“Social networks allow the word of God to be accessible to as many people as possible”

Géraldine Essoh-Yanon, Lecturer in Information and Communication Sciences/Géraldine Essoh-Yanon

The interview

Geraldine Essoh-Yanon is a lecturer in Information and Communication Sciences. In particular, he researched youth attitudes toward media and digital social networks, as well as issues related to media and information literacy.

On the eve of Saint-François de Sales, the patron saint of journalists and communicators, he analyzes the church’s use of social networks.

Social networks are increasingly used for religious communication. In the Catholic Church, especially Facebook pages and groups, WhatsApp groups, Twitter accounts etc. that spread religious information. How do you analyze it? ?

Geraldine Essoh-Yanon : The Church, especially the Catholic Church, has existed in privileged encounters with humanity since the dawn of the mass media. Even today, it is clearly understood that an ever-increasing proportion of individuals are present on these online platforms, thus reaching people all over the world, because these spaces are far from being simple channels of distribution, but beyond spaces, spaces of dialogue and dialogue. encounters.

For the Catholic Church, as for all other churches, these platforms offer great potential for evangelization, provided that their logic and characteristics are understood. I think that if the Church were to ignore these devices, for all the faults we know about them or attribute to them, rightly or wrongly, she would miss her vocation and, worse, remain a spectator of something bigger and bigger. The turning away of the people of this age and future times from the savior message of Christ.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and the suspension of masses and other gatherings, Catholic churches, for example, have live-streamed masses on Facebook. This allowed Christians to maintain the rhythm of prayer and participate in the life of the Church. What would these Christians do if their pastors stayed off social media? Today, the practice continues, allowing hundreds of men and women to experience their daily mass.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of such use of social networks, especially by church institutions?

Geraldine Essoh-Yanon: In terms of benefits, digital social networks are a place of evangelism. The “Pastor of TikTok” page is a good example of new evangelization through social networks.

And because of the vitality of these platforms, organizations can benefit from the rapid proliferation of information with economic and greater impact. And at this level, every faithful believer at his own level can be a relay of the Church’s communication. Social networks allow the Word of God to be available to the greatest number of people, especially where the institutional Church does not have a physical presence. When publications are good, they support people in their efforts to live out their faith and can lead to new converts.

Also read: Use of social networks in dioceses in Africa

On the downside, there is a risk of valuing virtual faith over real faith. Indeed, new digital spiritualities are developing (live worship with the exposition of the Holy Bible through YouTube; prayer through community or individual Facebook, evangelization through tiktok, etc.) Here, church institutions should not pay too much attention to these channels, they should continue. reaching men through more traditional means.

Inevitably, the issue of data collection causes certain pages to publish incorrect information. At this level, I think it’s a bit more about the page host and often not the communication specialist.

What recommendations do you have for church institutions to make better use of social networks?

Geraldine Essoh-Yanon: Members of church bodies should be trained in the use of these platforms. So they will learn the logic of these devices. The church should also work with professionals and develop a strategy for using social media with inviting and unifying purposes. Finally, images, animated or non-animated diagrams, short videos, testimonials, etc. should create attractive content using

Collected by Lucie Sarr

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