My Story - Blogging Church President

Peter Reimann told us a story - about their blogging president of the Reformed (United) Rhineland, from Germany. He presented his sotry in a Tublr blogpost, which was really nice concerning this occasion. (http://ralpe.tumblr.com/post/52208764687/a-blogging-bishop-a-tumblr-blog...)

The very first and important statement was that bishop or church president must engage in Social Media activities.

-        Luckily our new bishop asked what he should do with social media, Peter told us.

However it is not easy to advice newly elected bishop on a social media strategy. The first thing in social media is that you must be there authentic. So as they got new church president, they had to find social media that will fit the needs and talents of their president. Should it be Facebook fanpage or blog? Bavarian bishop Heinrich Bedford-Strohm from the Lutheran church has a fanpage: https://www.facebook.com/landesbischof.

Reimann told how in the UK bishop Nick Baines had set a good example: http://nickbaines.wordpress.com/2013/05/26/signals-timing-changed-2/

Blog was elected as the most appropriate social media because you can easily integrate text, photo, video etc. and it can be integrated into other website. Blog can also have multiple authors. So the solution was to combine a blog of the Church Board and the President: http://praesesblog.ekir.de.

The best thing about blogging is that the Church President becomes accessible. He writes the blog himself and that is interesting for the followers.

Keep calm and innovate on!

We were privileged to have had Heidi Campbell, Associate Professor at the Department of Communication at Texas A&M University as the keynote speaker at ECIC in Dublin 2013. On Friday Heidi presented to us her final reflections on our days together for the conference. She described how much the Digital Landscape has changed in recent years, evolving more and more towards the mobile revolution and use of smart phones.

No Internet without Augustine

“The job of an historian is not to make the past familiar but to make the present strange”  said Ciarán Mc Mahon as an introduction to his lecture at #ECIC18.

The lecture will be made available online [I will insert the link when this is done], there is no need for me to rephrase the presentation.

One idea, however, made me think. It is often said that the Internet is computer mediated communication, but Ciarán Mc Mahon disagrees. The Internet is an environment. Web designers try to bridge the gap between the users and let them experience direct presence. The Internet is – in the users’ experience - a new environment with new manners of behavior, it is direct, not mediated communication.

When we are online we are in a different conceptual space. There is no “tone”, no emotional message in text-based communication. Online relationships are quite different than face-to-face communication. (It would be interesting to know what Ciarán Mc Mahon regarding the increasing usage of videos, audios and photos in online communication.)

Tell Your Story

Now we are coming to the next Story-telling-session of this ECIC:

 

The session begins with Nikolaas Sintobin, Society of Jesus, Belgium. He present the web page www.startdestilte.be (go into silence). The page was made of a catholic group of Flemish people. The problem for the Flemish church is, like in the most European churches, to get in contact with young people. The maker of the web page want to introduce, to initiate young people into meditation and prayer, for example in the rosary, but also in the Buddhistic tradition, prayers with the bible etc. Nikolaas present some examples of the website. The Website works with cartoons, podcasts (with links to Youtube), a Facebook-ink and further links which lead the users to more information, if they want to know more about a special issue.

 

The next story comes from Anna-Karin Olson and Claus Grue (both Church of Sweden). They present us the Diocese of Lund. They have a presentation with them with a lot of facts and figures, let’s hope we get it here on this web page. The Diocese of Lund (one of 13 diocese in Sweden) counts 1.3 million members with 18 deaneries and 152 parishes. It employed round about 3.000 people. The bishop Antje Jackelén has a own Twitter-Account and she shows here how she gets in contact with the people, in pubs, on the street, always looking for opportunities to disperse her message.

It's moving fast, but don't be afraid

The digital development never stops. Digital & Technology Editor, Adrian Weckler, gave today the ECIC participants a quick exposition of the latest trends.

The blog is dead, was only one of Adrian Weckler's challeging statements. For many of the listeners (this writer included) blogging is still an important online acitivity, and just after Weckler's keynote new blogging initiatives were presented.

Though the blog has been buried before and still lives, Weckler's point cannot be disputed. People more and more prefer the short and sharp messages that can be read and replied on a smartphone, typically through a social media. Even an emerging ”longreads” movement cannot change that.

 

The computer is dying

Another dying thing is the personal computer, not only according to Weckler but also according to sales figures. In the future computers will be only for work, while tablets and smartphones will be the main internet platform if not obejcts such as glasses, cars, fridges and washing machines.

At the same time people stop storing data on their own computers and devices in order to place everything in the cloud. The amount of cloud data will be huge and the possible uses of these data will be many.

Current challenges of social media

What are the current challenges of social media? A group of people from six different countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland) shared the issues we're dealing with. As we shared the group nodded in recognition of the current challenges all of us are facing. Here are some highlights.

Reliance on one person

Many parishes rely on one enthusiast, rather than having social media as an integrated part of the church communication and ministry. If this is the case there's also a risk that purpose and strategy is unclear.

Getting interaction

Communication in social media, especially the increasing mobile usage, is fast. Maybe it's only a like, a retweet or a short one word comment. It's a challenge to drive this engagement into deeper relations.

How we perceive social media

We used to think of digital and analogue being separate. We're transgressing into consider them two sides of the same coin. This challenges the idea of church happening in meat-space rather than something that also happens in the digital flesh.

Having presence on more than Facebook

Because of its size Facebook tends to be the one network a parish chooses to use, if it's using one social network. When many parishes think like this church gets a lot of representation on Facebook, while we miss many of the other big social networks.

What challenges do you see in your church? What's your thoughts on the ones above? Feel free to share in a comment.

Anders Orsander, information officer, Backa parish, Church of Sweden

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