You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
In 2015, Moses might well have added, “Post them on Facebook and tweet them on Twitter.” The generations we’re teaching today are the most tech savvy in history. Like it or not, much of what we learn we are learning via digital media. If we are serious about teaching our youth and adults the truths of our Christian faith, we need to learn to speak where they are listening.
One place to start is with blogging. Blogs are the long-form of social media communication, content-rich next to the Facebook status update or the Twitter 140-character post. Setting up a blog is fairly simple. A rich array of templates is available from service providers like Blogger or WordPress, many of them for free. A Web developer can help set up a blog as part of your parish’s website.
Once the technical hurdle is crossed, it’s time to write, and this can be done by an individual or a team of parish bloggers. Blog posts are relatively short and frequent. Changing content keeps readers interested. Relating blog content to current events can be a good way to generate interest; we can talk about the latest news of the world in light of the eternal truths of our faith. Another strategy for keeping readers coming back is to write a series of blog posts around a theme. For instance, I wrote a series of daily devotions based on the Gospels throughout the Lenten season, drawing a regular subset of readers.
Using a blog as a catechetical tool is not so different from engaging learners in the ways we’re accustomed to doing face to face. Many of the same principles apply. For instance, a variety of content—text, images, audio, video—will attract a variety of learners. Asking questions will allow readers to interact with the material we want to teach. The linking power of the Internet also allows us to connect readers with other sources and enhances messages without the need to create everything from scratch.
Finally, the best way to learn the rhythm of blogging is to read and comment on blogs. There are a wide variety of Christian teachers making good use of new media to proclaim the Gospel and teach solid content.
Not everyone should start a blog, but if you decide that it’s right for your parish, you can extend your community presence and faith-formation conversations throughout the week, not just when classes are in session.