Laura Leist Catalano and Carolyn Clement are volunteer church communicators at their Episcopal churches in Missouri and Connecticut. After organizing successful Social Media Sundays at their home churches in 2013, they are encouraging churches to participate in a nation-wide Social Media Sunday in June. We talked to Laura and Carolyn to get the story on Social Media Sunday:
What is Social Media Sunday all about?
On June 29, 2014, we’re setting aside the day to encourage people of faith to share the gospel and be the church online.
Because we are both volunteer church communicators in Episcopal churches (Carolyn at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tariffville, Conn., and Laura at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church of Creve Coeur, Mo.), we are using the hashtag #Episcopal on that day to share Social Media Sunday participation in Episcopal churches. We also encourage the use of the hashtags #ChSocM (Church Social Media) and #SMSunday, and welcome people in all denominations to be a part of Social Media Sunday.
What do you hope to accomplish?
We’re hoping to help people of faith get beyond their fear of using digital media and understand that these are just tools, very effective tools, that we can use to do what we (hopefully!) are already doing: inviting others, showing care and concern for people, telling friends about our church and showing them Jesus.
After all, social media, when done right, is about the relationship, not the technology.
What if my church has little to no social media presence?
Your church might not have an official social media presence, but, with over a billion people on Facebook, at least some of your church members are there.
Social Media Sunday is a way for people of faith to share their story and invite others to come and see. We can all do that, using the hashtag, even if we don’t have an official role in the church. After all, we’re all part of that “royal priesthood,” right?
What if my leadership doesn’t get on board? How can I convince them?
The best participation happens when church leadership encourages it. There are great examples from around the church of priests and pastors making announcements like this one:
“Please put your cell phones on a setting that is most worshipful for you. If you would like to take notes on your device or live tweet the sermon, you are welcome to do so.”
If your church leadership will not get on board, feel free to participate in Social Media Sunday anyway! Use the hashtag to live tweet the sermon, take an arty picture and share it on Instagram, or check in on Facebook. Invite your church friends who you see on social media to join you that day.
Then go back and let your leadership know how many of your followers saw your posts. Share any engagement you received. Hearing that hundreds, or even thousands of people heard about your church through #SMSunday posts might encourage church leadership to explore using social media.
Try to avoid discouragement. Social media isn’t going away. Your church will eventually get there. And you might be the one who shows them how.
Do you have some practical tips for how to make this happen?
Churches and individuals can participate in ways that make sense for them. Some are encouraging use of social media during the service, others are offering social media workshops before or after church. Some are inviting the whole church to participate, in others, only one person will check in on Facebook or share a photo from the day. Each is part of being the church online that day.