Several years ago, I started using Facebook, then Twitter. My first reaction to Facebook was, “This is silly.” I figured it was a waste of time. My first reaction to Twitter was, “What is this for?” I figured it was useless. My gut reactions were wrong.
I’m deeply embedded in both platforms now. My daily routine includes social media.
I post a few times daily on each. I often interact with church members on Facebook. Twitter is my go-to source for news and commentary.
As a pastor, I believe part of my responsibility includes shepherding people online. In our digital world, social media has become a key aspect of how I function as a leader. Twitter, Facebook, and other forms of social media are communication tools, which—like all media—can be used rightly or wrongly, for good or for harm. The church is salt and light—the flavor of and the guide for culture. The church has a role in shaping the use of social media.
I’d even go so far as to say that we pastors have an obligation to shepherd our churches online.
What Can Social Media Do for Your Church?
Social media can be used in any number of ways. So what do people really need?
- Within the church, use social media to enhance community. Obviously, social media cannot replace in-person interaction. The church must gather to exist. Scrolling through Twitter feeds or commenting on Facebook isn’t “the” church community—but both can be used to enhance the church community. Twitter is a quick way to share news of a gathering. Facebook can get people talking, online, about the gathering. And then Instagram can give people snapshots of the gathering’s highlights, solidifying memories and serving as a celebration. Social media is not the church community; it’s an enhancement to the community.
- With leaders, use social media to increase accessibility. It’s neither possible nor reasonable to expect your church leaders to be always available—but as a leader, you and your associates can use social media to increase your accessibility to others. Every church leader should have an online presence. The next point demonstrates why.
- As a community, use social media to reach more people. The gospel message never changes. It’s the timeless truth of good news. But your community is always changing. The proliferation of smartphones coupled with the popularity of social media has fundamentally changed how people communicate. We’re looking down a lot more. We’re swiping and scrolling rather than striking up random conversations. The church must reach people where they are — and they’re on their phones. Social media doesn’t replace a live conversation, but social media may help create the opportunity to talk to someone in person.
Social media for churches doesn’t have to be a waste of time. Social media can be useful. Use it to enhance community in the church. Use it to increase accessibility of leaders. Use it to reach people where they are.
To get started, send me a tweet. Seriously, do it.