So many social media platforms exist today. It can be hard to know what platforms are worth our time and what platforms should be ignored. It is almost without question, however, that Facebook is worth a church’s attention as much as any social media platform.
A church having a Facebook page really is about as important as a church having a website these days. Many people in the communities surrounding churches go to Facebook to look for churches, and church Facebook pages appear in basic Google searches.
But Facebook can be complicated and frustrating, even for the most savvy social media user. How can a church actually use Facebook as an extension of the ministry it does in its community every week? Here are three basic ways your church can use Facebook as an extension of church ministry:
1. Create an atmosphere of encouragement and kindness.
Social media can be a pretty negative place. No matter what platform you’re on – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or otherwise – negativity and anger overflows in abundance. It is easy to get discouraged after a few minutes browsing your social media platform of choice, and Christian circles are no exception to this trend, unfortunately.
One of the simplest ways your church can use Facebook as an extension of the ministry you do in your community is by using your Facebook page and the content you post there to create an atmosphere of encouragement and kindness.
What does this practically look like? Post a Bible verse each morning. Share stories of how you have seen God working in your church or your community. Share links from trusted Christian websites that provide helpful teaching. You could even start a Facebook Group for church members to better connect with one another.
Social media can be a dark place, but we have the light of the gospel. So let’s shine it brightly there.
2. Monitor your Facebook messages and respond promptly.
A lot of churches I have talked to over the years are surprised at how many Facebook messages their church Facebook page receives from members of their communities. This ought not surprise us! Many people who would never darken the doors of our churches for one reason or another may be willing to message our church Facebook pages with confessions of sin, pleas for help or other such messages.
By responding to these messages promptly and not ignoring them, we are telling the members of our communities who reach out to us that we see them and love them as Christ loves us – sacrificially and unconditionally.
3. Ask for prayer requests and actually pray for people.
This is one of the most powerful and simple ways I’ve seen local churches use Facebook as an extension of the ministry they do in their communities every week.
A lot of people come to social media hurting. Often, this hurt expresses itself in the anger and bickering that plagues social media and leads many of us to spend as little time online as possible. However, a lot of people who are hurting come to social media looking for a way to open up to people they may not be willing to open up to face to face.
A great practice I’ve seen churches adopt on Facebook is to pick a time each week – say Tuesday mornings at 8 a.m. – to create a Facebook post asking something as simple as, “How can our church staff be praying for you this week?” Then, over the course of the next few days, watch as people comment and share what they’re enduring. Be sure to take note of all of these prayer requests. Perhaps you could put each one on a note card and be sure it ends up on the desk of a church staff member. Or, if you have a staff prayer time regularly, you could share these prayer requests during that time.
A prayer ministry is never a waste of time, and plenty of people browsing Facebook are looking for prayer.
In short, the best way for a church to use Facebook as an extension of the ministry it does in its community is this: be intentional. Good social media strategy rarely happens by accident. Take time to plan, brainstorm helpful ideas, and decide how you can best use an online platform like Facebook as an extension of your local church ministry, not a replacement for it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Chris Martin is a social media manager for LifeWay Christian Resources and is student ministry director at City Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn.)