Let’s face it; many churches today are uninformed, apathetic, or simply lost when it comes to social media as it relates to ministry. It may surprise you, but I have church members and congregations that still do not have access to regular internet. I often joke that I have become the ‘technology guy’ here because of the mere fact that I am under the age of 40. I’ll be honest; if I have a choice between being outside or being on my facebook page, I will choose being outside 10 times out of 10. However, as an older Millenial (born 1981), I have also grown up being able to adapt to this new world of social media, and in a sense, ‘speak the language’ of this age.
So how does social media relate to ministry? Well, as I have stated before, Jesus didn’t need Facebook! But here’s the fun question: if Jesus were walking the streets today, would he use Facebook to share God’s love with others? With this thought in mind, I believe that social media does have a seat at the table of ministry tools, and it is up to us as the church on how to best harness these opportunities that come from it. With any technology there are the possibilities of both good and bad that can come; that’s why part of my job is to help congregations take the steps toward responsible and effective use of social media as part of their ongoing ministry efforts.
With all of this being said, here is a VERY SHORT list of tips to get us thinking about how to BEGIN using social media as a tool for ministry:
- Develop a Safe Church Policy that addresses social media use.
- This is especially true for minors. Have families sign a form once a year giving permission to use images, video, etc., for church publicity use is a start.
- Check with your insurance agent for sample policies, search online, or access the Presbytery’s Child Protection & Social Media Policy by clicking here to use as a template to begin.
- Create a website that provides pertinent information for newcomers.
- Can you find your church website on a Google search?
- Visitors need to easily find basic information: Address, worship times, etc.
- Develop an email list for people to receive regular news/updates.
- Organize this list in a single email account, or use a web-based service like Mailchimp.
- Some websites/programs allow individuals to register on-line for newsletters, etc., from your website.
- Dedicate one person to serve as the ‘Social Media Contact’.
- This person is held accountable for all content updates; they should be a responsible adult that has regular internet access.
- While one person may be the contact person, several people can work as a team to support the ministry.
- Create a Facebook ‘Page’ for your church.
- Keep all information up to date and succinct
- Facebook ‘Groups’ are also great for committees, youth groups, etc.
- Link your social media accounts with your ministry website.
- Share pictures, videos, and more by a simple link.
- This is a great way to connect visitors with current members. Websites tend to attract visitors; social media can engage your active participants.
- Regularly update all accounts with current information.
- Monthly updates are not enough. Think weekly…even daily. Worship time changes or cancellations, special announcements, etc. all need to be updated.
- There are programs that will help update multiple sites at once (hootsuite, etc.)
- Engage with church members on-line.
- This is one more way to show that you are interested in their lives. ‘Like’ their pictures and updates, ‘Follow’ their posts, wish them happy birthday! Relational ministry…
- There is a difference between engaging with church members and ‘Facebook stalking’; be sure to respect privacy and personal space.
- Expand your social media presence with other sites.
- Now that you are online, be sure to go back and revisit your Social Media Section of your Safe Church Policy. Responsible and effective use is key!