Pastoring has dramatically changed in the last decade. When I first became a Pastor 14 years ago, it was common for pastors to do regular in-house visits and personal phone calls to the members of their churches. In fact, it was expected of us. But it’s different now. The age of cell phones, texting, and social media has created a very private society. In-house visitations seem almost intrusive, especially for the young families. And personal phone calls are almost treated like a visit to the principles office. So how do we effectively pastor today? People still need care and attention, and how can we effectively give them what they need?
We have been asking these questions and more as a pastoral team at Victory Lethbridge, and here is what we have tried that seems to be working. The first thing we did was embrace the social medias. We created a church Facebook page and twitter account. We began working on our website to make it more interactive. Instead of discouraging people from using their cell phones in church, we encouraged it. In fact, we created opportunities right in the service for them to post a main point from the message onto their Facebook page, or participate in a live text poll.
To create traffic on our Facebook page, we assigned weekly homework based on the sermon series and had them post pictures of their fun homework assignment on the Facebook page to be entered into a draw at the end of the series for an opportunity to win an extravagant gift package. It worked marvelously! And it resulted in active interaction between members of the church and became a great avenue for us to post announcements and advertisements for upcoming events.
One of the first things I did when I moved to Lethbridge to pastor the church was I added as many members of the church as I could to my Facebook friends list. I can’t tell you how many times I had people, young and older, come up to me with a big smile on their face and say to their husband or wife proudly, “Me and pastor are Facebook friends, we go way back!” It seemed to be a major point of contact for them, so I began using that as a major method of communicating culture, vision, praise reports and testimonies, and it even became a place for private counseling through direct messaging.
I need to make a quick point right here: the other thing I did when I first arrived in Lethbridge, was I made a personal in-house visit to every senior couple in the church. This is a group who still truly appreciates a pastor’s visit, and it made a big impact on them that I would come to their homes. I’m not sure if I have ever eaten better in my life! And I really enjoyed my time with them, too.
Facebook has been a massive pastoral tool for me. I have counseled over private messages and it has been a great, non-intrusive tool to reconnected with missing attenders. We have even led someone to the Lord over Facebook. Like I said earlier, we regularly have our people post the main point from the message on Facebook. One of our member’s atheist friends began to comment on her ‘sermon‘ posts. This friend lived in Texas and began to get curious about what we were talking about in church. Through much Facebook discussion, the member of our church finally encouraged her friend to just listen to the podcast - which they did - and after two podcasts, her and her husband gave their hearts to the Lord!
Pastoring is still a vital ministry gift. However, our methods of pastoring are greatly changing. I would encourage all pastors to begin exploring new avenues of effective pastoral care through social media.
Question: How does your church utilize social media? Please leave your comments in the "Leave a Reply" box below. Thank you.