E-communications Panel – August 6, 2012

About a dozen people gathered at McKinley Park Library in Chicago to talk about social media in the church.

Discussion Highlights

“How is social media and internet communication used in your ministry and life as a Christian?”

  1. Washing feet by being present online
  2. Create community across geography
  3. If you know only a small fraction of your congregation is active online, then your social media efforts can simply be dedicated to outreach. No need to pretend it’s for the congregation, because they’ll never see it.
  4. Linking people in a community to each other. If someone is being honored or was published – and that news is online – you can link to it.
  5. An institution’s Facebook is more living and organic than an institution’s website, but cross posting on many platforms catches different audiences.
  6. Representing yourself as an individual online shows unchurched young adults, and others, what church people are like.

What have been some unexpected benefits realized and challenges seen in your online ministry?

  1. Benefits
    1. People – young people – actually do come through the doors because they explored your website and liked what they saw. Examples like this were shared by a couple churches present, and in some cases that was the tipping for the congregation to get on board with the church doing social media outreach – even if those members weren’t online, they became supportive of others’ efforts online.
    2. Increase transparency by being forced to post everything online
    3. Yelp.com is an unexpected tool that potential visitors use – it’s not just for restaurant reviews. Your church may already be listed on yelp without you having set it up.
    4. One message can travel across many media instead of needing to write completely new content for the bulletin and the announcements and the website and facebook.
    5. Reaching people we didn’t expect to reach – the homebound affiliated with our congregation.
  2. Challenges
    1. You can feel very productive online but waste a lot of time. (Or for youth pastors, time online can become the primary pastoral care medium, and the real time wasted was being in staff meetings.)
    2. There may be stronger skepticism than anticipated in your congregation, and there may be a divide, with leaders (lay and clergy) online and the rest of the congregation not.
    3. Cliquiness can arise among those who are “in-the-know” if certain online information is not shared with those who are offline.
    4. If you’re not ready (e.g. with a “Donate Here” button on your website) you can miss big opportunities.

Audio clips

Online Donations (download)

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