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August 23, 2012

Using Private Facebook Groups

How your small group can take advantage of this popular tool


The power of social media to connect people is absolutely amazing! And while many of us discuss how our connections are more shallow than in the past due to social media, I believe there's a way for social media to actually enhance our real-life, face to face interactions. To this end, recently released a new resource: Social Media for Small-Group Ministry.

In the resource, Keri Wyatt Kent shares how her group has had success using a private Facebook group to inform, connect, and mobilize group members. She shares why using the feature is helpful for her group, gives step-by-step instructions on setting up a private group, and explains the guidelines your group members should use. Plus, she includes a list of many advantages for leaders:

A Facebook group enables you to reach the whole group with one post, and allows them to interact with one another and respond to you quickly. Suppose the person hosting your next meeting suddenly can't do it. Instead of calling everyone, then calling them back to let them know where the meeting is, you could post: "John has to go out of town unexpectedly on business this week, so he can't host our Thursday meeting. Can someone else have it their house?" Everyone in the group will see this on the page and it will show up in their newsfeed. And if group members' smart phones are linked to Facebook, they'll instantly see that you've posted.

Rather than replying by e-mail, group members can simply comment on whatever you post—and hopefully one of them will volunteer to host. Everyone sees the interactions and is up-to-date on what the group decides. Visually, the string of comments looks like a conversation, which feels more like a group conversation than an e-mail string.

Beyond meeting details, you can use the group page to post prayer requests and answers. For example, you could post, "Don't forget to pray for Jane's upcoming job interview. Let us know how it goes, Jane!" Group members can then post responses saying they're praying. Jane can also respond with a report on the interview. It's nice for group members to hear about it right away from Jane, and it takes the job of disseminating group updates off your to-do list.

If you're studying a book, you could post a quote from the book or a question from the study guide to remind them to be preparing for the group meeting. You could also share information you've found online, such as articles or book reviews. Say you're trying to decide which curriculum or book to study next in your group. You could post a question asking members to weigh in. Group members can give suggestions, or link to books on Amazon to allow others to look more in-depth at resources.

Another idea is for coaches to create private groups for the leaders they shepherd. Coaches could ask how leaders' groups are going, post inspirational thoughts or passages, and share vision and important training dates. It's also a great place to provide links to resources and helpful training.

There's no reason the church—and your small group—can't use social media to its advantage. Read the rest of Keri Wyatt Kent's article and gain lots of tips and examples on using social media successfully for small-group ministry in our training tool.

posted by Amy Jackson on August 23, 2012 8:00 AM

Related Tags: Download excerpt, Keri Wyatt Kent, Social media

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