Looking for a way to create a community online? Need a new format to connect with people instead of another meeting at church? Try creating a Facebook “Group”.
The best way to explain Facebook Groups—and how to use them—is by comparing them to a church building. A Facebook Page is like the worship center where everyone gathers as a whole. A Facebook Group is like a classroom where clusters of people meet for conversation and community. It’s in a Facebook Group that people will really engage and connect.
Here are a few things to consider when setting up a Facebook Group:
Size– Facebook Groups can hold up to 500 people but function best when limited to around 100. I have found that groups of 20-40 are ideal.
Privacy– Facebook Groups fall in one of three privacy categories:
1) Secret – no one even knows it exists unless they are in the group.
2) Closed – people can see that the group exists, but cannot see the conversation unless they join the group.
3) Open – they are open for anyone to join and see the conversation that is going on.
Content– You can post pictures, videos, images, and text posts just like you can on a Facebook Page, as well as upload documents or files.
So how do you actually use Facebook Groups for your church or ministry? Consider these options:
Bible Studies/Sunday School Classes – Leaders can post announcements and lesson notes; participants can share prayer requests and life updates. Your Sunday school class is no longer just for Sundays, the community is happening 24/7 on the class Facebook Group.
Leadership Teams – Share important news and training materials through documents and posts. Post a video of encouragement or leadership training right in the Group. Allow the leadership team participants to share their feedback and learn and grow from each other.
Prayer Groups – This is a great opportunity for people to share prayer requests and updates around the requests that have been shared.
Parents – Not only is a Facebook Group a good place for ministry leaders to connect with parents, but a great place for parents to connect with each other. Consider creating a Group for your preschool parents, elementary parents, and youth ministry parents.
The list of potential Facebook Groups can go on. But before you start up 100 new groups be sure to follow these three suggestions:
1) Start Small and Stay Focused – Don’t start a bunch of groups at once. Think of the most important group you can create and invest in that one Group. As you build that Group steadily you’ll learn a lot about how to best engage a Facebook Group.
2) Don’t replace face to face relationships for digital ones – Facebook is made to enhance relationships, not replace them. Use Facebook to deepen existing relationships, maximizing your face-to-face time with your church community.
3) Be consistent – Don’t start a Facebook Group, post 10 things tomorrow, and then leave it forever. Start it, nurture it, grow it, and stay consistent in the relationships that form. Both digital and face-to-face relationships take ongoing time and investment.
To get started and learn more about Facebook Groups go to http://facebook.com/about/groups