I want to ask you a question. Have you considered the idea that social media can help you be a better pastor? I’m sure many of you find that to be an odd question. Right now it seems only about 66% of pastors have a Facebook account and a measly 23% are on Twitter.
Those are discouraging numbers, but there is a light at the end of that tunnel as more and more church leaders are realizing that avoiding social media will increasingly become one of the quickest ways to kill their ministry.
I wrote an ebook about why the Internet needs church leaders to plug-in. You can check that out here. But if you’re still not convinced, here are 3 ways social media can help you be a better pastor:
1. Connect with more people
One of the power-facts of social media for leaders is that it changes the ratio from one-to-one to one-to-many. As a pastor of just about any size church you’re faced with the daunting task of connecting with the people you minister to. And guess what? It doesn’t matter how busy you are, your people look to you for leadership and when you are able to personally connect with them, that small touch can go along way towards their spiritual development.
I could write a whole chapter (nay, a whole book!) on the benefits of a pastor’ connection with their people. Social media now makes it possible for you as the pastor to add that little touch and stay connected to them without burning yourself out.
You don’t have to spend hours and hours on Facebook. You don’t have to engage in long conversations or constant private messages.
Sometimes all it takes is to click “like” on their status updates or leave a comment on something someone in your congregation posted or retweet something one of them tweeted. It’s not much, but it’s enough to connect and to show that you care about them and the things they care about.
2. Observe and stay current
Honestly, if the pastor is the last one in church to find out that one of their members had a baby Friday evening – and the pastor only found it because someone gave a praise report Sunday morning – that is both a problem, and a testament to the times that we live in. (By the way, that was a true scenario.)
I actually know a woman who found out that her son had gotten engaged… after everyone else already knew! Now I’m not excusing her son’s bad form (dude, call your mom before you post something like that on Facebook!). But in today’s world people just assume that everyone they care about (and everyone who cares about them) are on Facebook. This mom was not. But she is now.
As a pastor one of the best things you can do today to show that you are interested in the lives of your members is to find out what social media platforms they are on and then plug in. Not only will this simple act show that you care, not only will you be kept in the loop with what’s going on in their lives, but you’ll also strengthen your relationship with them. And I don’t care how large your church is or how many members you have, this is golden!
3. Lead them (or someone else will)
In 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul writes:
Imitate me as I also imitate Christ.
In my opinion this is a mandate that has been handed down through the generations. Leaders of the Christian faith are to be walking (and surfing) examples of Christ for the flock to imitate. As the author of Hebrews explains (13:7-8):
Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. But times have changed. Social media is still relatively new and we’re all sort of stumbling through it. And your people need to know how to imitate our eternal Lord – the Jesus of yesterday, today and forever – in the digital realm with all of its new temptations and challenges.
Just as the members of the church of Corinth were encouraged to imitate their leader Paul, and just as the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were encouraged to imitate their leaders, today’s saints need its leaders to plug-in online and lead. Your people need you to show the way of Christ in the digital space now more than ever before.
In my opinion this is nothing short of your biblical mandate for 2015.