Brandon is also the author of “The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops who Tweet” (OSV), which will be released later this year. The book has contributions from various leaders, Bishops, and new media visionaries who are helping the Church evangelize using new media. There are 5 Aggies who are contributing to the book, including myself.
“Please silence your cell phones and other electronic devices.” Millions of Catholics hear this mantra every week before Mass. And in response, we power down, disconnect and turn off our devices.Thanks to Brandon for the article. Please read more at his blog - The Thin Veil.
But imagine a priest instead requesting parishioners to “please, take out your cell phones, and turn them on.” You would surely hear gasps as people wonder whether the priest had misspoken or if their hearing aids need new batteries.
Yet this petition is increasingly being made at parishes all across the country. St. Mary’s Catholic Center, the campus parish at Texas A&M University, provides one example. One weekend last September, at the end of each Mass, the presiding priest asked all parishioners to whip out their cell phones and turn them on. He then asked them to text message some basic information to a number associated with the parish, including their name, phone number and email address.
Within a couple of minutes, thousands of parishioners beamed their info to a registration database, establishing a digital connection between the parish and its parishioners (those without cell phones were still able to fill out traditional registration cards).
Later, parishioners were sent an email inviting them to complete their registration on the parish website. There, each parishioner could create a unique account through a tool called flockNote (www.flocknote.com). This tool allows each person to choose which parish groups and ministries they wish to receive updates from. The parish’s college students became especially excited about the option to choose how they would receive these messages. Email? Twitter? Facebook? Text messages? Each person decided how the parish connected with him or her, not the other way around.
As new media increasingly dominate our world through blogs, social media, podcasting, interactive websites and text messaging, among other tools, parishes can’t afford to sit out this digital revolution.