If I were pastoring a local church right now, I’d use social media to connect and create community. I use it as a coach, yes, and I think it holds even more power for pastors.
John Wesley, the founder of United Methodism, talked about how too many pastors are keepers of the aquarium – focusing only on the people who have already come through our doors. We tend to restrict our thinking of community to maybe a five-block radius from our church doors.
He went on to insist that our real calling is to be fishing in the ocean, seeking the men and women who are still out there searching for answers.
With social media, the whole world can be our community – instantly. Social media brings us right into the middle of the ocean where the fish are.
Here are a few ways I would use social media as a pastor:
- To research topics for my Sunday sermon – Browsing the most popular “trending topics,” or doing a keyword search about a particular issue, I can see actual conversations people are having; the questions they’re asking and the statements they’re putting out there as they try to connect and find answers. I can respond to those actual needs from the pulpit.
- To meet other pastors and faith professionals around the world – Too many pastors wrestle with a feeling of isolation. Social media provides a global meeting room where I could associate with people like me, and thoughtfully and respectfully engage those with different views.
- To connect with my friends, loved ones and congregants – More and more people in our lives these days are participating on social media. It’s a chance to deepen these relationships, reconnect and, oh yeah, to have fun!
One thing I would NOT do is use social media as my pulpit to preach from. Social media is a conversation, not a one-way sermon. Whether you’re selling products, services or religion, social media is an ideal forum for building trusting relationships. From there, let people come to you and find out more.
This is an ideal time for pastors to embrace the global community via social media to revitalize their communities, find encouragement and reach more people. To quote a much-loved Disney anthem, “It’s a small world, after all.”