Why Pastors (more than churches) Need to Be on Social Media


As a communicator it is vital that you close the gap between you and your audience. Great speaking is about connecting, and one of the most powerful ways to connect is through a personal story.

I cannot imagine a communicator who consistently refuses to tell a story about themselves. But that is what pastors are doing when they refuse to engage with social media. Each Sunday they are attempting to communicate a message onsite while refusing the rest of the week to have a voice online.

Here are three reasons every pastor needs to have their “voice” on social media.

1. It’s critical. As social media has become more pervasive it has moved away from being just a fun means to connect with friends. Today social media is a critical channel of communication that people look to for information. Ask youth pastors how many times they’ve had surprised parents say something like, “Was this event on Facebook?” or “I got a tweet saying the pick up time was…” The point is Social Media is being cited more and more as a credible source for information.

In 2011, the MLA officially defined how to cite a tweet as a source for an academic paper. If professors have to pay attention to tweets in term papers shouldn’t pastors pay attention to tweets about their sermon?

2. It’s insightful. As church leaders it’s easy to live in a bubble. The demands of church leadership are often unscheduled and unending. Week after week pastors can work at the church, talk to church people, and deal primarily with church challenges. All that church-focused effort leads to isolation from the world that churches are attempting to reach.

Isolation steals insight.

The more a person becomes disconnected, the less they speak in meaningful terms to their audience. Every time a pastor starts talking about how a paper Bible is better than a digital Bible, they are communicating “I’m disconnected.” That’s like a congregant saying, “I want natural acoustics instead of microphone amplification for the preacher’s voice.” Such a statement is pointless, and it communicates the disconnectedness of the speaker.

Don’t allow ignorance of technology to keep you from connecting in meaningful ways with people. Social media engagement keeps you connected to the community and empowers you to speak in meaningful terms.

3. It’s personal. 87% of the top performing Twitter accounts are people not organizations. Social media is personal. This is why its more important for pastors to be on social media than their churches.

Personal doesn’t mean private. Effective engagement on social media does not include the minutia of a person’s private life. i.e. what they had for lunch or every thought they’re having while sitting in a boring meeting.

Personal means connecting. A face-to-face conversation that is personal is a conversation with connection. It’s the same on social media. A pastor does NOT and should NOT reply to every tweet or Facebook post, but selective replies allow for personal connection. It’s an ideal way to connect, since every pastor has people they would love to limit to 140 characters or less?

Refusing to engage on social media is quickly becoming the equivalent of saying you don’t have an email address. Pretty soon people are going to give the “You’re joking” look when a pastor says, “I’m not on social media.” It’s best to stop avoiding these vital channels of communication, and start learning to use them in meaningful and personal ways.

This post was inspired by the Rich Birch post on Unseminary.

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