Does Your Church Have a Healthy Social Media Presence?
Even if your church used social media prior to the pandemic, you likely are using it in new ways this year. The church quickly was thrown into the deep end of social media. Some small town pastors were on the cusp of figuring out their first live stream. Other churches may have been figuring out how to implement other areas of media, such as new social media and online giving. Maybe you already had all of this prior to the pandemic, but you likely have added something new in attempt to keep your congregation connected.
One of those things you added or magnified was social media. I have heard and read many stories about pastors who were against social media (for a number of reasons) that embraced it one-hundred percent during the pandemic. Even if it was not new, you likely amplified your presence in some form of fashion. Whether we discuss our life or ministry, we should always take time to evaluate the effectiveness and impact of whatever we do. Over half a year later, we must stop and ask: does my church have a healthy social media presence? Hopefully you have already been evaluating this, but after increased traffic and usage, this evaluation has never been more important. Here are five questions to ask to determine the healthiness of your social media presence:
1. IS THE BOTTOM LINE VIEWS OR ENGAGEMENT?
It feels like a shot of dopamine when your views are up. I am no medical doctor, but we thrive off of dopamine. Your dopamine levels will naturally increase when your brain expects a reward. It feels good to see a high number of views, therefore, dopamine levels are high. These views are good metrics, but are often surface level effects. A deeper dive will reveal more metrics that end up revealing differing results. Our focus should be on engagement. Engagement has long lasting impact on the believer or viewer. If I am engaged, I come back wanting more. Our number one engagement is the Word of God. God’s Word engages our hearts through prayer, song, and through sound biblical teaching. Look at how God’s Word engages, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12 ESV). Your social media presence must be engaging. Social media should have a clear pathway to push viewers and followers down a road of discipleship and growth.
2. ARE MY FOLLOWERS A NUMBER OR A NAME?
Followers should not be a bad thing, but the dogma of the more the better should never flood our social media presence. Do not get me wrong, you should attempt to reach people on social media, which ultimately increases your following. Be sure to catch what was said, we are to be reaching people, not numbers. Each follower has a name. Their name is far more important than them being your one-thousandth subscriber! Our social media policies ought to have a plan to take followers into people with a name. This gets tricky with live events. It is near impossible to get the names of all attending your live stream. However, with strategic planning, you can attempt to connect with these people through engagement questions throughout the stream. Do not settle for followers, aim for a name. Praise God that He knows our name! We should aim to know their name too!
3. DOES THIS NEW SOCIAL MEDIA FIT INTO YOUR MISSION AND VISION?
This is a question that should be asked of everything we do as a church. Things you have been doing for fifty years should annually be asked this question. For some, Snapchat and TikTok may fit, while for others, it does not. Do your research. Ask pertinent questions to experts or to others who are using various platforms. It is essential that you do not do something just because the church down the street is doing it. When it comes to preaching the Gospel, you better be doing that, but it may not be beneficial to jump head deep into the new craze. Viral fame is not worth the consequences of forgetting to make His name famous.
4. ARE WE BEING SAFE WITH SOCIAL MEDIA?
Social media can be dangerous. This likely is something you have seen overtime these last few months. Social media can be addicting for both the viewer and the producer. You likely (if not, stop what you are doing right now and do it) have strict policies for those who help with children. We should err on the same side of caution with social media. Do not let just anyone have the reigns of your social media. Have policies and procedures that lay out precautions and social media usage. This may be a stretch for some, but even consider having members of your social media team sign contracts that enable you to remove those not fit. With social media advancing at the rate it does, you can never be too cautious.
5. DOES JEALOUSY DRIVE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA DECISIONS?
Jealousy should never be our driving force. The church seeing results down the street does not always delegate your church down the same path. Be lead by God and not by jealousy. With that said, you may implement the same things (and we should learn from others), but implement it in such a way that it drives your church’s mission and vision forward. Bathe social media usage in prayer as you would anything else. God is going to use social media to reach people. Let Him be your guide, not the church down the street.
If you have yet to evaluate, now is the time to evaluate. Social media will likely have some value for you and your ministry. If it does not, do not use it. However, I imagine that you have realized the value social media can bring as you seek to connect people to Jesus. If you are going to use social media, do so with purpose and conviction.
What are some guidelines you have in place for social media? How are you using social media to reach people? What does your church do now that you did not do prior to Covid-19?