Thanks to articles and podcasts, I learned of a phenomenon called "Social Media Sunday". Carolyn Clement started this great yearly event. It focuses on promoting a church’s social media presence, and familiarizing a congregation with how they can help bolster that presence. Yet the most controversial aspect is the encouragement of congregation members to actively engage and share with social media during parts of the service. Despite your concerns about social media, there are ways you can better integrate it with your regular Sunday services; and this article explores how.
What Is #SMSunday?
As I mentioned, in the intro, Carolyn Clement spearheaded an initiative in June of 2013 that had many different angles. In my opinion, it was a great blend of awareness,education, and promotion. Here is how your church can follow Carolyn's model:
Social Media Awareness
Display posters with QR codes that sent people to a landing page to promote awareness of the church’s social media outlets. Many people in the church may not know you are posting content to some outlets. The more they can connect the better they and your ministries will be for it.
Encourage appropriate device usage during the service. This will also help inter-connect members of the church. Members can post sermon points on Twitter, thoughts on Facebook, pictures on Instagram, and check in on FourSquare. Then as people follow the church’s hashtag, they become better connected with their fellow members.
Teach the congregation about Internet ministry. Advised them on how to invite, share, and engage their friends. Public posts, private messages, and event invites can be a great mix of methods to advertise their involvement and encourage their friends to take part.
Technologically challenged members sometimes need some help. Your tech team can set up a help desk to aid people configure their mobile devices and create accounts on social media outlets. The Internet has a culture and etiquette. Your team's advice will reduce the worry about getting involved with social media and Internet evangelism.
What is Next?
I think the areas Carolyn covered are quite thorough and impressive. So I am not taking anything away from her when I think there is a next step. That next steps is for pastors that take part in something like a #SMSunday partner with leaders in the social media space to create training material and hold workshops. The voice of a tech enthusiast is not enough to help pastors understand the potential for social media interactions and online ministry. We need influential pastoral leaders to advocate for events such as these. Many in the church are still hung up on keeping relationships strictly face-to-face. If this were true, online dating sites would pose no threat to marriages. I know that is a blunt example, but I feel if the church cannot afford to ignore these opportunities. We need to develop relevant curriculum and start (or continue) presenting at conferences and regional meetings.
It is a bold step, but begin planning your own Social Media Sunday. If you see an opportunity at your church and are the first to suggest it; you will most likely be the person that gets to put into play. I suggest that you first listen to the podcast posted below. Next, read over the summary above and become one of those social media leaders your pastor can partner with. Finally, pray for guidance and wisdom as you help the Church create a stronger online presence.
- Amazing People Podcast (now inactive) Ep. 37: Social Media Sunday
- Social Media Sunday Facebook Group
- Carolyn Clement on Twitter
Photo courtesey of Yalcin Eren