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Go, tell. Social Media and the Gospel

Go, tell. Social Media and the Gospel

In what ways do you make use of social media to spread the Gospel?

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Laurel Cornell

I receive weekly email newsletters from three different parishes, so I thought I would take the opportunity of this post to review them briefly and let you know how I, at least, have responded to them.

The best of the weekly newsletters is well-organized: the name of the parish, its logo, its mission, and the date at the top of the page; the 250-word homily in the wide column on the left, including a photograph of the clergyperson who wrote it; in the narrow column on the right, events for the next couple of weeks with a clickable link to the webpage; at the bottom the social media radio button, the unsubscribe, and the address of the parish.

The entire page is short: about 8-9” as I measure it on my monitor, so I see more than half of it without scrolling down.

This newsletter comes out regularly, every Thursday — the same day I get the New Yorker in the mail! — so that, not only do I see it, but I also anticipate it and look forward to seeing what it says.

The email newsletter from Parish 2 has a similar format, wide column on the left, narrow column on the right, but it’s less interesting and the information is harder to find. There’s no picture of the person who wrote the homily, so the site is less enticing — who is speaking to me? The homily is longer: 350 words vs. 250, so the whole page is longer: about 15”. That means I have to do significantly more scrolling to get down to the bottom of it — and maybe I’ve lost interest by then. Worst is that the upcoming events are all the way at the bottom of the page! If I’ve lost interest, how will I know that they exist? What’s in the narrow column on the right? A list of the readings for the next Sunday — but, frustratingly, no online link to the readings! Also, a link to the church website and the diocese website. This one also comes out on Thursdays, but since it’s not so enticing I read it much less often.

Parish 3 does not publish a weekly email newsletter. What I receive from it typically is an email from the rector telling me about some upcoming event. That’s fine, and I am glad to learn about these events, but this method of communication demonstrates that, while the parish has a private presence to its parishioners, it does not have a public presence to the wider world of whoever is on the newsletter email list. It also means that I don’t have the chance to hear in another format the fascinating ideas the rector already conveys to me on Sundays.

I haven’t differentiated these three parishes by size, or wealth, or number of clergy, because the simplicity and inexpensiveness of creating these weekly email newsletters should deter only a few parishes from producing them. Having written many letters to the editor I know hard it is to write a homily as short as 250 words! I am particularly impressed by how having a photo of the clergyperson enlivens Parish 1’s website. And, it’s not one of those complex-to-produce weekly photos of something going on in the parish, it’s just the ordinary semi-formal photo of the clergyperson that’s on the website. But its presence makes a lot of difference! I think pretty much every parish can, and should, do a weekly or biweekly email newsletter, and do it well.

Kay Flores

I’ve been experimenting with Pinterest. For the last few weeks, I’ve set up a board for each week’s lectionary readings. I pin items that relate to the readings in some way. I include a link to the readings themselves, and then watch for images or videos or comments that say something to me about the readings. During Holy Week, I captioned pictures from my trip to Israel by including verses from scripture that relate to the site.

You can see my experiments at http://pinterest.com/kaydflores/

There are other people using Pinterest in related ways – even a board on Church social media at http://pinterest.com/chsocm/church-social-media/

Lynn Marini

I’m not very techie, ie no web page or blog. That said, I like to post quotes relevant to my faith, hopefully sparking a bit of discussion. I also use Facebook to “like” causes that I believe in.

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