Virtual Ministry May Be Necessity Now, but It Isn’t New

Just about every church in the United States has moved to online ministry to mitigate the danger that congregational gatherings will further spread COVID-19.

There’ve been plenty of bumps in the road. Not everyone who’s spiritually savvy is technologically so.

But our own Sister Therese Ann Rich is among the few who embraced online ministry years ago. For several years, she’s taught online classes for the Diocese of Youngstown. She helped design and operate many of our ministry websites and our community website, social media pages and other online outreach. She’s the administrator of the website and eNewsletter for St. Edward Parish in Youngstown. She also served on the design committee for diocese’s newest website design.

Social media, she notes, is a key tool for 21st century ministry.

“Social media can help you be where your audience members are,” she says.

“As church, our ministry is to help and serve others. The question is — how can we serve someone if we do not go to or cannot be where they are?”

Sister Therese Ann cites data from, which shows that out of the 7 billion people on the planet, more than a third are on social media channels.

“If you and I, as ministers, are not present in this platform, how can we serve and minister to the billions of people who congregate on social media?” Sister Therese Ann posits.

Social media can help ministers create positive influence in society, she continues.

“As custodians of God’s word, we are called to influence the world. We are the salt and light of the world. We are the yeast that is destined to influence the dough. We are the vessels that carry solutions to the world’s biggest problems. And social media is where people are asking the questions, looking for answers and spending time researching,” Sister Therese Ann says. “Studies show that an average person spends close to two hours a day on social media. If our ministry is not present on social media, how can we influence the people who are crowding around this space for hours?”

Social media, she points out, also can help religious leaders build community.

“God’s plan for His Church is to operate as a community. And social media networks are designed to facilitate community building. That is why I believe the Church and social media are such a good fit,” Sister Therese Ann states. “Building a community online requires specific technology, features and infrastructure. Most social media networks come with those features already built in – members only content, group events, group calendar, privacy settings, instant messaging facility, notifications, etc. We have experienced the growth and depth of an online community.” 

Further, Sister Therese Ann says, social media can help you convey your ministry’s vision.

“God has given us a mission that can impact society and build His kingdom. It is good for us to share it with as many people in as many ways as possible,” she says.

“Social media is designed to take a message and spread it among a specific group of people. So if we take our vision/mission and communicate it to our audience on social media, then people may want to help us accomplish that vision,” Sister Therese Ann continues. “Using social media, we can communicate our mission visually and interactively, making it more engaging and interesting.”