So you want to wade in the water and give your congregation a Social Media Presence. The easiest way to start is to make a Facebook page for your congregation. Even if you haven’t persuaded your congregation to make a webpage, this is an easy way to start.
There are three different ways congregations can establish a presence on Facebook.
One is to make a Facebook Group. I do not recommend this as your first step. In another post I will post ideas of ways to use groups for your congregation but for now let’s skip the groups.
Some church leaders have made a Facebook profile as their church. So instead of Pastor Smith they are on Facebook as Lutheran Church of the Green Jell-O. In this case people can “friend” their church, the way you would friend a person. I personally do not recommend this.
For one, it is against Facebook’s own rules. Only real genuine people are supposed to make Facebook profiles. I think it limits the amount of people you reach as only those who “friend” you can get your updates. And when they friend you, you have access to all their information as people but all they see is the church information. It goes against the idea of what a relationship is supposed to be. It’s not fair for you to see everything they post as a person but they only know you as the church. I can understand the temptation of anonymity but I find it a little creepy and antithetical to what Social Media is all about.
If you are concerned about maintaining boundaries as a church leader on Facebook, I will write about healthier and more authentic ways to do that in another post.
So what that leaves is a Facebook Page. These are very easy to create. All people have to do is “like” your page and whatever you post will show up in their newsfeed. It is an easy way to get a lot of people engaged.
So you start here.
So now that you have a page what to do with it?
First of all make sure your up to date worship times are at the top so people see that right away. Put a picture of people doing things at church as your cover picture. While a Facebook page is a good way to get out news and announcements, you can and should do much more with it. You can share photos of recent events, news about members, articles of interest and uplifting messages.
Think of your page as not just another way to get news out to members, but a way to help your members share their faith.
- Post uplifting scripture and quotes with photos that your members can share.
- Encourage your members to share both the page and items posted.
- Invite members to use the Facebook page to invite people to church.
The Northeastern Iowa Synod Facebook Page posts a photo with a Morning Prayer or scripture everyday that gets up to 700 views just from others who share it.
Your members have Facebook friends who don’t go to church but who might find a scripture or quote just what they needed to help them make a God connection.
Try to post something every day, even if it is just an uplifting scripture. Ask questions. Post a scripture and ask them what that scripture means to them.
Pay attention to the analytic reports Facebook provides.
These provide important feedback as what kind of posts people are viewing and responding to.
Of course you hope that your page might lead to more visitors to church and perhaps even more members. And maybe it will. But we at the synod have a quote from Keith Anderson, author of Click to Save: The Digital Ministry Bible that we like to keep in mind for all our Social Media work:
“We are not here to sell ourselves or our churches. We are here to build relationships and share God’s grace. The return on investment of digital ministry is hearts set free in the Gospel.”
It might very well be that the only connection a person has with the church is through your Facebook. If so, you want to make sure they hear the Gospel. Because in the end, that is what it is all about.
By Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson,
Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA
About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-HansonThe Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.
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