“Does my church really need to use social media?” That’s a question many pastors and church staff members have asked over the last several years. Getting started on social media can seem overwhelming, and many churches simply assume that they don’t have the resources or budget to effectively use social media. Thankfully, that’s not the case. Social media is one of the easiest and most important ways for your church to engage with the community around you.
An untapped mission field
Social media is an untapped mission field. According to a recent Pew Research study, seven out of every 10 Americans and over 90 percent of millennials use social media regularly. If your church isn’t using social media, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach your community with the gospel. In addition, social media can often be a lonely place—full of conflict, depression, and anxiety. There is a desperate need for Christians, and specifically churches, to bring the hope and joy of the gospel into that void.
Here are three helpful pointers for you to keep in mind as you plan your church social media strategy:
1. Have a purpose, plan, and person for your social media
As you set out to use social media for your church, focus on the three Ps:
Purpose: Decide what your main goals for your social media platforms will be. Do you primarily want to share sermons and church resources? Invite more people to come to your events and services? A good mix is ideal, but having an overall vision will help you as you create a plan.
Plan: Decide what you will post, and when and where you will post it. Platforms like Facebook are great for organizing and promoting church events, while Twitter is better suited to sharing sermon quotes or blog posts. You can use free tools like Google Sheets or Airtable to outline your post schedule. Set some specific goals, such as a number of posts on each platform every week, and stick to them. One size doesn’t fit all, and what works for your church and community may be different than what other churches do.
As the world moves further into the digital age, the church can lead the way in reaching others with the power of the gospel through the power of social media.
Person: If social media is left up to everyone, it will most likely get done by no one. Your church probably doesn’t need a full-time social media person, but it is important to designate someone—either a staff member or even a trusted volunteer from your congregation—to oversee social media and ensure that things are running smoothly.
2. Be creative, and think outside the box
One of the worst things you can do when starting a church social media ministry is to post the exact same things all the time. Your sermons may be great, but if that’s the only thing you ever post on social media, people will quickly grow tired of seeing them. Instead, think of ways you can creatively tell others about your church. For example, I know one church that invited their members to record short (under a minute) video clips sharing why they loved their church, and then they shared them over the course of several weeks. Invite your congregation to post pictures of church events and then share or retweet them. Share short written testimonies from church members or recent answers to prayer. Maybe consider getting your pastor or a staff member to make a weekly announcements video that you can then post. There are various ways you can engage with those around you through social media.
It’s also important not to let social media become an echo chamber. Read the comments and replies on your posts, and engage with them. Answer questions, and reply to direct messages. As you do this, remember that you’re representing your entire church with every post or comment, so stay respectful and professional.
3. Don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal
If you’re not careful, social media, just like any church outreach, can quickly become a numbers-obsessed game. Tracking how many new followers you’ve gotten can become more important than thinking through how you can use your posts to reach lost souls. Social media isn’t everything; it’s just another tool God has given us to share the gospel. It will never replace the love and care that human interaction and face-to-face ministry brings.
As the world moves further into the digital age, the church can lead the way in reaching others with the power of the gospel through the power of social media. Let’s continue to find ways to share God’s love with those around us through the screens they’re already attached to. The platform we use to share it may change over time, but the life-changing message of the gospel never will. That’s something worth posting and tweeting about.