Tuesday, November 13, 2012

'Like it or not, Facebook is the new parish hall'

Me with my fellow panelist at the USCCB event in Baltimore

I've decided to share the panel presentation I gave yesterday at "An Encounter with Social Media: Bishops and Bloggers Dialogue," sponsored by the USCCB in Baltimore before the bishops' annual fall meeting. A small (very small) snippet of my presentation was included in the CNS story on the event and also in the CNA story, but they can't give you a true sense of what I said.

So if you're interested in why the Catholic Church needs to be involved in social media and want to know what I told the bishops and bloggers in response to the CARA study on this topic, click HERE.

You can read it, print it, download it, or ignore it. But if you do take the time, please come back and comment or offer your own response. I'd love to hear what you think.


Billy said...

I think individual parishes and the Church in general are going to have the same problem everyone who wants to drive traffic to a site has. It looks something like this:

Good Content on the site > Frequently updated site > Infrequently updated site > Mere Internet presence > No Internet presence.

It's hard to define, find, or produce Good Content, as it seems to be in the eye of the beholder and thus what is good for one is bad for another.

I use "Good content" advisedly, because Catholic content is pure gold in moral terms but may not be what people want to hear. See, for instance, John ch. 6.

Some of the things my parish does is to put our Sunday bulletin up on the website. I wish this was done consistently but that's part of what happens with volunteer organization oftentimes; things get missed. I note our bulletin already has commentaries on the Sunday readings, other kinds of liturgical or catechetical notes, and even a comic strip. Maybe it's time to move those to the website proper? Maybe time to be sure the companies that produce that content properly license it (if they don't already) so parishes can use it on the web.

Fr. is also teaching a series of homilies relative to the Year of Faith and those will go up on the site as well as audio files. That seems like an excellent idea to me.

In short, it seems like having and maintaining a good parish website could be ministry of its own and I think an increasingly more important one. Given the need, based on people's expectation of the Internte to update consistently, frequently, and great content, the workers are indeed few in the vineyard.

Regarding your headline,I hope you are wrong. At the risk of sounding over dramatic, Facebook is a near occasion of sin for me so I've had to let it go. That said, iris remarkable how it can bring people together.

I enjoyed reading the article and look forward to what you say in the future.

Anonymous said...

As a bulletin editor for a small Catholic church, it is very challenging to include content that's "edgy" when events are annual re-runs of "the same ol' same ol'" coordinated by the same ol' folks year after year, decade after decade. Young blood is slowly coming forward, but parishes need to look for changes that can be made to appeal to a new generation of Catholics. Thank you for your research and insights! I can use this information to help grow our parish Communication Ministry.

Mary DeTurris Poust said...

Thanks for your thoughtful response. Yes, it will be difficult for some (many?) parishes to embrace this. But I think they need to start with shorter posts, links to resources, maybe links to videos or photos, something to inspire as much as inform.
Sounds like your parish is ahead of the game, which is great!
I understand your feelings about FB (I think). I've left a few times, but I find for my work I have to be there. And I think that's true for parishes and church organizations as well. We have to be where the people are.
Thanks again for being here. I appreciate it!

Mary DeTurris Poust said...


As one younger person at the social media event pointed out, blog posts shouldn't be like anything else you're doing. So don't think of it as making the bulletin more edgy. Let the bulletin be the bulletin, and go for something completely different on a FB page or blog or Twitter.

Start with something really simple -- a pretty photo with a quote from the Gospel or a saint, a link to a Catholic video (you can find things on Rome Reports or from Father Barron or Father James Martin).

I have to take this advice myself. Sometimes it's easy to simply post a column, but I know I have to do something different. I don't always have time. So it may be slow going as we learn to adapt. And by then they'll come up with something new we have to learn! :-)