A few days ago, I sent an email to my subscribers encouraging them to view their social media content not as a communication tool for their ministry, but as ministry itself. In essence, I asked them to stop using social media exclusively for marketing purposes, to stop only ever publishing bulletin board-like posts.
If you're not on my list, and you didn't get that email, you can view it here.
If this concept is new to you and you're interested in understanding better what in the world I'm talking about, of course you can take my upcoming classes.
I know not everyone can or wants to do that though. So this blog post is meant to steer you in the right direction—I'm giving you my top three tips for using social media as ministry, not marketing.
Know your why.
When a church asks me to help them build a social media strategy, the first thing I help them work through is their social media “why.”
Why are you on the platforms you’ve chosen? Be specific. Is it to uplift, inspire, and encourage? Is it to help your followers grow spiritually? Is it to build community? You can have a few goals and objectives, but if you don’t specify why you are investing your resources and time in this way then you’ll quickly become frustrated and ineffective.
So, I ask you: what is your why? In a perfect world, if you were to accomplish everything you set out to do on social media, what would that look like?
2. Think of your followers first.
When you sit down to write a post or even schedule a few in advance, I want you to think of your followers first. Instead of communicating what feels most important to you—a communicator on behalf of your church, offer to your followers what they need most.
What they need most is probably not a reminder to sign up in advance for the Wednesday night dinner or that a new book study series is starting soon. What they need is inspiration, growth, comfort, connection.
Sure, once they attend that dinner or book study, they'll likely benefit from those same things. That's great. You may still need to market those events on social media and elsewhere. But that's not ministry; that's just pointing to where the ministry is happening. If that's all you ever do, they'll start to tune you out completely.
3. Don't make it all about your worship service.
In one of my classes on the hybrid church a few months ago, a participant commented, "Worship is still central to the Church, but maybe we're starting to redefine what worship is, what it looks like." She was absolutely right, and that's a good thing.
Digital communication should no longer be merely a funnel for a church's weekend services. Instead, the very existence of a livestream dissolves the traditional measuring stick of worship attendance as defining who is active and who isn't. Today, worship should be seen as an access point, not the access point.
Is your social media all about Sunday morning worship all the time? Does your strategy revolved around your livestream?
For the first time in many decades, we have an opportunity, using digital tools, to reach people who may never attend or be able to attend Sunday morning worship, online or in-person.
If we accept that the Sunday morning worship service is no longer the single most important access point for a growing group of people, if we honor and value all access points, we then also want to facilitate worship in other ways—even on social media.
There is so much more I could share. My hope, however, is that at the very least these three tips help you start seeing your social media as having greater purpose and value. That they encourage you to begin asking the right questions.
And here's the most important one:
The social media space is a digital place where billions of people choose to spend part of their lives every single day. When we meet them there, what does it look like to be Christ-like?