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Twitter Church

By Sarah Major
BBC Radio Sheffield presenter

Gavin Gray says that social  networking gives churches new opportunities to communicate with worshippers
Gavin Gray from Rotherham New Life Christian Centre says that social networking gives churches new opportunities to communicate with worshippers

More and more churches these days are jumping on the social networking bandwagon.

Websites like Twitter and Facebook are giving churches new opportunities to communicate with worshippers, but are they making a positive difference?

Clive Howarth set up Doncaster Minster's Twitter site, and sits on the Diocesan Communications Committee.

He says that sites like these have enhanced the way that churches communicate because it is just another way of reaching out to people.

Endcliffe Church's Twitter account
Endcliffe Church is on Twitter

"To connect with people electronically does perhaps give certain churches a wider audience than they would have otherwise," says Clive.

"Churches should be able to communicate effectively to carry out their core business, which is obviously spreading the gospel."

Two churches in South Yorkshire have recently started using social networking with encouraging results. Both Rotherham New Life Christian Centre and Christ Church Endcliffe use Twitter to connect with people and to inform them about upcoming events.

Gavin Gray from Rotherham New Life Christian Centre started a Twitter site a couple of months ago as a new way of getting the church's message across. He says it could be something as simple as giving information about a coffee morning.

Social networking is also much cheaper than conventional ways of marketing. Ed Rogers runs Christ Church Endcliffe's Twitter and Facebook accounts, and says that while it could cost hundreds of pounds to produce enough flyers to promote a big event to a whole parish, social networking sites are usually free to use.

Ed Rogers runs Christ Church Endcliffe's Twitter and Facebook accounts
Ed Rogers runs Christ Church Endcliffe's Twitter and Facebook accounts

"Using Facebook and Twitter means we can let people know what the church is doing," says Ed. "For example, advertising events much more easily, passing over lots more information, and people can access that information as and how they wish."

According to Ed, Christ Church Endcliffe's demographic is predominantly younger people - 18-40 year olds who already use social networking sites - but he says more and more groups are using social networking sites all the time.

But does social networking mean that we don't talk to one another anymore? Gavin acknowledges that it can sometimes be isolating, but says that it can also promote relationships:

"In some ways it does isolate us from the traditional ways of talking to each other, and we do have to find that balance. But for a lot of people this is a very important way of connecting."




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