COVID-19 threw a curveball for us all. Suddenly, priests were required to be not just shepherds of their people but experts in public health codes that seemed to change weekly. Churches that were once filled with worshippers sat empty. And people used to the weekly habits and rituals of spiritual guidance and enrichment were thrown into season after season of change they were not prepared for.
For churches ill-equipped and unprepared for this type of separation and isolation, the impact of COVID-19 didn’t just have physical ramifications, but spiritual, emotional, and mental as well.
This guide is designed to help you navigate and integrate how to stay connected to your parishioners online, specifically via Facebook. If you need help devising your online strategy, our team would be happy to help.
Here are our five tips for creating connections through Facebook!
Set Up & Optimize Your Facebook Page
When it comes to social media, it can feel like your options are endless. It’s important to choose to engage on the social media platforms where your parishioners already hang out. For that reason, we recommend Facebook.
Nearly 7 in 10 US adults are on Facebook, and over 51% of Facebook users are on the platform multiple times a day.
Here’s a breakdown of the age demographics represented on Facebook:
79% of 18-29 year-olds
79% of 30-49 year-olds
68% of 50-64 year-olds
As you can see, most of your parishioners are likely represented in those age ranges, all of whom use Facebook to some degree.
Now that you know why you should be on Facebook, here’s how to optimize your page!
If you don’t have one already, you’ll want to create a Facebook Business Page. It’s important to set it up as a business page and not a personal profile so people can like and follow it without having to send a friend request. Be sure to name your page something recognizable, like the name of your church (include the city/state if your name is similar to others).
Once your page is created, you should add a cover photo, profile picture, and fill out the About section with your address, website, contact information, and other information about your church. The more information you add, the easier it will be for people to find your page.
Tell People Where To Find You
Whether you can’t meet at all or you have parishioners opting to stay home because of health concerns, social media can help you stay connected. But this is only true if your parishioners know where to find you!
On your website, in your emails, and through your in-person communication, let your people know you’re actively engaging on social media so they can follow along and engage with you.
Post Meaningful Content Consistently
Now that your page is set up and people are starting to follow, you may wonder what you should be posting about. Here are some ideas:
Post daily readings and ask questions for reflection along with them. Ask your parishioners to leave comments with their thoughts on the scriptures and what meaning they have in their lives during this season.
How are you praying for your people? How can they join you in prayer for your community and the world? Share these requests and prayer items on Facebook and encourage your people to reach out if they have prayer requests as well.
You can make posts about seasonal issues. During Lent encourage parishioners to pray stations of the cross virtually with you. Share the history and significance of these days with your parishioners on Facebook, even when you can’t meet and celebrate in person.
Remind people of your service times, and how they can reach out if they need support or encouragement or prayer.
Create Connections Through Groups
Now that your page is set up and you are regularly posting, you can take your connection to the next level by creating a Facebook group. In the group you can share more openly than you might on a public page.
A group can also be a safe place for people to feel more free to share prayer requests, burdens, or other pressing matters. You can keep your group private so any new people must be approved before joining to protect the privacy of the group members.
You can also create separate groups for men, women, youth, and other groups. Whichever route you decide to take, make sure you communicate to your people where they can find you.
Stream Your Services
Finally, help your parishioners stay connected by live-streaming your services. This will help people who may feel uncomfortable getting out to feel connected and included in the life of the church. You can stream to your public page for anyone to view, or to your private group for just your parishioners.
We hope these tips help give you a vision of how to utilize Facebook not only during a pandemic, but for people who may be unable to attend services for other reasons as well. If you’d like help setting up your page or implementing any of these strategies, please let us know. We’re here for you!
We know investing in online strategies can be time-consuming and difficult to manage with your already busy schedule. We’d love to talk with you about the monthly services we provide to take this off your plate. Contact us with questions or to learn how to get started today!
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