home
RSS
Faith Online: Social media bridges the old and the new
Joseph P. Mathews (on left) and Colin Chapman participate in one of the latest Digital Formation webinars.
February 22nd, 2012
02:39 AM ET

Faith Online: Social media bridges the old and the new

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The General Theological Seminary was founded in 1817, making it the oldest Episcopalian seminary in the country. Twitter, on the other hand, was introduced to the public in 2006, making it, by comparison, a newborn.

Colin Chapman and Joseph Mathews, the relatively young founders of Digital Formation, hope to bring those two worlds together.

As a social media consulting endeavor, Digital Formation looks to help clergy and lay church leaders work their way through the ever-changing world of social media. When Chapman and Mathews proposed using webinars and classes as the means of teaching, the leadership of the seminary embraced the idea.

Though the organization is still in its early stages, the fact that Digital Formation was so quickly embraced shows how religious organizations not only desire more exposure to Twitter, but are willing to throw out what Chapman describes as a “behind the times” attitude to get that exposure.

“One thing at the epicenter of our operation is making sure we promote the use of social media in the church setting with a theological backbone,” Chapman said. “Usually people use social media as a marketing tool, but we really see social media as a way for interacting with people.”

CNN's Belief Blog – all the faith angles to the day's top stories

Chapman and Mathews are both seminarians at New York City’s General Theological Seminary and during a few conversations, they asked each other why religious organizations have not taken to Twitter as quickly as the general public has.

“Religious organizations have a history of being slow to adopt new technology,” Mathews said. “Radio, television, I think that it has been the nature of the beast for awhile for the church to be slow in changing how it moves.”

This sentiment is not just held by Mathews and Chapman, though. Church leadership has been saying this since the birth of social media. In the book Tweet if You Love Jesus by Elizabeth Drescher, The Right Rev. Kirk Smith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona expressed the need to take to social media.

“We blew it with radio; we blew it with television,” Smith said. “The question is whether we’ll be able to make use of these new tools while there is still a window of opportunity.”

According to Claire Diaz Ortiz, Twitter’s representative to nonprofit and religious groups, the model is out there. Ortiz knows first hands that when religious organizations tweet well, the response can be overwhelming.

“One of the great things that we see religious orgs doing really well is treating their church services as live events,” Ortiz said. “That is why some of the big mega churches are so successful on Twitter.”

And she isn’t kidding. Pastor Mark Driscoll (@PastorMark), the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church, has around 210,000 followers on Twitter. That pales in comparison to the nearly 530,000 people who follow Pastor Rick Warren (@RickWarren), founder of Saddleback Church.

While both Driscoll and Warren are big-name pastors, Ortiz said there are ways for smaller churches to effectively engage on Twitter. Her advice – have a couple of VIP tweeters who sit at the front of the service and live tweet what is happening.

Though that kind of presence on Twitter is hard for a small church to support, Digital Formation’s hope is that the payoff for those small parishes will be in the quality of contact on social media.

“What Colin and Joseph are doing is very important for the church imagining ourselves in the future,” said Rev. Patrick Malloy, the dean of General Theological Seminary. “This opens possibilities for us and allows us to see Facebook and Twitter not as just marketing tools, but they really are a means of connection by which we do the things we are called to do.”

And to Mathews, the time for churches to embrace social media is now.

“Social media is how people are communicating now,” Mathews said. “As a church we have to gather where people are gathering. People are taking to the web and are talking in clicks, so we think it is important to live our Christian lives where people are living their lives.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Culture & Science • Episcopal • New York • Technology • United States

soundoff (47 Responses)
  1. Science

    Free speech helps educate the masses................POLITICIANS too !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/04/12/where-do-morals-come-from/#comments

    Gravity is not up for debate !

    BY the way ...................Splat goes a fairy in the sky !...............bye bye tinker bell !

    Einstein's Gravity Theory Passes Toughest Test Yet..............................E = mc2..........(U–Pb).................two math formulas.

    Apr. 25, 2013 — A strange stellar pair nearly 7,000 light-years from Earth has provided physicists with a unique cosmic laboratory for studying the nature of gravity. The extremely strong gravity of a massive neutron star in orbit with a companion white dwarf star puts competing theories of gravity to a test more stringent than any available before

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130425142250.htm

    Hey James Madison................religion has none it looks like.............with the comments on this blog.

    The Big question is ETHICS ! does religion have any ?

    The Ethics of Resurrecting Extinct Species

    Apr. 8, 2013 — At some point, scientists may be able to bring back extinct animals, and perhaps early humans, raising questions of ethics and environmental disruption.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130408165955.htm

    April 30, 2013 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |

    May 1, 2013 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |

    Dinosaur Egg Study Supports Evolutionary Link Between Birds and Dinosaurs: How Troodon Likely Hatched Its Young

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130418104324.htm

    And NO ANGELS the pope KICKED them OFF the TEAM last year !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

    the wrong path is Adam and Eve !

    Human Y Chromosome Much Older Than Previously Thought

    Mar. 4, 2013 — The discovery and analysis of an extremely rare African American Y chromosome pushes back the time of the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree to 338,000 years ago. This time predates the age of the oldest known anatomically modern human fossils.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/03/130305145821.htm

    No god(s) needed or required to graduate from public schools in the US

    Remember : Adam had to POKE himself hard with his OWN BONE to create Eve.

    No god(s) needed................... Old. DNA works..................also catches crooks !

    Ancient DNA Reveals Europe's Dynamic Genetic History

    Apr. 23, 2013 — Ancient DNA recovered from a series of skeletons in central Germany up to 7,500 years old has been used to reconstruct the first detailed genetic history of modern Europe.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130423134037.htm

    Ca-nabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) – National Cancer Insti-tute

    http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/pdq/cam/cannabis/.../page4

    Mar 21, 2013 – [1,2] These plant-derived compounds may be referred to as phytocannabinoids. ... have a protective effect against the development of certain types of tumors. ... In lung cancer cell lines, CBD upregulated ICAM-1, leading to ...

    Good stuff !

    The fact...............the earth is to old for this nonsemse ! Time to EVOLVE !

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

    For what...................... ? Make sure to read what the pope said !

    Where do morals come from?

    By Kelly Murray, CNN

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/

    Learning is fun with facts.......................... and facts work when teaching children.

    Atheist Prof. Peter Higgs: Stop calling Higgs boson the ‘God particle’

    Professor Peter Higgs said recently that there is no God and so people should stop referring to the theoretical partial that
    bears his name as the “God particle.”

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/04/08/atheist-prof-peter-higgs-stop-calling-higgs-bosen-the-god-particle/

    Pope praises science, but insists God created world updated Thur October 28, 2010
    Stephen Hawking is wrong, Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday – God did create the universe. The pope didn't actually mention the world-famous scientist, who argues in a book published last month that the laws of physics show there is no need for a supreme... \

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/28/pope-praises-science-but-insists-god-created-world/

    Science

    Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says updated Tue May 17, 2011
    By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when...

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/17/heaven-is-a-fairy-story-scientist-stephen-hawking-says/

    April 7th, 2012

    08:32 PM ET

    The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/04/07/the-jesus-debate-man-vs-myth/comment-page-137/#comment-2281915

    Make sure to read comments

    April 18, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |

    Breaking News

    NASA: Three planets found are some of best candidates so far for habitable worlds outside our solar system.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/04/18/us/planet-discovery/index.html

    NASA: Mars could have supported life

    Star Dust we are

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWdU_px9ApE&w=640&h=390]

    Holy Hallucinations 35

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XTCRdC8Dlo&w=640&h=390]

    The ORIGIN story is bullsh-it...............so is the bible............... nasty !

    From Soup to Cells—the Origin of Life

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2aOriginoflife.shtml

    Scientists have unearthed the first direct signs of cheesemaking, at a site in Poland that dates back 7,500 years.

    Human Evolution

    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evosite/evo101/IIE2cHumanevo.shtml

    BBC. Planet of the Apemen. Battle for Earth 1. Ho-mo Erectus

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUliLKSJ4bQ&w=640&h=390]

    BACKFILL on E =mc2.....

    Einstein letter, set for auction, shows scientist challenging idea of God, being 'chosen'

    By Jessica Ravitz, CNN

    Decades before atheist scientist and author Richard Dawkins called God a "delusion," one world-renowned physicist – Albert Einstein – was weighing in on faith matters with his own strong words.

    “The word God is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honorable, but still primitive legends,” Einstein wrote in German in a 1954 letter that will be auctioned on eBay later this month. "No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this.”

    http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/category/culture-science/

    May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420

    Cheech & Chong's History of 420 from CheechAndChong

    All cults...........creationists, ID believers and devil cults.................

    The fact...............the earth is to old ...........time to EVOLVE !.

    Ancient Earth Crust Stored in Deep Mantle

    Apr. 24, 2013 — Scientists have long believed that lava erupted from certain oceanic volcanoes contains materials from the early Earth's crust. But decisive evidence for this phenomenon has proven elusive. New research from a team including Carnegie's Erik Hauri demonstrates that oceanic volcanic rocks contain samples of recycled crust dating back to the Archean era 2.5 billion years ago. Their work is published in Nature.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130424132705.htm

    Peace

    May 4, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
  2. tuvia

    ^B"H

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOPLE GO
    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.
    PLEASE PLAY ON YOUR NETWORK NOW
    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE

    PLEASE ASK THE CANDIDATE THE FOLLOWING QUESTION.
    JONATHAN POLLARD HAS SPENT ENOUGH TIME IN PRISON.
    IT IS TIME THAT HE IS PARDONED

    LET MY PEOPLE GO SENETOR HILLIARY CLINTON AND hussein OBAMA. LET JONATHAN POLLARD GO NOW
    LET MY PEOLE GO

    Rabbi Chaim Richman answers President Obama's Cairo speech

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TyBZhTaf1oU&w=640&h=390]

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.

    WORLD VS ISRAEL. HILLARY CLINTON-THIS IS A MESSAGE FOR YOU – LET MY PEOPLE GO. FREE JONATHAN POLLARD NOW. LET MY PEOPLE GO BARRAK HUSSEIN OBAMA – NOW!
    The Land of Israel is the Promised Land given to our forefathers Abraham Isaac and Jacob and is given to us, their seed, as an everlasting Inheritance.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    September 6, 2012 at 1:24 pm |
  3. tuvia

    B"H

    SHALOM, THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING.
    YOU SHOULD ALL HAVE A GREAT SHABBOS.
    HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND.

    SHALOM, YOM TOV.
    TUVIA

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=947by3X6_RU&w=640&h=390]

    ?

    September 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm |
  4. Make money with social media

    I simply couldn't go away your web site before suggesting that I really enjoyed the standard info a person provide in your visitors? Is going to be back steadily to inspect new posts

    June 15, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
1 2
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.