Mark Hattabaugh, Cooper City, FL – My advice for pastors using social media is to use it but don’t abuse it. The social media page of the church you pastor is not the same as your personal social media platforms. The social media of your church represents your entire church. Messages shared should be informational, inspirational and apply to the whole or part of your church and/or community. This is different from how you may post on your personal platforms, which may include followers from outside of your church and community. However, when using social media for outreach – and you should always have an eye on outreach with church social media – treat every post as if you are communicating with someone in your community who knows nothing about church or a first-time guest that has just walked into your church.
Jack Leaman, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada – I think it’s important to realize that all of these platforms can serve as a means of communication, but it’s important that the information be authentic. Present who you are, not who you wish to be. Use it as a tool, not “the way.” People are still the most effective means of winning people. One-on-one, friends bringing friends. Don’t compare yourselves among yourselves. Keep information current. Don’t offer a blog if you are only going to have one post from a year ago . . . it diminishes your credibility. Have all information to be posted that is under the banner of your church’s name pass through the pastor or his designated authority. Be aware of legal responsibility (such as posting information about minors). Tend it, or it can be a garden full of weeds, instead of a place of fruitfulness. Let it be a tool to help you get to where you feel like God is leading you. Your follower count isn’t an indicator of God’s approval or plan.
Chris Henderson, Indianapolis, IN – You need to know the purpose of your social media. Is your Facebook page for weekly announcements geared primarily toward current members? Or is it an outreach page where current members can point potential visitors to? The answer to this question dictates what is posted, when it is posted, and how your page is laid out for users. If the followers on your Instagram are primarily current members, consider using that for your “midweek choir rehearsal reminder” post and design that Facebook page with people who know nothing about your church in mind.
Media managers are a necessary position in the church because the last thing a leader wants is to start something and spend all our energy on a project that is not utilized. The lament I hear the most is, “It’s just so much work.” It is a lot of work. If a church is going to have a presence on social media, then they should spread the workload. The pastor should not have to make his title slides. The church secretary should not have to manage the church Facebook page. Both of these people could have admin privileges on any platform. I do think that churches should consider having a single person or a team to manage social media. As with any other position in the church, there should be open lines of communication between team members and the pastor. Expectations should be clear and proper lines of authority drawn.
We would love to partner with your local congregation to provide training for your social media and digital outreach efforts. Topics include starting a podcast, practical tips and tools for lyric projection, generating quality content and more. If you are interested in this partnership contact Chris Henderson, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anthony Cox, The Pentecostal Church, Harvey, IL – We see the potential social media has given us for reaching out to a wider audience, so we see it as an important avenue for outreach and evangelism. We have actually placed a designated person from our church in charge of heading up our social media platforms and are always looking for new and better ideas of how to incorporate social media in our efforts.
We have to realize that social media is very important these days. We have the opportunity to connect with hundreds and maybe thousands of people right from our cell phones. You have the opportunity to share your church’s passion with your church community, surrounding cities, surrounding states, and even internationally by the click of button. Don’t be afraid to use the tools we have today to build God’s kingdom.
Derek Borders, Norman, OK – Don’t downplay the significance that social media can have in evangelizing your community. Everything your church does communicates a message. Keep a consistent and positive presence for people to get a glimpse of your church. This goes beyond branded church accounts and trickles down to personal accounts of leaders. A social media policy for your ministry team is a great way to make sure that an individual doesn’t damage the reputation of the church with an unthoughtful post.
Consistency, consistency, consistency. It’s easy to quickly become discouraged when there are no results coming in. But you must be ready for that one who will stumble across your social media site while searching the internet for answers.
Aaron Arrowood, Seymour, IN – In the last year, we have had at least 11 people baptized, filled with the spirit, or attending church regularly… all through social media. Our mission regarding social media is to market ourselves rather than letting the devil label us within the community. If we don’t keep up with social media, it could allow others to define us to our community. It leaves people with the impression that we don’t care about our community and limits our reach. Our attitude is that social media is the common social gathering place of our generation. Unsaved people allow us to engage them in spiritual discourse through it.
As a pastor, you should figure out how to use social media for effective ministry. Build unsaved friend groups and reach out to those people consistently. Teach others in the church to do the same.