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
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 (www.foursquare.com). 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