I was raised Catholic. Growing up, it was expected that on Sunday morning, we were dressed and ready to go to 9 a.m. Mass. Did that always happen? No. But bless my parents for trying. The donut bribes usually worked.
As I began high school, my feelings towards “Church” didn’t change much. I still needed to be dragged out of bed and bribed to go to Church. It wasn’t until college that my faith became more important to me—and then, I chose to attend Mass.
Thinking back, I wonder why it was that I had such a hard time getting motivated to get up and go to Church. Why would I rather hang out with friends, go to volleyball practice…even go to school? I think I know the answer. I had a distinct connection with other areas of my life that I lacked with Church. So, what if there had been a tool for me? A tool that could connect me to my Church, my youth group, in a way, God. Would that have made a difference?
Facebook, although started just to connect some college friends to one another, has grown into something much larger. Something that, yes, even Churches are using.
I know this first-hand, as communications director at Mary, Mother of the Church in Burnsville, Minn. When I first started this position nearly two years ago, the thought of launching our own Church Facebook page seemed like a joke. Why does a Church need a Facebook page? But, the more I learned about the benefits of Facebook, the more it seemed like it actually…gasp…might be a good fit for us.
So, after research and discussions with the Church staff as well as the Parish Pastoral Council (kind of like our Board of Directors), in March, Mary Mother joined the masses on Faceboook. No pun intended.
It took me awhile to come up with the answers for the questions that I, too, would have asked. “Why does a Church need to be on Facebook?” I think I finally (after five months) have a good answer. It all stems back to those donut bribes. Well, sort of. It’s all about connection. If we, as a growing Church, want to connect with people—especially teenagers and young adults—we need to be present where they are. And, for many, that’s on Facebook. But, surprisingly, I’ve had many parishioners in their 70s and 80s approach me with a comment about our Facebook page. They, too, are looking to make a connection.
Throughout the last few months, my Communications Commission and I have brainstormed ways to make our page more interactive and community-friendly. We didn’t want this to be “some lofty Catholic guide.” Instead, we wanted it to be real. Real posts, real pictures, real videos…of real people. So, we’ll post questions about great restaurants in the Burnsville area (I’m definitely going to try Mediterranean Cruise Cafe…mmm, Greek food), videos of our very own Polka Mass, and pictures of real events happening at Mary Mother. Earlier this summer, we launched a Medallion Hunt with clues that were only posted on Facebook. I did receive some criticism for this decision, but the energy and attention surrounding the hunt far outweighed any negative feedback. On the afternoon I posted the final clue, there were people lined up outside my office and around the Church, ready to find the Medallion and claim the cash prize.
We continue learning about the benefits of Facebook regarding Mary Mother. But one thing we know for sure: