Functions of Social Media in the Church

I’m in the midst of editing a podcast for God Complex Radio. I interviewed Phil Shepherd, at the Euc, and Charlene Li, founder of the Altimeter Group and author of Open Leadership.

While talking to Charlene, I realized that the ways we communicate and use technology in our churches have three pretty distinct functions:

1) We use it to reach out. In many congregations, people usually check out the website before they enter the church. Our website is our new front door. Another effective outreach tool seems to be our sermon podcast. We regularly get thank you emails from people who listen to it. People have also come to our church because of the reviews on Google maps. What’s been most effective for you?

2) We encourage the congregation. Charlene Li is a business writer, but I was thrilled to find out that she knew congregational culture and understood the challenges of reaching across the generations. She explained that when churches receive outside criticism, sometimes the most important thing is to build up and take care of the body. Use emails and newsletters, and make sure that your communication works across generations.

3) Leaders support each other. Right now, churches are cutting and downsizing. Retiring pastors have watched their nest egg dry up, pastors beginning their careers have found that those entry level jobs are disappearing. Church culture often blames the pastors for the decline. Sometimes it’s the case, but not always. I just don’t believe that former generations were that much more awesome than we are. Sometimes we’re just caught in difficult situations, and we need a place to vent and share with one another. We need to pray for one another. Social media has become that place for many leaders.

What functions would you add?

Oh! And new season of God Complex Radio is scheduled to come out on Tuesday! We’ve had a bit of furniture rearranging to do in the summer/fall. When Bruce Reyes-Chow stepped down from his Moderator position, Landon Whitsitt stepped up as Vice-Moderator. Landon put a ton of work in as the producer, so we’ve had to figure out how to redistribute that. Now I think we have… Landon’s going to do a bit more hosting and less producing. And we’re adding a new person on the team to help produce. But more on that later….


3 thoughts on “Functions of Social Media in the Church

  1. I find that social media is a way for busy people to have ongoing conversations – slow ones, and probably not too deep, but conversations nonetheless.

    For some of my peeps, I would have to crouch at their door and pounce on them as they stagger home from work and taking kids to their dozens of activities just to have a long conversation much of the time. Social media lets this conversation happen when both of us are at work but avoiding actually working.

  2. I have found that those higher up in the church structure are suspicious of social media — at least in the mainstream church I am clergy. Most of those higher up use it to frankly “snoop” (their word, not mine) on those who use the media.

    I have recently gotten at “talking to” about posting information items about controversial subjects; even if the item is from our own news service.

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