Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tiber River Review: The Church and the New Media

Popes John Paul II and Benedict XI have both expounded on the necessity of using the internet to evangelize.  The Church and New Media gives concrete examples of how this has been done and suggestions to those who want to use these new media successfully.  Those familiar with the Catholic blogosphere will recognize the names of Fr. Robert Barron, Jennifer Fulwiler,  Mark Shea, Father Dwight Longenecker and Lisa Hendey.  These big-name bloggers and others talk about how they started on the internet, what messages they try to spread and what they have learned to avoid.  

There is a chapter on the new media efforts by the Archdiocese of Boston that discusses how they integrate all their new media (basically different versions of electronic communications) efforts, as well as how they encourage the parishes to use electronic media.  

The basic point of the book is that people today use electronic media, be it facebook, twitter, email, text messaging or the internet in general.  If today's parishes, if today's Church is not on the internet, then it isn't meeting people where they are, it isn't enaging in their lives and it is missing a giant chance to evangelize.   When you compare the web presence and social media saavy of the average parish with that of the average business, the average parish comes in last, by a long way (I cringe when I look at my parish's website,  and yes, I've offered to help).   

If you are looking for some good Catholic blogs to read, this book mentions plenty.  It also offers suggestions for those thinking of starting a "Catholic" website--in short, be sure that what you are propounding is Catholic  teaching, not your own opinion.   

I'd recommend this book to anyone who basically understands the internet and is trying to develop an internet presence for some church ministry.  It pretty much pre-supposes a general familiarity with how facebook, Twitter, YouTube and podcasting work and what they do.  However, it is not a technical manual.  You will not know how to set up a parish website when you finish this book--but you will know that you should spend money to do it right.  

I'd like to thank the Tiber River Review program for furnishing a complimentary review copy of this book.  I was not obligated to write a positive review.  Grade:  B+

I wrote this review of The Church and the New Media for the free Catholic Book review program, created by Aquinas and More Catholic Goods, your source for Baptism Gifts and First Communion Gifts.

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