Last week, I asked whether we as a Church in the U.S. are taking advantage of the web (now 25 years old) for evangelization and catechesis. Some of us are, some of us are not. I also pointed out that not every Catholic presence online is a quality presence. It is simply not enough to be online–we have to be online with a vision and a purpose. Here is a list of five characteristics of an online presence that is also quality ministry.
1. Our Intentions
When we decide to create a ministry website or join a social network, our intention is to draw people to Jesus Christ and to build up his Body, the Church. This calls for a presence that is joyful, faithful, and attractive.
2. Our Content
Quality ministry content is content that adds value to our visitors’ everyday lives. Value is more than just the date and time of the next event or my personal opinion. Value is insight, inspiration, reflection and humor, visuals that share an experience, uplift and challenge us to grow. Value for us is always consistent with the teachings of the Church. Posting value content takes time and effort.
3. The Way We Engage our Audiences
Social media is meant to be social, interactive. Content that has value evokes responses from people. They like, comment, or share Facebook and other posts. They subscribe to our blogs or e-newsletters. They reply or retweet our Tweets. And we need to respond to them. We can “like” what they post, answer their questions or thank them for sharing or retweeting our content. We can also give them more of what they like. Most people do not respond to every post or Tweet, but if no one ever responds or re-tweets, then we can be sure that our content in not engaging our audiences.
4. Our Calls to Action
If we are on the web and sharing quality content, we have an opportunity to suggest to our followers ways for them to take action. We can suggest actions for growth in the spiritual life, service to the poor, advocacy for justice. We can invite answers to thoughtful questions. We can host a discussion. Every post does not need to be a call to action, but if we never invite people to live their faith more fully or reflect more deeply, we are missing an opportunity.
5. Our Prayer for the People We Serve
It is very easy to forget why we have taken on this new web ministry. We can get caught up in the learning curve, the deadlines, the distractions, and stop or never start to pray over what we are doing and why we are doing it. We can forget to pray for the people we might touch through this ministry—to pray that our words and images truly communicate God’s love to them and our love as well. We can even forget that “The principal agent of evangelization is the Holy Spirit.”
Are there any other characteristics that you would like to add? Please tell us in the comments below. Thank you.
A Final Word
During this Holy Week as we reflect on the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, let us pray for the world that is in so great need of the peace that he offers, for the people who are in great physical and spiritual need, and for all us, that we may live true to the graces that we have received.
May you have a blessed Holy Week and a joyous Easter!
My next post will be in two weeks.