I’ve been a bit off this week. I have a list of posts I want to get written but I blame my slacking off on the west-east travel from the end of last week. That is just an excuse, though. I just haven’t made time this week.
With Mardi Gras next week and the beginning of the Lenten season the next day, I want to share a video with you about the church – and I truly mean all denominations in this case, not just Catholicism – and connectedness. While the always connected view in the video even skeeves me out a bit – I have to disconnect occasionally, I do see that churches need to, to paraphrase the video, meet people where they are which is not necessarily in a building on Sunday morning.
While I may agree that a lot of this technology may be in the future further than I am looking – I don’t really want a smart mirror in my bathroom, I do know that churches stand to lose an entire generation and beyond if they do not adapt to a more technologically savvy existence. A church that is nothing but brick and mortar, that does not encourage a digital presence is leaving behind people right now as I type. A church that has a website that does nothing but regurgitate a print bulletin – yes, having that information is good but not the only purpose of a website – is going to turn off those of us who look for new content on a daily or weekly basis.
I almost always sit near the front of my church. I almost always post photos on Instagram of the altar so others can see the beauty of the church I attend. I have a lot of friends whose children grew up and received sacraments in this church who no longer live in this area. They appreciate seeing what the church looks like on Christmas or during Advent or during Lent or other holy days. Those Instagram posts go to both my Twitter account and my Facebook account. I share these photos.
I also sit up front and when something particular speaks to me from a homily, I pull out my phone. I will tweet out various bits of homilies or readings that resonate with me and credit whoever is speaking or where the reading is from. That is the easy part of sharing what is happening on Sunday morning. The harder part is the glares I get from those around me. Older parishioners stare like they cannot believe I would pull out my phone during Mass. Parents glare because they have, most likely, told their children no phones during Mass. What they do not realize is I do not check my feeds. I do not look at text messages. I share what I am experiencing during the Mass.
If churches do not decide to make Bible studies easier to attend… If churches do not record and post sermons and homilies online… If churches do not embrace the struggles of their congregations and post useful information on their websites… Churches stand to lose people who are connected. This has happened in the past. It is something that can be predicted.
Look at Vatican II as a way to realize that any church needs to react to what the populace needs. In that time – and the Catholic church cannot move that slowly with this, the Catholic church realized that the parishioner needed to be more in the Mass. While Christ will always be the center of the Eucharist, the average person needed to feel more connected than just going to a rail and kneeling and receiving the Eucharist.
Now people need to know that they can share their worship experiences online without strange looks. People need to know that they can, when life is too much and Sunday is not going to happen, see what happened, what was read and what was said, online as opposed to going to a physical service. This will be a small step towards meeting a connected populace where those people are as opposed to hoping those people come to the church.