As churches grow and adapt to the era of omnipresent Wi-Fi and smartphones, social media has become one of the most effective — and necessary — ways of reaching new members.

Some church leaders are reluctant to completely welcome technology (and all of its complications) into the sanctity of their church. Learning how to effectively and comfortably use church technology and software can be a long process.

It’s more important than ever, though, for churches to utilize social media, but the percentage of those that do remains alarmingly low.

As a church leader, you need buy-in not only from your leadership team but also from your congregation as a whole to enact church-wide change.

10 Powerful Church Statistics on Social Media

Let’s take a look at 10 statistics that illustrate just how crucial social media is to church growth, how badly churches currently utilize it, and key takeaways to help you build (or fix) your social media strategy.

1. In 2017, more than half of Bible readers used the internet (55 percent) or a smartphone (53 percent) to access biblical texts, a significant increase from 2011 (37 percent, 18 percent respectively). (Source: Barna Group)

Takeaway:  Your followers are using the internet and social media as part of their worship routine in ever-increasing numbers. You need to have an active social media presence to take advantage of that fact since that’s where your audience is. Here’s a guide on building your church website, and one on building your church social media strategy.

2. Almost 70 percent of churches offer Wi-Fi for staff and guests. A 2017 LifeWay Research study found that 68 percent of Protestant churches offer Wi-Fi for both groups. (Source: LifeWay Research)

Takeaway:  If your church doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, you’re in the minority and could be driving guests away. Here’s a guide from FaithEngineer on upgrading your church’s internet situation.

3. More than 70 percent of nonprofit communicators consider social media one of their most important communication channels. According to Nonprofit Marketing Guide’s 2016 report, 71 percent of nonprofit communication professionals consider social media one of their most important channels, second only to their website (80 percent). (Source: Nonprofit Marketing Guide)

 Takeaway:  If you want to successfully market your church and increase membership, social media is no longer a “nice to have” but an essential line of communication. Here are some great examples of church social media campaigns from pro church marketer Brady Shearer to get you started.

4. Almost 85 percent of churches use Facebook. In 2017, 84 percent of Protestant pastors reported that their church uses Facebook as their primary online communication tool. (Source: LifeWay Research)

Takeaway:  Facebook is the king of church social media tools. If your church doesn’t have a Facebook profile set up, make that your first priority. A Facebook page doesn’t just give your members a place to interact with each other, it also gives you access to a network of active, online communities where you can get ideas and ask questions. Here are 14 great church Facebook groups to join, recommended by church communications expert Katie Allred.

5. Only about 15 percent of churches are using Twitter and Instagram. In 2017, only 16 percent of Protestant pastors surveyed reported using Twitter. Even less (13 percent) were on Instagram. (Source: LifeWay Research)

Takeaway:  Just because most churches are late to the Twitter and Instagram game doesn’t mean you should be among them. According to Statista, Instagram has more than 800 million users, and Twitter had about 330 million as of the end of 2017. That’s an enormous audience to tap into. Start with this Instagram guide for churches, and this one for Twitter.

6. The average click-through-rate is 115 percent higher for church emails that include at least one social media link. (Source: Anthony Coppedge| Focused on Church Health)

Takeaway:  This stat is a few years old, but email marketing has been around for almost 40 years so it’s still relatively young. The advice here is straightforward: email communications that include a social media link are way more effective at generating clicks from readers. Don’t leave them out!

7. Approximately 51 percent of churches claim that at least one staff member regularly blogs or posts on social media. According to Christian-centered digital advertising agency Buzzplant, in 2012 74 percent of churches did not have a paid staff member updating their church’s social media pages. (Source: Buzzplant)

Takeaway:  Consistent posting is crucial to social media success, but this task often falls to an unpaid volunteer (especially at smaller churches). The good news is that social media posting is easy; virtually anyone can do it. Give whoever runs your social media pages some guidance, such as these church social media mistakes to avoid.

8. Fifty-four percent of Christian millennials watch online videos about faith or spirituality. A 2013 Barna survey found that more than half of Christian young people watch religious videos online. Among all U.S. millennials — Christian and non-Christian — the number was 31 percent. (Source: Barna Group)

Takeaway:  Cisco predicts that by 2021, 82 percent of all consumer internet content will be video. The number of young people watching religious videos online will only increase. To take advantage of this, incorporate video into your social media plan. Here are seven church videos you can learn from, and five tips on creating professional church videos from church media expert Jeremy Poland.

9. Sixty-two percent of churches use social networking to connect with individuals outside of their congregation. While an even larger number — 73 percent according to LifeWay Research — use social media to interact with their congregation, the majority of churches with an online presence are already using social media as a growth tool. (Source: Facts & Trends)

Takeaway:  Social media is a lifeline to your outside community, and one you need to use if you want your church to thrive and grow. As Efrem Smith, co-lead pastor of Bayside Church, Midtown in Sacramento, said, “To stay relevant, the church must diversify.” Use tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share pictures and news with your own church members, and attract new members by promoting events (use hashtags!).

10. Sixty-five percent of Americans prefer an in-person preacher to a video sermon. About one third (35 percent) have no preference between live or video sermons, but less than 1 percent prefer a video sermon over a live sermon. (Source: LifeWay Research)

 Takeaway:  Don’t worry, video isn’t taking over (yet). Don’t scrap your physical location for an online-only campus, but consider live streaming your services for those who are unable to attend, traveling, or deployed. Here’s a beginner’s guide to getting your church’s livestream set up. Know your congregation; run a survey to determine your church’s needs before diving in.

Your church stats?

Have you stumbled across any interesting church technology research lately? I’d love to hear about it. Share it with me on Twitter @CapterraAC, or drop it in the comments below!

For additional insight on church outreach techniques, keep an eye on Capterra’s church management blog.