The New Evangelization encourages us to proclaim the Gospel with new ardor, methods, and expression. One feature now at our fingertips is Facebook Live, which allows the sharing of live video with followers and friends on Facebook. Gone are the days when churches had to spend large amounts of money to broadcast something live such as the worship service, the pastor’s homily, a concert, or a presentation. Now, Facebook Live and other similar online tools enable anyone with a mobile phone, an Internet connection, and a FB page (or other social media connection) to broadcast live to their audience and to make the broadcasts available as a recording afterwards. Fr. James Martin, SJ, author of My Life with the Saints, recently used FB Live to talk about the Catholic response to the refugee crisis. And here’s Becky Eldredge, author of Busy Lives & Restless Souls, inviting her whole family to participate in a conversation about Praying in Family Life.
I can envision catechetical leaders offering formation to catechists and parents; pastors offering either their live homily or a summary of it; and more.
I asked my friend Joyce Donahue—a contributor to Catechist’s Journey and Diocese of Joliet, IL, catechetical consultant with tech savvy—to weigh in on the possibilities of using Facebook Live for faith formation. Here are her thoughts about targeting parents. With any of these, she recommends parent-signed child photo permissions.
- General program promotion—Stream a class activity, field trip, or a portion of a class liturgy to show what a great parish program you have. Be sure to post the recording.
- Parent formation—Stream a tour of the church, a Q & A session with the kids and the pastor, or a parent meeting. That last one would be a great way to archive the video and let parents who miss it watch later.
- Parent and child activities—Stream a demo of a family activity, instructions for a home service project, or a family ritual. For instance, demo the blessing of an Advent Wreath, blessing and lighting of a Christmas Tree, or blessing of the door of the home at Epiphany. Again, be sure to post the recording after the live event.
- Invite families to join you in prayer at a specified time.
- Allow families to pray the Easter Triduum together, by live-streaming a prayer before Mass on Holy Thursday (or even, with pastor’s permission, the Eucharistic procession), Living Stations on Friday, and the blessing and lighting of the Easter Fire on Holy Saturday night.
- If a child is sick or hospitalized for an extended time, make arrangements with parents to view a livestream of the class to stay connected, or have the others in the class do a video “get well card.”
Some practical how-to help, since I have used this:
- To stream from a program page and not a personal page, you must use the Pages Manager app on your phone. It’s suggested not to use a personal page for ministry if minors are in the audience.
- Simply click “Post”and select “Go Live,” give Facebook permission to record video and audio the first time, and then make sure the camera is pointing where you want it (selfie or pointing away).
- Next, write a short description of the video before going live.
- When you are finished, select Finish. Complete instructions with illustrations are here.
Have you used Facebook Live for faith formation? Share with us what you’ve done and how you used it. What other ideas can you think of to take advantage of this or similar resources?