During the pandemic, many churches had to learn how to move their ministry online. They did the best the knew how (including myself!) and continued to try to meet the needs of the congregation and their community.
As restrictions eased and churches began to meet in person again, many churches wondered what their online ministry presence should continue to be. For many smaller churches, a simple social media page was all they had and it was mostly for announcements. Then they used social media to livestream worship. Churches grappled with unreliable internet (due to geography or cost for high speed services) and volunteers to run av tech and maintain online engagement. Social media strategies were mostly based on immediate need and who was able to do what.
Over the last year, I’ve read 2 books that have helped me better understand the “why” and “how” of online presence and digital ministry. For churches, parachurch ministries, and ministry professionals, the question is not “do we go online” and is instead “how can we make our digital ministry more meaningful?” The Connected Church and From Social Media to Social Ministry are both books that walk the reader through that exact question. Although I read the books out of publication date order, I would actually read them in order of publication. Following are my thoughts on each book, in the order I would suggest reading them (although it is NOT necessary).
I read this book second, yet would absolutely recommend reading it first. The Connected Church provides a solid, easy-to-understand explanation of WHY to have a robust online ministry and HOW to develop a digital ministry strategy. This book provides a strategy foundation that can give ministry professionals, churches, and parachurch ministries the deeper thinking to create digital ministry that has impact and creates results. Large and medium size churches taking the next step forward in digital ministry, or smaller churches really focused in this direction would benefit from the step-by-step guide and S.P.I.R.I.T. framework. The Connected Church also has additional resources and information on the accompanying website.
I read this book first, and for those who will ONLY read one book, I recommend this one. From Social Media to Social Ministry would be best for churches who have a very basic online presence, want to stay connected to people online, yet don’t have the people resources to handle multiple social media platforms. This book focuses mostly on using Facebook as the social media platform, so would be great for ministries who want to use their current Facebook presence in a more meaningful and impactful way. From Social Media to Social Ministry does talk about the “why” of maintaining and enhancing digital ministry, give some very practical steps and strategy for Facebook, and is easy to read.
Either book is good for paid and unpaid staff. If a church is only using Facebook (and maybe minimally a website or YouTube channel), I would highly recommend reading From Social Media to Social Ministry. If a church has a decent only presence and wants to expand with more impact, I would suggest reading The Connected Church. Or maybe, you want to have different people in the church read each book and then come together to share what you learned! Both books give practical ideas to engage in digital ministry and develop an online community that has meaning and impact.
If you have read either book, I’d love to hear what your take-aways were!