I want to be a little bold and suggest that this post is one you should share with every church leader you know because I firmly believe that this conversation is important to the relational success of their ministry. If you agree, please pass it on.
We all know about Facebook. The question is – are church leaders using it strategically and effectively to grow their ministries relationally?
I believe that every pastor, elder, and ministry leader should be on Facebook. Not just for the sake of following the crowd. Not to be one of the millions posting the happenings of their daily lives, but to…
Watch, listen, and act on what they see and hear to build more authentic relationships within their congregations.
Never before has such a valuable and simple tool been available where you can stay connected to the day-to-day lives of the people you are ministering to in your church. With Facebook, you as a church leader have a special window into the real lives of those who are under your ministry care. You get a daily glimpse into how they are (or are not) living out, growing, and applying their faith practically. Through Facebook you will learn stuff about your people that you would otherwise never know while at the same time learning things you wish you never knew .
In a few minutes a day, you can scroll through the recent news items of your “friends” that will allow you to find out where they are at, what they are struggling with, what they are celebrating, and how life is unfolding for them in real-time. For some reason, people will post little snippets of their real-life-living in the comfort of Facebook in ways they would never share with you at the back of the church.
More Than Knowing: Actions That Speak
Knowing is one thing, acting is the strategic response. You need take the knowledge you now have and relationally connect with and care for people.
Take a minute and write meaningful comments here and there in response to what people post. You do not need to make a comment on everything, but common sense (and God’s leading) will tell you when you can write a quick note of personal encouragement, appreciation, or insight that will show individuals that you really do care. At the same time, others in your church will watch how you are interacting with and caring for the congregation online. It will often motivate them into action as well.
When you notice someone having a particularly tough day, you can go one step further, pick up the phone, and call them. I have done this. Call the person; let them know you read about their struggle on Facebook and offer help, encouragement, or counsel voice-to-voice. This personalization hits an immediate relational home-run. Taking it one step further and praying with them on the phone is ministry gold.
3) Happy Birthday
This week was my birthday. I received over 50 “Happy Birthday” greetings on my wall, just because Facebook reminded my friends that it was my day. Those quick little greetings made me feel special. People noticed and took 20 seconds of their time for me. One person went a step further. He did not leave a note on my wall, but he picked up the phone and called me. He personalized the interaction and with five minutes of his day encouraged me far more that the 50 others combined. Someone else wrote me a birthday e-mail. This too, came from their listening on Facebook combined with a more personalized action – a greater impact was made. Everyone’s effort was appreciated but the two who went the extra step stood out and were set apart. As a caring leader, it is good to be set apart from the crowd.
Sometimes your newfound glimpse into the personal lives of congregation members can present personalized teaching or mentoring opportunities. You now can lovingly coach people on ways to live more like Jesus calls them to live. Applying faith principles is about growth. If you see an opportunity to help someone grow, it is a privilege and part of what we are called to do – helping people move toward spiritual maturity.
Invest In Relational Expansion
Facebook is a strategic tool you can leverage to build relationships beyond your face-to-face contact on Sunday. I am not asking any leader to invest a ton of time here – leaders are all really busy. What I am suggesting is that Church is all about community. You may or may not be a fan of online community (it is not as authentic as many make it out to be) but at this point, Facebook is a widely adopted sub-section of community in today’s media saturated world. Upwards of 60-70% of your congregation is on Facebook every week. By investing a few minutes a day, by responding appropriately and strategically, you can expand the boarders of your relational ministry care.
As a church leader, I have done these things and they work. Grow your church community with more meaningful, authentic, and personalized relationships. People need you to care. Facebook is one tool that can help you build the deeper Christ-centered community you desire.
Questions for Comment
- What are your thoughts on using Facebook as a strategic relationship-building tool?
- Do you have any additional suggestions on how a ministry leader can use Facebook to relationally connect with people in their church?
- Do you agree or disagree…should every church leader be on Facebook?