Recently I was listening to an old workshop by Kem Meyer on how ministry can benefit from using social media. As a blogger I found her insights immensely valuable and I just wanted to share some in the hope that they may also help you out with your ministry. While her workshop covered more than these ideas, for me they lay at the heart of what she was saying. It is all about the heart. What is it that is driving you to engage with people? There are many communication techniques out there but it’s easy to get stuck unless we talk about our motivations. With that said, I hope you find these useful.
1. Connect With People Rather Than Publicise.
This may seem obvious but it is amazing how many Christian ministries look to broadcast a message. Don’t get me wrong – this has a time and place. But I feel that the power of social media should lead to engaging people. The messages that we send should be open for people to respond to and engage in a conversation. For me this opens up the power of theology as a community where together people are able to learn truths about God.
2. Be Personal and Genuine.
At the end of the day people thrive within relationships. No matter what type of ministry yours is, let people know that you are real. If you want to create an environment where people engage this is really important. Think about what Jesus did.He ate with others, made himself available to others and invite the disciples into his own pain and suffering. Don’t share everything but equally don’t a faceless, sterile place. Share your struggles and questions and provide the opportunity for others to speak into your life.
3. Bring Freedom Rather Than Control.
Engaging with people can be scary. You never know how people will respond or exactly what they will say. But there are enormous benefits when you allow people the freedom to express themselves. Sometimes this may be completely off topic but be prepared to go with it. Firstly you never know where these rabbit trails may lead and secondly it may provide the opportunity to express the gospel to someone who may ordinarily be closed to it.
4. Coach Rather Than Censor.
I mentioned how hard it is to create the space and freedom where people are able to express their thoughts. At times there is a need to intervene in discussions. It’s never an easy thing to do but you always have 2 choices – censor or coach. For me coaching is the better option. Sometimes people just need a bit of guiding with how they are communicating. If things continue, then block or hide their comments.
5. Influence Rather Than Prescribe Change.
Does one size really fit all? In regards to clothing we all come in different shapes and sizes and what fits me may be rather loose on you. Why should ministry be any different? It is tempting to want to tell people what they need to do but this is the easy way out. Learn how to guide people toward something but allow them to work it out. I’ve found that when we discover things ourselves it is much more meaningful.
6. Seek To Serve Rather Than Receive.
We all want feedback, right? It’s nice to get a pat on the back and it’s good to hear how your ministry is impacting others but don’t aim for this. Instead of having forms and surveys seeking feedback, look for ways to ask ‘how can I serve you?’ There’s different ways to do this from forms to keeping an eye on what others are saying/asking but the key here is motivation. Ministry is supposed to be all about serving others. Jesus is such a powerful example in serving. His very life was entirely focussed on how to connect people with God. Serving is more than just an ideal, it’s vital but it is so easy to be sucked in to seeking how it makes you feel. Ministry ceases whenever it is self-serving.
7. Liberate Rather Than Capture Attention.
In social media so much emphasis is put on capturing people’s attention. You need a great headline and the perfect image in order to succeed. These things are important but not the be all and end all. Ministry isn’t about capturing and ensnaring people but freeing them. It’s about showing Jesus in such a way that people are drawn to him. Don’t fall for the idea that you need to package God in just the right way, but let him shine through you.
I’m not an expert in this. Like you I’m also simply fumbling my way through all of this. If you have found things that have worked for you please send them my way.