Be Witnesses: Pastoral Ministry in the Digital Age Part 3

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 3, 2017

in Digital Age, Online Presence, social media, Uncategorized, website

The third challenge that comes to Pastoral Ministry in this digital age according to Antonio Spardaro, SJ in his book, Friending God: Social Media, Spirituality and Community is:

Pastoral ministry in the digital age is [needs to be] “a ministry of witness rather than a ministry of transmission.” Page 65

My Reflection

A ministry of transmission is a ministry of “broadcasting” information, announcements and appeals. Communication is one-way, from the organization. It is pushing out content that the organization wants the members and visitors to have with little or no expectation of their engagement or participation.

A ministry of witness is much more than a ministry of transmission. Its focus is on sharing the person of Jesus Christ and the joyful commitment that this community has to Christ and the Church. This commitment expresses itself in a spirit of hospitality and warmth, a desire to respond to the needs of the members and visitors and to be of service to the larger community. It welcomes engagement and participation.

The Parish Website

The parish website is the public face of the parish community. People who are looking for a church to visit or join, check out the website first. An attractive website that witnesses and engages creates a positive impression about the parish.

A website that gives witness:

  • Offers a warm welcome to all who visit
  • Answers the questions of how to become a member, become a Catholic or return to the practice of the faith or celebrate the sacraments with helpful, loving words
  • Invites visitors to contact the parish office and staff members through multiple means: phone, email, or personal visit and provides the necessary information to do so.
  • Provides information and resources to help people grow in their faith and connect with the parish community and its activities
  • Displays images of members joyfully engaging in prayer, service, and social activities.
  • Provides a parish calendar and invitations to participate in parish activities
  • Is especially welcoming around Christmas, Ash Wednesday and Easter.
  • Provides online services for the convenience of members when possible and appropriate: i.e. forms and online donations.

Social Media

There are many social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.) and more are being created every day. They all have one thing in common: social networking, building relationships. Facebook is still the largest and one that we need to be on as witnesses.

A Parish Facebook Page is a ministry of witness when the images and messages celebrate the goodness of God, the joy of faith and the people who live that faith every day in service to God and one another.

A Parish Facebook Page is a place to post inspiring and instructive content, a place to share our concerns and prayers for those who have suffered natural disasters or other tragedies, a place to recognize the accomplishments of our members—a place to share the good times that we have together and the good works we do. It is also a place to celebrate the liturgical seasons and continually send the message that all are welcome.

People engage with meaningful content on Facebook by clicking on it, liking it, giving a reaction, making a comment and/or sharing it. Over time, we can tell which posts create the most engagement and try to create more like them.

Take a look at your Parish website and Facebook Page. How well do they witness our faith and our faith community? What would it take to make them better witnesses?

Your comments are welcome.

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pat Wolf October 3, 2017 at 6:20 am

Thank you for translating my thoughts and feelings into words. Now they can become actions.

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