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Conversations

Conversations to have with your congregation

As mentioned in “why should ministers go online,” it is not enough that one person in your church communicates online – all of you should.

The way to make this happen is with conversation – lots of conversations.

 


How do you start?

  • Form a communications committee, council or board – whatever is appropriate for your particular faith community.
    • This committee’s job is to give feedback about how communication is received, interpreted, and shared. They will need to poll and talk with other members of the congregation.
    • They will also help find budget support for communication needs.
    • Some members may be able to provide support with actually communicating messages, setting up websites, providing video support, and more.
  • The staff and the communications committee need to get organized and analyze current processes (see next steps).
    • Make a strategy for each platform (website, Facebook, etc).
    • Talk about why you will use each.
    • Review the current website using the tips as a guideline.
    • Share the plans with the congregation.

 


Congregational Conversations

In addition to staff and committee conversations, you need to begin congregational conversations – most of which will revolve around why ministers (and all of us) go online, concerns and policies.

  • Use a forum that fits your faith community: Sunday School classes, Wednesday night meetings, council groups, home meetings, etc.
  • Make sure the groups have a mix of generations – digital natives need a safe space to share their perspectives too!
  • Bring in experts if you do not feel comfortable leading the discussion.
  • Talk about the good connections that happen online.
  • Talk about why you, personally, are concerned. Be careful to guide this conversation so it does not become a finger-pointing session.
  • Discuss solutions to concerns.
  • Teach privacy and security precautions.
  • Discuss how, as a congregation, can you represent Christ in the online world?
  • What if you developed a covenant together from this conversation?
  • Create a “digital” Sunday service – a service focused on interacting and engaging in new ways and include the covenant to be read by all about how to interact online.
  • Talk about guidelines for congregants (how not to bully, have discernment, use accountability, etc).
  •  Ask: what boundaries do we set for ourselves, our marital relationships, our children/parents? Who knows our passwords, who has access to our secrets?
  • Remind them that how we live online is how we respond in real life – know when to listen, when to respond. Use the digital world to reinforce the physical one.
  • Emphasize the need to take a digital Sabbath and allow yourself space from the online world. Learn how to be present with those around you without looking at your phone in the middle of a conversation. Set times  when online connections are off limits.

Talk about it as much as you can. After all, just like sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, if we don’t talk about it a church, people will still have to make decisions about what they think. They’ll just take their cues from culture instead of the church.

 

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