Facebook is a valuable way to connect people to each other. Used well, it can help a church connect members with each other and with the leadership. Churches are sometimes wary of using Facebook and promoting it among their members, though.
There are definitely some valid reasons why churches are hesitant to make use of Facebook, but the benefits make it worth taking the leap. Here are some common concerns and ways to address them, as well as some of the reasons why Facebook is a great resource for churches.
Unpredictable online environment
This is often a main concern for churches. When events and services occur at their own church building, there’s a level of predictability that you can’t find online. Sometimes church leaders worry that there will be inappropriate content posted on their church’s Facebook page, and are hesitant to make one for that reason.
That’s a possibility, but on Facebook, you can moderate what happens on your page. One way to do this is to give administrative access to the church’s Facebook page to a limited number of trusted individuals who are committed to deleting inappropriate posts, commenting on concerns raised, or addressing other issues as they come up.
Questionable postings from minors
People under 21 have grown up with a comfort level online that isn’t typically seen in people from other generations. This can be a great thing, but it can also lead to them posting unsafe content without realizing it.
This is a great educational opportunity for the youth in your church. Have a conversation about what’s unsafe to post. If they’re posting a picture that they’d be embarrassed for the church leadership (or their grandma) to see, chances are it shouldn’t be online.
Personal privacy issues
Some people need to have their identity protected above and beyond the norm. If there are people at your church who need to keep a low profile for safety reasons, that’s something worth knowing before posting photos of church events online.
There may be foster children in your congregation who need to be difficult-to-find for their own safety. Or maybe someone has an ex who has become a stalker. These may seem like extreme examples, but they highlight why it’s important to let people know before taking pictures that will end up online.
A simple way to do that is to make an announcement at the beginning of an event or include a notice in your church bulletin, stating that pictures may be taken at church events and people wanting to opt out should tell a pastor.
While those concerns are valid, there are also reasons Facebook can be valuable for your church. Here are a few common reasons why churches should consider being on Facebook.
Church members who are Facebook friends with other members will be able to interact more naturally outside of church services, and they will be able to get to know each other better. People are able to share more about their lives on Facebook than in a brief greeting on a Sunday morning.
Engaging on Facebook also allows pastoral staff to reach out to church members in a casual way, and find common interests to talk about.
Making your staff more relatable
When church members can see your staff members doing everyday things, instead of only seeing them on Sundays, they will feel more comfortable talking with them. Seeing the church’s leaders at their kid’s kindergarten graduation, or in their bicycling competition, or showing off a new recipe, makes them more relatable.
Reaching friends of friends
If you’re trying to reach people who are not connected to your church, Facebook can be really helpful. When your church posts things that church members like, comment on, or share, this increases the chance that some of the friends of your church members will see those posts.
Churches are understandably concerned about using Facebook safely, but it’s a great tool for connection and communication. The people you are trying to reach are likely already on Facebook—why not try to reach them there?