Posted by: mollyrossiter | February 20, 2009

Using social media means being social

Forward-thinking ministers and other faith leaders know they have to be where their people are. For that reason, many are creating Facebook profiles, starting blogs, using e-mail to send out notices and newsletters and using Twitter.

All in the name of keeping up with their flock.

It’s a smart move, and one that some pastors say has broadened their ministry within their own congregations.

Through his Facebook page, the Rev. Howard Chapman has been able to pastor to many of the teens in his church — teens who otherwise might not approach him about a bad day or a situation at school at home.

He said that even though the teens use their names, there’s still a sense of “anonymity” to “talking” online.

“I know who they are, but still there’s that sense of safety for them,” he said.

“I think there will be people who would be very uncomfortable coming to a pastor or to a counselor, but the safety of chatting with a pastor in their own room and knowing they can shut down at any time creates a real safety feeling,” Chapman said.

The Rev. Bill Reichart of Atlanta, Ga., who serves as a social media consultant for churches, said users need to remember that social media is about being, well, social.

“With social networking and communication, it’s really about controlling the message,” Reichart said. “They’re going to miss the idea that social media is not about communicating one way, it’s about creating a conversation. You’ve got to be willing to let people even change the conversation.”

Read more about how churches and ministries can and are using social media in Saturday’s Gazette.

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