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I get a lot of questions about how churches can use social media. Almost 100% of the time, the person basically wants to be taught a new technique that will help them use a tool like Facebook to attract new people to their church. Generally, I bristle a bit at the idea that social media’s usefulness for churches is all about attraction. Thus, I tend to not give out many how-to’s. Instead, I try to focus on getting churches to re-engage with their story and help them use things like social media to tell that story. However, I have a simple idea that I want to share in hopes that some church will give it a try and let me know how it goes.
If your church is like most churches, you probably have a significant number of people that barely use email and will most likely never use anything like Facebook. Does that mean that those folks have no role in social media for your church? I don’t think so. They will just need a little help. “Where will that help come from,” you ask? I’d be willing to bet that your church is also very likely to have a social-media-engaged population that is right under your nose. Maybe it is the youth group or some young adults? Whoever it is, I’m certain their are at least a few people in your congregation that are using things like Facebook. Your job, should you choose to accept it, is to get those folks together.
I’m certainly not suggesting that the youth group teach the elders how to blog or set up a Facebook profile. That will go nowhere quick. However, what if, on a couple of Sundays, a time was set up for story-sharing and faith-listening. What if the young people were given an assignment to ask some of the older folks in the congregation about meaningful moments in their faith life? Those youth or young adults would then be responsible for sharing what they learned on the church’s Facebook page or blog. The older folks could, in return, listen to the faith stories of the younger folks and provide their reflections of what they learned to someone who could post them to the social media space as well. With just a Sunday or two’s worth of work, enough stories could be gathered that the church could post one a week for a few months.
Sure, this idea is not completely fleshed out, but maybe that’s okay? What I like about it is that it encourages different generations to really listen and engage with each other’s faith stories. I also love the fact that, by sharing them on sites like Facebook or the church’s website, it invites the world to participate in that “faith listening”. To me there is no more powerful way to introduce your church to the world than through the stories of your faith. How much better is it when you can also more deeply introduce yourselves to each other?
Could your church do something like this? What ideas does this post give you about ways to engage multiple generations through social media? Am I way off?
Will Boyd is owner of 3 Story Church, a church web and social media firm that is focused on helping churches tell their stories. He has worked with Sojourners Magazine, the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, Goddard College, the Disciples Divinity House at Vanderbilt, and others. Will also recently finished a bachelor of arts degree from Goddard College that focused on the role of new media and social technologies in the world of sustainable marketing. Will lives in Seattle with his wife, a Disciples pastor.