#HolyHashtag: The Pope joins the world of social media - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Spiritual Side

#HolyHashtag: The Pope joins the world of social media

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Posted: Thursday, December 13, 2012 12:49 pm | Updated: 2:35 pm, Tue Apr 9, 2013.

Recently, Pope Benedict XVI officially opened up his own Twitter account (@pontifex), joining millions of people all around the world sharing their thoughts on the social media site, 140 characters or less at a time. Days later he has already eclipsed over 540,000 followers — without a single tweet.

My first thought was, “What would he tweet?”

Then, I came to my senses and realized...

Notre Dame football.

Regardless of what he decided to tweet about, the Pope’s step into the world of tweeting and hash-tagging is a big step forward and outside of traditions.

As the Pope enters into the digital age, it brings up an interesting question: How open is the Church to change? Historically, the Church has hung on the hinges of tradition and history.

As culture and the marketplace are constantly changing and evolving, it seems like churches have always been slow to keep up. After all — the dying words of the Church have always been, “That’s just the way we’ve always done things.”

But why? Are we afraid of change? Does the idea of change mean that we would eventually have to do something different? Are we afraid of failing?

When asked why Twitter would be one of his next steps, the Church responded by saying that “The Pope’s presence on Twitter is a concrete expression of his conviction that the Church must be present in the digital arena.” While the Pope is far from the first religious leader to connect with the world through social media, I admire his willingness to admit that in order to remain present and effective in today’s culture, the Church must be open and willing to change.

While social media isn’t a new concept for the church when it comes to connecting with culture, I’ve seen plenty of areas where we’ve resisted change when it comes to ministry.

Whether it’s a dying ministry that continues to be funded, or an ineffective way we still prefer when it comes to communicating with our congregations, churches have always been excellent at hanging on to the ways of the past for too long.

Change can be a good... no... GREAT thing if we embrace it. We need to always be looking for new and fresh ways to bring a timeless message to an ever-changing world.

Culture is constantly evolving, and it’s vital that we resist the urge to white knuckle the way we’ve always done things in order to stay connected to it. While the mission of the church will never change, the ways we accomplish that mission and share the Gospel with others should.

How do you handle change? Is it hard for you to make — or do you embrace it?

• Colin Noonan serves as the director of Youth Ministries at Mountain View Lutheran Church in Ahwatukee Foothills. Follow him on Twitter (@cnoonan3) and share how you’re embracing change.

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