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The internet is growing at an unprecedented rate. Around 40% of the world’s population has an internet connection today. In 1995, it was less than 1%. The number of internet users has increased tenfold from 1999 to 2013. The first billion was reached in 2005. The second billion in 2010. The third billion in 2014. More and more people are to turning to the web in search of answers. Whether researching cars, schools, what to wear or yes, even what church to attend – people look to the Google for guidance. We look at Amazon reviews before making purchases. Have you ever asked your friends on Facebook for a trustworthy mechanic?
We live in an age where our voice, for good or bad, makes a difference.
People want to make an informed decision, and they want to know what you think. With the rise of Yelp and customer reviews on sites like Amazon, what a stranger says can determine what you buy, hotels you stay in, and even what hospital you will go to! Policy is actually being written based on what someone says their experience was like in the ER! We live in an age where our voice, for good or bad, makes a difference. We often hear of stories, where someone saw a friend talking about the church or an event at the church and decided to come and, “check it out.” Your voice can reach hundreds, if not thousands of people through what you talk about online.
- For context, as of July 2015, total worldwide population was 7.3 billion
- The internet has 3.17 billion users
- There are 2.3 billion active social media users
- Internet users have an average of 5.54 social media accounts
- Social media users have risen by 176 million in the last year
- 1 million new active mobile social users are added every day. That’s 12 each second
- There are 1.65 billion active mobile social accounts globally
Last year CEO and Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg announced his newest humanitarian effort: give the world internet access. Zuckerberg argued that the internet should be considered a basic human right much like food, water, and shelter. Zuckerberg announced that he wants to bring everyone on the planet together via the internet by 2020. Here’s a part of his statement as recorded on the Business Insider Tech site:
“In this century, global development and global connectivity are closely linked. If you want to help people feed, heal, educate and employ themselves around the world, we need to connect the world as well. The internet should not belong to only three billion people, as it does today. It should be seen as a necessity for development, and a tool that makes larger things possible.”
Through online interaction, we can extend the love of Jesus on a massive scale.
The internet is, “a tool that makes larger things possible.” Churches today are grown in multiple ways, and one of the biggest is through online interaction. We have the ability to reach more people than ever before, and the internet is the best tool we have. But do we steward it well? Do we use the Internet to reach people for Christ? In the last week, I know of at least two people who came to James River Church because of what someone posted online! However, most of us are not as good at online interaction as others. It’s not that we don’t want to build the church, we just don’t know how to do it online. Through online interaction, we can extend the love of Jesus on a massive scale.
6 ways to build the Church Online:
1. Facebook: Share, Comment, Like
Facebook is a powerful way to spread a message of hope to the world.
Facebook selects how many people will see a post based on several factors, but one of the primary factors is how much people engage with the post. Sharing is the most significant, then commenting, then likes.
Frequently sharing a sermon when one shows up in your feed is an easy way to spread the message. Or, copying the link to a sermon or event and pasting it in your next Facebook post.
2. Instagram: Post & Repost
Instagram is ever expanding in popularity and is an incredible space to invite people to an event or church.
By simply posting about the church or reposting something that a church has already published, you can help get people plugged into what’s happening.
3. Twitter: Retweet, Tag, Mention
Twitter is a very popular social media platform that allows you to spread a quote or a link throughout the web at lightning speed.
Simply following your church and retweeting their posts can be a huge help in getting the message out there. Great content to consider retweeting are things about service times, events, inspirational quotes, and even links to sermon content and blog posts. When you are tweeting about the church, consider using public hashtags (#life #joy #fun, etc.) in your tweets and @mentioning the church to have even more eyes on your post.
4. Write a Review: Yelp, Google, and Facebook
Reviews have become a large part of how where people decide to go whether it is to buy clothes, get coffee, or even where to go to church. Your voice matters and can help build the church simply by taking a few minutes to write a positive review about your church. The reviews that show up when you search using Siri on an iPhone come from Yelp. A lot of people tend to look on Google and Facebook for reviews as well. Copying and pasting your review to all of these sites can be a fast and easy way for you to help build the church by providing a review.
5. Check-in (Facebook & Foursquare)
Checking in every time you come to church on platforms like Facebook and Foursquare can help promote the church to your online friends and can even encourage people to visit for the first time.
We have heard stories of how people have attended a church because they saw a friend of theirs check-in, and we believe that with your help, we can see more people walk through the doors for the very first time to hear the life-giving message of the Gospel.
6. Talk about it: Social Media or Personal Blog
In today’s culture, personal stories are what grab people’s attention. Use whatever social media you are on to tell people about what God is doing in your life and in the life of the church! Using your platform to talk about the church, share messages, and invite people to church on an ongoing basis can result in an eternal impact on the lives of those you are connected to online.
What can we do?
We have the opportunity to share the gospel like never before and in a way like never before. Through our online interaction we can reach people that wouldn’t normally walk into a church: how great is that?!
We can’t stand on the sidelines; we can’t be spectators.
Our social media platforms are not merely ways to share information but are evangelistic tools that expand our ability to reach people for Jesus.
We can’t stand on the sidelines; we can’t be spectators. How we talk online and what we talk about matters. When we talk about what God is doing, people take notice; they get excited, and they start to view the church as God’s tool to build His kingdom, a place that is close to his heart, and something they want to be a part of.