Ever heard the new phrase “digital missionary?” It was a new one for me! A digital missionary is someone who reaches out to their community through the use of social media wherever they are 24/7. Fascinating, I thought! Currently we have a variety of opportunities to spread the gospel in more ways than ever before, but I have never thought of how we could be referred to as digital missionaries in doing that. It also made me realize how social media is becoming a necessity for churches rather than an option. Social media is a great place for us to reach families.
How to Begin Setting Up a Social Media Strategy?
Know which social media channels are best for your church. The three most popular are Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
Instagram has become one of the most popular social media platforms for teens, young adults and adults between the ages of 25-35 with consistency between both men and women. Young families with young children tend to gravitate to Instagram first.
YouTube is the second most popular and a great place for churches to show Bible story videos, lessons, etc. YouTube is popular among men and women, and the viewing audience is mostly under the age of 35.
Facebook is still one of the most used social media platforms. The over-45 crowd are still active Facebook users.
To develop your content, you’ll want to be clear about these things:
- Who are you trying to reach?
- How often?
- What are you trying to communicate?
Organize your content using the Encourage, Engage, and Equip Social Media Strategy.
Whether your church is meeting in-person or continues to meet virtually or a combination of both, we as leaders in the church have a responsibility to provide a calming voice. Words of encouragement and prayer continue to be needed by everyone. Use your platforms to be a messenger of hope and encouragement.
- Post encouraging quotes and prayers.
- Ask “How Can We Pray for You This Week?” with a place for families to comment or with a link for them to respond privately.
- Offer monthly prayer calendars and activity sheets for families to do at home.
- Suggest prayer groups or Bible studies to join.
Church members want to know they matter and remain curious about their church, their staff and their family of faith. For that reason, keep your families engaged in the life and ministry of their church. VITAL TIP! Make sure permission from families is given before posting their pictures or videos online!!
- Share announcements of interest to your audience, of course; but be sure you are doing much more than that.
- Share photos of children and families doing worship-at-home-activities, recommended mission activities, and participating in any activities that have been organized by your church. This will show how other families are still engaged in the life of the church.
- Have families record themselves reading a bedtime story and share it on your Facebook live so other families can view it and perhaps be encouraged to record their own to share. (If you’d like to see how we are using Bedtime Stories videos, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/MPUMCchildren/)
- Share videos of children and families talking about how they are remaining connected to the church while being apart, keeping videos to 3-5 minutes in length.
- Have a virtual art show with children’s submitted artwork.
- A great way to involve children in worship is to use a recording of a child or several children reading scripture or a prayer at home and playing it in the worship service. This message can also be used through social media.
One of the your most powerful tasks as a minister to families is to equip your leaders, parents and caregivers. Use some of these ideas to carry out your mission and ministry.
- Share your favorite resources with parents to help them be the spiritual champions in their homes.
- Share favorite articles, resources, book recommendations, family devotions, Bibles for children at certain ages, Podcast recommendations.
- Provide weekly dinner conversation starters, mealtime blessings, and morning and evening family prayers.
Use Instagram or Facebook to let your families know when you will be going live and invite them to log on and share a quick 10-minute activity such as a Bible story and song. The children will be able to follow along, and they’ll feel more engaged with their friends and other church families.
Embrace the role as a “digital missionary.” No matter how you stay connected to your families of faith, you will be planting seeds in the lives of children.
Amy Jo Alspaugh
Myers Park UMC