We’ve all been there:
The next best thing comes around and we as marketers – especially Christian marketers – all jump on the bandwagon, thinking if we harness this or that we can take Christ to more of the un-Churched and build up greater followings among our existing congregation.
It all goes well until we reach the person with the final say: the pastor, priest or lay-minister. If you’re lucky, they’re young or youthful and latch on to your enthusiasm immediately.
However, and you know this as well, Christians don’t believe in luck. 🙂
The fact is, by their very nature – and rightly so – our shepherds in the faith are prone to wait. They are, as Psalm 27:14 says, waiting – for good reason – for the Spirit to speak once the humans have said what they have to say.
Hence they are used to seeing fads come and go, and initial enthusiasm wane. This is why they may draw from that habit and not latch on to what has been proven to be a good thing in today’s online-social world – a world of instant gratification and information:
Social media marketing, for Christ.
I’ve been writing copy for 10 years for secular industries, and for 5 years for Christian ministries, groups, Churches etc. And I’ve learnt a thing or two about what works for, with and against the deciding authorities at your place of worship. I’d like to share them with you today, and pray it may help you in your role of furthering the Good News of the Kingdom of Christ as far and wide as possible.
The Great Commission, after all, said ‘Go out into the world’. If Christ may allow me, I’d like to add ‘wide web’ to that last part.
So here goes. I’m keeping it short and sweet, dwelling only on major points. I’ll elaborate more on each in the future, post-Christmas.
Pastors, priests and youth ministers WILL reference Scripture, so do your homework
It is a common occurrence among people using Twitter or FB to share feel-good Christian quotes or ‘witness’ moments they get from others, esp. with frequent obsession with the ‘retweet’ option on Twitter. But beware, seasoned leaders in the church know how to spot something spirit-led as opposed to something which a well-meaning person put together because it sounded good, but not necessarily sound. You’ll lose followers online this way.
Have your Bible – electronic, web-based or hard copy – handy at all times. Turning to the Spirit in the Word gives you a tried, tested and Divinely inspired source of scrutiny, and hence a more powerful Tweet if it passes the test. 🙂
People in ministry look down upon advertising and ‘promotional text’ a lot
To them, if something related to the faith has a ‘catch’ to it, like ‘subscribe’, ‘follow’ or ‘buy’, no matter how genuinely transparent and good it is, it will be given a lot of initial skepticism, if any attention at all.
Fancy designs, strong copy and benefit-led clichés will only go so far – in the secular word. By all means be creative and use those talents as best you can for God, but keep in mind who you’re targeting.
Remember what makes these people decide: ‘is this helping me do God’s will?’ THAT is the question you must help them answer for themselves.
People in ministry look at the spiritual benefit of everything. They look at the why, not the how.
What are you writing to or for them? Is your email or tweet something that will help them bring more people to Christ? Make their existing church members have a deeper relationship with Christ? If the end-result has a good outcome for them and they can see that in your text, they’ll listen to you and find someone in their community to make the ‘how’ happen.
People in ministry are spiritual, not emotional
Ministers and pastors are trained to overlook ‘feelings’ and ‘emotions’. They may be moved by fluffy words, feel-good stories of witnessing to Christ and spiritually uplifting copy, but that doesn’t mean they’ll bite. They are trained to take everything with a pinch of salt. Don’t be superficial. Don’t be OTT. Be real and straightforward, with the ‘why’ clear and defined.
People in ministry don’t care about numbers. Quality, not quantity, drives them
Don’t use phrases or hard sell like ‘double your youth members’ or ‘increase your fundraising this Christmas’. It’s a turn-off. Instead, focus on the personal development: ‘help your member engage with the Spirit more often’ or ‘is your congregation evangelizing or procrastinating?’
People in ministry are prone to second opinions. They have spiritual directors for every major decision.
Almost all ministries and groups have core-teams and a spiritual director who decide everything together. And almost all core-teams have at least one devil’s advocate. Tailor your copy to speak to the devil’s advocate. Ease THAT person’s fears and apprehensions. Most of your tweets or emails will probably link to a blog post or a web page explaining what you alluded to in the initial correspondence. Make sure you answer any queries in that end-page without them asking.
I’d like to end by sharing a great link from last year, on writing for Christians. This link does not directly refer to social media, and dwells more on writing Christian fiction, however I think it really lays bare the necessity of the written word in Christian ministry, and today the written word gets alot of mileage from social media.
Have a very blest, holy and Merry Christmas, and may you and your families have a Christ-filled experience this season.