I have been on Facebook for three or four years. I did everything possible to avoid it but after getting the question, “Are you on Facebook?” enough times, I decided to take the plunge. I set up a personal profile on Facebook.
It wasn’t until later that I set up a page for our church, which I also avoided. Looking back I wished I had considered Facebook and other social media tools for ministry earlier. Here are some of my thought about how churches can use Facebook for ministry.
1. Grow A Community of Followers
When someone likes our page they have made a conscious decision to keep up with you and everything you post will potentially show up in their feed. In two years we have garnered 278 likes which may not seem like much, but remember it’s a small town of about 1700 people with a congregation of 200.
Most of these people are regular on Facebook, if not every day then at least three or four times a week. Every time they read a piece of content and press “Like” our content get’s shared with their friends. This can have a pretty powerful multiplying effect.
2. Reach Out to Your Community
Early on we rarely used Facebook for anything other than trying to connect with our congregation and maybe the few people who stumbled across our page. I started wondering if there were a way to use Facebook to reach out to our community. Two years ago Easter was coming, which alway presents an opportunity to reach out to people who want to celebrate Easter, but don’t necessarily have a church family.
After a little research I discovered Facebook advertising. I was fascinated by the ability to advertise to specific zip codes. Facebook allows advertisers to get a message out to specific demographics based on age, gender, geographic locations, and much more.
We purchased our first Facebook add that Easter and had as many as 30 visitors come who had never come to a service before. We targeted five zip codes knowing that in those zip codes there were over two thousand Facebook users in our target demographic. Here is a snap shot of the raw data.
We now use Facebook ads regularly. The cost is minimal and the potential reach is huge!
Two recent events were highly attended by people from outside of our church family, in part, because of our Facebook outreach efforts. One mid-week event brought in 140 people, forty percent of whom had no connection to our church family. Another event increased our Sunday morning attendance by seventy-five people, again and in part, because of Facebook outreach efforts. Here are two more snapshots of ad data for these events.
We also used promoted posts for the Uganda Orphans Choir. There is sometimes an advantage to using a promoted post in that it gets pushes your content to the top of your communities news feed. By combining a targeted ad to a small demographic and promoted posts we had record engagement with an event. Even though the numbers were lower, engagement was much higher and we had more organic interaction than other Facebook promoted events.
3. Encourage Your Followers
Posting encouraging scriptures and pictures has been surprisingly successful. I am surprised at how much interaction we get from a short scripture, devotional thought, or photo. The photo was seen by over 900 people and shared and liked more than almost any other piece of content we’ve posted. The only conclusion I can make is that people were encouraged and because they were encouraged, they shared, like and commented on the photo.
We can say the same thing about simple devotional thoughts and short scripture passages! Don’t underestimate how valuable this can be to your followers and their friends.
4. Organize a Ministry
We have two small groups that are entirely organized through Facebook. Two of our small groups have set up private Facebook groups which they use to organize their meeting times, pray, and keep in touch with each other. Several of their members joined Facebook just to be a part of this. I was surprised by how effective this was and continues to be. These groups are sharing everything from very general information about meetings to service project ideas to in-depth prayer requests. instead of being a group that connects one day a week for a couple of hours, they are connecting several times a week.
Social media is obviously here to stay. A lot of churches have avoided social media and even discouraged its use because of the negative things associate with it. Some of us have heard horror stories about broken relationships, inappropriate content, and malicious interactions started on social media so we are cautious. At the same time, we need to consider how to use these tools for redemptive purposes, for effective ministry, and ultimately for Great Commission.
The Mars Hill altar (Acts 17:22-31) upon which we stand and point is different from the Apostle Paul’s, but equally relevant for pointing people toward Jesus. We can say to our community, “I can see that you are very relational and that you desire community. “Let me tell you about…”
I am surprised by the number of large churches that are totally avoided this platform, churches which have the resources and people to implement a social media strategy. But I am also surprised more small churches aren’t exploring ways to use these tools.
If you’re using Facebook or social media for ministry I would love to hear about it. And if you have question about how to implement a Facebook or social media strategy for ministry feel free to ask questions in the comment area below. I really would like to hear some thoughts before you take a look at some more articles that I have listed as links below.