The global leader of the Catholic Church sent his first official “tweet” earlier this month as Pope Benedict XVI joined millions of people on Twitter. Many church leaders in Iowa made the move to the social networking world years ago.
Reverend Tom Capo, with the Cedar Rapids Unitarian Church, says he’s not surprised with the 85-year-old Benedict’s action. “He’s trying to reach out to young people. They are the primary users of Twitter accounts. He’s trying to get them some grounding in spirituality and what Catholicism is — because many of them may not have even grown up in a Catholic church,” Rev. Capo said.
The move toward faith-based teachings online has increased in recent years. Capo, for instance, live streams sermons and also posts those videos to the church’s YouTube channel.
Capo notes many people in his congregation have very busy schedules and Sunday might be their only day off to get groceries and run other errands. “It’s a struggle to get to church and if you can just log-on for an hour and watch a service, you get some of the benefits of being there and you can still get some things done around the house, watch the kids or those kinds of things,” Capo said.
Some may wonder if the word of God should be subjected to 160 characters or less. Pastor Craig Brown, with First Lutheran Church in Cedar Rapids, says that’s the wrong way for faith leaders to view online media.
Instead, Brown says to think of it as an additional connection and method for outreach. “People don’t take the time to call the church anymore with what they need, but they’ll post it to anonymous followers on Facebook,” Brown said, “So we need to get in on that universe if we want to minister effectively.”
Brown says he’s Facebooked during service — sharing a quote or message from his senior pastor — and he uses Facebook to follow up with members of his congregation.
by Jillian Petrus, KCRG-TV