I’ve worked in social media on a church staff for nearly two years and am having a lot of fun. The more time I spend with our staff and other churches, the more I get excited about the future.
Over these last two years, my opinions and assumptions have changed about social media. What hasn’t changed is my belief that the church can be a force for good on social media. I think the church is in a position for God to use social networking for some amazing things.
Here are some additional beliefs, opinions and observations:
1. We need to stop tweeting that our worship band “rocks.” Unless U2 is your worship band, I don’t think it rocks. Saying your worship band rocks on Sunday morning has become cliché. I think we can stop doing that.
2. We can speak truth in love in national moments. We can be the voice of hope and truth when our world seems to be falling apart.
3. We shouldn’t be negative. Pastors, if you don’t like your sandwich at Subway, don’t tweet about it. Why? Because there might be a chance that the kid working behind the counter at Subway goes to your church and will read the tweet. One bad sandwich, airline flight or customer service experience doesn’t warrant airing your grievances online.
4. Being online doesn’t mean you have to be everywhere. Don’t feel comfortable being on Snapchat? Don’t. Do you prefer Facebook over Twitter? Then use Facebook. Be online where you feel comfortable and where you’ll think you’ll succeed. Don’t chase something that isn’t you.
5. Tweeting Scripture isn’t always a good idea – it can be an easy way to get likes or retweets, but does it make a lot of sense to post a scripture then moments later post about a church event? Especially when the two aren’t related? If you’re posting Scripture, make sure you provide context as well (e.g., the Scripture you’re tweeting is tied to Sunday’s sermon).
6. You can buy Facebook likes and Twitter followers but you can’t buy influence. Influence is earned, not bought. Always has been, always will be.
7. The church should take the lead on how to use social media. We should be the standard bearers of how to use social media. When someone asks, “How should I conduct myself online?” I hope they look at our church staff and see how to do it right.
8. The church shouldn’t be afraid to try new platforms. We can’t let fear of a new platform stop us from reaching people. Sure, people use Snapchat for the wrong reasons, but that doesn’t mean you should shy away from reaching people there.
9. Don’t argue online. No one wins and we all lose when we argue online.
10. Small is the new big. If you’re a small church, I think you have an advantage on social media. You can take your time to interact with your people online since you’re dealing with a smaller congregation. Large churches may have more resources, but smaller ones can be quicker and nimbler, which is a big advantage on social media.
(EDITOR’S NOTE –Darrel Girardier is the digital strategy director for Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tenn., where he oversees the team that handles the church’s social media, Web and mobile presence. He blogs at darrelgirardier.com and is @dgirardier on Twitter.)