Fascinating New Data on Church Social Media Engagement from @BarnaGroup

pastors using twitter social mediaThe Barna Group has released some fascinating data from a new survey of pastors about social media.

  • 21% of American pastors say their churches use Twitter, up from only 14% in 2011
  • 70% of churches are using Facebook, up from 57% in 2011

Pastors themselves are also engaged in online communications.

  • 23% use Twitter
  • 66% are on Facebbook
  • 25% have a personal blog

Senior Leaders Still Resisting Social Media

One bit of data I find particularly interesting is that while 65% of pastors say they think social media will be a significant part of their ministry over the next two years, 31% say it is overrated and not necessary. Delving a little deeper, 52% of pastors over the age of 66 said social media is mostly overrated.

I think its safe to say as older pastors who are more resistant to social media continue to retire and younger pastors who embrace it take their place, we’ll continue to see an increase in the percentage of churches using social media.

Using vs Realizing Full Potential of Social Media

While the data shows more churches are using social media, the survey does not indicate whether they’re using it well.

In his analysis, Barna President David Kinnaman suggests many are not:

At its best, Twitter helps people have real-time conversations about ideas and events that are important to them. Yet many churches don’t allow for a two-way engagement—using it instead as merely a vehicle for announcements… These platforms should be used to facilitate a conversation, not simply be a broadcast tool.

For what it’s worth, the Barna Group has only posted only 1 @reply to the @BarnaGroup Twitter account in the last month. So, it would seem using social media to facilitate conversations is easier said than done.

You can read the full report here: The Rise of the @Pastor

What do you take away from this new data? Are you encouraged? Discouraged? Motivated to take any specific action?

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

5 Responses to “Fascinating New Data on Church Social Media Engagement from @BarnaGroup”

  1. Very interesting. Do you know what they mean by a "personal blog" for pastors? Is that a blog that they write on the church website, or do they have a separate domain they are using?

    Thanks for the information.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Jun 29, 2013 at 9:13 am

      HI Laurie, I don't know. My guess is that since it's 25% (pretty high IMO) that it includes both. Hopefully the Barna group will respond to our tweets. If not, I'll see if I can get in touch in another way and ask.

  2. I love this way of Social media engagement… the Pope’s arrival on Twitter may well be successful. After all he’s coming from the brand that turned water into wine.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Aug 2, 2013 at 8:58 am

      Thanks for reading the post. In the future, please post your comments with your name rather than targeted keywords, so I know your comment is genuine and not simply a link building campaign.

  3. Ponder on Social Networking Sites when you next study the Book of Revelations.