Have you tried to get a new digital ministry started, only to have it shot down? I am sure there were many reasons why. That platform is dangerous. We do not have any time to waste. Our congregation does not use the Internet. Despite the arguments, there are steps you can take to overcome adversity.
This is another article inspired by scripture. Moses sent 12 spies into Canaan to scout out the land. All but two said it was an impossible task; Caleb and Joshua. The other ten spread rumors and lies about the land. In that Biblical story, God pronounced judgement on the people. They were left to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. When Joshua took the reigns, he led them through battle after battle into the promised land. I am not saying that you will have a legacy such as Joshua. But your efforts in digital ministries may give your church a much-needed boost.
I was hoping I did not have to mention the idea of not having a website. It should be obvious that you need a website to survive in today’s digital age. Yet some rural churches may not think so. If you are looking to set out and do it yourself, I would start simple. Begin with a WordPress.com site. It is free, and you can easily export your data to another WordPress installation. Here you can show features to your leadership without spending anything other than time. Show them how easy it is to update content and share with social media. It should be an easy sell to get them to commit to buying a domain name and hosting package.
What gets measured, gets improved. Few things are as easily tracked as traffic on your digital properties. Once you get a website, set it up for analytics. The best choice around is Google Analytics. It is easy, free, has tons of features, and integrates well with Google advertisement campaigns. Also, many social media platforms provide helpful statistics. When trying to prove a point, numbers do not lie. You will need them to prove that “God is with us”.
Most pastors would agree that a presence on Facebook is also an obvious step for any church. Yet even if they have a presence there, some platforms like Snapchat and Instagram may not be in scope. Unfortunately, that is where most of your youth are. So if they are hesitant to officially jump out on social media, you have options. The first is to use your personal social media accounts. Make digital connections with your congregation and share content with them. If possible, add them to a church-specific list. Show leadership how many members are online. Then create events, share photos, and link to news updates. Prove you can get positive digital reactions to your church-specific posts. Then ask for permission to create an official account for your church and/or ministries.
Planting Digital Stakes
There are a multitude of digital places you should stake your claim. The first would be Google’s My Business. Then seek out other spaces. Look at online review and “check-in” websites such as Yelp and Foursquare. Ensure your information is accurate. Check the physical addresses and phone numbers. Then review the website and social media accounts. You should be able to do this without any further permission from leadership. But what you can do is show how your rankings change in search results. The more sites that point to you, the more reputable your site becomes.
Do you want to get traction on a new digital ministry? Move down this list of steps. Hopefully the strides you make are good ones. I pray they are as fruitful as the large harvests of crops the Hebrews brought back from Canaan. I also pray that the evidence you show is stronger than any opposition you face. Social media is not the Promised Land of God. It is not flowing with milk and honey. Yet it is certainly a land of opportunity. First you then pray. Then take those risks and cultivate a great digital ministry.