How to Build an Online Presence

Social media might seem a little overwhelming. How do I post? How can I get my message out in 140 characters? I don’t have time to monitor every social media channel but how else am I going to connect? Is it really that important to use social media?

Take a deep breath. It’s not as overwhelming as it seems. Start small, there is no need to rush into having multiple social media platforms and accounts.

I will give you a breakdown of the top three social media sites being utilized by all age groups today (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram)

Facebook: A good place to start building an online presence for your congregation is through Facebook. According to a Pew Research study done on 2016 social media trends, 79% of online adults use Facebook.

Using Facebook is a great way to connect with all ages. On each Facebook post, users can like, react, comment and share making it easy to connect on a more personal level with people within your community.

One good piece of advice is to use pictures or videos on your Facebook posts to capture the attention of your audience. Often, simple word posts are easily missed due to being mixed in with media driven posts.

Twitter: This is a great platform for getting a message out in short, concise postings (tweets). Twitter only allows 140 characters to be used within each post, making it a great tool for doing quick announcements or to get your point across quicker than Facebook.

A neat way to integrate Twitter into your church service is to ask your congregation members to tweet out sermon snippets. This allows people to share the Gospel broadly and quickly. Better yet, take confirmation online and have your confirmation students tweet their sermon notes! It creates an easy way to develop your students into digital ministers and allows you to get on their level of communication (they may even find you hip).

Instagram: Instagram is a visual-based social media site. Utilizing photos and short videos, Instagram is popular with the younger generations. Six in ten adults (18-29 year olds) who are online use Instagram.

Using Instagram allows you to show your congregation what is happening throughout your community. During Advent and Lent, a lot of times people will use Instagram as a platform for their photo-a-day challenges.

No matter what platform your congregation is using to share the Gospel and the work your church is doing, be sure to connect with the Southeastern Iowa Synod on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Use the hashtag #inthistogether on your posts so others may follow along and connect with you in shared ministry.

*before posting minor’s images to any online source (website included) be sure to have a signed release form from a parent/guardian*

(for the full Pew Research Social Media Update 2016 click here.)



An Advent Greeting

A video Advent greeting from Bishop Michael Burk. Just click on the text below to watch, you might see some familiar faces

Advent Greeting Video


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Celebrating the Coming of Christ in a Christmas Culture

Therefore, you also must be ready for the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. -Matthew 24:44-

We are hosting Thanksgiving at our home this year, and because I’m a good consumer who believes that a well-decorated home is the key to any successful holiday or family gathering, I went shopping to see if there were any autumn decorations that I absolutely couldn’t live without. Except – there were no autumn decorations in any of the three stores I visited. None. The only thing I could find was glittery, silvery, green and red Christmas decor.

And, this was a week ago!

Apparently, I missed the consumer report that informed us Christmas is here.

This is the culture we are dealing with as people of faith who celebrate Advent – the anticipation of Christ coming among us, the not-yet-Christmas tension of wanting that reconciled and whole world while living in the realities of sin and brokenness. Perhaps, as one pastor I was talking with recently said, this rush to Christmas has everything to do with an intense desire to move beyond the deep nation wounds recently uncovered and exposed to the infection they can cause in humanity. Perhaps it is a way to pretend that these wounds don’t exist, at least for a few weeks, as we neatly wrap up and cover over the brokenness, our attentions distracted by trees, tinsel and toys.

As I stood stunned in the aisle of JoAnn Fabric, silently fuming that I wouldn’t be able to add anything store-bought to my collection of autumn¬†decor, I realized that the unexpected hour was upon me. In the maze of wrapping paper and wreaths came a cry so clear it was as if someone were speaking:

I want meaning in the messiness of life.

This meaning is searched for and sought after through the overconsumption of material goods, food, alcohol, parties and gatherings. It is meaning which is ultimately meaningless until it is found in Christ, the Savior who come snot in the perfection of Christmas but in the tension of the world we have and who we are and the world we want and who we yearn to be.

In this coming season of Advent, when it seems that the rest of the world has moved on and care less about seemingly irrelevant church season, we are invited to be surprised by the unexpected nature of Christ coming among us. We are invited to boldly proclaim the already/not yet tension in which we live. We are invited to celebrate the coming of Christ in a Christmas culture.

To donate to the “Forward Together” Campaign for the Southeastern Iowa Synod, head on over to

utheweb2016Pastor Erika Uthe serves the Southeastern Iowa Synod on behalf of the whole ELCA as the Director for Evangelical Mission. She enjoys getting to meet with congregations to help develop mission and vision strategies for renewal, working with stewardship, racial justice and multi-cultural ministries, and dreaming what God has in store next for the synod. Pastor Erika served most recently at St. John Lutheran in Ely, Iowa where she currently resides with her husband Russ, and daughters Francesca and Charlotte.

Advent Daily Photo Challenge


Advent is a season of waiting. Often times Advent feels rushed. Everyone is hurriedly buying presents, gathering with friends and setting up Christmas decorations.

This year, LECFamily wanted to help families and churches slow down during the season of Advent.

One awesome way LECFamily is doing this is by creating a photo-a-day challenge. Each day there is a theme word and Bible passage to encourage everyone to take a minute out of their day and reflect on what this season really means.

Using the hashtag #pictureadvent is also a great way to interact with people all over the world.

The idea behind the photos is to show advent from each individual perspective. It gives others a chance to see what your season of waiting looks like.

Take a picture of something that comes to mind for each day’s theme and post to social media with the hashtag #pictureadvent. Look through other postings and interact with other people who’s pictures you might connect with.

Follow @seiasynod on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to see how we are preparing our hearts, minds and souls for the coming of Christ.

Learn more about LECFamily’s Advent Photo-a-Day challenge by clicking here.