You’ve heard the story about the old hellfire and brimstone preacher, right? The one who would write, “Weak point, yell,” on his sermon outline every week? It’s worth a few laughs, but in reality, countless church leaders are doing precisely this to their congregation and community every single day—through social media.
When you neglect to engage with your audience (follow others, like and comment on their posts, start and participate in on-going conversations) you have hit a weak point. When you use social media only to post about the who/what/when/where/why of your events, you are yelling at your audience.
Let’s step back for a minute to think about the other side of this coin; those who don’t need to raise their voice to be heard. Passionate people are never found guilty of misusing social media as a digital billboard. They don’t need to learn sales gimmicks or tricks because they naturally find and connect with people who resonate with their message.
This translates to churches. Passionate churches are not adding to the noise of social media clutter. There are several who do an excellent job of utilizing social media as the communication tool it is. If you’re looking for examples, track down the work Chris Dunagan is doing with his social media team at NewSpring Church, headed by Pastor Perry Noble. Or look to Jenny Rain and her talented team at Mark Batterson’s Church, National Community Church, in Washington D.C.
These churches understand social media is an outpouring of their bigger picture. It is a place to not only share their vision, but also to find those who are seeking it and those who already share it. Then they engage in discussion about it. What naturally follow are productive steps toward achieving their vision. They see measurable results because of their focused passion.
So how do you step from the camp of yelling broadcasters to meaningful engagers? It’s all in the big idea—the driving vision. It is the thing that gets you out of bed every morning. It is your passion. If you haven’t nailed this down, it is time.
Gather your leadership team and answer the question, individually and collectively, “Why do we do what we do?”
Trace the path of passion back to the start of your church or ministry. What fuel stoked the original fires? What was the dream of the founders when they first broke ground? What got them excited?
Then, take a moment plan your big idea. Grab this worksheet to help you. Do a vision planning process exercise to give yourself the clarity your community deserves.
Once you have identified the passion, you must either create or redefine your church’s mission statement so that it reflects and empowers this passion. This clear mission statement should permeate everything in the church: sermons, facilities, children’s ministry, small groups, outreach, etc. It should bleed through all communication, affecting what is said, where it’s said, why and when and how it’s said.
Social media can be extremely effective toward helping your church reach its goals, but it won’t happen if you yell. Your audience may not be familiar with the old preacher’s weak point trick, but just as the congregation got nothing out of his shouts, your message will fall on deaf ears if you lack a passionate strategy.