Foursquare and Ministry – guest post by Rev. Naomi King

The following post is by the Rev. Naomi King.  She’s doing great things with social media. Recently she brought the ministry potential of Foursquare to my attention.  Have you heard of Foursquare?   If so, how are you using it?  Read more about Naomi on her blog and follow her on Twitter @revnaomi.   Thanks Naomi! -Peter

Rev. Naomi King

Foursquare and Ministry

By Naomi King

Ministry modalities via social media continue to expand. Foursquare, a location-based social media tool may be one of those newer powerful tools ( Users check into specific locations via their mobile phones.

At check-in, the user has an option to add a 140-character tag. Foursquare sends out the user’s check-in information to other social media, like Twitter and Facebook. The user receives so many points. Points unlock virtual badges. As a game, Foursquare is played against people who friend you. But what about ministry with people?

Foursquare lets me share quickly and easily when I’m out and about in the community on public ministry. Here’s a few ways I’ve used the check-in.

  • Pastoral meetings at the public library. This let people know they wouldn’t be able to phone me, and they could also find me without the stigma sometimes attached to coming to the office.
  • Meeting the congregational president for lunch. The immediate feedback from congregants was that they were glad to know we were connecting, and some questions about the pending Board meeting.
  • Attending funeral services. This signaled both my unavailability by phone, and let me ask folks who were not able to attend to pause in prayer and remembrance.
  • Attending District Assembly and Religious Professionals meetings. Folks knew I was out on professional business and followed up with questions about the meetings. I never had that kind of response from a weekly email notice about attending the meetings.
  • Checking in before worship. This accomplishes a few things: first, I remember to silence my phone before the service. Second, the map that pops up on Facebook actually helped a FB friend who had never visited locate our worship. Third, several people have cited deciding to rally and get out to worship because I checked in 45 minutes before the service.

To summarize: Foursquare lets congregants know more about what their religious leaders are doing and where they are. One of the perennial perceptions of ministry is that clergy and religious educators only work on Sundays and board members only at Board Meetings. Here’s one more tool to improve a congregational sense of accessibility and awareness of their religious leaders in the community.

Because this is a tool for ministry, I don’t use Foursquare for my recreational time. That means I’m not going to do well in the game component of Foursquare; I’m happy for my friends to keep their mayorships and high point scores.

Can you imagine the positive feedback for checking in at your local congregation or for social service projects? Would you highlight these folks on your congregation’s website or design special badges for them to unlock? How might you use Foursquare?

Update:  Here’s an overview video of Foursquare on Howcast.  – Peter

3 thoughts on “Foursquare and Ministry – guest post by Rev. Naomi King

  1. Hey, I’ve connected with folks who attend my church by seeing them checked in on Foursquare with me. When I’m out volunteering, I put it up on foursquare, linked to my facebook and twitter. It’s a way to spread what you’re doing, and how you are living your life. It’s a way to proselytize without being intrusive – something I think UUs should love 😀

  2. I have been really slow to use it. I live in a very small town and there aren’t many places that are on it and the time it takes to add a new place is annoying. I do think using it as a tool to let people know that great things you are doing for your community would be good. Other then that it seems more like an odd way to meet people at bars or fulfill a need to shout out where we are in the world.

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