What if your social media following weren’t a marketing audience, but instead a digital extension of your church’s congregation?
Social media is on the tip of the tongue of today’s ministry leaders, and that’s good. Few weeks go by without a church setting up a new ministry Facebook page or Instagram account. Some churches give every ministry a Facebook page, while others provide a single page that all ministries share. Social media has become a widely-used tool to leverage for the kingdom.
Every ministry wants to build an audience, and social media seems like a simple means to this end. Yet, social media platforms are so much more than just the latest thing or places to garner followers. Only through focused effort can social media be put to work effectively in Kingdom service. How your church views these tools determines how you will use them. Social media as a tool isn’t really what is most important.
Churches who make the most of their social media presence still think about people the way Christ did—one person at a time. Their view extends beyond marketing the next event. By looking beyond the platform (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), these churches prioritize the individual. In other words, churches with a Kingdom-building mindset emphasize the “social” part of “social media” rather than the “media” part. The people they are engaging are viewed as part of the congregation they lead seven days a week, not just on the weekend. With a heart to share with hundreds, they remain focused on connecting just one person at a time. They refuse to see social media as a mass marketing tool and instead consider this as a doorway to personal conversations with people who are considered part of congregation.
For some churches, social media is the way to be introduced and potentially entice people to give their church a try. And so they push out event information, ministry updates, and invitations to attend a worship service. Social media is viewed as a tool to give people a taste of what the church has to offer. In reality, pushing content inhibits the individual from experiencing a church’s true identity. People need more than content to be treated like a person; they need a conversation. Content isn’t personal, people are.
We know that people make up the body of Christ, and where there are people, there are unique personalities. Every church has a unique personality that extends from its people. Social media becomes personal when it authentically portrays the unique personality of the church. How does this happen? It happens when churches are willing to initiate a conversation rather than inundate with information. When we ask a question, we demonstrate that we care what the individual thinks and that we want to hear from them. This also means we are prepared to listen and respond when they share personal insights.
Social media also becomes personal when it becomes an extension of the worship experience. The purpose is less about attracting people to the next event and more about inspiring people to continue growing spiritually the other six days of the week. What happens on the weekend continues to inspire the body of Christ to live for Christ when spiritual insights are re-shared and talked about throughout the week.
If you want to see some churches that do it well, check out the Facebook pages of Cross Point Church in Nashville or Community Bible Church and Oak Hills Church in San Antonio. These churches all have similar approaches to making sure social media isn’t just a platform to broadcast event information. They ask questions and respond when people engage. These churches and many others are working to make their social spaces online a place for a conversation.
Social media is so much more than a tool to push information about an event to people who might come. Social spaces online are a way to help people connect to the heart of the church through conversations with people who are the church.