Social Networking In The Church – Are You Missing It?
You hear me talk about this a lot at our church. Let me back the story up just a few pages for you before we begin discussing social networking in the church.
For years congregations and denominations have focused on how to acquire more bodies inside their churches. Certainly admirable and I would presume that this has been the normal process for decades.
In case you have missed it, the church is witnessing the biggest shift in communication that has been experienced in decades. Social networking in the church is becoming the turn-to form to reach people who may not be in a church.
Defeating The Arguments About Social Networking In The Church
I deal with churches of all sizes and denominations and I hear the same argument from each of them when I start talking about social networking. The most frequent of those goes like this, “but there’s so much evil on them.”
While there is some truth to that issue, here is the more important part that is sorely missed and one that pays to lend attention to.
Most churches talk about taking their mission fields into areas where most people are not attempting to reach. I usually address the same thing in regards to social networking.
Let’s face it, in today’s world what is the most common thing each of us sees? Have you figured it out yet?
It’s someone walking along with a phone in their hand and they are busy interacting with their friends or relatives on one social network or another. With there being so many forms of media outlets, we as a church need to capitalize on them to broaden our outreach.
An observation of today’s pastors in the vast amount of church is that the average median of age is 55+.
While many are starting to get on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and others, the vast majority of pastors when asked about social networking for the church show a great deal of disdain at the very mention of it.
Each of us has seen churches around our country that were once thriving and vibrant ministries, wither away to nothing and end up closing the doors. Now we just see empty shells of what used to be a church littering the countryside.
Why is this? Is it that they changed the way they deliver the Word of God? Probably not! Could it be where they are located? Maybe!
What is more important for many of those churches is they are not reaching out to where people are hanging out! You can ramble on about social networking, but the very crude and hard fact is that it is the best way to reach mass amounts of people, regardless if they are in your church building or not!
Another issue, fasten your seat belts for this one, is the fact that the vast majority of the very people you are trying to reach find that churches are boring. They lack visual appeal, the music is outdated, people inside of them are more concerned about themselves. We can go on with this list!
So how do we begin to tackle the issue of social networking in the church and some of the other issues that have been pointed out here?
Let’s start to dive in and see what we can do to begin correcting this immediately.
Your Media Director – If You Don’t Have One, Get One!
Yes, I just went there! More and more churches are realizing that the people that really need to be on staff are two of the most important people in the church. The first is a strong Worship Leader and the other is a strong social media and Internet specialist.
If you don’t have powerhouses within either one of these, you had better get busy hiring one or even a couple. I can get more people watching a live stream than many churches can draw for a special event they are having. It’s just the fact of the world we live in.
I would like to focus on an article that I was reviewing while this topic was racing through my head. It talks about how one Baltimore’s Baptist Church’s grew into the largest church in the area. You can read the article here.
Mapping Out A Strategic Social Networking Presence For Your Church
Most churches fail at social media because there is no true strategy that has been put into place. Now I’m going to be a little harsh on people now! Myself being actively involved on various social media outlets, and having many pastors who are on my “friends” list, the one thing I don’t see is those pastors posting things which are relevant to people outside of the church.
Taking It Live – 2 Minutes Of A Live Video Carry Weight
How many of us watch videos of one sort or another on our phones? Whether it be on Facebook, YouTube, or any of the others.
I think I can figure this out merely by watching this within our own congregation based on what I hear people talking about.
2 minutes carries more weight of importance in today’s world than a well planned 40-minute message from the pulpit and believe it or not, you’ll probably have a greater impact on people.
These are not my opinions, these are proven facts that some churches are catching onto. Let’s think about this for a minute. Who is it exactly that we are trying to reach?
The focus of any of our outreach outlets shouldn’t be so centered around the current body of your church, but rather those who are lost and never stepped foot into a church.
YouTube, Facebook has to be the trusted favorites.
Become A Selfie Pro
What? Yes, I just said become a selfie pro! If you have teens, this is a common practice that you already see.
I have often wondered if my children have worn out the button that is used to activate their cameras on their phones. However, if you check on some of these teens and the number of followers they have on their social networking accounts, there’s one thing they have mapped out and that is how to reach the most people quickly and effectively. And guess what? IT WORKS!
In a previous article I wrote addressing social sharing for churches, I spoke about why it is important to share our content.
Now let’s talk about ways to get more shares from people who are viewing our content and how others are taking this to new heights in churches around us.
It’s Time To Ditch The Old Ways
I’ve never been known for being real soft about my feelings on the “old school ways.” What I’m referring to is the way that we as “the church” actually have church! That’s a whole lot of church going on right there. However, it will play a vital part in addressing social networking in the church.
Here’s the harsh reality. If you’re still stuck in the stone ages in both your music and visual productions at your church, you can almost guarantee that within the next 10 years, your building will be vacant. Many professionals across the board, regardless of denominations, have realized this and figured out that it was time to take a strategic turn and capitalize on the modern.
If you go and visit with any church in your area that is growing rapidly, there is a reason. They have an amazing stage presence and the music is rocking the house down, in addition to having the ability to live stream the whole event across several platforms simultaneously.
And now for the arguments! But that is going to take a large amount of money. You bet it will! Purchasing proper stage lighting, recording equipment such as high-end video cameras, switching boards, and the streaming network package is going to run into the thousands.
Wait, is that crickets that I hear coming through my screen?
Now let’s move on beyond the financials of this endeavor. Let’s talk about stage presence and getting past the mundane. People are tired of the same scenario. Sing a few songs, have a short prayer, collect the money, then a quick sermon and all before any other denomination gets out so we can beat them to the local eateries. STOP IT!
At the beginning of any service, your praise and worship team should be coming out of the gate rockin’ it! In case you didn’t know, the praise and worship team of any church sets the tone and should be bringing everyone into an atmosphere of worship. If half of your congregation is asleep before you begin to preach, maybe it’s time to re-think things.
Knowing that I’m writing this on a Southern Baptist ministry website, I know the arguments I’m going to hear immediately. “But our older folks don’t like progressive music”, or “we’re trying to ease into it.” Hocky wash I say!
If churches across America are more focused on what appeases or offends people on the inside as opposed to gaining more bodies inside that aren’t there, then let’s just close up shop now! We’ve missed the boat!
I want you to watch the video below and see how some churches are doing it the right way!
Wait, I am hearing the arguments coming already! “But we don’t have the musical talent” necessary to have this kind of worship experience! Then buy the music in background tracks and focus on the vocal group!
Many years ago, I attend a church that was called “House Fellowship.” We met in an old barn that had been renovated, absolutely no musicians available to us, but we had people that could sing like birds. We started as a small remnant church of about 25 people of various age groups. It didn’t take long for word to get out and we quickly grew to 500 people.
Obviously with the explosion in growth meant we needed to look into a bigger location. Since the barn sat on 100 acres of land, we build another building that resembled a barn but would hold 1200 people comfortably. We still didn’t have any musicians available, but we continue with using only background tracks and some amazing vocalists to produce what became one of the most sought after praise and worship times through a community that had over 120 churches of various sizes.
Why? Because people wanted to experience a deeper connection to Jesus and they were doing it through the music. By doing so people were already in the right state of mind and many came to dedicate their lives to Jesus.
This church later came to grow into a church that was having multi-services to ensure they could reach everyone! Do you wanna hear something amazing, the vast majority of the people who were coming were over the age of 40.
Completing The Social Networking In Churches
Allow me to complete this article by saying that “Appearances Are Everything.” Sadly, the old saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” doesn’t apply anymore. Because people will judge exactly by the appearance they see.
If you want more people to check in via their social networking apps on their phones, give them a reason to do so.
The days of walking into a sanctuary and just seeing the stage and pulpit and a cross in the background is losing its power.
People are wanting to walk into a place that represents power, and that generate a sense of excitement. This can be achieved by changing your stage environment, visuals, and even the seating.
More and more modern churches are doing away with pews in the isles. They’re moving to dinner table settings in order to encompass a group feeling. Again, I can feel the daggers of discontent coming through my screen. But let’s just be brutally honest, is what the church is doing today that is typical of 100 years ago working? Not at all!
This article is meant for churches of any denomination. But again I ask you “is how you present your church online going to appeal to the Generation X?” If you answered no, then it’s time to truly sit and rethink how you are doing thins and what you can do to draw more attention to social media outlets.