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Nov 03, 2015 | Kevin Thompson

Why Social Media Matters in the Church

Think your congregation doesn’t need a Facebook page? Well, according to the Pew Research Center, you could be missing out on engaging with 65% of adults in America. A new report from Pew shows that social media usage among those 65 and older has tripled to 35%, compared to 11% just four years ago, while usage among young adults (18-29) remains ubiquitously high at 90%.


Even rural communities are getting on the social media bandwagon with 58% using some form of social media. A Pew study released in July showed that 78% of rural residents are now online while 58% of senior citizens are Internet users.


As more and more of the U.S. population is connected through computers, smartphones and tablets, it’s important that our churches make an effort to connect with these people, not only in person, but online.


When Pew began studying social media usage in 2005, 6% of African-Americans, 7% of whites and 10% of Hispanics used some form of social media. In just 10 years, the numbers now show that 56% of African-Americans and 65% of both whites and Hispanics use social media. As our culture becomes more racially and ethnically diverse, one way we have to reach a large subset is through social media.


As you plan for Advent and Lent, how will you use social media to encourage greater participation in parish life? The Brothers at The Society of Saint John the Evangelist are using #AdventWord to create a digital and living Advent calendar. According to Pew, 68% of adults in America now have a smartphone, with a median of 66% between African-American, white and Hispanic smartphone ownership. Why not encourage your parish to follow the #AdventWord prompts and then engage them on Facebook and Twitter with posts from your clergy or lay leaders.


Another opportunity to use social media as free advertising is to encourage parishioners to “Check-In” when they arrive on Sunday mornings for worship. Not only does it help foster a connection for the person in the pew, it will show up on their Facebook newsfeed as a link to your church.


Have an event coming up? Make sure to follow the example of St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church in Houston and post each event on Facebook with links to further information on your website. St. Thomas’ has used this to great effect to promote their Moseley Memorial Music Series.


As the documented steady growth of social network and smartphone ownership continues to increase, churches must embrace the changing culture and connect with people where they are and that is on social media.


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