#Channels: Social Ads

The most famous missionary is, without a doubt, Paul. He traveled much of the known world preaching the gospel. Paul sums up his underlying strategy as becoming all things to all people, but it’s apparent his main tactic was to go where people were and to speak their language. The apostle would preach in the synagogues, then go to the Gentiles in the marketplace. When he arrived in Berea, he communicated from the Scriptures, proving Christ as the messiah. In Athens, Paul grabbed from their pagan heritage to present Christ.

Setting the Stage

He serves as model for how we can reach people in our day, even if the means of doing so are different. We’ll look at where people are: social media. Then turn our attention to the language: value.

“Giving time and resources, sacrificing, for the good of the community shows that your church cares about the people and begins to establish a platform for sharing the gospel.”

The big three have impressive reach, especially considering their newness. Facebook has almost a third of the world’s population accessing its platform. Youtube has 1 billion monthly users.1 Instagram has reached 800 million.2 These are platforms where people share their lives, from pictures of the wedding the just left to updates on their family’s move across country. Some have even built businesses by sharing random day-to-day life events. There is mass “intimacy” on these platforms, and people are checking them daily to see what’s new.

Value is the currency of the digital world. Every “artifact” that gets shared across social channels has some sort of value. It benefits people financially, intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically, or spiritually, so it gets shared. When users copy a post or click the share button, they’re inviting others to have the same experience they had. This is why things go viral – they’re valuable.

“Every “artifact” that gets shared across social channels has some sort of value.”

Value is the currency of the digital world. Every “artifact” that gets shared across social channels has some sort of value. It benefits people financially, intellectually, emotionally, socially, physically, or spiritually, so it gets shared. When users copy a post or click the share button, they’re inviting others to have the same experience they had. This is why things go viral – they’re valuable.

By speaking the language of value, churches can reach the people in their communities through social media advertising.

Understanding Advertising

Reach measures the number of people who have seen the posts from your church’s social media page. There are two types: paid and organic. Organic reach means you shared something and people saw it as they scrolled through their feeds, without any influence from the social media platform itself. When an organization pays to promote their posts, the man behind the curtain ensures more people will see their posts. This is why you might see advertisements from Amazon, seminaries, or print services (can you guess what we see?).

Promoted posts let you inject your church’s presence into the normal content streams of those in your community. The process is a combination of selecting what to promote, choosing an audience, setting a budget, and deciding how long to run the campaign. Once these are finalized, the ad will run.

“Here’s a crazy idea: don’t talk about yourself. “

We’ll focus on the first bit, choosing what to share, because it’s here that value is really going to show. Here’s a crazy idea: don’t talk about yourself. Don’t talk about coming for a Sunday service or watching a video about your church. We know that those things are valuable, but the average unchurched individual doesn’t see them as such. Promote something they would see as valuable. This might mean doing a bit of work to research – or doing a community event – then giving it away for free. Here are a few ideas:

  • A local event calendar
  • A family movie night
  • A concert or block party
  • Fall festival
  • Highlight community heroes
  • Thanksgiving for shut-ins
  • Family date ideas
  • School recognition
  • Promote a local ministry’s event

Your church can use this strategy to enter the local culture bearing gifts and support instead of a self-promotional narrative. Those do come into play but in small proportions. Most agree that you present an “ask” every third to fifth post. This seems counterintuitive, but it goes a long way with building trust. Giving time and resources, sacrificing, for the good of the community shows that your church cares about the people and begins to establish a platform for sharing the gospel.


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