3 Ways for Churches to Creatively Use Social Media
In the digital age, social media presents a powerful opportunity for churches to reach out and foster community. Here are some creative ideas for using social media in church ministry.
Having a digital presence for your church can be exciting and daunting at the same time. Maybe you feel pressure to do so but aren’t sure where to start? Maybe you dived straight in but don’t know where to go next? Maybe you are looking to go up a gear in serving the church through social media?
At the Create Conference in February, church communicators from across the country gathered to explore creative ways of communicating the gospel – including social media. Here are three ways you could start to use it more creatively in your church.
1. Move from Marketing to Ministry
Social media is full of businesses trying to sell their products and shouting about their brand. Yet the most successful social media accounts are the ones who don’t sell, sell, sell but who give value to their followers.
It can be tempting to follow this pattern with church accounts, to try to use Facebook, Instagram, or however else to ‘sell’ your church. However, with less than 3% of the British population being born again Christians1, it’s likely that most people you are reaching aren’t interested in church! Yet…
Instead, shift your social media messages from proclaiming your church to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus: both to those who don’t know him and to those who are in your congregation. Point people to Jesus, not to your church.
2. Create a Community Strategy
Once your social media is seen as a ministry tool, you can use it to build and grow the church community.
Nona Jones, Head of Faith-Based Partnerships at Facebook, spoke at the conference via a pre-recorded video (watch the full interview below). She said ‘if the church is the people, we need to be the church at all times: both offline and online’. The idea is that in the same way community is fostered in the physical manifestation of the church, we should think about how that community can be fostered online too.
Facebook is a prime example of creating community groups to help bring your church community together. A group for parents to connect, a group for students, a group for men, a group for women, even a group for the whole church. If church community is on Facebook, WhatsApp, even TikTok (ask the teenagers) then think about supporting it there.
This can be a place to discuss the sermon from a Sunday service, to pray for one another, or to encourage one another. Relationships are formed in community.
3. Tell Stories to Make People Feel
A study by Microsoft suggests that our online attention span is just 8 seconds, so holding that attention is important. Stories that affect emotions are a great way to do that.
The church is full of great stories of transformed lives and is therefore ideally placed to hold attention on social media.
Reach out to your church congregation to find people willing to share their story online. It might be an article on your website, a photograph with a caption, or even a video testimony. Real-life stories can be very powerful in drawing people to the gospel.
A helpful and simple formula for communicating a testimony, suggested at the conference by YouTuber Joseph the Dreamer, is:
- Life before knowing Jesus;
- The moment of meeting Jesus;
- Life with Jesus.
Prepare a script together that is not too long, record an audio voiceover of the script, then film some footage of the person telling the story going about their business. Most modern smartphones are capable of this, and the video can be put together using free video editing tools too (for example PocketVideo, WeVideo, or iMovie).
Once the video is finished and published, encourage your church members to share the video too in order to reach a large network with the transforming story of faith in Jesus!
1 John Stevens, Knowing Our Times, p27