5 Characteristics of an Online Presence that is Ministry

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on April 15, 2014

in Online Presence

Web Presence 2Last 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.

 

 

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Sr. Angela Ann Zukowski April 15, 2014 at 7:03 am

Very well stated, Sr. Susan! While I think each of the five points are important I do believe # 2 and #4 are critical. All too often these areas do not offer critical reading, depth contemplation and call to prophetic action. The online presence can easily become busy work, fragmented information without depth of meaning and missing the point regarding personal and social transformation!

I believe we have yet to realize the highest level of depth online presence but we move along inch by inch!

My greatest fear often is that our Catholic presence on line is more busy work, fragmented without depth of transformation for either the individual or the e-community. I often wonder if the way we engage with the online world only adds to a transitory way of being human with loss of sense of transcendence and permanence of deeper values today. Just a thought for conversation!

Holy Week! Beautiful!
Snow in Dayton today….beautiful ….but our flowers are suffering, as well.

Sister Pat Sylvester, SND April 15, 2014 at 7:37 am

One way we learn is through example and your posts offer many examples to follow. They are intentional, clear, engaging and made me want to respond! One characteristic that is implied and which you do so well is “clarity”. Thanks for showing the way which is motivating for continued efforts in improving our web presence. Thanks Susan!

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn April 15, 2014 at 10:37 am

This is – as usual – great. Thanks and every blessing of Holy Week and Easter to you!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND April 15, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Angela, Pat, and Fran, Thanks for your comments and affirmations. I always appreciate hearing from you. Susan

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF April 15, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I’ve been reading and reflecting on several of the recent documents related to New Evangelization and the Gospel of Joy. All very good information for reflection! I’m also aware that as I engage ministers in Digital Discipleship Boot Camp training, that a majority of our current ministers do NOT have the technology skills needed to be Digital Disciples. I often wonder, where is the “Vision” – like the ISTE Technology Standards in our church, which would offer a DIRECTION to those who train others to utilize technology in their ministry? Without a “vision” we will….. hopefully not perish!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND April 16, 2014 at 11:35 am

Caroline,

I have made the same observation that you have made. Most of the people in ministry today in the U.S. (I cannot speak for other countries) are not tech savvy or even tech ready. The other side of that is that many of the people who are tech savvy are not experienced or trained for ministry. It is a problem with many facets.

And I hate to say it, but there is not a great demand to change the status quo. There are exceptions, of course, but they are exceptions because they are few in number.

I may explore this situation in future posts and see how others deal with this.

Happy Easter!
Susan

MeredithGould (@MeredithGould) April 17, 2014 at 10:25 am

All this — the post and the comments — and more, such as cultivating what I call “a culture of conversation,” wherein people are welcome to share their concerns and disappointments as well as their hopes and faith. Blessings as Lent draws to an end and we await the Risen Lord.

Marie Manning, SND April 21, 2014 at 12:30 pm

Very valuable suggestions! Thank you and Happy Easter Week, Susan!

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