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Christ has no online presence but yours

Christ has no online presence but yours

Meredith Gould, writing at Loyola Press DREConnect, reflects on the hesitation that many in the church still feel towards social media.

Just as moveable type revolutionized access to recorded knowledge during the 15th century, these media are transforming teaching, evangelization, and community building today. Please note that I and other enthusiasts use “social media” as an umbrella term for any digital tool that makes ongoing, near-real time interaction possible between individuals or entire (selected and self-selected) groups. Best known: Facebook, MySpace (currently out of favor with young people), and Twitter. Blogging and text messaging are also considered social media, as are the way geo-location applications are currently being used.

That difficult face-to-face conversation with the pastoral associate took place years ago. Today I am prayerfully hopeful times have changed enough so that she and others in similar positions have come around to using social media to everyone’s best advantage. It’s about time.

My experiences plus participation in ongoing conversations via social media about what it means to be “church,” inspired me to create this contemporary take on Saint Teresa of Avila’s well-known prayer, Christ Has No Body. For your consideration and contemplation:

Christ Has No Online Presence but Yours

Christ has no online presence but yours,

No blog, no Facebook page but yours,

Yours are the tweets through which love touches this world,

Yours are the posts through which the Gospel is shared,

Yours are the updates through which hope is revealed.

Christ has no online presence but yours,

No blog, no Facebook page but yours.

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LKT

Thanks for the full scoop, Meredith!

Laura Toepfer

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Meredith Gould

Ah, the unintended consequences of having something appear somewhat out-of-context. Please don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled my re-vision of St. Teresa's prayer has appeared on Episcopal Cafe, but some comments indicate that more explanation is in order. Here it is:

"Christ Has No Online Presence But Yours" came to me as I was preparing a two-day intensive social media training for marketing, sales and C-level executives at a church-related organization. Many months later I was approached by the editor of DRE Connect and asked to write a brief post to reposition the prayer for Directors of Religion Education -- that's what got linked to here.

As some readers of Episcopal Cafe already know, I have long advocated viewing communications ministry as an authentic ministry within and for the church. My book, THE WORD MADE FRESH: COMMUNICATING CHURCH AND FAITH TODAY (Morehouse) maps the conceptual reasons for why we need to make sure our communications are anchored in Gospel values, etc.

Over the past three years I've become an increasingly more vehement advocate for using social media to further church communications and support evangelism. These media are highly relational, making it possible for community to emerge and be sustained. And as a practical matter, they work a heck of a lot better than telephone for an entire generation.

Social media, abundant with promise, are not without peril. How and why they should be used wisely and well is a longer conversation/workshop; something that could not be articulated in a 300-word post for a limited audience.

Have PPT, will travel and come off less cranky in person. I can provide references for this!

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Ann Fontaine

seems I saw a recent study that says those with active social media friendships also have more f2f friends

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LKT

Having now read the article, I wish that Meredith could have made a stronger argument. I am, in fact, a social media and marketing consultant. Helping organizations develop effective social media strategies is what I do for a living, so you know I'm a strong believer in social media. But it sounded like the person to whom she was speaking wasn't suggesting that the church should not use social media--or even that the youth shouldn't use it. Just that it would be better for them to be there at that moment. I'm with the youth minister on that one.

I don't see Meredith's argument being persuasive to those who are dubious about using social media; on the contrary, I see that it can fan the flames for those who don't see its value, which is a shame. I think there are stronger and more persuasive arguments to be made. As Lauren said, it's a pastoral care tool; it's also critical for outreach. But one of the legitimate critiques of social media is that it can take people away from those who are in front of them in favor of those who are not. I don't see her argument addressing this issue.

Laura Toepfer

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laurenstanley

Thank you, Meredith. If all of us spent more time thinking about the impact of our posts, and less time simply blurting, and hurting, the world would be a much better place.

I've done more pastoral care as a result of facebook and text messages simply because someone said something that made it clear they wanted a listening ear, a soft shoulder, a kind heart ...

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