Online engagement ideas for Lent
Throughout Lent, Rethink Church is posting a weekly reflection theme as well as themes for Ash Wednesday, Holy Thursday,Good Friday and Easter. Readers are urged to share their reflections via social media. Find details at www.rethinkchurch.org.
During Lent, a time of reflection, many individuals seek ways to deepen their spiritual relationships. Here are some creative ways churches can engage members and potential visitors during Lent.
1. Photo-a-Day Meditation: To provide an easy entry for seekers, in Lent 2013, Rethink Church created a photo-a-day meditation that invited participants to submit their photos on social media that related to the word of the day. These words followed the lectionary, and a brief devotion accompanied them. Invite your congregation to join this project; think about collecting images from your members that you can use as sermon illustrations, slideshows or even a photo book of devotionals.
2. Online Study: Often, people are open to new ideas during Lent. It might be the perfect opportunity to try an online study in a very traditional sense by using Skype to connect participants in a virtual class meeting.
3. Online Fast: Invite congregants to unplug from cell phones, email and social media for a day, a week or other designated time, giving them more time to read or pray during their "fast." Challenge members to engage by different means, perhaps a hand-written note, thank-you card or letter for their children or spouse.
4. Stories of Faith: What is your favorite Scripture and why? Ask members if they would be willing to answer this question on video. Create short videos using a digital camera or smartphone. Each day, post the videos online on a social media platform or your church website.
5. Text Prayers: If you have a text-message system plugged into your community, ask a pastor or lay leader to share a significant word or phrase from his or her daily prayers. You generally cannot capture a whole prayer in a text message, but sending a capsule of a prayer can encourage others.
6. Online Missions Experience: This might be a 40-day period of fundraising for a particular mission of the church (One Great Hour of Sharing, Imagine No Malaria, Global AIDS Fund or an Advance project). It could also be a daily or weekly effort to raise awareness within your congregation.
7. Go on a Pilgrimage: Set up a blog for those who might want to go on an actual pilgrimage in or out of town. Tumblr is easy to use and mobile-friendly. Share daily experiences, photos and videos. If you cannot make a physical trip, go virtually using Google Earth. For example, you can download Google Earth coordinates to "walk" the Via Dolorosa (Stations of the Cross).
8. 40-Days Meditation: For each day of Lent, share a visual meditation via email or social media. Consider using stock photographs that go along with a daily meditation. Using an email service or third-party social media platform, you can pre-post these daily images and meditations to send to your community.
9. Gracious Giving: Encourage your congregation to give generously, in a different way, throughout Lent. The idea is to show grace in such a generous fashion that it is hard for people not to share it.
Adapted from a MyCom article by Gavin Richardson, chief technology officer at Circuitwriter Media