Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

Posts tagged ‘Social media’

Faith Based Instructional Technologists: Do We Need Them?

Ever wonder what kinds of personnel are needed to nurture the integration of technology into our ministries?  I do!

Why? As an educational technology specialist (one of the hats that I wear), I often feel like others in ministry do not understand why this area of expertise is greatly needed in today’s church.

Dale Jonasson

Dale Jonasson

When I met Dale Jonasson, Director of Information Technology Services, Diocese of San Bernardino, at the 2013 Diocesan Information Systems Conference that was held in Dallas I was delighted to hear that he had recently hired an Educational Technologist for the Diocese. What a wonderful surprise!

Why this new position?  Dale said, “In the process of technology upgrades in all of our schools, we realized that the bigger challenge was to help the teachers to integrate and use technology in the classroom.  We also realized that we faced the same challenge in our parishes.”

As we spoke about these challenges, Dale mentioned that schools adapt to the integration of technology in the classroom faster than parishes.  Of course there are many reasons why this happens.  It appears, at the parish level that the integration of technology is not in the forefront of their priorities!

Yet, the young people present communicate with technology. So how do we stay connected to a generation that is rooted in a Digital Culture?  I would suggest that we learn from what others are doing in educational settings and adapt what we learn from them to our ministry world.

As Dale and I chatted, we also began to identify the differences between school and parish technology.  They are often at two different levels.  For example:

  1. A school will have the overall infrastructure that it needs to manage the needed technology, a lab, possibly a wireless network, and a staff person who is the school technology coordinator.
  2. A parish often has a home-style wireless infrastructure and volunteers who manage to cobble together a wired or wireless network.
  3. National standards like the ISTE – International Society for Technology in Education National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) guides the overall direction in an educational setting.
  4. Technology standards normally do NOT exist for ministry or parish-based programs, except in a few diocesan locations.
  5. School staff has ongoing technology training.
  6. Diocesan workshop days offer workshops that focus on technology, but parish level catechetical leaders and volunteers may or may not attend.
  7. Publishers like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw Hill, and Pearson have the money to support the development of technology options for reading, writing, science, and math.  And the school market is ready to implement these options in their classrooms.
  8. Religion publishers have attempted to offer technology options.  Overall, the religion market is not ready to implement these options in their parishes.

In our ministry world, it appears that we are often working with the bare basics of technology.  Our school staffs are moving comfortably ahead in the technology world and leaving us behind – and this inequitable environment often exists in the same parish.

In the ministry world we are focused on the use of social media tools including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ but social media is just one part of a technology triangle.  In today’s technology world there are three areas of technology that are often referred to as the ICT Triangle:

  • Information Systems: These are the folks who keep the systems in operation
  • Communications: Before the Internet, these folks were concerned about newspapers, magazines, journals and the traditional print tools to communicate the news.  Today, they are transitioning to a Digital Means of Communicating that is more participatory than ever before through social media tools!
  • Educational Technology: Are those who make sure that these digital tools are used to enhance learning and assist others in learning how to best do this.

When these three areas work collaboratively, we have a system that is able to support the various technology needs in an organization.

The Diocese of San Bernardino is moving in the right direction.  Each part of the ICT triangle will be present within the same diocese.  My hope is that a collaborative model will spring up that will demonstrate how the best of these areas can contribute to the overall growth and development of technology as a major tool in 21st Century ministry.

I will be watching closely what will develop in the Diocese of San Bernardino. In order to learn from one another, would you respond to either of the two questions: (1) What is happening in your diocese or parish in the ICT triangle? Or (2) What policies exist in your parish to support youth in the parish by means of technology in faith formation?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

© Cerveny

What to Avoid in Social Media

As I was reading “Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media” my mind was adapting this article to ministry language.

We are often encouraged to get involved with social media in our catechetical and parish ministries.  Many of our colleagues are blogging, facebook-ing, twitter-ing and more!  Some with a great deal of success and others struggling to leverage the power of social media.  Allow me to reinterpret  what Dawn Papandrea shares in her post.  Here are the top seven things that others are doing wrong.  Here is where you want to do right.  Wonderful suggestions for your success!

1. Boycotting social media

If you’ve avoided setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile for your ministry, using the excuse that social media is a passing fad, it’s time to join the crowd.  These platforms, and others such as Google+, are here to stay (or at least they’re here until the next big thing comes along), and they’re where your families and students are spending a lot of time.

2. Expecting immediate results

Sorry, but you can’t assume that once you announce to the world that you’re on Facebook, you’ll have all sorts of followers. Social media is all about brand awareness – in ministry terms – it is about creating relationships through technology, engaging your families and students, and building a community–and that takes time!

3. Sounding like a commercial

People will lose interest in your stream pretty quickly if you use your pages to promote, promote, promote. Instead, think of what value you can give to your audience. Perhaps it’s a Scripture quote for the day, or a tip for daily prayer, or inviting Scripture faith-sharing during Advent or Lent.  Once you become a trusted authority, people will stay connected, and you’ll come up on their wall, twitter post or other digital locations. I recently heard about a parish priest who invited those who were interested to be involved in a 10-week Scripture reflection.  200 participants joined him!

4. Not engaging or responding

If you aren’t actively conversing with your network, you’re wasting your time. Make it a point to answer questions about your ministry, or address issues, in a timely manner. Even something as simple as sending out a happy birthday message to your users will let them know you care about them.

5. Letting an intern run your social media

Don’t pass the responsibility of your social media efforts off to someone else, unless you’re sure that person is a good representative of your ministry. While it’s true that social media can take up time, it’s vital that it’s done properly.

6. Being all business, all the time

As relationships develop, it’s great to let your hair down. Let your clients get to know the person who cares about them. For example, many companies on Twitter make it a point to use an employee’s photo, instead of the company logo.  Do you hide who you are with those awful looking digital faceless avatars? A photo of you adds the personal touch!

7. Not targeting the right people

When you’re starting up your pages, it’s great to add your friends and family, to get your numbers up. Ultimately, though, you want to attract your target ministry market. Do this by letting your families know that you’re on social sites. Add the links to your email signature and to your business cards. Put up a poster in your office. And give people an incentive to connect, by offering something of value, like a contest or discount coupon.

Remember to pay attention to your diocesan guidelines regarding your relationship with minors in a social network environment.  Every diocese offers suggestions.  Check out to see how the Diocese of St. Petersburg offers guidance in this area of Social Media.

By avoiding these social media mistakes, you’ll reach more new people, and strengthen relationships with your existing families. And those are results that you’re sure to “like.”

What is the most helpful point for you in this post?  Would love to hear your comments or click on the “like” button if this post is helpful to you!

More about “Google+”

I was amazed to find several presentations about Google+ on Slideshare!  Even without sound, they offer more information about – what is Google+? how does it compare with Facebook? and more.  If you are interested in learning more about Google+, check out the following presentations.

Outside of SlideShare, here is additional information:

The Google+ Cheat Sheet

5 Ways Journalists Are Using Google+

Google+ Grows Quickly: This Week In Social Media

25 Google+ Resources

I’m signed up, and what I already like about Google+, now I have my Gmail, Google Docs, and more all in ONE easy access place. I love this feature!

Recently, Mike Elgan shared this post:

Here’s what I love about Google+ in general and the Google+ Diet in particular:

Instead of saying, “I’m going to write a blog post now,” or “I’m going to send an e-mail” or “I think I’ll tweet something” you simply say what you have to say, then decide who you’re going to say it to.

If you address it to “Public,” it’s a blog post.

If you address it to “Your Circles” it’s a tweet.

If you address it to your “My Customers” Circle it’s a business newsletter.

If you address it to a single person, it can be a letter to your mother.

I’d say this is pretty revolutionary

Yes – I would agree, Revolutionary!

If you are exploring Google Plus, come share your reflections with us!

Copyright ©2011 Caroline Cerveny

Tag Cloud