Ministry and Social Media: 5 tools, 5 minutes each
Chances are that as a pastor you wish you had time to increase your presence on social media. You know that’s where conversations are taking place these days—and not just the kids from your youth group. You wish you had a dedicated volunteer or staff person to focus exclusively on things like blogging or Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, not to mention Vine, Snapchat, and Instagram.
But, chances are you don’t.
Even if you do have someone working on your social media presence, you may feel like there’s more you could be doing to increase your reach, more ways to connect with new people. Regardless, there’s always the one recurring problem.
It takes so much time to write a thoughtful, helpful, and insightful blog. Not to mention trying to be clever or pithy while staying theologically faithful. Then you have to post it, and ideally promote it. There’s no time!
So, with that in mind, here are five things you can do in less than five minutes to increase your social media presence. Don’t aim for all of them. Pick one. Then, just see what happens.
- Blog – Post your sermons / lesson notes.
For many people, the hardest part of blogging is the writing. Buy you’re already doing that! Take those lessons, notes, outlines, or manuscripts, and make them public.
If you don’t have a blog, it is very easy to start one for free with any number of websites. Try wordpress.com or blogger.com. The initial setup will take a little bit of time, but after that, you should be able to cut and paste your existing sermons or lesson notes in just a few minutes. Do that once a week, and all of a sudden you’ll be able to direct people to your material regardless of where they are!
- Twitter – Tweet a short prayer every day.
Do you do daily devotions? Have an active prayer life? Twitter restricts your tweets to 140 characters—not words, but characters. How hard would it be to write a prayer of 140 characters as part of your morning devotions? If you don’t have a Twitter account, it’s very easy to set up.
- YouTube – Record your lessons or sermons.
This one is more like five minutes a week. I’ve talked about this before here. You put an unbelievable amount of time into your sermons or lessons. Chances are someone in the room has a smartphone; if not, voice recorders are relatively inexpensive (seriously check Amazon; they’re like $50).
Record the lesson, and put it on YouTube. You already did the hours of preparation. Why not extend its usefulness?
- Facebook – Include a recap.
I’m surprised at how few ministries do this. Obviously Facebook is a great spot for pictures, prayers, insights, and announcements. But what if you don’t have time to snap photos of everything? What if you missed the upcoming events beforehand?
Try taking five minutes each morning to recap the previous day’s events.
Instead of just telling people what’s coming, tell us how it went. Mention the book that the Bible study is reading and what they thought about it. Tell people how the youth trip went. If you don’t have pictures of everything, that’s fine. Some days are slower than others, but an occasional recap will go a long way to show folks what’s happening in your church and encourage them to join you for a future event.
- The multiplier.
Here’s the trick that tends to be daunting to people. Even just using these four platforms seems like a lot of work. After all, five minutes apiece, times four, times five days a week puts you at 100 minutes.
But it’s actually not that tough to do all four of these platforms.
When you update the blog or upload a video, link to it from Facebook or Twitter. Big brands do this all the time. In fact, you may well have found this blog from the Seminary’s tweet or post. Announcing an update takes seconds, and can give you presence across multiple channels.
Using these five tips can help your ministry enhance its social media reach in five minutes a day. Pick one platform and try it—you’ll be surprised at how easily you can work it into your daily schedule!
The Rev. Derek Davenport ’05 is director of enrollment at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and program co-director of the Miller Summer Youth Institute. Derek is also a PTS alumnus of the Master of Divinity (MDiv) Program after which he served at a church in Orlando, Fla., for five years. Besides working with prospective students, he serves as a guest preacher in Western Pennsylvania, researches church symbolism on his website, and tweets at @DerekRDavenport.