If you’re in ministry and you’re not actively using some form of social media, you’re missing a huge opportunity. In the world we live in today, it’s not enough to stay inside the walls of the church building and hope that people will drive by and stop in for Sunday services. Ministry involves meeting people where they are, and the reality today is that people are online, engaging in social media. If you want some statistics on the reach of social media, see this article, but basically, there are a lot of people who communicate and socialize online.
If you’re using social media for ministry and want to do better, or if you’re not yet engaging on social media platforms and you want to start, Terrace Crawford’s #GoingSocial: A Practical Guide on Social Media for Church Leaders is the book for you.
The first benefit to Crawford’s book is that it was published in 2012, so it’s current. The second benefit is that it’s a really quick read, thanks to the friendly, conversational tone used throughout the book.
Crawford starts his book by mentioning a few of the common objections to using social media for ministry (“There’s too much noise.” “I’m too busy.” etc.)
In the second chapter, he answers the question “What is social media?” and divides social media into different categories, such as forums, wikis, social networks, blogging, and microblogging.
After a couple quick pages on the opportunities presented by social media, Crawford gets to the heart of the book. He devotes a chapter each to some of the most popular social network platforms. There’s a chapter each on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube. For each platform, he goes through what it is, how to set up an account, how to use it, and what’s unique about each platform. It can be hard when you’re starting out to know what’s appropriate for each platform, so Crawford gives platform-specific advice, targeted towards ministry. If you’re a veteran of all of these sites, you probably know most of his tips, but odds are unless you’re really a social media expert, you’ll find something useful here.
In the last chapter in this section (“On #theFringe”), there’s a quick paragraph or two on a several of the other social media sites. It’s definitely a challenge for any book like this to decide what sites have staying power and are worthy of a chapter. My hope for the next edition of this book would be that some of these will be expanded into their own chapters. Google+ seems to be expanding and probably deserves more than a paragraph. Tumblr doesn’t get even a mention, and it seems to be one of the hottest networks out there right now.
The third section of the book is on getting followers on any platform, and some cautions on the risks (and yes, there are some) of using social media in ministry.
The fourth section of the book – personally my favorite part – is 20 inspirational stories of how churches and ministries are currently using social media platforms to do effective online ministry.
Finally, there’s a glossary of social media terms.
Overall, #GoingSocial is well worth reading if you have any desire to improve how you’re currently doing ministry online. If you’re looking for a guide to getting started with social media ministry, this is the book for you.
Also, as I realized when I first tweeted that I was reading this book, the title is a hashtag. Brilliant!
— Daniel Flucke (@danielflucke) January 12, 2013