Hello and welcome to this Special Expert Edition of the #AskNatchi show, where we have an expert join me as we try to answer your social media and digital media related questions.
The question we have today is from a church leader about church attendance and social media.
The actual question is: “Will people stop coming to my church and will we see a reduction in attendance if we start using social media in our ministry for doing live streaming, Facebook Groups, etc.?”
First of all, thank you for asking that question. Many ministry and church leaders have this question at the back of their mind, but they don’t ask it. This is lurking in their mind and because of which they hold themselves back from using social media completely. They think. “If I put everything out on social media, then people will consume that and not show up for my church services”.
Before I add any of my thoughts to this question, I want to bring in our expert. I want to introduce her to you.
Our expert for today is Nona Jones. Nona Jones heads the Faith-based Partnerships at Facebook. She’s also a wonderful speaker. I have heard her speak in person and she is amazing. She’s also the author of an upcoming book called ‘Success from the Inside Out’.
The book will be released in January 2020 but it’s available for pre-order. More details here.
I had the chance to chat with her in person in California, during a conference and the since we collect these questions a little ahead of time, when I met her in late March 2019 I had this question with me, and I asked her this question. And here is her answer, let’s first look at her answer and then I will come back to you. Here is Nona Jones!
— Interview Begins —-
Natchi Lazarus: Hi Nona. Most of the people watching are church leaders and nonprofit leaders. And they are probably wondering, well, if I use Facebook Groups, is that, in a way, diluting the face-to-face experience for my church?
Because that’s the biggest question I get from people. If I start using Facebook will people stop coming to my small groups or stop coming to church?
You’ve worked with a lot of large and very impactful ministries. What has been your experience?
Nona Jones: First of all, I appreciate this question. Because it is frankly the first question on most leader’s minds.
It’s funny because my husband being a pastor and myself being in ministry, when I first started doing this work, that was the question he asked. He was like, “Isn’t this going to cause people not to go to church anymore?”
But I think that there’s a fundamental paradigm that is wrong, that most people equate Church to a building. They think it’s a place that you go out on a day at a time. When in reality, in the Bible the Church was the people! It was the community.
Jesus actually never put His name on a building and He never said, “Hey, y’all come see me on Sunday at the temple at 11 to hear my sermon series“. He was constantly among the people, teaching them, praying for them, healing them.
So in reality, I believe that Online Church and Digital Church frankly is a return to the Biblical model of Church, which is making the Gospel available and accessible 168 hours per week, as opposed to just during a service.
There was a statistic, it was a study done and statistic that it proved was 40% of people in America will tell you that they’re in church on a weekend. But the actual attendance is only 20%.
If you think about that, if only 20% of people are showing up at a worship service, that means 80% are not. So what I’ve been challenging leaders to think about is we need to go after that 80%.
And that means that we have to leverage social technology. Because just in the US alone, 3 out of 4 people are on Facebook. And when you think globally, I mean, my goodness, a quarter of the Earth’s population is on Facebook. So it’s a tool for evangelism or discipleship, unlike any other we’ve seen.
— End of Interview —-
Well, there you have it. Such amazing power-packed points like going back to the Biblical model of the Church, understanding Church in a different way and using social media as a powerful tool for discipleship.
It’s very important that we start thinking about social media differently. It’s all in our head. So that’s where it all starts.
I just want to add 2 points, so that it gives you a little more clarity, based on my work.
1. First thing is, social media helps you actually grow your audience – your face to face audience. That has been my experience.
I have done this for more than 10 years. I’ve done this for a long time. And in my experience, what I’ve seen is, there’s not one ministry that I have worked with where I have seen the ministry say, “Oh, I used social media, but we lost our audience.” Never!
All the ministries I’ve worked with have only grown. Some of them very fast, some of them a little bit slower, but there’s only been growth because they use social media.
Because the reason is very simple, people keep consuming what you put out on social media and they connect with you. And the more they connect with you, if they have an opportunity to come and see you in person, they will totally do it.
Because an in-person experience can never be replaced by an online experience.
So, they will definitely take the first chance to come and see you, come and attend your service whenever they can, because for a long time they have consumed your content on social media. So that is the first thing I want to share.
2. The second is, social media removes a lot of media-related constraints that you have as a church.
For example, you can only buy so much of media time when you go for other types of media. In a paper advertisement, you can only buy so much space.
In other forms of advertisements, there are constraints when it comes to time. You have to finish a video in 20 minutes or 30 minutes.
But social media frees you from all of that. You have a literally unlimited amount of time to teach people.
Do you want to have a long teaching session for 2 hours every week? You can do it.
Do you want to have a 1-hour teaching session for the next 50 weeks? Totally do it.
It just frees you up as a ministry from the limitations that you have on media.
So those are the two things I wanted to add.
There are many, many other reasons. I’ve written an entire book on it so you can go check out the book.
I once again want to thank you for being here. Thank you for listening to this. I hope you enjoyed our expert guest Nona.
I also want to take the time to thank Nona for these amazing insights that she has on topics related to this. What a blessing she is to the Church, and to the Kingdom! I just hope and pray that she will continue to be a blessing to many, many more people in the days to come.
If you have any thoughts, feedback or more questions on this topic, let me know. You can email, comment here or DM me on social media.
Stay connected. Stay curious. Stay blessed.
Author of The Connected Church. Social Media and Digital Marketing Consultant for Nonprofits, Faith-based Organisations, Churches and Ministries.