We are challenged to meet our parishioners where they are at, or might be, in the near future. The social networking tentacles are reaching further into the various demographics affecting our parish communities, often way beyond the awareness of church leaders. It is now common for people in their 50s and 60s to have one or more social networking accounts.
Assumptions Underlying Social Networking Websites?
There are a number of interesting assumptions an ever expanding group of people, with representatives in most age groups, of the 21st century make:
• People like to build trusting relationships with others before doing 'business' (Churches need to be open to appreciating this belief and then adapting the way they communicate with such people.)
• The busyness of life often limits face-to-face opportunities
• The relationship does not need to be a face-to-face encounter, even though this is often preferred
• 'anonymity' allows for a less inhibited sharing of ideas and thoughts. (Easier for some people to make a comment when the contact person isn't actually in front of them. Similar for some people when using telephones or email.)
• The internet often provides the answers people are seeking (How often do you hear more and more, "Google it!")
• Digital communication is the easiest and quickest means of communication
• Digital communication allows for multiple conversations simultaneously
• People using these forms of communication eventually trust in the results due to their experiences.
Why Consider Social Networking Websites?
To reach this ever growing group of people in our communities we must meet them where they are at!
In many circumstances, this may not be your 'cup of tea'. But you do have control over who sees and comments on your church social networking pages if you follow the security directions. You may limit membership to only parishioners and hence only these people will see what you say and show.
It is, however, a successful method of informing an ever growing group of your community of whatever it is you would like to inform them about.
Below are the details contained on the Facebook page of the St Mary's Parish, Coomera and shows some ways this social networking site is used by a church parish:
• Parish and Contact Details
• News from the Parish Priest and Responses from Parishioners
• News about Youth and Children's Activities and Responses
• Upcoming Parish Events
• Parish Photos
• Parish Priest Recommended Websites for Parishioners
Social networking sites can be used effectively by churches and parishes. Once a number of challenges, misconceptions and assumptions underlying social networking sites are initially explored, each parish will be able to make the decision whether to proceed with a social networking webpage.
The 'Churches Need Social Networking Websites' blog post was written by Bryan Foster, author of Church Marketing Manual for the Digital Age (2nd ed), 2011 - the paperback and ebook manual for Church communications and marketing personnel - 304 pages of easy to read and implement summarized points, which allow for a considerably large number of quality stategies and examples to be detailed and available for church marketing personnel - with copyright remaining GDPL. Book available from Amazon.com and Createspace.com