At its heart, church is about community and connection. It’s about getting together and connecting with like-minded people and creating a community around similar interests. Social media is, at its heart, about the same things, only digital. Social media lets us stay connected to our favorite communities and people more efficiently than ever before. With laptops and smartphones, the Internet community is increasingly mobile, and making connections is no longer limited to clunky desktop computers. For a majority of church congregants, community and connection occur mostly on Sunday mornings. Social media and its technology are simple, inexpensive ways to maintain connections, build community, and promote the Unity message in between Sunday services.
Church websites are a necessity, but people have become more connected and expect connectivity. Websites have become like a static bulletin board, only useful when a congregant seeks out information on that page. Social media offers an opportunity that your website can’t: It reaches out to your community, real-time, and it lets the community reach back. Status updates from your church’s Facebook page or Twitter account filter out into the news streams of those who connect with you. Whether it’s an informational update or a word of inspiration, it’s a reminder of the church community’s presence in their lives. Social media can be particularly important for those congregants who travel, and want to stay connected to their spiritual community. First-time visitors may want to reconnect after a great first experience, or may want to stay in touch as they shop around for their spiritual home.
So what social media tools should you use? Facebook is the granddaddy of social media with over 500,000,000 participants worldwide. Almost one in two people in the USA have a Facebook profile, and the numbers keep growing. Twitter lets you post short messages, pushed out to your congregants in real time. They can even receive these messages as texts if they don’t have a smartphone. How about a short mid-week video reminder from your talk on YouTube? Location-based services like Foursquare make it fun to tell friends when you’re at church. The good news: These services are free!
Social media can be one of your best outreach and in-reach tools. Not only can you stay connected to your congregants, and they to you, but they can share easily with their friends. Nothing is more natural than sharing an inspirational quote with your network or community, Unity can be the source for that inspiration. Perhaps the best way to spread the happy truth Unity people know is to let our joy and energy be observed in everyday life, online and offline.
It’s been said that Unity is a well-kept secret. Social media is changing that.