In one of our activities during the PLM-SCA servant’s formation, we asked the young leaders on what catches their attention most in social media.
Their response showed that inspiring messages spoke to them more.
There are plenty of significant leaders who are not on Twitter or Facebook … yet. But I think more and more people who want to have a lasting impact are joining social media. Joining social media doesn’t mean you have to play Candy Crush on Facebook. You can control how much you engage. You can interact on Twitter from your cell phone and not even worry about getting bogged down in email activity. One of the great things social media does is enables quality leaders to broaden their influence and impact.
Contrary to studies that:
- Social websites become their first priority, rather than the things that should come first such as school, family and sports.
- People portray themselves as someone they’re not.
- Young people can begin to cyberbully another peer; this can lead to many things such as depression and suicidal thoughts.
- Some youth are easily influenced so they may feel the need to change their physical appearance by comparing themselves to the next person they see in the media.
- Social media is a very powerful temptation, so it can also become addicting and begin to start sidetracking the youth.
The simple activity revealed that positive messages are big influencers online.
- Keeps connections between friends when they’re not always able to see each other when they want to.
- Social media also keeps you up to date with things that are going on around the world rather than just in your area.
- It gives youth a place to express themselves in a way that a public place wouldn’t allow us to.
- It helps to develop social skills, a lot of friendships can stem from a social website.
- It’s a fun way to interact with your peers, other than seeing them in person.
Social media is the latest possibility to reach an audience that might never step into our churches or community.
Before parish priests or youth minsters often would go door to door for the parish census. This gave them the possibility of meeting parishioners (and nonparishioners) and drawing them into parish life.
Although door-to-door evangelization is attractive, it is no longer as viable as it was in times past.
Pope Francis has embraced this new medium and could be considered the first social media pope.
Although Pope Benedict XVI was the first pope to use Twitter, Francis tweets almost daily and currently has 10.8 million followers.
You might ask why we need to use social media.
We can use social media to get out the latest parish news, post inspirational quotes to inspire our parishioners, and give people important notices regarding upcoming events.
Social media helps to get our message out and to draw people to the parish or community website if it’s used properly.
The phenomenon of social media has opened new doors for us.
People “friend” us and welcome us into their daily world.
Social media is part of a new technology that came out of what was called Web 2.0. These social networks range from Facebook and Twitter to Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat and beyond.
At the same time, the use of social media is not only for getting our message out and sharing information, it’s also about building relationships with real people who create bonds with one another, and this opens hearts to what it is we have to share.
Here is a social media discipleship pathway:
• CONNECT (network) online: social networks, blogs, chat rooms, special interest sites.
• SHARE (post) relevant material that meets the needs of people and invite them to visit and explore wholistic life together through videos
• TALK (chat) with your online friends in order to understand their needs, and respond with the relevant messages of hope found in the Bible, and perhaps by sharing your personal story.
• MEET (offline) face-to-face to develop trust and confidence in Jesus.
• INVITE (follow) Jesus on the journey of spiritual development.
Your intention, every step of the way, should be to treat each visitor and contact as a potential disciple. You should take a personal interest in their lives. You cannot expect to disciple 500 to 1,000 people individually, but you can certainly take time to disciple a small group of people and build personal relationships.
Yes, we need to create evangelization opportunities that help bring people back to church. New media, specifically social media, has a huge part in reaching out to people we need to minister to.