Digital Devotion: Social media prompts for the season of Lent

By Liz Applegate, Special Contributor…

Many churches are beginning to take advantage of social media, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogs. But church communicators are also discovering that maintaining these on a regular basis can pose a real challenge. Even though social media posts are typically short, churches do need to post new, timely and relevant material on a regular basis to keep “readers” engaged.

With that in mind, here are a few ideas for topics for social media posts for February and throughout the season of Lent:

Feb. 10: Chinese New Year, an occasion for family reunions in China. How has your congregation come together as a family lately?

Liz Applegate

Feb. 11: White T-shirt Day. Why not turn this around and celebrate “Wear Your Church Shirt Day”? Ask members to share pictures of themselves on Facebook wearing their church T-shirts. (This would be a great activity to involve the youth; have them share photos sporting their favorite mission T-shirts.)

Feb. 13: Ash Wednesday. Instead of just posting dates of upcoming Lenten events, why not explain the meaning and origin of Ash Wednesday, along with suggestions on having a meaningful Lenten season? Better yet, plan a social-media 40-day devotional during Lent, where you post a short devotion each day.

Feb. 14: Valentine’s Day. Make this more than a sappy Hallmark holiday! Instead, show how your congregation or ministry has shared the love of Christ. Also, February’s focus is on love and relationships—a source of happiness for some, but a reminder of loneliness or pain for others. How can you speak to those folks, too, in your communications this month?

Feb. 17: Random Acts of Kindness Day. Challenge your congregation members to do one nice, unexpected thing for a stranger on this day.

Feb. 20: Hoodie-Hoo Day. This is a “just-for-fun” day, but believe it or not, it’s actually a copyrighted holiday! The idea: At noon, you are to go outside and wave your hands over your head and chant “Hoodie-Hoo!” to chase away the winter blues. Can you get your church staff to do this for a photo? Have fun with that one!

Feb. 24: It’s Oscar Night! Offer your own “awards” for the films with the most redeeming messages, and invite others to share their favorites, too.

March 1: Share A Smile Day. Challenge your congregation members to post pictures of themselves “sharing a smile” with others.

March 2: Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. What better day to create Seuss-like rhymes as an invitation to attend church on Sunday? Everyone has a favorite Dr. Seuss book or quote. Share your favorite and ask your audience to do the same.

March 10: Daylight Savings Time. Time to “spring forward.” Suggest ways church members might spring into action: Join that mission project! Mentor a confirmand!

March 13: Good Samaritan Day. Highlight your church’s Samaritan Fund, or similar ministries that help those in your community who have fallen on hard times. Show your congregation how their gifts have helped others.

March 21: World Down Syndrome Day. To mark the day, Down Syndrome International invites everyone to wear odd socks to raise awareness. This is a great time to highlight the special needs ministry in your church. And how about a fun picture of the ministry’s volunteers wearing odd socks?

Finally, Lent is a season with many liturgical traditions and there’s some special vocabulary involved. Remember to watch your use of “church-y” words during this time of year, relating to readers and listeners “where they are” and not merely from your understanding. Or take time to explain terms that might be unfamiliar to people who are new to the church.

And start thinking ahead, now, for your posts during the busy time of Holy Week. With a little forethought and creativity, your social media can be a window for potential visitors of your Easter services—as well as those looking for a church home.

Ms. Applegate is a member of First UMC of Plano, Texas. She blogs about digital communications for churches at www.eLIZabethapplegate.com.

Liz Applegate

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The United Methodist Reporter wants to encourage lively conversation about The United Methodist Church and our articles in the belief that Christian conversation (what Wesley would call conferencing) is a means of grace. While we support passionate debate, we cannot allow language that demeans or demonizes others, and we reserve the right to delete any comment we believe to be harmful or inappropriate. We encourage all to remember that we are all broken and in need of Christ's grace, and that we all see through the glass darkly until that time we when reach full perfection in love. May your speech here be tempered with love, and reflection of the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. After all, "There is no law against things like this." (Galatians 5:22-23)
 
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