A church can effectively utilize social media in its mission.
Is this true? If a church wants to use social media to be hip, then don’t bother. It will probably come off lame. Social media is not just another popular fad to chase.
What I have in view with the concept though is not another way to bow to the idol of “relevance,” but a biblically informed strategy for utilizing technology to aid in the church’s mission and goals.
Where are your people?
If you were to poll the people in your church, I’d bet a significant portion of them are engaged at some moderate to heavy level with social media, predominantly Facebook and Twitter. I bet a bunch of the gals are active on Pinterest too. And a growing number of people are probably into podcasting.
In other words, that’s where many of your people are spending some time during the week, and that’s an obvious place to connect with them at some level.
This is already happening in your church organically. For example, in a time of medical crisis, Facebook can become a very useful way for relevant information to get out to others who can pray for or serve a family in need. Or on the opposite end of the emotional spectrum, see how it works when someone has a baby.
What’s the goal?
I have in view a particular strategy that seeks to generally draw people deeper into the life of the church, which ought to have the deeper goal of drawing them deeper into the Gospel (which is to say, a life marked by a deepening engagement with, affection for, and application of the Gospel). How is that accomplished?
Components of a church social media strategy
- Consider others: Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+
- A blog on your website
- Podcast and/or YouTube
One way you can use your Facebook and Twitter feeds is to summarize/tease and link to new content in a central blog (this doesn’t have to be fancy – a basic Blogger or WordPress site would do).
The blog serves several purposes. It alerts readers to what’s going on in the church (in the old days we called this “announcements”). Perhaps you might think of it as online bulletin, if you will, without the 10% discount at Golden Corral.
But you can do a lot more with it. For example, you could tell stories of how God is moving in the ministries of the church or in mission projects. You could post photos from events and mission trips. You could answer common theological questions. Be creative.
The blog can also become a place to remind, reinforce, and send people deeper into the content of the Sunday sermon, the principle teaching mechanism of the church. Here you might post a short summary of the message with a link to video or audio if available.
You might post links to articles or books cited as well as material for further study (and why not tag it to an Amazon affiliate account so people can support the church while getting helpful resources?). I’d also suggest some application questions that would stir people to think about how to apply the message and fuel good discussions in homes and small groups.
If we could visualize this strategy, it looks like this:
Social Media –> Blog –> The life of the church –> The Gospel.
There’s room in this strategy for a podcast (for sermons, stories, interviews, mission trip reports, etc.) and a YouTube channel as well, but that’s a topic for another time. I’d be interested in hearing any feedback or related ideas.
How does your church use social media? How do you wish it would?