Taking advantage of the latest technologies, small churches have begun to use social media as a means to increase their exposure and preach the gospel.
“We definitely see social media as one of the languages of the culture. ... Why wouldn’t we have a presence there,” said Josh Isenhardt, a social media pastor at Northridge Church in Plymouth Township in an article.
Northridge is one of many local churches in Michigan who use technology such as web chat, Twitter and Facebook to reach out to more people. Northridge added a virtual campus this year where members from around the country and world can simultaneously visit the church’s website, NorthridgeChurch.com.
The virtual campus meets in local school buildings. It allows members to view a rebroadcast of the weekend service, participate in a live chat room, and pray together.
“Church online is for those people who are not ready to step into the physical location,” Isenhardt said.
He claims that Facebook raises awareness of what God is doing through the church as well as builds community. However, the pastor wants to build upon this and use it for spiritual formation.
“Ultimately, we want to see people grow to be more like Christ,” Isenhardt said.
Grace Chapel is another church that uses Facebook and Twitter to link members in the church to each other, according to Assistant Pastor Daniel Rose.
“It’s a very easy way to get a large number of eyes on a small bit of information,” Rose said. “We’ve seen a few people come join us because of conversations over Twitter.
Through Twitter, Grace has been able to start CoffeeDoubt. CoffeeDoubt is a group of Christians, atheists, agnostics, theists and others who meet twice a week in coffee shops to talk about spiritual issues.
Rose says that Facebook links people who already know each other, while Twitter links people who do not know each other. Grace has a Facebook page for the church, one for CoffeeDoubt, and one for its youth ministry. The chapel began implementing Twitter during a mission trip to Kentucky.
He said that members were tweeting their experiences on personal accounts, which sparked conversations on what they were doing and why.
During the mission, members shared their experiences of renovating homes and holding literacy, math and science camps. The church currently uses Twitter to inform people about their Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.
According to Rose, Grace’s website is a better tool than Facebook and Twitter for getting people to come to church on Sunday. The website includes podcasts of each week’s sermon, which can be downloaded to an iPhone. Rose also said that young people’s Facebook pages are being used to invite people to their church events.
“A lot of the high school students use Facebook almost as a planner,” Rose said.
Next, Rose wants to use Facebook as an extension of the Sunday sermon or Sunday school.