Let me start by telling you a story.
When I was 9 years old, I joined a Harry Potter forum. I was probably too young to be doing this, but I did it anyway.
After joining this forum, I started making friends and these friendships became very deep and real. I loved that I was able to create real relationships online.
Through these relationships, I got to share more than just my love for Harry Potter, I also got to share the love of Jesus.
Now think about that for a minute… A 9 year old girl sharing the love and light of Christ online.
I didn’t really think about what I was doing. I didn’t prepare. I had no strategy. I just loved my online friends and I wanted them to know about the hope that I had in Christ.
You can do that too.
Now I’m not saying you need to join some special interests forums, because let’s be honest here, forums are so 2003. But you have friends on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and SnapChat that need to hear the good news of the gospel. All you have to do is tell them.
But how do I tell them?
All you have to do is be a friend. Social media is all about being social. That’s the point, isn’t it?
How My Ministry can Benefit from Social Media
Most people in your ministry are using social media already, and using social media let’s you connect with those people instantly and easily.
Your small group or church might only meet once a week, but relationships and conversations can continue every day through Facebook. This allows for deepening relationships, knowledge of prayer requests, and even encouragement throughout the week.
This also works for teams of leaders who meet only a few times a year. Social media interactions and discussions can help encourage a team feel unified even when you’re not together often.
Rules of Social Media
Rules of social media are just like the rules of making friends on the playground.
Be nice. Be consistent. Be yourself!
The first rule is to be nice. We all know the Golden Rule, “treat others as you would want to be treated” but how can we apply that online?
We can show and share the love of Christ by posting encouraging and enlightening messages throughout the day. We can also reach out to a particular person and ask them about how their day has been.
As a church, how can we “be nice” and make friends on social media? Using your church’s page as a way to reach out to your community seems like a challenging and daunting task, but it should not be! There are lots of ways you can bless the community around you by just using social media.
For example, you can ask for prayer requests and pray for individuals that contact you. We do this on a weekly basis, and I feel like it’s an easy way for us to connect with the people in our church, around the community, and even around the world.
Another example could be, go to a local business, snap a picture and write a thoughtful, encouraging review online. Go in and meet the owners and tell them you would like to feature them on your social media channels.
There are more ways than this but think outside the box. How can you encourage your community using your social media channels?
Consistency is key. Just like in friendship, in social media, you have to keep showing up in people’s lives.
Paul was a champion of consistency in church communications. Just look at all the letters he wrote!
Consistency, though, is easier said than done. It takes work to keep showing up. There’re so many ways to solve this.
Creating a plan is the best way to keep you, or your church’s social media, consistent.
This is a sample plan that I use for my church’s social media account.
- Sunday: Post at the moment at church
- Monday: Sharing Bible passages
- Tuesday: Share quotes from educational books
- Wednesday: Ask questions.
- Thursday: Throwback Thursday #TBT
- Friday: Share what’s (events) coming up this Sunday at church
- Saturday: Connect with someone new
Think about Paul’s letters. They all had a theme. Philippians was joy. Romans, Paul explained how the gospel work and how to respond. In that same way, theme your social media content! It’s easy, saves you time and effort, and creates continuity with your audience.
Planning ahead saves time in the content creation process and scheduling helps save you mental energy. There are a lot of great applications to schedule social media. Two that come to my mind are Hootsuite and Buffer. Both offer free tiers as well as discounts to 501c3 non-profits.
If you’re running the church account, I think it’s probably wise to reveal who’s behind the account every once and while. It keeps things human and authentic.
Jesus created relationships with people by being himself. Paul didn’t hide his true self, even is his letters, he told the truth about his pain, his temptations, and his suffering. It’s worth sharing these things with your online friends because they are a part of who you are and it tells the bigger story of who you are becoming in Christ.