By Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Ministry Associate for Social Media
You may have heard of GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation. This is a regulation in the European Union that regards how personal information is collected online for citizens of the EU. This regulation most likely doesn’t apply to your congregation, unless you have members who are from the EU—either people who still claim their citizenship in the EU or who were part of your church and moved to the EU. What this means is that you need their permission to be on your email list, your newsletter list, or even to receive your boosted Facebook advertisements. The GDPR is to protect people from having their information sold to another party or shared without their permission.
Even without the GDPR, it is a good idea to make sure you have people’s permission to send them your church newsletter or to print their information in a church directory. A simple permission form for members or regular attendees is easy to create, something that says, “I give my permission for this church’s name to reprint my contact information in the church directory,” or newsletter, etc.
It is also a good idea to have some sort of permission form for people to use or share their photos online—and especially, always, with children’s photos. You can do this either as a permission form, or an opt-out. A simple note at events where photos may be taken that “photos taken at this event may be posted online; if you do not wish to have your photo or your child’s photo posted, please fill out this form” or “please let name of person in charge of event know.”
There are reasons that people may not want to share their personal information, or they may be willing for the pastor to have it, but not for the rest of the congregation. It is always a good idea to ask first.
by Rev. Douglas Avilesbernal
Adventus. [Latin] - arrival, approach.
Advent. [Middle English] - a coming into place, being, arrival
Early Church- A season of preparation for coming into the church as it prepared for the second coming of Christ.
Middle Ages-when Advent changed from expectation of Jesus' second coming to a season of preparation for the celebration of Jesus' birth.
21st C-a chance to recapture the meaning and value of intentional and sustained spiritual preparation for the celebration of Jesus' arrival into our world.
Adventus has had a long journey in the life of the greater church. Through it all the season has always been about the faithful answering, “yes we will!” To Jesus’ call.
Originally it was the time of preparation for new converts to the faith. During those times becoming a Christian meant a radical life change. This change was not a spiritual choice alone. Becoming a Christian meant societal change as well. Which is probably why there were very few upper class converts for centuries.
Once the church came to power the nature of Advent changed, it became more of an inward journey. It was then that it also begun its journey toward what we know now, a loosely held tradition that reminds us that Christmas is coming.
Advent has lost nearly all of its significance in its journey from adventus to advent, from an intentional process of preparation for a different life as a follower of Christ to little more than the season when we begin to hear Christmas carols and decorate our homes.
It makes sense, we live in a world where there are no consequences from becoming a Christian. It is illegal for us to be fired because of our faith. We aren't necessarily disowned by our families or ostracized by our friends. We can be or become Christians while being no different from any non Christian around us. In fact, we are free to be less loving, less caring and all around a worse person than any non Christian person around and still call ourselves Christians.
Perhaps it is time for a new understanding of the season. Perhaps we need to recapture the yes we will of Adventus. An intentional Season of preparation that can help us deepen our faith and relationship with Jesus. A season long enough to create changes in how we live our lives. Interestingly, science has discovered how doing something for around 40 days is a good way to create a habit one is more likely to Keep.
Will you be intentional about adding your yes we will to your Advent season this year?
By Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Ministry Associate for Social Media
Google Calendar is a great way to keep track of events in the life of your church. Google Calendar is an online calendar that you can use for personal and church use, and has an easy-to-use mobile app. You can set up different accounts and choose whether they are public or private. For example, at Queen Anne Baptist Church, we have a QABC General Calendar that is public, but then we also have a Staff calendar that only staff members to add their vacation days or any other pertinent information. You can also put in location information for scheduling meetings or for building use, so if you are renting out your space, this is a great way to see what group is using what space at what time.
Google Calendars are easy to embed on your website. To get the HTML code, simply click on Settings, then click on the name of your calendar, click on “make available to public” and then scroll down to “integrate calendar” and copy the HTML embed code. You can also add email accounts to make them administrators of the calendar to edit or change events.
We have an Evergreen Association Google Calendar that is public! You can visit our website at www.ea-abc.org and click on Calendar to view, but you can also go directly to the calendar here: https://firstname.lastname@example.org If you use Google calendars, you can add the calendar to yours, and choose what color you’d like it to show up as. This is a great way to know when events are coming up so that you don’t schedule something at the same time as another event. Currently there are not many events on our shared calendar. Email me at email@example.com with information such as location, date, time, and details of your event. If your church uses Google Calendar, you can share that calendar with me at the same email address.
Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Ministry Associate for Social Media
There are unwritten rules for social interaction in our society, and they vary from culture to culture. The same can be said for Facebook, and sometimes it may take a while to learn what those unwritten rules are, just as they take a while to learn when you encounter a new culture. At times, we break one of these unwritten social rules and do not realize we have done so, or do not understand why someone may react to what we post or how we share information.
First, we need to understand how Facebook works:
--Your News Feed is where you can see everyone else posting. However, Facebook does not always show you every one of your friends; Facebook tends to show you your friends who post more often. If you don’t see someone’s post, you may have to look them up by searching for them.
--Your News Feed is not your personal page. People posting things in your News Feed are not necessarily posting them specifically for you to see. They are posting them for all of their Facebook friends to see. For example, when a friend shares a link to an article, most likely they are not posting that specifically for you to see. They are posting that to share with all of their friends.
--Your Personal Page (also known as your Profile or Wall) is where only your posts (and ones you are tagged in) will show up. Click on your name to see your personal page.
--If someone tags you on Facebook, that means they want you to see that post (and it will show up on your personal page).
--If you are part of a group, such as the Evergreen Facebook Group, sometimes those posts will show up in your News Feed. Again, when someone posts in a group, it is not necessarily a personal post to you, but a post shared to that group.
--Facebook Pages belong to organizations where they can share news and events. These are not the same as groups. Evergreen has a Facebook Page, but also has a group. In a group, anyone can post. On the page, only the organization can post (note that there are some exceptions to these rules—some groups change their settings to allow only posts that are approved by a moderator, and some pages allow others to post on the page).
--Some groups are closed groups like our Evergreen Association group. This way people who are not part of the group cannot see what is posted there, so we can share information only for Evergreen (this also cuts down on spam). It also means you cannot share a post from the group on your own page. For us in Evergreen, if it is information we want shared, we will also post it to our Evergreen Facebook page.
Secondly, here are some of the unwritten “Facebook Etiquette” guidelines that might be helpful for you as you use social media:
--Do not share someone else’s private information.
This sometimes happens in the life of the church when someone has gone to the hospital, or if a death has occurred. Not all family members may have been notified yet and someone from the church shares the information on Facebook. Sometimes this happens in family situations where someone announces their family member is expecting a child, but they weren’t sharing that information yet. Do not share information unless you have been given permission to do so.
--Do not respond to someone’s post with a comment or question that is not relevant to their post.
For example, if someone posts about something they are thinking about, or shares a picture of their child, don’t reply with, “Hey, are you coming over on Sunday?” That’s not relevant to that conversation.
--Do not post on someone’s page something that should be part of a private conversation.
That information will be available for all of their Facebook friends to see. For example, don’t post on someone’s wall, “Hey, are you coming over on Sunday?” A message (also known as Private Message or PM) is more appropriate.
--Do not share pictures of children without permission!
This one is very, very important, and sometimes well-meaning family members and friends will share photos without asking permission.
A final thought on etiquette and political conversations on Facebook:
In these days, political conversations can often become heated on social media. Sometimes they happen with people we know, and sometimes we become engaged in a conversation on one of our friend’s wall with one of their friends, and we may not know them. Sometimes people share articles or posts that are meant to spark conversation and it does not mean they agree with everything in that article. It’s hard to know intent or to convey tone at times in social media. It’s always good to remember that social media does not take the place of interactions such as meeting in person or speaking on the phone.