20 ways to help your church master social media
“Love it or hate it, the potential for impacting lives is huge if churches view social media as a tool for ministry rather than just a digital noticeboard.”
So said Jason Ham and his team of experts on Elim’s recent Digital Masterclass. Here are our top tips from the session:
1. Share about your services and events
Photos and videos which reveal what’s happening on and off stage show that your services and events are vibrant, life-giving and that people are excited to be there.
Choose diverse photos with a range of demographics to show everyone is welcome.
2. Tell stories of people in your church
Share stories of changed lives – interview church people or course guests, ask why people serve or how they live out their faith.
City Church Cardiff created City Church portraits – photos and captions to appreciate and showcase their congregation.
3. Repurpose your sermon
Repurpose what is already happening. You can get Instagram stories, clips, content for podcasts, blogs and quote graphics from each sermon, says Peter Murden from Digital Church Toolkit.
4. Share devotionals
Why not go live and reach people online?
E5 Church Bristol got people to record devotionals for inspiration during a week of prayer, says Jason.
5. Share your kids' work
Check-in with your kids' pastor to see what your kid's church is up to and share pictures, testimonies and good news stories. But don’t forget to get parents’ permission first.
6. Go behind the scenes of services and events
“We help people see what it’s like inside church,” says Verity Yeates of St George & St Paul Tiverton. “Behind the scenes really works – people love photos and videos of things that happened on Sundays.”
7. Celebrate significant days and events
Why not celebrate significant days – baptisms are a great example of Jesus changing lives.
But it doesn’t just have to be spiritual. You can produce fun content – asking what people’s favourite sandwiches are for National Sandwich Day, for example.
8. Have fun and engage
Social media can engage and change perceptions of the church.
Why not ask ‘which do you prefer?’ questions (pork pies or Scotch eggs?) or share memes?
“Engage, have fun and build relationships. Social media is supposed to be social,” says Jason.
9. Show your church cares about issues and the community
Show you care about the outside world.
If you have a food bank, show the food people can collect and celebrate the volunteers. You can also engage with community charities and organisations.
“Through posts like this, we show Jesus cares about our community.”
10. Ask questions and create conversation
Social media is an opportunity for conversation, so why not encourage questions?
“We had a magnolia tree in bloom and were sharing photos of it, asking where do you see God in nature?” says Verity. “People engaged and shared their own pictures.”
11. Share meaningful content on big issues
Post more meaningful content too.
“God speaks through social media. Why not put content on your profiles that deal with the big questions of life? Never underestimate the impact you can have,” says Jason.
12. Help people as they worship
Share a favourite worship song or a Spotify playlist your worship team is singing. You could help people discover new bands and songs.
13. Create shareable graphics and prayers
Posting shareable content can help with discipleship. Websites and apps like SundaySocial.tv, and Procreate are among dozens that can help design-wise.
14. Create live content
“We’ve been experimenting with live video,” says Jason. “Every weekday, we have communion on Facebook and YouTube.
We’ve also had live urgent prayer broadcasts – when we had gun attacks in Plymouth, we wanted to mobilise the church to pray.”
15. Create video highlights from services and events
Create video highlight reels on your phone with apps like InShot or Instagram Reels.
Someone who’s never been to your church can get a sense of what your service is like.
16. Point people to discipleship resources
You can highlight useful apps like YouVersion. “Perhaps there’s a Bible plan people have been encouraged by. Why not share it?” asks Jason.
17. Share updates from people outside your church community
There are plenty of stories to share from missionaries and charities you support or students at university, plus some great content from Direction Magazine.
These stories can widen your outlook and make great content.
18. Create content that helps answer big faith questions
Alpha is great for unpacking big questions, so why not create videos, graphics or mid-week live streams that do that too?
Lifecentral Church asked “how would you define a miracle?”
19. Live tweet your Sunday sermon
Design quotes as graphics or turn them into Facebook posts.
20. Create throwback posts
Throwback posts help people remember God’s faithfulness. Create graphics, photos or videos around past events or sermons.
How we meet the challenge
You don’t have to be on every platform, but understanding your audience will help you choose which ones to use. If you’re a church with older people, there’s no point doing TikTok videos. Instead, Facebook and WhatsApp allow for conversation and YouTube is accessible for videos.
Hannah Fleming-Hill, digital missioner, South West Baptist Association
I schedule my Facebook posts using Meta’s Business Suite. It has planners and shows when your followers are most active. You can follow its guidelines to help you schedule your posts to be published at the best times, move things around, see your stats and manage multiple pages.
Abbie Seddigh, Arun Church
You don’t have to do social media alone. Work out what skills you need: someone who can create content, somebody who can lead and someone to manage your feeds. It could be one person or a team.
Peter Murden, Digital Church Toolkit
We had a weekly digital newsletter but were thinking about how to use existing content more, so created a blog on our website. We paste intros from our newsletter and link to them in our newsletter, which adds website traffic.
Verity Yeates, St George & St Paul Tiverton
Know your audience... work out who you’re trying to reach. In Exeter, we have a university, so I’m trying to reach students who want to hear about our student ministry and worship nights. Perhaps you have a heart for families – you could share about your kids' groups and holiday clubs.
Jason Ham, Rediscover Church, Exeter
Watch Jason's talk from the Elim Leaders Summit
First published in the May 2022 issue of Direction, Elim’s monthly magazine. Subscribe now to get Direction delivered to your home.
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