We need to start thinking differently about social media in our churches.
Social media has been vilified, championed, and everything in between in our churches, and with good reason. It’s new, and anything new–especially substantially new–is usually feared at first.
But I believe it’s time to start thinking (and talking) differently about social media in our churches. My guess is you feel this pain as well. With Facebook turning 10 recently, social is maturing. Our attitudes and approach to it must mature as well.
If you need a starting point for social media in your church, start with the following list. Print it out at and give it to your staff. Send it to your lead pastor. Let’s take a look at how we can start thinking differently about our churches and social media.
1. Social media is not a distribution channel.
Social networks are not digital billboards. They are not one-way channels meant to blast information into the faces of people connected to those channels. Social media is a living, breathing connection people have to your organization. This is to be cherished, not abused. Don’t expect social media results from broadcast methods.
[Tweet “Social media is a living, breathing connection people have to your organization.”]
2. Social media will play a role in the legacy of older leaders.
This is a big one. As Baby Boomer leaders prepare to transition out of ministry leadership roles, one aspect of the shift they’ll need to account for is social media. Social is the language of a New Media Generation. Simply put, established leaders must be able to say, “this is how I lead a church that accounts for the reality of social media.”
The sharpest leaders I speak with understand this and proactively account for social media strategy in their churches. In short, they have a plan.
[Tweet “The sharpest leaders proactively account for social media strategy in their churches.”]
3. Social media as a Relational Connection Point (RCP).
This point cannot be overstated. Most churches I know have some sort of greeter or hospitality team to welcome new and returning community members. A friendly “hello!” or a gift or a handshake—whatever. Social media is the new “greeter” for your church–it is a viable RCP. It is now likely someone will make a decision on whether or not to return to your church based on whether they can find you on Facebook (and like what they see).
[Tweet “Social media is the new “greeter” for your church.”]
4. Social media results can (and should) be measured.
Men and women in church leadership have every right to ask social media advocates, “How do we know it’s worth the time/effort/money?” It’s their job to ask that question. Answering it can be tricky (and downright frustrating) if you don’t have a plan. Beware.
If you want to build a process for measuring social media results in your church, check out the Social Church Certification Course.
5. Social media IS a waste of time.
If there’s no plan behind your church social media content, it’s a complete waste of time. You’re better off chucking social altogether. Seriously. When I say “plan,” I mean a thought-out, intentional, intelligent strategy to connect social media content to organizational goals (more new people, more activity amongst members, more dollars, etc.).
Would any pastor fail to prepare for their weekend message with proper study and intentionality? No, of course not. Social deserves the same rigor. Why? Because, ultimately, both deal with the same act: connecting with people.
[Tweet “If there’s no plan behind your church social media content, it’s a complete waste of time.”]
6. Social media is a language, not a set of tools.
If we believe social media (noun) is the sum of its parts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.), we are wrong. They are simply manifestations of the language of social media: Interactivity, Connectedness, Life Amplification, Customization. We love Twitter not only because we can share what we had for lunch, but because we can leverage it to topple governments. Twitters (and Facebooks and Pinterests) will come and go. Social media as a language—a mindset–is here to stay.
[Tweet “If we believe social media is the sum of its parts (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram), we are wrong.”]
7. Social media is uncontrollable.
You cannot control the social media conversation. Doing so would be like trying to change the direction of the Mississippi River with a boat oar. You can only hope to influence the conversation which, incidentally, requires a plan. The fear shouldn’t reside in people saying something negative about your church. The real fear is not having a plan to influence the conversation when the negativity comes.
[Tweet “Churches cannot control the social media conversation. They can only plan to influence it.”]
SOCIAL CHURCH CERTIFICATION
We are taking applicants for the inaugural Social Church Certification Course. Read more about the course or complete the short interest form below. Applications must be completed by February 28, 2014.