The Church And Social Media

By the time churches have fully embraced Facebook, many of their members and those they are trying to reach may have left it behind.

Nearly three-quarters of Facebook users (74 percent) have adjusted their connection with the social media platform in some way over the past year, according to Pew Research.

That reportedly includes the 54 percent who adjusted their privacy settings, 42 percent who took a break from checking it for several weeks or more, and 26 percent who deleted the app from their phone.

Perhaps surprisingly, younger Facebook users are more likely to say they have done each of these. This is especially true for taking the app off their phone. Those aged 18 to 29 were nearly four times as likely as users 65 and older (44 percent to 12 percent).

Among teenagers, Facebook is lagging behind other social media platforms.

In a 2018 Pew Research survey of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17, half (51 percent) say they use Facebook, while larger numbers are on YouTube (85 percent), Instagram (72 percent), and Snapchat (69 percent).

That has fallen 20 percent in just three years. In 2014-2015, 71 percent of teenagers said they used Facebook, more than any other platform.

Only 10 percent say they use Facebook most often compared to other platforms. More say their preferred platform is Snapchat (35 percent), YouTube (32 percent), or Instagram (15 percent).

This decline has come as churches are increasingly using Facebook as part of their ministry strategy.

In 2010, LifeWay Research found only 47 percent of churches had a Facebook page. By 2017, that number had jumped to 84 percent. The same percentage of churches have a website as use Facebook.

Relatively few, however, used a church Twitter (16 percent) or Instagram (13 percent) account.

Church leaders say their churches are using social media to inform people of upcoming events (97 percent), interact with the congregation (87 percent), and interact with outsiders (86 percent).

The problem is that social media users are increasingly scattered across numerous platforms. In one family, mom may prefer Facebook, dad scans Twitter, the daughter is on Instagram, and the son watches YouTube.

Multiply that across an entire congregation and churches face a daunting task of trying to leverage social media to reach both insiders and outsiders.

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Source: Baptist Press

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