(RNS) The Episcopal Church is urging congregations to embrace social media websites like Facebook and Twitter in a push to highlight the Internet as a tool for church growth.
The church released a 12-page white paper, or instruction guide, last week, (July 20) listing “best practices” for how congregations can make use of social media. The release comes after church leaders grew concerned that some congregations were still mystified by the Internet.

“Episcopal congregations already know they need to be online and active in creating local excitement about their mission and ministries. … What they may not know is how easy the Web has become to use,” said Episcopal advertising executive Jake Dell in a press release.

The guide, entitled “Social Media and the Episcopal Church: A New Way to Tell a 2,000-Year-Old Story,” stressed the need to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world.

“At a time when participation in organized religious communities is declining across the board, you simply can’t afford not to create a strong online presence,” the guide reads.

The guide also hinted that digital media could serve as a tool for evangelism, noting, “Increasingly, this spiritual invite begins online. People search for a church online because they want to be assured they will like it before they set foot inside.”

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