Do You ‘Check In’ at Church? Why You Should

This past weekend me and my wife went away to help our daughter with her move.  I’ve been using Four Square for her for her business for some time now, but she hasn’t played with it  all that much.  She decided to check it out more in depth and found out she could obtain points, stickers, and there was a ranking.  Needless to say that whenever you add in any/all of those components for a sales types of person . . . there in.  It became this game for us all weekend and beyond, and . . . I am now losing.  She cheats a bit at it too by the way.  Anyway, there is a fun aspect to ‘checking in’ at various places but there is a great promotional aspect to the function as well and that’s what we’ll focus on here.

The ‘Check In’ feature on social networks has become more and more popular.   Some services have it as the primary function of the service such as Four Square (checking in at actual places you visit), Gowalla, or GetGlue (checking in to media such as TV shows, movies, books, etc.).  Others like Facebook and Google+ add it as a secondary feature to the overall service.  When ‘checking in’ on these services you can then set it out to announce your ‘check in’ on other services such as Twitter.

So why would one want to ‘check in’ at church?  The feature not only announces where you are, but it serves to promote the place too and helps to raise awareness.  This is by far an often overlooked aspect of this type of social sharing on the web today especially when it comes to Christianity.  By ‘checking in’ you are promoting your parish community.  When many are doing this, the promotion is obviously expanded.  You may not initially find your parish listed on these services, but that is ok.  It takes just one user to add it and the entry takes just a few minutes.

You can enhance the ‘check in’ as well by adding comments and/or photos.  So maybe you ‘check in’ and add the citations for the weekly readings in the comments.  Take a photo of that beautiful worship space in your Church and attach it.  All BEFORE Mass begins by the way.  Maybe your ‘check in’ might actually touch someone who is ‘on the fence’ and you helped raise awareness for them.

What are your thoughts?

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Author:Brad West

I live in Palm Coast, FL with my family and have assisted my local parish with our website and communications. Our parishes today can benefit a great deal from technology. Whether it's improving communications, community building, evangelizing, business operations, and much more; we have the tools today. To help provide some direction and advice to parishes and parishioners, I wrote and published an eBook titled "The Connected Church" which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).
  • Jose Galvan

    I dislike foursquare but do use the Facebook feature to ‘check in’ from places, it’s a nice way to let friends know where I’m at so they can join me later. I will try and check in there when I am at mass and post an innocuous “peace be with you” to the chagrin of my non-believer friends and to the amusement of my fellow Catholics.

  • Mary

    Wow, I wouldn’t be able to get there at the last minute if I did all that 😉

  • Craig Berry

    I like to check in on Foursquare when I’m visiting a Parish. Plus, if you ‘create’ the location – i.e. if it didn’t already exist – I think you get 5 points for that. :)

  • Nancy Piccione

    I have used Facebook to 

  • Nancy Piccione

    I have used Facebook to “check in” at church when we are traveling, to point out the interesting named churches.  I enjoy the responses and likes from friends.

  • Lisahendey

    This is genius. I do it too, but I think we should start some type of viral “check in at Church” campaign – it woud be totally cool if everyone started doing this on Sunday mornings to shine a light on the new evangelization!

    • Craig Berry

      Last year, we had the idea of creating/sponsoring some kind of ‘check-in’ contest to get people to visit different Parishes around the Archdiocese. Sort of like geo-caching or social media ‘scavenger hunt’. We never got around to it. 
      Still like the idea though.

      • Lisahendey

        Craig I love that idea!

  • Brad

    I like the contest idea to raise awareness and bring some fun to getting things going..  I have to agree that probably the best service to promote this would be Facebook.  

  • Jeff Stevens

    I understand the evangelistic angle you’re describing, and in principle I’m a big fan. I think the strongest evangelism we can have is just for Catholics to be unafraid to be Catholic. To talk about our religious activities when they come up in conversation (“Yeah, I can’t work Sunday, I have to be a lector at Church that day”), to be unafraid to explain that we don’t eat meat on Fridays in honor of Christ’s death, etc.

    But I found the checkin process became an irritating chore rather than anything that seemed to be making any impact on my, my friends, or my non-Catholic online acquaintances’ life. Quite simply, no one in my local community cared, and no one in my expanded online community cared. I did it for about a year and a half. I even put my parish on FourSquare in the first place. But it was an annoying obligation (FourSquare takes FOREVER to find me; Google Plus; no time at all) and I stopped.

    BTW, I live in a VERY tech-savvy area (Washington, DC). But East Coast tech is seen as something we do at work, and is not the tech lifestyle you see in San Fran or subcultures of New York.

    If my local friends used FourSquare regularly, as I get the impression is often the case in SF and NY (among some subcultures/demographics), then it could be great for serendipitous real-world encounters. “Jeff Stevens Checked in to St Leo the Great Catholic Church – Just stopping in for some Adoration”. Then one of my friends notices this, and is inspired to do likewise. Maybe we go grab a coffee afterward and talk about it (or other things). “Jeff Stevens Checked in to Knights of Columbus 6292 Hall” And a friend stops by to see if I need help or just want to hang out. But…the critical mass is not there. At least among my friends.

  • Albert_Maruggi

    great idea, and sometimes I will tweet something from the homily.  My parish priest is Father Fella and he is a terrific writer and thinker.  His homilies are outstanding.  I should really tweet them more.  Today I did share an idea of his on Google +

  • Travis Boudreaux

    I do sometimes check in at my parish, and will usually do so when visiting other parishes, to keep a “log” of where we’ve been to mass at.  With that said though, I think social media and the mass should end at the door of the church, i.e. … check in before you walk through the doors, and leave your device in your pocket, unless you are using it as a missal, examination of conscience, or spiritual reading before mass.

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  • MeredithGould

    We had a terrific conversation about using 4Sq during one of our weekly church social media (#chsocm) chats. Last week? The week before? I can’t remember. One useful tip: using it to let parishioners/congregants know where to meet up with ministers outside of church-the-building.

  • Lisa Mundy

    I now avoid FB during the day on Sunday. Granted I’m in the Bible Belt, and NOT Baptist, I like my nice, neat Presbyterian services, robes, choirs; very structured similar to a Catholic service. We sign the little book at the end of the pew and pass it down. “Checking-In” has just seemed wrong to me. BUT, having come across this 1 of 2 internet hits about the subject…. If the Catholics are okay with it, I might try it.

    • Joe Luedtke

      Lisa, its definitely not common practice in Catholic churches, but personally I think its becoming more acceptable. With everyone on their phone in this day and age, spending 2 minutes checking in as you go into the Church or even sitting down doesn’t seem too extreme. I do always turn my phone off though once I settle in to the pew. I find even the vibrate setting distracting.

      In my mind, letting your social media friends know you’re at church is never a bad thing. Heck, people do it when they go to a restaurant, theater or sporting event.