About the Author
Shelby Meyerhoff

Social media training materials for General Assembly

New social media training resources from the 2010 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association have been added to the UUA’s social media resources collection. These include:

1. Video and slides for the “Introduction to Social Media and Public Relations” workshop.  These are perhaps our only social media resources that also provide an overview of traditional media outreach for congregations.

2. Slides from a portion of the “Advanced Social Media” workshop are below.

Slideshare presentation on social media and congregational mission

At the May 1st Spring Conference of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Massachusetts Bay District, I had the privilege of offering a keynote on social media and congregational mission, and listening to a social media presentation from Peter Bowden, growth consultant for the Ballou Channing District.

My presentation included an overview of the social media landscape, a discussion of ministry and evangelism online, and suggestions for engaging with social media in safe and ethical ways. The slides are below; please feel free to share this presentation with other Unitarian Universalists interested in social media:

The “Social Media and Congregational Mission” presentation above is geared towards Unitarian Universalist leaders already familiar with the some of the basics of social media. A good starting point for beginners looking to learn more about social media is this newcomer-friendly presentation:

Considering Unitarian Universalist ministerial identity online

Erik Resly, a Harvard Divinity School student, recently sent me his paper, “Who Do You Say That I Am?: Claiming and Maintaining an Online Ministerial Identity.” The paper presents some of the key issues that ministers face in using social media and explores different strategies for ministers engaging in relationship-building and self-presentation through social media. I found his paper very thought-provoking and enjoyable to read.

In a key paragraph, Erik writes:

In a world of complex interactions that take place in real-time, there is no perfect model for how to be a minister online. Individuals must learn to balance confidentiality, privacy and integrity with openness, honesty and accountability. They must navigate issues of consistency and reliability, while protecting free and creative self-expression. They must maintain security, while optimizing accessibility. In short, the act of creating and maintaining an online ministerial identity requires a series of compromises and trade-offs that are largely determined by authorial intent and the inscribed audience. As one minister alleged: “Social media use is as serious a use of thought and language as any other.

There are also moments of gentle humor in Erik’s paper. I particularly enjoyed this chart that he created based on his analysis of “twenty randomly selected ministerial profile pictures” on Facebook:

Erik has generously agreed to let me share his paper on this blog! For those of you who are religious professionals or are ministering online, I hope that you will find it offers useful questions and suggestions for furthering your work.