It is not unusual for people to expect a place of ministry or an organization to have a website. It is not unusual for people to ask if they can follow the ministry on Facebook or Twitter. And of course, all people in service and leadership ministries are expected to have and use email. So why are there so few good parish, diocesan and organizational websites? Why aren’t we using social media to communicate, collaborate, educate, evangelize and catechize in the normal course of our work? And why are there people in ministry still refusing to have email, use it, or to respond in a timely manner to email requests from collaborators, members, inquirers? Why don’t we have more high quality Catholic blogs? There are as many reasons as there are people in ministry resisting Internet ministries.
Not everyone needs to be designing a website or posting to Facebook—but leaders of parishes and dioceses, organizations and religious communities need to find ways to incorporate the Internet and social media into their offerings. They need to draw on their experience and do what they have done many times before when they have added a new ministry:
- Do research. Identify the Internet/social media services that would most benefit your community, i.e. an electronic newsletter, a discussion board, a reserved section of your website for committees, an email distribution list, a Facebook page, etc.
- Get buy-in. Talk to your staff, your members, and your volunteers. Ask them if there is anything that the organization can do online that would make their work easier or more effective. If they don’t have an answer the first time you ask, invite them to think about it and get back to you.
- Get help. What have you done when you have been faced with a challenge in the past? You have searched out people with the skills you need and have recruited them as volunteers or hired them as staff. Do that with Internet services as well.
- Make a plan in collaboration with the people who will use and benefit from the technology. You do not have to do everything at once. Just get started and be smart about your growth.
- Set a budget. That says it is a priority.
- Set expectations. Let it be known that you are committing your organization to being present and active on the Internet and in social media as part of your ministry.
- Stay the course. The Internet is not going away—be there for the sake of the Kingdom.
What do you think? Can our organizations and communities incorporate Internet and social media presence into the way we do ministry? What happens if we don’t?