The COVID pandemic has focused our attention on online ministry. How do you connect with those you serve? Can they turn to you for spiritual support and discipleship throughout the week? Do you offer private videochats for new members who want to connect?
Broadcasting your meetings or updates from your Facebook page on Facebook Live is a great start. Once you’ve gotten that routine set up, here’s how to use a Facebook group to grow your ministry (whether it’s a local or virtual ministry).
Your Facebook Page By Itself Doesn’t Build Community
Updates to your Facebook page don’t always show up in your followers’ news feeds. Facebook is more likely to show your posts if they’re posted to a group than a page. So that your followers will see your updates when you post them, invite them to join your group. If you want members to feel safe posting personal information, set your group to “Private.”
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Whenever you post an update to your public page, you can check the box to post that update to your group, too. This could be a group of your supporters, your church members or even your leadership team. I recommend starting one group at a time and building it into a thriving community before starting a new group.
All you need in order to start a Facebook Group is a Facebook Page (created from your personal profile). Even if you’re already using a group chat app to communicate (like WhatsApp), a Facebook group is a must for any thriving ministry. This will allow you to upload helpful documents and videos, organize your resources into units and even hold online events to walk people through your resources.
How to Organize Your Units
Once you have your Facebook Group set up with a catchy name, it’s time to plan out your units. Here’s a sample structure that you can use to direct your members along on the path of spiritual maturity:
Unit 1: “Meet Jesus Christ” (See the blue box at the bottom of this post for a PDF that you can upload to this unit to walk people through the salvation process.) Or, if you’d like, create your own invitation to salvation in Google Docs, and export it as a PDF. Then, upload that PDF to this unit. (Or, create it right there in the Facebook Group files.) You can use a Bible tract for inspiration. Use this unit to display the salvation stories of your members, which will help unsaved people to envision their next steps with God.
Unit 2: “What we Offer” (Upload your ministry brochure or create a doc from the “Files” page and add photos.) New group members will come here to learn all of the ways that they can benefit from your ministry, so post lots of photos showing your ministry in action. If it’s not a local ministry, create a posting calendar that showcases your offerings bit by bit, and then share photos of your life behind the scenes.
Unit 3: “Your Relationship With God” (Click here for a free, uploadable PDF handbook that will show your members how to get to know God.) Use this unit to post videos that teach the basic elements of Christian discipleship. Be sure to invite your members to add you as a Facebook friend, so that they can videochat with you directly through Messenger. Let them know your office hours, or invite them to call you anytime to chat about how their relationship with God is going.
Unit 4: “Resources We Recommend” (Use affiliate links to promote the resources that you love on Amazon and around the web.) You can sign up on websites like Amazon and Pureflix to get a special code that allows you to earn money when people click through your link to purchase the products you recommend. Posting reviews in this unit will help your members to understand why they should choose certain books, movies or subscriptions services over others. This isn’t a big money-maker, but it helps.
Unit 5: Our Network (list websites, Youtube videos and other free materials published by the authors and teachers that you endorse). This is where you recommend more advanced training (and networking) beyond the basic discipleship level. If you have multiple sources of advanced teaching, create one unit per source. Use these units to promote and discuss these teachings.
As you go about your normal social life, direct your friends to join this group if they want access to all of your unique resources and discussions. You won’t have to deal with unwanted comments from the public because you control who’s in the group and who’s out.
You’ll love having an organized way to bring your community into discussions about what’s most important to them. Take notes privately about what they’re talking about and interested in. Use this information (as well as the group insights provided by Facebook) to pray for your members and to choose what to teach them.
How Your Facebook Group Works With Your Website
Your Facebook Group is where you share your blog posts and website links in order to get feedback and insights for the growth of your ministry. This is your support system. Tag certain members who can help you to get discussions going. Poll the group if you want to know what they’re thinking. If no one is participating in the discussons, run a fun contest to bring people out of their shells. Invite new members to introduce themselves and share their favorite Bible verse.
A Facebook Group is the best way to show up right where your community is already browsing and draw them further into what you already provide. As they get used to being there and hearing your heart, they will begin to share their heart as well. Use your website and all the other links that you love to feed these discussions.
(Please note: unlike self-hosted websites, Facebook groups and pages can be shut down at a moment’s notice. Therefore, make sure to copy the information from your units onto your website so that you don’t lose all of your organizational work.)
How to Tell if Your Facebook Group is Succeeding
In the beginning, your group may feel like a one-way street. You’ll work at starting discussions, hoping that members will interact with your posts. If you engage daily by tagging people, doing live videos, having fun and addressing the issues that your people really care about, you’ll develop a two-way street of return engagement.
Your next goal, after that, is to be the first place where your members check in daily to find out what’s going on in each other’s lives. Facebook groups have become places like that for many of us already. When your members are answering each other’s questions, sharing relevant links and using your units, this community will be a thriving center of weekday discipleship.
Ultimately, you want your people to feel like they’re missing out on all the good stuff if their only point of contact is your weekly or monthly meeting. You want to be sharing with them all of the great resources that are available online, all week long. Now that we have the Internet, the term Sunday-morning Christian is irrelevant. The question is, who’s feeding your followers through the week? Most of them are already scrolling social media all week long. If you’re not serving them there, someone else is.
To get our free PDF invitation to salvation, click HERE. This is in the public domain, so you may upload it to your website or social media. Or, you may use parts of it to create your own document. No attribution is required.
Once you’ve had success on Facebook, you’ll be ready to explore the uncharted territories of youth ministry on Instagram and Snapchat!
Culture of Wisdom Virtual Assistance is our in-house sponsor. If you’d like some help setting up your Facebook group, or other parts of your online ministry, click HERE to book a free call with us, and let’s chat about how we can help you!