It’s easy for us to forget that visiting a church for the first time is scary. For the new visitor, this apprehension can turn your simplest miscommunications into reasons not to return. To avoid this, it pays to fall back on the most reliable and time-honored method of drawing people to church: invitations. An invitation is a great way to extend some warmth and welcome to prospective visitors right off the bat.
Creating a Social Media Invitation Strategy
When it comes to inviting others to church, social media is infinitely helpful—if you’re using it well. With one Facebook status update, your church members can reach nearly everyone in their sphere of influence. This is a huge opportunity.
Social media is great for piquing the curiosity and interest of friends. You can use it to give people a sense of your church’s culture and values. You can talk about the service projects you’re involved in and build hype for upcoming sermon series.
The only problem with platforms like Facebook is that they’re too impersonal for the actual invitation. It’s a lot more difficult to look someone in the eye and turn down a verbal invitation than it is to simply scroll past it on Facebook. That means you really need to be strategic in the way you use social media.
1. Encourage social media use in church
I’ve been to a lot of churches where congregants are encouraged to turn their phones off and put them away. Stop doing that! If people have their phones out, it doesn’t mean they’re distracted—it could mean they’re involved. In fact, their phones probably house the Bible they brought to church today.
You want people tweeting things that are said in the service. You want them taking pictures of the service and posting them to Facebook. This kind of posting is helping communicate what your church is like and, more importantly, it says that people who go there are excited about their church!
2. Use the church’s Facebook page for invites
When you’re starting a new sermon series, post a teaser and an invite on the church’s Facebook page. You can use a video or text. If you decide to use text, make sure that you include an image, too.
Encourage congregants to share and comment. This is how the invite is going to get pushed into their friends’ news feeds.
Here are a couple tips for this teaser:
- Ditch church language and Christian jargon. You don’t want people without a Christian background to feel like this isn’t for them.
- Focus on the benefits. If you’re teasing a series on marriages, you don’t necessarily want to talk about the biblical text you’ll be using. You want people to know how this series is going to help their marriage.
- Include the important details. Even though this is getting shared from the church’s Facebook page, make sure to mention the church, the service times, and the church website. If you’re expecting the person reading/watching this to look up the pertinent information, you’ve lost them.
- Issue an invitation. Don’t forget to actually invite people. The invitation can be as simple as, “We’d love to see you this Sunday.”
You can use the same strategy for creating shareable invites for major services like Easter and Christmas, or for events like baptism services and church barbecues.
Watching the news can be completely overwhelming. With all the violence and unrest at home and abroad, it’s easy to understand why so many people are anxious and discouraged. But it’s possible to look to the future with courage and confidence.
During the month of August, Redeemer Community Church will focus on Finding Hope in a Hurting World. In this series, you’ll discover why faith and hope are your greatest assets in an increasingly unstable world.
Join us Sunday morning at 9:30 or 11:00 AM—we look forward to seeing you!
3. Update the church’s Facebook cover image
Use your Facebook cover image as a place to communicate stuff that’s going on. If you have a designer working on assets for new sermon series, have them put together a Facebook cover image, too.
The nice thing about regularly updating your cover image to reflect what’s happening is that people in your congregation can share the image themselves and use it on their own profiles.
Since you want this image to get shared and used by others, make sure you include the church’s name and service times.
Designer: We want a Facebook cover for a sermon series entitled: Finding Hope in a Hurting World. Please include the church name: Redeemer Community Church and the service times: Sundays 9:30 or 11 AM
4. Put Facebook events to use
Events are Facebook’s secret weapon. They’ll allow your church to put together an event and invite everyone who’s liked your page to attend. What’s particularly awesome is that attendees can invite people as well.
You don’t want to overuse it, though. It’s probably best to save Facebook events for really important church gatherings: Christmas and Easter services, baptism celebrations, neighborhood barbecues, and really special sermon series.
Here’s what you’re going to want for your Facebook event
- An official name: Don’t be generic. You don’t want to just call it “Barbecue.” You want a fun and attention-grabbing name like “All-day community shindig and soirée!” You want it to stand out, and you want it to be easy to remember so people can talk about it.
A clear description: If you want people to come, you’ll invest time in writing a really informative and catchy description. Don’t just give them the facts; entice them.
“Relationships are what make community so important, but only around 20% of Americans interact with their neighbors at all. Let’s change that! Come to Redeemer Community Church’s All-Day Community Shindig and Soirée and start building the kind of relationships that can make our community a safe, fun place to live.
We’ll serve the typical barbecue fare: burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, chips, and soda. Feel free to bring a side dish or a dessert, or just show up! We look forward to seeing you! The event is FREE and will be held on the grounds of Redeemer Community Church.”
- A recognized venue: If it’s at all possible (and it usually is), use a venue that Facebook recognizes. This way, when people hover over the location, the page for that venue will pop up and give attendees more information.
- A stunning event photo: It’s important that you have a photo that really makes people want to attend. A poorly rendered, stretched, or bad photo isn’t going to encourage people to come to your event. You want an inviting and eye-catching image. The ideal image dimensions for Facebook events are 1920 x 1080 pixels.
- Permissions to post on the event wall: When you’re creating the event, you have the option of only allowing the host to post. Fight the urge. You want to be able to answer questions that come up and build community and excitement around the event by having people talking to each other in the comments.
- An end time: Facebook requires a starting time for your event, but end times are optional. And although you titled your event the “All-Day Community Shindig and Soirée,” you’re going to want to have an end time listed. Having an ending time will help potential attendees not feel like they’re expected to hang out longer than they want to.
Once the Facebook event is up and running, you can also invest some money into running some targeted Facebook ads to people in your community.