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Articles in Category: Social Media

Social Media Category

20% of people share their faith online, but that's only half the story

twitter angelYou may have have seen the recent Pew report that 20% of people share their faith online, but that's not the whole story. Elizabeth Drescher and I discuss this report in The Narthex and reflect on the variety of ways people share and express their faith online.

Sharing one’s faith is much more than just about sharing religious content, like spiritual or Biblical quotes, check-ins at church, or personal testimony. It is interwoven into the relationships and networks of which we are a part in and across the lived reality of both online and offline settings. People share their faith in a variety of ways — as they create and nurture relationships, seek to be a gracious presence, affirm and assist friends, and engage with others in the things they find important and meaningful. The other day, for instance, a Facebook friend posted an offer to share an “inspirational quote and photo” for anyone who needed a “spiritual pick-me-up” during the day. Would Pew have counted that as “religious sharing?” Would the woman herself have thought of it in that way?

This reveals a limitation of trying to quantify religious practice, for demographic studies of religion require that certain behaviors be narrowly defined as “religious” while others are “not religious.”

Read the whole article here at The Narthex.

photo credit: Charis Tsevis, “Behold the Twitter Angel,” 2009. CC 2.0 license.

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Checking-In at Church

CheckInLast Sunday we began posting this message before worship as people entered the sanctuary, and the response has been great.  

People are checking-in, tweeting, and sharing pictures way more already.

The simple idea is that by checking-in and posting to their social networks, people can help spread the word about what's happening in our congregation.

Why does this obvious but brilliant little slide work so well?

It gives people permission to break out their smartphones in worship—still kind of a new idea. And it feels fun. You can interact with other people from church in a playful social media way.

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Send Great Church Emails People Actually Want to Read

emailFor all the advances in digital communications and social networking, email continues to be the most reliable way for congregations to digitally communicate with members and potential members. Why? In the transition we find ourselves in between print and digital communication, email is the most reliable way of digitally sharing your ministry’s news and information. It’s as close to mailing a letter to everyone’s home as you can get, just without the paper and postage.

Unfortunately, most congregations fail to get the most out of their emails for several reasons:

  • Uninteresting design
  • Inconsistent scheduling
  • Incomplete email lists (who gets it)
  • Inability to measure their success (who reads it)
  • Too much or too little information
  • Lack of focus

However, for some that use email well, a weekly email update is becoming the anchor of their communications strategy, lessening the need for a time and paper intensive production of a monthly newsletter.

Here are some ways and a few examples of how to send great emails that people will read:

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Give Up Your Telephone for Lent

phoneGive up your telephone for Lent.

It sounds crazy, doesn't it? I mean, how will people reach you if they need help, want to share good news, or need pastoral care?

It would be crazy to give up your phone for Lent.

And yet, we quite easily, and in some cases flippantly, talk about giving Facebook and other social networks for Lent like its no big deal. 

This reflects a profound misunderstanding of the role social networking now plays our lives and ministry.

When we talk about giving up Facebook for Lent we usually mean that social media are simply a form of entertainment, that they are ancillary to our "real lives." When we place them in the category of giving up meat, coffee, chocolate, we insinuate that Facebook is a guilty pleasure that we are probably be better off without, but usually don't have the willpower to give up.

However, digital social networks have become an integrated and, for many, an essential, part of life, relationships, ministry, and, yes, faith. Just as much as any phone.

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Best of the Blog 2012: Digital Ministry, Pastoral Transition, and Church Leadership

20122012 was the most challenging and gratifying in my professional career. I published my first book, left one call and accepted another, and relocated our family of six from Boston to Philadelphia. It was a great year to be blogging to document it all.

What I've learned about blogging is that one does not only write a blog to process the present moment, but also to observe how one's own perspective, style, and interests evolve over time.

I blog, in part, to discover what I'm interested in, what seems worth writing about, and to chip away at larger ideas and challenges in 1000 words or less. In short, in blogging, like all writing, I suppose, the thing you learn the most about is yourself.

So, in a new a new tradition (drum roll) here's the best of my blog, 2102 edition:

Here's the 2012 edition of the blog in raw numbers: 

  • 48 posts
  • 36,134 visits, of which 25,670 were new
  • from 25,727 unique visitors
  • who viewed 57,583 pages on the blog

Top five posts:

Here are more highlights organized thematically:

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Feast of the Digitally-Integrated Incarnation

modern-pastry“And the word became flesh and lived among us....” (John 1:14)

Last summer, one of my Facebook friends I’ve never met, Tracy Pasche-Johannes, a fellow Lutheran pastor from Muncie, Indiana, and her husband, Jeff, were in my hometown of Boston on vacation. “We’re in Boston! Would you like to meet in person?” they asked in a Facebook message.

We had never met before and we had a pretty thin connection to start with: we shared one common friend, who, at one point thought it would be a good idea for us to know each other and introduced us on Facebook. We had observed one another’s status updates, messaged back and forth a few times, but that was pretty much it.

We agreed to meet up for an Italian dinner in Boston’s North End. Over pasta and Chianti, canolli and cappuccino, we fleshed out one another’s status updates and blog posts, putting a voice with our writing, describing our families, locating one another within our ministry and community contexts.

Over the course of the meal, all the words, links, and video we had shared back and forth on Facebook became embodied and enfleshed, and our digital connection grew into a deeper personal relationship. Our dinner was, in the Johannine spirit of “the Word made flesh,” a feast of the incarnation.

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