By Rev. Marty Levesque
When I meet someone for coffee I rarely meet at Tim Horton’s. I normally search out a locally owned coffee shop rather than a chain.
There are a few reasons for this. One, I prefer to support a local small business; and two, they often have free Wi-Fi that is marketable better than Tim Horton’s.
Whether it is a coffee shop, on the train or at the hockey game, I am always in search of free Wi-Fi so as not to use up all my data on my cell phone plan. Free Wi-Fi means I can linger for a bit before or after my meeting and perhaps have a muffin or second cup of coffee and catch up on the day’s headlines. It also means that I can give the coffee shop a good Yelp, Google or Facebook review while I am relaxing.
Free Wi-Fi is not something we normally think to advertised or provide at our churches. After all, we don’t want people glued to their phones during the service or worse, during the sermon. We might even wish they would sit quietly and reflectively before or after the service praying.
Yet free Wi-Fi also gives the opportunity for the quick review on Yelp, Google or Facebook, which can drive more seekers to your door. It may mean that someone shares an Instagram story of their morning visit that inspires friends to come back to their faith. It may also mean a simple status update that is shared and liked and seen by hundreds.
In our rush to create spaces that are intentionally reflective and unplugged, we can also miss the opportunity to provide the tools for those that come to share their faith and their experience of our churches. And while we want people engaged in intentional prayer, we also want them to share all that God is doing in their lives. And free accessible Wi-Fi gives them that chance in the moment.
Rev. Marty Levesque is the diocesan social media officer and rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo.