This week, I just finished reading Justin Wise’s The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication. ChurchWP.net got to do a half hour live interview with him. You can watch a recording of it here. The Social Church was a great book that actually achieved its subtitle’s goal. It created a pretty comprehensive case (practically and biblically) why churches should engage in social media. Justin also shared some practical tips and warnings as well, which I appreciated.
This has got me thinking about how my church uses social media, and in particular, Facebook. Our church has had a Facebook page for quite some time. It has taken on different forms. The biggest challenge that I took from Justin’s book is that the goal of our social media should always be to create more connection between the church and its members and between fellow members. I really like this. We have made some practical changes to help facilitate this more.
Here are six ways we are currently using Facebook.
We use Facebook as our primary church events calendar. This means that we create Facebook events for each worship service, youth event, bible study, fun event, etc. We use a plugin that automatically imports these events to our website calendar. It is a little tedious because Facebook doesn’t handle repeating events as well as it could. You have to manually create or copy an event for every instance. However, we have found that Facebook events are a great way for our members to invite their friends (in the church and outside). This works really well for our fun events. If we do a guy’s pizza night, we will send out an invite to our guys (we are a smaller church). Many will RSVP through that they are coming. This is a great way to get things on their calendars. Another great benefit of using the Facebook Calendar is that it allows multiple people access to events. If something comes up at the last minute, our small group leaders can cancel an event or change on Facebook and everyone knows and the website is automatically updated. For a long time, I was doing all our online stuff and the bulletins (my church is a church plant). We create images for all our events, but we have our bulletin set up in such a way that we can reuse them there. This saved me a ton of time and energy.
2) Online Prayer Group:
We have created a Facebook prayer group for our church that allows members to share requests and others to comment. This has really taken off in the past few months as we have made people aware of it. Any group member can share their prayer requests and others can post comments. There are a couple of benefits of this over a prayer chain. First, anyone can post something when it happens. If an accident happens at night, they can post it before the staff gets in and others can pray. Second, it creates interaction. People will often post that they are praying for the situation, which helps people know they are not alone! We have it set as a closed group, which means that the public can see that the group exists, but only people in the group can see what is posted inside the group. You can use different settings. We have it set up so that people need to ask to become a member (or can be added by others) and confirmed by admins (pastor and elders).
3) Introduce New Worship Songs:
Another thing that we have started to do is post links to YouTube videos of worship songs. We only post songs that will be completely new to the congregation and we usually post it a few days before we hope to introduce it. Not everyone will watch it, but we find it is great for those that do want to learn the song before they come. This helps them to sing it better on Sunday!
4) Timeline Cover Art:
We use our church’s Timeline Cover photo to promote our sermon series and special events. We find it keeps our page fresh since it changes every few months. It also lets visitors know what they can expect when they come on Sunday!
5) Interesting Articles and Quotes:
One area that I was really challenged in by Justin Wise’s The Social Church is that 80% of our posts should add value to our online community rather than just be requests or self-promotion. We have started to link to a couple of different articles each week. This may seem like a lot of work. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be. When I come across an interesting article or quote for sermon prep, I will often post it immediately. I also use Evernote to store it in a notebook geared towards Facebook. About once a week, I go in and create posts with links to these articles and schedule them to post throughout the week.
6) Church Event Photos:
You need to be a little careful on this one. It is always best if you can get permission from people to do this ahead of time. We have started to post photos of events we have done and tag the people in them. This not only gives visitors to our church’s Facebook page a glimpse of what is going on in the church; if you tag people, these photos show up in their Facebook feeds for their friends to see. It is a subtle way that you can get the word out about your church and what it is doing.
Want to learn even more about social media and the church? Here is a great list of some of the best online resources!