By Seth Hinz, Web/Media Director for the Michigan District, LCMS
Searching for Food
A few weeks ago, I went online to find a place to take my family to eat. We knew we wanted seafood, and we wanted to try a new place. So I Googled: “Seafood Restaurants in Ann Arbor.” I zoomed into the map to approximately where we would visit and found three places that fit our criteria all within a block of each other. With three choices in front of me, can you guess how I decided? If you guessed “threw a dart at the screen,” you’re wrong. I went by reviews. One of the restaurants had a 4.4 out of 5 rating! The other two? There was a 4.0 and a 3.2. I can safely tell you, I will never visit the 3.2 rated restaurant. There’s too much room for error in seafood to risk that.
What Does That Have to Do With Churches?
Let’s be honest, we are relatively enlightened, we read books, we even turn on classical radio once in a while; but we simply cannot fathom the infinite ways that the Spirit can work in people’s lives and drive them to seek out a Christian community. This isn’t, however, an article about outreach; it’s an article about building a bridge to your LCMS congregation.
125 million Americans are unchurched, meaning they haven’t had an interaction with a church within the last six months.1 Again, the Spirit will work, and a percentage of these unchurched will seek out a local church. Let’s make sure our church community can be found.
How You Can Promote Your Church
#1 – Write a Review
90% of people trust online recommendations from people they know. 70% trust opinions of unknown users. Only 14% trust traditional TV advertisements.2
Translate this to Googling for churches in your area. If an unchurched individual seeks out a local church on Google or Bing, what listings are going to stick out? Yep, the ones with the highest ratings – especially if there are 10 or more great reviews. The more positive feedback for your congregation online, the better a potential visitor will feel about a potential visit.
#2 LIKE and SHARE Your Church Online
The number of churches adopting social media as a means to communicate is on the rise. Let’s ride the wave and start connecting with our churches online.
- Step One: Be sure you’re following all the church’s presences on Facebook (Living Water, The Chapel, St. Luke) and Twitter (@LivingWaterMI, @ULCAnnArbor, @StLukeAnnArbor, @DanFlynn73, @JustinRossow).
- Step Two: start sharing status updates, photos, and video posted by your church.
Every “like” and every “share” helps get your church in front of more people because it will appear in your friends’ newsfeeds. The more interaction you have with your church, the stronger the online community will become.
#3 Link to Your Church
Do you have a business website or a personal/family blog? Please consider adding a link to your website that directs to your church’s website. This does two things: connects your community with your church community, and improves your church’s ranking in search engines. Linking to your church’s website tells search engines that your church website is trusted and is relevant. Google will reward your church with a higher search ranking. Encourage your friends to add links back to the church site too.
Action Step: Place a link to your church’s website on your personal/business webpage. Encourage others to do the same.
Our Hope & Goal
Social media provides us with brand new ways to help connect people to our congregations. By implementing the three steps above, we’ll help our church communities stand out online as the beacons of light we know them to be offline.
Ultimately, and with the power of the Holy Spirit, these small steps now can lead a person to a pew where the Word of God may hit their ears for the first time.
Editor’s note: this blog was originally published on Michigan In Touch Online at http://michiganintouch.com/healthy-congregations/3-ways-use-social-media-promote-church/. Used by permission. Check out the Michigan District’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/miLCMS.