“Do I have to do this?” That is the question that I get from a lot of pastors when it comes to social media. It’s not that they want to get out of doing work or that they’re anti-social, it’s just that social media seems like one more thing on their to-do list with little to no return on their investment.
I think my pastor probably felt the same way at some point. Back in 2008, I reserved his Twitter username (@mikeglenn) on a hunch that he might need it at some point. At first, I don’t think he understood the importance of Twitter, however, after a little coaxing, he really took off.
There are a lot of you out there right now trying to get your pastor on social media. The hardest part is trying to figure out where to start and begin the conversation. I’ve been there and I know how difficult it can be. I’ve had some pretty good successes and plenty of failures.
I’ve also developed a seven-step process to help you get your pastor to try social media. Now, these steps can be customized to your situation and they don’t have to be followed in a certain order. What these steps should do is give you a roadmap to help you navigate conversations, develop trust and eventually help your pastor to try social media. Ready to give it a go? Here they are:
Step 1: Get a Clear Picture of Reality
Let’s first get this out of the way. Getting your pastor on social media might not be an easy task. You need to make sure that when you start the conversation, that you go in with a clear picture of reality.
One way to get a clear picture of reality is to take inventory of what your pastor currently thinks about social media. When you have a good sense of their perception of social media, you can then shape the rest of the process to help mitigate fears or clear up misconceptions. Here’s a list of questions you should ask your pastor to help you get a clear picture:
- What does success look like for you on social media?
- What are your biggest fears about social media?
- What are your initial impressions of social media?
- What aspects of social media seem to make sense to you? What parts do not?
Step 2: Numbers or Story?
This next step is going to depend on the personality of your pastor. If they’re someone who is driven by numbers, then you’re going to need to show them metrics that will help them understand why social media is important. If they’re driven by emotion or stories, then you’ll need to provide real-life examples from your church or other churches that demonstrate the power of social media.
If you want to use both stories and metrics, I find that you should start with stories first, then move to metrics. Stories do a better job capturing the imagination and then metrics can help cement the case.
Step 3: Get Outside Support
Don’t feel like you’re in this alone. If you have other staff or members who are as passionate about this as you are, bring them along. While you don’t want to overwhelm your pastor, you do want your pastor to get a sense that this isn’t just about you.
One effective method is to see if anyone in your pastor’s family uses social media. Sometimes, having a family member as an advocate can help make the case in the off hours (i.e. family dinner) and they can even help provide some tutoring as well.
Step 4: Show How Social Media Supports the Church’s Goals and Objectives
Most pastors I know are driven by goals or objectives. Hopefully, these goals or objectives are spelled out for your church. If so, you need to clearly show how social media can support and help accomplish those goals and objectives.
For example, one of our church’s objectives for the last five years has been “Make our church feel small.” No matter how big we get, we want people to feel like they’ve known and are a part of our family. Social media helps support this goal by us tagging members in Facebook photos, lifting up volunteers on Instagram, and using #throwbackthursday to highlight old church photos on Instagram.
Step 5: Ask for Small Changes
My personality is one where I like radical change. I’m not one to make small changes. However, when you’re asking your pastor to engage on social media you can’t go for radical change. Instead, you need to help ease them into the process.
For some pastors, just the sight of the Twitter stream will overwhelm them. So take the time to help them focus on one social network. Yes, some pastors will be tempted to join Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all at once. However, a slower approach will ensure that they don’t get overwhelmed too quickly.
Step 6: Get Small Wins
Once you have them on a social network, find ways to help them get small wins. This could be conducting a live Q&A on Facebook (just have people ask questions in the comments section of a post and let your pastor respond) or setting manageable goals to have a certain amount of Twitter followers by a certain date.
Step 7: Let Them Know They’re It’s Okay to Say No
Wait, I thought you were helping me convince my pastor to try social media, not give them a way out. While that is true, you need to let your pastor know that this is something that should try when they’re ready.
If you push your pastor too fast and they have a bad experience, then you decrease your chance of them ever coming back and trying it again. However, if you let them set the timetable, you’re giving them a sense of ownership in the process. This over time will give you more credibility with your pastor.
Remember, this process can’t happen overnight. Think of it as an ongoing conversation that will require some give and take. Sometimes you’ll get a win with your pastor and sometimes you might have to take a step back and try something else. The key thing is to not give up and instead walk alongside your pastor until they’re ready.
Posted on July 23, 2021
Darrel Girardier serves as the Digital Strategy Director at Brentwood Baptist Church in Brentwood, Tennessee where he oversees the digital, design and video production teams. Previously, he was a Creative Director at LifeWay Christian Resources.
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