Facebook: A Force for the Church to Reckon With

Facebook and the Church are entering relatively uncharted territory.

Congregations with broad age demographics are likely to use Facebook as a way of promoting activities. There are a few youthful congregations who have implemented a Facebook social media strategy that is more comprehensive, encouraging lively interaction among members.

Facebook is something the Church must learn with caution. It may be something we should teach as well, but it will take some experience to become authoritative.

A congregation should consider demographics when using Facebook. Measure them against these statistics.

  • 81% of Americans aged 12 to 17 check Facebook daily.
  • It is likely that a quarter of a congregation’s members over 65 are on this Social Media platform and this statistic is quickly growing.
  • Close to three-fourths of your members 25-45 engage in Facebook use.
  • Business people in your congregations are surely exploring Facebook strategies.

Your members are already on Facebook. Grandparents are following the activities of their grandkids. Youth are likely to be in touch with dozens of friends while you think they are having dinner with you.

How many of your members check your congregation’s web site daily? How many read the newsletter? How many members participate in creating the content on your web site or in your newsletter?

The reins of information are no longer in your church leaders’ hands.

There is no doubt that Facebook is a force to reckon with and a tool to consider.

Facebook is changing the way we think. Privacy is valued much less. There is a driving need to be in touch. Facebook has an entry age of 13, but figuring out what year you have to be born to qualify takes elementary math. Children are using Facebook.

When our way of thinking changes, our ways of acting follow. What this means to the Church is not known. Will members become more engaged? Will they see less use for Christian community?

If the Church hopes to influence the answers to these questions, we must engage in the conversation.

The problem Churches may have in building Facebook community is that the thinking of older members and younger members may clash. The impact could be felt across a congregation. One piece of private information, innocently shared on your congregation’s Facebook network, could create serious fallout. Pictures that seem fine to someone posting on multiple walls might not pass the vanity test of others in the congregation.

Though not excluded, deep thoughts are rarely shared on Facebook. It tends to be a lively conversation with lots of inside innuendo going on. This could be fun for those in the know. Others could feel left out.

Still, Facebook is here to stay and it is changing the way we think. If churches hope to reach the people in their community, we must adapt our mission strategies for today’s way of thinking.

Maybe Facebook will force the Church to dust off the cathedral rafters!