Anna Romuald, assistant pastor at the Southview Church in Minneapolis and assistant young adult ministries director for the Minnesota Conference, doesn’t think that one hour on Sabbath morning is enough time to disciple the youth with whom she works. So she’s turned to social media for connecting one-on-one during the week to provide spiritual mentoring.
“Using social media, I can spend quality time communicating with them,” Romauld said. “Since I use it consistently, they know it’s a way to get a hold of me. So a lot of youth will call, text or Facebook seeking help or counsel in an emergency situation.”
Initially, Romuald struggled to answer God’s call into ministry. But now she says she loves her job. “If God asked me to do something else, it would be very difficult. I know I could have been happy on another career path, but I could never have been as happy as I am now, following what He intended from the beginning.”
Primarily a youth pastor, Romuald strives to build relationships with young adults and involve them with the church. Interacting with a generation that has grown up with social media, she quickly realized the importance of connecting with the youth on their terms. “I caught them off guard at first, but now they think it is so cool to have a pastor who can connect in the avenues they normally use.”
Utilizing social media, Romuald and her youth group plan events and interact throughout the week. “I have a video app to send video messages about upcoming events, a group app to send mass texts, Instagram and many more tools,” she said. The youth can update prayer requests, text one another, pray for each other and take part in weekly challenges. “We have very high participation,” she added.
However, their connection doesn’t exist only on screens. “Social media has only enhanced our face-to-face communications,” said Romuald. “Since we’re connected all week, when we come to that hour on Sabbath we’ve already heard what’s happening in each other’s lives and can follow up on it. We can pray more urgently or just pick up where we left off.”
The new interactions have also opened up leadership positions for youth. “We have several who maintain, manage and administrate some of our pages,” explained Romauld. “We actually put their technical skills to work.”
When people question her on the connection between social media and the church, Romuald draws from her own journey. “Whenever God tells me to use something in a way I haven’t thought of, I try to be open,” she said. “I don’t want to limit avenues for Him to reach others, especially youth. As a church, if we continue to turn our backs on social media, we’ll lose a lot of adults. Knowing how to use it isn’t conforming to the world; it’s following Christ’s example to be in the world and use its resources for Him.”
Joellyn Sheehy is a student writer.