What can be said in 140 characters or less? Enough to capture the attention of millions of people who are part of the fast-pasted, real-time information network known as Twitter. Twitter encourages people to design personalized news feeds by “following” what matters to them.
No doubt the sources of that news are diverse. From international press to celebrities, from school systems to your neighbors, people are sharing and receiving information via Twitter. How might Twitter work for your religious education program?
Getting Started with Twitter
Signing up for Twitter is simple. Create a profile and start messaging, or tweeting. As on Facebook, you’ll need to establish a following. This can be done with the same kinds of publicity you might use for Facebook. Twitter users subscribe to your messages by “following” your account. Followers receive your messages in real-time. The messages then become part of their timelines, which are collections of all the tweets from subscribed accounts.
Two Main Types of Tweets
There are two main types of tweets. The first uses the 140 characters to tell your story. Your content is contained in that snippet of text or attached image.
The second way to think of your tweet is as a headline. Perhaps you want to direct followers to an article on a website, an interesting blog, or an online parish form. Provide a brief headline with a link sending followers to another online location.
10 Ideas for What to Tweet
There are a variety of ways to use both types of tweets. Here are 10 ideas for getting started using Twitter in your religious education program.
- Give families breaking news and updates. Twitter is a great compliment to the traditional phone tree. Let followers know about weather-related cancellations, last-minute changes to meeting locations, emergency information, and updates on parish events.
- Send reminders. Since many users access Twitter from their mobile devices, you have a constant captive audience. Recap assignments, repeat form return dates, request donations, and review times and dates of special events and services.
- Request volunteers. This is especially useful for those times when you are a few people short of making a good event a great event.
- Recommend Catholic resources and materials for parents to use at home.
- Inspire with quotes. Encourage parents to share the quotations with their children.
- Highlight meaningful comments from the Sunday homily.
- Post the beginnings of prayers for followers to finish praying.
- Link your followers with the latest in Catholic news. This is also a great way to educate families on current events that are related to issues of social justice.
- Retweet, or repost tweets from the Vatican or other trusted Catholic sources.
- Ask questions for discussion or reflection.
Twitter can be a powerful tool for connecting with families. How does Twitter work for you?
Dee Skomer is a writer and editor in the Chicagoland area and co-founder of Bound By Grace Press. She has been involved in various projects with Loyola Press including Finding God and Christ Our Life, and has written the “Family as a Spiritual Path” column for the online parent newsletter. As a former teacher and catechist, Dee is very interested in faith formation at the parish level.
Thanks, Dee for your suggestions. I am working with our Parish DRE and Communications Director to do something in the way of “Faith Tweets” developed by our CCD students.
Our 6th grade Salvation History CCD classes recently did an activity in which they were asked to write out hypothetical “tweets” to other youth about God and their faith. Their work was absolutely inspiring! Here are some examples from my class: “Worship Jesus and water His roots, because He will do much for you in return.” #TreeofLife; “God gives me strength to solve my problems.” #Godlistens; “God knocks on the door, but we have to open it for Him.” #acceptGod
I sent the list of “tweets” to the students’ parents via email, because I like to share what the youth are learning and how they are growing on their faith journey! I hope it creates an opportunity in the family for further discussion and an “encounter” with Jesus through their son/daughter.
Thanks again for a great article!
Thanks Mary, that is a great idea! Our pastor has a dog who is very well known and popular with parishioners. We have recently started a twitter account under the dog’s name and the “dog” tweets lighthearted things and occasionally will throw out a question to the parish. We are just at the beginning of this journey!
Theresa – I think it’s so important to explore new ways to engage the Parish community/family in conversation about our Faith, as your Parish is doing. I pray that these efforts open up new encounters with Jesus for people and with each other on our Faith journey. Best of luck with your tweets!