I recently came across a church’s Facebook page that I had never seen before. As a social media strategist, I am always interested in seeing how organizations use social media. So, I decided to take a quick glance. As I scrolled down this church’s Facebook page, I cringed as I read the first few posts.The very first post I saw was the pastor saying that he is going out of town, so he needs a couple of people to come to church during the week to shovel the snow. The second post I saw was a prayer request about a church member who was in the hospital. They posted the person’s name, along with the hospital name and room number.
If these posts are good representations of what this church posts on Facebook on a regular basis, I am concerned for them. And, if this church is doing it, I’m sure others are as well. So, I hope this article helps you avoid these Facebook mistakes.
Here’s why I believe both of these posts are inappropriate for a church (or for any Facebook page for that matter):
1. A church’s Facebook page should not exist to ask for help shoveling snow or moving furniture or whatever the case may be.
If you want visitors, which I hope you do, their first impression most likely won’t be when they step foot on your church campus. It will most likely be your website and/or your social media platform, such as Facebook. Do you really want potential visitors to see the pastor desperately looking for people to shovel the snow off the church’s walkways?
2. Publicly sharing someone’s prayer request, especially when it relates to health, could put your church at risk. And, if you’re sharing their room number and the hospital name, that’s an even higher risk. You’re potentially risking a lawsuit and/or the safety of that person. (Yes, I believe in this day and age we must be mindful of these scenarios.)
So, here are just a few of the ways I suggest you DON’T use Facebook as a church:
1. Asking for volunteers to shovel the snow.
2. Sharing someone’s health issues or hospitalization status (due to confidentiality issues).
3. Complaining about how low the attendance was this past weekend.
4. Letting people know that the church isn’t doing too well financially.
5. What the worship leader ate for breakfast.
Here are some ways you SHOULD use Facebook as a church:
1. To communicate upcoming events.
2. To encourage your congregation.
3. To ask for prayer requests. (This is very different from you, as the church, posting someone’s prayer request.)
4. To share pictures from events.
5. To share valuable thoughts and insights on faith, marriage, and parenting.
I believe there are right and wrong ways to use Facebook as a church. A Facebook page is a public platform, treat it as such. If you have things you want to communicate specifically to your members, use a private email list or a texting service.
I hope this article helps you and your church use Facebook more effectively and maybe start a dialog about best practices.
What other ways do you think churches should use Facebook? Share in the comments below.
Wisdom is a husband, father, worship leader, and songwriter. He has been involved in worship ministry for over 20 years. He is the Founder of All About Worship and The Songwriter's Cafe. You can connect with Wisdom on Twitter @WisdomMoon and Facebook.com/wisdomaaw.
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The information contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel.