6 Simple Ways Your Church Can Use Facebook Better!

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I just finished reading Justin Wise’s The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication. It was a great book that actually achieved its subtitle’s goal. It created a pretty comprehensive case (practically and biblically) why churches should engage in social media. Justin also shared some practical tips and warnings as well which I appreciated.

This has got me thinking about how my church uses social media and in particular Facebook. Our church has had a Facebook page for quite some time. It has taken on different forms. The biggest challenge that I took from Justin’s book is that the goal of our social media should always be to create more connection between the church and its members and between fellow members. I really like this. We have made some practical changes to help facilitate this more.

Here are six ways we are currently using Facebook.

1) Calendar

We use Facebook as our primary church events calendar. This means that we create Facebook events for each worship service, youth event, bible study, fun event, etc. We use a plugin that automatically imports these events to our website calendar. It is a little tedious because Facebook doesn’t handle repeating events as well as it could. You have to manually create or copy an event for every instance. However, we have found that Facebook events are a great way for our members to invite their friends (in the church and outside). This work really well for our fun events. If we do a guy’s pizza night, we will send out an invite to our guys (we are a smaller church). Many will RSVP through that they are coming. This is a great way to get things on their calendars. Another great benefit of using the Facebook Calendar is that it allows multiple people access to events. If something comes up at the last minute, our small group leaders can cancel an event or change on Facebook and everyone knows and the website is automatically updated. For a long time, I was doing all our online stuff and the bulletins (my church is a church plant). We create images for all our events, but we have our bulletin set up in such a way that we can reuse them there. This saved me a ton of time and energy.

2) Online Prayer Group

We have created a Facebook prayer group for our church that allows members to share requests and others to comment. This has really taken off in the past few months as we have made people aware of it. Any group member can share their prayer requests and others can post comments. There are a couple of benefits of this over a prayer chain. First, anyone can post something when it happens. If an accident happens at night, they can post it before staff gets in and others can pray. Second, it creates interaction. People will often post that they are praying for the situation, which helps people know they are not alone! We have it set as a closed group, which means that the public can see that the group exists, but only people in the group can see what is posted inside the group. You can use different settings. We have it set up so that people need to ask to become a member (or can be added by others) and confirmed by admins (pastor and elders).

3) Introduce New Worship Songs

Another thing that we have started to do is post links to YouTube videos of worship songs. We only post songs that will be completely new to the congregation and we usually post it a few days before we hope to introduce it.  Not everyone will watch it, but we find it is a great way for those that do to learn the song before they come.  This helps them to sing it better on Sunday!

4) Timeline Cover Art

We use our church’s Timeline Cover photo to promote our sermon series and special events. We find it keeps our page fresh since it changes every few months.  It also let’s visitors know what is going they can expect when they come on Sunday!

5) Interesting Articles and Quotes

One area that I was really challenged by Justin Wise’s The Social Church is that 80% of our posts should ad value to our online community rather than just be requests or self-promotion. We have started to link to a couple of different articles each week. This may seem like a lot of work. Honestly, it doesn’t have to be. When I come across an interesting article or quote for sermon prep, I will often post it immediately. I also use Evernote to store it in a notebook geared towards Facebook. About once a week, I go in and create posts with links to these articles and schedule them to post throughout the week.

6) Church Event Photos

You need to be a little careful on this one.  It is always best if you can get permission from people to do this ahead of time. We have started to post photos of events we have done and tag the people in them. This not only gives visitors to our church’s Facebook page a glimpse of what is going on in the church.  If you tag people, these photos show up in their Facebook feeds for their friends to see. It is a subtle way that you can get the word out about your church and what it is doing.

Want to learn even more about Social Media and the church? Here is a great list of some of the best online resources!

Share your tidbits!  I would love to hear how you are using yours in the comment section too!

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Let's Discuss…

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Our church has a fb page but so far it has been a "closed group". We use it to update members on events, sickness, prayer requests, deaths and such information. Privacy for our congregation is the big reason for being a closed group. It also helps to build a community within our regular attenders. I will also attach links if they pertain to the current sermon series or current events.  We have a separate church website which is open for all. What is your thoughts on keeping the entire FB page a closed group? I sometimes feel guilty in ignoring "friend requests" from strangers who have no affiliation  to  our church. Usually these requests come from places like Nigeria, Rwanda or other far off places. Are we being elistist? Should this be an open group?

Guide

Janet, I would consider adding a facebook page in addition to the group that you have set up. The page is for public updates and is where people would look if they were looking for churches to visit/attend or if they want to quickly find event dates (if you are using that feature . . . which I recommend because that's how a lot of people keep their calendars these days).

The group could be clearly labeled as only for church members. You might also consider changing the settings to closed so that it doesn't show up in searches. That way you are not being elitist - if they are not a member, they don't get in.

Participant

I agree with Wendy.  I think you should create a FB page that is view as another online connection point for your church and the outside world.  We have a closed prayer group that is closed/ private to accomplish for private inhouse matters.  Links and those kinds of things would be great for potential visitors to see. 

Participant

Today, I had two of my pastor friends who aren't currently involved in social media tell me that they watched this Justin Wise interview. One bought the book. Both felt convicted to start and empowered to take next steps! LOVE IT! It has some great take aways for you and your church. http://www.churchwp.net/social-media-and-the-church-interview-with-justin-wise/

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