Apathy is the greatest weapon in the arsenal of the enemy of any mission. And what makes apathy so destructive is its subtly. A mission may have the people, the tools, and the statements – in other words it may seem to have everything it needs to be a success. And yet still go nowhere all because of apathy.
A mission filled with apathetic people is a boat with an anchor dragging in the mud on the ocean floor. Fill the mission with people, crank up the throttle and bounce around in one place until the engine burns out.
And this is why for a mission to be successful the people need to catch the fire.
To quote Paul:
Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.” (ESV)
“Slothful” is a strong word denoting laziness. But that’s not apathy. Apathy is a lack of interest, enthusiasm or concern. So the NIV captures it best this way: “Never be lacking in zeal…”
The problem many churches face is not laziness, but a lack of enthusiasm and interest in its social media ministry.
6 tips to ignite zeal for a social media ministry
One of the most common pain-points for social media directors is the apathy they feel from the congregation regarding the church’s social media mission.
I understand that struggle all too well. So here are six ways I’ve seen church’s move their congregation out of apathy and into action with its social media mission.
1. The leadership takes social media seriously.
People will almost always follow the examples set by leadership they trust. So the attitude that church leaders have towards social media is paramount to a church’s general social media attitude. I can’t stress this enough. If a church leadership team are divided with some celebrating social media and others constantly bemoaning the dangers, the congregation will never truly get onboard.
Bring your church leadership team into alignment with its social media ministry.
2. Social Media is consistently felt around the building.
A subtle, long-term and effective strategy is to have your church’s social media presence *felt* throughout the physical building. Include relevant overhead slides that mention different social media platform the church is on. Have an Instagram logo on the youth bulletin board along with pictures from its Instagram account. Mention the churches social media presence in the bulletin in a way that is relevant and makes sense.
The point here is to bring social media home, as it were. It your church’s social media presence is consistently felt around the church it’ll eventually erode social media anxiety that some people have and make them more comfortable with the idea of using social media for God’s Kingdom.
3. Preach a sermon series on the topic.
Moving from subtle to explicit, ultimately your congregation needs to understand the “Why.” Without a compelling Why there can be no zeal. If people don’t *feel* the need, they won’t get involved. They’ll remain apathetic. A great way to communicate the Why is to have a sermon series on why the church should be active on social media including topics such as How to Witness Online, Why Online Community Is Important, How Online Community Affects The Physical Community, How to Minister In The Midst of Social Media Dangers, etc.
4. Develop a community using Facebook Groups.
While you can’t twist the arms of your congregants into sharing, retweeting, liking, commenting and all around engaging with the church’s social media activity, you can encourage it by leveraging a Facebook Group. Create a private Facebook Group and pack it with members of your church. Any one can post in that group as long as they’re members. In this private group you can post explicit requests (which are really just reminders) asking your members to sharing church related content on their personal social media platforms.
Sometimes apathy isn’t the problem, busyness is. Your people may want to be involved in the church’s social media ministry, but life is so busy they just don’t remember. In a private Facebook group you can remind them and invite them to help share with questions like, “Hey all, here’s the link to our church’s Day Camp program, can you please share it around?”
5. Bring in a guest speaker.
Guest speakers are such powerful motivators not because they are better than your regular speaker (say, your pastor). What makes a guest speaker so powerful is the simple fact that as a guest speaker, they are *new* to your congregation. That matters because studies have shown that people react positively to novelty because novelty releases a *feel good* chemical in our brains called dopamine. And dopamine is like a *feel good* drug that is linked to our motivation to seek more rewards.
So when a new speaker comes in with a new angle and new ways to motivate your people to be engaged online, the results and effectiveness goes way up.
6. Squash negativity.
Negativity is poison to your church’s social media ministry. The reason is because humans are wired for survival and as a result “negativity bias” powerfully motivates us to react and protect ourselves, often illogically. Negativity is also contagious because we tend to want to help our fellow person survive. The more strongly we perceive a danger (often out of our own negative experiences), the more passionate we are in warning others of the dangers of social media.
So that’s the problem. The solution? Confront the dangers inherent within social media head-on and educate your people in why the risks are worth taking. Then actively set up safeguards for people who feel they need them and create an online ethics for your church to commit to. But if you let negativity continue to spread, your social media ministry will never gain the traction it needs to be a consistent light online for God’s Kingdom.
Bonus: Have a “Technical Assistance” person
As a bonus it’s also helpful to have someone in your church who can assist the less-technically savvy people with their social media ministry. I know of at least one church that has a “Social Media Assistance” booth set up in the foyer that is stationed by at least two youth members after every major church service.
A lot of fear simply comes from people’s aversion to technology. Helping them overcome this aversion by offering practical assistance will go a long way towards turning the apathetic into raving evangelists.
Question: What other ways have you found effective in turning congregants from apathy to raving online evangelists? You can leave a comment by clicking here.