We’ve written before (here and here) about ways that web savvy churches like Northland have used Facebook to interact with worshippers and their guests. But how can traditional brick-and-mortar churches benefit from the popular social networking site? Here are five ways that I used Facebook when I worked in a church office that helped us connect to people at our church:

1) Event planning and advertising.

When my church decided to launch its first “Classical Music Camp” last summer, I jumped on Facebook right away. I created a fan page for the ministry sponsoring the event, and an invitation to our boot camp. In just a few hours, a large percentage of our congregation had heard all about our plans.

By Sunday, many who would otherwise have heard about the camp for the first time that morning were already prepared with lists, supplies, and invitations to hand out to neighborhood kids. Even better, we asked everyone who “Liked” our fan page to invite their friends to do the same—thus spreading the news about our offerings far beyond our regular Sunday morning crowd. Next time we have Music Camp, we’ll go back to the ministry’s fan page, already populated with people who enjoyed last year’s event. It will only take a few moments to remind them that Music Camp is an annual event.

If we’d wanted, we could also have purchased advertising space from Facebook that would have reached many of the tens of thousands of people who live in our county—and all for less than the cost of a phonebook listing or classified ad.

2) Welcoming newcomers.

It’s not always easy to know when a newcomer has decided to join your church. If you’re not sure yet whether Jane Doe considers herself a full-fledged member or is still “just visiting,” consider sending her an invitation to join your church’s Facebook page. It’s a small gesture that can help her feel included without pressuring her to make a decision about church membership before she’s ready. If she does join the group, chances are pretty good that she’s interested and wants to get more involved.  If she declines the invitation, though, there’s no harm done.

3) Inviting new people to church.

Facebook makes it easy for people to invite their friends to real-life events or to join   groups. Create a Facebook Event that details when and where your function will occur, invite everyone with a Facebook account who attends your church, and ask them to invite their friends. This works well for one-time events like the Music Camp I mentioned above, but can also provide an easy (and non-threatening!) way for your church members to invite their unsaved friends to a Sunday service.

4) Share church news and announcements.

A church’s Facebook page can be a good place to post announcements about church meetings or outreach events that people might miss in the hustle and bustle of a Sunday morning. Are potential volunteers walking past your sign-up sheets on Sunday? Send a quick reminder notice from your Facebook page. Does your worship team need more time to work out the holiday concert schedule? They can collaborate from home on your page. Does a ministry leader have an urgent last-minute announcement? Suggest they post it on the Facebook page. You get the idea.

5) Help people prepare for Sunday, during the week.

If you are a Pastor, consider posting Sunday’s scripture readings on your church’s Facebook page, or in your own status. You could post just the references, or get the full text from one of the many online Bibles that are available. If you run a small group or a Bible study, pair these references with a few discussion questions for people to ponder during the days leading up to your time together. Encourage other to post their questions as well.

You’ll need to decide whether your church’s Facebook page will be public or private. Some churches view their public page as an evangelistic tool, while others decide to give their people a private forum in which to conduct church business or share prayer requests. Either way, there are dozens of ways your church can benefit from using Facebook—what will you add to this list?

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