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Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Building a Media Movement

Howdy bloggers! 

Quite some time has passed since my last post, but I am back and in action. This time I'm back to share about something that I have recently done some reading and research on, and I hope it gets some wheels turning in your creative heads. 

Today, I'm going to talk to you about media. But that's a big topic right? Right. More specifically, I'm going to talk to you about the Catholic Church and what role media plays in modern evangelization. So buckle up. 

What is media? How do we use it effectively? Can media really be used for the greater good of the Church? Media is the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, and magazines, that reach or influence people widely. The truth is that times are changing. We are a modern society who gets large chunks of our information from modern media, be it a blog such as this, or larger more popular social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Reaching out through media to convey a message is something that is relatively easy but has proven to be so very effective. Media is everywhere. Everywhere we look, someone somewhere is trying to convey a message to us somehow through the tools of modern media. But can this power be used for good? What does this mean for the Church? Let's look at an example. 

In 2004, Shawn and Marilisa Carney sat around their dinner table in South Texas. Seeking to do something about the growing abortion crisis, Shawn and his wife turned to prayer. After one hour of solid prayer around their dining room table, they knew what God was calling them to. 40 days. God had called this newly married couple to 40 days of fasting and prayer in hopes of ending abortion. A seemingly simple idea, Shawn and Marilisa went forward with this newly born campaign that would come to be known as 40 Days For Life. Without knowing of how big this thing might become, they started off in their local community of College Station, Texas. They went door-to-door and visited local church communities. The campaign began to grow rapidly and the story was picked up by several secular media outlets. Fall of 2004 was the first of many 40 Days For Life campaigns to come and locally, abortions already had dropped by 28%. Through the media, word spread and people all over became interested. 40 Days For Life grew rapidly - and so did the organizations means of communications. Campaign manager David Bereit began to reach out through email lists and internet websites. In 2007, the campaign started online webcasts. They determined that older more traditional ways of campaigning were no longer as effective, and found webcasts that could reach a mass number of people at the same time were much more productive. The same year that the national campaign began using webcasts as means of communication about 40 Days For Life, 89 different cities across America had registered to participate in the now national 40 Days For Life campaign. 40 Days For Life also began using an online forum to get information out to followers in order to help them run their local campaigns. Since the formation of 40 Days For Life in 2004, the organization has only continued to grow. More than 400,000 people have joined the campaign in order to end abortion. The campaign is now international and active in 6 different countries. Nine abortion facilities have closed following local campaigns by 40 Days For Life. Overall, many lives have been saved from the tragedy of abortion since this campaigns birth in 2004. 

This is big y'all. But what does it mean? 

This is not just meant to be a history lesson on another Catholic organization. But the story of the Carneys tells us a lot about media as a means of evangelization. Shawn and Marilisa Carney are just two people who started off wanting to do something about a major issue in the world today. They were not born with super powers and they aren't celebrities. These are every day people who answered God's call, were open to His plan, and used the tools of media effectively to accomplish something great for the Kingdom of God. We are all called to share God's good news, and in terms of evangelization, we are never done. There is always something more we could we be doing. 

So I'm going to wrap this up with a challenge and maybe some cheesy inspirational quotes. If you have not already done so, I invite you to enter into prayer and really ask God what He wants you to do. If there is any message on your heart you feel called to share, share it now. Do not hesitate. If you've ever wanted to do something but didn't know how to go about it, the tools are being laid in front of you now: media, media, media. Blessed Pope John Paul II got it right when he said "The Internet can offer magnificent opportunities for evangelization if used with competence and a clear awareness of its strengths and weaknesses. Above all, by providing information and stirring interest it makes possible an initial encounter with the Christian message, especially among the young who increasingly turn to the world of cyberspace as a window on the world"

Go out, share God's message. It doesn't have to be big, just start somewhere small today. 

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, 
because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, 
to proclaim freedom for the captives,
 and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1

For more information on the story of the 40 Days For Life campaign and more examples of the church using media, check out The Church And New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet by Brandon Vogt. 

***Also, to catch up on my photography check out since I haven't blogged in a while, check out: ***