The continued emergence of new media keeps adding fresh spins on the commission to preach the gospel.
Though this is not a new realization for many, it was a message that was rekindled in me during the 2011 Catholic New Media Conference in Kansas City, Kansas, at the beginning of the month. Not only was the conference spiritually enriching, there were some dynamite guests and keynote speakers present (such as Fr. Roderick Vonhögen, Seàn Patrick Lovett of Vatican Radio, and CatholicMom.com Lisa Hendey). All brought inspirational lessons pertinent to ANY Catholic Christians who dabble in social media—not just those who work in Catholic communications or ministry. It really made me stop and think about the awesome power of tools like Facebook and Twitter that we casually use every day!
At the conference, Nunblogger Sr. Anne Flanagan, F.S.P., opened her talk with a thought-provoking haiku:
“Go teach my gospel.
We have all been commissioned.
What is the next step?”
The next step is realizing that God doesn’t call the equipped—he equips the called, which is all of us! (This from Pat Gohn, another presenter at the conference.)
At the conference, Catholic publishers sat side by side and heard the message the Jesus’ brand is love, and that there is no market share when it comes to evangelization. We are all here to help—and support—each other in getting the Good News out.
Too often people get caught up in the glory of social media, and the latest and greatest gadgets that come with it (i.e., the newest iPad, iPhone, etc.). It can be very easy to get distracted (and obsessed) with the number of friends, or fans, or followers one has. As was pointed out, though, evangelization isn’t a numbers game, nor is its success defined as immediately attracting large audiences—it is the organic growth of the Church built on individual relationships with Christ.
This leads to one of the greatest lessons I took away from the conference: only after you foster your personal relationship with Christ, will you see the fruits of your work. The Eternal Word will never fade; technology, however, will come and go.
Working in Catholic communications is a blessing, but you don’t have to work for a publishing company to spread the Good News. We are all called, and we have all been commissioned. After all, “what good is it to have a magnificent instrument, but not put it to magnificent use?”—Greg Willits, upcoming Servant Books author and co-host with his wife, Jennifer, of “The Catholics Next Door.”
Suggested reading: The New Evangelization
All photos by s.maentz / Featured photo description: Seàn Patrick Lovett addressing the crowd