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If you do not already get emails from The Barna Group, I would highly suggest it.  About once a month they publish research relevant to the Christian community.  This week they posted on “The Rise of the @Pastor.”  You can find the complete article here.

This article talks about the rise of religious content on social media, and also the rise of churches and pastors on social media, specifically Twitter and Facebook.  In the article, they state that “the Christian community’s voice has become a substantial one in the social, digital space.”  I find that Christian influencers are becoming more and more accessible to people through the use of social media.

Twitter is gradually becoming the dominant social media.  Church leaders included are jumping on the Twitter bandwagon.  I found this statistic very interesting:  In the last 24 months, the number of “church-based” users on Twitter has increased by 77%.  Wow.

Check out this infographic from Barna to see the rise in social media.

Social media helps pastors and churches to interact with people where they are.  This used to be in the coffee shops and out in the town, but now it is on the computer.  Churches and pastors need to be where the people are and where the important conversations are happening.  A majority of these conversations are now happening over social media.

If your church does not have a presence on social media, what are you waiting for?


Once you decide to use social media, you must decide how you are going to use it.  With social media being such a big trend in the world today, churches need to embrace it.  A recent “Lookout” article stated that “the mutual mission of community building makes churches and social media a natural fit.”  Where it may be seen as such an obvious fit for a church, the approach to social media must be approached like any other ministry outreach of the church.

Before entering into the ministry of social media, the church should consider a few questions in advance:

  1. What are you trying to accomplish through your social media program?  How will you measure your goals?
  2. What will your church be able to do through social media that the church would otherwise not be able to achieve?  What needs does it fulfill?
  3. What resources will you need in order to start and maintain the social media program?  Consider additional time, talent, and funds that will be needed.
  4. Most importantly, how will God be honored through your churches use of social media?

Here are some suggestions for how your church can approach social media.  Firstly, a Facebook page is becoming more and more common for all brands.  This is a good way to post information and to gain information about interest in your church.  Secondly, Twitter is now the leading “microblogging” site.  Twitter can be utilized by churches by encouraging real-time feedback, share links, blog posts, announcements, and other interesting information.  Youtube can be used to upload videos to a churches channel.  The benefits of this is wide access and interest.  Links can be sent via Twitter and Facebook to encourage traffic between all of your networks.  Churches also have the option to start a blog.  “When a blog is built into a church’s main website, it can help the site’s search engine optimization through its natural supply of keywords” (Lookout).  Finally, one platform that many more churches are using is podcasting.  Churches are using podcasts to post their sermons for many people to listen to.

So how do you start your social media plan?  It is important to remember that “social media must complement and enhance your ongoing communications and methods of outreach.”  Most churches will need a full social media team in order to successfully utilize social media.  Social media must be frequently updated.  Social media must be open to feedback.  Social media must have clear guidelines and expectations.  Ultimately social media must be simple and clear or people will get lost in the mess.  Social media should be an extension of your church and not a separate part.

Frequency is the key to effective social media.  Most people suggest these guidelines:

  • Blog once a week (200-500 words per post)
  • Update Facebook information two to three times a week (include images when possible)
  • Tweet one to two times a day (can be used more, but don’t over-do it)

I think this quote expresses the key to why a church should use social media: “It is a lot less intimidating to go online and experience a church than it is for people to walk through the doors of one.”  People often find walking into a church they know nothing about very intimidating.  A churches’ social media presence is now often a person’s “first look” into that church.  It can communicate so much to an interested person and depending on how social media is used, that message can be a positive one (“I’m interested in knowing more, maybe I’ll go see what it’s all about”) or a negative one (“I don’t think I even want to try that one”).  Ultimately, social media is simply “a very remarkable tool that when used well can bring God’s people together.”

What we once thought was just for us, now is for everyone.  Thirteen year olds all the way to grandparents are now on and using Facebook.  Facebook has become more than just a place for friends to meet, it has become a place for all kinds of social connections.  People can talk to their favorite companies, and companies can respond back to their customers.  The one way street is now a mult-lane interchange.  Facebook has grown by leaps and bounds because it fulfills two basic needs of humans: to belong and to connect.  So, should the church embrace this change or stay away from it completely?  Can it be helpful or serve any purpose for our churches?

Facebook has become a part of everyday life.  Many people get on Facebook more than three times a day.  According to the website’s online press room, “People spend over 700 billion minutes per month on Facebook.”  Can you believe that?  700 billion minutes per month!  Currently there are 792,306,980 people on Facebook.  That means that on average every person on Facebook uses Facebook for 883 minutes per month.  That is a total of almost 15 hours a month.  So my question is, with something so big, with a reach to so many people, how can the church not afford to utilize it?

“The Lookout” recently had an article about churches using Facebook.  They suggest that churches need to have a few principles before they start using Facebook.  First, a church needs to figure out why they are using Facebook in the first place.  Secondly, a church needs to realize that even if you are on Facebook you should remember the golden rule.  And ultimately you must remember that “Facebook connections may help cultivate friendships and community, but they are no substitute for live interaction with living, breathing people.”

Finally, I would like to leave you with a list of questions to consider about your use of Facebook:

  1. What is the main goal for my Facebook interactions?
  2. How many of my Facebook friends are Christians?
  3. Will I find ways to share my faith offline with my unbelieving Facebook friends?
  4. What role will Scripture and prayer play in my profile and interactions?
  5. What will I do when one of my friends is struggling with a faith-related issue?
  6. What will I do when one of my friends posts a viewpoint that goes against Scripture?
  7. How will I express my personal joys and struggles to my Facebook friends?

I hope this helps you determine or reevaluate how you use Facebook.

Social media is the new trend.  Is your church on board?
I think many churches are behind where they could be in terms of social media.
Social media is huge, it is worldwide.
Look at this info graphic from Advertising Age:
Infographic: Generational Media Usage by Time of Day | Ad Age Stat – Advertising Age.

Look at how great a reach social media has.  There is someone you can reach at any time of the day using social media.

I recently went to a church that has their own social media page for their church members.  On it you can find people you met at church, get connected to a small group, volunteer, chat, submit and receive prayer requests and engage in your church community throughout the week.  This is awesome.

Is your church taking advantage of the scope of social media?

You could have:
-a facebook page all about your church and you could make events so people can send invites to their friends
-a twitter with your church updates
-a church blog about events, baptisms, changes, the sermon series

There are huge opportunities out there for growth via social media.  Why not take advantage?