There are a lot of ways that technologies can benefit a local parish. Basically, you can break it down into two categories:
Both are approached in different ways, but can crossover too. For example, the website for a parish would be for both. In my opinion, the best “recipe” for effective uses of technologies in a parish that allow you to effectively enhance both would be:
- A website that mimics the parish office services and provide supplemental communication to the parish community. This should be modeled to automate administrative task and reduce parish expenses.
- A Facebook page for the parish which allows you to provide another avenue for communication and engage the community and others. A great example of effective engagement is the Ask a Catholic Nun Facebook page.
- A blog by clergy that educates on faith and engages visitors through comments and replies
It’s a lot and obviously can’t be effectively handled by one person. It can even sound expensive, but it’s not. In fact all of that can mentioned can be done for simply the cost of a domain name, internet access, and a good team of volunteers. This is a great opportunity for members of your parish to contribute their time and talent, and create a technology/communications ministry. What would that look like?
- Headed up by the Pastor obviously
- Divide the members up into small teams (i.e. website, email and networking, photo and video, and social networking)
- The ministry can meet whenever and have targeted agendas
Each of the members would see crossovers. For example, photo and video would be shared on the website and social networking services like a Facebook page. And it becomes very simple to set this up either through email communication between members for new things (i.e. photo or video) for the website by using services like YouTube for video and online photo sharing services. Both of which are often free. Likewise, this is great opportunity to get younger people involved gaining them valuable hands-on experience to properly use these tools that are going to be a big part of their future careers.
How much time needs to be devoted? Very minimal when the efforts are divided up. The initial set up and processes are the most demanding and that can be spread out over a few weeks. From there, you are often looking at an hour or two of time each week. I personally only have to devote an hour or two at most each week to update our website with some new things. That also includes any prayer requests that may come in and take about 10 minutes to post.
Do you have a tech team at your parish? How is working out? How is it structured?