Networked: Why We Should Use Social Media in Ministry

I’ve been saying this for years now. Maybe now that pew research is backing me up, the detractors will pay attention.

I still get push back from church officials about the need to share information on social networks. Many are afraid of getting sued or of revealing too much. Clerics, most especially, live in a world where they try to reveal little–and yet it ends up pushing them towards irrelevancy at times.

I can remember one significant speaking engagement with a group of Philly Archdiocesan priests. Many of them were great! They were using social media in a myriad of ways and it contributed to their ministry in new and exciting ways.

But others were not wiling to do so. Their refusal sounded angry, defensive and completely unrealistic. Granted at times social media can be ridiculous. One pastor gave a good example of a church that had been robbed. He told his employees that he had to give their names to the police because they all had keys but that he didn’t suspect any of them. One employee wrote about that on Facebook offering his alibi as a joke.

Then his friends chimed in…and they did so uncharitably.

The pastor in question wondered what he should do next? And he replied that he thought Facebook should not be used in ministry because it gave people the opportunity to say bad things about the church.

My response: “With all due respect, Msgr., they’re saying bad things about the church ANYWAY.”

It’s amazing how some people want to bury their heads in the sand and vilify all social media.

To be fair, my own mother, who is 83 and knows little about the internet, (except what I show her when I’m in town–and which she’s always impressed by) thinks that the internet is evil.

“I don’t care what you say, you shouldn’t be on that internet! It’s nothing but trouble.”

I usually reply with “Mom, the internet is only a way of sharing information.”

Her reply is simple, “I don’t care what it is. It’s trouble! I don’t want to be on it.”

How far removed from this attitude are some of our older priests in their 70s? Probably not far.

We have an opportunity to share who we are and what we do best. But are we willing to do that?

Or do we just want to remain in the ghetto with people who don’t use the internet much?

Indeed it is up to us.