On Reformation Sunday, October 25, 2015, churchgoers across the country are going to be on social media, sharing something from church that day. It is no coincidence that this is occurring on Reformation Sunday.
One of the key tenants of the Reformation was getting the word out about God’s grace to everyone. Martin Luther did this by nailing his thesis to the door, translating the bible into the language of the people, preaching, writing, and distributing pamphlets. We follow in his footsteps by sharing the good news on social media.
Social Media Sunday began in 2013 with Carolyn Clement on Twitter at Trinity Episcopal Church in Tarriffville, CT encouraging more use of social media by church members. It is now an ecumenical movement.
The purpose of Social Media Sunday:
- Encourage those in church who haven’t tried social media to give it a try
- Encourage churches who are using social media to expand and explore more ways to use it for outreach and to build community
- To demonstrate the power of social media to share the message of the gospel beyond the church building.
With Pew Research reporting that 74% of online users have a social media profile, it is likely that most church goers are on social media. However, while these folks will happily post photos of the meal they are enjoying when they go out to eat, the idea of sharing what they are doing at church still has not occurred to many church goers. Social Media Sunday is a day for churches of denominations are using this day just to encourage folks to check in church, post a selfie or even tweet the sermon, using the hashtag #SMS15
Pastor Kwame Pitts is a newly ordained graduate of the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. She recognizes the power of social media to connect her congregation, Redeemer Lutheran in Holland, Illinois with their community.
My First Call faith community is in the midst of the wider community which is crowded with other churches. Because of the uniqueness of our voice as Lutherans and our theology which is full of grace, I hope Redeemer is seen as an oasis of safety and sacredness. By that I mean a place where people can explore their faith, question God and be free to express themselves in the midst of the Holy Spirit.
She is looking forward to using Social Media Sunday to help her congregation broaden their social media presence.
“Social Media Sunday is coming, and so is the Reformation! Somehow I am going to integrate that into my sermon. In the words of Mulan, I am going to make this up as I go.” notes Pitts.
Ascension Lutheran in Towson, Maryland will have a selfie stick available along with a selfie booth with a Martin Luther cut out. They will also have Playmobile Little Luthers available for youth to use to create stories and post images of him around the church.
At St. Paul’s Anglican in Lindsay, Toronto, Canada, the youth will sit with adults to show them how to tweet, post on FB, and take photos to share on phones, tablets and iPads during the service.
After the service their webmaster and the youth, will project on a screen on how to navigate the website.
Even those who are not on social media can get involved. Luther Memorial Place in Washington, D.C. will invite people to write prayers with pencil and paper which will be shared via social media. They are also planning to host a help desk.
So whether you are going all out with lots of special events for the day, or just inviting people to take out their phones and share something, there are lots of ways to “Show ’em Jesus” on social media.
What is your church planning to do for #SMS15?
Guest post from The Rev. Dr. Colville-Hanson, Director for Evangelical Mission, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.