Sunday, March 12, 2017

Creating Community One Facebook Group at a Time: A Ministry for Pregnant Moms

Well over a year ago, I started noticing little references on Facebook about special groups for Catholic women who were pregnant. These groups, I learned, were organized by when women were due to give birth--and included such fun activities as "Tummy Tuesday," so everyone could compare baby bumps. I thought it sounded like a fun opportunity to bond with other Catholic women during pregnancy, so when I became pregnant, I joined one of these groups. It's been over a year now, and I am loving my "mom group" more and more. It's an incredibly diverse group of women (some work, some stay at home, some have tons of kids, some have one kid, etc.), and the care and concern that women have for each other is really beautiful (shout out to the ladies of May-June 2016 Catholic Moms! Y'all are the best!).

These Facebook groups are an awesome ministry that is largely operated by one awesome woman, Lauren Fluder. Today, I am so excited to share Lauren's work with all of you, and to learn more about how her ministry began. It is an awesome example of how God can use the smallest things-like making and operating a simple Facebook group-to bring about amazing community and fellowship.

Thanks so much for letting me interview you about your work, Lauren! Could you please describe what your “Facebook ministry” is, and how it all began?

In January 2015 I found out I was pregnant with our first child! I was so excited and immediately wanted to connect and learn. I joined a 'closed' secular Facebook group for moms due in September 2015 with me! Within moments of being approved to join, I saw postings of Birth Control failures, babies being a 'oops', mistake, even one still not sure if she would proceed... It was not the support group I wanted to surround myself around through my pregnancy. That's when I had the idea: I was in Catholic mom groups, maybe we could make our own instead! I knew they'd be small, maybe 20 or 30 moms, but how fun still would that be! I made the group 'secret' and began slowly adding moms and telling others about the group, which would later become "Aug-Sept-Oct 2015 Catholic Moms" and today our "ASO 2015." At its peak, it had over 150 mothers! I saw the need continue. The groups were helping moms and forming small communities of women that didn't happen as easily in the larger Catholic groups.

A Nov-Dec 2015 group was started, and I ended up helping to add mothers to that. I became the 'go to' person for others to join. Months later I began creating the future groups, developing a 'system', events, evolving guidelines and stored info that made starting and running new groups faster and smoother. Right now there are 13 groups ranging from August 2015 to December 2017, and all of them are very active.

How much time do you actively spend on operating this ministry (in a day, week, or month)? What kinds of tasks are involved in operating it?

I add new members sometimes daily, and each usually takes me around a minute. When a lot come in at once, I'll hold off for a couple days and add on a laptop as it's easier. Some weeks it's 10 moms, other weeks it's +30 that send me messages requesting to join. Each group now goes in 2 month increments and has anywhere from 150-200 Catholic mothers at peak. It's hard to say exactly how much time is spent, but I think it's likely around 2-3 hours a week when it averages out. That's factoring in monitoring, posting community building threads, adding new members, advertising the groups in other groups, the 2 main events (which each take me 2-4 hours) and aiding the admins.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced in this ministry? And what is the best part you’ve experienced?

My husband is working from home temporarily, so it's harder for me to find the alone time that I usually use to work on the groups (he is a pilot so I am use to him being gone 1-3 days at a time). That's probably the most challenging right now as I would usually do it during nap time or after our daughter is in bed, but a couple times this last month I've had to get stuff done while he is home. He understands, but sometimes he thinks I spend too much time on them, so it's a balance for me. He has actually brought my attention to some Catholic women to invite to join through Catholic forums he visits on Reddit and other sites, so I know he sees the ministry as positive! 

The best part is seeing the support, seeing the friendships built, the community become a family of mothers all there for each other... Seeing others being lifted up in prayer, and at rare times money even being raised or gifts being sent to help another mom. Seeing the groups being a safe place to vent, to be vulnerable, to be defended and to be given heartfelt advice. I've seen meet ups and even met some of the mothers in my 'ASO 2015' group who I never would have met in person otherwise, and they've become friends (along with their spouse and kids) for not only me, but my husband and daughter!

How can pregnant Catholic women become involved in this? 

Easily! Send me (Lauren Fluder) a friend request and a private message with your due date. Don't worry, I check my 'other' folder frequently! The groups close to new members after the babies are born, but there is an exception for adoptive mothers.

Lauren, I want to thank you for all of the amazing work that you do for Catholic moms-everything that you have done (and continue to do) is truly an incredible gift! I seriously am so grateful for the group I'm in-it is an amazing community of non-judgmental women who are all striving to support each other in this adventure of motherhood! These types of ministries are a perfect way to engage in the culture and use social media to bring people to God, and I am so inspired by how Lauren let one little group turn into this larger ministry. I encourage any Catholic pregnant women out there to join one of these communities, and I ask all of you to join me in saying a prayer for Lauren as she operates this ministry! 

No comments:

Post a Comment