There can be no denying that we live in the digital age. Online dating is no longer a taboo. Genuine relationships are cultivated in the digital space. Strangers can meet for the first time in real life and instantly chat as if they were life long friends. And since Apple introduced the smartphone back in 2007, we have reached a whole new level of connectivity way beyond simple texting.
I wonder how many churches understand how powerful social media can be for our mission? Sure there are dangers. But nothing worth doing is ever safe. In fact any dangers present in social media only spur on my insistence that the web needs the leadership of Christ’ people.
So I’ve pulled together six facts related to social media that should rattle your church into digital action. To be sure there are more than six – in fact there are hundreds! – but for brevity sake, I’ve chosen to start with these…
1. The fastest growing age demographic on Twitter is 55-65 (here)
Many people assume that twitter is merely for Millennials. Not so. This number is surprising because unlike Facebook (where the Fastest growing demographic is also 65 and over), Twitter isn’t designed to connect people to friends and family. It’s an idea-sharing platform. And here’s an idea, doesn’t your church have a message worth sharing? Are you using Twitter… ?
2. Social media has over taken porn as the #1 activity on the web (here)
Encouraging, yes? But what does this mean for your church? It means that your community is facing new challenges and possibly new additions. Social media addiction is a real thing. There are, as I said a moment ago, also real dangers with social media. And with these potential dangers, challenges, and addictions, there is a real need for Christ-honouring leaders to, well, lead.
3. 70% of Millennials who are professing Christians use smartphones to read the Bible (here)
Don’t be surprised if more and more people in your church prefer whipping out their iPhone in church rather than bring their Bibles. To be sure some people will spend the service playing games, browsing Facebook, and answering texts. But others will be following along with their digital Bibles on their smartphones, possibly jotting down points in their phone’s notepad and maybe even tweet out interesting and inspiring thoughts they hear from the pulpit. How your church handles people on their phones during service will say a lot about the direction your community is going…
4. 46% of churches say social media is the most effective form of outreach (here)
This is encouraging. And those 46% of churches (whoever they are) are no doubt right. The church has always quickly adapted communication technology because she recognizes that our message needs a medium to reach people. Ink and parchment, the printing press and now, social media. My only concern is how long it will take the other 54% of churches to realize this too. And I hope they do before it’s too late for them. (The next challenge is learning to use this technology effectively.)
5. 98% of churches use Facebook (here)
This is the most encouraging statistic so far. But if 98% of churches use Facebook, and only 46% (or less) see it as an effective form of outreach, I’ve gotta wonder how churches are using it? In the Christian bookstore industry there has been a lot of chatter over the past few years about how we need to have a Facebook page. The consensus seemed to be that we knew we had to be on Facebook (because that’s what we’re t0ld), so we’ve gone and opened a Facebook page and we keep half-heartedly posting content, but with little to no results. We don’t really get the why and we have an even less understanding of the how. I suspect it’s the same with many churches. (By the way, I am developing a Facebook for Churches training course. Subscribing is the best way to know when it’s launched.)
6. Church emails that include links to social media have 115% higher clickthrough rate (here)
First things first: is your church utilizing an email service to capture and stay in regular communication with your members and the people in your community. If not, you should be. And if you are (or when you do), be sure to include links to social media in them. Clickthrough rates are powerful because they tell you that people are reading your material and engaging with it. These people are your key prospects. In terms of your mission, they are the ones who are most interested in the message.
So that was six shocking facts about social media that should drive your church to get plugged in. If you enjoyed this list please share it on Facebook, Twitter or your preferred social media platform.
QOTD: Which statistic did you find most compelling? Why? You can leave a comment by clicking here.