Social Media, Ministry and Digital Evangelism by Pam Perry
Everyone has jumped on the social media bandwagonâ€”full throttle. Well, almost everyone; certain sectors are lagging behind. The nonprofit sector, especially churches, have yet to really grasp it and make a digital imprint like they could. Outside of pastor and New York Times bestselling author, Joel Osteen, most churches are not ranking up top in Google. Osteenâ€™s podcasts, by the way, are the second most downloaded podcast in the world, according to Religion News Service.
So, should churches and Christian authors be focusing on us- ing the â€œworld wide webâ€ to market their message?
According to Zondervanâ€™s director of publicity, Karen Campbell, â€œPublishers should build on their authorsâ€™ networks, including social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog and Web Sites) and personal contacts to help enhance their brands.â€
Zondervan, the worldâ€™s leading Christian publisher, has had great success â€œmatching the Christian message with tech- nologyâ€ for Inspired Byâ€¦The Bible Experience, BibleGateway.com and recently, Glo.
To increase lagging readership of Christian books or bolster church attendance (especially among men and youth), technology and social media strategies are viable and can be helpful when used properly, according to David Murrow, author of â€œWhy Men Hate Going to Church.â€
â€œA church that uses the latest technology to teach and encourage,â€ Murrow writes, â€œwill be sending a strong message to men and young adults: We speak your language.â€
Most churches realize that they should use social media to â€œdraw people to Christâ€ but donâ€™t know how or where to start.
Here are some steps to get going:
Set up a Facebook Fan page and ask members or readers to join it.
Set up a twitter account and connect it to your Facebook. Learn how to â€œtweetâ€ using your mobile phone device.
Create a blog so that you can have members or readers comment. Blog your sermon notes or, if youâ€™re a Christian author, blog your book! Set your blog to post to your Facebook account and set up a â€œNetworked Blogâ€ so people can follow your blog on Facebook. Creating a community online is critical. Donâ€™t talk at people â€“ engage them.
Post videos on YouTube. Everyone loves to watch short videos. But donâ€™t post anything too heavy. Keep it inspirational and short- under five minutes. Post it and load it to Twitter â€“ which would post to Facebook.
Set up a Cinchcast.com account. This is like leaving a voice message on the internet. Again, make it short (under 2 minutes) and post out into your accounts â€“ people love hearing â€œrealâ€ messages.
Approximately 60% of people under 30 in the U.S. say that they get their news online.
Social media is a great way to reach young peopleâ€”the ones who will grow your ministry and spread the word. Keep them excited by showing that youâ€™re on the cutting-edge. Make them proud to be associated with a church that has tons of â€œfansâ€ on Facebook or a ministry that Tweets.
The Internet and digital media is going to continue to grow and become more and more commonplace. Social media marketing is the way to fulfill the Great Commission to â€œGo ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creatureâ€ (Mark 16:15).