Build community by playing games

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Games, especially board games and card games, have long been an effective means of facilitating interaction between family members, friends, and strangers. I have fond childhood memories of playing Sorry, Aggravation, Battleship, Stratego, Monopoly, and Rook with my parents and siblings on weekly game nights in the winter and on family vacations in the summer. In later years, holiday gatherings required competitive games of Scrabble and Trivial Pursuit.

Games also played, pun intended, a significant role in my local church ministry. One congregation that I served in a small rural community hosted a monthly Pitch Party that attracted a crowd of three to four times the attendance of Sunday morning worship services. I learned to play Pinochle by participating in a social group of older church couples that had been meeting every month for decades to play cards and reconnect with one another.  I learned to play Domino’s by playing with three elderly gentlemen in a nursing home against whom I never won a game. Playing games in a congregational setting included youth group meetings and New Year’s Eve watch parties.

Most, if not all, board and card games have made the transition to electronic format so that enthusiasts can play against the operating systems of their smart phones, computers, and tablets, or use these devices to play friends and family members at anytime and anywhere via the Internet. The computer and the Internet has also brought us the MMOG or Massively Multiplayer Online Game in which seemingly unlimited numbers of players cooperate, compete, and interact with others from around the world in games that serve a variety of interests. While I have used electronic devices to play Scrabble with friends and family for several years, I have only recently joined the MMOG world. Although I am playing a game with hundreds of thousands of people, I am also in an “alliance” of about 30 individuals from all over the world with whom I enjoy interacting on a daily basis.

The Pew Research Center reports that 49% of American adults play video games with very nearly even percentages of men (50%) and women (48%). So, needless to say, a significant percentage of your congregations’ members play video games. Perhaps an equally larger or even larger percentage play board and card games. Is there an opportunity here for clergy to better know and interact with congregational members and to connect with non-members in a way that builds community? Certainly.

If your congregation has a Facebook page that is “liked” by any number of congregational and community members, then, hopefully many members have used the congregational page to find and friend each other on Facebook. Encouraging such use of the congregational Facebook page should be a regular activity. Once congregational members have friended each other, it is all that much easier for them to network and connect around common interests such as playing games online. Members can be encouraged to post requests for game partners on the congregational Facebook page for both online and in-person games. Members should also be encouraged to make game playing time with shut-ins and nursing home residents.

A regular survey of members’ Facebook pages can reveal whether there is a critical mass of individuals with a common interest to warrant organizing a group within the congregation. Simply check “Apps and Games” under the “More” drop down menu on a person’s home page on Facebook to see what games the person is playing online. If you notice that a significant number of members are playing, e.g., Scrabble, then consider organizing and hosting a monthly game night or tournament in the fellowship hall using the old fashioned game boards and wooden letter tiles and make it open to the public. A small tournament entry fee could be charged with proceeds going to a different charity each month. In similar fashion, a significant number of members playing the same MMOG might want to consider creating a common alliance that identifies them as members of the congregation.

Consider a monthly all-members game night that features a different game each month with game veterans teaching newbies how to play. Alternate between generations from month to month as well. If your community has enough diversity, perhaps games from other countries could be introduced and taught as well.

In conclusion, I think the following observation is an important one to consider regarding the link between games and ministry: “Games are about everyone showing up. In classrooms full of students who range from brilliant to sullen disaffection, it’s games — and often games alone — that I’ve seen engage every single person in the room. For some, the right kind of play can spell the difference between becoming part of something, and the lifelong feeling that they’re not meant to take part.” Tom Chatfield

 

 

 

Use Wikipedia to help the world discover your congregation

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Wikipedia, the free-access, free content Internet encyclopedia, is the seventh most popular website on the Internet with nearly 500 million unique visitors each month. Wikipedia is a critical information resource in our networked world in that anyone and everyone is empowered with a free and global platform to tell their side of any story. The fact that anyone can create an account and then create and/or edit encyclopedia entries generated a lot of early skepticism about Wikipedia, but the non-profit organization is diligent in its pursuit of neutrality, accuracy, and equality. I encourage everyone to watch this TED Talk with founder Jimmy Wales in order to gain a greater appreciation for the work of Wikipedia.

Wikipedia articles are written in more than 200 languages and the English version has 4.7 million articles, one of which may well be about your church building, especially if it is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. A keyword search of Wikipedia for “Methodist AND Church AND Ohio” returns a list of 2,136 results. Glancing down the list of results, I am curious about the Nast Trinity United Methodist Church in Cincinnati so I follow that link to learn that it is the first German Methodist church established anywhere in the world. The article was created April 3, 2007 by the Wikipedia user Tomas417. I know this because I clicked on the “View History” tab at the top right of the page and scrolled through the list of actions regarding the page until I found the “created page” note.  Most all of the other Wikipedia articles returned in the search have a similar appearance in that a column on the right features a picture of the church building, a map of Ohio that pinpoints the building location, and the main body of the entry goes into some detail with historical and architectural information. The similarity is due to a computer program that accesses the information from the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and re formats the information into a Wikipedia page. The result is an interesting and informative web page about a local church building. However, thanks to the open access culture of Wikipedia, the page could be so much more.

For example, the Wikipedia article about the Nast Trinity United Methodist Church does not include a link to the congregations Facebook page.  Worse, there is an outdated and dead link listed for the congregational website under the section of “External Links.” While the article is very informative about the history and architecture of the building, it does not include anything about the current use of the building, the life of the congregation, hours of the week that the building is open, contact information and so much more. All of these issues are easily addressed by simply creating a Wikipedia account and then clicking on the “Edit” tab at the top right of the page. From this point new sections of information can be added, links added and corrected, citations clarified, and so much more. For example, while the article mentions the congregational founder, William Nast, and a link to a separate Wikipedia article about him, it is missing a list of all the pastors who have served the congregation. Likewise, one could add a section on events for which the congregation is known such its the annual Dribblethon.

If nothing else, it behooves every congregation to check Wikipedia to see if there is already an article about your church building and, if so, to check it for accuracy. However, if there is not an article about your church or congregation, then it is time to create one. Start with a historical article and include links to the Wikipedia articles for your community, newspaper, noted congregational members/townsfolk, and so on.

Share your experiences, thoughts, opinions, and ideas regarding Wikipedia in a comment to this blog post.

Subscribe to Sub-Reddits with Positive Topics for your Social Media Ministry

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This is the last of three postings devoted to Reddit, which I find to be an incredibly useful tool and information resource even if it requires more than a little work and discipline to find the gems among the garbage. My goal with this post is to point you towards a few Sub-Reddits that I think you will find useful for ministry and to further encourage you to explore this site and become more familiar with using it.

Sub-Reddits are subdivisions within Reddit that focus on a particular topic and the range and number of topics seems to be ever expanding. Some Sub-Reddits are very active and have a large number of participants. Other Sub-Reddits may have only occasional new postings. Still other Sub-Reddits have gone dormant from a lack of group participation.

One of the things that I like about Reddit is that it is easy to find information and news items that go against the norm of sensationalized, crisis of the moment, “if it bleeds it leads”, news with which we are all too familiar. I have listed below just eight Sub-Reddits that are worthy of your time and consideration as resources for the kind of stories that you might want to share with your congregation through Twitter and Facebook. The names of the Sub-Reddits are strong indications of the topics and of the direction for ministry that I am suggesting.

First, Deciding to Be Better is one of my favorites for stories, testimonials, and links that inspire me to be a better person. Today there is a link to the letter that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote from the Birmingham jail. Notice on the right side of the page the links to related Sub-Reddits such as Health, Stop Smoking, and Self-Improvement. Two Sub-Reddits listed there are also on number 2 and 3 on my list.

Second, Happy asks people to “post things that make you warm and fuzzy inside”. Today there is a link to the article “What Ferris Bueller Can Teach You About Happiness“. The resulting page includes links for you to easily share the article with your congregation by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more.  Third, Meditation is a place for sharing stories about how to meditate.

My fourth suggestion changes the direction a bit in that Up Lifting News recognizes “There are still good, honest, compassionate people in this world and this is a place to share their stories”. Random Acts of Kindness aspires to “have a subreddit with honest and kind stories. Selfless good deeds. Ones that inspire you and others and give hope”. Examples of Good asks users to cross-post examples of good found on Reddit.

Changing direction once again, Volunteer is small Sub-Reddit with little more than 1,000 subscribers, but it seems to be the type of community that many young people are looking for and may have hoped to find through church. It may be a worthwhile community from which to recruit volunteers for church projects and as a potential entry into the congregational family. Help It is a similar, if perhaps more enthusiastic, community compared to Volunteer in that it encourages its members to “get out, get our hands dirty, and help out our communities. There’s a bajazillion people on Reddit. We can show the world we mean business when it comes to being AWESOME”.

I encourage you to explore and subscribe to a few of these Sub-Reddits and share one, two, or three things a day with your congregation through your Twitter account or Facebook page and see if you do not start getting more followers, more comments, more interest and participation in the life of your congregation.

Share your experiences in a comment to this post.

Follow us on Twitter @shepherdconnect and find us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ConnectedShepherds?ref=hl

Use Reddit to discover information about and share information with your community

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According to an article that appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in July of 2013, 15% of males age 18-29 and 5% of females in that same age group who use the Internet, use Reddit. If your congregation offers or is considering offering ministries for these age and gender demographics, you would do well to consider Reddit as a medium by which to get the word out and also to get a finger on the pulse of what is happening in your area. If your congregation is located in or near a college town, then it is very likely that a sub-Reddit exists that focuses exclusively on what is happening in your town.

I live in Kent, Ohio, the hometown of Kent State University, and there is a sub-Reddit for both the town and the university. The university sub-Reddit is filled with notices one might expect such as looking for roommates, needing to find a good auto repair place, used textbooks for sale, and so on. The town sub-Reddit is filled with notices of free kittens to give away, links to historical photos, announcements of various bands coming to the several live music venues in town, and so on. Keyword searches for “church”, “Bible”, and “worship”all came up empty for both the university and town sub-Reddits. The same was true for the sub-Reddit for nearby Akron, Ohio. Finally, I found a posting on the Cleveland sub-Reddit by a young couple who have recently moved to the city and are looking for a church home. The couple specify that they are 25 years old, which matches the demographics from the article linked above.

Reddit is a free platform to post announcements about alternative worship services, Easter Sunrise, Christmas Eve services, Bible studies, fund raising dinners, special concerts, and anything else that is happening in your congregation. Reddit is also a great place to browse and gain insight on what is happening in your community. Go to Reddit and enter the name of your community in the search box to see if there is a dedicated sub-Reddit. If so, consider subscribing so that you can post and share text items or links to your congregational web site or blog. If your community does not have a sub-Reddit, you can start one yourself for free!

If you already use Reddit to post information about your congregation or to discover what is going on in your community, please share your information in a comment for this post. If you have questions about how to use Reddit, please free to ask your question in a reply to the post. Also please feel free to follow Connected Shepherds on Twitter @shepherdconnect or Like us on Facebook.

The Bountiful Information Treasure Trove that is Reddit

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If you are not familiar, Reddit is a broad and wonderfully complex web site that seeks to facilitate the organization and prioritization of information in a very democratic manner by allowing its users to vote on information items that directly impacts the ranking of said items in terms of popularity. I have been using Reddit as a primary information resource and as a tool for teaching graduate students for a couple of years now and I feel as though I have just barely scratched the surface of its usefulness. Reddit is not a commercial enterprise, but what it lacks in user experience design it makes up for in facilitating community and communication on just about any subject imaginable. Having said that, it must also be acknowledged that Reddit is sort of like the Wild, Wild, West of the Internet in that absolutely anybody can post just about anything so there is often a lot of sifting through the chaff to find the kernels of wheat. However, I encourage you to sign up for a free account and spend some time exploring the various topical sub-Reddits and subscribing to a few that interest you. My next few postings will suggest ideas for how you might use Reddit for ministry.

First, Reddit can serve as a research tool for sermon preparation, teaching youth and adult confirmation classes, or Bible study groups within the congregation. For example, do a keyword search on “Pentecost” and you will get a long list of results that include items from nearly 20 different sub-Reddits. The search results are sorted by relevance. Notice to the far left of any link on the page a number which represents the overall rank of a particular item. To the right of that number is another number below which appears an up arrow. The number represents how many up votes the item has received from subscribers. Moving further to the right you will see a number for how many comments have been made in response to the link and options to share the link with others by email and an option to save this link for future reference. The comments section is often the most helpful in terms of discussion, asking and answering questions, etc., but you can also expect to find sarcasm, antagonism, and worse.

Rather than scroll down through the entire list of search results, you will want to narrow the list according to sub-Reddit. The list of sub-Reddits in which the word “Pentecost” can be found is at the top of the search results page, arranged from right to left by order of most occurrences of the word. The “Christianity” sub-Reddit has the most occurrences and is the most promising for narrowing the search and finding worthwhile information so click on the link to go to the Christianity sub-Reddit. Now the list of search results are much better refined and of value for preparing a sermon on the topic of Pentecost.

As you scroll down the screen you will notice along the right side of the page other helpful information specific to the Christianity sub-Reddit such as the rules of participation as stipulated by the sub-Reddit moderators, a categorized list of other sub-Reddits that relate to the topic of Christianity, and links to useful resources outside of Reddit. In this instance perhaps the sub-Reddits on Islam and Judaism might be useful for teaching confirmation classes.

Click on the green “Subscribe” button that appears just below the word “Christianity” in the upper right of the computer screen. Notice that the “Subscribe” button has now changed to “Unsubscribe” which indicates just how easy it is to join and leave a sub-Reddit. The names of any sub-Reddit to which you subscribe will appear in a horizontal bar at the top of your Reddit screen. If you subscribe to more sub-Reddits than can fit in the horizontal bar, click on the “My SubReddits” link with the down arrow on the far left of the horizontal bar and a drop down menu of all your subscriptions will appear. Simply scroll down to a sub-Reddit name to go to that page and see the latest items contributed by subscribers.

By default, you will have links in the horizontal bar to “Front”, “All”, and “Random”.  These links provide different ways to explore Reddit. The “Front” link provides an aggregated list of all items just from the sub-Reddits to which you have subscribed so that you can see new items of particular interest to you quickly and easily. The “All” link provides a list of everything that is being posted to Reddit, which can be pretty overwhelming, but it also gives you an opportunity to see items and sub-Reddits that you might not otherwise ever hear or know about. The “Random” link takes you to a specific, yet random sub-Reddit that may appeal to you, or might be revolting to you, but which you can then easily skip or explore.

Feel free to share your impressions and experiences with Reddit in a comment regarding this post.

Start a Goodreads group for the book lovers in your congregation

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Vibrant congregations create and provide multiple entry and participation points for persons looking to join in and engage with the congregational community. The choir has long been an entry and participation point for people who like to sing. Many congregations have quilting circles for people who like to sew. One of the first posts in this blog encouraged congregations to create a Strava group for runners and cyclists. With this post, congregations are encouraged to create an entry and participation point for people who like to read.

Goodreads is a popular social network for people who love to read and to share their reading experience with others. Goodreads users can

  • List, rate, and review books that they have read or are reading,
  • Network with friends or join groups in order to discuss, search for, or get recommendations on books,
  • Create personal reading challenges for themselves and friends,
  • Network with authors, including live chats,
  • Get free books,
  • Upload their own works of creative writing, and
  • Create public or private groups for general or specific purposes.

A keyword search for “church” on the Groups page of Goodreads reveals that more than a few congregations are already tapped into this social network.

The Grace Episcopal Church in Charleston South Carolina has a Goodreads group of 23 members, The Grace Church Book Club, that reportedly reads “a variety of titles and discuss once a month. All are welcome!” However, the congregational website does not seem to include any information about the group and a search of the site for “Goodreads” came up empty. So potential members are left to discover the group on Goodreads and request to join from there, which severely limits the use of the group as an entry and participation point for the congregation.

The Church of the Advent in Atlanta is a Western Rite Orthodox Church and the focus of its Advent Book Club is to help members through readings that are “reflective of our Western heritage and our place in the Orthodox faith”. There are 16 members in the book group, but, again, there does not seem to be any mention on the congregational website about this social media resource.

St. Patrick’s Church in Lexington Kentucky created a Goodreads group for the specific purpose of an Advent book discussion of  Trevor Hudson’s book titled “Discovering Our Spiritual Identity: Practices for God’s Beloved“. By following the link on the book title, group members to see their options for getting a copy of the book from Amazon, other online stores, or from a library. I was really hopeful that I would find an announcement about the Goodreads group at least on the congregational Facebook page, but alas, such was not the case.

Finally, Grace Church in San Diego California created the Grace SD Book Club for discussing “the intellectual and spiritual points of literature” and notes that it is a Connect Group of the congregation that meets once a month. Connect Groups are featured, but not listed on the congregational web site from the Connect page – I like the sound of that – unless you are signed and logged in.

So here are a few examples of congregations using a popular social network for book lovers for fun, for networking, for teaching, and for congregational participation. Any Goodreads member can create and moderate a group so it is possible for youth groups, church school classes, confirmation classes, Bible Study groups, and more to make use of this free and easy tool. The congregational website address can be included in the information about the group so that Goodreads can also serve as a discovery tool for community members looking for a local book club.

Consider Creating a Co-Working Space in Your Church Building

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Co-working is a growing social networking phenomenon by which freelancers, entrepreneurs, independent contractors, etc., pay a fee for access to a shared work space in order to avoid working in isolation and to be around similar minded people. Wikipedia describes co-working as:

a style of work that involves a shared working environment, often an office, and independent activity. Unlike in a typical office environment, those coworking are usually not employed by the same organization.[1] Typically it is attractive to work-at-home professionals, independent contractors, or people who travel frequently who end up working in relative isolation.[2]Co-working is also the social gathering of a group of people who are still working independently, but who share values,[3] and who are interested in the synergy that can happen from working with people who value working in the same place alongside each other.[4][5] Co-working offers a solution to the problem of isolation that many freelancers experience while working at home, while at the same time letting them escape the distractions of home.”[6][7]  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coworking)

Congregations with suitable areas of their physical plant going unused during the week might well consider starting and hosting a co-worker community and space as a means by which to:

  • Generate greater local awareness of the congregation and its location,
  • Generate a new revenue stream,
  • Offer a service and support to congregational members who are also members of the co-working community, and
  • Create opportunities to reach out to, communicate, and network with a particular social demographic of persons with particular skill sets that might benefit and extend the mission of the congregation.

To be certain, this is not a workable idea for every congregation and is probably most suitable for congregations with downtown and business district locations. Nor is it a simple project to implement as there are more than a few issues and concerns that must be addressed such as liability, building security, pricing, administration, and more.  The development of an incremental and strategic plan might start with determining if a co-working space might be of interest to current congregational members.

There are numerous resources available to help with starting a conversation about the idea and thoroughly exploring all the ramifications. A highly recommended way to start is to attend or host a Jelly, which is a casual working event that requires nothing more than chairs, tables, and wireless Internet access. Here is a link to a video that gives you a better idea:

Coworking.org offers an excellent wiki of resources including business plans for starting a co-working space. The Wikipedia article on co-working offers an extensive bibliography for further reading.

If your congregation is already offering co-working space or other innovative use of building space during the week, we hope that you will share your experiences in a reply to this post.

Examples of good #hashtag use in Tweets

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I wrote earlier in an earlier post that congregations should strategically develop, advertise, and consistently use unique hashtags that makes it easier for social media users to find posts and threads by and about the congregation. To better demonstrate what I mean by this, in this post I want to share a few good examples that I have found by congregations and pastors that I follow on Twitter.

St. Bart’s Episcopal Church in New York City, has used #stbartsnyc in all of their tweets since early November of this year. The St. Bart’s Twitter account made 20 tweets in the past week and consistently used the hashtag in each one. More importantly, two other Twitter users have included #stbartsnyc in their tweets regarding activities at the church, thus leveraging the use of the hashtag to a greater number of Twitter users.

The Peachtree Presbyterian Church in Atlanta seems to have two different Twitter accounts, Peachtree Pres and Peachtree Church, which might cause some confusion and may explain why both accounts consistently use #PeachtreeMessage in their tweets dating back to September of this year. Whatever the reason, the large number of tweets with the hashtag is sure to generate some attention in the Twitterverse. Both accounts also include the Twitter address for Rev. Mark Crumpler, pastor of Teaching and Spiritual Formation, in their tweets as a means to facilitate communication and connecting between pastor and Twitter followers.

The Lakewood United Methodist Church in Lakewood, Ohio uses #lkwdumc and has used Twitter as a means by which people could vote on whether the pastor, Rev. Bruce Hartley, should keep or shave his beard.

Finally, the First United Methodist Church of McKenzie, Tennessee, a congregation that I featured in an earlier post as a congregation that is making impressive use of social media, has used #adventmckfirst in their tweets during the past few weeks to encourage congregational participation in a Photo a Day Advent exercise using the congregation’s Instagram account: http://instagram.com/mckfirst/.

Please, share your unique hashtags and how you are using them in a reply to this post.

Reach out to the Geocaching community

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Some of my fondest memories of church youth group days involve organized treasure hunts. Dividing the group into teams, finding and deciphering the clues, and racing the other teams to the treasure, which usually involved home-made ice cream or pizza, always meant for a fun time. Some of us never outgrow a love for the treasure hunt and, thanks to the Internet, we can continue the quest wherever and whenever we have an inclination.

Geocaching is a treasure-hunting game that includes a community of more than 6 million people and nearly 3 million treasures located around the world. It is a loosely organized social game which anyone can play and if offers a unique means by which local congregations can reach out and provide information about themselves to a rather unique community. The point of the game is to search for and find “buried treasure”, receive a small reward for one’s efforts, leave a record of one’s success, and respectfully return the treasure to its hiding place for the next player to find. To get an idea of geocaching activity in your area, go the Hide and Seek page of the Geocaching website and enter your postal code for a list of geocaches in your area. There are 566 geocaches located within 10 miles of where I live.

A local congregation can participate by simply filling a small weatherproof metal or plastic box with give away swag items like pens, key rings, bookmarks, etc., imprinted with the congregational name and contact information, and a small notebook and pen. Treasure finders will take one swag item from the box, perhaps leave an item of their own in exchange, and use the notebook and pen to make a log entry with their username and the date they found the cache. They will also likely record their find online at the Geocaching website. Once the box is ready, go to the Geocaching site, create a free user account, go to the drop down “Play” menu, and follow the directions for hiding a geocache. The box should be hidden in such a way as to provide a challenge, but not so challenging as to tempt a treasure hunter to dig up a flowerbed. Finders will rate the geocache for fun and difficulty.

Check out and explore the website to get a feel for this community. Go on a few treasure hunts in your area to get an idea for what it is like and what is expected. It is a worthy endeavor in getting some unique exposure and possible name recognition. There may well be geocaching members within your congregation.

Using Spotify playlists for congregational participation and worship preparation

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Many years ago when I was in local church ministry, I had a colleague who read Rolling Stone magazine each week in order to find titles for his sermons from the songs that were popular on the radio at the time. Mind you this was long before iPods and iTunes, let alone e-mail and blogs, so he had to rely on the weekly worship bulletin to inform the congregation that the title for the next week’s sermon would be, say, “Cosmic Debris”, along with a suggestion to give a listen to the Frank Zappa tune prior to the next worship service. He knew that he was on to something when teenagers started attending Sunday services more often than their parents and asking for cassette tape recordings of the songs that he referenced in his sermons. I remember him expressing a desire to add an audio/visual element to the sermons, but that was rather cost prohibitive in those days. Enter the World Wide Web, mp3 digital music files, streaming audio/video, inexpensive projectors and screens, and what was once but a dream is now common.

If you are not familiar, Spotify is a social music application that allows users to listen to and create customized playlists for every genre of music imaginable. It is also a platform for artists to upload their songs and receive financial compensation making it a legal file sharing service. Users are not allowed to download songs and artists are paid a small royalty each time one of their songs gets played. The social element comes into play when users subscribe to playlists and artists, create and share custom playlist, and/or allow their Facebook and other social media friends to see the songs to which they are listening. Spotify offers both a free and premium platform with the former being more like listening to commercial radio as advertisements are aired every few songs. The premium platform dispenses with the ads and includes other services such as multi-device syncing of playlists for a monthly fee.

I searched Spotify for “church”, “Methodist”, “Presbyterian”, and “Episcopal” and found a few albums of church choir recordings, but only one congregation that seemed to be using the platform as a means by which to connect congregational members. The Village Church, with multiple campuses in the Dallas area, has created three playlists on Spotify one of which has more than 500 followers and includes 26 songs for more than 2 hours of playing time.

Congregations and clergy members might want to experiment with Spotify as yet another means by which to encourage congregational participation and connection, to enhance worship preparation, and to reach out to the broader community. The first step is to create a free account in the name of the congregation in order to generate a user profile that people will be able to find and follow. Then use Spotify to create playlists on various themes or for different church seasons. For example, create a playlist of Advent or Lenten related songs and add new songs to the list each week of the season to coincide with the theme of the upcoming sermon. Develop playlists on other themes and aspects such as devotion, service, justice, hope, and more. Advertise the profile name and playlists through Twitter, Facebook, etc., as well as the printed worship bulletin. The development of playlists is as simple as clicking on the “New Playlist” button on the left side of the user screen then searching for songs by title, artist, or keyword. Simply drag and drop the resulting song(s) to the playlist which you have named by theme or season. Encourage certain groups such as the choir or youth group to get involved and create their own playlists for the congregational profile.

If you are already using Spotify or another such social music platform in your ministry, please share the information and link in a reply to this posting. If you give Spotify a try, please share the results in similar fashion.

Thanks for reading!