by Chris Martin
My primary work is helping authors with their social media, but as anyone who works in social media will tell you, when you work in social media, you get questions from all kinds of people.
One of the groups that asks me questions most often is local churches. Church leaders often have a dozen good, relevant questions about social media, but one of the most common is simple this: “How should I use Facebook?”
To many (especially young people), that may seem like a simple question. But for church leaders who spend the majority of their days trying to counsel hurting people and prepare for weekly church events, Facebook strategy is one of their least concerns.
Here are three basic ways I think churches can cut through the complexity and use Facebook well:
1. Share gospel content.
Anyone who spends any amount of time on social media can attest: Social media can be a dark place more often than not.
For many Christians, this has made them leave social media platforms altogether—they simply cannot justify willingly coexisting with such darkness. I get that.
At the same time, I think the common darkness of social media creates an even stronger case for Christians to be involved in these online spaces.
One of the best ways a church can use its Facebook presence is to share encouraging, gospel content such as blog posts, Scripture or sermon videos. This lets the church shine the light of the gospel in the darkness of social media conversations.
2. Create gospel conversations.
When churches share gospel content on Facebook, gospel conversations often result. Whether in the comment sections, privately via private messages or offline, churches can create gospel conversations with a healthy Facebook presence.
If you’re unsure about what to post on your church’s Facebook page, just post Scripture or ask people for prayer requests. Know that Facebook’s algorithm favors videos and images, so the more of those you post, the better. But, creating gospel conversations usually starts with sharing gospel content.
Along these same lines, be sure to avoid unnecessarily controversial content. Yes, the gospel is going to be offensive to some people no matter what, and you’ll have to deal with conflict of that kind at some point. But church Facebook pages need not be a battleground for political or cultural skirmishes. This often does more harm than good.
3. Buy Facebook ads.
You may be thinking, “The church doesn’t need to do any marketing! The gospel is attractive enough itself!” OK. I understand. But hear me out.
If you’re spending hundreds of dollars on paper flyers to post at coffee shops or post cards to put in mailboxes, I would contend that your money would be better spent on purchasing Facebook ads.
When used correctly, Facebook ads allow your church to reach people in your communities more effectively than paper flyers or post cards, and with less hassle.
Really, buying a Facebook ad really just amounts to you promoting a piece of content on Facebook so that it can be seen by more people in your community that use Facebook and may be interested in checking out your church.
But, buying Facebook ads and figuring out the best audience to which you should boost your content can be overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re doing.
A while back, I announced that I’m launching a new service through LifeWay called LifeWay Social. The purpose of LifeWay Social is to help Christian leaders, including local church leaders, better use social media to serve other people.
Next week, the LifeWay Social site will launch. I’m super excited.
Chris Martin is a Christian. Husband. Writer. Social Media Guy at @LifeWay. Life-long student. Blogger: Millennial Evangelical