divide is completely blurred.
The prospect of an era where a large percentage of the world will be constantly online is either a scary or exciting one, depending on your views. Vicky realises it’s controversial to talk about a time when technology will be literally attached to or embedded within the human body, but she’s convinced such inventions are only around the corner.
“There will come a time where the online/offline divide is completely blurred. Whether it’s Google Glass or augmented reality, we’ll always be online to some degree. I don’t think we can afford to have this dualistic totally offline and totally online view.
“The idea of Lent with completely giving it up then coming back to it is like binge eating and crash dieting. That doesn’t work, does it? I said during Lent why not just learn to use it well? So many people were saying ‘oh my gosh, it’s taking over my life I’m going to have to switch it off for Lent, it’s out of control.’ I’m thinking: ‘just learn to control it’.
On top of her PhD, Vicky consults on social media, writes for BBC Religion and much besides. While the singer uses the word 'busy' to describe her life, after speaking with Vicky, I couldn't help but wonder whether 'hectic' or 'frantic' may be more appropriate adjectives.
So when the popular blogger took to Twitter a few weeks after our interview to announce the new academic year would see her reduce her hours of studying to make her PhD part time, I wasn't suprised. It seems Vicky isn't just wise with her words in our interview, but wise with her time too.
There's lots more to find out about Vicky and many more topic to discuss. Look out for part two of our interview coming soon.
October 11th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes