I work in a trans-media ministry that reaches a million people a week. First Radio Parish Church of America was founded in 1926 on AM radio. I produce using media tools – script-writing (stories), video, audio, social network, the web, print, and email. FRPCA communicates though media – TV, AM, FM, email, web, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, magazine, book, and smartphone, in video, audio, and print.
I have a few favorite media tools. My iPad is my teleprompter. I use it for my ministry, including on- location shoots, funerals, worship services, or for reading the Bible, preaching, and storytelling. It’s easy. The telepromptor app is cheap. It’s effective. The first time I used it was as an officiating minister at a swanky wedding in Bar Harbor, Maine. When I pulled it out at the rehearsal, people didn’t know how to respond. What?! No black book? No black folder? No Bible? But it went so well – the teleprompter is so smooth and the Bible app so easy – that I have used it ever since, and my iPad syncs my calendars.
My iPad connects me with Facebook. I am a public person with a private life. I use my personal FB wall mostly for professional reasons. I rarely post anything personal and never post anything private. We have a Facebook group for our ministry, too: Daily Devotions – FRPCA. We encourage my friends and fans to share my video postings, thus slowly growing our user base.
Through Constant Contact we send our daily emails. Mailing systems like Constant Contact prevent our daily emails from being misrecognized as spam. With judicious links and careful email layout, we direct readers to our website and to Facebook. Through a function in Constant Contact we tweet everyday. Linking our daily emails to our website and Facebook, and the other way around, integrates our communication tools, allowing each to build upon the other, creating a stronger virtual community.
Back at YDS, I carried my Swiss Army knife. My “everything” knife had a corkscrew (for sacramental wine only), a toothpick, tweezers, scissors, a saw blade, a magnifying glass, two screwdrivers, a can opener, and two knife blades. Today, I carry another everything tool – my iPhone, where I take story notes, use GPS to scout on-location spots, document events with photos, map parishioners’ homes, email (naturally), connect with LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, and I use it as a flashlight so I don’t stub my bare toes on summer nights.
Our website aims to be clean, clear, and simple to use. It reflects a fractal design based on measurements of eye movements over websites. Google Analytics measures usage. I ask myself, how do I get people to go to DailyDevotions.org or to our Face- book wall? By telling them, over and over and over.
But here’s the thing to remember about using media, all media, any media: to make things appear easy, simple, and clear takes a significant amount of time, and with every media venue added one increases the workload in a disproportionate way. As you consider adding media in your ministry, be selective.
The Rev. Peter Baldwin Panagore is a creative tech head, producer, author of Two Minutes for God (Simon & Schuster, 2007) a storyteller, and the minister at First Radio Parish Church of America in Portland, ME.