Good Stories: Pastoral Ministry in the Digital Age Part 5

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 17, 2017

in Digital Age, Facebook, social media, website

Everyone loves a good story. Jesus was a master story teller. Stories concretize and humanize the lessons and messages we share with each other. We all have stories to tell.

That is why the fifth 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 makes perfect sense. Pastoral ministry in the digital age is [needs to be] “a ministry of stories rather than a ministry of ideas.” (Page 66)

My Reflection

The Internet and social media have taken storytelling to a whole new level. People and institutions are telling their stories on social media mostly through images with little or no descriptions.

One of the exercises, I do with parish teams who want to upgrade their website is to brain storm a list of all the things they love about their parish. The lists can get pretty long (we really do love our parishes): the liturgies, the music, the ministries, the staff, outreach programs and the pastor usually get listed and always the people. The teams get really enthusiastic when they begin describing the people: warm and welcoming, generous, caring; engaged, supportive, prayerful and happy and on and on,

Then I say, let’s look at your current website. Does it tell me the same story about your parish that this list does? Often the answer is “No” or “Not really.” For some parish and organization websites, the story is either we’re pretty bland, pretty busy, or all about money when in almost every case they are so much more! The same question can be asked about Facebook and other social media sites. What story are they telling about you?

Good Images Tell the Story

I have written about the importance of using good photos on websites and social media before and links to those articles are below. Good photos tell the story of your people, their love for God and neighbor, their happiness, and their good works. Good images make your parish or organization attractive to visitors. Ideas alone just don’t cut it. Here are some previous posts on the topic:


What story does your website and Facebook Page tell about your parish?

Is that the real story or is there more to tell?

If you use photos/images, where do you get them?

Your comments are welcome.



Sr. Angela Ann October 17, 2017 at 10:00 am

Great reflection. Thanks!

Digna Vela October 21, 2017 at 6:07 pm

Thank you, Susan! As always you have given us a very informative post! Recently, I have worked on learning how to make a short two minute video rather than just use still photos. In various webinars, I have learned that video is a very effective tool.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND October 22, 2017 at 8:00 am

Thank you, Sr. Angela!

Sr. Digna–You are correct: videos have greater impact on social media. Photos have the second greatest impact. Congratulations on incorporating videos and photos into your online ministry.