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How does your congregation use Facebook? If you are a clergyperson, do you manage Twitter or Instagram for ministry? How about Pinterest or Snapchat or YouTube?

An instrument for ministry
The congregations that make the best use of Facebook and other social media are the ones that view these tools as instruments for ministry, not just for marketing. Certainly there is a marketing component to social media. Yet, if the marketing component drives the use of social media then an opportunity for a purposeful connection with others is lost.

Promoting interaction
I know a congregation which uses Facebook for comments on the sermon scripture passage for the week. This congregation of about 150 in worship have an average of 10 comments per week regarding the sermon text.

Another congregation uses social media for people to post prayers. Facebook becomes a kind of virtual Western Wall. Instead of folded pieces of paper placed between stone crevices, electronic petitions are shared.

Click 2 Save is a helpful book about social media as an instrument for ministry. The authors, Elizabeth Drescher and Keith Anderson, address the question, “Is there more to social media than public relations?”

Discerning your use of social media
If you are a clergyperson, you might think about how you want to use web-based, interactive tools. Clergy face this question: How do I navigate relationship boundaries between my personal life and professional life when using social medial?

I’ve learned from Pastor Monique Crain Spells. Monique is the director of recruitment at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis, and she is also the pastor at Levi’s Table. At a Center-sponsored workshop, Monique described how she has chosen to be present on social media as a pastor. It is part of her ministry just as pastoral calling, teaching, and preaching are part of her work.

Choosing to use social media predominately as a professional tool for ministry may not work for everyone. But it is a choice that gives clarity regarding the purpose and use of platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and others.

More resources
Click here for other resources about social media and congregational life.

 


Tim Shapiro by Tim Shapiro

Tim is president of the Indianapolis Center for Congregations – of which the CRG is a program. He began serving the Center in 2003 after 18 years in pastoral ministry. He holds degrees from Purdue University and Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Tim’s interest in how congregations learn to do new things is represented in his book How Your Congregation Learns.

tshapiro@centerforcongregations.org