St. Paul the Apostle spent a lot of time in town squares, preaching the good news of Jesus Christ wherever he went. He spoke of becoming all things to all people, in order to win some to the cause of Christ. And as Catholics we are each called to do the same.
Imagine if you could regularly share the Gospel with those in your community who are feeling discouraged, disengaged, or even lost from the faith in just ten minutes a day. Facebook provides a digital place for you to do exactly that.
Think of Facebook as the new town square, with roughly 1.4 billion active users logging in every month. Your parishioners are here. People needing God are here. And your church needs to be here too.
Many parishes today have a basic Facebook page for their church. If you don’t have one, a good place to start is to share elements of your weekly bulletin and parish website, communicating the information in short segments that can be read quickly, responded to immediately, and shared exponentially.
To take your page to the next level you’ll need to find great content to share to increase your parishioner engagement. There are several simple steps you can take to move forward. With a little bit of planning, you can easily create a dynamic parish Facebook page in less than ten minutes a day.
Step 1: Identify Sources of Content
You’ve heard the old saying “Content is King,” right? Well, for Facebook, it’s true. The most important part of creating a dynamic Facebook page is sharing and posting content that is relevant to your parishioners. This will keep them engaged, sharing your content, and coming back to see what’s new.
Here are a number of ideas for creating relevant content:
- Make a list of all your upcoming parish events, classes, and activities: Rotate the items on this list through your Facebook page at the rate of one to two per week so that you are featuring something new on a regular basis.
- Repurpose content from your bulletin: If you have great articles, reflections, and stories in your weekly bulletin, you should post them as blog entries on your website, and then be sure to share to your Facebook page.
- Link to blogs on your parish website: If someone on your parish staff is already writing a blog, you should always share it on your Facebook page. If no one is writing a blog, ask Father, or your Pastoral Associate or Youth Director to start one.
- Daily reading images and charts: You can find simple links to daily readings on the USCCB website. LPi also shares the readings with an attached image every Monday morning on our Facebook page.
- Catholic articles: LPi publishes multiple blog posts every single day that can be shared directly from our Facebook page. Other great sources include Busted Halo, Word on Fire, Catholic Relief Services, The Vatican Today, Life Teen, Catholic News Agency, Catholic Charities, and Faithstreet. In addition today most diocesan websites will have a blog you can share from.
Step 2: Build a Social Media Schedule
Now that you have some good sources for relevant content, we recommend developing a simple social media schedule to share it. Regular posting on Facebook will draw in more parishioners, engage existing ones, and create a consistent communication channel for your parish.
Here is an example of a basic Facebook posting schedule that should take no more than ten minutes a day:
- Monday: Post the daily readings for the week. (You find the readings every Monday right on our LPi blog and share them from there.)
- Tuesday: Feature an upcoming parish event or photos from a recent event.
- Wednesday: Share a Catholic article from one of the sources listed above.
- Thursday: Share a Catholic video or Father’s homily.
- Friday: Post an inspirational Catholic quote or Scripture verse.
In addition to your regularly scheduled posts, you can post updates, new parish events, ministry news, and pictures throughout the day. These should be short posts of no more than two to three sentences and can be as simple as, “Don’t forget the parish bake sale will be held this Sunday after Mass.”
If you find that you have more time each day to post, you can scale up your schedule and add in some of the other ideas mentioned above. The exact items included in your schedule will vary from parish to parish depending on your community, culture, and needs.
Step 3: Let Everyone in Your Parish Know You’re on Facebook
Chances are the vast majority of your congregation is on Facebook already, including senior citizens who are the fastest growing group of users on the network. You simply need to let them know that you’re there.
Here are a few suggestions for how to do that:
- Make a pulpit announcement: Explain why your parish is using Facebook and let them know it will be a primary source of up-to-the-minute parish news.
- Print it in your bulletin: Add your Facebook Web address to the contact section of your bulletin, but also consider publishing a short article explaining why you’re on the network and how people can find you.
- Put it on your website: Contact your Webmaster and place a link to your Facebook page on the home page of your website.
- Get your staff involved: If your staff is on Facebook, have them connect with your page and encourage them to engage with the page and share content. The more people see the page is being used, the more likely they are to use it themselves.
Check out how parishes across the country are using Facebook to grow their communities
- St. Matthias Catholic Parish, Milwaukee, WI
- St. John Vianney Parish, Fort Kent, ME
- St. John the Baptist Catholic Church, Edmond, OK
- St. Mark’s Catholic Church, Boise, ID
- St. Dominic Catholic Parish, Brookfield, WI