Perhaps even more so than other religions, the Church of England is locked in a Sisyphean struggle to demonstrate its relevance in the modern era, and it’s no easy going: according to the church’s own figures, weekly attendance fell to a record low of 764,700 in 2014, down 7% from 2009, and just 1.4% of the English population attends Sunday services on average, down two-thirds from the 1960s.
While it’s an open question whether these declines are temporary or are part of a broader, apparently irreversible wave of secularism sweeping Europe, Church leaders aren’t just standing by. Among other things, they are working hard to recruit younger parishioners in order to bolster ranks thinned by demographic change, and a central element of their go-to-market (sorry, make that go-to-church) strategy is social media outreach.
This week the Church of England released social media recommendations to help local parishes incorporate the new platforms in their outreach efforts. The recs include eight killer (savior?) apps that clergy and laity can use to manage each parish manage its social media presence, create content, and build local online communities centered on the Church.
The CoE’s recommendations include Facebook’s Pages Manager, where users can enable live streaming to broadcast church services and other events, as well as automatically upload photos, check analytics, and respond to messages, all from a smartphone (perfect for modern clergy on the go). The CoE also recommends Slack for coordinating parish activities, with separate conversations for different topics and forums for easy decision-making.
Tech-savvy clergy and laity may also want to check out If This Then That, which allows users to create automatic connections between apps and software on their mobile devices, for example so their smartphone automatically emails them any photos they take, or tweets pictures from Instagram. And the Feedly app can pull content from news sites, blogs, YouTube channels, and the Church’s own newsfeeds, providing fodder for parish magazines and social media sharing.
The CoE also recommends a number of creative apps, including Prisma, which allows users to turn photos into artful compositions with a range of filters, and Gif Me! Camera, which makes animated images out of multiple photos.