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As COVID-19 drives us inside and away from face-to face contact with others, our cell phones and laptops are getting a workout. Lutheran Hour Ministries has also seen a surge of people using its Facebook page and its digital conversation website THRED ( thred.org). In recent weeks, THRED's visitor traffic and interaction have reached new highs as people everywhere are searching for an encouraging word.

"THRED content continues to spark spiritual conversations in digital spaces, and the website is seeing an incredible increase in use," said Rachel Legouté, digital development manager for Lutheran Hour Ministries. "Final numbers aren't available yet, but in the first week of stay-at-home orders, THRED views and engagement were up more than 1,000 percent. Also, a new video blog (vlog) created in response to the pandemic charted more than 70,000 views in two weeks," she added.

The vlog is part of the THRED brand voice and features Legouté and Jon Christopher, one of LHM's video editors. The vlog offers advice on how people can respond thoughtfully during COVID-19. "It's a good example of how THRED is positioned to pivot quickly and engage people in spiritual dialogues caused in part by our global struggle with COVID-19," Legouté added.

As with all THRED content, these vlogs are designed to connect with those outside the church. "When a connection is made, we listen to understand, ask questions to clarify, and take a genuine interest in that person's life," Legouté said. "THRED has been working hard the past three years to create safe spaces for conversation and community online. Because of the work we've done to gather an audience and gain their trust, we are uniquely positioned to respond to our current global crisis with empathy and compassion," she added.

Barna research shows that a typical 15 to 23-year-old will spend nearly 3,000 hours a year using screen media. Out of those 3,000 hours, that same sample group will take in only 153 hours of spiritual content. The competition for our attention on digital devices and from screen-based media is huge. "With such a small portion of that content being spiritual in nature, we know that there is a lot of room to create THRED content that gets people talking about life, faith, and Jesus," said Legouté.

Access THRED's thought-provoking articles, vlogs, and more by going online at thred.org or finding it on Facebook.

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