REACH: A UU Digital Ministry Program – Faith in Action

What is UU Digital Ministry?

Thanks to everyone who contributed to REACH! — June Herold

  • Definition: It is a set of collaborative (social) practices that administer pastoral care, radical hospitality, witnessing, worship, religious education, and community. It manifests Unitarian Universalist beliefs and values wherever people gather digitally. It is inherently a blended experience of online and offline cultures, which intentionally influence each other. It uses tools and services that collectively are known either as social media or social networking. Digital ministry is not a top-down, one-way broadcast of religion. Digital ministry turns connections into relationships in which we are intentionally present.
  • Mission: The ministry works to reveal and promote the existence of a higher good where life occurs online. It is faith in action.
  • Two-Pronged Goal of UU Digital Ministry: To draw people into our physical churches and local activities and to solidify an easily recognizable and understandable identity for Unitarian Universalism.

REACH: A UU Digital Ministry Program
This program is written so that each section can stand alone. I am listing them, however, in the order I believe will best explain a vision for digital ministry. Once all of the sections are posted, I will offer one download of the complete text.

Leave questions in this blog. I will do my best to answer in a timely fashion. I hope, however, that others respond to help each other.  The table of contents for REACH is just below the following special note to you, dear readers:

Sept. 28, 2013 – PLEASE NOTE: The Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA began changing the appearance and functionality of what I built and ran for nearly three years. I moved on from that church in early 2012, by which time two beloved ministers and one 17-year veteran church administrator left the church. In short, the religious institution lost a great deal of professional religious contemporary history and dynamic leadership keen on leveraging social media and networking to practice our faith in action.  You can see what our online church looked like, as I conceived, design and built it with the involvement of more than 70 individuals from our church, in this downloadable report.  A second downloadable report I wrote had numerous examples of the extensive use  of the online church.  At that time, the church had 940 members and friends and another 300 or so in occasional but repeat participants.  In, mid 2013 with a new Interim Minister and a new church administrator, the site began to change. It’s home page does not reflect what I built, and more of the site may have been changed. I do not know.  I wrote a  report on its first 2.5 years, which is based on Google analytic and other factual information. You can read the 2.5 year downloadable report  here.  If you prefer to not download the above files you can see them online in slideshare, where the 2.5 year report is the default presentation highlighted, and the other three are available from thumbnails to the right of it.

The files in recommended reading order:

  1. A Team Effort: Acknowledgements
  2. The Acronym: What is REACH?
  3. REACH Glossary of Terms
  4. Introduction
  5. The Reality: Digital Ministry Calling
  6. Part One and Part Two: A Primer for Ministers Your Well Being Online & a Tactical Plan for Your Facebook “Minister” Presence
  7. Part Three: A Primer for Ministers – Your Voice, Stories, and Compelling Content
  8. Part Four: A Primer for Ministers – Core REACH Principles: How To Practice Them
  9. Worksheet #1: How Are You Currently Practicing Digital Ministry?
  10. Worksheet #2: How to Figure Out Your Digital Ministry Strategy
  11. Worksheet #3: Assess Your Congregation’s Current Digital Presence
  12. Worksheet #4: What Is Your Personal Social Media Profile?
  13. Photo and Video Best Practices: How to Reflect Your Congregation in an Engaging Way
  14. Think Critically About Facebook: Is Facebook a Gift or a Trojan Horse? AND Why You Should Use Despite Its Negatives
  15. Twitter: It’s About Reaching Strangers
  16. Pastoral Care for the Unemployed: Leveraging Church , email, iPhones and to Help Unemployed Parishioners
  17. Intellectual Property Rights and Social Media Content
  18. Digital Ministry Policy & Protocols – Safety & Privacy
  19. The Three Types of Church Websites, Their Content, Their Technology
  20. Does Digital Ministry Guarantee Growth for a Congregation: It’s About Retention
  21. What Is The Potential of SmartTVs?
  22. Beginning Thoughts on a Strategy for a Denominational Digital Ministry
  23. Optional – Facebook Standard Setters And Paradigms for Social Networking This document helps you to understand key social networking behavior such as “friending,” “liking,” and “sharing.”
  24. Optional – Summation of Facebook Strengths, Weaknesses, And Key Facts
  25. Optional – Facebook Tools And Features. This document explains many Facebook features mentioned throughout REACH.
  26. Appendix: Sources of Inspiration and Bibliography for REACH
  27. Reports I wrote on the performance of the online church of the UU of Arlington, VA are available on slideshare and also as downloadable files in the “Note” that tops this page.

REACH: A UU Digital Ministry Program, ©June Herold 2012

This is a homily I gave in Oct. 2009 to introduce digital ministry to the UU Church of Arlington, VA

A recent book I contributed to is now out as a Kindle Edition and will be in print soon. Virtual Leader: Game-Changing Skills and Strategies of the New Enterprise Manager.


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  1. I know you are on to other things but just thought I would say how many times some issue I am mulling over leads me back to your work on this project. Thanks for your tears and sleepless nights spent on this site and its constituent resources.

    • Thank you for letting me know the work on this site still helps you. Kind regards, June Herold

  2. My 26 year old son says reddit is a popular UU posting site:

  3. Thanks Mary. Yes, I knew that there was an RE program with the same name.

  4. Hi, June, interesting website and mission. I’ve been keen on use of social media for a while and every now and again make a few more efforts.
    I was wondering if you knew that REACH is or was an acronym used by UUA for religious educators. I think it stands for Religious Educators Action Clearing House – it is or was a package sent to RE directors. Not that there can’t be two or more groups using the same acronym for different purposes (In my area, try PACE!!)
    thought I’d just drop a note.

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