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7 Effective Ways to Use Facebook for Churches and Why it Matters!

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I was asked to speak at a conference yesterday on how social media can impact a church and I wanted to share my thoughts in case they would be helpful to those that are in ministry.

First, we answered why churches need to be involved in social media.  Then we looked at some practical things we can do in social media.  And lastly, we looked at some results that we’ve had because of social media.

So let’s answer the why:

Ed Stetzer says, “If churches truly want to see the Gospel impact and influence a community, they should go to the place where the most significant conversation is actually taking place right now. Today, that’s on social media.”

According to Pew Research,

As of September 2014:

  • 71% of online adults use Facebook
  • 23% of online adults use Twitter
  • 26% use Instagram
  • 28% use Pinterest
  • 28% use LinkedIn

Social media is not going away either.  Again, according to Pew Research, as of 2014, “52% of online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users.”

Social media is important for these reasons:

  • Helps get the word out
  • Shows the audience that you are relevant (especially important if you want to attract/engage a younger audience)
  • If you do something well, it’s a great place to highlight that
  • You control what goes out to the public
  • Further engagement with your people throughout the week

One other major reason why it’s important to use social media is because it is FREE, unless, of course, that you purchase ads, boost posts, etc.

So how can I do it effectively?

The number one thing for me is to not get overwhelmed.  With all of the different social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, Myspace (okay, who uses that one anymore?!), Youtube, Google Plus, etc.), how do you know what to do.  My advice is to start with one and do it really well and if you feel like you can learn and handle another one, then go for it.  Just don’t get overwhelmed to start.

For our church, we chose to excel at Facebook.  These numbers below are the reason:

  • 87% of all online 18-29 year olds use Facebook
  • 73% of all online 30-49 year olds use Facebook
  • 63% of all online 50-64 year olds use Facebook
  • 56% of all online 65+ year olds use Facebook

Before I give you 7 different things you can do on Facebook, let me give you just a brief context about our church theCross Mount Dora.  We are about 30 minutes outside of Orlando, FL in a rural, but growing community called Mount Dora, FL.  Mount Dora’s number one demographic is retired folks.  The number two demographic is families with young kids, and this is rising quickly due to toll roads, beltways, and interstates making the commute into Orlando easier over the last several years.  When we looked at the landscape of our city, there were actually quite a few churches there already.  But by and large, these churches were generally reaching out to the older demographic.  We felt like there weren’t many churches that a young family would be proud to be a part of and feel like they were being spiritually led.

We were intentional about coming into Mount Dora and creating a space where young families could coexist and flourish with older folks and hopefully grab everyone in between as well.  Our church is also heavily focused on reaching the community and meeting in teams (we call them L-Teams: Live Teams, Love, Teams, and Learn Teams) outside of Sunday morning.  In fact, we did this for 15 months before we ever started worshipping together so that it became our DNA and we wouldn’t have to try to manufacture it at a later date.  We are 3.5 years old as a worshipping community now and God has grown our core group from just a few families to well over 400 attending on a Sunday and even more than that are a part of our L-Teams throughout the week.  With all of that being said, here’s some real practical tips on how we’ve used Facebook effectively and what you can implement at your church:

1) Bible verse or quote from the sermon on Sunday.

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This particular picture and quote was taken from a sermon I preached in February. The post reached 5000 people on Facebook as it was shared 21 times, liked over 100 times, etc.  What it means that it reached 5000 people is that 5000 people saw this picture as they scrolled through Facebook.  We try to rotate every other one between a quote from the sermon and/or a Bible verse.

2) Volunteer Recognition

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We wouldn’t be anywhere close to where we are today without our volunteers.  It’s great to recognize them and have others offer up some love for them as well.  After we post a picture of a volunteer, we usually have many comments underneath that picture on Facebook that affirm and lift up the person being recognized.

3) Sermon notes

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A lady at our church does these sermon notes for us each week.  After we put them up the first time she started teaching a couple of other people in the church how to do this as well.

4) Celebration photos

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Every time we have a baptism or something to celebrate, we throw up quite a few pictures.  Anytime you do something good in the community, celebrate that!  It’s important that whenever you put a picture up of somebody in your church that you “tag” them so that the most people see it.  As Christians we have to remember it’s a good thing to celebrate!

5) Sunday Set-list

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We remind the people what songs we did on Sunday.  If they liked the songs, that way they can remember then, download them on iTunes and get more familiar with them to enjoy their worship experience even more.

6) Highlight Events

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What a great way to plug an event coming up.  If you’ve got anything exciting happening at your church let the community know about it.  It’s amazing what an event in November at our church did.  I broke the Guinness World Record for the longest speech ever by preaching 53 hours and 18 minutes.  The event raised over $103,000 in charity but it also brought a lot of eyes onto our church.  Check out these stats from the week of the event on Facebook.

Last Week Previous Week Trend
Total Page Likes 2,376 2,318 2.50%
New Likes 68 23 195.70%
Weekly Total Reach 33,293 15,441 115.60%
People Engaged 2,903 1,235 135.10%

Again, if you are not familiar, people reached means how many people saw something about theCross Mount Dora that week on their Facebook news feed.  People engaged means how many people, liked, commented, or shared anything that theCross Mount Dora put up on their page.

7) Highlight Anything Unique or Creative

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Does your church do anything unique or creative?  Facebook is a great way to get that message out.  In March of last year, I was preaching about tattoos, and sarcastically said if anyone wanted to get a tattoo of the church logo, we’d find money to pay for that, because it’s great advertising.  Someone came up after the worship gathering and said, “Were you serious, you’ll pay for a tattoo of the church logo.  I’d love to do that.”  To make a long story short, when it was all said and done 21 people got tattooed with the church logo.  To read more about the story from the Huffington post, click here:

Check out what this unique, crazy story like this, did for our Facebook numbers that week:

Last Week Previous Week Trend
Total Page Likes 1,399 1,347 3.90%
New Likes 61 25 144.00%
Weekly Total Reach 69,279 14,804 368.00%
People Engaged 3,159 278 1036.30%

Those were both crazy weeks!  Here’s what last week looked like for us:

Last Week Previous Week Trend
Total Page Likes 2,982 2,961 0.7%
New Likes 26 37 -29.7%
Weekly Total Reach 16,080 17,773 -9.5%
People Engaged 731 931 -21.5%

Here’s a few other helpful strategic things for you regarding Facebook:

  • Take time every Sunday at your worship gathering (20-30 seconds) to remind people to check-in on Facebook, tag a few people around them, and say something great about the God that we serve or the church they attend.
  • Sermon videos: upload them directly to Facebook (you can provide the youtube or vimeo link in the comments below)
  • Don’t post-bomb! It is our goal to not have more than 3 posts a day.  We try to space them out about 2 hours from each other and you can schedule posts on Facebook for maximum impact.
  • If you have a question for your sermon or need some content in some way from your people or your community, ask it on Facebook. They get to feel a part of it even more this way.

So what are the results of all of this?

For a church that’s only 3.5 years old and worships just over 400, we have just reached over 3000 likes on Facebook.  And here’s the coolest part about the people that are engaging with us on Facebook: 98% of the likes and the people that are reached are people within our immediate context.

City Your Fans
Eustis, FL 587
Mt Dora, FL 504
Tavares, FL 268
Leesburg, FL 220
Umatilla, FL 200
Orlando, FL 197
Sorrento, FL 132
City Your Fans
Apopka, FL 40
Gr. Island, FL 30
Lady Lake, FL 25
Lake Mary, FL 24
Altoona, FL 23
Sanford, FL 23
Clermont, FL 22

That means that when we have a weekly reach of 17,000 people we are reaching over 16,500 people in our community in some way.

Two more important pieces of advice:

For the measure of full disclosure, we spend approximately $200 a month on Facebook ads and/or boosting posts.  This is the number one area where we put advertising dollars and money that we believe is very well spent.

Our Facebook page started gaining a lot more traction when a volunteer in our church stepped up to lead it.  He’s great with photography, editing, knows the makeup of the congregation, and keeps the message that we want to get across consistent.  When I was doing it all myself we had a strong presence, but since he’s taken over, we’ve had enormous impact!  Big thanks to Silas Barr!

So what does all this mean for your church?

In the past year, we’ve had 64 contact cards that have been filled out where the person has checked Facebook as to where they have heard about us.  If each card represents two people, that means close to 125 people are represented by those cards.  Plus, we know that not everybody fills out a contact card when they come to church.  If only half of them fill out contact cards that means that we’ve had 250 people come to a worship gathering (this doesn’t even count the people that show up at community events or L-Teams) in the past year because of what they’ve seen and heard on Facebook!

We had a family come in February because they heard about us on Facebook.  Three weeks later I had the privilege to baptize their daughter.

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Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear her father stand up in a room full of 35 men after we had discussed pride and ego.  He stood up and said that he had left his relationship with God due to pride over 3 decades ago, but thank God that he heard about our church from Facebook.  His family loves coming and he said how he is like a brand new Christian wanting to learn more about Jesus.  He doesn’t know where to start and he plead with the church to help him discover who Jesus is again so that he can be the godly man that his kids and his wife need him to be.

What you do on social media can impact God’s kingdom!  Now go post something!

If you’d like to follow our church on Facebook to see what we do on a day-to-day basis, like our page here.  Email me at zach@hclm.org with any questions you might have and feel free to post in the comments below other helpful things we can do on Facebook and other social media platforms.

Posted by Zach Zehnder with

I’m a Big Loser and Proud of it!

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Over the course of the last decade, the Biggest Loser has been a wildly successful television program as it helps those who are obese lose weight and make dramatic life changes.  I usually don’t watch the show, but much of my extended family gets pretty wrapped up into it.  The stories are powerful, engaging, and often times very emotional.  God tells us that our bodies are a temple of His Holy Spirit. Yet too many of us treat our bodies like garbage!  In the church we spend a lot of time talking about drugs, sex, alcohol, and not near enough time talking about overeating and/or laziness.  Pastors are usually known for being out of shape and let’s just be honest, “Fat.”

Issues with our bodies and health are not going away and they are extremely relevant for us today.  Look at these stats collected from these two sites here and here.

  • More than two-thirds (68.8 percent) of adults are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than one-third (35.7 percent) of adults are considered to be obese.
  • About one-third of children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • More than 1 in 6 children and adolescents ages 6 to 19 are considered to be obese.
  • Almost 3 in 4 men (74 percent) are considered to be overweight or obese.
  • The prevalence of obesity is similar for both men and women (about 36 percent).
  • The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the U.S. was $147 billion in 2008 U.S. dollars; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.

It’s not getting any better either.  Since the early 1960s, the prevalence of obesity among adults has almost tripled, increasing from 13.4 to 35.7 percent in U.S. adults age 20 and older.

There is a major problem, it is getting worse, and Christians don’t want to focus on it.

I had to look at myself in the mirror (literally) a couple of months ago and I wasn’t happy with what I saw.  More than just the weight issue was what I knew was going on in my heart.   I had a problem overeating and specifically going to food for comfort.  I had a problem eating way too much junk food and fast food.  I made the excuses that I’m always out meeting people for lunch and it’s too hard to eat healthy, but the reality was that I had a problem.  And if I didn’t fix my problem, it was only going to escalate.  My kids are still young and I want to be the dad who is out there playing sports with them when I’m 40 and 50 years old.  So I decided I needed to work on it.  In a little over two months, I’ve shed 20 pounds and got myself into a healthy BMI, and I’m still trying to lose another 10 to 15 pounds.

I’m far from an expert in the field of diet and exercise so I don’t have much of  platform to be able to tell you exactly what you should do and how you should do it, but I will give you 7 things that have worked for me on my path to shed some pounds and get healthier.

  1. My Fitness Pal App: I downloaded the MyFitnessPal App on my iPhone and I track everything that I eat and every exercise that I do in that App. You can enter in foods and it gives you the nutritional information and it adds up the calories for each item that you enter.  I am very competitive and so I set a goal on the App to eat a certain amount of calories per day and every day is like a new competition to try to stay under the calorie goal.  If I go over the calories, then I try to run or walk an extra mile or two so that overall I can stay under my net calorie goal.  You can also request friends and encourage them through the App as well and they can see your progress.
  2. Workout Partner: Don’t do it alone. It’s very helpful to have someone workout and diet with you. They will keep you motivated when you are down and likewise you can do the same for them.
  3. Supportive Spouse: Thankfully I have a wife who knows a lot about diet and exercise. She is extremely supportive of my goals to get healthy and lose weight and because of that she cooks extremely healthy meals. In addition, she has gone out of her way to cook a variety of things so I’m not eating the same boring salads every day.  She has sacrificed some of her time to prepare these meals and also she has sacrificed some of the quality time that she would normally spend with me after the kids go to bed so that I could go exercise.
  4. Time: Eating right is a major part of getting healthy, but we all know that exercise is extremely important as well. I’m a very busy person and my excuse in the past is that I don’t have time to exercise.  You have to make time.  For me, many of the nights I can only work out at 830 or 9PM at night.  It’s hard telling my body to do this, but getting there is more than half of the battle.  Once I’m there, I can work hard.  And what I’ve found is that as I’m working out I feel I have a lot more energy throughout the week to get more things done.
  5. Money: It costs money to get healthy. Eating healthier is definitely more expensive. I don’t want to see the amount of money we spent on groceries last month!  Over time, you can learn effective ways to keep costs down and be a smart shopper.
  6. No Soda: I love soda. But they are such empty calories.  When you only give yourself a set amount of calories per day and you are really competitive and try to stay under that threshold each day, you realize that the quickest way to go over the amount of net calories is by empty calories in soda and even alcohol as well.  In the past two months, I’ve not had one can of soda.  This has made a big impact.
  7. Momentum: Getting started is half the battle for me. Once I got into a routine, I was able to keep going strong.  I also entered into a friendly weight loss competition with my family and they have helped motivate me as well.

Those are 7 things that have helped me.  What could you add to the list?  Let’s turn this year into the healthiest year that we’ve ever had at theCross!

Lastly, if you are a part of theCross and you’ve decided it’s time for you to join me as a fellow “loser” I would suggest you get over to Gold’s Gym (Have you heard they are giving the entire church a free month of February?) and start exercising and make a conscious decision to be healthy.  Let’s fill our church up with a whole bunch of “losers!”

Posted by Zach Zehnder with

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