How Privatized Social Media can benefit your Ministry

I have a love/hate relationship with change. I LOVE it but also take my time to SLOWLY adapt to it. For instance, I LOVE technology and all the latest gadgets however, no matter how bad I want the latest and greatest, I will eventually buy it rather than be the 1st person in line. Take the Apple Watch. I wanted one so bad the moment they came out, however I didn’t buy one until 8-10 months after and I bought a used one off of eBay.

privatized social media
Send messages to people directly using Instagram Direct Messages

The same thing can be said about my adapting to social media trends. I think some of the trends happening are amazing and I will quickly to adapt to some but wait on others. For instance, when Meerkat and Periscope first came out and live-streaming was the rage, I bought in immediately. I downloaded the app and started using it. However, for things like Snapchat and Instagram, especially Instagram stories and direct messages, I was a slow adopter.

All this lead in to say that I have now been playing around with Snapchat and the messaging features of that, Instagram and Facebook now for a bit and I think there are some real benefits for you when you use it for yourself AND your ministry. Here are a few:

  • It shows a different side of yourself and your ministry to others. We are on our phones and tablets all the time and you experience things all the time. Some of them may not be “Facebook Wall” worthy but it could be something funny or interesting to someone you are doing ministry with or ministering to. Take a snap or picture and private message them. They get to see a different side of your ministry.
  • Give people a “behind the scenes” look. Show people what really goes on in your ministry…the boring stuff and the fun stuff. The reality is people have so many thoughts of what they think you do so when you show a “behind the scenes” side, you help them see what really happens, which can be fun.
  • Highlight special announcements or do giveaways and prizes. When you do this it provides another way to connect with other people and gives them incentives to share their social media with you. Plus, everyone likes prizes and giveaways and you can gain more followers which gives you a way to reach more people.
  • It is another way to build relationships with students. People still text each other but younger people are more interested in using privatized social media more to message others. This way you can send them a funny messages or encouragement via Snapchat with a fun filter that is more interesting to the younger generation now.

These may all seem odd to some reading this but the reality is privatized social media is becoming more and more popular and the more ministers can learn how to use this, the more this can benefit your ministry, especially if you are in student or young adult ministry.

However, as a word of caution, as great of ways as these are to helping you minister, you do have to take some precautions. People can get themselves in trouble with just regular social media posts, but with private social media, you need to be extremely careful. Both of these should go without saying, but because there are some people out there, I need to say:

  1. Make sure it’s appropriate.
  2. Make sure you don’t message any member of the opposite sex.

Anytime you mess up in these areas, you run the risk of getting yourself fired and causing a world of hurt not just for you but for your church as well. So just play it safe and DON’T DO THESE…ever!

Social media has evolved so much over the years and will, no doubt, continue to change in the years to come. The advent and popularization of privatized social media like Snapchat and Instagram Direct Messages will continue to thrive and draw the attention of young people. That is why ministries need to continue to find ways to utilize these to reach more people for Christ. It may seem “foreign” to you right now, but the more you use it, the better you will get at it. So take some time today, if you haven’t already, and start working on using this for your ministry. I do believe it will be a great tool for you.

What do you think? How have you seen privatized social media benefit your ministry? Share them and your experiences below or on social media use my twitter handle @tapounder when you share. 

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at YMSidekick.com and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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