Every mainline Protestant denomination is struggling with declining membership, decreasing financial support, and the question of how best to be the Body of Christ in this time.
In response, my denomination, the ELCA, created the LIFT (Living into the Future Together) Task Force, which was charged with making recommendations on how to change our denominational structures or "ecology" in order to help best fulfill our mission today. The task force issued its final report to the ELCA on April 11th.
My short take is that the task force shows very good instincts, particularly in its overarching recommendation regarding the shift of focus and resources to local congregations. However, I think the report also falls victim to three persistent problems we face in our church ecology.
Last year during Holy Week Boston Globe columnist James Carroll issued a stern warning to preachers.
He wrote that although Holy Week is the most sacred time of the year for Christians, it is also the most dangerous - because Holy Week has often been the cause and occasion for great violence, especially against Jews.
He recounts, as he does at greater length in his book, Constantine’s Sword, the way that Christians have, until relatively recently, blamed Jews for the death of Jesus, and how the passion readings, for centuries, incited people to leave their churches on Good Friday and commit terrible acts of violence against Jews.
It is a haunting legacy that impacts us still. And so, his plea to preachers is this: “preach peace.” Preach peace in Holy Week.
“a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” - Psalm 51:17,
Today marks the 66th anniversary of the death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. After these many years, it feels as though we are all still catching up to his brilliant theology, his Christian witness, and his deep understanding of discipleship.
On this day, it seems appropriate to reflect upon what Bonhoeffer called the “cost of discipleship” and to ask what it means for us now. In my experience as a parish pastor, I’ve come to see that each of us calculate the cost of discipleship differently. We each give it a different name.
For me, its name is heartbreak.
Anyone can create a Facebook page, Twitter feed or YouTube channel. Almost no one has a plan for how they will use it.
If you want to be successful in social media, you must have a plan.
This post will help you create a plan that fits your congregation. It covers these topics:
- Having Clear Goals
- Being Consistent
- Capturing Your Content
- Automating to Save Time
- Developing a Schedule
- Studying the Statistics
- Where to Begin
A Conversation with David Crowley of Social Capital, Inc.
One of the critical questions surrounding the use and value of social media like Facebook and Twitter is whether they strengthen or undermine “real” community.
The most common measure of community strength is known as “social capital,” a term popularized by Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone, which tracks the alarming decline of social capital among American communities. (A trend, by the way, that began long before the rise of social media.)
The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. "Social capital refers to "the collective value of all 'social networks' [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [norms of reciprocity]." - from bowlingalone.com
This week I sat down with David Crowley, the founder of Social Capital, Inc, which is based in my hometown of Woburn.
David is an expert in the field of social capital. He is also an avid social media user (Twitter, Social Capital blog, Cooking Chat blog). I asked David whether or not social media is capable of building social capital. As you can probably guess, he does. Here’s what I learned:
A Case Study on Personal Social Media Plans
To get the most out of social media over the long run it is a good idea to have personal social media plan - a defined approach for how you will be present online - how much you share, when, what, and why.
Taking just 10 minutes to consider your approach can make you much more effective in social media.
That’s what Yvonne Shea discovered. Yvonne Shea is a member of Redeemer and she has been making beautiful beaded jewelry for ten years. It is her passion. Yvonne has a Twitter feed called @bead_tips where she shares tips on all aspects of beading from supplies to selling.
Yvonne has a very clear, well defined social media plan. It is also very successful. Yvonne has 564 Twitter followers and appears on 29 different lists. She gets 10-20 new followers every week, including bead stores and manufacturers. She gets re-tweeted frequently.
I was so impressed that I interviewed Yvonne to find out more. Here’s what I learned: