It doesn’t really matter how large your congregation is, there will always be more work to do than your church staff can handle on their own. If you take a good look at thriving congregations, their church staff typically isn’t comprised of doers; it is comprised of equippers. Of course, staff workers will end up doing a lot of the work themselves, but to really get things done, they need to be able to equip their volunteers to assist them in doing the work.
When working with volunteers, you need to have a good way to communicate with them and keep them on task. For many church workers, Facebook groups are one of the ways they use to engage with their volunteers.
Reasons to Use Facebook Groups
There are currently 1.65 billion people in the world who use Facebook. That staggering figure makes it pretty safe to assume that many, if not all, of your volunteers probably already have a Facebook account. The fact that many of your volunteers already use this communication tool is a huge benefit. Rather than teach them to use a new tool to communicate with, you can simply communicate with them in a way that they are already familiar with.
You can decide how public or private you would like your group to be. If you only want your volunteers to see the information that is being shared, you can set your privacy settings to allow access to the group only if the group administrator gives it. This is helpful if you want to share sensitive information with your leaders but don’t want that information to leak out to the whole congregation.
Tools for Church Workers
There are several helpful tools that are provided in Facebook groups to help church workers communicate with their volunteers. For any of your volunteers who already use Facebook, these tools will be very familiar and easy to use.
- Photos—As a church leader, you can’t always make it to every event that happens at your church. It’s nice to have a place where your volunteers can upload images that they’ve taken at different events. You can then share those images on your church’s website or social media sites.
- Messages—In Facebook groups, you have a message board that you can use to share thoughts and ideas with one another in real time. Some awesome examples of ways to use the message board are to share links to useful resources, offer feedback on events or Bible studies, and provide ongoing encouragement for one another. You can set up your group to allow only administrators to post on the message board, or you can keep it open for anyone to post.
- Events—A Facebook group can provide an area for you to share a calendar of events with your volunteers. You can list the times, locations, and descriptions of these events. This way, everyone on your team knows when events are happening and can receive reminders and updates about those events.
- Files—Whether it’s Bible study notes or lists of student names, Facebook groups allow you to share documents with your volunteers. Your volunteers can access these files and download them to their computers to use later. By uploading your shared files to the group, your group will always be able to access the files they need, even if you’re out of the office.
You can also create documents in groups that get saved with your files. You can set these documents up to be editable by the group if you want to collaborate on a project together.
- Polls—Receiving input from your volunteers can go a long way in creating an environment where they feel helpful and heard. In Facebook groups, you can create a poll for your volunteers to vote on ideas and topics that you need help with. You can set these polls up to allow your volunteers to choose one of your answers or to write in one of their own.
Making sure your volunteers are heard, feel cared for, and have the information and resources they need is one of the best ways to keep them active in your congregation. Using Facebook groups to organize and communicate with your volunteers provides you with another great tool for all of your ministry needs. If your volunteers have the tools and information they need to do ministry in an easy-to-access location, they can then focus on the important aspects of ministry: loving people and sharing the Gospel with them.
A Few Reminders
While Facebook groups offer many benefits to church workers, this feature will not (and should not) replace your church website. Facebook groups can be a very helpful addition to your church website, but there are a few things to consider.
- Acceptance—It’s difficult to find one communication tool that works well for all of your volunteers. You may have volunteers who don't have a Facebook account and, for one reason or another, aren't willing to create an account.
- Attention—Your volunteers will generally have a million things begging for their attention. If you communicate only through Facebook, your volunteers may get distracted by things like news notifications or Farmville alerts when they go to check on what’s happening in your ministry.
- Ads—Facebook remains free by selling ad space. Thanks to fancy algorithms, most ads your volunteers see will be relevant to what they are interested in, but there will occasionally be an ad that they would rather not see. By communicating on Facebook, your volunteers will view ads alongside your ministry updates.
As with anything, you'll have to weigh your pros and cons. There will always be someone who doesn't love the way in which you have chosen to communicate. By using Facebook groups in addition to your website, you will be able to more easily connect with your volunteers. By using the tools that are available to you, your team will know what’s going on and feel confident in the plan to make ministry happen.
For other helpful ideas and topics, visit the CTS Blog Technology & Your Ministry.