My TOP 10 tips of advice to Pastors on Social Media marketing

My name is John Roland and this is my first blog article on SBC Voices.   I am a bi-vocational pastor and I am 40 years old.  I have my MDiv with Biblical Languages from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (2001).  Married with 3 kids and live in Newnan, GA (25 miles south of ATL Airport).  I am a fundraising executive, have served as a senior pastor to three different churches, served as a director at Luther Rice Seminary, served as a Director of Development at Kennesaw State University, served as an executive director of Prayer Igniters ( , and have been a consultant to a number of ministries.   My blog, LinkedIn, and on Twitter @jaroland74.  

I am passionate about Social Media in ministry and what an incredible tool it is for the spread of the Gospel.  We miss things big time if we do not take full advantage of it in ministry.

 Social Media Authentic–not focus on “flash” but on accessibility of the ministry team, tribe engagement in God’s Word and how it applies to our lives, and over communication of the events and activities of the church. Conversations about the church, how God is working in the lives of the people, and authenticity of spirit shared openly on social media channels. My three favorite Social Media channels—Twitter, Facebook & Google+.

  1. Exponentially increase the exposure and accessibility of your ministry by being available on Social Media. Have a running conversation with your church members and prospects. Using Twitter, you can quickly respond to questions and post your 140 character opinions widely to your members. One of the BEST things about Social Media is it allows people to pierce the veil of the hierarchy of an organization. It meets the needs of Millennials who are looking for authenticity and personal connection.
  2. Recognize social media allows you to build TRUST and AUTHENTICITY with your church members. Key characteristics for gaining followers is to build a tribe of people who believe in your message, trust you, and value your knowledge. .
  3. Have a message of the week. Focus like a laser on what you want to drive home to your followers for that week. What do you want them to do? Where are you taking them? How can you help them? Have a weekly hash tag # driving home that message.
  4. Seek to engage your followers. Ask open ended questions, dialogue & provide usable & quotable information.
  5. Use FREE Google+ Hangouts to begin to introduce your sermon or weekly MESSAGE and begin the dialogue. Use Google+ Hangouts to engage your followers. FREE tool which allows you to have conversations online with others and have them recorded in YouTube. Find someone you can engage and provide you a venue to drive home your message. Also, allows you to interview people in your sphere of influence and further provide resources to those who follow you. Pastor Mark Driskoll has made great use of this FREE resource. Great use of Google Hangouts in ministry for churches by Greg Surratt at
  6. Take advantage of using pictures alongside your advice. Interesting pictures draws people to your post. Take as many pictures and videos of members actively living out and testifying about their faith as possible to capture the spirit and message of the church.
  7. Empower & deploy your church members to become Story Tellers / Brand Ambassadors for your church.Does your organization deploy alumni, members, employees, visitors to be social media storytellers to convey your organization’s successes, & heart? Who is telling the story of your organization? Have you deployed storytellers to convey your org’s vision, successes & heart?
  8. Brand yourself as a “generous expert” in your field. Share freely your knowledge where you become a person they can TRUST. When they trust you, they will want more from you. They become “addicted” to your advice and insights and will be willing to invest in your organization.
  9. Take advantage of the FREE resource and have the same message across all of your social media channels. It is a great way to sit down and type up your planned, quick messages for the week. You will want to set aside time to respond to those who ask questions and dialogue.
  10. Volunteer Management is all about making heroes out of people. Allow the volunteers to get the praise & applause. Keeps them motivated, especially coming from their leader! Use Social Media to highlight them.


  1. says

    Thanks so much for the opportunity Dave Miller!! I thoroughly enjoy reading SBC Voices. Hope I can make a contribution.

    Regarding this article, I firmly believe the advent of social media is as radical a change in communication as the invention of the printing press. It is revolutionary and can be an incredible tool for churches and ministries. Does anyone agree, disagree, or think I am exaggerating it?

  2. Bart Barber says

    So, how many rules does my last tweet break?

    “Walked into the gas station and they were playing ‘Everybody Wants You.’ Immediately thought of Stan Lane & Steve Keirn.”

  3. Chris Johnson says

    Thanks for the article John,

    Social Media is simply a part of the fabric of our lives. More for the younger generation,….although the mid, to older are catching up very quickly. This is the mobile device generation with much more to come.

    I use social media quite a lot, and focus on the communication and content that can create efficiencies. It is important to understand that the trap of social media is a false or shallow sense of being, so utilizing the right digital tools, for the right reasons is tantamount. It is also a good practice to make an effort to limit the minimalism associated with brief texting and microblogging and put work into more contextual and substantive encounters.

    That is where the challenge will be,…and really already is, with the younger generation.


  4. Christiane says

    Hi JOHN,
    your article’s title mentions ‘marketing’ and I wondered what ‘marketing’ means within your context here.

    • says

      What I mean by “marketing” is more focused on the word ENGAGEMENT. My focus is to challenge and beg as many Christians as possible to connect, interact, engage, communicate using as many tools as possible. Paul used the Roman Roads, mail system, international trading language of Koine Greek to communicate the message as far as wide as possible. That is Social Media engagement to me. Here is a great link highlighting why it is so important for us to engage based on the incredible growth of SM.

      • Christiane says

        thank you for your response, JOHN

        it helps me to understand your post better

  5. Chris Roberts says

    I keep resisting starting an ongoing series of related responses, but SBC Voices keeps giving me fodder for those responses, so here goes…

    Social Media – because nothing demonstrates the power of the Spirit and the beauty of the gospel like having to rely on manipulative uses of technology to influence people.

    I could elaborate, but even a quick perusal of the 10 items above should make the applicability of my response rather obvious.

    • jtilson says

      Actually Chris Roberts the applicability is to the fact that you have become a fool. You became a fool when you allowed sceptics to guide you in the universe with question which lacked answers for you. Any fool can ask questions that you can’t answer but that shouldn’t make you a fool. Fools will always ask foolish questions that need not be answered. You should have known the difference but you didn’t.

    • volfan007 says


      If God can use a donkey, He can certainly use Facebook and Twitter.


      • Chris Roberts says

        I had forgotten about the passage where a group of Rabbis sat around strategizing how to use the donkey to draw people in.

        • volfan007 says


          So, if I go along with your way of thinking, then the Apostle Paul was wrong to use those new fangled boats to get to distant lands to preach the Gospel. And, why in the world did he choose to go where the people were? In Synagogues, and in the market places, and down by the river….Lydia and a bunch of women washing clothes?

          I can see how Facebook has helped me to reach out to people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I will continue to do so.


      • Tarheel says

        Volfan said;

        “If God can use a donkey, He can certainly use Facebook and Twitter.”

        Don’t sell yourself short, volfan. 😉

        • volfan007 says


          I’ve always thought that if God can use a donkey to speak His Word, then He can surely use me, too.



    • Chris Johnson says

      Your responses do cause a lot of smoke, but with little fire. A lot of social media is the same….very little depth, but it can be used as a minimal conduit for loving people and a beginning point to develop meaningful relationships. SM can be used for good or bad. The fearful person believes that technology is the answer and should not be shared.

      God provided these few things for providing good use of SM.

      “To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel….

      Proverbs 1

      • Chris Roberts says

        Using social media to spread information is all well and good, but the 10 tips above go several levels beyond that simple purpose.

        • Chris Johnson says

          Chris, I would not disagree if the intent of such communication was to manipulate by creating distrust. That doesn’t seem to be the case here.

          I do think you bring up a valuable question though to all those engaged in spreading the good news of Christ while using technology (Social Media). Is using SM done with the heart of manipulation, or deceit. If so, just using the technology to appear hip or current would be a tragedy. That is done in the world everyday.

          Faith without love (redeeming works of Christ) is a dead faith anyway.


          • Chris Roberts says

            Virtually every trumpeted evangelism strategy is designed to manipulate through some means or another, drawing people in via sideways tactics while demonstrating no trust in the Spirit’s work. Giving the Spirit a hand, so to speak. Churches that try to rely on the power of the gospel and the work of the Spirit are dying. Churches which rely on cheap gimmicks are growing. That does quite a bit to demonstrate where the true power of Christianity originates.

          • Dave Miller says

            Honestly, Chris, we get it. Your skepticism, cynicism, disdain for Christians and Christianity, and intellectual condescension are noted.

            I’m not that interested in every post we put up becoming an interfaith discussion of your atheism.

            We grieve for you and pray for you, that God will convince and convict your heart. We understand your disdain for our theism and our faith.

            I’m not sure how to proceed here. Not looking to ban you or anything. While your apostasy grieves me, I find your perspectives interesting. But I’m wanting to avoid making every comment stream a debate over theism.

          • Chris Roberts says


            I understand Voices is not meant to be a battleground about Christianity (it is instead a battleground for Christians). Believe it or not, I’ve deleted far more comments than I’ve posted. I do think theism itself makes for an important debate, considering how many people are giving their lives and their resources to a system that is marvelous at keeping people entrapped while offering nothing of reality. I find that both frustrating and sad, it is certainly a tremendous waste of human potential. I wasted too many years of my life on it, so I’m something like the reformed smoker who wants others to see the folly of that lifestyle. That said, Voices certainly does not exist to provide a platform for someone of my sort, I do understand that.

          • Bill Mac says

            Sometime I’d like to have a long dialog about the the way the world would look if your new worldview prevailed. You’re right, Christians spend a lot of time and money on the activities and resources tied to their faith, and yes, (before you or someone else brings it up) history records plenty of negative things done in the name of faith. But I would also point out that Christians are by far, the most generous and charitable people on the planet. Let’s put aside for just a moment whether Christianity is actually true. Think about a world without Christians. I know in your newfound zeal for atheism you might think a world without Christians would be utopia, but (as objectively as I can), I think that view would be naive. Think about every Christian ministry just shutting down overnight. No more philanthropy, no more disaster relieve, no more operation Christmas child or world vision. No more wells dug, medical missionaries, or child sponsorship. I suspect you think that these kinds of activities would continue under the banner of atheism, but I’m not sure, historically speaking, that non-religious people have, as a whole, proven themselves to be good, kind, caring, moral, and charitable people.

            I’m not suggesting people believe something untrue just because it produces good results, but I really believe a world without faith is much darker and crueler than the one we live in now.

          • Chris Roberts says

            Religion has served a purpose, and it has done good as well as bad. It’s just time to find a way to be decent people without throwing imagination into the mix.

          • Bart Barber says


            It was imagination that delivered C.S. Lewis from where you are now. You’ll forgive me for asking a couple of questions. I promise not to make them any sort of introduction to lengthy cajoling, nor is there a “gotcha” at the end.

            1. What do you have against imagination?

            2. Why do you think we have imagination? How did such a thing as the imagination come to be? Do you think that it serves no purpose?

          • Chris Roberts says

            1. Imagination can be useful and profound – when we know that it is imagination. The problem comes in when we as adults treat the imaginary as if it were real.

            2. That’s about the same as asking about the nature of consciousness itself, a fascinating question on which science has made some progress, but which none of us ultimately know the answer (yet). As for its purpose, it can serve a purpose – but again, best served when we know the difference between the imaginary and the real.

          • says

            You have an opinion of what is real.
            I disagree with it.

            I have an opinion of what is real, you disagree with it.

            You say I imagine there is a god.
            i say you imagine there isn’t one.

            So if your purpose is to be helpful, you need to step it up a few notches. Otherwise consider that what you say we consider as coming from an unbeliever, “and of course! you will say that.”

            So quit treating your imaginations as real and surrender to the One, the True, the Holy Creator God.

            But then you already know that is something I might say…

          • Chris Roberts says

            On these matters, I probably know everything you would say. Probably said some of those things myself, once upon a time.

          • says

            Probably. i agree.

            And while you think we base our lives on an imagination, we can at least live out those lives consistently [within the parameters of our faith] with grace and kindness to our fellow man.

            But, although you may be kind and gracious to your fellow man, you can not, and may I dare say, will not even try to live out your life in a consistent way based on what you believe is true.

            Instead you will live out your life in conflict since at its very base your beliefs declare that there is no real purpose in life, and death is the end. But to consistently live ~true~ to that core is near if not an impossible thing to do.

            And that is because it is a lie right at its core.

            So you will either choose not to live it out in a consistent matter or flat give up caring about life, since really it is just such a random thing anyhow.

            So while i may be deluded in living out an imagination, i will do so in peace, even as I have for the last 30 odd years, trusting a Lord who accepts my foibles and failures with grace and forgiveness.

            May His peace find you,

          • Chris Roberts says

            Of course there is purpose in life. Claiming atheists have no concept of life’s purpose is another one of those things Christians love to say even though it has no basis in reality.

          • Bart Barber says

            An observation, and then I will leave you alone:

            1. I think you make too much of a disjunct between the imaginary and the real. It is one of the abiding truths of human history, I think, that reality and imagination are linked inextricably. That is, the imaginary tends to become real. This is both true when we imagine something and make it real (e.g., an architect) and when we imagine something and discover it to be real (e.g., Einstein’s thought experiments).

            2. I think it would be an extraordinarily difficult task to posit any demonstrable reproductive advantage for the development and maintenance of a feature that is totally out of touch with reality. In other words, to divorce imagination and reality would be to make the task I outlined in my previous comment (viz., determining how imagination came to be), more difficult by an order of magnitude.

            3. There are, of course, features of human imagination appearing in individual human beings that are at odds with reality (e.g., the Congressional candidate from Oklahoma who imagines that that incumbent died a decade ago and has been replaced by an android). Determining the reproductive advantage of such a phenomenon is not that urgent of a task—it is an individual idiosyncrasy that probably puts that individual at a reproductive disadvantage. But when you have a near-universal imagination—the preponderance of individuals on the planet imagining either the exact same thing or something eerily similar—and when this phenomenon occurs in the organism at the top of the taxonomy, then I think some explanation is in order.

            4. Yet that is certainly the situation with theism—that is, with the religious imagination of humankind. It is ubiquitous among humankind, transcending cultural differences, gender, genotypes, geography, level of education, level of achievement, and epoch in history. One challenge the atheist faces, I think, is to explain why it is so difficult to produce an atheist and so difficult to maintain one. This much one clearly cannot assert and defend rationally: The idea that religious imagination is foisted upon people. Thought of God springs up innately wherever there are people. People come to imagine that God is real by means of their existing; people come to imagine that God is not real by means of much effort.

          • volfan007 says


            I’m not trying to be snarky, so don’t take this wrong…but, why would an atheist even care about any of this?


          • says

            What you say is true to a point.
            But since you were a ‘C’, you know that some people believe that God chooses to save some and not others.
            Thus whether a church grows or not has nothing to do with the validity of its message. Those who appeal to worldly instincts in people do grow because of that appeal.

            The church has a mission to proclaim the Gospel in word and deed. Numerical growth is not our responsibility. We are to proclaim the Gospel even if no one accepts its validity.

  6. Brandon says

    As a former pastor looking for a new congregation to serve, I have been amazed at how many churches have NO digital presence whatsoever. This is only compounded by the associations and conventions which offer little to no insight about the churches THEY SERVE. At my previous church, our FB page became a forum for the community and former residents from across the country. People reconnected and planned meetings at the church for worship when they came in to visit.

    • Chris Johnson says

      I agree Brandon,…FB seems to be the replacement of the local newspaper (many more editorials and funny pics though); with more velocity, agility and scale.

  7. Bob Browning says

    With much love and respect to John as a brother in Christ, and with a great appreciation for all the content posted here on Voices, I must confess that this article does not live up to the standard quality of writing that I have come to expect. There is a whole paragraph that I’m pretty sure does not contain a single complete sentence. I don’t say that to imply that there aren’t some good points or anything like that, but rather to remind us all to pursue excellence in all that we do. Also, I hope this will serve as a reminder that if you are trying to write an article to convince more traditional guys that Twitter is a good option for communicating with younger generations, that doesn’t rule out a need to write in such a way to communicate with the more traditional guys. And by the way, I’m only 31, so I’m kind of speaking for both sides I guess.

    All that said, as one of the faithful readers here, I do want to genuinely extend a warm welcome to John. I pray the Lord uses his writing and his ministry in an awesome way for the Kingdom.

    Grace and peace.

    • says

      Bob, thanks for the advice. My intent was to have a bullet pointed approach to quickly communicate my ideas rather than write an essay. I see your point and will expand my thoughts in future posts. Thanks for your comments.

  8. says

    Quite honestly we can ignore social media and call it a shallow means of communication but I firmly believe we will be held accountable one day for not going where 100s of millions of people are and engaging them on their level. We cannot keep our heads in the sand and say we are proclaiming the Gospel effectively in my opinion.

  9. says

    Chris Roberts,
    It is nice of you to care that we do not continue to waste our time and resources.
    But you are not actually contributing anything substantial in even a remote way that might convince those contributing/reading from giving up their faith.
    So while you claim you are trying to help, instead, you are simply continuing to waste your time in ineffective barbs and confused criticisms.

    Rather what shows is a confused person who from somewhere has latched on to a value system and seeks to impose that [his own] [yours] system on others.

    If from randomness human life originates, then there is no basis to judge others on their pursuit of life choices, Christian or atheist or whatever. There is no real freedom of anything that anyone is entrapped from. All basis for law and morality is artificial.
    And thus you are playing the hypocrite.
    Just saying…

    • Chris Roberts says

      Granted I haven’t given much of substance, I tend to limit my comments to addressing issues relevant to the particular post, in this case reliance on marketing gimmicks rather than the Holy Spirit. Because Voices is not intended to be a battleground for debates over the existence of God, I tend not to get into that. Even this comment has been trimmed down quite a bit in trying to restrain my impulse to debate.

      I’ll also ignore the jab about playing the hypocrite; that line of argument is common for Christians, but it, like my comment here, has no substance. Perhaps we should find more neutral or amenable territory on which to take up that particular debate.

      • says

        You are welcome to email me at

        or suggest a place or blog that caters to such suggestions. i have only debated an atheist once [besides you] in the last 10 years or so. I rarely run into one at work or in the neighborhood, or at least one willing to have a conversation.

    • jtilson says

      Thank you Ryan, that is a good article, and about as sophisticated as it needs to be. Chris will find himself in those lines as well. He just needs to admit that to himself. It really is a simple matter.

  10. andy says

    I am not an atheist, but I think I had a similar reaction to Chris to this post. I am not opposed to using technology, but the language about branding yourself as an expert is not something I find helpful for my ministry…simply because I would want to be Able to clearly explain my actions to parishioners…and if I tell them, “well, I want to brand myself in your mind as a generous expert.” …I don’t think that rings of the authenticity the author is aiming for.

    Where I differ with Chris is that I believe the best evangelism “strategies” are those that simply make the message as clear as possible…not seeking to manipulate.

    • says

      Regarding “branding” it is just intentionally focusing on how you want to be identified and how you are communicating a clear message of the Gospel. We brand ourselves every day whether we want to or not but I am just advocating be intentional and clear what you are communicating to others. Is your focus on recovery ministries, apologetics, servant evangelism, exposition of God’s Word, etc. Drive home your message and clearly communicate what you are good at and are excited God is teaching you in your life. Engaging with others on social media exponentially expands our opportunity to minister. Having a clear message is important to ministering effectively.

  11. Stephen says

    #7 seems to have the highest ratio of marketing buzzwords. Can you elaborate on what that specifically looks like in a local church environment? Especially a small church that does not have a comm team or anything like that.

    • says

      It is simply asking your church members to talk about how God is working through your church on their own social media channels. Empower them to be your free advertising arm about your future events, what activities they enjoyed, and to take a lot of pictures. People respond to personal endorsements far and above any advertising we may do, Begin a conversation on Twitter about your sermon topic/series using a # in front of the theme. Provides an opportunity for church members to speak of what they got out of it and to start a dialogue regarding what you are driving home. Happy church members can be an incredibly effective witness via social media about what God is doing at your church. Costs the church zero and it is super promotion. Ask them to write on Facebook what God is teaching them through the ministries at your church. They become a witness to their friends by simply sharing what they are learning.

  12. Bill Mac says

    Well, life’s purpose for a lot of atheists is to try to propagate their worldview. Fair enough, that’s what Christians do. But regarding “learning how to be decent people without resorting to imagination”: I’m sure there are quite a few decent atheists, but as I said in my previous comment, I don’t think faithless people have as a rule, shown themselves to be such people. I’m not actually sure what the word decent means to an atheist. It seems to me that moral relativism would rule the day.

    Are atheists feeding the hungry? Clothing the naked? Are atheist doctors volunteering in 3rd world countries? Are they running orphanages, or bringing gifts to needy children? Are they rebuilding areas devastated by natural disasters? Are they ministering to those in prison?

    In absolute terms no doubt some are. But as a whole? I’ve certainly never heard about it, and it seems to me that if it was happening, in a country that is increasingly hostile to people of faith, we’d hear about it.