It’s about relationships

By Posted in - Social Media on April 20th, 2007 0 Comments

The following is a posting I made on the DeoWeb discussion group, which reflects my thoughts on where online communications in the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie needs to shift (and DeoWeb‘s focus as a communications solution).

Have you been enjoying the discuss taking place? Have you been pleased to meet new people through this group, other people of faith who are interested in the same topic as you?

For myself, I give an enthusiastic “Yes!” to both of those questions.

You’ve now had a (small) taste, perhaps for the first time, of how online communications can help to draw people together, either to form new relationships or to strengthen existing ones.

We are so busy and so isolated nowadays that we don’t know who our neighbours are or the people next to us in the pew. Yet, we also have a need for meaningful and fun relationships.

Because of DeoWeb, I was able to find two people to help my busy wife with our two newborn twins and toddler. I did not know these people, and they did not know me. In a parish of 1100 parishioners, with 3 masses, the odds of us finding each other at church are slim at best. For Rowena and I, they are now a special part of our parish family.

Paul Falcioni, we really need to share the story of how DeoWeb is helping to revitalize your parish by re-connecting with schools. Perhaps I can get someone to write a story for you. I’ll get back to you.

This is just the tip of the ice berg. There are many more opportunities to build community using online tools.

Fact: More than 50% of time spent on the Internet is for social reasons, and not for research or buying another book at Amazon. My pastor spends more time counseling youth using instant messaging than in person. He has a profile on facebook.com.

Hence the proliferation of social networking sites like facebook.com, myspace.com, linkedin.com, mychurch.org.

Getting volunteers to input content for their ministry work has largely failed, and I am more convinced now that this won’t change, unless there is internal motivation to do so.

I think people are much more motivated to share about their personal lives, their hopes, questions and interests. Facilitating that kind of dialogue will bear much more fruit than say trying to get every CWL parish group to maintain a workspace. In fact, sharing the *personal* may spur the desire to promote the *pastoral*. When a lady shares what the CWL means to her personally, spiritually, others will connect with that and want to know more about the CWL.

I envision a revamped DeoWeb, where the focus is more on connecting people, where the information published is more personal and from the grassroots, and less from the established Church (parish and diocesan offices). A system that connects people who want to know each other, that builds meaningful relationships.

Paul Labelle, I hear your concerns about the people out there with extremist views that tear down rather than build community. There are very effective ways to avoid and mitigate a lot of that. We’ve just never invested much time on the people side of content… yet.

I also see a system that makes it easy to find quality faith-based content on the web, to nourish people on their spiritual journey. Some of this is being done already, but on a small scale. This would require the help of volunteers, to find those resources.

Who would like to see a Q & A section, where people could ask a hand-picked group of religious people from the Diocese questions about faith? There are already examples of this on the web.

We received last week a letter from the Ontario Catholic Bishops. What if there was a way to discuss it, and together come up with ways to live out the spirit of the letter, and then enable people to share what they are doing about it?

Jesus’ ministry was carried out through relationships, those intimate encounters that left people touched and loved. The woman at the well. The apostles in the boat. Martha and Lazarus.

If Jesus were physically present on this earth today, I think he’d be on facebook and in the chat rooms, while blogging about the challenges of following God’s path. Wait a minute. He is present now, through you and me. We’ve got work to do.

Peace,
– Gerry

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