Harnessing the Power of Social Media to Plant a Church

Social media doesn't need to be confusing. Use this handy guide to figure out how to maximize it for outreach.

There is a formula for launching a church in America. Collect lots of money. Spend lots of money getting the word out. Turn the big crowd of strangers into a church. It’s easy … if you have lots of money. But c’mon, church planters are hackers by nature, right? It’s possible to get the word out in a better way, especially today.

When we began planting Grace Hills, we didn’t want to drop a ton of money on massive, but impersonal, means of announcing our arrival—and we didn’t have a ton of money anyway. So we used Facebook. We’re still using Facebook. And it’s working.

We started with two couples (including the Coxes). We spent $0 on traditional advertising, but had 35 at our first gathering in July of 2011. We grew to approximately 80 within six months by word-of-mouth and while spending $0 on traditional advertising. We launched with 176 on our first Sunday, mostly gathered through Facebook, word-of-mouth and search engines. Today, we’re the most “liked” church in northwest Arkansas, and an estimated 75-80 percent of our first-time guests found us on the web.

Why Social Media Works

I’ve never liked the term social media, even though it’s fairly standard now. It’s tough to talk about it without calling it something, so social media it is. The reason I don’t care for it is that it implies that social media is something new. In reality, it’s something very, very old, which is the reason why I believe it works so well.

Media (information) has been around since God began to reveal Himself to Adam and Eve. And social (relating to one another) has also been around since Eden, though it was broken by Adam and Eve’s sin and has yet to be fully repaired.

Even in our broken condition, we are social creatures desperately in need of meaningful relationships.

How to Use Social Media in a Church Plant

Before jumping in, understand the different meanings and uses of different platforms.

Facebook is IT for the local church. Other tools help, but Facebook’s user base is, for the moment, unbeatable.

Instagram is a close second in terms of “average” (nonmarketing and nonsocial-media pros) people hanging out there.

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Brandon Cox
Brandon Cox is Lead Pastor of Grace Hills Church, a new church plant in northwest Arkansas. He also serves as Editor and Community Facilitator for Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastor's Toolbox and was formerly a Pastor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In his spare time, he offers consultation to church leaders about communication, branding, and social media. He and his wife, Angie, live with their two awesome kids in Bentonville, Arkansas.