Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Religion and Spirituality’

Tell A Gospel Story

KidsSpace is a website sponsored by the Toronto Public Library. One of the helpful tools is a way to engage children in telling a story. After I played with the tool, here is a suggestion for you to use in a children’s faith formation class.

The tool to use is Tell-A-Story StoryBuilder.

I would invite children to use this tool at home to retell an assigned Gospel story using the images and creativity of the children. Perhaps this could be the Gospel story for a given Sunday. Once the story is completed and approved by you, it can be used in various ways.

Suggested Steps:

  • Assign a Gospel story to read, for example – The Beatitudes story in Matthew 5: 1-10 (You may want to refer the children to the Superbook Bible for the text or they can use a Bible that is at home.
  • Invite students to use Tell-A-Story StoryBuilder to tell the story using the various tools that are available: backgrounds, characters, etc. They get to choose a setting and characters for the story to make it a unique story that they tell.
  • Once the story is created, tell them to click the [Send] button. A box will appear asking for who they are going to send the story to and for their name and email address. If they are working at home, ask them to invite their parents to view the story before they forward to you. Tell the child that they are to ask their parents to insert a parent email with the child’s name.

beat-1 beat-3

  • Once they have completed sending the story to you, they will see a box that says “SUCCESS! The card…”. Click on OK.

beat-2

  • Check your email

beat-3

  • Once you have a link, click on the link and you will have access to the story. Click on the green arrow in the right-hand corner to page through the story.

beat-4

  • Here is an example of a story for you. Click here.

Would love to hear your stories of how you may be engaging your children/youth in retelling the Gospel stories that so gift our daily lives. Blessings all!

Digital Discipleship: The Personal Facebook Experience (Part II)

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.

Digital Discipleship: It matters for Everyone (Part I)

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!”

How to Make & Share a Scripture Story Video on Facebook

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

Digital Ideas for Lent!

Lent is this wonderful opportunity to reflect on various spiritual themes – the Year of Mercy and more! We often give things up.  Yet, I would like to challenge each of my readers to explore how they could “Evangelize” during Lent using any of the digital tools that are on their desktop, laptop, or any of the mobile tools that you have access to.

Why do I challenge you?  I listened to Fr. Frank DeSiano’s Webinar Lent in the Year of Mercy  recently.  And as I listened this slide was important to me –

What digital activities could be suggested?

What digital activities could be suggested?

Why?  Because my mind saw a chart just waiting to be transformed into ideas where we could be Digital Disciples and Evangelizers.  I invite you to “brainstorm” with me about possible options.  For example, I would retitle the slide to: Corporal Works of Mercy – Options for Digital Discipleship.  Then the three headings revised to: (1) Work, (2) Personal Digital Activity, and (3) Church Digital Activity.

As I begin to brainstorm, here are a couple of thoughts flowing through my mind:

(Work)To Feed the hungry  – (Personal Digital Activity) Give up a meal and contribute to the Catholic Relief Services

(Work) To clothe the naked  – (Church Digital Activity) – Create a graphic using Canva that promotes the local shelter with a call to action to bring in new or gently used clothes to give to the shelter.

Pinellas Hope-2

Use Graphic on Facebook or Tweet to your fans

I invite YOU, my wonderful readers, to continue to brainstorm for all us!  If you look at the chart, what do you see as possible options to be a Digital Disciple or Evangelizer?  I ask you to continue the conversation by clicking on the “LEAVE A COMMENT” link towards the bottom of this page.

I look forward to hearing the wonderful suggestions that you will offer this Digital Community!

Engaging the Digital Disciple

building-disciples

 

Today’s students have numerous gadgets in their pockets and backpacks – primarily smart phones, tablets, and laptops. Yet, have we considered how we could utilize these tools in faith formation? Perhaps you are just getting curious about how you could use these tools with your students.

In our curiosity, first determine the type of technological approach you would like to implement by considering the acronym SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. Dominic Norrish in a recent post “Classroom practice – Power up to become a tech-savvy teacher” explains the SAMR acronym:

  • Substitution is where the technology does little to improve the learning process for the child, instead simply swapping one tool (a pencil) for another (Microsoft Word) with no change in the task (writing a story.)
  • Augmentation is still substitution, but you get a little more functionality for your time. Let’s say your pupils are drawing using Photoshop. The process may be easily editable (they don’t have to start from scratch) and quicker, so there are gains, but fundamentally the student is still completing the same assignment: drawing a picture.
  • Modification is where technology begins to change the way a task is taken on. For example, making audio recordings or videos of presentations so they can be referred to later or shared with absent classmates.
  • Redefinition is where technology really comes into its own. Here, the way a subject or task is managed is fundamentally changed. This could be the use of video conferencing to work collaboratively with classes across the world, or students creating story walks in the community where the narrative and instructions to reach the next point of the journey can be downloaded to iPads at certain GPS points.

Substitution or Augmentation styles of using technology really do not improve or change what we do in the classroom. Overall, we have access to a tool and use it instead of a pencil or it simply replaces how we do the task. The task at hand with today’s technology is to engage our students in participating as Digital Disciples to share their faith with others. The Architecture of Participation offers us new ways to consider using Web 2.0 learning technologies.

Steve-Wheeler

As I become more and more comfortable with Learning 2.0 technologies, I ask:

  • Am I facilitating a learning experience so that my students are able to learn more about their faith in a digital world?
  • Are they able to curate online materials so that they are able to identify reliable Catholic Internet content? After all, they often search for their information online!
  • Do I engage my students in using social bookmarking tools to tag and bookmark available digital resources? Could this be an opportunity to begin creating their lifelong digital library for faith formation?
  • Are we using news aggregator tools to follow faith news in blogs, online newspapers, podcasts and video blogs (vlogs)? Are we aware of current church news?
  • Am I using social media tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Vine to engage our adolescent students in sharing and amplifying what they are learning about their faith with others?
  • How am I engaging my students to collaborate with others in social justice issues by using technology?

I believe that our job today as faith facilitators is to engage our students in learning their faith, and using the digital tools that we have at hand to share what they have learned with others. If and only if I take time to learn more about Web 2.0 tools, will I be ready to engage others in learning and sharing their faith. This is a time to pioneer and share our best practices with one another.

I invite you to consider how during the summer you will learn more about this digital world. Come back and share what is exciting you in this ever evolving digital world.

Resources for you:

Social Media Aggregation Tools

Aggregator options

11 Based tools for online surveys

 

Stations of the Cross

Embed from Getty Images

As Holy Week approaches, we will take time to remember the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus through the Stations. Why are the stations part of our prayer? It allows us to make a spiritual pilgrimage of prayer, through meditating upon the scenes of Christ’s sufferings and death.

Following is a suggestion to engage your students in preparing to pray the stations in church:

  • Look over the following Stations of the Cross, and determine which one is best used with your students. You can assign ONE station per small group of students or if you have a small group of students, you can assign a couple of stations per group. This is their background information for the station.

Creighton University Ministry Stations
USCCB Stations of the Cross
Stations of the Cross Especially for Children
Stations of the Cross: A Devotional Guide for Lent and Holy Week

  • After assigning a station to a small group of students, ask them to draw or choose an image that represents the station. Invite them to prepare a short meditation and prayer (one or two sentences) for the station they have been assigned. There are various ways they can create their image from drawing their station on paper and then scanning to an electronic format, or using electronic drawing tools to create their drawing, or simply going over to church to photograph the station that they have been assigned.

(Or you may work with your Youth Ministry group, to have students photograph the Stations of the Cross that are in your parish church and to organize them in a Dropbox folder so that your students will have access to the Station of the Cross images from your church.)

Example of a PPT Station Template

Example of a PPT Station Template

  • Using PowerPoint (You may want to use the suggested template or you may wish to design a template) invite your students to create a PPT slide that represents the Station that they have been asked to prepare and add the image, reflection, and prayer.
Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

Example of a Station of the Cross PPT Slide

  • Save the slide in two formats – 1) the usual PPT format and 2) the JPG format using the “Save As” function and for a File name use the format of Slide # (the number of the Station) so you will have files named Slide 1, Slide 2, Slide 3, etc. For FILE TYPE, choose – JPEG File International Format.
  • Now that you have the slides in a graphic JPEG format that can be used by video tools like Animoto and 30 Hands, you are ready to create a video meditation that can be shared on your parish website. Or once uploaded to YouTube or Vimeo, you can share the link with your families on the parish Facebook page or Tweet the link out to the world.

If you are not familiar with the suggested tools, you will find an introduction to these tools at the Catechesis 2.0 blog. Come and visit:

Animoto 
30 Hands

The FREE Animoto will only allow you to create a 30-second video. So, to do a longer video, you will need to purchase either a monthly subscription for $5.00 or an annual subscription for $30. I love this tool and have found that the annual investment is a wise decision. 30 Hands Mobile is a FREE app for those using a smartphone, iPad or tablet computer. Check out the 30 Hands website for additional information.

What is so helpful about this activity is that you are engaging your students in a traditional prayer experience of the church – The Stations of the Cross – by using the technology that they are very comfortable with.

You may also wish to review the following blog pages:
Stations of the Cross and Virtual Journeys, and
Stations of the Cross Multimedia for Lent

Blessings as we prepare to enter into this time of remembering the gift of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus!

© Caroline Cerveny , SSJ-TOSF

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