On Ash Wednesday, I turn 70. A few years back, an interviewer from a Catholic radio station asked me: “Sister, did you think when you entered the convent that you would someday be doing all this work on the Internet?” You can guess my answer: “No, I didn’t. When I entered the convent, the Internet hadn’t been invented yet.”
Now we have several generations that can’t image life without the Internet. Amazing!
The Technology Journey
I started my ministry career using manual typewriters, mimeographs, ditto machines, carbon paper, rotary phones, filmstrips, black and white TV, Kodak film, etc. and I graduated from word processors, PCs, floppy disks, main frames and desktops, to laptops, mobile phones, tablets, texting and emojis. I adopted email and online conferencing and courses as they came along. Today I publish my own blog and am very active on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I create evangelizing content including videos for parishes to post on their websites and Facebook Pages. I encourage parishes to offer evangelizing websites. Who knows what will be next.
For me, it is all about using the best tools available to help as many people as possible to know and love God better; to enrich their lives with the gifts of faith and to enhance their ministries with new resources. I believe social media tools greatly improve our ability to bring the Good News to the ends of the earth. I believe, as I say in my Catholic Web Solutions slogan:
The Internet is a mission field. Let’s be there!
The Internet is a ministry tool. Let’s use it!
The world has changed, but the basic needs of people have not. The world will continue to change, but our faith is timeless. “God is love and everyone who abides in love, abides in God.” We can always witness to that.
For those in ministry not yet using their website and social media to proclaim the Good News, I remind them that no matter how full their churches may be, less than half of their registered members are there every week. Furthermore, 25% of people in the U.S. profess no religious affiliation. For those between 18 and 29 the percentage is 39%. These are the “nones” (non-affiliated). The majority of nones were affiliated with a religion at some time in their lives. Those who are not in church are part of our mission as much as those who are there.
While I admit that technology presents challenges that some in ministry are not ready or able to address, I believe the real reason behind the failure to embrace the new technology to share the faith is a failure to embrace the new evangelization as individuals and institutions. When we care passionately about spreading the Gospel and welcoming others into our communities, we will do everything we can, not just what “we have always done” to make it happen-whether it is online or in person. If we are not doing one, it is highly likely that we are not doing the other.
A special note to those who really can’t use social media in their ministry for whatever reason. It is okay. Just don’t dismiss it or put down those who do. Empower someone who can. Show your support for this ministry whenever possible and strengthen your own person to person outreach beyond the church doors, both are needed. When a social media enthusiast approaches you, simply say, “It’s not for me, but I hope that you will use it (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, whatever) to bring glory to God in every way that you can.”
We have not only an opportunity but a duty to reach out in communicating the love and truth of God in person and online. If we don’t, who will?
P.S. You can read more about the “Nones” here http://www.prri.org/research/prri-rns-poll-nones-atheist-leaving-religion/ The news is not good.