In my line of work it is not uncommon for clients and organizations to want an immediate presence on Facebook and Twitter. Throw in a YouTube or Vimeo channel and anyone can be on the new media bandwagon. The problem is not about getting onto new media sites; the problem is about knowing how to leverage those sites to meet your overall goals. The corporate world easily latched on to the “power” of new media. Name any popular brand and there is no doubt they are on at least one of the more popular sites—making themselves even more accessible to us, the consumers, and allowing us a platform to declare our love or disappointment with their projects. How many times have you heard of a company doing right by a customer because of a Facebook comment? Surprisingly, often enough to know that the world and how we communicate has changed dramatically in the past several years. But, you don’t need me or a book to tell you that.
What has been needed is a primer on social media for those of us working in ministry. I’m not talking about a Dummies or Idiot’s guide. I’m talking about a book that talks about the principles of social media use in an engaging way, while providing a true resource for the Church. For the past few years I’ve searched for relevant resources that I could refer my clients to. I didn’t want Mashable to be one of the only sites to which I referred my clients and colleagues. That’s precisely why Brandon Vogt’s book is a blessing for those of us working in new media, Catholic organizations looking to launch new media campaigns, and to the entire Church. Why? Because Vogt’s book is, in many ways, a primer on new media and the Church and a compilation of a who’s-who of Catholic new media pioneers that are using the technology well and paving the way for the rest of us.
The Catholic Church, nor any institution for that matter, is not immune to the constant shifts in technological advancements and innovation. Modern technology, since its birth, has ushered in new trends and new methods of communication. For the Catholic Church as a whole, advances in social communication have allowed the spread of the Gospel in ways that the apostles could have never imagined as they traveled from community to community teaching and preaching.
Catholics are realizing the benefits of using this new medium of communication and are tapping it to not only express their views but to share their faith in unique ways. Social media is becoming one more way in which the Church is spreading the Gospel of Christ—answering the Gospel call to “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole of creation” (Mk 16:15).
In recent years, the Vatican itself has embraced new media technologies to increase its online presence and reach out to youth. It has also encouraged priests and religious to embrace and utilize the technologies to spread the Gospel.
Vogt’s lineup of writers and resources are Catholic new media experts that are expressing their faith and evangelizing online. These aren’t your average bloggers or new media users. These are tried and tested Catholic new media experts that have faced the challenges of this new age of communication and have emerged as models and mentors for those just getting started. From creating blogs in the early days to embarking on a full-blown pro-life new media campaign, each story shows new media newbies how to get started and how to proceed effectively. What better way to learn than from the mouths of those who have made it work and are continuing to pave the way for other organizations and individuals?
This is one of the best books I have read all year and I am happy to say that, at least online, I have interacted with some of the great folks that are a part of Vogt’s fantastic work. Interested in learning how to build online communities? Lisa Hendey has something to tell you about how she’s brought Catholic moms together. Matthew Warner can tell you about how TweetCatholic has become a directory of Catholic tweeters and flockNote is making it easier for churches to reach out to their parishioners. Interested in utilizing new media for evangelizing to Catholic, non-Catholics, and youth? Take a look at how Fr. Robert Barron’s Word on Fire ministries interacts with and brings knowledge of the Gospel and the Catholic faith to different audiences. Read about Fr. Dwight Longenecker engages in online conversations and discusses apologetics with Catholic and non-Catholics alike. Read about Jennifer Fulwiler, OneBillionStories.com and others that are sharing their faith experiences and conversion stories.
Vogt’s book reminds us that the Church is alive and well online and that hundreds of people are utilizing new media technologies to engage Catholics in a new type of conversation. It is an excellent book for any parish looking to establish an online presence, Catholic groups or organizations looking to boost outreach, or anyone looking to learn how the Church can leverage new media to spread the Gospel. It is definitely a book that I will give as a gift to my fellow new media/social media strategists working in the Church today. Did I mention that Brandon Vogt is donating 100% of royalties to establish school computer labs in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya? That’s one more reason I recommend this book.
For great resources, visit the book’s website: http://www.churchandnewmedia.com/
Check out Brandon Vogt’s Blog, The Thin Veil: http://www.thinveil.net/
This review appears as part of Patheos.com’s Book Club Roundtable