Social Media

You can find better ways to promote your online content without being too self-serving.
You can find better ways to promote your online content without being too self-serving. (Courtesy of Lifeway.com)

I sometimes see pastors concerned about how it will look if they promote a certain article or blog post on social media. This is especially true if the article instructs a church on how to treat the pastor or what to do for Pastor Appreciation Month, to give two examples.

"How am I supposed to share this with the people who need to see it without looking like I'm self-serving?" or "This is more an article for members than pastors, but how am I supposed to get them to read it?"

These are fair questions. Although most of us like to share good content on social media, most pastors do not want to come across as preachy, pushy or self-promotional. That is absolutely understandable.

So, how can we share content that will catch the attention of our church members without the negative side effects? Here are three ideas:

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1. Share a wide variety of content, not just the hammer-blows. Some pastors fall into a habit of sharing only content that is of interest to them. As a result, people who do not share that interest are content to scroll, scroll, scroll past every article or blog post. Spiritual hobbyhorses can easily be ridden into the ground.

Some make the mistake of trying to correct all ills with an article that completes their most recent rant. That may rouse the "amen corner," but it is not a good long-term strategy for congregational influence.

Instead, encourage your church to follow the church Facebook page, then share a broad-spectrum of good content there (LifeWay Pastors articles, for instance). If you or your social media leader regularly posts the content supports your ministry and teaching efforts, hard-hitting articles can be posted without seeming like a sledgehammer attack.

2. Excerpt LifeWay Pastors content for your church website or print newsletter. Sometimes pastors think, "This article is great for pastors, but I'm not sure my church would read it." Share it anyway. Use content from LifeWay Pastors if it is helpful.

As a rule, you can reprint/republish content from LifeWay Pastors with attribution. If in print format—like your church newsletter or bulletin—include this line: "This article was written by [author's name] and originally appeared at LifeWayPastors.com." If posting in full to your church website or pastoral blog, use the above line for attribution but include a hyperlink back to the original article. For an excerpt used online, just follow the common style of linking back to the original post. If you adhere to those guidelines, you need not seek permission to reprint a specific article.

3. Quote from websites and blogs in your sermons. If you appreciate a specific website or blog because of its consistently good content, then quote from it or otherwise reference it during a sermon. When you quote from a book (or hold it up before reading from it), some of your listeners write down the title and get the book later. They will do the same with web content. When your people begin reading the solid online content you read, it cuts out the middleman, i.e., you.

The more frequently you quote from solid content, the less frequently your members will consume questionable content.

By pointing the way to good writing online, quoting from it and referencing it in preaching and writing, your congregation will seek that which supports your ministry. The entire church will benefit from a well-rounded approach that does not rely on sneak attacks and sledgehammers.

Marty Duren is a longtime pastor, writer and blogger/social media enthusiast. Prior to becoming executive editor of LifeWay Pastors, he was the Manager of Social Media Strategy for LifeWay and Content Manager for The Exchange.

For the original article, visit lifeway.com/pastors.

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