Social Media, Ministry and Digital Evangelism by Pam Perry

Everyone has jumped on the social media bandwagon—full throttle. Well, almost everyone; certain sectors are lagging behind. The nonprofit sector, especially churches, have yet to really grasp it and make a digital imprint like they could. Outside of pastor and New York Times bestselling author, Joel Osteen, most churches are not ranking up top in Google. Osteen\’s podcasts, by the way, are the second most downloaded podcast in the world, according to Religion News Service.

So, should churches and Christian authors be focusing on us- ing the “world wide web” to market their message?

According to Zondervan\’s director of publicity, Karen Campbell, “Publishers should build on their authors\’ networks, including social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blog and Web Sites) and personal contacts to help enhance their brands.”

Zondervan, the world\’s leading Christian publisher, has had great success “matching the Christian message with tech- nology” for Inspired By…The Bible Experience, and recently, Glo.

To increase lagging readership of Christian books or bolster church attendance (especially among men and youth), technology and social media strategies are viable and can be helpful when used properly, according to David Murrow, author of “Why Men Hate Going to Church.”

“A church that uses the latest technology to teach and encourage,” Murrow writes, “will be sending a strong message to men and young adults: We speak your language.”

Most churches realize that they should use social media to “draw people to Christ” but don\’t know how or where to start.

Here are some steps to get going:

Set up a Facebook Fan page and ask members or readers to join it.

Set up a twitter account and connect it to your Facebook. Learn how to “tweet” using your mobile phone device.

Create a blog so that you can have members or readers comment. Blog your sermon notes or, if you\’re a Christian author, blog your book! Set your blog to post to your Facebook account and set up a “Networked Blog” so people can follow your blog on Facebook. Creating a community online is critical. Don\’t talk at people – engage them.

Post videos on YouTube. Everyone loves to watch short videos. But don\’t post anything too heavy. Keep it inspirational and short- under five minutes. Post it and load it to Twitter – which would post to Facebook.

Set up a account. This is like leaving a voice message on the internet. Again, make it short (under 2 minutes) and post out into your accounts – people love hearing “real” messages.

Approximately 60% of people under 30 in the U.S. say that they get their news online.

Social media is a great way to reach young people—the ones who will grow your ministry and spread the word. Keep them excited by showing that you\’re on the cutting-edge. Make them proud to be associated with a church that has tons of “fans” on Facebook or a ministry that Tweets.

The Internet and digital media is going to continue to grow and become more and more commonplace. Social media marketing is the way to fulfill the Great Commission to “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).