Love it or hate it, Facebook is not going anywhere soon. In fact, Facebook has made a major shift in how it is approaching its future development. Last year, founder Mark Zuckerburg went to the extreme of crafting an entirely new mission for Facebook: “Give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together 1.” Community is what it is all about, and Zuckerburg has backed up this new mission by investing in development that revolves around encouraging true community, including many improvements to Facebook Groups.
When interviewed by Wired magazine, Zuckerburg used an intriguing example of what he feels true community might resemble. Zuckerbrug shared that his “model for an online community might look something like Saddleback2.” That’s right. He seems to have been moved in some way by the work Rick Warren and his ministry team have been leading at Saddleback Church in Southern California. Facebook has even created new roles and hired devoted Christ-followers to focus on helping churches use the social network to build community and engage in ministry. At the 2018 Outreach Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, Nona Jones, the Global Faith-Based Partnerships Leader from Facebook, shared a keynote presentation on the power of Facebook for engaging in ministry.
There are great opportunities for churches to use Facebook Groups to build community and provide additional avenues of engagement. Here are four great ideas your church can begin implementing now to bring your people closer together through Facebook Groups.
#1: Create Closed Facebook Groups to Encourage Deeper Conversations
Facebook gives you a lot of control over how your Facebook Group actually works. They give you the ability to create “closed’ groups, which basically means they are not open to the public and someone must be approved to join. This is a great distinction because it allows your church to create a group (or groups) that provide a level of privacy, which can encourage your people to get into deeper conversations. Your group administrator reviews everyone who requests to join the group and, depending on the guidelines you choose, decides if they are approved or not.
You can set up closed Facebook Groups for specific ministries within your church, like women’s ministries, recovery ministries or individual small groups. Everyone who joins knows that the groups are closed, which increases the comfort level to engage in conversations that are more meaningful.
#2: Take Advantage of the Weight Facebook Places on Group Engagement
If you have spent much time at all on Facebook you understand that they have a specific way that they decide what posts and engagements are most important and which they choose to show in your newsfeed. This is what we refer to as Facebook’s newsfeed algorithm, and exactly how it works is a mystery. However, we do know that Facebook has decided to treat posts and engagements from Facebook Groups similar to how they treat posts from your friends and family. This is huge when it comes to keeping people from your church engaged. So, Facebook is weighting activity that takes place in your Facebook Groups more heavily than what is happening on your Facebook page. If you want to really stay in front of your people, begin using Facebook Groups today.
#3: Consider Creating One Catch-all Group for Your Church
Earlier it was suggested that you can create separate closed Facebook Groups for specific ministries or small groups. You should also consider creating one catch-all Facebook Group for your entire church. This is a place that you can encourage church-wide conversations for those who consider your church their spiritual home. It is here that you can relate directly to the “church family” –share specific prayer requests, updates on church events, explanations about upcoming projects, volunteer information, highlights about capital campaigns– really anything that you want to communicate to your church that you would not necessarily want to place on your public Facebook Page or church website.
#4: Use Facebook Live in Your Groups for Maximum Engagement
Facebook Live allows you and your ministry leaders to “go live” and share videos in your Facebook Groups. Facebook notifies Facebook group members when a Facebook Live video is broadcasting, so it is a great way to connect with people and increase engagement. Here are some ideas of how you can use Facebook Live in conjunction with your Facebook Groups for maximum engagement:
- Weekly Word from the Pastor – Many churches send out a weekly email from the pastor’s desk. Why not use a webcam to broadcast directly into your church’s Facebook Group straight from the pastor’s office? This is a great way to connect with your congregation during the week and share important highlights.
- Taking the Teaching Deeper – This takes the above idea in a different direction. Several churches are using Facebook Live to dig more deeply into the sermon that was shared over the weekend. One of your pastors or ministry leaders can spend more time on the text, sharing additional background or application. Make these interactive by asking questions and encouraging those watching the Facebook Live to respond.
- Behind the Scenes – These broadcasts can be a lot of fun and generate excitement for upcoming events. Simply shoot a Facebook Live broadcast from your phone and give people in your group a sneak peek of the worship team rehearsing, preparations for a community outreach, setting up for a youth event, or whatever might encourage them about the life of your church.
- Reading Scripture Together – Do you have a scripture reading plan that you have encouraged your church to follow? If so, consider having someone jump into the churchwide Facebook Group and broadcast a Facebook Live while reading that day’s scripture passage. You can have different people from your ministry team read throughout the week.
Ready to leverage Facebook Groups and build community in your church? Share these ideas with your leadership team and develop a strategy to begin introducing Facebook Groups in your ministry. Have more questions? Or are you already using Facebook Groups at your church? Do you have insights and suggestions that would be helpful for other ministry leaders? Join the ongoing conversation in our Outreach Facebook Group, an online community for pastors and ministry leaders involved in all aspects of outreach to their cities, everything from outreach campaigns to community events to church branding to communications and more. Inside the Outreach Facebook Group, we encourage and equip each other by sharing expertise, asking questions, offering ideas and celebrating effective strategies about reaching our communities with the hope of Jesus and raising awareness about our churches and ministries in our cities. We love to hear stories from your church and ministry experiences about what’s working, not working, what you’re most excited about, and new ideas in the world of community outreach. Click here and join us today
With 20 years of pastoral leadership experience, Jason Daye is passionate about helping ministry leaders discover how God is already working in their unique ministry contexts. Daye also strives to help them uncover opportunities to build bridges into their neighborhoods to extend the hope of Christ. He dedicates his time to encouraging and equipping churches, denominations and ministry organizations to develop their Kingdom effectiveness by creating a culture that is both incarnational and invitational. Jason is the Director of Ministry Development at Outreach, Inc. and lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with his beautiful wife and six children. He enjoys hiking with his family, fighting rainbow trout, summiting 14ers and swapping stories with good friends. Connect with him on Twitter @jasondaye.