Challenges, Accomplishments, and Advice From Parish Leaders In the Pilot

Thisi is what the blanket looked like ater everyone worked together to assemble it! Not sure if it will keep people warm but it was made with love by hands of all ages and cultures. It is awesome to stand back and think of what we have accomplished.

Christ the King Faith Formation

Christ the King Faith Formation

I am hoping I can share with you some of the accomplishments of the C3 SFPR Tech Cluster Pilot. The focus of this blog is to share with you, Part One of the Final Report on the C3 San Fernando Pastoral Region Cluster Parish Technology Pilot.  Look to my next blog for Part Two of the Report, which is full of practical learnings and ideas for integrating technology into ministry.  I know it is long but full of great info and don’t miss out on the great advice at the end of this blog from parishes leaders in the project to those considering technology integration!

Final Report on the C3 San Fernando Pastoral Region Cluster Parish Technology Pilot By Charlotte McCorquodale, PhD, Pilot Project Consultant.September 30, 2014

Introduction

The C3 San Fernando Pastoral Region Technology Cluster Project was designed to respond to needs identified by pastors and parish leaders at Our Lady of Lourdes (OLL), St. Mel’s (MEL), and St. Euphrasia (STE) during planning meetings held in each of the parish communities with the project team. The identified pastoral needs will be met through sharing resources and developing new initiatives to enhance and expand parish ministries through the innovative use of current and trending technology.

The C3 Technology Cluster Project Team identified the following measures of success for this pilot effort:

  1. Positive feedback from parish community.
  2. Increased level of proficiency by parish staff and volunteer ministry leaders in use of technology solutions.
  3. Sustained program efforts following the pilot phase.
  4. Effective collaboration with other cluster parishes in areas of common need and interest.

Let me first say, it has been a privilege to work with the three parishes in the cluster pilot. Their dedication to quality ministry has been evident by their commitment to this project. I have learned a great deal from their staff members and parish communities through this truly collaborative effort!

Structure of this Report

This report is structured to provide a general overview of the major aspects of the project, what was accomplished, and what we learned in the process. The first section looks at general evaluation and conclusions from the project. The second part of the report looks at specific pastoral priorities related to using technology to achieve various ministerial objectives, including highlighting the collaborative accomplishments that the San Fernando Pastoral Region helped to shape and facilitate. The learnings from the pilot are noted in italics.

General Evaluation and Conclusions

Each group of parish staff and leaders was asked to complete an eight question evaluation of their pilot effort. I will report findings in light of each question. Each parish was asked to examine their participation in the C3 Cluster Technology Parish Pilot in SFPR and rate their overall experience, using a scale of Very Positive, Positive, Somewhat Positive, or Not Positive. No parish in the pilot rated the experience Not Positive.

We learned that parishes that had less experience using technology among staff and integrating it into their parish had the most positive experience, and conversely, those with the most technological expertise among staff and use of technology had a less positive experience. When this was discussed by the project team, it was clear that there was benefit from having various levels of expertise involved in the project, but that in the future it would be beneficial to explore whether it would be more helpful to include parishes with more expertise and experience in a separate group so that more advanced issues can be explored.

When parishes were asked what could have improved their experience in the pilot and what presented the biggest challenge, there was consensus that having parish staff and leaders with more technical expertise at their parish would have helped the parish participate more fully. Also, the challenge of varying levels of staff skill and interest in using technology was discussed by each of the parishes. Another frequently mentioned challenge was the amount of time it takes to be intentional about using technology. Parishes also indicated that more up-to-date technology equipment would have been beneficial. Another issue identified as a challenge by two of the parishes was the ineffectiveness of their parish websites.

Another important contributing factor to the success of the pilot and collaboration of the parishes was the initiation of pilot project meetings and efforts by the project consultant. There was value in having someone outside of each parish facilitating and making sure communication took place prior to and following meetings.

The biggest success identified by parishes in the pilot project was the intentional integration of technology into the life of the parish. The opportunity to carry out previously identified goals and priorities was by far the greatest benefit. One parish indicated that, “it was a huge accomplishment just starting conversations about the importance of integrating technologies into parish life more and becoming more acquainted with the different ways.” Another said that for some in their parish it was the first time the connection between technology and church had occurred for them. Other benefits included:

  1. Obtaining technology-related training for staff and/or volunteers
  2. Testing different technologies or software related to communication and collaboration
  3. Expanding the social media infrastructure and intentional outreach
  4. Setting technology-related goals for the parish and accomplishing them
  5. Collaborating with other parishes on technology-related projects

Parishes were asked to identify the importance of the various elements of the pilot, and these were the most important (listed in priority order):

  1. Identification of a social media coordinator and committee/team for the parish community
  2. Opportunity to engage youth and adults with social media
  3. Continuing education in technology for staff and volunteer leaders
  4. Having the opportunity to engage young people in developing content to be shared via social media
  5. Opportunity to test technology tools, such as Hootsuite, Flocknote, ministry scheduling software, etc.
  6. Opportunity to set goals for technology integration
  7. Opportunity to test new technologies for communication and collaboration within the parish
  8. Participation and contribution to social media campaigns #AdventOn and #40DaysCount
  9. Understanding how to use simple technology tools, such as QR codes, hashtags, etc.
  10. Sponsoring Device Sunday as a kickoff to using social media in providing opportunities for spiritual growth during Lent
  11. Having curated content for liturgical seasons

Parishes shared the advice that they would give other parishes wishing to integrate technology into faith formation and communication:

  • “Staying on the ‘cutting edge’ of technology, including preparing a new website, using a ministry scheduler, beginning online giving, and striving to reach out to those interested through social media.”
  • “The biggest obstacle I found was time … it was very difficult for me to be able to commit as much as I had intended to. I definitely find this topic extremely important but I know a huge help would be to implement a committee at our parish that involves both youth and adults.”
  • “It is essential to have an enthusiastic and highly skilled individual or team committed to the integration of technology and faith formation.”
  • “Having a plan and a social media coordinator to take the lead on organization and implementation of the projects. Having someone dynamic who can help coordinate efforts, think creatively, and knows the needs of the staff and parish is crucial. This helps efforts be tailored to their parish needs. This C3 initiative is not a one-size-fits-all procedure.”
  • “Be honest about the amount of time this takes. The social media coordinators indicated that after the initial Hootsuite is set up to manage the various forms of social media, that it takes at least an hour a week to load the content provided by others. This does not include curating content or editing content given by parish leaders.”

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>