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How the Church Needs Facebook’s New Update

The Church Communication’s Facebook group had a post that said, “So is anyone else freaking out about Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement about Facebook Pages yet or is it just me?” 

This was in response to Mark Zuckerberg posting here about a major update coming in a few months.

“One of our big focus areas for 2018 is making sure the time we all spend on Facebook is time well spent. We built Facebook to help people stay connected and bring us closer together with the people that matter to us. That’s why we’ve always put friends and family at the core of the experience. Research shows that strengthening our relationships improves our well-being and happiness.” Zuckerberg posted today (emphasis mine). “But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other.”

In a recent workshop for pastors and ministry leaders held on Tuesday, January 9, 2018, hosted by Southwest Church Connection and led by me, two people shared the frustrations they have with their congregation. The efforts of creativity go unrewarded when they post on their Facebook page. One person shared how the congregation only reacts to the page posts. They never share or comment. Another said, people in their congregation are inspired by what they post, but never give credit to the church Facebook page. In other words, if a church inspires you to add to the conversation on your personal Facebook, help promote your church by tagging them in the post.  When Zuckerberg’s new update goes into effect, the church congregation will need to participate more in the church’s postings and online conversations in order to keep their church page from becoming irrelevant and keeping their budget down (pages and posts would need to be “boosted” to show up). Think of participating online as part of your stewardship and giving of your time. Is this an unfair decision from Zuckerberg?

Zuckerberg is absolutely correct in making this change. It’s a business decision, the radio reported earlier today, and very risky. He could lose advertising dollars, but the radio host is predicting that this decision will bring more signees to the already 2 billion people on this social media platform. It’s also an opportunity for the church to recognize their congregation as part of their marketing platform. When I say marketing, it’s a distasteful word, but when I say it, I mean it as marketing as ministry; or authentically connecting in meaningful ways using marketing techniques that work for business. It’s also important to note that this change backs what I have said many times to people–people don’t want to connect with a brand name; they want to connect with people. This is why a church should consider creating a social media team that they train on cross-cultural communication, story, evangelism, false cults and religions, and technology.

One person on the Church Communications Facebook group suggested a Facebook 101 class, but that’s not enough. I agree with one who said we shouldn’t share just Scripture all the time, but stories of our faith. I take this one step further; we should SHOW how we are living our faith through every day encounters, sharing our life with others we friend online through recipes, gatherings, online Bible Studies and life groups, etc. The face-to-face and online communities do not have to operate separately; it can operate together. After all, my philosophy is using technology and social media to bring people into meaningful conversations that lead to face-to-face encounters.

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