“And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” (Mark 16:15)
This article appeared January 8, 2015 in the newsletter of “Insights into Religion“, a Lilly Endowment funded entity that identifies itself as “a gateway to resources and information”. The first URL link below appears to indicate that the principle focus of the article is social justice. This is not accurate. The other links are of a more general nature concerning the use of social media for parish mission fulfillment.
Parish leadership may wish to recruit a few Internet savvy young people together with a couple of parish council members to research this topic and create a workable strategy for the parish on the use of social media. Caution is urged for priests and parish councils not to forget that face to face personal relationships with parishioners are dramatically more effective than a tweet or a posting on Facebook, though there is value in this as well. Social media easily and deceptively conveys the feeling that personal contact is being achieved by spending several hours a day on the computer reading Facebook scrolls! If I may be so bold as to make a respectful suggestion: get out of the office, away from the computer and hang out with parishioners.
Social media can seem overwhelming, especially to faith community leaders and members who are not familiar with the internet and social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. However, social media is an increasingly important outreach tool that can play a significant role in evangelism, in communicating your community’s values, and in organizing your community and its activities.
Whether you are coordinating a local parish event, inaugurating a wider community program, or seeking to connect with the world to promote a cause or value, social media tools and techniques can be used for both secular and sacred purposes, and by individuals or communities across the faith, social, and political spectrum.
All that you need to get started is an introduction to social media as a communication tool. The New Media Project at Christian Theological Seminary offers that introduction in a 7-week series called “Social Justice and Social Media.” Although the series is presented to support a specific theological intention, both the first and final installments note, “social media is what we make of it — content and usage are key.”
Learning how to use social media empowers individuals and communities to communicate directly with potentially significant power and authority. To learn more, access the 7-week series, posted weekly on the New Media blog between August 13, 2013, and September 24, 2013. The New Media Project also offers a set of resources called “Recommendations for Using Social Media” that help parishes think through a social media theology, strategy, and use policy. If your parish is just considering going online, read our feature articles, “Congregations Embracing Technology,” Social Media Goes Spiritual,” and “Do You Tweet? Here’s Why Your Church Needs to be Online.”