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#SMS16: sharing the church’s story on social media

#SMS16: sharing the church’s story on social media

At the recent meeting of the The Episcopal Church’s House of Bishops, the bishops declared Sunday Sept 25th as “Social Media Sunday,” saying  “…bring your phones, and other portable devices to Church this Sunday.  If there is a hymn, reading, sermon, phrase or visual that catches your eye, or something that catches your imagination, tweet it, post it, instagram it, pinterest it, or let it go viral.”  If you do decide to participate use the hashtag #SMS16 so that your efforts can be seen across the whole conversation.

To help with this, the folks at the Acts 8 Movement (who have lately taken to creating the best media tools for evangelism out there) have produced a guide that can also be used as a bulletin insert  that offers 15 ways members of your church can use social media to PROCLAIM the good news, ENGAGE your networks, and INVITE others to join you. Feel free to copy/share/reproduce/tweet/anything-that-works for you on social media or on paper.  You can download the pdf here.  They expect to have a Spanish language version very soon as well


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Ann Fontaine

I have mixed feelings about this – as a person who loves to share what is going around about me in church – yet also not wanting to distract others in worship. Thanks Mary and David S. for expanding my thoughts.

Mary Davenport Davis

David, I absolutely agree with most of this–your statement that “we are the church even when we’re not in liturgy” is what I was saying with “I have the entire rest of the week in which to share Jesus with the world.” We all share the responsibility and joy of sharing the faith with the world, and Sundays tend to be full of times when that can happen well.

I suppose my larger point is this: I continue to have a hard time envisioning a way in which using social media during the liturgy could lead one more fully into the life of faith. All of us, I imagine, struggle at times with boredom and dryness during worship. The challenge is to find responses that lead us deeper into worship, rather than escaping from it. If anyone has an experience with using social media in liturgy in a way that deepens the liturgy, I’d be interested to hear it. The closest I can think of is the #prayersof campaign which SSJE organized at the most recent General Convention–but that was a case in which the daily prayers shared by many were brought *into* worship life in a deliberate way, not the other direction.

I do think that photos of moments in the liturgy, and reflections on them, can be powerful tools for evangelism. In my own life, this is where my role as social media manager conflicts with my liturgical practice–and often it means that I am “on duty” during a particular service and need to reserve a different time of the day for my own practice. It’s a real tension.

Mary Davenport Davis

I don’t know how to say this without being a grouch and a killjoy, but liturgy isn’t the place and time for social media. Literally any other time and place would be better. And I love social media! I believe in its power to spread the Gospel, and I’m lucky enough to do it professionally. But I think this is the wrong direction to go in. As a Christian, I might have a single hour in the week in which to praise God, sit quietly with my own heart, and find my way into the presence of the divine. I have the entire rest of the week to share Jesus with the world–and I should be using it!

For any who are interested in hearing this put slightly more coherently and at greater length (God knows why you would be), I wrote a blog post last year:

To get into more detail about the tension social media creates between the desire to connect and the need to be still, I’m thinking especially of this great article from Andrew Sullivan:

JC Fisher

“I don’t know how to say this without being a grouch and a killjoy, but liturgy isn’t the place and time for social media”

One Sunday isn’t going to hurt.

David Allen

but liturgy isn’t the place and time for social media

I disagree.

David Sibley

I would take a moment to note that nothing of the resource provided says anyone *has* to share on social media during worship.

Many of the suggestions are ones that can only happen outside of worship: checking in before worship starts, posting worship times, sharing the excellent videos by out PB, inviting prayer requests, mentioning ministries, etc.

Using social media as an evangelism tool “in church” comprises everything from Sunday School to Coffee Hour to our own prayer time at home – and for some people, yes, in the liturgy. Because we’re the church even when we’re not in liturgy, or even when we’re not gathered as a community.

Your mileage may vary about the places that work best for your piety as to where to use Social Media. Some folks need quiet time in church. Some people have short attention spans (quite naturally) in church, and may not be able to sit still, focus, and soak it in; if the choice is counting the wood grains in the pew versus sharing a sermon snippet on social media – the latter is an excellent response to our Baptismal promise to proclaim the good news and an engagement with that person’s life of faith. Each person will need to decide – for themselves – what is best for their soul, and their experience of worship.

But adopting blanket rules about what and when is an appropriate sharing of faith only hinders, not aid, evangelism and the sharing of the good news of Jesus and the Episcopal Church.

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