Facebook: Engaging the church using 21st century tools

Not too long ago on a bright Sunday morning in Nashville as worshippers found their way into the grand lobby of Mt. Zion Baptist Church as they faithfully do every weekend, they were welcomed by a team of Facebook professionals with bright smiles beaming from their faces , warm “hellos,” inviting them to visit laptop stations designed to teach people how to better engage with other members through the church’s social media.

Justin Wise’s “The Social Church: A Theology of Digital Communication” is one great book that created a pretty comprehensive case (practically and biblically) why churches should engage in social media. Justin went further to share some practical tips and warnings.

The big question is how many churches uses social media and in particular, Facebook? It is fast becoming a norm for churches to have a Facebook page but how well does it engage with the community?

The biggest challenge from Justin’s book is that the goal of our social media should always be to create more connection between the church and its members and between fellow members.

According to a report on New York Post, Mark Zuckerberg claimed Facebook is “the new church” and the social network can take on the role that religion once did in giving people a sense of community.

The billionaire boss said groups on Facebook could give people a sense they are part of, “something bigger than ourselves” akin to a religious congregation.

Facebook passed 2 billion users — meaning almost one in three of the global population are signed up.

And its founder said people could find “purpose and support” online that previous generations found by going to church.

Churches like Mt. Zion Baptist in Tennessee have been partnering with Facebook to meet the challenges of community building in the information age. According to a report from CBN News, the megachurch recently teamed up with the social media giant to welcome its 30,000 members at their five-weekend services.

Mt. Zion’s senior pastor, Bishop Joseph W. Walker III, said that connection is one of the greatest challenges of church life. Therefore, his church teamed up with the social platform to launch a Facebook group on the church’s public page.

Mark Zuckerberg has been an evangelist for the power of social networks for years. Now he wants his network, Facebook Inc., to fill the role that churches, faith-based organizations and social clubs once did in communities.

Speaking in Chicago sometime in 2017, the Facebook FB, +0.35% co-founder and chief executive said that Americans are more disconnected from their communities these days, and need something to unify them.

“It’s so striking that for decades, membership in all kinds of groups has declined as much as one-quarter,” he said. “That’s a lot of people who now need to find a sense of purpose and support somewhere else.”

Zuckerberg said he thinks Facebook can fill that role in organizing communities.

“We all get meaning from our communities. Whether they’re churches, sports teams or neighborhood groups, they give us the strength to expand our horizons and care about broader issues. Studies have proven the more connected we are, the happier we feel and the healthier we are,” he said.

“People who go to church are more likely to volunteer and give to charity — not just because they’re religious, but because they’re part of a community.”

Read “Why Facebook Is Teaming Up with Churches to Build Community” here.

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