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Social Networking for Churches

Dale Carnegie said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming really interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” Although his comments preceded Internet-based social networking, Carnegie was on target. With the contagious nature of social networking in cyberspace and a few well-tested relational strategies, your church can grow its ministry and fulfill its mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

How can I reach out and draw people in?
There many meaningful and creative ways to use social networking for churches. Some churches create social networking groups for youth or young adults to stay connected throughout the week or to reach out to other teens and young adults across the World Wide Web. Some churches host social networking groups to attract seekers and visitors, while others focus on nurturing adult members and providing opportunities to strengthen their spiritual lives online. One way to learn how other churches use social networking sites for specific groups is to visit a site like Facebook or MySpace and search for the keywords “United Methodist” under groups. On Facebook alone, more than 500 United Methodist groups reach tens of thousands of people.

What is the secret to setting up a social networking group?
Most social networking sites require an individual profile before allowing you to set up a group profile. It is a good idea to gain the support of your local church leaders and Web ministry team. Likewise, it is a good idea to discuss the purpose of the social networking group, define the intended audiences and determine what information, events and resources you will share. Based upon the decisions you make about the purpose of your church’s social networking group and its intended audiences, you should select an appropriate social networking site. For example, if your goal is to strengthen church members’ spiritual lives, using a faith-based social networking site like MyChurch is appropriate. A group for young people wanting to reach other young people might be better situated on MySpace.

What are the benefits?
Establishing a group on a social networking site for your local church greatly increases your church’s visibility on the Internet. With a social networking group hosted by your church, you can include links to your church’s Web site or e-mail address, upload videos of sermons, share upcoming events and enlist others in causes sponsored by your church. The key to a successful social networking in churches is to maintain active interaction among group members. To accomplish this, you must infuse the group with relevant, timely information and moderate discussions to keep them focused, supportive and appropriate. With careful attention and a little time, your church’s social networking group can become a growing, vibrant place to developing meaningful connections that transform lives.