Facebook is kind of a big deal. Pastors cannot afford to ignore it.
You know how I know Facebook has taken over the world? My Mom uses it.
Facebook started as a college thing. Then it became popular with high schoolers. But suddenly moms, dads, and grandmothers are all over Facebook. Chances are, most of the people in your church are too.
Social media isn’t just a fad. It’s here to stay.
Photo credit: Sean MacEntee cc
So, how should a pastor best use Facebook to advance the Church?
I don’t have all the answers, but here are a few things I have learned.
7 Facebook Tips For Pastors
1. Don’t Mistake Facebook Friendships for Real Relationships
Here is a mistake I have been guilty of. I comment on someone’s status, or like a pic and think I am a highly relational pastor engaged in the lives of my people.
This is a trap that many young pastors fall into.
Although Facebook messages, comments, and likes are nice (and you should be doing this), a Facebook comment will never hold the same weight as a personal phone call. A direct message conversation will never be the same as a conversation over coffee. Sharing a story on Facebook and telling stories over a meal are two very different things.
Facebook is a relational tool, but it will never replace good, old-fashioned, authentic community.
2. Schedule Your Posts.
I highly recommend that you use Buffer. Buffer allows you to easily drop all your status updates into slot of pre-scheduled posting times. For example, for ProPreacher.com I use Buffer to regularly push out preaching articles twice a day on both Facebook and Twitter. When I find an article I like, I just copy the link into Buffer and it automatically schedules it in the next available slot.
I schedule weeks of posts in advance, so I can focus on other things.
Bonus tip: Schedule your posts at the times most people in your church will actually be on Facebook. Typically the best times are first thing in the morning before they start their day, early afternoon during their lunch break, and at night after dinner.
3. Be Conversational.
Imagine you are hanging out with a bunch of people at a friend’s house. Someone walks in the front door and yells, “COME TO CHURCH SUNDAY! ITS GONNA BE AMAZING!” and then walks out. Strange.
Now, imagine that this same guy does the same thing the next very week and every week after that, never stopping long enough to talk to anyone. Annoying!
This is essentially what many pastors and churches do on Facebook. It is a place where they just shout their announcements for all to hear.
Social media is not a billboard, or a sermon. It is built for conversation. So ask questions, take polls, comment on other people’s statuses.
Don’t just post things that are helpful for your church. Post what is helpful to your people. Engage with your audience and they will be more likely to engage with you.
4. Post Pictures. Lots of Pictures.
If you didn’t notice when Facebook bought Instagram for a billion dollars, pictures are kind of important on Facebook. In fact, statistically, pictures have a higher rate of views and engagement than any other type of Facebook post.
So rather than just posting a quote, post a quote with a picture. Instead of throwing out an announcement for a service project, announce it with a picture.
Take pictures of people in your church and tag them in it. Post pictures from service projects, Bible studies, or just something funny.
People like pictures.
5. Be Human.
Most people use Facebook to make their life look awesome. As a pastor, however, you have to fight the stereotype that your life is perfect, your stuff never smells, and you have Brady Bunch Family.
Don’t try to look perfect. You aren’t Jesus.
Some of the most encouraging things for your people will be the pictures or stories of your failures. Posts about your kids coloring on the walls of your house, your dog eating the TV remote, or the flat tire on your car before church.
Let people know you are a real person, with real problems just like them.
6. Recycle Sermon Content.
Don’t just throw away your sermons after you preach them. Capitalize on all that hard work and recycle your sermons. I would go into more detail, but I wrote a whole series of articles on how to do this.
Here is the link.
7. Think before you post.
I once heard Rick Warren say something along the lines of, “Social media is instant, global, and permanent.” Once you hit post, you cannot take it back.
Throwing out a political opinion, angry reaction, or a tasteless joke can immediately have a negative impact on you and your ministry. Proceed with caution.
Always stop to proofread. There have been a few times where the auto correct on my iPhone turned innocent words into things too offensive to post here.
Before you send out a post, ask, “Is there any way that this post could this be misunderstood, seen as offensive, or taken out of context?” If the answer is yes to any of these, delete it and post something else.
Your calling to reach people for Christ is far too important to be derailed by a thoughtless Facebook post.
What Facebook tips have you learned? What questions do you have about Facebook? (comment below)
photo credit: Scott Beale