The last Sunday in September has been decreed Social Media Sunday. This year, that’s Sunday, September 25.
This is a day when, across the nation and across the Internetwebs, we encourage the people in the pews to break out their phones in church—yes, even in the middle of the service—and use social media to share the Gospel.
It’s kind of like Digital Disciple Boot Camp.
Basically, it’s a day where we make it super obvious that using your phone in church is not a cardinal sin. And we share ideas on how to use your phone to share your church!
We share everything on social media, don’t we? We Instagram our food, we tweet out random thoughts, we gripe about those people who don’t seem to understand “taking turns” in the car drop-off line at our kid’s school.
But, somehow, many of us feel that sharing “churchy” things is… gauche? Inappropriate? Dorky?
(I’d blame the old adage about not talking about politics or religion, but… we are certainly not shy about sharing political views on Facebook, are we?)
I share cat videos and funny memes (even ones I’ve shared before) because they make me laugh, and that makes me happy, and I want to share that joy and laughter.
So why would I not want to also share that line from the sermon where the pastor’s words seemed to speak directly to my soul? Hearing those words brought me peace, and joy. Why don’t I share that joy?
So take your phone to church. Make sure it is on silent, but make sure it is ON! And use it!
Instagram the coffee and donuts. Tweet those thoughts from the sermon that hit you. Brag about your kid coming back from Sunday school singing a new song or reciting a verse or proudly displaying a mess of cotton balls that they claim is “a sheep.” What is it that keeps you coming back to church? What brings you joy? What soothes your soul? What challenges you to think of something differently? Share that online!
(And if nothing about your church brings you joy or soothes your soul or challenges you to think, then you probably need to find a new church… but that’s another post…)
So how can you promote Social Media Sunday in your congregation?
First… is there wifi? Does anyone know it’s available?
Display the church wifi name prominently, in lots of obvious places. Have signs with the information, and print it in the bulletin. If you have screens, make the welcome slide displays the wifi name. Have an old hymns board you’re not using to display hymn numbers anymore? Put it to good use, and post your wifi info and social media accounts on it! If there is a password to the wifi, make sure that is prominently displayed as well!!
Does your congregation have a hashtag?
You don’t need one, but if someone wants to collect posts from your congregation, a hashtag definitely makes that easy. If you want to have a hashtag, make sure it is short, and easy to spell!
And don’t forget to ask them to also use #SMS16!
How tech-savvy is your congregation?
Some congregations set up a “help desk” on Social Media Sunday, where those who aren’t as comfortable with devices and social media can get help from digital natives (and those of us who are older but still think of ourselves as “digital natives”). Or you could set up the help desk the Sundays leading up to #SMS16, so that the whole congregation is ready to tweet and post on the day of!
Some other ideas:
- set up a photo booth for selfies and “usies” (group selfies): have a backdrop, or set up the area in front of an iconic spot in your church; create an “Instagram frame” (or go old-school, and make it a Polariod frame) out of cardboard; have funny props for people to use; have selfie sticks available or have designated volunteers be there to snap the pics; do all of these or just one.
- ask people to share their favorite thing about your church: is it a stained glass window? The way the light comes through the stained glass window and lands on the white cloth of the altar? A particular cross? The array of teas and hot chocolate available in addition to coffee? The baptismal font? That your pastor picks footwear or fingernail polish color based on the liturgical calendar? Snap a photo and share on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook!
- during the welcome and announcements part of the service, ask the congregation to take out their phones and check in to church! (While they have their phones out, tell them to like your Facebook page!)
- during the sharing of the peace, share the peace beyond your walls! Post selfies (rather, “usies”) of yourself and others sharing the peace to the Internetwebs!
- encourage people to share the service: did the sermon speak to you? Post your insights! Are we singing your favorite hymn? Take a video and share it! (Don’t want to record video? Snap a photo of the hymn music!) What’s your favorite part of the service? Share it!
Don’t overthink it. This is about sharing what you love. It doesn’t have to be “deep” or “life-changing.”
This is also about normalizing church and sharing to the world A) that you go to (an awesome) church, and B) what you like about your (awesome) church. So, the normal things you share? Keep doing those, but also remember to do them at, and about, church… are you wearing a really cute outfit today? Don’t you want to show it off? Post a pic, and instead of just tagging it #ootd (outfit of the day—I had to ask, too), also include in the caption that you’re on your way to church, and tag your church in the post.
So, go! And do! And create digital disciples! On Social Media Sunday, and all the days thereafter!