Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Advent Digital Discipleship

So, it’s Advent! And you are wondering how to involve your family, your students, your parish members, or your friends in the Advent season!  Below are three videos about Advent.  Here are a few suggestions for how you may want to use them during the first two weeks of Advent:

Text the link with a brief message – For example: Want to learn more about Advent, check this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S02KOlw7dlA

Facebook Page – Add the link.  Once the video is populated in your FB message, delete the URL and add a short message – For example – for Advent in Two Minutes: What is the relationship between Advent and Christmas? Check out Busted Halo’s two-minute video that describes why we celebrate Advent and wait to celebrate Christmas. What is Advent for you?

Twitter Message –  Why do we celebrate Advent? View this video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S02KOlw7dlA

Advent in Two Minutes

What Is Advent? Gangnam Style

You Don’t Know Jack … about Advent

Would love to hear about how you are planning on being an Advent Digital Disciple!  You are invited to share your story.  Click “Leave a Comment” below.

facebook-2

Why Facebook?  Some basic stats highlight why this tool can be a fruitful opportunity for everyday evangelization.

1.09 billion people log onto Facebook daily (DAU) – March 2016, which represents a 16% increase year over year. (Source: Facebook as 4/27/16)    

Worldwide, over 1 Billion registered Facebook users.  (Source: April 2016 Facebook) What this means for you: In case you had any lingering doubts, statistically, Facebook is too big to ignore. Facebook is here for the long haul.  How it is used for the sake of the Gospel is up to us.

Age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic.  (Source: Emarketer 2012) In religious terms, Facebook can be considered as a means to contact young adults a prime target demographic for today’s church. You have a chance to engage these key Millennials on Facebook.

Facebook users are 76% female and 66% male.  (Source: Brandwatch) The Takeaway: Since this isn’t a large statistical difference, you should be able to effectively reach both genders on Facebook. Both genders present an evangelizing ministerial opportunity.

Average time spent per Facebook visit is 20 minutes.  (Source: Infodocket) What this means for you: You have a short time period to make your impression, so use it wisely with relevant, interesting and unique posts to get the most return on your efforts.

What can you do to evangelize?  First – Be yourself!  A disciple who prays, loves their faith, cares about their family and friends, and is comfortable with communicating with others using their personal Facebook account.  That’s right – Today we are ALL called to be Digital Disciples!

If you need to learn how to use Facebook, plenty of resources exist to assist you.  Just search for “Facebook Tutorial” using Google or YouTube.

Various options for you personally –consider a 70/30 or 60/40 or 50/50 rule.  That is 70% of your posts are your personal posts about your job, your sporting events, your children, or whatever is your everyday experience that exhibit a happy, joyful, thoughtful disciple; 30% of your posts are intentional posts are something about your faith.  You may also wish a 60% or 50% ratio of sharing.  It’s your choice!

Here are some simple suggestions for you using Facebook:

  1. Share your personal experience of participating in your parish. A photo and brief comment is often interesting to your FB friends.
  2. Check your parish or diocesan FB page. Surprisingly we may discover a “post” that is interesting to others.  Click on the “Share” button and share it either on your wall or share directly with a family member or friend.
  3. Create or Follow a curated list of online resources that provide interesting Catholic faith content that you can share on your FB page. Examples of websites you may want to be aware of:
    1. Busted Halo – a unique media resource that utilizes a relevant and accessible voice to help people understand the Catholic faith, put it into practice in their everyday lives, and share it with others.
    2. Word On Fire – a global media apostolate to draw others into – or back to – the Catholic faith.
    3. Catholic News Agency –  CNA strives to provide free, up-to-the-minute news affecting the Universal Church, giving particular emphasis to the words of the Holy Father and happenings of the Holy See, to any person with access to the internet.
    4. Other websites that interest you – Catholic News, The Jesuit Post and more.

Would love to hear your thoughts and ideas about how you could be an everyday Digital Disciple.

discipleship

Sherry Weddell in Forming Intentional Disciples says, “We must be convinced that all the baptized – unless they die early or are incapable of making such a decision – will eventually be called to make a personal choice to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church.” (pg. 70)

In addition, Sherry highlights for us the stages of Intentional Discipleship: Trust, Curiosity, Openness, Seeking, and Intentional Discipleship. We will explore later how these are also steps to Digital Discipleship.

The wonderful background materials related to Evangelization and Discipleship offer us helpful suggestions for evangelization and discipleship today.  In general, most of these materials do not highlight how being a Digital Disciple stands as an essential element at the heart of ministry. The goal of the Digital Discipleship Series is to encourage us in digital discipleship and evangelization efforts.  We no longer have an either/or option.  We are now called to integrate the apostolic opportunity of the digital world, so that we may use it effectively in our everyday efforts to incarnate the Gospel message.

Most of us are Disciples!  Yet, when we are asked if we do anything with technology, normally we frown and raise our eyebrows when the question is asked.  After all – Discipleship is about being “real” with others.  Sharing our faith with them.  Of course, in the minds of many – this means in a face-to-face opportunity. Today digital tools/options expand a deeper challenge and opportunity for us to share our faith with others via digital tools.

Yet in today’s Digital World, where we now have access to a variety of digital communication tools, it is time to use these tools to be Digital Disciples in order to evangelize our family and friends and our church.

When I first saw Sherry Weddell’s stages of Intentional Discipleship, I immediately saw the connection between the steps of Digital Discipleship:

Trust – Trust that we can enhance the sharing of our faith with others in digital ways.

Curiosity – Numerous digital tools are familiar to us: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and more.  Our curiosity and even our digital anxiety must lead us to explore how we can use these tools to communicate both the power/love of our faith and also our love for Jesus to others.

Openness – Our personal capacity to entertain different and often non-customary digital ideas offer amazing apostolic opportunities.

Seeking – As seekers we continue to search with Jesus new ways to be a disciple in a 21st Century Digital World.

Intentional Digital Discipleship – Our passion to share our faith becomes a both/and experience.  We relish being able to spend face-to-face time with others.  While at the same time I/We can use digital means like Facebook, Twitter, and more to enhance our faith and love of Jesus to others.

As we engage in Digital Discipleship, I reflect on a comment that Archbishop Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications made in 2014 during an interview with Columbia Editor Alton J. Pelowski:

In other words, the challenge for the Church today is not to use the Internet to evangelize, but to evangelize from within this digital milieu.

The mission of the Church is always the same: We are invited to announce the Gospel to the men and women of today. This is our point of reference. In being present in such a context, we are not simply “bombing” the social networks with religious messages. No, what we have to do is give witness – personal witness. Pope Francis said very clearly to the young people in Assisi last year (citing St. Francis): “Always preach the Gospel and, if necessary, use words!”

Me! Build a Website?

WELCOME TO OUR GUEST BLOGGER, THERESA SALAZAR!

Website Home Page

Website Home Page

I really needed to update my faith formation program! No, not the textbooks, catechist materials, or catechetical methods. These were current. I needed to update our internet presence, or rather our non-existent internet presence. We had no website. Yes, I can understand your gasp of utter shock. You are probably saying, “What century do you live in!”

Actually, I was born before the internet was invented. My children taught me how to use the computer and after listening to warnings about the “dangers” of the internet, I learned how to cautiously search for information, documents and websites. Soon it became second nature to go to the internet for all types of information and communication. So why didn’t our faith formation program have a website?

When I was hired as Director of Religious Education eleven years ago only the secretary had computer skills. That soon changed and as a result all our record keeping, forms and some communication became computerized. We were humming along with e-mail, internet access, and had Wi-Fi available for our catechists in the building. I was happy, until. . . . .

A few months ago I was invited to attend an on-line class about using social media to spread the good news of the Gospel. I had never participated in an on-line class and thought this would be a good way to update my computer skills. I signed up for the Digital Discipleship Boot Camp   which was a four-month class that met online every two weeks. We covered the importance about using the internet to evangelize and communicate using the different social media tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and many others, the usefulness of wikis, blogs, websites and cloud based tools, and the different websites that have free pictures and tools available. As I was learning all this it struck me that our own program did not have a website. But, what could I do? I had heard that websites were complicated and expensive to build.

One of the classes had talked about websites that allow you to build for free and were simple to use. I decided to look at these websites and see what I could do. I explored two websites, WordPress and Wix. I found that Wix.com was easier than WordPress. Wix was a drag and drop type program similar to Publisher or PowerPoint.

I signed up for the free website at Wix and chose a template for my homepage. As I worked with it, I didn’t like how my homepage was turning out, so I changed the template. From there I learned how to add titles, more pages, subpages, pictures, documents and calendars. I was amazed at the things I could do, and there is so much more that I haven’t even tried. The more I did the more I wanted to do. For example, I posted all the information and requirements that I thought were needed about our First Communion program. Then I thought it would be convenient for our parishioners to have the registration forms available, so I learned how to add those as PDF’s. Of course we always give out a calendar when parents register their children, so why not put that on the website as well? Now I’m thinking it would be great if we had a way that parents could pay the registration fee with a credit card, and I should have a page for quick updates and reminders or use a Twitter account for that. I could put a link on my site to my Twitter account (@therese_salazar). The ideas and possibilities are endless!

I am just beginning my website presence. I’m just learning, but if I can do it, anyone can do it. Remember, I was born before the computer existed. I was born when television was still black and white, and here I am creating a website! Is my website awesome? Is it stunning?

No, right now it is basic, very basic. But for me, that is more than what we had a few months ago. With this site our Faith Formation program will be adding a much-needed and updated method of reaching out to and communicating with our parishioners. As time goes by I hope to make it better and more interactive. Am I happy now? Yes. I am happy because we are able to reach out to the new generation and work with them in the way they know and understand. Am I satisfied? No. I know that this is just the beginning and I still have a lot more learning and work to do.

In the meantime, check out my website. I have not gotten a domain name or linked my website to our parish website because our pastor wants to update the parish website and has asked me to wait until that happens. But, until then my website can be found at: www.theresesalazar777.wix.com/mysite-2

Therese L. Salazar,MA

Director of Religious Education

Our Lady of Belen Church

Belen, New Mexico

zaccheaus

 

Every parish has a Facebook page!  So what about creating a short Sunday Gospel video that highlights the scripture story of the day?  In addition, include one, two, or three reflection questions for the week!

Once created, you can add to your parish Facebook page.  Perhaps this is a project for your junior or senior high students or even your RCIA participants. It becomes a 21st Century way of studying the weekly scripture and sharing with others. It can easily be viewed on a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Here’s how you can make a Gospel story video that will engage the creators in telling the Gospel story in a meaningful way.  Follow these steps:

  1. Read the Gospel

As you read the Sunday Gospel, have a highlighter in hand.  Highlight the “phrases” that stand out for you in this reading.

For example – Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time – Lectionary: 153 – Phrases:

  • Jesus came to Jericho
  • A man there named Zacchaeus
  • Chief tax collector
  • Wealthy Man
  • Seeking to see who Jesus was
  • Could not see him because of the crowd
  • He was short
  • Climbed a sycamore tree
  • Jesus looked up
  • Zacchaeus, come down quickly
  • I must stay at your house
  • Jesus received him with joy
  • Everyone began to grumble
  • Staying at the house of a sinner
  • Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor
  • If I exhorted – I shall repay it four times over
  • Today salvation has come to this house
  1. Go to Google Images

Using the search phrase “Creative Commons Zacchaeus” or “Creative Commons (image type)” look for images that will match the phrases you identified.  Remember you want to locate images that are free and may be used without violating copyright laws.  Here are a few examples for images that may be used in this video.

Jericho 

JesusinJericho

Z-Climb-Tree

Zacchaeus in tree

Zacchaeus in Crowd

All Grumble

Z said I will…

Z in house

House

Jesus

Now you have several images that could be used in your video

  1. Draft a Script

Once you have images, and have identified phrases, draft a script that you will use with Animoto (an online video tool that uses images, text, and images) for creating your video.  Remember as you draft your script to keep the phrases short as Animoto allows you to use no more than –

  • 40 characters for a Title
  • 50 characters for a SubTitle
  • 50 characters for a Caption

For example:

Text Graphic
TITLE: Thirty-First Sunday – Ordinary Time – October 30, 2016

 

     None
TITLE: Jesus Came To Jericho – Luke 19: 1-10

 

     None
Jesus came to Jericho

 

     Jesus Face
Zacchaeus the chief tax collector and wealthy  lived there

 

     Jericho Sign
He was seeking to see who Jesus was

 

     Jesus in crowd
Could not see him because of the crowd

 

     Z in crowd
He climbed a Sycamore tree

 

     Z in tree
Jesus looked up and said “I must stay at your house”

 

     Z in tree
Everyone began to grumble – He’s a sinner!

 

     Grumble
Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor

 

     Z in house
If I extorted – I shall repay it four times over

 

     Z in house
Today salvation has come to this house

 

     House
How have you experienced the seeking or saving power of Jesus in your life (maybe even in the past week)?

 

     Question
What are some ways Jesus has changed you?

 

     Question
How can you be a witness to Jesus’ transforming power in your life?

 

     Question
TITLE: Credits – FreebibleImages.com and Creative Commons Images

 

     None
TITLE: Blessings  – Enjoy a wonderful week

 

     None
None (Note: You could add the name of your parish here and any other short message you would like).      Fall Colored Leaf

 

Once you have a script you are now ready to work with Animoto, an online tool that uses your photos and text to create a professional video slideshow simply and easily.  Animoto is easy to learn and easy to use.  If you are unfamiliar with Animoto, go to YouTube and search for “Animoto Tutorial” to learn the ins and outs of this tool.

  1. Sign in to Animoto

Sign into your account.  If you do not have an account you can register for one.  You can create a 30-second video on a trial version. There are various options so that you can create Animoto videos that are longer than 30-seconds.  You can apply as an “educator” for a FREE ANIMOTO PLUS ACCOUNT. Or you can apply for ANIMOTO FOR A CAUSE. If you purchase an annual Animoto plan, you are able to create videos that are Full Length (i.e., longer than 30-seconds).

  1. Choose a video style

Set the mood for your video by choosing a video style.  There are a number of video styles to choose from.  Pick something that enhances your Scripture story.

  1. Add your photos/images

Once you have chosen a style, it’s time to add your photos.  You can upload files from your computer to be used in the template.  Once your images/photos are added, if needed, you can click and drag the blocks to change their order.

  1. Add titles/text to tell the story

Once the photos/images are added, click on them to add captions or click Add text to add a title card.  Remember to create a title screen.animoto-sharing

Test as you continue to “tweak” your video.  When you are ready, click on Publish.  You will receive an email from Animoto to tell you that your video is ready.  Once you have a link you can share in a variety of ways.

 

 

 

 

Click on image for Video

Click on image for Video

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

Picture by Frankeleon licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0

 

Of course, catechesis today involves the heart, head and more!  As a catechist, you are challenged to teach the faith not only to children, but to their parents as well.  May the following reflections highlight for you 10 important signs for you:

  1. Suspends Stereotypes: We are all baptized and called to share our faith with our children and families.  It is not just “Father” or “Sister” called to teach faith today!  All of us by our baptism are invited to both learn and to share our faith knowledge with one another.
  2. Emphasizes Empathy: When you take time to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand their feelings and perspectives, that is empathy says Roman Krznaric.  Why is this important? To understand others, especially in their faith journey.
  3. Promotes Collaboration: Sharing faith involves two or more persons. How the Lord is part of our everyday life is important to share with others.  Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am in the midst of them. (Mt 18:20)
  4. Celebrates Creativity: The Gospel story can get old quickly. It takes new eyes to see the stories of Jesus alive in today’s world.  Perhaps the Gospel stories can be imagined as a gigantic erector set.  You can put anything together in new and original ways. The Gospel comes alive in our lives if we can see it clearly and plainly in our everyday stories.
  5. Values Voice: Today there is a Giving Voice to Values (GVV) curriculum that focuses on ethical implementation and asks the questions: “What if I were going to act on my values? What would I say and do? How could I be most effective?” Perhaps it is time to consider how we value the Catholic faith in our everyday lives.  Let’s ask the questions:  If my faith supported how I live in today’s world, would I be modeling the Christ who is compassionate and forgiving? Would I be serving the poor? How could I be most effective as a Catholic in today’s world?
  6. Promotes Digital Practices: We are living digital today whether we are ready or not. It is time to begin considering what it means to be a Digital Disciple in today’s world.  Digital transformation is a desired and shared vision of an outcome that can be achieved through a series of projects or a combination of initiatives.  It is time to begin imagining and implementing how we can engage in communication with others that provides a Christian outlook in everyday lives.
  7. Reinforces Reflection: We reflect daily on what has happened in our everyday lives asking: What went well? What didn’t? Why? How do I feel about it? In Ignatian Spirituality, this is referred to as the daily Examine.  As Catholics we want to analyze our experiences, make changes based on our mistakes, keep doing what nurtures our faith, and build upon or modify past knowledge based on new knowledge.  In faith, we are called to be Lifelong Learners!
  8. Engages in Prayer: Deacon Doug McManaman says, “You and I were created for prayer.  Life is about learning how to pray.  If the very purpose of human life is to know God and love God in eternity, then the purpose of life is prayer.  Read further his article, The Importance of Prayer. As a catechist we pray and engage those who are in our learning groups in learning more about prayer.  What a gift!
  9. Fosters Creative Projects: Our neighborhoods, cities, and world today are crying out for care and concern.  How we “see” what is around us and respond with others is critical today.  At my parish, Espiritu Santo Catholic Parish, there are numerous projects we are invited to participate in that by collaborating together we make a difference with serving those in need -packaging food for Catholic Relief Services – Helping Hands, serving at Pinellas Hope, and more.  All catechists today are called to find creative projects to care for others and the earth.
  10. Values Connections and Communication: There are many ways to stay connected with others.  By being a catechist you are connected with faith-filled friends who are not only called to serve, but are invited to share their faith with others in traditional and digital ways.  Following this article over the next three weeks, I’ll share a series of 3 articles that focus on being a Digital Disciple.  I invite you to come back to this blog and learn more.

As you reflect on these ten signs, you have an opportunity to celebrate.  After instructing over 400 participants of Digital Discipleship Boot Camp, I am aware that the Digital side of life is just emerging as an important part of today’s 21st Century Ministry.  If you are curious and want to become a Digital Disciple, I invite you to join one of the two cohorts (Winter or Summer) that are offered in the year.  Come and visit Digital Discipleship Boot Camp for additional information.

What “sign” do you celebrate the most?  Share your story in the “Comments” section below.

creativity

The saying attributed to Albert Einstein – Curiosity is intelligence having fun – is something to keep in mind as I return to writing articles about technology in ministry.  Why?  I call all involved in ministry to be curious with me about technology and to have “fun” while being curious.

There are various ways we can approach technology, for example:

  • FEAR: We can be so afraid of technology that we turn our back on it, ignore it, and not see it as valuable partner in our ministry world.
  • TINKER: Those who enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together again, can take a computer, laptop, tablet, or phone apart to see if they can put it back together again. They enjoy the mechanics of handling the pieces and weaving them into a unit that works.
  • NICE TO HAVE: Yes, we have the $$$$$$ for the tools. Let’s buy what we believe we will use.  We listen to the techy folks who surely know how to use technology in ministry.  I believe we need to ask – Well do they know how to use these tools in a learning environment?
  • DIGITAL PEDAGOGY: We are now living in a “paradigm shift” where learning is changing with the introduction of technology into the learning cycle. As an educator, I was shaped and formed by a system that today is tending towards being out-of-fashion!  We are leaning towards a digital culture that is changing how we teach, how we communicate, and how we work together.

Jesse Stommel is an Assistant Professor of Digital Humanities at University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He offers four characteristics of Critical Digital Pedagogy. Put another way, these are four things we might notice if digital teaching and learning is doing what it’s supposed to do.

Characteristics of Critical Digital Pedagogy

  1. It centers its practice on community and collaboration
  2. Must remain open to diverse, international voices, and thus requires invention to reimagine the ways that communication and collaboration happen across cultural and political boundaries
  3. Will not, cannot, be defined by a single voice but must gather a cacophony of voices
  4. Must have use and application outside traditional institutions of education

I encourage you to explore Strommel’s PowerPoint where he describes Digital Pedagogy.

Now what does this mean for faith formation? We will go on to discover through our curiosity.  I trust that the articles that are already here and the articles to come, will continue to add to the conversation.  I invite all of my readers to join me in this ongoing conversation.  I invite you to return for the new articles or to simply search for articles that may interest you here at ACyberPilgrim.  Blessings!

 

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