The secret to standing out online is found in John 13:35, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
As a pastor or ministry leader, the digital age may seem daunting. There are already so many voices out there, how can your church cut through the noise?
The answer is simple. Do something unusual:
Build Relationships and Engagement.
One of the best ways to distinguish yourself online these days is to be a real person and build engagement and community. Love radically in the same way Jesus would love others.
You will be tempted to simply chase the dream of acquiring and accumulating followers, fans and subscribers, but don’t fall for the trap!
Care for the people in your community. Learn about them. Understand their needs and serve them!
Love your community radically
The best way you can love your community online (and in person) is to live out the Romans 12:15principle. Rejoice when they rejoice and mourn when they mourn. Wish your community happy birthday! Be sad with them when they are sad.
Beyond this, you can gauge the needs of your community and find ways to meet them. This is an exercise you can do with your church or with the members of your communication team. Figure out what love would look like for the people you serve.
If you want to dive deeper into understanding your community and meeting their needs, check out our article, “The Most Actionable Plan on How to Improve Your Church’s Social Media Presence.
Start a Facebook Group
As we stated in an article about Facebook pages, groups and profiles, at the time of publication of this article, Facebook has adjusted its algorithm to favour groups as opposed to pages.
So, if you church doesn’t have a Facebook group, this could be a good time to consider it.
However, the type of Facebook group we’re talking about isn’t a online club for your church members. We’re talking about starting a Facebook group that’s meeting a need in your community. It could be focused on local mums, dads, young professionals or whatever group you want to focus on. Or, you could have a local group that focuses on prayer or Bible study.
The type of group is best determined by the mission and strategy of your church’s outreach team.
Engage people who are good at this stuff
There is probably someone in your church who is skilled in this area and is looking for a way to use their talents for church. Engage them. Show them God can use this area of their life for His purposes.
Or, if you can’t find the right person, but you have a willing person, why not invest in them with a course in social media or digital marketing so they’re skilled in a way that can help the church?
Create an online presence that’s friendly and welcoming
Try looking at your online presence from the perspective of an outsider.
Would you feel welcome? Are you able to quickly see what the church is inviting you to do? Do you see clear calls to action? Are there lots of friendly smiling faces to welcome you in?
Try to create a friendly online presence.
Don’t focus on the numbers, focus on engagement and community
It’s so easy to get caught up in accumulating followers, but instead, try gauging how much you’re building relationships with the people you are already talking to.
As you grow deep relationships with your community you’ll be able to share the vision for community building with them as well and they will be able to love and engage with the community as well.
Instead of focusing on how many followers you have, ask yourself how you are serving the community you’ve already been trusted with?
Show up regularly
Another way to break through the noise is through consistency. Decide when you’re going to post and schedule your posts so you show up consistently. Just by showing up regularly, you are laying the groundwork to build relationships.
Share love online, have conversations
Ask, what would Jesus do online, and then go do it.
We believe that much of what Jesus would do is build relationships.
Jesus would love.
Go and do likewise.
Ask your church or your team, what it would look like if we showed love in the online space.
You can even have a hybrid approach that can combine the online community with the community in real life. Just ask yourself what that would look like and answer freely.
Standing out online
You stand out online by building community.
So now, as you get ready to love the world radically in the online space, build relationships with the people you are already talking to, love them deeply and inspire them to do the same.
-Written by Rachel Lemons Aitken, digital discipleship strategist & founder of Digital Discipleship Ministry
This article was originally published on the Digital Discipleship website on 4 June 2019 about how to make your church stand out online