Ways to Use Social Media In Your Ministry

d_kow7ihnnw-saulo-mohanaSocial media is a vital part of doing ministry in our world. A ministry that isn’t leveraging social media is missing, in my opinion, one of the most effective ways of communicating with people in our culture. Everyone seems to be using at least one social media network and most people are using multiple ones. So how can we in ministry take advantage of this?

I want to suggest a few simple ways you can use social media in your ministry. Some of these suggestions are things we are currently doing in our ministry while some of them are things we are not doing but other ministries are.

Event Promotion. This is by far the easiest and most popular way ministries are using social media. However, this can be overdone. People want to see more than event promos on your social media accounts. More than likely if all they see is promos for your next event they may stop looking at your account all together or glance over it in the future. So promote your events but do so wisely.

Event Pictures. It’s easy to post promo stuff about your event but it’s another thing to intentionally get good photos from your events to post. People both at the event and not at the event will enjoy seeing pictures. This is also a great way to show people on the outside what your ministry looks like. Be sure to capture good photos. Have someone who is gifted in this area take photos at your events and post them on your social media accounts.

Sermon Quotes. This is a creative way many churches are using social media. It’s also a great way to get the sermon out of the pulpit and into the minds of people throughout the week. Take quotes from the sermon and post them throughout the week. This allows people to be reminded of what they heard but also share God’s Word with other people via social media.

Worship Set. This is another creative thing many churches are doing. Simply post the songs your worship band did on social media. This is a great way to communicate the songs you sang with your people since many of them may love the songs you sing but not know the title. I’d encourage you to search #worshipset and #sundaysetlist on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook to see some examples of churches doing this kind of thing.

Highlight Volunteers. Volunteers are vital to any ministry. We should always be looking for creative ways to brag on them and a way to say “thank you.” Social media is a great place to do just that. It allows us to publicly thank them and brag on them for a bit. Some churches do a “Volunteer of the Week” type thing. They pick a volunteer every week that serves in their ministry and they post a picture and some thoughts about them. They usually highlight where they serve in their ministry and then give them a public “thank you” for all to see. One of the churches that is doing this very well on a weekly basis is Collide Church. Jump over to their Instagram page to see their “Volunteer of the Week” posts.

These are just a few simple ways you can use social media in your ministry. Be creative and be looking for ways to leverage the power of social media for your ministry.

Suggested Books: Going Social by Terrace Crawford and Social Media Guide for Ministry by Nils Smith (both of these books are a few years old so they may be outdated in some areas in regards to social media).

Guest Post: 15 Things to Consider When Joining the Staff at a Large Church

Realize you’re on a team. Upgrade your interpersonal skills. You will need to learn how to deal with disagreements and conflict in a healthy manner. Read up on this stuff and don’t assume that you’re great at it.

Learn your place. Be quiet in staff meetings. Spend the first 6 months – 1 year listening. Do not go into ministry thinking that previous programs or successes will transfer to a larger church. Each church has their own personality. Keep quiet about past successes. No one wants to hear about what awesome thing you did last year. They want you to lead in your current condition. This transfers over to staff meetings too. Spend time listening.

Develop a thicker skin. Get ready for input from your team leaders. Be ready for performance reviews. If you do not have thick skin, then get ready for your feelings to be hurt. In larger situations, you’ll have more people who evaluate your ministry and give constructive criticism. Just because a leader sees an area that needs improvement doesn’t mean that they don’t like you. They aren’t out to get you either.

Know you’re place. Communicate directly with your supervisor. If he/she says no, don’t go above his head. Respect the chain of command. Be ready to explain your ideas. Know how what you want to do fits into your current system. Larger churches do not like to do something just for the sake of doing it. Your leader WILL tell you no at some point. When that happens about an idea that you’re passionate about, do not go over their head. This will destroy trust and make you look like a brat.

Be ready to plan ahead. Larger churches like stability. That means you need to start planning out programs and events 6 months – 1 year in advance. Long gone are the days where you can plan a month or two out. You’ll need to know what you’re preaching on, what your small groups are learning, and any events that you’re planning (as well as prices of those events) well in advance. The further you plan out the better you’ll look and less parents will complain.

Get ready for detailed budget planning. Save your receipts and be ready to deal with a financial team. The financial team will have certain requirements of you. You’ll need to keep receipts, put them into budget categories, and prepare statements. Spend wisely and record with a passion.

Get to know the entire staff. Make time to make friends. Staff interaction is VERY important. You don’t have to be best friends with everyone, but you need to be social with the rest of the team. Those friendships will be important. If you keep to yourself, you’ll look arrogant.

Build a strong volunteer base. Your job is now about building and equipping leaders to do ministry. Delegate. Train. Let go. If you make yourself essential in any area other than leadership, you’ve failed.

Learn the DNA of the church. Don’t create your own mission/vision statements. Adapt the church’s mission and vision for students. This is my personal opinion, but the last thing you want is to segregate yourself from the larger church. Show your leaders and your team that you walk in step with the vision and mission of the leadership.

Familiarize yourself with other ministries. Be ready to answer general questions about ministries you don’t lead. It never fails, someone someplace will ask you about another ministry. Be prepared to give an answer and then direct the person appropriately. If you do not take the time to know what everyone else on your team is doing, you’ll appear as if you don’t care.

Get ready for Executive Pastors. These men and women oversee the administrative duties of the Senior Pastor. They are important people to know and have good relationships with.

Learn to create systems for handling issues instead of dealing them as they come up. Be ready for hotel situations, volunteer expectations, payment plans, benevolence requests, etc. You need to think through this stuff. You need to project and be consistent.

Look at yourself as a “senior pastor” of the youth group instead of a youth pastor. Doing ministry in a larger group context means you won’t have your hands on everything. You’ll also need to learn how to counsel students and parents.

Become an expert at communication. Send bi-monthly volunteer emails (mailchimp.com), get a professional texting service (tatango.com), and publish 3 month calendar (with events, prices, and info).

Be careful what and how you post. Do not post ANYTHING on Facebook/Twitter about politics, arguments, the church, ministry staff, or anything that should stay in your head. Do not respond on Facebook/Twitter to anything students say or do that is questionable. That’s something you should handle in private.

This guest post was written by Nick Farr. Nick is a co-manger of YouthMin.org and website that connects everyday youth pastors. He’s also an Associate Pastor at East Ridge Church. He has been doing freelance graphic/web design for 17 years and provides services at a reasonable price for churches at http://www.nickfarr.me . I asked Nick to write this post because I just came on staff at Christ Community Chapel, a large, multi-site church in Northeast Ohio. I hope this post helps others coming on staff at large churches.

Guest Post: How to Build a Speaking Ministry

This guest post is written by my friend Blake Appleby. Blake is a student pastor, but also has a successful speaking ministry at other churches, camps, and youth events. I asked him to write this guest post as a way to help other ministry leaders build a successful speaking ministry for themselves.

I am no expert in the field of itinerate speaking. However, God has provided multiple ways to publically communicate His truth. The following are some beneficial principles to review before launching. These principles cover the basics, and should allow you to start off on the right foot.

 1. The Call: If you’re interested in launching a speaking ministry, understand that it is a calling. Make sure you know God is calling you to this area of service. If you’re in it for the money, fame, or your namesake, you’re traveling a dangerous road. Ask God to purify your motives, and don’t just do it because you like to preach.

2. The Communication: Communicate with the Father privately, before communicating with others publicly. If God has called you to this, He will see you through it. He will provide opportunities for you to speak and minister in powerful ways. You won’t have to ask people for opportunities; God will lead you to them. Trust Him!

3. The Connections: Let people know you’re available. However, resist the urge to be pushy about it. Take every opportunity to meet church leaders. Seek to establish a friendship, before establishing a speaking engagement. More than likely, people aren’t going to Google your name, and book you on the spot. If you build a friendship, you’re better off.

4. The Conflict: Most itinerate speakers, don’t hit the road once they’ve built a website and posted a video of themselves preaching. They are typically found serving in a local church. But, this is where conflict arises.

It’s difficult to travel and maintain a ministry in a church. Your pastor might not understand your motives, and your church might not understand the reasoning behind your absence. Therefore, communicate your heart, and submit to the leadership in your church. God will bless you for your submissive spirit and obedience.

5. The Courage: If you’re confident God has called you, be courageous enough to move forward. Contact someone with experience in this area of service. Allow people to find you and connect with you easily (i.e.: website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Take a risk. Be bold. Share your heart.

6. The Conduct: I was speaking with an itinerate speaker last week, and he encouraged me to do two things. First, be yourself. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. You don’t have to have the trendiest clothes or the slickest website to make it. Second, preach the hard stuff. Preach what nobody else is preaching. Stand out from the crowd.

I pray this information was a blessing to you. If you have any other questions, or would like to discuss this topic more in depth, contact me at www.blakeappleby.org.

Balancing Seminary and Ministry

One of the things I considered when planning for seminary was: am I going to do it full-time on campus or would I do it part-time, and maybe even full-time, online as I work in vocational ministry. I knew the latter would be hard and require discipline, but I wanted to get my feet wet in vocational ministry and didn’t want to wait for a few years while I was on campus as a seminary students. So I decided to do seminary online while pursing vocational ministry at a local church.

I’m only four classes into seminary, so by no means am I an expert at this yet, but I have been learning a few things about how to balance my seminary work with my ministry work. It’s a delicate balance that requires discipline and hard work. Here are a few things that have helped me with this balancing act that may be a help to you if your in the same place I am.

Take a day off to focus 100% on seminary. This has been the biggest help to me so far in this journey. Taking a day off during the week, for me Mondays, and focusing just on my seminary work is a great way to stay on top of your seminary work while staying busy in the ministry world. Find the weekday that works best for you, and stick with it. Don’t schedule any meetings or do any ministry work, find a quite place and work on your seminary stuff. Your ministry stuff will be waiting for you tomorrow, no worries!

Get ahead on your seminary work. Another way to balance seminary and ministry is to get ahead on whatever class work you can. On that day off, get extra reading done and get started on the next paper. Don’t wait until the week something is due to work on that assignment. Stay a week ahead. This will help you focus on your ministry work without feeling like your falling behind in your classes.

Don’t take too many classes. One of the biggest reasons people struggle with balancing seminary and ministry is because they take way too many classes. If you feel like God has called you to do vocational ministry while in seminary, make sure your giving yourself enough time to serve Him well in your ministry. Take a few classes so you stay on track with your program, but don’t overload yourself. Ministry seasons where it’s really busy, like summer for me since I am in youth ministry, take only one or two classes. When there is a season in ministry that you may have more free time, take a few more classes. Be wise and use discernment when planning your classes.

These are just three of the many ways I am learning how to balance seminary and ministry. In our culture, we are blessed with online education so we can serve God in vocational ministry while we do seminary. But remember, we need to be wise with our time so continue figuring out how you can balance seminary with your ministry.

I originally wrote this post for The Baptist Resource blogThe Baptist Resource is a great website ran by Greg Moore, an adjunct professor of religion and church history and a former college registrar. The Baptist Resource is a great site that provides practical advice and information on college/seminary education.

What I Learned From a Week of Church Interviews

This past week I was able to have a couple of interviews with a few church in North Carolina. I have been looking for my first full-time student pastor position since finishing my undergrad degree in November. I’ll be honest, not much has been happening since November. I have sent my resume to over a hundred churches, but was not getting any feedback or calls from those churches. All that changed this past week. Out of nowhere three churches called me and wanted to meet with me! I enjoyed each interview and believe God taught me a lot about myself and my future ministry. Here are a few things I learned that I believe will help you if you’re looking for a full-time pastoral position in a local church:

1. Know your theology. One of the first questions two of the churches asked me was where I stood on certain theological issues. Good churches will want to know where you stand with your theology. They are looking to hire someone who lines up with their theology so it is vitally important you know where you stand. If your theology doesn’t match theirs, don’t waste your time or their time. Hopefully, you have studied theology in college and have a good understanding of where your stand, but make sure your ready to answer questions that are theological in nature. If the church is not concerned about your theology than it’s probably not a church worth talking to. Your theology will direct your ministry, so it is important that a church knows your theology. Before I go on let me explain something. Their are “closed handed” and “open-handed” issues. Usually, “open-handed” issues are things we can agree to disagree on and fellowship and worship together in humility. But when it comes to working on staff at a church, most churches will ask you to be on the same page with even the “open-handed” issuess. So when you step into an interview, make sure you know where you stand on the “closed-handed” issues as well as the “open-handed” issues.

2. Know the role your wife will play in the ministry. Every church I interviewed with asked me how my fiancee, soon to be wife, will fit into the ministry. They want to know how your wife will serve in the ministry. Some churches will expect your wife to play a vital role while other will not expect her to do too much. Determine before an interview that you are being hired for the position, not your wife. If she wants to play a big role in the ministry, great, but if she doesn’t, that is perfectly ok. In order to answer this question, spend some time talking to your wife about how she sees herself fitting in to your ministry. Allow her to serve where her strengths and passions lie. Then explain to the church how she will serve with you and what particular roles she will play. If your not married, realize most church will look to at candidates that are married first. Don’t get married just for ministry, but realize it’s an important asset to churches. One quick tip. Allow your wife to speak in the interview if she is present. Let her share her heart and passions for ministry. Churches not only want to hear you, but want to hear your other half.

3. Make sure your like the overall ministry of the church, not just the particular area your looking to serve in. I am looking for a student pastor position so I looked very closely at their students and how the church views student ministry. It is important to make sure you like where the church is going with the ministry area or applying for, but make sure you like the church overall. Don’t take the job if you are falling asleep during the Sunday morning worship servive. Don’t take the job if you don’t feel like you will get spiritually feed by the preaching. Don’t take the job if you feel like your wife and children don’t like the the ministries that are geared towards them. I look at it this way, find a job at a church you would attend if you didn’t get a job there. Would you enjoy the Sunday services if you wasn’t the student pastor? Would you send your children to the children’s ministry if you didn’t work for the church? Find a church that ministers to your personally.

These are just a few of the things I learned this past week. I hope they help you as you are looking for that position or will help you encourage someone who is currently looking. At the end of the day, God is sovereign and will lead you to the right place and position. Pray and ask God for guidance and discernment as you look for that perfect position.