8 Arguments Against Social Media – And Why Your Church Needs to Use It Anyway

Web Wants You 200cIf you’re not using social media, you’re not pastoring your church as well as you could.

Whenever I say that in a minister’s conference I make some pastors mad. And I’m OK with that. Because I also get looks of relief and whispers of “thank you” from staff members and volunteers. They’ve exhausted themselves trying to convince their lead pastors to get on social media, so they’re grateful when an old coot like me backs them up.

I’m probably safe stating the need for social media here, because the fact that you’re reading my blog means you’re already connected. But if you know of a pastor who isn’t convinced of it yet, email this to them.

If they don’t have email, go old school on them. Print this up and snail mail it. Or hand it to them on Sunday (after the service, not before). Seriously. Go analog. On paper. Their church will thank you.

And make sure you include this part where I tell you to print this up and hand it to them. That way some of the blame is on me and off you.

If you’re not on social media, let me answer some of your arguments. I’ve heard them all. And if I miss any, you’ll let me know, won’t you?

 

1. “People spend too much time on their computers and cell phones”

Yep. No argument there. But that is where the people are. Jesus told us to take the gospel where the people are, right?


2. “I don’t like it”

That doesn’t matter. You don’t have to like it.

If you hated football but lived in a town that was obsessed with high school football, what would you do? Sit at home on Friday nights? Or go to the game because that’s where the community is?

 

3. “The world isn’t going to be won for Jesus with me on my computer” 

True again. But here’s another truth. Refusing to use social media today is like living in the 1960s and refusing to use a telephone. You can do it, but you’re missing out on a basic communication tool. 

 

4. “It’s better to talk face-to-face”

Once more, I agree. That’s why Sunday mornings, potlucks, camps, conventions and almost everything else we do as a church is filled with wonderful, face-to-face chats. But what about those long gaps between church events that most people refer to as their “real lives”?

Your refusal to be on social media sends a message to a large chunk of your congregation members. That message is “I don’t care how you communicate. If you want to talk to me, you’ll do it my way.”

 

TGM box sale 250c5. “My church can’t afford it”

What’s not to afford? It’s all free! Really! 100% no-cost, F-R-Double-E, FREE!

Think this through. The widest-reaching, fastest, most immediate means ever devised to reach the greatest number of people in history is at our fingertips and in our pockets – literally! And it doesn’t cost a dime. How could you not use that?!

 

6. “I don’t know anything about computers or smart phones, let alone social media”

That’s OK. I get this one. And I have sympathy. But you have options:

Option 1: Learn it. Yes you can, you old dog, you. No, it won’t be easy. But it will be worth it.

Option 2: Have someone else input the content for you. This isn’t ideal, since the key part of social media is the “social” part. It’s a dialog, not a monologue and being “in the room” helps you understand what the conversation is all about. But some pastors do this and make it work.

If you need help, get it. If you’re in a Small Church, I know you don’t have the staff for this. The good news is, you don’t need one. There’s someone – probably several someones – in your church who LOVES social media and who would feel blessed by the opportunity to use their skills to bless the church. Ask around. You’ll be amazed at who you’ll find.

If you think you don’t have enough young people in your church to help you, that excuse won’t fly. Grandma’s on Facebook. Maybe more than her grandkids are. This isn’t about age. It’s about willingness.

 

7. “What if I try it and it doesn’t work?”

Then try it again! How many times have you given exactly that advice to someone in your church? It’s time to take some of our own medicine.

What do you do when you share the gospel with someone and they don’t give their lives to Christ? Do you give up? Do you never share the gospel with anyone again? No. You keep at it.

The need is too great and the message is too important to give up. And it’s a shame to give up before you even try.

The learning curve for some social media is steep (like Twitter), but others are so easy (like Facebook) you’ll wonder what you were afraid of.

 

8. “But I don’t know where to start”

Of course you don’t. No one knows where to start until they start. Ask for help to sign up, then watch how people interact on social media for a while. You’ll get it if you keep at it. But you have to start.

If you want to know more about using social media in ministry, read my previous post, What I’ve Learned About Using Social Media to Promote Ministryin which I share a simple analogy that will help you understand the difference between The Big Three social media tools: an email list, Facebook and Twitter. It’s taken me the better part of a year, since launching NewSmallChurch.com, to get these distinctions.

Remember, I’m a Small Church pastor, too. And I grew up in the analog world with magazines and dial phones, not iPads and smart phones. If I can do this, so can you.

So what do you think? Have you used any of these excuses? Do you know someone you can pass this on to?

We want to hear from you. Yes, you!
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(The Web Wants You logo from Widjaya Ivan • Flickr • Creative Commons license)

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13 thoughts on “8 Arguments Against Social Media – And Why Your Church Needs to Use It Anyway”

  1. I wish EVERY Small Church pastor could see this post (but apparently lots of them aren’t into social media…). Just in case a few of them are reading the comments section, please hear me: Your effective social media communication levels the playing field for you. It gives you access to an exponential audience. It allows you to reach the friends of your friends, and their friends, and their friends. But this isn’t only about you. The people in your congregation are on Facebook. They are on Twitter. They want you to connect with them on LinkedIn. They want to see your face pop up on their screens and be encouraged by your words and be inspired by your insight. They are interested in your forwards and chuckle at your corny jokes. And they want to share your posts. They want to share your message. And it’s all about getting the message out there, right? So…what are you waiting for? I want to hear what you want to share!

    1. Thanks for that encouragement for other pastors, Chris. You’re so right about social media exponentially increasing the impact of the message. People share things on social media that they won’t share in any other format. They’ll send messages from their pastor to their non-Christian friends even if they’d never invite them to church in a face-to-face conversation. Sometimes it’s as simple as the fact that they can hit “share” and not have to worry about remembering to say it correctly.

  2. I am what you might call a tech alien. I was not born with it, I have had to learn it. And that took time. After years of being part of this new world, I am starting to see fruit. I am able to be part of the lives of my youth through facebook. We had two families from the community come to our church as a result of the church website being available. This morning I received an email from a person whose brother lives in my town. When she saw our special service on our web site this weekend, she is coming to Havelock and bringing her brother to meet me. So yes, by all means, no matter how small the community every pastor needs to be ‘connected’

    1. I’m the same way, Ralph. Social media was a strange new world to me, too. I’m glad we both took the time to learn it. Like you, I know of a lot of people who have connected to our church through it. When I chat with newcomers about how they found out about the church, the #2 reason (behind “my friend invited me”) is “I looked up your website/Facebook page”. And when you press people for how their friends invited them, it’s often through social media.

  3. Karl, as usual, you’ve hit the nail on the head. I speak @ 10-15 media workshops across the world yearly, and THIS is the greatest challenge I have…convincing pastors that they need to use media. In many. many cases – overseas – the ONLY media the pastor can conceive of is videotaping his Sunday morning message & either putting it on local tv or YouTube. That’s it. Why? Because they have watched all the “successful” ministries in USA do the same thing. So the pastor believes that being on tv is a sign of success. And it gratifies his ego. Look @ me – I’m on TV!

    In India, pastors are not considered successful unless they are on TV. This viewpoint is a shame. But that’s another argument.

    I have been standing on a soap box like those guys @ Hyde Park in London shouting for the past few years that there are hundreds of thousands of young people in churches across the world that want to help the church (& pastor) tell redemptive stories through social media. Those young people remain ignored & unidentified. So they lose energy, hope and direction. The only tasks given? Song lyrics or church announcements. Nothing more.

    Pastor? Survey your church. Ask for a show of hands – who will help me/us? Delegate. Provide content, oversee (don’t rule & reign on young people – set them free to be creative). Update everything through Hootsuite. And…don’t give up! It takes time.

    2 last thoughts?

    1 – Video is terribly important for the next stage of social media. Words, less so. Icons & videos.

    2 – I started a Documentarians group on LinkedIn in Dec 2007. I didn’t believe LI was adequately addressing the creative film & documentary community.

    Almost 6 years later? We have 14,000+ members in the Documentarians group!!! Lively discussions, resources…a community. Probably over 100 countries represented.

    Don’t give up!

  4. Awesome contribution, Craig. You’re so right about the value of visuals and storytelling. And setting younger people loose. And letting go of ego. And…

    This quote from you is the key. “Pastor? Survey your church. Ask for a show of hands – who will help me/us? Delegate. Provide content, oversee (don’t rule & reign on young people – set them free to be creative)”

    Then after that, as you also said, “Don’t Give Up!”

  5. Great stuff Karl, I completely agree with you. A friend of a friend Sean Cannel co founder of Think International has a LOT of great resources, tips tricks and advice on using social media in the church leadership and communications context. These guys are top notch and I highly recommend that anyone who is searching for ways to connect through social media to check them out! They are at http://thinkintl.tv

  6. We are called to be the salt and the light. And if FB were a country, it would be the 3rd largest in the world. Also, when we share about the gospel using social media, it leads by example and tells others it’s ok.

  7. It’s 6 a.m. on Black Friday. I am so glad to be laying down in bed finishing “The Grasshopper Myth”, instead of being mauled by frantic shoppers. I am an associate minister at my church and my pastor’s right hand. I was trained at a mega church, but I longed for a certain intimacy that is difficult to find in mega churches. I believe social media is the key to connect our youth. It is the way we now “go out” to help in making disciples. I will try to ease this on my pastor. I believe the older generation is in fear of their name being slandered on social media, but as a pastor, slander comes with the territory.

    1. Interesting statement you make Craig. As one of those ‘older’ generation pastors, the thought of slander never entered my mind. Most of my friends and contemporaries if they have elected to not use social media it is simply because it is not ‘their language” or culture. It takes time, energy to learn any language and I presume your pastor can think of any dozen things to do than find out what new recipe there is on Pinterest. That being said, while few of my adult members are on social media, it is the way that I connect with the youth in my church, and through them to thier parents

      1. Thank you, Craig and Ralph, for your comments.

        Craig, I’m glad TGM gave you an “excuse” to stay out of the stores today. 😉 Thanks for sharing your story. I pray the transition into using more social media goes well for your pastor and church.

        Ralph, thanks for your insight from the older generation’s perspective. You’re right about social media being like learning a new language, it even has its own unique words. As you say, it’s a great way to connect cross-generationally.

  8. Pingback: 8 Arguments Against Using Social Media | Sacramento Metro Church Of Christ

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