Yes. I wrote “iman!” Doh!

HAVE A DONUT! A Social Media Callout for Faith Leaders


It’s Friday afternoon, December 1, 2017 when I start this adventure. At the risk of sending you down a rabbit hole when I’d really like you to stick around, I won’t mention what’s going on today in America. It’ll still be there when you’re through.

I will say this: right now is not the easiest time to get on social media to talk about faith leaders and social media platforms.

I’ll also say — and I think people of all persuasions would agree — this year, more than ever, thoughtful, articulate, kind people need to jump over the hurdles, straight into the fray. It isn’t pretty. There’s more noise than ever and the noise too often has the tone and indecency of 12 year old boys with no adults nearby. Lord of the Flies comes to mind.

That observation didn’t come from me, though. It came from Yahaira Castro, the Director of Student Services at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Yahaira has a masters in journalism from U.C. Berkeley. She’s not working as a journalist right now, though. She helps students as a wise counsellor and guide through the graduate school process.

I interviewed Yahaira on Friday. She was among the 21 people I taped.

Constanza Gallardo, CUNY J-School ’17 and journalist from Mexico.

Donuts and Advice

To cut through the noise of a Friday afternoon in the newsroom of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, I offered donuts. And I asked people:

“Share your advice for faith leaders getting into social media. What would you tell your rabbi, priest, imam, pastor, minister…”

There are, of course, already plenty of religious figures on Twitter. God and Jesus both have strong presences.

There are also sincere, prophetic voices on Twitter, but they are often all but drowned out by the angry and sarcastic.

Adding unique voices to the conversation

Graduate students at CUNY come from all over the world. They are from many different religious and cultural traditions. They speak many languages, and, in the Journalism school in particular, they are super articulate.

In my Social Journalism cohort alone, there are international students from Germany, Morocco, Uruguay, Catalonia, and Italy.

No surprise that every one of the 21 people I interviewed had something unique to say to faith leaders about getting on social media.


So by Saturday I’ve got these 21 very short videos. I need a hashtag and a plan. Again, I reach out to my network and ask “What’s the best way to go about this?”

I’ve got some time constraints because I’d like to kick this one out the door quickly before the semester ends. And I’d like some feedback for a presentation I’m giving on Wednesday.

Based on what I learned, I decide to do short edits — just clearing up any camera movement at the beginning and end of the videos. I don’t have time to transcribe every video and add subtitles, so instead I decide to try add a few words that capture the heart of what they say.

I also want to release them quickly, threaded to each other via Reply. Separately, I create a survey on Google to give people another way to interact with me.

#SocialForFaith and Influencers

I’ve tagged three strong voices in the digital ministry thought space. I both want to give them a spotlight, and also appropriately acknowledge the impact they are having on this discussion.

Looking back on this initial tweet, though, I wonder if the survey isn’t a distraction since I’d really just like people to stay on Twitter and play with me there. I may fix that in the next set of tweets.

Fellow seekers

Then I retweet my original post, tagging as many of the organizations involved in digital ministry as I can. I’d like them to come out and share. I also realize that they probably won’t be looking at Twitter this weekend, since they’ll be involved in their brick and mortar ministries, but I’d like them tagged so they’re more likely to see this when they’re back at their desks on Monday when it will be live.

CUNY J School

Then I retweet again, this time tagging the CUNY J folks who were so generous with their time and thoughts. If I’d sat down with an interview, I’d surely like to know when it is being aired, so I make sure to let them know. Social Journalism has a directive towards listening and empathy. This is one of those empathetic moments.

They also may retweet their video to their own networks, so there may be some value in reaching out of the echo chamber of faith voices that are already on social media.


I’ve also announced this event on Facebook. But here’s the thing about Facebook: I need to be “Friends” with every person I want to have involved in this conversation. That’s kind of awkward, isn’t it?

Twitter, on the other hand, allows anybody at all to connect with anybody else. It is the great equalizer, and it’s incredibly powerful for lifting up individual voices.


Today’s the day to get the videos in shape. I also need to keep announcing this event.

I’m going to share this article via Twitter and FB, and also emailing it to the faith community.

How To Play on Monday

So, for the folks I’m trying to reach, who may not be on Twitter at all, here’s a quick “How To Play.”

  1. Go get yourself a Twitter handle. You won’t need one to watch, but you will need one to participate
  2. If you don’t want a Twitter handle, if you’d like to just follow along, go to, click on the magnifying glass icon on the far left of the menu, and type into the search field: #SocialForFaith. That will bring up the tweets that are using the hashtag. It will refresh as people contribute, and it will keep the tweets that use the hashtag.
  3. If you’ve got your Twitter handle, you can search for “#SocialForFaith” in the “Search Twitter” field, and that will bring up the conversation for you.

4. JUMP ON IN! There’s no right or wrong way to participate. Know that your voice will be appreciated.

See you there!