An individual that has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority. That’s a definition, one of many, used to describe what a social media influencer is. However, while I may not have thousands of followers or even millions of followers on social media, I truly believe I’m an influencer, both on social media and in other aspects of my life.

The number of Catholic influencers seems almost non-existent when compared to non-Catholic influencers. We do have our “famous” Catholic people like Father Mike Schmitz, Bishop Robert Barron, Jackie Francois, etc., but it’s a small number of people.

As a Church, I think we’re falling behind in the ability to stay relevant and communicate with both millennials and Generation Z, the two most recent generations, on issues closest to them. While this isn’t the sole fix, understanding and meeting those generations where they’re at is a good step. Social media, which is clearly a major part of these two generations’ lives, is an important way to meet those generations where they are.

It’s such a big issue that even the USCCB (United States Catholic Conference of Bishops) made mention of social media during their general assembly in June. A number of things were discussed at this meeting, but Bishop Robert Barron specifically gave a talk on evangelizing the “nones.”

In this talk from Bishop Robert Barron, he addressed the use of social media to reach out to this group of young people that have left the Church and now have no affiliation with any denomination. During the question and answer portion, another Bishop asked Bishop Barron what a “Reddit” was and continued to try and understand what this social media forum is.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect every Bishop, Priest, Nun, or everyday person to be on or understand social media. However, this is where we, Catholics who know about social media, really need to be influencers.

I’m a believer that this is the most vocal set of generations ever. We not only have the ability to share everything we’re thinking, feeling, or desiring, but we do so in an instant through every social network available. It can be a positive influence or a negative one, depending on how we use it.

When looking back to the word “influencer,” we realize the root of the word is influence, that’s what we need to strive for. We don’t need a million followers on social media to be an influencer. I’m an influencer just by the actions and words I use, but I also can and choose to do so on social media. We need to be the Catholic voice, or rather just the authentic loving voice that Jesus was, especially on these platforms where there is so much negativity and cultural influence.

This blog was written by Joseph Barringhaus, Director of Marketing and Events here at St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re interested in writing a blog for St. Francis of Assisi, please contact Joseph at [email protected].