on church and facebook

I am not a Facebook person.

I’ll acknowledge that I did stay up to 12:01 on June 13 and I did become www.facebook.com/jnswanson, but that is just about keeping my brand intact (email, twitter, flickr, tumblr, and other things that no longer exist). But I have been much more connected to social media platforms outside Facebook.

When I have come inside the pages of The Book, I have been somewhat frustrated with all the games and quizzes and “how well do you know me.” I have limited the number of people that I have friended, primarily because I lack the energy to connect as well as one ought to with all the people I have known across the years.

grabill missionary church logoThis week, however,  I realized that Grabill Missionary Church has to have a page on Facebook (Grabill Missionary Church).

What led to this shift?

1. I keep having conversations with people in real life who are continuing conversations started in status updates. In contrast to the many Twitter conversations I have with people far away, these are intensely local, mixing off and online. We want to be available for those conversations.

2. There are many people who come to our building on Sundays but who miss pieces of what is going on. How we help them catch up is always a challenge. I realized that I keep seeing some of them on Facebook.

3. We have moved from print to an enewsletter, but there are many people who change emails, who seldom check email. While I was trying to figure out how to connect to some of these people, I realized that some of them were my friends on Facebook.

So, after getting some advice on Twitter, we started a page on Thursday. I invited everyone from our congregation that were already my friends. I included a link in our enewsletter.

As of Saturday night, we have 49 friends.

We’ll keep it simple at first. We’ll let people know when the podcast goes up each week We’ll let people know when the enewsletter goes out.  (And if the link is a bit.ly link, I’ll know how many people clicked) We’ll let people know what the next Sunday’s sermon is. We’ve already put up video about worship and service. And we’ve started putting up pictures from the previous week’s events.

A couple final observations.

1. The intention of the page is to help people who are part of the physical congregation stay connected throughout the week. To use unspiritual language, rather than being primarily about external marketing, this is about internal customer service. However, we will be incredibly aware of people who are looking in on Grabill Missionary Church or on church in general.

2. We’ll remember that only some of our congregation attend Facebook. Others attend email, snail mail, small groups, Sunday school, and other communication and fellowship settings. This will force redundancy, which will be healthy.

3. We’ll stay focused on people rather than platforms. Our passion is not on connecting to new technologies. Our passion is connecting people to God and to each other. This new page will probably help. But if it doesn’t, we’ll blow it up.

So what do you think? Are we thinking about this the right way?


7 responses to “on church and facebook

  1. Jon,

    Our church recently set up a Facebook page, and our rector is pleased with the results.

  2. northpointcc

    I love the idea!!!

  3. i think it’s important to connect to people in the way they are comfortable. sounds likes your doing a good job.

  4. I think you are thinking about it exactly the right way.

    Too many people spend too much time out here strategizing till the cows come home but never quite figuring out how to implement.

    Your approach is to 1) understand your community extremely well 2) figure out what they need 3) fill that need.

    And it works like a charm. Well done and I’m going to use this post as a lesson for my students in how to use social media as what it is…a TOOL.

    Good on ya! 🙂

  5. Good post, Jon. I’ve been thinking about the same stuff, and what you’ve written helps me. I’ve also been meaning to write about my use of Facebook and how it fits into my shepherding role. Haven’t written it, but the essence is that it connects me to people in the congregation that I rarely or ever get to visit with (large church), and gives me info on some of their challenges and victories that helps me be more effective. Need to get that written. Maybe in the second half of the year.

  6. Susan, thank you. I read this and think, “that’s what I did? Cool.”

    Your summary is very helpful.

  7. Write it, Jim. And read what Liz Strauss wrote today about real life and online culture. http://bit.ly/1c0ZYn there is much for both of us to think about there for congregational life.