How to start a social media conversation about what God is doing in your church
Spiritual-growth campaigns have always been a powerful way to move a church forward. But now, with the rapid adoption of social media by people in the pews, there’s never been a greater opportunity to create, stimulate and propagate a conversation among your people about what God is doing in their midst. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and a myriad of other online social networks are examples of how technology is helping our culture catch up with God’s original plan for His good news to be carried via interpersonal communication.
God’s good news spreads farthest and fastest through personal connections and conversations. But because growth happens with intentional focus, you will need a strategy for empowering people to further the conversation with their friends—whether you are simply beginning a new message series or launching a full-blown campaign on the scale of “What on Earth Am I Here For?”
Here are some strategic actions to consider:
Evaluate and expand your library of content. Content is currency. The people writing the books, blogs and tweets that offer the most valuable information are ultimately purchasing trust and influence, and no one has better content on hand than the church.
Your church has volumes of potentially powerful content in the forms of sermons, devotionals and lessons. Size up what you have on hand—and expand it—then make it public on the Web.
Empower creative people to frame your story. More graphic designers and Web designers are producing content now than ever before. Even in the smallest of churches, there probably is someone just waiting for a new kingdom assignment in the area of designing beautiful messaging.
From creating nicely edited video promos to post on You Tube to compiling pretty pictures of puppies and cookies to post on Pinterest, almost a third of your people will have a penchant for the creative process. Within parameters that make sense, set them free!
Initiate conversations that connect people. As you move from broadcasting the message to distributing the message via social media, you need to be thinking about how to build a community by connecting participants to one another. Realize that listening and asking the right questions is often far more valuable than doing all the talking.
Make your message easy to “like.” I’ve told hundreds of church leaders that Facebook’s “Like” button is the simplest and most powerful innovation that has happened online since Google got started. With a single click, one person has instantly recommended something to all of their overlapping circles of friends. So take your challenge, your sermons and the stories of life-change happening around you and break them up into bite-size pieces. Then spread those pieces all over your website, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. The goal is to offer something truly valuable and make it shareable in as few clicks as possible.
Remind everyone how easy it is to spread the conversation. Tell your Sunday crowd to turn their cell phones on and “check in.” Give them a tweetable quote to send halfway through the message. Put sharing buttons on all your Web content. Respond to what’s being said about you online in a way that demonstrates you care.
Be intentionally unintentional. As church leaders, our instinct is to start a new program or ministry for every good idea. Stop! The more structure and rules you create, the more you will slow your message down.
This is an age in which everyone is a publisher. Your task isn’t to control how people spread the story of life-change. Your role is to cast the vision and empower people with the message—then set them free.
Gutenberg helped you print Sunday’s bulletin. Alexander Graham Bell made it possible for your phone tree and prayer chain to be in business. Now you can thank Mark Zuckerburg, the inventors of Twitter and the brains behind Instagram for the tools with which you can empower your church to tell the old, old story to more people in less time than ever before.
Brandon Cox oversees content and community for Pastors.com, one of the world’s leading online learning communities, and serves as editor of Rick Warren’s Pastor’s Toolbox, a free newsletter for church leaders. He is also lead pastor at Grace Hills Church in northwest Arkansas, a church plant sponsored by Saddleback Church.