We are exactly four weeks away from Ash Wednesday, signaling the beginning of the Lenten Season 2016. As long as I can remember the focus has always been on giving up something – offering a sacrifice of some sort to parallel Jesus’ time in the desert.
Focus your posting on ways people can “Give”- instead of “Giving Up” something this year in the hopes of focusing on growing their faith. Through the years I’ve given up different things, when I was a child we were encouraged to save money from our allowance and put it in the rice bowl for the 40 days of Lent. When I was a teenager I’d give up watching my favorite TV show. Then in my twenties and thirties it was a dessert or engaging in let’s just say impure thoughts and acts. Of late it’s alcohol, coffee, candy or my favorite treat popcorn (which I eat at least four times a week). As soon as the 40 days are up I plunge right back into indulging what I sacrificed and does that really grow faith? If foregoing the thing that was sacrificed then it would really be a great way to shed those bad habits that separate us from God!
Here are 10 social media posts that can help your followers grow their faith this Lenten Season:
Start with Ash Wednesday. Encourage followers to share pics of the ashes on their forehead on your pages. Create #hashtags to spark engagement with your followers. Here are some examples to get you started: #Ashes4Christ,#Proud2BeCatholic,#Journey2Cross or something unique to your parish. I am at American Martyrs Church so we will use #AshWednesday@AMC. Use tagboard to track how the #hashtag is trending. Especially fun for young people using instagram, you might even want to spark a contest! Here's a cool 2 minute video to share on your pages as well. Remember video is king in social for sparking engagement.
Pope Francis calls for us to pray for him but to also make it a priority in our families. In an August radio address he talked about the power of prayer, encouraging us to use this powerful tool to build our faith.
There are many references in the bible that you can create cool graphics to post as reminders for your followers to pray. For instance you could have a picture of a calendar and write text over it that says make an appointment with God. Suggest that followers make a list of 7 things that they want to focus there prayer on. Then have them designate a day of the week that they will pray for it, this could be great for the parish community to do on your pages as well. Maybe Monday you offer prayers for the Holy Father, Tuesday Vocations, Wednesday Families, Thursday the building fund, Friday the faithfully departed, Saturday Mentally Ill and Sunday prayers of the faithful. TheUSCCB shares great tools to share on your pages for prayer.
Write a blog encouraging followers to download an app or sign-up for Matthew Kelly’s Best Lent Ever series to consume a spiritual message each day of Lent Here are my picks for best apps for Lent: The Pope App, CRS Rice Bowl, 40 Days-Lent Observance Tracker, Days Without, Passion of Jesus, Magnificat Lenten Companion, Stations of the Cross Walk With Me, XT3 and “LentSanity” designed by Fellowship of Catholic University Students offers a great little app just for young adults that’s got an approachable, lighthearted feel to it, but in reality, has a very contemporary spiritual feel. All of these can be used as resources for you to share tips for growing faith during Lent.
Post everyday between 11:00 - 11:30am to encourage and remind followers to attend mass at noon mass every day they can monday through friday in addition to Sunday mass during lent.
Share ways that followers can give to local and national charities that feed the hungry and have them comment in 5 words about their experiences.
Create a graphic using tools like canva, picmonkey and others that can be used as your cover photo or profile picture to encourage a tech free day a week to focus on time with family, to read, retreat or pray. You choose the day! Graphics that share messages like "The business and busyness lures us away from what's really important and we lose time to just be with God" or "Pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds or prayers and requests." Each time you change your cover photo your followers see it without filter.
Share a list of books that people can read during the Lenten Season, here are some that I've read. Bread and Wine (Orbis Books), Small Surrender: A Lenten Journey (Emilie Griffin), The Way of the Heart (Henri Nouwen), Fasting: Beyond our Appetite (Lynne M. Baab), Eastertide: Prayers for Lent through Easter (Phyllis Tickle) and I am personally reading Rediscover Jesus (Matthew Kelly). Dynamic Catholic has some great and affordable ways to share a book with your community. You could post a book a week and pin the picture of the book to the top to have people comment on what resonated for them in reading the book.
Across our nation and the World there have been pilgrimage churches designated so that all Catholics may make a personal journey toward making our way to the arms of our loving and compassionate God. Encourage followers to find the church closest to them and walk through the Holy Doors dedicated for the “Year of Mercy”, then pray the Profession of Faith, Apostles Creed and Our Father. Then pray for the Holy Father and his intentions. Next recite the Prayer of Pope Francis for Jubilee. Then conclude your time in prayer with the invocation to merciful Lord Jesus “Merciful Jesus , I Trust in You”. This represents a journey much like our Lord’s walk through the desert. Another contest idea for pictures and to have people write blogs about their pilgrimage experiences.
Fast and when you feel the hunger pains “focus” on how our Lord hungers to be closer to you! Remember the acronym PRAYS.Peace is yours when you spend time with our Lord, Respond when you hear his call (intuition), Appreciate and nurture the gifts you’ve been given, Yield your needs to him and Surrender your worldly expectations God answers prayers in his time.
Now that I've shared these awesome tips start planning your posts now for the Lenten Season. Also, follow pages that will design great posts that you may share with your followers. My faves are USCCB, Word on Fire, Aleteia, EWTN, Vatican News,Catholic Extension, St. Paul Street Evangelization and Catholic World Report.