I don’t need to tell you that social media is important for your church. You are, after all, a reader of this blog. But often there is a gap between knowing that and communicating it to your church. I don’t know about you, but I’ve spoken to pastors who have a fear of promoting social media to their team and congregation. And honestly, I identify with that fear. I know exactly where it comes from.
When I first tried to sell the idea of social media to my leadership team I didn’t go about it the best way. Most of the people on the board were not very receptive of social media to begin with. And I allowed my frustration to build up until one day I decided to shock our church board into accepting it. The topic was how we could limit the number of distractions our people experienced during church, with a negative focus on their use of smartphones and tables.
That’s when I blurted out, “encourage them to Tweet during the service!”
It was a radical idea. It went against the flow of the discussion. It seemed to come from left field. And most importantly, I had done nothing to prepare them for the suggestion.
If I wanted to introduce them to the idea of a social media ministry, that was not the way.
Needless to say my ill-conceived plan backfired.
Of course if I could do it again I would introduce it differently. I would take the “why,” “how,” and “invitation” approach to selling my church on the idea of social media.
Learning from my experience the first thing I would do differently is identify the “why.” Why does your church or ministry need to leverage social media? Back when I confronted the board on social media I didn’t have a clearly defined “why” in place. I had more of a vague “because God expects it” explanation. Or “because this is the 21st century.”
If you can clearly articulate the “why” – and if you’re passionate about it – your chances of selling the idea to your leadership team will be far greater.
The second thing I would do differently is create a plan first. This way when you introduce social media to your team, you’re showing them exactly how social media can work for your church allowing them an opportunity to envision the results while better preparing you for any questions they might ask.
The third thing I would do differently is invite them to align with the plan. Inevitably not everyone on the leadership team will be in agreement. But you can still have alignment even with dissent.
Michael Hyatt talks about the three levels of unity in a recent podcast. The levels are acceptance, agreement and alignment.
Lowest Level: Acceptance
In essence the “acceptance” level is when people just “give in” to the will of the leader. The leader says, “this is the plan” and the people just accept it. The problem here is that people might accept your plan, but that doesn’t mean they are “with you.” You’re the pastor and so they accept what you say, but they may talk negatively about it outside the meeting and they won’t pour their whole heart into it.
Second Level: Agreement
The “agreement” level is when people understand the arguments for the plan that the leader laid out, and mentally agree with the decision. But the danger here is if someone who did not attend the meeting offers better arguments for a different plan to someone who did attend the meeting. When that happens you lose the unity that you gained in the meeting.
Highest Level: Alignment
Michael says this is when people don’t just agree with you in their head, it’s when they are truly “with you.” Whether or not they agree with you fully, they commit to the plan because they trust you as a leader and for the sake of the team and the vision, they want to see results.
When you have alignment with people, that doesn’t mean you are always in agreement. For someone who voices dissent the question is not ‘how can I get this person to agree with me?’ The question is (and this is Michael’s example), ‘Jim, I hear what you’re saying. I get that you don’t agree with it. But are you willing to align with it?’
Having your church leadership on board will show the strong unified front that your congregation needs to see to truly get behind your church’s social media strategy. It’s also the backing that your social media team needs to feel empowered in their ministry effort.
Encourage Member Engagement
There’s a myth I hear all the time and it goes like this: Social media isn’t for everyone. The truth is that social media is not for or against anybody. Rather social media is an objective tool that can be leveraged for God’s Kingdom. It is also a reality in our world.
Not everyone in your church will like social media and agree with your church’s social media use. But just like what we discussed with your leadership team, you can still ask your church members to come into alignment. If they believe in the ministry of the church and trust the leadership of the church and have bought into the vision of the church then they will support and get behind the church’s social media activity.
And among the top reasons to urge your church members to participate in social media is that it will deepen their relationships with one another. And this will cause your physical community to grow closer together.
The deepest relationships I have in church, the people I want to sit beside, the ones I gravitate toward after service, the ones I connect with during the week, these are the ones who I am connected with on social media.
To have an effective social media ministry for your church it’s important that the church leadership and congregation get behind the idea. Social Media is a controversial subject among Christians today. I speak to Christians all the time who feel strongly that social media is a dangerous and alienating piece of technology. And they’re right, it can be. But it can also be a powerful tool to be used for God’s Kingdom. It can draw people closer together. It can break down barriers and introduce people in your community to your ministry. It can be a non-threatening approach for connecting with people according to their preferred method of communication.
So while you may be treading on glass when broaching the subject of a social media ministry with your church, it is a subject that needs to be broached. But follow my advice when you do. Prepare ahead of time. Articulated why your church needs to be plugged in online; identify how your social media ministry can benefit God’s Kingdom and then invite your church to get on board.
Take Action: What can you do right now to prepare your church and members to get involved in social media? You can leave a comment by clicking here.