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Home > 2013 > December Online Only > Social Tools, Better Leadership

You know you should be using social media more effectively than you are. Your peers have thousands (or tens of thousands) of "fans" and "followers." You have a couple social media accounts on different platforms, but you're not sure what to do with them to serve your people.

Well, do what you've always done in ministry. Receive, connect, and give.

Receive

Listen to the buzz. The primary new strength of social media lies not in the ability to broadcast what you think—people have done that for a long time. But now people can talk back. Further, everybody can now broadcast, and you can listen in. You can directly hear people's issues and felt needs. Get beyond your social cul-de-sac into the broader community.

Hear the stories. Social media gives people a place to tell their stories. So tune in to the real-life results of your ministry. You will find yourself retelling their stories rather than continuing to use your own tired tales.

Get prayer. Rather than just broadcasting "We're in three days of prayer and strategic meetings," add, "Please join us in praying that God meets and leads us." You can be as specific or vague as you need to be. But real-time prayer requests increase ownership of the organizational mission. Oh, and our King seems to appreciate it, too.

Gather input. You need ideas and inspiration from other leaders and churches. So check out what they're posting. You'll find helpful news, things you want to read, tips, and ways you can improve your social media efficacy, too. You can also float your ideas out there in early stages to get feedback from people. You need to set expectations appropriately, but if you ask a question about the idea of a schedule change and everyone seems to hate it, you may want to stick with the status quo.

Connect

Respond. Your listening will be very insightful, but it can't stop there. You need to be in the conversation, replying to posts, thanking for retweets, and answering questions. "If someone takes the time to mention your brand or church, you should do what it takes to acknowledge them," says Drew Gneiser of Feed My Starving Children.

Share your internal processes. People are interested in the lives of leaders. Share what you're learning, what issues you're following, what questions you're trying to answer. This can feel threatening if you've not grown up with social tools, but you must do this. In this day and age, what is not transparent cannot be trusted. Justin Brackett of Seacoast Church says, "Culturally, we are to the point where, if a leader is not active, they seem suspect to the community they are trying to lead."

Build your culture. Make yourself accessible to everyone in your organization. With InterVarsity, that's 1500 people spread across the country. But the same holds true for a church with a congregation of 100. You can enjoy a flatter organization, where ideas can bubble up and circulate easily, where people can tell stories and model best practices, where the Spirit blows through and good things happen. "This not only helps us build up our team, but also helps us create a culture of honoring good ideas, says Matt Brown of Think Eternity. As an example, I started a closed Facebook group for our staff members and now—every day—staff members are using it to find particular tools they need and ideas for dealing with specific situations, while enjoying the connection with the big team despite sometimes being the only staff member in their city.

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Posted: December 9, 2013

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