The book is divided into four sections, each discussing a different aspect of the Church that could be enhanced by the use of social media: evangelization, faith formation, local parish engagement, and social justice activism. Within each section, there are several chapters written by experts on the topic who not only gave uplifting accounts of how they have successfully used new media to promote the faith, but also very specific advice for others to do the same. Just as the topics are varied, so is the advice; some is written for dioceses, parishes, and organizations while other guidance is directed toward bloggers and other individuals. As a Catholic blogger, I took particular interest in the chapters that focused on blogging and gained substantial insight and ideas about improving my blog and Catholic presence online. Yet I found the entire book to be fascinating and enjoyed the chapters about improving parish and diocese communication just as much as I enjoyed those that pertained to me specifically. As I read those chapters, I thought about the social media currently utilized at my current and past parishes and how parish life might be altered in the future if just a few of the suggestions were implemented. This in turn motivated me to consider ways that I personally can aid in the introduction of these technologies at the local level.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Book Review: The Church and New Media by Brandon Vogt
I heard more buzz about The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet before its release than any other book in recent memory. Perhaps this was because the author and contributors to the book, which is essentially about the Catholic Church harnessing the power of social media, put their own advice into action to spread the word about this phenomenal book through the very social media they discuss within its pages. I worried about starting the book with such high expectations, but after having read only the first chapter, I already felt that I had learned enough to make the book worthwhile even if the rest fell flat (which it didn’t!).
The Church and New Media can be summarized by three words: hope, inspiration, and advice. Through the voices of the author, Brandon Vogt, and eleven diverse contributors, readers are introduced to the various ways that social media can, and has, been used to positively spread the message of the Catholic Church. Each of these contributors has a unique story, some are priests, others laypersons, many are converts while others are lifelong Catholics. They use different “new media” outlets: websites, blogs, podcasts, and Twitter to name just a few. And yet the message of each is the same: that social media has the potential to renew the life of the Catholic Church.
I believe that the best books are not those that merely entertain or even that prompt you to think, but those that cause you to act. This certainly is one of those books. For that reason, I view it as a must read not only for Catholic bloggers, church staff, and clergy, but for all Catholics. After all, if the Church is communicating with us through social media, we should be knowledgeable able the resources available to us so that we can be on the receiving end of the Church’s messages. If you haven’t read it already, I strongly urge you to pick up a copy. Not only will you gain a greater understanding of how new media can be used as an instrument of God, you will also be financially supporting the spread of technology as 100% of the royalties from The Church and New Media go toward the establishment of school computer labs in the Archdiocese of Mombasa, Kenya.