FIRST-PERSON: 10 tips for church Facebook pages

INDIANAPOLIS (BP)--Take this quiz:

-- If your church could make free public announcements to thousands of your own members' friends, would you do it?

-- If there was a simple way to help members and guests feel more connected to your church, would you use it?

Small and large churches across our nation are effectively using a Facebook organization page to enhance in-reach and outreach. Should your church have one?

Do the math. Ask for a show of hands to find out how many church members use Facebook. The average Facebook user has 130 registered "friends," so if just 20 church members use Facebook, that's potentially 2,600 people who could read posts about your church. One hundred members with Facebook could touch 13,000. This is multiplication at its best. Convinced? I interviewed several churches to compile these Facebook tips to help you get started.

-- Tip No. 1: Begin well. Study other churches' pages for ideas. Use tips from Facebook's help section (http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php) to create your church organization page. Then ask church members and guests to "like" (join) your page so posts will display on their newsfeed.

-- Tip No. 2: Keep it short. Want posts to be read? Keep them very brief. Give basic info to ignite interest and provide a link to the church website for more details.

-- Tip No. 3: Add a graphic. Attract more readers by attaching your church logo, event logo, a photo or graphic to posts.

-- Tip No. 4: Post regularly. Consider allowing several leaders or members to post. Two or three posts per week would be desirable.

-- Tip No. 5: Keep it positive. Never forget that thousands of people may read posts. This is no place for whining. Positive posts convey the emotion and reality of true fellowship and confidence in God.

-- Tip No. 6: Connect. Announcements help readers feel connected with the church. Tell about the upcoming men's breakfast, kids' camp or Easter celebration. Announce a new Bible class, staff member or benevolence project. Communicate weather cancellations or disaster relief.

-- Tip No. 7: Develop a relationship with the reader. Be authentic and encouraging. Tell the story of God at work in your church and in individual lives. Encourage readers to comment or add photos. Their personal enthusiasm and involvement will add excitement and draw readers to your church and to God.

-- Tip No. 8: Use video clips. Professional video isn't necessary; a Flip video camera will do. Record one- or two-minute clips of members sharing life stories about God's power. An Indiana church posted a hilarious video of a tithing rap. Introduce the upcoming sermon series, peek into a youth Bible class or show senior adults exercising.

-- Tip No. 9: Different groups, such as a Bible class, worship team or youth group, could have another Facebook page for communication. My neighbor noticed an announcement from our women's ministry on my Facebook and asked about attending a Bible study.

-- Tip No. 10: Wait a minute before posting. It takes seconds to write a post, and it's online immediately. Before submitting, re-read carefully to check tone, grammar and spelling. It represents God and His church, so do it very well. Pray for God to use it to touch lives, then hit "post."

Of course, this doesn't take the place of face-to-face outreach and fellowship, but it may enhance your church's impact. Half of active Facebook users log in on any given day. If your church members' Facebook friends log in tomorrow, will they learn something about what God is doing at your church?


Diana Davis is author of "Fresh Ideas for Women's Ministry" (B&H Publishing) and wife of the Indiana Baptist Convention executive director. Visit her website at www.keeponshining.com.

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