This is the fourth post in a series of articles on Social Networks and their usefulness in the church. I’ve spent a couple posts just on Facebook, not it’s Twitters turn. The two are very different, even though both can be considered "social networks" in their own right. Twitter is less about building relationships and more about building audiences. That may sound bad at face value, but the church that can leverage that effectively has a powerful communications tool.
Recently an ebook was published entitled "The Reason YOUR CHURCH Must Twitter," and on the cover of that book is the tagline "Making Your Ministry Contagious." An interesting way to think of ministry and its relationship to social networks, but I believe valid. The point of ministry is not to cloister the saints and the message of Jesus Christ, but to "infect" as many as possible — the Great Commission. It is a going out process. It is a constant proclamation, a telling, if you will, of the love and grace of God. Interestingly Twitter’s tagline is "What are you doing?" Perhaps Twitter in the hands of the church would vary that moniker to "What is Jesus doing?" Both for us and for you.
So how can a church use Twitter? Here are a few ideas:
- Set up multiple Twitter accounts to reach different segments of the church and ask that people in those groups "follow" that Twitter account.
- Create one related to spiritual topics and broadcast short follow ups on sermon concepts, Bible class questions, short devotional thoughts or Bible verses. There are tools to automate some of the content that can be "pushed" to Twitter, especially if your church regularly posts sermons or devotions on the website. A potentially powerful side benefit of this is that followers of that Twitter account can "retweet" or share that with their followers, thus "spreading the word" in a very seamless way. An organization that does this well is Time Of Grace (@ToGministry). They have a "GraceMoment" that is a quick thought or Bible verse that people can both enjoy and share. On a recent episode of the WELSTech Podcast, we interviewed their Creative Marketing Manager, Katy Klinnert-Ellison, about their use of Social Networks. She shared that social networks play an important role in their organization, both in staying connected with their followers, but also building relationships.
- Create a Twitter account for general announcements for the church/school to share schedule changes, weather-related news, special guests, event reminders, etc.
- There have been several creative uses of Twitter by churches to highlight a particular season of the church year…specifically Christmas and Easter. I’ve seen Twitter accounts set up that tweet Jesus’ words during Holy Week which try to simulate the actual time of day and sequence of events. The words from the cross are particularly powerful. I’ve seen the same done for Christmas with thoughts from Mary, or the shepherds or magi. Tweeting through Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, or a series of Proverbs would also lend itself well to 140 character sound bites.
Of course, there are many more ideas out there, but the key is to be consistent, have a plan and then promote what you are doing. Building an audience and then "going dark" with few tweets will kill the effort put in. Make sure people are aware of this new communication channel via emails, newsletter, bulletin, announcements, brochures, business cards and the like. Then set a time frame to evaluate how things are going. Don’t attempt to try anything less than a year. That gives you all seasons of the church year and chance for the word to spread.
If your church has used Twitter and has insights to share, please comment below. We are all trying to figure out how these social networks can be used by the church and their ministry endeavors.