There is a lot of discussion about the need for Digital Ministry in UUism (or religion in general) right now, plus discussion of what sort of communication technologies will best reach younger people.
I hear from people my age or younger that email is antiquated, and that they want me to send them a text message or facebook them.
Then I hear from others (in the same age range) that they refuse to use facebook – don’t look for them there – why aren’t you on Twitter? Or Tumblr? Or Google Plus? (OK, those people are all nerds, but they still count! 😉
Those much older than me say they just miss the old fashioned courtesy of paper. Why can’t we keep sending them things in the mail? Why do we have to make them get on the computer and assault their eyes with flickering images when paper was so perfectly fine?
Other people quite candidly tell me that they are so overwhelmed by ALL forms of communication that they would prefer I not bother them with much – except what they really want to hear about. Of course, since I can’t read their minds to know what they will care about, this is tricky.
What is a poor DRE to do?
I can’t pick the one best form of communication. No matter what any group tells you, in my experience there is no such beast. What it seems to me that I need to do is communicate with breadth AND depth, casting my net widely and yet also baiting it with content worth reading/watching/listening to.
I have little lists of people in my congregation, with marks next to their names for Text, Call, Email, Facebook, or Snail Mail. I try to reach out to people in the method they prefer, even though that may mean that I have to take the same message and transmit it in all these multiple formats.
I am actively blogging and on facebook, and I write weekly and monthly emails to the families in my congregation. I write a monthly report that I disseminate widely to the leadership of my congregation via email. I send birthday and thank you cards and calendars of upcoming events (hoping they will get stuck to fridges with a magnet) via snail mail. I put up posters on the church walls and place colorful trifold brochures in strategic locations about the building. I’m also experimenting with Twitter, Tumblr, Google Plus, Ning, and YouTube.
Which is the Best way to communicate? Until everyone is willing to all line up and choose just one, all I can see is the Best Way to Communicate with X, and then the Best Way to Communicate with Y. A challenge for those of us in this ministry business, indeed.