Mar 05

Do You Need Facebook to Extend the Reach of Your Ministry? – EMT003

Creating a Facebook page is incredibly easy.  In fact, it’s so easy that you may want to create a few of them: one for the church and one for each individual ministry.

Start by going to and Facebook will walk you through the process of creating a page.

Select “Company, Organization or Institution” option, and in the “Choose a category” drop-down menu, select “Church/Religious Organization” and then type in the name of your church or ministry.  You’ll have to check the box saying that you agree to the Facebook Pages Terms and then you can click the “Get Started” button.

Have a brief description of your page ready to copy-and-paste, and choose a website link to include.  (Here’s a hint: you can add links, so you can have links to your homepage, a ministry page, a specific topical page, etc.)

Click the “Save Info” button to go to step 2, which is where you add a profile picture. You can upload a picture from your computer or import it from another website.

Click “Next” to go to step 3, which is simply a prompt to add a link to your new page in the “Favorites” section of your Facebook profile.

Step 4 is asking if you’d like to pay to advertise your page on Facebook, so let’s just hit the “skip” button and… voila!  You have a Facebook page!

Interaction on a Facebook page is asynchronous; which means that you can post something whenever you want, people can reply whenever they want, and you can respond to them at a later point in time.  Also, Facebook will send contributors a notification when other people comment, which encourages further discussion.

Have volunteers ready to participate on your page.  If someone posts an article, for example, make sure a few others read it, comment on it, and share it on their own timelines.  This will help spread the word and the frequent participation on the page will help new visitors see that there is an active community there and they’ll be much more likely to chime in.

Build an incredible Facebook page… and no one will find it.  You have to promote it and build interest in it and encourage people to visit it and keep doing that.  Not once or twice… but over and over and over again.

On the other hand, if you build it, tell everyone about it… and then don’t DO anything with it… don’t post information or links, don’t respond to comments or interact with people… then people will “learn” that visiting your page isn’t worth their time. You have to build the page, promote the page, and then treat it like the community you want it to become.

A Facebook page – or any other social media tool for that matter – will certainly never replace face-to-face human interaction, and it’s not meant to.  What we’re talking about doing is simply utilizing all the tools at our disposal to connect with people when they’re not physically at the church or attending a church function.

If you do it right, Facebook pages can be an excellent way for the various ministries in your church to share information with a wider audience and build more interest by connecting with people throughout the week and doing it outside of church.  So post great content, tell people to visit, and engage them by responding to their comments.

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Dec 06

The “New” Evangelization (Part 2) – EMT002

In this episode of the Exploring Ministry & Technology Podcast, I spend a bit more time talking about the “new evangelization” that I discussed in episode 1.  To add a bit of context, I share with you a portion of the letter written by the Bishop of my Diocese and I point out some logical fallacies in it that I think might be setting us up for disappointment, if not outright failure.  And finally, I suggest some things that could help your parish set realistic evangelization goals and use technology to help achieve them.

Evangelization needs to begin with an understanding of what motivates the people we’re trying to evangelize.  We can get people to attend an event that doesn’t involve much commitment – like spending a couple hours playing, eating and socializing at a parish festival – but that’s obviously not enough.  That’s only the first tiny step towards evangelization. We have to find ways to then use that initial meeting to make an ongoing connection and start to build relationships.

So, have a parish festival and make sure that you have a way to gather email addresses from visitors and then use technology to reach out to them afterwards. Share things that anyone would like to know, regardless of their faith.  Why not have an email newsletter that’s specifically designed for non-Catholics?  Something that has advice for everyday life that’s grounded in Catholic teaching but not too overtly religious in tone.  Something that builds your credibility and fosters trust by providing value without being preachy or judgmental.  Then… someday down the road… when you email an invitation to another parish event, these people who have been hearing from you every week and have started to feel a connection, will be much more likely to accept that invitation.

I truly believe that the Holy Spirit is active in the world today… but I also believe that evangelization is more than simply “introducing someone to Christ.”  Sometimes conversion can happen miraculously but I’m not willing to hang my hat on that.  I’m not willing to say, “I’ll make the introduction and then it’s up to the Holy Spirit to take it from there!”  I just don’t believe there is an evangelization magic bullet.  I believe that evangelization takes faith, strength, and perseverance… but also a well-thought-out plan for creating a solid foundation with people.  Because if we start with a solid foundation, we can then focus on improving families, strengthening relationships and leading people to true personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

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Nov 10

The “New” Evangelization – EMT001

In this first episode of my weekly podcast, I talk a little bit about what many people are calling the “new” evangelization. With all of the latest statistics showing that people are generally leaving organized religions, evangelization is obviously something that religious leaders are taking seriously. But is the “new” evangelization really new? Is it a rehash of something old? Or is it soooo far off the mark that it actually defies categorization?

Trying to show people the error of their ways and convince them to return to the church might be a “new” way to evangelize but I’m guessing it won’t be effective if that’s the only tool in your toolbox. Unfortunately, many staunch Catholics seem to feel that this is the way to go; and because this hammer is the only tool they have, every situation looks like a nail.

I’d like to suggest that the “new” evangelization should be a modern twist on the original evangelization done by the Jesus people. Those earliest Christians – the followers of “The Way” – evangelized by being welcoming and loving, and sharing what they had with whomever joined them at the table. They respected each other and took care of each other, and that unusual way of living, in a society that valued personal power and wealth above all else, is what first appealed to newcomers. People didn’t join the movement because of what they believed. The creeds that we know today were still a few hundred years from being created! People wanted to become followers of Jesus Christ because of what those early Christians DID.

That’s how it can start today. Just like a sports league, people can get involved by being impressed with what we’re doing, then drawn in more by getting engaged – by doing it with us – and eventually they’ll learn about training and rules and strategies, but by then they’ll be hooked! They’ll be evangelized! And they’ll by helping us preach and share the Good News.

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