In a recent post, I talked about the reasons why the church should be involved with a well-organized social media campaign. It dawned on me after publishing that article that I could, and should, delve a little deeper into the three areas that I addressed in that post. So, here it goes.
The first thing to identify is: Why should the church be involved with social marketing, and who should they be trying to reach?
Ron Edmondson talks about the importance of an online presence when he says, “Seriously, I don’t see how a church can expect to meet new people without a Web site. The majority of people these days will check out a church’s Web site before they ever visit the church. If there is no Web site…no visit.” Although I think that this concept can be assigned to blogs and Facebook pages as easily as to websites, the principle remains the same: the church must remain relevant in today’s society. Christians and non-Christians, churched and un-churched, everyone uses the internet and social media. If the church fails to develop an online presence, then they are failing to allow Christians seeking a home church or non-believers who are seeking answers the opportunity to find what they are looking for.
This leads us to the second part of our question: who should the church be trying to reach with social media? The short answer: everyone. A church has the unique position of being able to reach a lot of people with minimal effort through the avenue of social media. This position comes with an extraordinary responsibility. As God has allowed social media to become the preeminent means of communication in the world today, the church has the responsibility of being a good steward of that technology.
That being said, let’s break down the three general groups of people that the church should be trying to reach with social media. The first group is the members or active attendees of the church. How many times have you organized an event, announced it from the pulpit, and even put it in the bulletin for consecutive weeks, yet, when the day of the event arrives, it seems as though all your announcements have mysteriously slipped the minds of your congregation.
A well-planned social media campaign can keep your events in front of those who need to see it on an almost constant basis. Organization becomes easier, as does event planning, as you now have an easy way to track RSVPs. Aside from keeping the congregation connected to the church, social media also provides the opportunity for your members to stay connected to each other. A Facebook page would give the congregation an opportunity to share prayer requests and praises and lift each other up before the Lord.
The second group to reach out to is the global church, believers from around the world. A pastor’s sermon may not just be intended for his particular congregation. Perhaps there is a bigger audience in need of last Sunday’s message. Sharing the sermons and what God is doing in your church can be an encouragement to other believers who may be unable to attend services at your church. Even locally, those who are bedridden or ill would still be able to read the sermons, as well as give and receive encouragement.
The final group is the non-believers and the un-churched. As stated in the quote at the beginning of this article, the vast majority of people, saved and unsaved, are online. If the church doesn’t have a website, or some sort of professional looking online presence, then the chances of it being found are almost nil. That being said, the purpose of reaching out to unbelievers should not be to simply bring them into the church building, but to connect with them on a personal level. Un-believers don’t need a church, they need a Savior. Social media, if used effectively, can help the church connect with un-believers and show them how they can have a personal relationship with God.
Social media is not just for the crafty with excessive time on their hands or the serial tweeter with too much to say. It can also be used to bring glory to God by uniting His church, both locally and globally. It can be used to bring people to Christ and to help Christians find a church home. Don’t discount social media, instead, embrace it and use it to bring glory to God.