29 Sep 2020

Use Social Media to Your Church's Advantage

Christine Bové

Over the past several months, churches have had to find new ways to communicate with their congregation because of social distancing measures and state closures. As a result, social media has become one of the main tools pastors and ministry leaders are using to reach people for the Kingdom of God.

Research from Pew Research Center shows that 69% of adult users check their Facebook once a day at minimum, with the majority checking the platform multiple times a day. Additionally, 73% of adult users engage with Youtube at least once a day.

This means that if church and ministry leaders learn how to use social media platforms to their advantage, their possibility for impact online is unlimited!

It is also important that churches and ministries understand how to use social media properly. As a church or ministry leader, you may not be aware that certain practices, like a social media policy, must be put in place to protect your church, your leaders, and your congregation while interacting online.

Building your Church's Social Media Policy

Although social media is a beneficial tool, it can also be greatly misused.

Here is a common example:

One Sunday, a pastor was taking pictures of the kids worshipping in children's church. She didn't realize that two of the children in the picture were in foster care. Just as she was about to post those photos on the church's social media accounts, another staff member reminded her of the policy. For their protection, children in the foster care system cannot have their faces shown.

This is one of many everyday situations that arise with church social media. Due to the number of rules and regulations, a church should implement a social media policy.

What Should be in a Church's Social Media Policy?

A church's social media policy should outline:

    • How the church's social media will be used
    • The language and verbiage that is appropriate to use
    • What kind of content can be posted
    • Who and what can be represented in the photos posted
    • Protection for those who are in foster care systems and custody issues
    • Your privacy policy 
    • Who can post on social media (does someone approve posts before they are posted?)
    • How to interact with political matters

The church should also add a section to the policy that would help keep the church in line with IRS compliance. It's important to have social media behaviors and etiquette outlined in the policies. 

The IRS cares what churches post on their social media. 

The IRS publication 1828 lists qualifications and rules nonprofits must follow. Because churches have nonprofit status, they also must abide by these rules. When a church violates one of the listed rules in publication 1828, the church is at risk of having their 501(c)(3) status revoked. 

Staying Compliant to IRS Publication 1828

Here are some negative behaviors to avoid on social media to stay in IRS compliance:

    • Inappropriate comments, pictures, or gestures
      • This means promiscuous pictures, sexual comments to other people online, or crude gestures should never be posted on social media.
      • Political comments, stances, or rants
        • As is listed in the IRS publication 1828, a pastor or church can't claim a political party from a public platform, including social media. However, a pastor can address beliefs and hot political topics over social media. Let your policies be clear on how your staff and pastors can interact with political matters on social media to stay within the IRS compliance.
        • The pastor's or church staff's behavior
          • As a church staff member, one is held to a higher standard and faces scrutiny more frequently. The staff member's behavior is reflected not only on them individually but also on the church. Actions to avoid include, but are not limited to:
            • Angry rants
            • Theological debates
            • Slandering businesses, organizations, other pastors
            • Behavior that violates the church's bylaws of restricted activities

          These negative behaviors not only reflect poorly on you as a leader, your staff, and your ministry, but it could also cost you your church's tax-exempt status. 

          Without these details included in your policy, it could be easy to misuse social media. Churches and individuals can also be sued for violating privacy, custody issues, and related situations regarding this matter.

          If you need help with other policies for your church, we offer a Policies Suite to help you protect what God has called you to lead! Call us today to get a free social media policy at 877-494-4655!

          Create Policies For Your Church Today!

          Click Here

          For Kingdom Come

          Social media is a great tool for further expanding your church's reach. It is also a great place to share the Gospel and stay connected to your congregation.

          Well-crafted policies are another tool to protect yourself, your staff, and your church and free you up to be an effective participant in the great wide world of social media.

          If you are new to social media and ready to get started, here are some of the most popular platforms:

              • Facebook: You can post blogs, events, announcements, videos, clips, and general encouragement. This platform is great for connecting with your congregation and streaming your services online.
              • Twitter: You can post sermon clips, sermon quotes, bible verses, and short quotes of information or encouragement. 
              • Instagram: You can post pictures and graphics, scripture, announcements, and sermon quotes. Instagram also has Instagram TV, where you can post longer videos of church announcements, sermon clips, general encouragement, and more.
              • Youtube: You can use Youtube to live-stream services and post house church videos, bible studies, or general curriculum you want to make available online.

          One of the great benefits of social media is all of these accounts can directly link to your church's website. 

          Your church website is a central place for people who are part of your community and new to stay connected. While many churches are learning to use online platforms to reach their circle of influence due to the pandemic, these tools and platforms will continue to be important moving into the future. 

          If you don't have a website for your church yet, the StartSITES Service is for you! StartCHURCH has made it simple for you to create your own website with our easy-to-use website builder. Giving online, sharing video sermons, and keeping your congregation up-to-date with important events and announcements has never been easier! Click here to get your church website up and running!

          We also have a service called StartSITES Creative, through which a Church Website Specialist will craft your website and tailor it to the heart and mission of your church. To learn more, give us a call today at 877-494-4655 or click the link below to schedule an appointment to speak to a specialist!

          Schedule a Call Today!

          Click Here

          Please feel free to comment. We always appreciate good dialogue. However, we do moderate each comment to ensure that it is on topic and not derogatory to other participants. We ask that you keep your comments brief and pertinent to the topic so that others may benefit.

          Blessings,
          Raul Rivera


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