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In the article, “How Can I Get Followers On Twitter” written for Forbes online magazine by T.J. McCue (4/12/13), I was inspired by his words to increase your followers – “Be real. Serve others. Share good stuff. Write good stuff.”

As the new pastor of a small rural church we’ve been exploring ways in which we can reach beyond our walls with limited resources.  One of the ways we’ve been accomplishing that is with social media in its various forms.  Mr. McCue’s advice is so relevant for the church.  If our mission is to reach the un-churched for Jesus Christ, then we have to be authentic, have a heart for serving others and be relevant. With a limited budget we discussed getting a web page designed.  When I discussed the idea with a group from the congregation I was surprised by the insight of a new believer.  “Why should we invest in a website that only our church members will visit?  Everyone I know is on Facebook and Twitter, why don’t we maximize that first?”

That was a big “Duh!” moment for me.  I consider myself fairly tech savvy, but I had failed to recognize the benefit of reaching the un-churched better through social media than a website.  With social media I can reach them when it’s convenient.  With social media I can reach them in a way that doesn’t require commitment.  With social media I can reach them privately, allowing them to the opportunity to be transparent with the message. Throughout the week I am able to have both public and private dialogue with folks that are genuinely interested in having a growing relationship with Jesus.  By helping them with those steps of faith I am able to nurture them into spiritual maturity and decisions about life.  I am constantly amazed at the thoughts that people will share with me from the privacy of their keyboard that I would have never heard in the sanctuary.

By giving serious thought to the story we want to tell, we are able to tap the community at large with that story well beyond our walls and a one service sermon.  Utilizing video vignettes to introduce upcoming sermon series, and sharing life challenging questions has built a dialogue with those both inside and outside the church walls. The discussion doesn’t have to be deeply spiritual, just thought provoking and meaningful.  When we touch people where they live (and most of them are living through social media), we are able to stir their hearts toward spiritual matters.  And when those natural questions arise, we want them to seek answers where they can find them without apprehension or fear.  By developing trust through dialogue we can help people develop faith – first in the friend they have come to know through social media and secondly in the friend they find in Christ.  Because when it comes right down to it, the numbers of followers we care about are the ones following Him.

 

Sam Peters serves as Pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in South Webster, OH.  He is a also a freelance writer and author of several cookbooks and self-published Christian works.

 

I write a semi-regular article for a local newspaper on food from a Christian perspective.  I am in the process of filming my first food TV show called “The Pastor’s Pantry”, a Christian focused cooking show sharing the Gospel of Good Taste with America.

I was sent to the small rural church I’m at because of my previous success in utilizing creative means of reaching the un-churched for Christ.  Since going there in June of 2012 the attendance has risen from an average of 45 to 72 and still growing.  Media and communications has been the main engine for our revitalization efforts.

I have a passion for writing for CMM for two reasons – One, I love the information you provide.  It has been a source of personal education.  Two, I want to utilize every opportunity possible to help congregations grow and reach the world for Christ.

 

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