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online blue 246Digital mission - 3

From a talk at Stronger Network

The second part of this blog is here..

Liz Morgan is a Church Digital Champion - the Project lead for Digital Labs, the Church of England digital communications training for churches. She spoke in February 2022 about digital mission. She continues her talk:

What is the 'ask'?

Go and have a look at your church's or another church's social media presence on whatever platform they're on - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, etc. Have a look at the most recent posts that they've shared. What are the topics of those posts?

Now I'm going to hazard a guess, based on experience of looking through churches' social media, that at least half of those posts that you see there are going to be about advertising a service or event. Come along, join us, join in. The 'ask' will all be about you coming into the building.

During church closures in 2020/2, our ability to invite people into the building was impossible. We had to get creative. We had to change what the 'ask' was. We realized we had to go out to where the people were. Go and meet them online wherever they are.

Over the last year the 'ask' has started to change. People are no longer saying to me, "How can we get them into the building?". People are starting to say how can we meet people where they are. We need to keep on doing that. Let's not fall back to 'Join us, come along, come to where we are. 'You've got to step through our building before we'll tell you about this Jesus that we know.'

We've realized that we can go to them and we can meet people where they are first. Jesus met people in his community didn't he? Let's make sure that we are doing that as well. He never told them to go to the temple first. He went to them first. He met them where they were and he asked them questions didn't he?

As an example, take a look at how Christchurch Wesham, Lancaster has been using TikTok. Revd Anne Beverley has been using the platform since 2020 and it now has over 100,000 followers from all over the world and some videos have been viewed over 1M times. She knew nothing about TikTok but had a desire to understand the influence that it was having on young people. She wanted it to be a presence, sharing good news, sharing a light in those spaces. She gets hundreds of prayer requests, people asking her questions about faith and so she has started a Youtube channel where she points people who want to understand more.

It all started with her just saying, "I want to be present in a place where I know that young people that I know are and I want to shine a light there." It was never about come to the building. She sees this as an opportunity to be present in the lives of people wherever they are. It's just a perfect example of just going out there, being consistent and showing up where people are online.

And finally, what is your mission in the places where you are?

What we do online should not be disconnected from the mission and the values as a church. What is your mission as a church? Why are you where you are? Is it families, young people, social justice? Use your online presence as a tool in your toolkit to achieve this. Do not separate your online presence from your mission, your vision and your values.

Our digital presence should always be seen as part of our toolkit. It's where we can meet that one person in our community, where we can be present in the wells, the pools, the marketplaces in our community. It's how we can shine a light in the dark corners of the internet. It is all connected.

Watch the 37min talk here:

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From a talk at Stronger Network, 31/05/2022

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