You just read the title, so let me clear up a couple of things right out of the gate.
First off, I’m not a strategist. I know the title of this article probably seems like I am because when you see words like “points” and “social media,” the first image that comes to mind is a dude who loves writing documents, infuses words like “metrics” into every conversation, and gets super pumped when someone asks him if he’s written a five year plan. Because he probably has, like twice already. Today.
Not trying to brag, but I am none of those things, so relax. What I’m attempting is to give you some “take it or leave it” suggestions to help you, dear pastor, use the social media tools you’ve been given to do the very thing God has called you to, which is feed and tend His sheep.
Remember, when a pastor comes face to face with God, He isn’t going to ask someone from 2016 a different set of questions than one from 1716. God’s strategy is your sanctification. He’s concerned with obedience and faithfulness to the person of Christ. All of the additional gadgets and gizmos we have at our disposal are for the furtherance of a message that says Christ lived, died, and has risen.
Secondly, don’t let this feel like another burden being cast upon your already weighted shoulders. If you’re not social media savvy, it’s okay. In other words, if you’re an old school gentlemen who still has a rotary dial hooked up to a landline, God will not remove the light of His glorious gaze from your countenance. Churches will continue doing well with pastors who use their M-Whatever’s to preach God’s Word over posting status updates.
Five Points for Social Media
So, here’s the question: can social media be a good and godly thing? Can it be used as a simple but effective way of connecting with your people and engaging with your community? I think it can, so here are five ways to redeem our clicking thumbs for our congregations and communities.
Social media is a platform to proclaim gospel truths. I know the argument. You can barely count all the mega-pastors who post an unending plethora of scripture passages and insightful idioms. It’s hard not to wonder what the point would be in trying to add to that. Although that feels true, O humble man of the cloth, the reality is that most of your people are not following Piper, Carson or Keller. They’re following you. Posting something that points to God’s truth will be what directly encourages the people God has placed in your community and under your care. Don’t underestimate the reach that God has purposely put within your grasp.
Example: Posting thoughts and passages for your people is a way to create and further the kind of gospel language you want your church speaking and growing in. I can’t tell you how many times somebody has told how encouraged they were because of something I posted that reminded them that God was there. Why not avail ourselves of another medium for gospel proclamation?
Social media can be a way for you to publicly express your gratefulness to those serving in your ministry. It shows people both in and outside of your church body that you’re not oblivious to their faithfulness, while simultaneously providing a model and reminder for others to do the same.
Example: Mundaneness can easily collect around the edges of our ministries when those who serve settle into routines and lose some of the love and enthusiasm they had when they first began. This is why celebrating those who serve is mandatory. We see example after example of the apostle Paul thanking those who gave of their time, talent and treasure. Why not do in one minute what it took Paul hours, days and weeks to accomplish?
Social media is a quick and easy way to feed your people a steady diet of gospel related articles, blog posts, good books and worthwhile events. Do your people a favor and help them weed through the overload of questionable content they’re going to find as they search Amazon or roam through Christian bookstores.
Example: There is somebody in your church right now who is going through something that God may use a blog post or book to help bring their focus back to Himself. Of course, none of this replaces God’s word, but good books and articles will be based on God’s word and resolve to bring people back to it.
Social media is an immediate and cost effective (try free) way to let your people know about events and happenings within the church. The benefit is that everybody can be involved and a greater sense of community and excitement is born through the process. Sending out email blasts and print promos are obviously fine, but it doesn’t foster creativity or participation. Social media gives people a way to take a healthy ownership in church functions.
Example: Every community event that we’ve put on social media has increased our attendance, raised our visibility and improved the quality of the event because people start offering creative ideas and ways they can be involved. It generates conversation between your people while allowing your community to see what the heck is going on and why you’re all so happy and excited about it. I mean, I think that’s a good thing?
Social media is a communal tool given to us in this period of church history that can be utilized for developing more community. Is it real community though, Ronnie? Well, Social Media doesn’t determine that, does it? It’s just a means of getting people together, talking, encouraging and equipping one another. If you find it’s not working, instead of throwing it out, find out why. And maybe give it time to build. We don’t blame tools for not doing a job, but the users of the tools.
- Example: We’ve had people show up on Sunday for the first time simply because they saw photos from a church event or gathering that one of our people posted. Facebook and Instagram are painless opportunities to show your neighbors that you have a church family that is inviting, loving and life giving.
A Timely Tool
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things (Philippians 4:8).
If we’ve been given a tool for loveliness, let’s use it for lovely things. We can use a hammer to mangle or to make something beautiful. Can social media be used to extend God’s grace? Can it be a tool that God uses to involve us in His redemption and restoration process? Could it be that God can use our wise stewarding of social media to be another means for our sanctification?
Sure, there are dangers to be aware of. There are certainly implications for letting Facebook, Twitter or Instagram turn into obsessive compulsions, so be cautious and move carefully with all holiness before the Lord. You might be a click away from blessing someone.