Churches struggling to connect with their communities and fill their pews should make sure they are using all the tools available to them.
Social media may be the best tool for growing your church and getting your message out to families in your community. People are looking for inspiration, hope, and belonging, and they are open to having deep conversations online. Social media is where we communicate with each other, and it’s only growing in size and impact.
According to this latest research, people in the U.S. check their Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts a staggering 17 times a day, meaning at least once every waking hour, if not more. And it’s not just young people, adults 25-50 are the largest user group of social media.
So why should your church team be using social media?
Imagine trying to build and maintain a relationship with a close friend or a partner when you only see him or her once a week, or less. It would be impossible, but that’s what many church leaders are trying to do. In order to build trust and closeness with people in your congregation, you need to speak with them more often. Social media provides a personal place to start conversations.
Reaching out to new members is also a priority for many churches. Social media gives you a small peek into their lifestyle, and provides valuable information for starting better conversations. There’s no need to bombard anyone with messages, or tell a newcomer how great your church is for them, but it can be a springboard for getting to know someone.
A little goes a long way
Being “on social media” doesn’t have to take much time, and doesn’t need to be overly complicated. Start by joining one social media platform. Before signing up, ask some of your church members what they use, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you are interested in attracting more young people, like The Community Bible Church in San Antonio, ask young people what they like to see in their feeds. This will give you valuable information about what platform to choose and what content to post.
There’s no need to join every platform and post 10 times a day. Focus on genuine connections and real conversations to make more of an impact with little effort. As you grow and become more familiar with the medium, add another account to the mix.
Create a consistent experience
What is your church like on a Sunday morning? Maybe it’s loud and lighthearted with kids running around, or maybe your congregation is more meditative and your church is a respite to get away from the busy-ness of the world. Whatever your church’s personality, that’s what you should present yourself online. Some churches like the LifeChurch.tv have even created online campuses with virtual services for a truly seamless digital experience.
Social media will give people a small taste of what they can expect when they walk through your doors. Be authentic about your church’s personality, and don’t be shy about showing off your strengths, whether it’s your music or your community service. When people see inside the experience and can imagine themselves in your church, they are more likely to feel at home when they finally visit.
Be of service
The easiest way to use social media is to promote yourself — upcoming events, how great your choir is, and why people should choose your church. While promoting events and your choir are important, self-aggrandizing is not received well online. People are easily turned off by too many promotional posts, and they don’t give your potential attendees any value. The real value of social media is the unique perspective it gives you into people’s real lives. Listen to what people struggle with, celebrate family wins with them, and be there to support them when they need it.
An invitation on social media, is an invitation to share in a person’s life outside of church – this is something that should be respected and valued. At Crosspoint Church in Nashville, Tenn., each member of the church leadership is active online, including lead pastor Pete Wilson (@pwilson on Twitter), allowing each of them to extend their expertise to their community and provide service in different ways.
Social media is not a quick fix to rapidly growing your church. It still takes time and effort. Just like any relationship, it will take time to build trust with people. Be patient and consistent, and your presence and impact will steadily grow.
For more information on getting started with a social media strategy, contact one of our media experts.