Social media is a powerful tool that enables individuals and organizations to connect with people from all over the world. For church planters, social media can be a valuable asset in reaching out to potential members and building a community.
Gallup studies show that only 22% of Americans say they attend church “every week”. If that is the case, churches must transition from church as a building to church as a community or we will miss over 75% of the population.
People were drawn to Jesus and the disciples by the way they lived. Not the way their building looked or the songs they sang. It was their love for Jesus and one another that compelled people. It must be the same for the church today.
There are many ways to develop community. Some prefer coffee shops, meetups, and workplaces however, many are now turning online to build community and develop relationships. How can the church maximize the digital space and build relationships?
Identify your Audience
The first step in building online community is to know your audience. What do they like? Where do they hang out? The internet is flooded with various social media platforms; the question is: which ones should you focus on? Define your audience persona and post as if you were speaking to them directly.
Once you have identified your audience, we must determine where they hang out. To help, Sprout Social provides the following breakdown for the major social media platforms by age group:
Research the various platforms and discover the platform that connects with your audience to focus on cultivating a community.
Establish your Presence
Once you have established the social media platforms that connect with your audience, it is essential to regularly post engaging content that reflects the values and mission of your church. In this article, I shared 6 different types of creative content you can post. Photos and videos that share your church’s story and reflect your community provide a glimpse into the life of your church and help people connect. You can also provide inspiration with scripture or encouraging stories. Whichever platform you choose, it is important to identify your audience and communicate directly with them.
Tell your Story
Building a social media presence is only the first step in using social media to build awareness about your church plant. To truly make an impact, you must engage with your online community. What is the best way to do this?
We all have a beautiful God-story–tell it! Everyone loves a compelling story. What has God done for you? What can He do for others? Why do you want to plant a church? How do you develop a relationship with Him? We are guides pointing people to Jesus–the solution to their problems and the questions they are asking. Create a safe place where people can ask questions and find answers.
If we are encouraging people to ask questions, it is important to respond to comments and messages promptly and make an effort to build meaningful connections. Conversations are a two-way street.
Social media can also be an effective tool for cultivating relationships. Utilizing tools like Facebook Groups, VR, or Zoom, people can gather for a time of connection through Bible study and prayer. In this article I shared how my husband and I have led several online discipleship groups on a weekly basis for over two years. Through these opportunities, people have found Christ, grown in their walk with Him, and developed community with one another.
There is no question social media can be a powerful tool for church planters. By identifying your audience, engaging with your community, and using social media to cultivate relationships, you can effectively build a thriving church community.