If you’re not using social media, you’re not pastoring your church as well as you could.
Whenever I say that in a minister’s conference I make some pastors mad. And I’m OK with that. Because I also get looks of relief and whispers of “thank you” from staff members and volunteers. They’ve exhausted themselves trying to convince their lead pastors to get on social media, so they’re grateful when an old coot like me backs them up.
I’m probably safe stating the need for social media here, because the fact that you’re reading my blog means you’re already connected. But if you know of a pastor who isn’t convinced of it yet, email this to them.
If they don’t have email, go old school on them. Print this up and snail mail it. Or hand it to them on Sunday (after the service, not before). Seriously. Go analog. On paper. Their church will thank you.
And make sure you include this part where I tell you to print this up and hand it to them. That way some of the blame is on me and off you.
If you’re not on social media, let me answer some of your arguments. I’ve heard them all. And if I miss any, you’ll let me know, won’t you?
1. “People spend too much time on their computers and cell phones.”
Yep. No argument there. But that is where the people are. Jesus told us to take the gospel where the people are, right?
2. “I don’t like it.”
That doesn’t matter. You don’t have to like it.
If you hated football but lived in a town that was obsessed with high school football, what would you do? Sit at home on Friday nights? Or go to the game because that’s where the community is?
3. “The world isn’t going to be won for Jesus with me on my computer.”
True again. But here’s another truth. Refusing to use social media today is like living in the 1960s and refusing to use a telephone. You can do it, but you’re missing out on a basic communication tool.
4. “It’s better to talk face-to-face.”
Once more, I agree. That’s why Sunday mornings, potlucks, camps, conventions and almost everything else we do as a church is filled with wonderful, face-to-face chats. But what about those long gaps between church events that most people refer to as their “real lives”?
Your refusal to be on social media sends a message to a large chunk of your congregation members. That message is “I don’t care how you communicate. If you want to talk to me, you’ll do it my way.”
5. “My church can’t afford it.”
What’s not to afford? It’s all free! Really! 100% no-cost, F-R-Double-E, FREE!
Think this through. The widest-reaching, fastest, most immediate means ever devised to reach the greatest number of people in history is at our fingertips and in our pockets – literally! And it doesn’t cost a dime. How could you not use that?!
6. “I don’t know anything about computers or smart phones, let alone social media.”
That’s OK. I get this one. And I have sympathy. But you have options:
Option 1: Learn it. Yes you can, you old dog, you. No, it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.
Option 2: Have someone else input the content for you. This isn’t ideal, since the key part of social media is the “social” part. It’s a dialog, not a monologue and being “in the room” helps you understand what the conversation is all about. But some pastors do this and make it work.
If you need help, get it. If you’re in a Small Church, I know you don’t have the staff for this. The good news is, you don’t need one. There’s someone – probably several someones – in your church who LOVES social media and who would feel blessed by the opportunity to use their skills to bless the church. Ask around. You’ll be amazed at who you’ll find.
If you think you don’t have enough young people in your church to help you, that excuse won’t fly. Grandma’s on Facebook. Maybe more than her grandkids are. This isn’t about age. It’s about willingness.
7. “What if I try it and it doesn’t work?”
Then try it again! How many times have you given exactly that advice to someone in your church? It’s time to take some of our own medicine.
What do you do when you share the gospel with someone and they don’t give their lives to Christ? Do you give up? Do you never share the gospel with anyone again? No. You keep at it.
The need is too great and the message is too important to give up. And it’s a shame to give up before you even try.
The learning curve for some social media is steep (like Twitter), but others are so easy (like Facebook) you’ll wonder what you were afraid of.
8. “But I don’t know where to start.”
Of course you don’t. No one knows where to start until they start. Ask for help to sign up, then watch how people interact on social media for a while. You’ll get it if you keep at it. But you have to start.
If you want to know more about using social media in ministry, read my previous post, What I’ve Learned About Using Social Media to Promote Ministry, in which I share a simple analogy that will help you understand the difference between The Big Three social media tools: an email list, Facebook and Twitter. It’s taken me the better part of a year, since launching NewSmallChurch.com, to get these distinctions.
Remember, I’m a Small Church pastor, too. And I grew up in the analog world with magazines and dial phones, not iPads and smart phones. If I can do this, so can you.
[Editor’s Note: This article by Karl Vaters originally appeared on his blog, New Small Church.]