Ed Stetzer is best known as a church researcher. He's a missiologist, church-planter, and president of LifeWay Research. But in recent years, he's added a new line to his bio: social media maestro. With a well-trafficked blog and large followings on Facebook and Twitter, Stetzer has expanded his ministry through these new platforms. Drew Dyck and Kyle Rohane of Leadership Journal sat down with Stetzer (physically, not virtually) to talk about his experiences with social media, the implications they have for ministry, and why he jokes that pastors who aren't on Twitter need to repent.
How did you get started with social media?
I wasn't a pioneer, that's for sure. I don't like to jump on a fad. Facebook I knew, but once I saw Twitter getting some traction, I asked a couple of friends what it was all about. They said, "Let us set you up!" And so—I sound like my grandfather here—they started an account for me. I did it really poorly for about two weeks. I was tweeting stuff nobody cared about. And I was tweeting seven times in 10 minutes. People were like, "Stop!"
So since I'm a researcher, I decided to study up on it. I read about best practices. For instance I learned that the most followed accounts tweet approximately 12 times a day. I also listened when people said, "This is why I'm not following you."
Are you surprised at how large a role social media has come to play in your ministry?
Absolutely. It's easy and efficient. When I speak somewhere, I have to fly there (usually a day early), speak, fly home, and it takes a day to get back. But I can write a blog post in 30 minutes and have five thousand people read it that day. So it's ...