At the beginning of the fall semester, the Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) at Sul Ross State University received a message on their Instagram account from a student named Mason seeking more information about the ministry.
BSM Director Kyle Crim responded to Mason’s message and invited him to stop by the student ministry building to meet some of the people involved in BSM. Mason did, and as they chatted, Crim learned that Mason considered himself agnostic but was searching for God.
“I shared the Gospel with Mason that day, but he did not yet commit his life to Christ,” said Crim. “We began to meet on Wednesday nights to read through the Gospel of John. By the beginning of October, I was astonished by how much he had grown just since the end of August.”
Crim began asking Mason questions about who Jesus was and what His death and resurrection meant. He could tell that Mason knew Jesus, so Crim walked Mason through a Gospel-sharing tool called the “3 Circles Illustration.” He asked Mason if following Christ was something he wanted to do.
“That time Mason said ‘yes.’ We had a new brother in Christ on the Sul Ross campus!” said Crim.
This chain of events that changed Mason’s life was set in motion by a simple message on social media.
Do you ever wonder what your church, BSM or ministry could do to be more active and accessible on social media for people seeking community and the Gospel truth? Check out these five ideas that could lead to life changing stories like Mason’s.
1. Highlight people
People are hungry for community, and they want to put faces to your ministry. Highlighting staff or members is a great way to personalize your ministry so that other people feel more comfortable getting involved.
You can highlight people in many different ways. Just be creative!
Take a photo or video of a staff person or member in their office or during an event.
If you don’t have a photographer on staff, ask people to send in a picture or video of themself.
Ask the person you’re highlighting to answer a few questions about themself to use in the post description so that your audience can get to know them.
Also, don’t forget to highlight people on special days like birthdays and anniversaries. Any chance you have to humanize your ministry, take it!
2. Ask questions
One of your goals on social media should be to create a community and then use it to do ministry. Asking people to share their opinions, insights, memories, knowledge and wisdom is a great way to foster that sense of community, make people feel heard and ultimately enable ministry to happen.
Regularly ask your social media audience a mix of spiritual questions and just-for-fun questions. Most importantly, don’t react passively when they respond. Make sure you engage back by replying to comments and questions with timely responses that let the speaker know they are heard, valued and loved.
Check out this podcast from Pro Church Tools for ideas: 39 Copy-n-Paste Question Posts for Churches on Social Media.
3. Don’t just promote, tell a story
Social media is a great tool for promoting events, and you should definitely use it to do so, but it should also be more than that. If you’re confused or daunted by the phrase ‘tell a story,’ you can think of it as ‘create a variety of content.’
When people visit your ministry on social media, they should see clips from your pastor’s latest sermon, pictures from your most recent community outreach, staff/member highlights, videos of the choir worshiping, pictures of members greeting visitors in the hallway, photos from around campus, and yes, some promotional graphics as well.
The point is that when people visit your ministry on social media, they should get an idea of what it’s like to be involved there rather than be overwhelmed by one type of content.
4. Amplify other voices
Never forget the power of sharing, retweeting and reposting! After all, how good does it feel when your ministry posts content that someone finds valuable enough to share on their Facebook profile, retweet on Twitter or repost to their Instagram story? Show your followers that you find their posts valuable enough to share and they’ll be more likely to do the same for you.
Just make sure the content you share, retweet and repost is timely and relevant to your audience. Some good accounts to share from are:
Other churches or organizations you partner with
Staff, members or students (when applicable)
Influencers in church social media (ex: well-known pastors, public speakers or directors of partner organizations)
And of course, Texas Baptists!
5. Actively respond
Last, but certainly not least, be sure to actively respond to direct messages that your ministry receives on all social media platforms.
Just like you would check your email daily, you should check direct messages on social media regularly too. Consider cleaning out your ministry’s direct message inboxes to start fresh and assign an administrator or volunteer the task of checking in once per day or week.
It’s easy to feel like direct messages don’t matter, but remember Mason’s story at Sul Ross BSM. What might have happened if no one had responded to his Instagram message?
You never know when a simple response and invitation through social media could lead to a life changing story!