How or where does a local church start when she decides to create and implement a social media strategy?
It is not my intention with this and subsequent transparency reports to argue for or against the necessity of even having a social network strategy. I will not ask in this case, “What would Jesus do?”
Church Should Be Social
I am going with a properly implemented social media and social network strategy is an effective tool for sewing and watering seeds of the gospel and the work of the local church.
Of course – engaging with real people online is not the end game. Taking people to heaven who want to take other people to heaven, too is the end game.
Nothing will beat real people interacting face to face with real people in real situations.
I remember when the Jesus Movie was first being shown on monitors and screens to locals in foreign countries. The movie was just a tool. Sooner or later somebody had to take a viewer by the hand and walk them down to the water. TVs and film projectors can’t baptize people. People baptize people.
Real People Online
That being said, there are real people online, too. Social networks are a powerful way to reach out to real people and plant real seeds. Those seeds will get watered. In all cases, regardless of the tools, it is God who causes the growth.
4 Steps to Get Started Online for Local Church
Step one – To get the local church to create and implement a social media strategy the local church must realize that there are tools available to the church for sowing a lot of seeds.
Did you know – there are more people on Facebook than there are in China? than there are in India? than there are on the entire continent of Africa?
Those people on Facebook that you can serve best can be specifically targeted, too. Reaching a niche group on Facebook is NOT unlike reaching out with your specific skill set to a people group unlike all others that you know best. Think – a recovering alcoholic reaching others who are struggling.
If we have the ability, and we do, to reach people with the Gospel, why wouldn’t we?
I don’t intend to cherry pick a verse … but I will/can become all things to all people that I might win some. That would include becoming proficient at reaching people in the online space, too.
Conference on Missions to Cast a Vision
I spoke at the International Conference on Missions in Peoria, IL in November 2017. I went to that conference with the intent of driving home some of the very points I made above … but with hard data, real numbers from my own bank of firsthand case studies working with non-church clients. That data is beyond the scope of this transparency report.
I spoke twice to a packed room (150+) full of representatives – pastors, preachers, missionaries, mission committee chairmen and women. My hope was that someone/s would step up and say – “Hey, can you help us create a social media strategy AND implement it?”
Sure enough. Someone did. That’s where this transparency report comes in.
Church Responds w/ Desire to Reach Millennials
Calvary Church in Saint Peters, Missouri is one church that stepped up. More specifically their missions pastor stepped up.
I put my phone number on the screen and asked anyone interested to reach out to me. I didn’t take phone numbers or email addresses and try to others down.
Step two – a local church has to want to implement a social network strategy. There must be a champion. There are so many moving pieces that someone has to be willing to step up, learn, ask, remove the clutter, prioritize and be the go to person.
I got a text message 4 days after the conference ended.
Hi Bill. I am from the second seminar in Peoria. I am the guy from the non Christian church who would love to talk to you about communication to our church about our missions ministry. Can we connect sometime on the phone?
We have since that first text (11/22) exchanged:
- 56 more text messages
- 70+ Skype messages, video chats
- 26 emails
- 1 zoom training hour (Curt recruited 6 writers + himself to create content)
There was also Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Holidays in between that first text message and what we have today. I can say … we are started.
Curt is committed. His commitment alone can make all the difference.
Pick a Medium to be Social Online
Step three – The church must have a medium for being social. They have a platform. They have a blog where they can share stories of the missions and missionaries of the Calvary Church. The blog is fully integrated into the site of the local Calvary Church. We have 2 posts that are published. More are in the pipeline.
Is everything perfectly in place? By no means. We are, however, on our way.
I prefer WordPress as a content manage system – the means to put new stories/content online. The church webmaster preferred Squarespace. I didn’t consider this a battle worth fighting. Churches will split over the color of the carpet. How could I possibly explain to God, I gave up because they wouldn’t agree to use my preferred CMS.
“You’re preferred what?”
Resolve to Get Started Online
Step four – Curt and I resolved to make implementing of their social media strategy happen one way or the other. We knew we would not get full cooperation. I knew that I wouldn’t get all the pieces I wanted the way I wanted them. We both knew that we could make things work if we just decided we would make things work.
Text exchange –
Starting is hard. Once we have our platform in place we can really make some serious progress. The danger is to overthink, over plan. The devil would have us be content to think abt doing good as long as we didn’t actually do good.
It’s a lot easier to change directions when you are moving. Otherwise you are just standing still, or at worst spinning.
Local Church Finds A Mission to Millennials
Step five – The Calvary Church Missions Social Media platform now has a mission.
“Millennials long to serve; to invest time. While not all millennials (currently) have great financial footing, where they invest their time, they will also invest their money. Each church needs to find a local and/or domestic and/or global mission project that they can get excited about… and when a millennial has an idea or contribution, they need to feel like they’ve been heard. If a church is excited about a project, they can excite others… What’s first is whatever your church can develop a passion for. Passion leads to commitment.”
- have great information for the existing local church,
- have great exposure for your existing missions
- be able to attract new kingdom workers. Let’s do it right. 8-)”