Social Media Sunday, Part 3: Advertising and Preparing

Social-Media-Sunday

This post is part of the Social Media Sunday series. Read the introductory post here.

In addition to specifically finding places in our liturgy to engage with social media, we had a lot of email communication to do with the congregation to prepare them for it, to make sure that folks were going to bring the appropriate devices with them, and to share more our reasonings behind wanting to do this Sunday. Here is a portion of our primary communication about Social Media Sunday:

This Sunday, WPC will worship in ways both familiar and new, as we experience a new adventure we’re calling “Social Media Sunday” together. Whether you are engaged in social media or not, we hope you will join us for this worship, which will be rooted in our familiar traditions, while reaching for some new places together.

Why are we doing this? Because our world is changing and as disciples of Christ we must prepare to live faithfully in this new world. New technologies for communication and community building have made new kinds of connectivity possible, and we Christians are in the connectivity business! So we are taking a Sunday to imagine and practice together, in the space of worship, how can Christians live actively and faithfully in the digital world? What might we learn from this emerging space, and what might our faith and God’s light contribute to it?

As a congregation, we will be using social media to engage with worship in four primary ways:

  • Check in to Winnetka Presbyterian Church by Facebook or Foursquare. Let folks know you’re at church and that we are embarking on this Social Media Sunday adventure.
  • Submit prayers for the world, our nation, our city, and our community via Twitter or Facebook.
  • Engage in discussion about the sermon by Twitter or Facebook.
  • Offer a worship take-away for others by Twitter or Facebook.

If you are not a social media user, this Sunday’s worship will still be rich for you, too! It will still feel like worship, and participating in this exploration helps welcome and include others, especially young people.

Feel free to be in touch with Adam or David if you have any questions, and a Social Media Help Desk (staffed by WPC youth) will be available starting at 9am Sunday morning, and after worship.

If you’re not able to make it to worship tomorrow, you can still join us online by watching the livestream and participating in social networks by using the #wpcworship hashtag.

SocialMediaSunday

There were also quite a few logistics that needed to be worked out so that things would move smoothly.

  • We needed to make sure we had better WiFi in the sanctuary, and an Apple Airport Extreme worked just fine for us.
  • I made some fliers and handouts to leave at the Help Desk. One was just some basic stats about social media, and the other was a “New to Twitter?” handout that gave examples of who might be interesting or funny to follow as they got into Twitter. You can download the fliers here: Social Media Stats or New to Twitter.
  • I created a hashtag for the service: #wpcworship. The hashtag was great because I could then use a service like Storify to find and collate all the tweets and updates that used the #wpcworship hashtag.
  • We live-streamed the service using an iPod Touch and Ustream, and so we needed to test that out and make sure it was going to work for our purposes.

Help Desk: We also wanted to provide an opportunity before and after the service for folks to get help with social media. I setup three computers for a “Social Media Help Desk.” This Help Desk was run by our youth, and they helped a few people get signed up for Facebook and Twitter, and helped answer any questions they might have had.

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All in all, it definitely was a lot more to plan for than a typical Sunday morning service, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Tomorrow I’ll talk more about the experience of actually doing Social Media Sunday.

Social Media Sunday, Part 2: Planning

Social-Media-Sunday

This post is part of the Social Media Sunday series. Read the introductory post here.

Through conversations we had as a worship planning team, we were able to construct a way of engaging with social media that was probably a good compromise for our staff as a whole. We decided to find ways to incorporate it directly into our liturgy for Sunday morning, so that those who weren’t going to participate in the social media aspect could still participate in a service that felt like worship for them.

I should say, just as a practical matter, that our church doesn’t have a screen up front in worship, so doing anything up front like that (like you may see at conferences or other larger churches) wasn’t going to be possible for us. I think it would have given  us some more creativity and opened up some other options for us – but that’s not where we’re at right now.

We knew that we wanted to invite folks to live-tweet, take photos, post updates and more, throughout the service, but we felt that it might be helpful to give folks four specific actions that they could do (especially if they were new to social media). These four actions also corresponded with our four moves throughout the liturgy. I’ll share some screenshots from our bulletin, and briefly explain how each worked.

Social-Media-Sunday-Gather

Checking In: This is one of the easiest things people can do related to social media. All they have to do is take a moment while they arrive at church to get on Foursquare or Facebook and check in. Someone who was new to our church a few months ago did this, and a few people asked her about WPC on her Facebook profile, and she got to share that she chose this new church after they had recently moved and she loved it. It’s easy and great/free PR for your church. And you never know…if someone’s friend is looking for a church, and while you may never have had a conversation with them about church, if they see that every Sunday you’re checking in to your faith community and sharing something cool or meaningful about it…that could be a draw for that person to check it out.

Social-Media-Sunday-Receive

Sermon Interaction: Instead of a typical sermon, my colleague (David Lower), preached a conversational sermon that engaged folks in the pews first, by allowing them to share (with a mic) some responses to questions he posed. And then he continued with his sermon, and posed various other questions throughout the remainder of it that you could engage with on Facebook and Twitter.

We didn’t have as much engagement with folks online during the sermon as we had hoped for, but it was also the first time we had done it, and I think people were just getting used to the rhythm of what that might look like.

Social-Media-Sunday-Respond

Tweeting Prayers: This is the part that I was most looking forward to – the Prayers of the People (which is the part of the service that I typically lead). We planned for a pretty typical Prayers of the People (prayers for our world, country, city and faith community), but gave space in between a brief introductory prayer by me for each section so people could share their own prayers online. I would introduce the specific prayer, then I was up front picking up my phone, tweeting a prayer, while we all sang the Taize song “Lord, Hear My Prayer,” and then we would move on to the next section.

I liked this for a variety of reasons:

  • It made the Prayers of the People actually the prayers of the people, and not just the prayers of the pastor up front leading the prayer time.
  • Adding the musical interlude (especially with that specific Taize piece) was a really meaningful touch, and allowed us to both pray through words, but also pray through song.
  • It actually challenges people to practice praying in public.

I will say that, again, we didn’t have as much success with this portion of the service, in that not as many folks tweeted or posted their prayers online. I think, again, that it was the first time we were doing it, and some folks said they needed a bit more time to think of their prayer, and type it out. But I also know that for even some adults, it’s awkward or a little uncomfortable to pray out loud, so to compose a prayer and share it online with all your social media connections to see it…that could take some practice and some becoming more comfortable with the idea.

Social-Media-Sunday-Serve

Tweeting a takeaway: At the end of the service, we encouraged folks to think about what their one takeaway from worship was, what their one golden nugget from the morning service was, and share that online. A chance to put in their own words what they heard and experienced during worship that morning; certainly a good practice.

Social-Media-Sunday-Tweet

Finally, we wanted those who weren’t going to participate with the social media portion of the service to still have a way of engaging with the idea, so we provided this “Offline Twitter” option, that a few people took advantage of and shared with me.

These were our four primary focuses for the morning. We still encouraged people to engage as much as they want, but having something like this format was going to make it easier for folks who weren’t quite sure how to engage to have some clear suggestions.

Tomorrow, I’ll talk more about what we did to advertise and prepare for Social Media Sunday.

Social Media Sunday, Part 1: Introduction

Social-Media-Sunday

Tweeting in church? A pastor “checking in” with a video post taken with his iPad as he welcomed people to worship? Another pastor tweeting prayers during the Prayers of the People? Selfies? SELFIES IN WORSHIP??? These were just a few of the wonderful and odd things that happened at Social Media Sunday at Winnetka Presbyterian Church (Winnetka, IL).

Over the next few days, I’ll be sharing about our experiment of Social Media Sunday, and will hopefully provide you with information that will be helpful if you decide you’d like to do a Social Media Sunday at your church.

1900761_665899850115780_1060133297_oI heard about Social Media Sunday from the #chsocm Twitter conversations, and then looked at some materials that Carolyn Clement (@singingcarolyn) had shared about the Social Media Sunday that occurred at Trinity Episcopal, Tariffville, CT. It came up in a staff meeting a few months ago, and we started thinking about the idea of what that might look like at WPC.

However, once we decided to do Social Media Sunday, it quickly became clear that we weren’t all in full agreement about the role of social media in worship. While our Director of Music was fully on board with social media as a communication tool for the church and a way to build connections, he struggled with why it should be used in worship (full disclosure: I asked him about this blog post, and he said he was fine with being mentioned).

If you decide to do a Social Media Sunday, you both need to be prepared for a vast array of perspectives and thoughts on whether social media should be used in worship by folks in your congregation, but it is also possible that you may encounter that same diversity within your staff, as we did at WPC.

We had some lengthy conversations about our hopes and goals, and we talked about how we could situate Social Media Sunday as an adventure, an experiment, and an opportunity to get a better feel for our own community’s social media activity and presence.

Here are the goals that I suggested for doing a Social Media Sunday:

  • Increase our number of connections with Winnetka Presbyterian Church (WPC) members & friends online
  • Help to foster ongoing community between WPC members & friends
  • Encourage and teach the WPC community how to actively engage in social media
  • Allow church members to be comfortable seeing someone use their smartphone in worship (i.e. remove the stigma)
  • Provide a space for ‘digital natives’ to engage a worship service like they engage the rest of their world
  • Make space for a new form of participation and active engagement in worship

I think the conversations that we had within our staff were extremely helpful, in that it gave us the opportunity to really think about Social Media Sunday not as something to do because all the cool churches were doing it, but because we genuinely wanted to engage new media with worship and see what happened.

No matter what the thoughts of your staff are, even if you’re all in agreement, it’s helpful and important to have some conversations about why you’re doing Social Media Sunday – it will help your experience be more of a success.

Here are the links to the entire series of posts on Social Media Sunday: