Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Tech Team

Recently, a friend asked me – Who do we need to help us move into the world of technology at the parish level?

As I continue to ponder the question, I am venturing to recommend that we need the following type of members on our parish staffs:

  • Information Technology Specialists: These are the folks who are often called the “techies.”  They are the ones who set-up our networks, Wi-Fi connections, upgrade and repair our computers, and more.
  • Educational Technology Specialists: Are educators who know how to integrate technology into the learning process.  The National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) are core to this process, guiding administrators, teachers, and students in 21st Century Learning.  They are mentors, trainers, and model how to use technology in faith-learning.
  • Communication Technology Specialists: Before the Digital World arrived, we talked about public relations, marketers, and journalists who were involved with creating newsletters, figuring out how to promote a product and a service, and wrote our daily newspaper stories.  This world is in a major flux as we now speak about NEW MEDIA, and talk about web masters, bloggers, mini-bloggers, marketing using Facebook tools, and more.

I will often read the want ads in the Sunday paper or search websites that focus on announcing available positions.  Over the last couple of years I’ve noticed that companies who are immersed in the ever evolving Digital World are announcing positions with new names and jobs that attract those who have new skills.  For example, today – if we look in the want ad sections – we’ll find a call for:

Positions that focus on Information and Communication Technology Specialists are emerging at the diocesan and parish levels.  However, positions that focus on educational technology tend to be found in the school staff listings.  The educational technologist is also needed in the catechetical and parish setting.

I’m probably one of the few catechetical ministers, primarily serving parish communities, who has a MA in Religious Studies as well as a MA in Educational Technology.  Since 1983, I have learned to “walk the walk and talk the talk” of the educational technology world.

The educational technology world is wide and vast!  I would especially encourage today’s catechetical ministers to consider how they can enhance their digital skills in a variety of areas.  Explore Full Sail University  and ask – Do we need to know how to create learning games so that our students can be engaged in learning about their faith in a global world by engaging in learning games that focus on Global Issues, Peace & Justice, and other faith themes?  Will we evangelize via our websites that are creatively designed?

Another online program is listed at Walden University, one of the oldest online schools in the country, is the Educational Specialist in Educational Technology Programs.  What can be learned here can be applied to most learning environments – even faith based learning environments.

How do you see yourself growing in using digital skills to serve the 21st Century Church? Would love to hear your story of how you are growing in these new skills!  What new positions are being created at the parish or diocesan levels to bring a better understanding of learning technologies and new media?

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Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Comments on: "Trends and Challenges: What Parish Technologists?" (8)

  1. I just read this post – 3-Approaches-to-Professional-Development-in-Nashville! It is interesting to see what other schools are doing. How will we bring this type of ongoing formation into catechetics?

  2. Geri Pleva said:

    As one who is job hunting and would love to work with a Parish, I find this encouraging to say the least.

    I’m continuing to learn new skills hoping that God will find a place where I can share this.
    Curious to find out what is taking place at the Parish level.

    Thank you for the post,

    Geri Pleva

    Detroit, MI

  3. This is excellent information for the parish level. On the catechetical level Tim Welch writes a very practical column called “Technology and you” in RTJ’s Creative Catechist magazine. Each issue he highlights a technology tool and offer ways to use it with catechetical themes. Even if you’re not familiar with the tool Tim explains it step by step.
    I totally agree with Caroline that we need to keep up with technology in catechesis. This is what most people and especially children are in tune with everyday.

  4. Thanks Rosanne, The tools have changed today and the message is still the message. Yet we all need to learn how to use the new tools!

  5. You give us something to really think about here. It may not be enough to help catechetical leaders and other parish ministers become more technologically savvy. We would benefit from specialists on staff.
    But, just as those of us in ministry need to develop tech-competencies, so will those tech specialists need religious compentence. To be effective, they’ll need more than personal faith and good intentions, they’ll need familiarity with the vocabulary, values and practices of ministry.

  6. As I read this article Crossing The Digital Divide: Bridges and Barriers to Digital Inclusion, I wonder how church programs will move into Digital Inclusion. This comment – Those who have the opportunity to learn technology skills are in a better position to obtain and make use of technology than those who do not. – causes me to wonder how will catechetical ministers ever catch up? When a very high percentage of ministers are not a part of this ever evolving digital world.

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