In days gone by, the church with the highest steeple in town would receive the most visits from newcomers. Today, most people find a church by first visiting that church online. The online presence of a church is experienced two ways: the website and the church’s social media presence.
This post is not about your website, but for a brief pointer let me just say: Build your website for the visitor who is not currently attending your church. Ensure that service times and location are prominent. Post recent sermons and links to the leaders. It is good to have a biography of the pastor, with pictures of him and his family. All this means you don’t need a bunch of event details, like committee meetings or the deacon of the week, on your website.
Social media is a little more complicated, but almost any church can do it effectively. Here are a five pointers:
- Start simple and start small. Phase One is Facebook. Facebook is still the king of all social media platforms. Set up a page for people in your community seeking information. Your church needs its own Facebook page, not a personal profile and not a group for church members. Our church has an attractive outward page (toward visitors) and an inward-focused, closed group (for members). Need help? Just about every 20-something in your church can help get you started, and they will be aware of current trends and most of the do’s and don’ts associated with Facebook.
- Social media isn’t all about announcements. One of the worst practices with social media for churches are the churches that only post the link to the sermon audio or the a link to the newsletter. Social media is about being social! Post questions or surveys, include photos that are inviting. Celebrate and affirm church members, the community, and other personalities. Make sure to respond to comments and interact with those who make posts or leave comments.
- Use great pictures. Generally speaking, photos are better than words, and videos are better than photos. Don’t just post a sentence that says, “Come to our service.” Publish a photo that features a smiling facing with the caption inviting others to worship. Or better yet, post a live video in which you share why you are excited about the coming worship service and how people can prepare.
- Share posting responsibilities. Almost everyone is on social media. This means that in every church there is a member or the child of a member who can help you set up a simple social media presence. Once set up, it is easy to maintain. If you can pass off the page upkeep to a member or group, it becomes a really good way to get members involved and serving.
- Be consistent but not consumed. Post three to four times a week. Ideally you would post at least once a day. But that can seem daunting. You can schedule posts ahead of time, which would only really require about an hour of your time once a week. We all know that social media can be a black hole, so make sure that you are posting regularly, but don’t let it take you away from the more important aspects of spending time with people and preparing sermons.
Let me say this: A church that ignores social media and the internet today would be just like a church in the 90s refusing to make the building “look like a church” and refusing to put up a sign. You are telling the world you don’t care and are stuck in the past. It’s not really fair, and probably not true, but that is the impression you are making.
The benefits of using social media are many. We save a lot of money by not regularly printing invites to events or special services; people are not using them anymore anyway. Most of our person-to-person invitations happen via social media. Social media allows us to act quickly and provides us with a lot of flexibility. I’ve organized last-minute service projects and alerted the church to weather conditions because we have a well-organized social media platform.
Jump in and go for it! Social media can lead to great things for your church!
Published May 7, 2018