The last year has been a Social Media rollercoaster for us at St Bon’s. We have just welcomed Jude Vaughan-Spruce as a new, temporary member to our team, her role is to engage with our followers and those who comment on our posts, this has been the missing link in our Social Media. The reason we are on Social Media is down to Laura who runs our communications. Laura, a Millennial, is totally plugged in to Social Media and when she joined us she realised how important it was for us as a church to be present on it too. I had flirted with Twitter and had had a Facebook account for a long time but Laura introduced me to Instagram which I have slowly come to love. It was Laura’s idea to make videos for our Social Media and she would arrange the filming and production of our videos that went out every few weeks. Once lockdown hit it was impossible for Julius (our then videographer) to come in and record but it appeared that being online was going to be the only way I as a Priest and we as a parish could communicate with you and a world bamboozled by the pandemic. That meant I would have to do the filming myself, but Julius who had been doing the filming had a good camera, I had an iPhone! Also I had never edited before, but as I discovered that was the best bit, that’s where a lot of the fun can happen. So over the course of lockdown I have been recording, editing and uploading videos each week. I believe The Lord calls me to it and like many of the things we are ‘called’ to do it has its highs and lows and doesn’t always contain the thrill of those early days.
As the first lockdown progressed we were hit with a problem. We were spreading ourselves too thinly. We were making content for Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, each with a different audience. It was almost impossible to make a video that worked on each one and while we were delighted that at least one of the platforms would like our content it was frustrating that the others would be alienated. It was at that point we decided to get an external review which turned out to be one of the best things we did. Two things came out of the review which have borne enormous fruit for us over the last year. The first was to follow our passion. I have always been more passionate about proclaiming the Gospel to people on the outside of the Church than those on the inside. I feel that very few Priests consider adapting their style or tone to those who would not necessarily walk through the door of a church, but how else are they going to hear the message of Jesus for their life if someone who is passionate about it does not help them understand it? The second piece of advice from the review was – ‘You, need to be on TikTok’.
TikTok has been an amazing adventure, full of highs and lows and we are still learning as we go on. Compared to any other Social Media platform TikTok is totally crazy, it is chaotic, basic, unpretentious and impossible to completely fathom. Instagram on the other hand, is sleek, clean, predictable and comfortable – that’s my view anyway. I love both and for us as a Parish they give us different opportunities, Instagram enables us to offer a range of content while TikTok enables us to really engage with people who may never consider talking to a Christian. That is clear from two videos that we put up last week. One was me commenting on a video by the British, Christian Philosopher, Justin Brierley and the other was a video entitled ‘Are Muslims better at fasting than Christians?’ Both videos have received tremendous feedback, the first mainly negative from angry Atheists and the second more genuine from Muslims and Orthodox Christians. If it was not for Jude, our new team member, we would have had no chance of replying to the hundreds of comments we have received. But in replying, I feel we have provided a service to those who are seeking, who are searching and who want to engage. I have no doubt that the adventure will continue but how things will look as we come out of lockdown is anyone’s guess!