December 8, 2015

Social Media as a Pastoral Tool

Even from a hospital bed, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry is a pastor.

Over the weekend, Bishop Curry suffered a subdural hematoma, a small collection of blood between his brain and his skull. He is scheduled for surgery today and is expected to make a full recovery.

Even as I’m sure he is a bit anxious about the surgery and his health, Bishop Curry also wanted to reassure and comfort his flock—the 2 million people of The Episcopal Church. From his hospital bed, he spoke in a video, with a nurse explaining his condition. His canon for ministry, the Rev. Canon Michael Hunn, was at his side.

Bishop Curry sets the bar pretty high. I know when I was awaiting surgery, I would not have wanted to smile for a camera. But the bishop offers a wonderful example of the use of social media as a pastoral tool.

Whether we like social media or not is really irrelevant in today’s culture. It is woven tightly into the social fabric, and we ignore it at our own expense. Video is an especially effective tool. It’s easily shareable and it’s dynamic, meaning that it engages the senses in multiple ways.

If you watch Bishop Curry’s video, you’ll notice that the production value is pretty low. Basically it appears they grabbed someone in the hall, gave the person an iPhone, and told them to hit video. The light is low, the sound is iffy, and the transitions non-existent. But for thousands of people, the video was a love offering, a pastoral gesture for a people genuinely worried about their leader.

How can your congregation and its leaders model the grace of Bishop Curry’s pastoral care? How can you use video in an authentic expression of compassion, care, and love?

Don't miss a blog post! Subscribe here to receive notice of each new post.