A Social Media Strategy for Church Growth

church social mediaJeremy Edsall of Virginia Beach, Virginia recently sent me a message:

Interested in knowing if you have any strategies for using social media for church growth. We have a new pastor… He’s incorporated prayer request “tweets” as part of Sunday morning worship but you and I know there are some awesome opportunities for reaching people in a positive ways around the globe with social networking.

Great question Jeremy! Glad to see you, your pastor and your church looking to reach out to people through social media.

An important principle of social media is: people connect with people, not organizations.

A church is not going to reach nearly as many people as the people who make up that church can.

My approach would be to gather together 5-10 people who are a part of the church and active in social media and create a Virtual Street Team. Ask them, “What could the church do in social media that you personally would interact with and share?”

If many of the people on your virtual street team are on Twitter and would retweet video of the Sunday message then tweet that. If they’d retweet a link to a daily devotional, then tweet that. If they don’t even use Twitter or wouldn’t retweet church content, then it’s probably not worth the pastor’s time (or whoever is tweeting for the church) to tweet.

There’s no one strategy that fits all churches, and there’s no site that every church has to use.

Be where your people are.

Share what your people will share.

What do you think of this strategy? What advice would you give Jeremy?

photo by: wiselywoven

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

13 Responses to “A Social Media Strategy for Church Growth”

  1. Hey Paul! In 5 years, I could totally see us using this kind of methodology for our church with Facebook! Right now, our church has a terrible view on Facebook because of past experiences that you and I have discussed before in some of your former articles. Next year, I'm hoping to implement a few things that I've been reading and working through to better change this mentality and use Facebook as a tool (since around here not many people use Twitter) instead of Facebook making you a tool. I think social media can be a phenomenal vessel for love, hope, faith, and community! So good on these people retweeting prayers and connecting using these methods!

  2. It's not that things have changed so much as they have not spread throughout our church. So right now, the usage of our Facebook Page for our church is under someone else's control and it doesn't cover the entirety of our church just yet. That will probably change in a few months.

    As for now, my own personal Facebook page has been a place of encouragement, prayer, growth, and engagement. It's taken some "I'm sorry" and deletion of some posts, but people have been gracious in remembering that we're all individual human beings on Facebook, not invisible faces. It's come through very clear and slowly, I've been posting things, engaging others, connecting, etc…

    So momentum is continuing, but for the entirety of our church there's still a lot of challenges that they're facing in terms of overcoming that hurdle. Now I think I need to have this discussion with some of our young adults to make sure they're on the same page as well with Social Media. It's ongoing, but is going MUCH better!

  3. I totally agree that people identify with people, not organizations, and I like the idea of a "street team" – I hadn't thought of intentionally asking people to share content. Do you think the church should have an account to tweet from that then members retweet, or is it better for the pastor to make the initial post as from a personal account? A pastor is more personal, but if the pastor leaves the church, then church is left back at square one. Thoughts?

  4. I think the street team is good. I would also suggest finding ways to interact. If all the street team does is pass along church content, sure it will get the information out to more people, but it's not really people connecting with people. Look for ways to interact with people: ask questions, request comments, ask members to submit their own content, etc.

    Another idea that's starting to form in my head (though not completely worked out) is trying to find a way to help and encourage members to be open about their faith online in a natural and authentic way. We tend to have 2 ways Christians speak about God, 1. Many Christians only talk about God in Christian company and they censor themselves in public and 2. A Christian does talk/post about God, but it's either overtly evangelistic ("you need to convert") or it's in your face ("you sinners!!"). I think helping people to be able to live and speak their faith authentically and naturally would be good.

    It's not a forced thing or even something that has a specific end goal. It's just that God works in our lives all the time, so why wouldn't we talk about it. I'm not sure how, as a church, this is done, but I think it would be the most effective way for the "church" (the members) to use social media to grow the church.

  5. Hi Paul,
    Good point about people connecting with people. We have just started our Facebook page (although we have had several others try before so now we have multiple FB pages that we are trying to eliminate) and are working on our strategy for how, when, what we post. Once that's going we plan to start Twitter and Pinterest.

    We have a unique situation. Our church is small and in a small town (4,000), but we have many visitors from all over the world who stop in to see the church while in Carmel, CA. More than 4 million visitors come to our area each year. We want to reach out to everyone with our message of love and wholeness for the world, so we are looking for suggestions for providing meaningful content, both for our locals and for an international audience.

    Perhaps you could provide some suggestions to engage this wide audience.

  6. Brethren, Things may differ from one area to another. It is a fact that people learn from others. You may have experience that someone else can learn. Keep posting your experience and testimony as well and one or two of members would gain from them

  7. Sharing opportunity is some thing we need not to forget

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