Many churches have traditions that have been passed down through the years. Some are a few years old, and others go back centuries. Yet most are still in our analog world. How can you move them to the digital space?
This article is coming out the week after Easter. With this Holy Week fresh in our minds, we can prepare content for next year. I hope you see some great ideas here and take the coming year to put them in motion.
First however, I would like to give a bit of background. I go into greater detail on my journey episodes of my podcast. But I was raised in a Lutheran church. After high school I walked away from my faith. Thankfully, I returned just a few years ago. Yet now I attend a nondenominational church. I understand the practice of most Easter traditions. That said, I do not follow all the ones I used to because of my change in beliefs. So do not take this as my coming down on one side of a theological fence. I am encouraging all Christians to share the miracle of Easter with the world.
With that out of the way, I will list a few Easter traditions that came to mind.
- Dietary restrictions, such as not eating meat on certain days
- Taking that restriction further with fasting
- Giving up something for the season of Lent
- Sayings & responses that we say during the season
- Family gatherings and meals
How can you take these analog holiday experiences and make them digital? Here are a few suggestions:
This is probably what most of you will think of. Use social media to invite a friend to our Easter Sunday service. Or, how can I use a digital space to invite someone to an analog experience. Check that idea at the door right now. We are going in the opposite direction! Take your experiences online. Maybe you have never thought about online services. You may not have sermon recordings for sharing via podcast. Start preparing for that now. Explore streaming & recording services so you can take your church to the Internet. Something simple like Periscope could be your first step. Then consider moving on to more complex like Church Online.
Over the years, I asked many people about the history of their traditions. The unfortunate truth is that many have no idea. While the answer “It’s just something we do” is acceptable, it is not convincing. This especially true if you are talking to a non-believer, or someone new to the faith. Yes we are told to have unwavering faith of a child. But that does not mean we should be ignorant about our faith. Knowing why we observe a tradition adds power to our testimony. Share that history through a multitude of channels. Use images with words over a photo. Write an in-depth article, or record a short video. Create content that educates your congregation. As their ignorance shrinks, their faith will grow. And so will their social media friends’ faith as they share that content.
So often you will see images and website links that advertise your Holy Week services. As I said, they are not what I am asking you to do. Of course you can take the first two suggestions and share that content as well. But what other types of content can you share? The most important experiences you can share happen outside the church walls. How is your congregation celebrating a holiday? Ask them to share a picture of what they doing. How are they applying the message of hope that a holiday brings? Request members share how they are demonstrating the Gospel through actions. The key to both is to have a relevant church-branded hashtag ready to go. This way these cannot be just attributed to just wanting to “do something nice”. They were moved by the Holy Spirit to do something. Let us rejoice in their obedience and encourage others to follow suit.
Keep your church traditions. Embrace their meaning, and share their impact with your friends. I just ask that you find ways to share them digitally. Resist the temptation to just share images that advertise your various services. Take the miracle of Easter online and show how you celebrate it. More importantly, share how it motivates you to follow the Great Commission. Showcase your church as it spreads the Gospel and loves their neighbors. Lastly, write down all these ideas now so you are ready for next year!
This article was inspired by a conversation with my wife and mother, and their Easter traditions.
Photo courtesy of Joerg Beyer