How does your congregation use Facebook? If you are a clergyperson, do you manage Twitter or Instagram for ministry? How about Pinterest or Snapchat or YouTube?
An instrument for ministry
The congregations that make the best use of Facebook and other social media are the ones that view these tools as instruments for ministry, not just for marketing. Certainly there is a marketing component to social media. Yet, if the marketing component drives the use of social media then an opportunity for a purposeful connection with others is lost.
I know a congregation which uses Facebook for comments on the sermon scripture passage for the week. This congregation of about 150 in worship have an average of 10 comments per week regarding the sermon text.
Another congregation uses social media for people to post prayers. Facebook becomes a kind of virtual Western Wall. Instead of folded pieces of paper placed between stone crevices, electronic petitions are shared.
Click 2 Save is a helpful book about social media as an instrument for ministry. The authors, Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson, address the question, “Is there more to social media than public relations?”
Discerning your use of social media
If you are a clergyperson, you might think about how you want to use web-based, interactive tools. Clergy face this question: How do I navigate relationship boundaries between my personal life and professional life when using social medial?
I’ve learned from Pastor Monique Crain Spells. Monique is the director of recruitment at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, and she is also the pastor at Levi’s Table. At a Center-sponsored workshop, Monique described how she has chosen to be present on social media as a pastor. It is part of her ministry just as pastoral calling, teaching, and preaching are part of her work.
Choosing to use social media predominately as a professional tool for ministry may not work for everyone. But it is a choice that gives clarity regarding the purpose and use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others.
About the Contributor
Church Social Media Policy
Modern technology helps leaders reach people, connect with the congregation and efficiently communicate. Social media can perhaps prove to be one of the most important tools that religious leaders have in their arsenal for approaching the modern era. For those feeling cautious about employing social media, they can rest assured that this is an effective tool if it is used properly. There may certainly be downsides that can exist when it comes to social media, but a social media policy can help ease the path.
When it comes to developing a church social media policy, it may be helpful to take a look at a church social media policy example. When developing a social media policy for clergy, it might be good to stress the idea that no one should ever promote discrimination, racism, or hatred of any type on social media. By bringing it up, everyone will be able to understand that this is one of the potential risks of getting onto social media and that the church should do everything it can to mitigate this risk. When developing a sample church social media policy, it can also be good to specify when social media should be used. For example, it may be helpful to advise people to stay off of their phones when a sermon is being delivered.
Finally, a church social media policy should perhaps also be relevant to the members of the congregation themselves. One of the possible strengths of using social media is the ability to more easily distribute information about events that may be coming up in the near future. This could also be a way to more easily address questions from members of the congregation. It might be helpful to specify how quickly someone should respond to a question that a member of the congregation has posted on social media.
How To Develop A Media Policy For A Church
There are a lot of people out there who might be wondering how to develop a media policy for a church. This might be natural, as there are oftentimes going to be several moving parts that are involved in this discussion. First, it can be good to take a closer look at the church social media post calendar. Keep in mind that there are numerous social media platforms out there, as well, with some of the most popular examples including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and even TikTok. Now, a church does not necessarily have to have a profile on all of these social media platforms; however, it might be a good idea for church leaders to try and figure out where members of their congregation can tend to hang out. Then, they might consider setting up a profile on all of these platforms in order to help increase their visibility.
After developing a profile, church leaders might decide to discuss how often they would like to post on social media. Perhaps one of the key parts of remaining visible online is the act of sharing high-quality content on a regular basis. For instance, churches may want to post on Twitter once per day. On the other hand, posting on Instagram once per week could also be effective. Including two posts per week on a church Facebook post schedule might be enough. With all this in mind, it may also be a good idea to take a closer look at free church social media graphics, and consider incorporating images and videos whenever possible. The saying that a picture is worth a thousand words can certainly prove to be true on social media.
Finally, it can also prove useful to specify what type of content is going to be shared on these social media platforms. What does the church want to talk about? What is going to be relevant to the numbers of the congregation? What will spark discussion? What will encourage people to sign up for events? What will encourage people to come to the church on Sundays? These are potentially some of the most important questions that might have to be answered, in order for a church to begin developing an effective media policy.
Social Media Ministry
Many churches out there can have different types of ministry. Ministries can be good because they may be able to help enable members of the congregation to better focus on something that they are passionate about. In some situations, this could include developing a social media ministry. For those out there who may find themselves wondering how to start a social media ministry, it can sometimes be helpful to take a look at a church social media template.
There may be a lot of potential benefits and drawbacks to consider when it comes to using social media. For example, one of the biggest benefits of using social media is that this can allow family members and friends to better stay in touch with one another. When it comes to running a church, social media can also prove to be effective because it allows the church to answer questions for members of the congregation, while at the same time sharing information about events that could be coming up in the near future. On the other hand, however, there may also be some possible drawbacks to using social media. For instance, a lot of people can accidentally expose themselves to bullies on the internet. They could also have trouble differentiating between what is true and what is false.
That is exactly where a social media ministry might be able to play a helpful role in. This type of ministry can be good because it can help people figure out how to use social media effectively. This group may also be able to audit what the church is doing on social media. Then, they may be able to advise members of the church leadership on how they can potentially work to improve their reach on social media. Ultimately, having a ministry dedicated to social media can prove to be a good idea because it can help make sure the church is able to mitigate its risks, while also maximizing the benefits of this potentially helpful tool. With this in mind, all churches might benefit from considering the idea of exploring developing a social media ministry.
Church Media Ministry Guidelines
If churches are interested in developing a church social media plan, it may be a good idea to follow church media ministry guidelines. This can perhaps prove to be of particular importance when setting a youth ministry social media policy. When developing a church social media policy template, there are sometimes going to be a lot of factors to consider. For example, it can be important to specify when members of the congregation in church leadership should be posting on social media, and when they should refrain from doing so.
It may also be helpful to have a policy in place regarding what type of questions members of the church leadership would like to answer on social media. Perhaps some questions should be sent via private message, while others may be more appropriate for the Facebook wall.
Another potential key aspect of the policy has to do with members of the congregation responding to other members. There could be some situations in which members of the congregation may have helpful input on a specific issue. Or, there could be some comments that could spark conflict. It can be a good idea to think about this when developing social media guidelines.
Finally, it might also be good to have an age limit in place. At what age should someone perhaps be allowed to begin using social media, with respect to the church? This can be particularly important to consider, in the case of younger members of the church congregation.
Church Social Media Etiquette
A lot of this can perhaps be seen as going all the way back to church social media etiquette. When developing a social media guide for church, it may be good to incorporate etiquette when it comes to church staff social media guidelines. For instance, what type of language is likely going to be the most appropriate to use, when posting on the church social media account? Some people may be more comfortable with edgy language than others.
It may also be a good idea to specify how long it should take a member of the church leadership to respond to someone's question. Naturally, people would usually like to receive a response to their questions immediately. On the other hand, though, if the church sets unrealistic expectations, then members of the church congregation could become upset if these expectations are not met in the future.
It could also be helpful to specify how the church social media account should be used. For example, some members of the church leadership may be tempted to use the church social media account for their personal benefit, whereas this is likely something that should be limited.
Finally, it can also be helpful to specify how the church social media account should interact with other churches in the local area, as it can prove important for churches to have a positive relationship with the other religious groups around them.
Social Media Guide For Ministry
Ultimately, it might prove to be a good idea for all religious organizations to have a social media guide for ministry. Remember that social media marketing for ministry can often be seen as one of the most effective uses of social media for religious groups. At the same time, however, it can also be good to think about the church youth social media policy. Unfortunately, there are a lot of children on social media who are exposed to bullying, who also may not realize that there is another physical person behind the account. Therefore, it may be necessary for churches to think carefully about how they are going to try and incorporate their members, when it comes to their social media profiles.
That is why having a document can potentially be so helpful. There can exist a lot of ambiguity when it comes to social media, with people all using their social media profiles in different ways. On the other hand, the social media account of the church can be seen as a reflection of not only the church, but also its leaders and its congregation. Therefore, it may be a good idea to develop a thorough guide that will help specify exactly how this account will be used. By doing so, this can help church leaders to set themselves up for a successful social media venture.