There is no doubt that social media is having a huge impact on churches’ ability to reach and influence culture. One of the biggest challenges and opportunities church leaders face is whether or not they should be active on social media. If you are in leadership at any kind of level reading this, I want to tell you that you should absolutely be actively participating on social media.

I’m not talking about your church social media feed. I’m talking to you personally. You should absolutely be active, interacting and present.

Why?

When you leverage social media well, you have the potential and capacity to reach many more people online as compared to those who may attend your church. Not just those in the wider Christian community, but you will reach more people who don’t even attend church. Most church leaders dream about being able connect and communicate with the wider community so simply and directly.

Is it your dream that you could impact and connect with your wider community? If it is I want to share with you seven steps that will help you reach people more than ever before.

1. Imagine the average person in your community that doesn’t attend your church. Create a persona of them. What age range are they, where do they live, what kind of job or study do they do? Are they married? Do they have children?

2. Write a list of the issues they may be facing. It could be in their work, marriage, relationships, dating, finances or spiritual questions you get from people who are exploring the Christian faith.

3. Once you have a list, create a list of topics you think people need to know about.

4. Create a schedule. When do you think is the best time to post or be online so that more people see and engage? (Tip: If you are on a Facebook page, check the insights as that will tell you when most of your audience are online.)

5. Decide what is the best kind of post that will drive interaction so that it will reach more people (make sure it is a public post so that it can be seen beyond your friendship circles).

6. Share your heart with your congregation. Write an email telling your congregation why you are doing this and get them to share and interact with the posts. Sharing the ‘why’ is huge. Not only is it another way to reinforce the mission-centered culture of your church, it will also encourage them to have conversations on the posts that they share with their own friends. Time the scheduling of your email so that they can immediately interact with your post on social media. They are much more likely to share your post if they don’t have to wait.

7. Read the interactions and comments. And reply! As people interact with you, you will hear what issues are important to them. Not only do you provide a voice, you are showing that you are listening by interacting. It is also such a smart way to build your library of ideas for future posts.

I personally think that Facebook Live is a brilliant strategy for church leaders to use. If you are a gifted speaker then it will be a great way to reach more people as Facebook is giving priority to Facebook Live videos, which means that you reach more people. Find out more here.

Social media is one of the ways to start building a relationship with your wider community. It is a great first touchpoint that is easily accessible where they will find out more about you and your church. They will see your passion and heart, they can see you as a regular person who can walk alongside them in their life and for some who may at some point step into your church.