While the world goes ‘social’ on major social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and YouTube, where is the local church?
Local churches have a major opportunity and responsibility to provide an online ministry to those who may never sit in a pew on Sunday mornings. While fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ is a crucial part of everyday Christian living, the goal of the church has always been to teach the ways of Christ and reach non-believers where they are—and most are online.
One of the best ways the church can reach the online community is to be available. Whether this means your congregation will create a Facebook Page, or create a Twitter account, be sure that your church is available not only to your members, but also to broader audiences by sharing content that is interesting to those who may not know Christ.
Many sermons are now being filmed or recorded in churches worldwide. Your church could provide weekly podcasts or YouTube videos for those who cannot make it to church on Sunday morning or simply have not made the decision to visit your church yet. Many Christians are struggling to put food on the table and have chosen to pick up shifts on Sunday mornings and can no longer attend the regular services. While even more people worldwide have decided that going to church may not be for them, and would feel more comfortable researching a church online before ever attending. Is your church reaching out to these people?
After you have made your local church available online, share relevant content about issues, events or questions that face the world today. Remember who your target audience is online, it will not be the same people who attend Sunday mornings. Keep this in mind when reaching out to people. Share the gospel in a way that is easy to understand, but do not assume that people are un-educated. Provide valuable content that not only conveys your message, but also provides an answer, solution or resource for someone who is seeking information about your church, or your beliefs!
Bring your local community to the online community! If there is a major event taking place in your area, be one of the first to promote it, show the local community that you take interest in local events, and that you support them both in church and online. This can have amazing results—people will find that you are supportive resource and not simply there to share your beliefs, but to actually participate in events that interest them! Also, in times of crisis, this provides the church an opportunity to unite a local community.
Matthew’s Table, a non-traditional church plant in Lebanon, TN is a perfect example of how the church can unite a local community by using online social platforms to promote awareness and request help! During the Nashville Flood this past month Matthew’s Table sponsored a Nashville Flood Benefit that encouraged more fortunate locals to come together for a concert and a time of prayer. This gathering of believers used Twitter, Facebook, and their website to promote the event held at Java Joe’s in Lebanon, TN. The Nashville Flood Benefit generated several generous gifts of water, clothes, towels, bathroom toiletries, and donations that were given to the American Red Cross and Hands On Nashville.
Clearly, there is a call to action for the church to be active online—TODAY!