Good social media ministries of faith development, social justice, pastoral care, multifaith dialogue, and spiritual practices all share three elements: (1) consistency over the long haul, (2) interaction with a community of followers, and (3) interaction with those the ministries follow and their peers. Each piece of the social media ministry takes care and attention. This week, let’s focus on building a consistent framework.
Before we do so, it is important to know your spiritual gifts and who you are ministering to. My social media ministry is thick with the ministry of encouragement. The people and institutions I connect most with are folks who are working to live in steadfast love, whether they belong to a faith community or not, and they appreciate encouragement. Encouragement happens to be a gift I can offer. Fortunately, it is also a gift lots of others offer, and I can share encouraging words, music, and art from others.
How do you already think through your ministry year? What are the seasons you observe? What resources does your community require in those seasons? What resources are shared during those times? Personally, I integrate several calendars to help me structure my social media ministry. Since I’m a Unitarian Universalist minister, I include the seasons and times that are important to Unitarian Universalists. For example, I know when the stewardship seasons are because I want to provide helpful resources and encouragement around stewardship. I know when important meetings are because I want to pray some encouraging words. (Remember that I’m practicing a ministry of encouragement.) I also use a multifaith calendar to help me attend to my faith neighbors, and to help us all be more mindful and better neighbors to one another. Doing so lead me to engage more too with multifaith families, who can still feel like outsiders in many faith communities. In 2011-2012 I am also part of a group of faith leaders sharing a theme a month for twelve months. Those themes affect my ministry. I also incorporate United Nations recognition days into my calendar, because they are not days promoting one nationality (my ministry is based in the United States, but is global) and because they promote values and issues consistent with my faith, including global community and world peace.
Once you have a sense of your ministry year, your gifts, and the communities with which and to which you are ministering, then you can create a schedule that will make sense to you. Let me take December 2011 as an example. This month, the theme is Hope, a plethora of faith holidays show up as well as United Nations recognition days, and many people are particularly struggling spiritually and emotionally with the season. In 2011, I shared resources related to James Luther Adams’ five smooth stones of liberal religion, immigration as a moral issue, peace practices and ethical eating. In 2012, I have been sharing resources on the spiritual practices of Reverence, Generosity, Learning, Community, Creativity, Sabbath, and Joy, on immigration as a moral issue and on ethical eating.
My schedule for Thursday, December 1, 2011 looked like this:
Chalice Lighting: Hope guide us into the adventure of loving, into the great gift of mercy, into generous joy. #chalicelight
Prayer: Morning Prayer Dec. 1 http://universalistprayers.org/2011/11/morning-prayer-december-1-2011.html
Daily Quote: Every action in our lives touches some chord that will vibrate in eternity. – E.H. Chapin (Universalist, minister)
Spirit Question: How are you acting for, in and with hope today? #spiritquestion
Holiday Prayer: #UU Rev. Wayne Arnason’s Holiday Season Prayer: http://www.uua.org/worship/words/meditations/submissions/5628.shtml
Event to participate in: [TweetChat at Noon – sponsored by We Make The Change Florida @wmtcfl ]
Evening Prayer: Evening Prayer Dec. 1 http://universalistprayers.org/2011/11/evening-prayer-december-1-2011.html
Chalice Extinguishing: Breath of Life infuse us with hope to keep acting for merciful justice & in bold compassion. #chaliceout
Being the first Thursday of the month, it was also #TheologicalThurs on Twitter, when I shout-out a thanks to my theological peeps, whose diverse ministries enrich my life. More recently, I have shifted #TheologicalThursday or #TheologicalThurs to name those I’ve conversed with that week, or especially appreciated that month.
Note I also scheduled myself to participate in a community event that wasn’t faith based and I wasn’t leading. If I would attend such a forum locally as part of my ministry, I attend such fora digitally as part of my ministry.
Each week, I also include specific times to post blogs and other resources, like videos.
This kind of schedule can seem daunting to someone new to social media ministry. But I developed this schedule over time. First, I started with a daily 100-character inspirational message. Then, I added my daily prayer blog. Thirdly I added the spiritual practice of my faith tradition, the chalice lighting and chalice extinguishing (#chalicelight and #chaliceout).
Many pieces of my social media ministry schedule are things I already do, just sharing them in different ways. Since I have core spiritual practices I do every day, I just needed to spend a few minutes making those available to everyone. I was writing and teaching already; giving myself a schedule just made me more disciplined in sharing what I was creating and teaching. I read and collect resources online as part of my being in a larger community, continuing education, and developing thoughts and reflections and teaching. Sharing those resources across a schedule made sense because I was finding those resources helpful, inspiring, challenging, or otherwise affecting my faith.
Try setting up a minimal framework to begin developing consistency in your social media ministry. The discipline will grow and stretch, but also give something for a community to develop around and for your peers and the people you follow to connect with. Showing up consistently is part of how we build this global house of study.
This post is a reblog from an archived blog, since the material remains relevant.