Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Archive for November, 2016

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.

Digital Discipleship: The Personal Facebook Experience (Part II)

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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.

Digital Discipleship: It matters for Everyone (Part I)

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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

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