Digital Media/Social Media

Some of the best information on the use and impact of digital media can be found at the Pew Internet and American Life Project. 

Consider the percentage of people using these media and their impact on the American population:
–Watched a video online – 56%
–Looked for a place to live – 39%
–Looked for Spiritual Information – 35%
–Read a journal of blog – 32%
–Tag online content – 26%
–Post comments on article or photo – 22%
–Download a podcast to listen later – 19%

Based on a March 23, 2009 post at NonProfit SOS, there are some questions about the use and effectiveness of social media for service organizations like churches. This contrasts with the July 4, 2009 article in the New York Times, Lead us to Tweet, and Forgive Us Our Trespasses. Monique Cuvelier, cofounder of Talance, tracks some of this type of coverage on her blog’s section, In The News.

Lifelong Faith Journal has an excellent collection of essays that explore the digital landscape.  In it I wrote an essay, Moving Online: Faith Formation in a Digital Age to describe a decision-making process I call “Message, Method, then Media” which helps communities to use media appropriately. The editor, John Roberto, is the catalyst of the Faith Formation 2020 process which explores four potential scenerios for faith formation using contemporary trend analysis and the Faith Formation Learning Exchange which collects data to aid Christian Educators and Pastoral Leaders.  The section on Online and Digital Media is particularly relevent to our conversations.

For parish-based resources and ideas, the Episcopal Church Foundation has a great website: Vital Practices for Congregations. In it, Vestry Papers regularly published resources on communications.  Their November 2010 issue is devoted to Technology and Evangelism.

Margaret Fienberg, a popular Zondervan author, regularly shares insights on her blog “Off the Agenda: Conversations For Building Church Leaders.” In her July 12, 2011 post, she argues that Social Media is not Optional along with other constructive tips for church leaders.  The short article can help those new to the digital environment identify resources and processes for getting more comfortable in it.  (Hats off to Elizabeth Rung for sharing this link through the NAECED – National Association of Episcopal Christian Education Directors – listserv.)

The Rev Heather McCance, challenged readers to change the question from “The Church and Social Media” to “God and Social Media” in her Dec 15, 2010 post on Ministry Matters, the blog for Canadian Anglican Ministers.  Her focus is to ask us to recognize how God is present in our relationships – whether phycially gathered or virtually together. This analysis parallels my belief – articulated in “Virtual Incarnations” (Religious Education, 105: 4, July 2010, 395-412) that what we bring with us to any interaction, online and physically present, and our openness to new interpretations of that interaction significantly impacts our experience.

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