In our last post, Sam and I discussed the growing and prolific use of social media, particularly the big three of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Over the next few posts we will consider some questions and ideas in approaching a social media presence institutionally, pastorally, missionally, and personally.
Institutionally. When speaking of an institution, our primary focus is the local church. Ed Stetzer makes a compelling argument for your church to be on social media right now (http://bit.ly/1FNcG4j). Considering that 20% of the world’s population inhabits the virtual space of Facebook, it would be wise to have some presence on this platform. So the question is not, “If you should be on social media at some level, but how you should be on it?”
Now, let’s walk through some questions and ideas for developing and implementing an institutional social media account:
- What is the size of your church and what is your context? As always contextualization is extremely helpful in determining the type of social media you choose to employ and at what level you engage that venue. For instance, if you are in a predominately rural area with an older congregation, social media may be of limited value. However, if you live in a more urban area or have a younger congregation, then you can safely assume that the people within your congregation communicate on multiple social platforms, and so to should your church.
- Play to the lowest common denominator. An LCD approach has both communal and holistic implications. It’s communal because you make sure that you are communicating your values and information to the maximum amount of people within your congregation. It’s holistic because this will require a comprehensive approach to congregational communication. In other words, you are serving all demographic groups within your church, not one or two niche elements. Bottom line: don’t simply equate technology use with serving your congregation. In order to foster community, you need to serve your actual people, not some idealized hope of where you want them to be, technologically speaking.
- What is the purpose of the account? Determine how social media serves the needs of your church. Is it to only post announcements, or is it also for resourcing your people with good content? Answer these kinds of questions before you start any social media account. From there, develop a plan that targets the purpose of the account and the needs of your congregation.
- When answering the question of purpose, it is incumbent that you do a “heart-check” before embarking on the social media front. If the goal of a social account is to build your own personal fame inside of Christendom, then stop and repent! Our Christian usage of social media should point to Christ and His coming Kingdom not our own broken thrones of self-idolatry.
What are some questions and ideas you’ve used institutionally to develop and implement a social media plan?
In our next post, Sam and I will consider a pastoral approach to social media use.