The Chicago Sun Times recently published an article about three Chicago churches who are successfully using social media for outreach and engagement. What can we learn from it?
1) Media takes notice of remarkable churches. While it seems like churches are more often in the news for the wrong reasons, newspapers do report on churches that stand out for their innovation and the impact they have on their communities. Kudos to the Sun Times for publishing this article.
What could your church do – what does your community need – that no other churches are doing?
2) Church social media works. I run into people all the time who say their church tried social media and it just doesn’t work. This article cites 3 churches for whom social media does work. Here’s our evidence – myth busted. The question is…
What are these 3 churches doing that makes their social media effective?
3) Effective church social media requires a leader. One thing that stands out in the article is it contains quotes from people who have roles like “director of Web and Social Media” and “digital pastor.” It doesn’t indicate whether they are paid or volunteer, full time or part time. While that matters, the most important thing is someone has been given and taken responsibility for the church’s social media.
4) Effective church social media requires a plan. “The Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, called social media ‘a wonderful evangelism tool.’ But ‘developing a vision’ is key.” They’ve actually thought about what they hope to accomplish through social media and developed a strategy to do it.
5) It helps to have your senior pastor on board. In addition to the quote above from the senior pastor of Trinity. an earlier line in the article states, “Soul City’s lead pastor, the Rev. Jarrett Stevens, jokes that the church “started on Twitter.” I’m not saying its impossible for a church to use social media effectively if the senior pastor is on board, but it sure makes a huge difference.
6) “Social media is a relationship platform. It’s not a broadcast platform.” So says Josh Burns of Park Community Church. He goes on to say, “One of the biggest mistakes churches make is they transfer their typical promotion and communication strategies over to social media. They think that what works for a printed flier or a live announcement [on Sunday] will also work for social media, and that’s just not the case.
7) Effective social media takes time and effort. Some of the most frequent questions I hear from people doing or about to start social media for their church is, “What tools can I use to automate my church’s social media?” That’s definitely the wrong place to start. What would you think if someone in your church asked you, “What tools can I used to automate our prayer ministry?” Or “…our pastoral care ministry?” Social media is primarily relational. You can’t automate relationships. It’s clear for this article, all 3 of these churches have real people, really listening and interacting with people in social media.
I encourage you to read the full article here.
Props to Francine Knowles for writing the article, and to Soul City Church & Lizzie Wheat, Trinity United Church of Christ & Jasmin Taylor and Park Community Church & Josh Burns for all their doing to reach out and build community online.
What do you think of the 7 learning points above? What’s your biggest takeaway?