What is Digital Ministry? Marketing vs. Doing Ministry

For congregations to thrive in today's digitally oriented world, it is important to understand how DIGITAL MINISTRY differs from SOCIAL MEDIA and MARKETING.

The digital ministry shift is a move from using social media solely to promote ministry opportunities to actually doing ministry on social media. 

Yes, we need to promote and market events. That's true.  But to harness the power of social media we need to go further!   

In this episode, I share a concrete example related to educating and orienting newcomers.  That's right...  How to move your welcoming and membership ministry online using social! 

Watch or listen below. 


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Episode Notes

Social Media

Think about all the different social media platforms we have. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter.  Video posting platforms, audio hosting platforms. Generally, they allow us to share some kind of content -- photo, video, audio, and text.

We are able to put out some kind of content, some kind of message, and we have the ability to comment, reply, and interact around that message.  So there's sharing content and there's interaction. 

Social media gives us this amazing power!   What we do with it is up to us.   Think of it as raw capacity.


With marketing, which can be done via social media, we are generally communicating in an effort to raise interest, awareness, curiosity, or some emotion related to something we want people to do, attend, or engage with.

Very often, when it comes to congregations, it's sharing announcements.  Here's a picture, here's a meme, here's a graphic related to some event or opportunity.  We're trying to get people to go to an event, such as attend a worship service or do something.

That's the majority of content congregations in the United States are generating on social media -- marketing-focused announcements. 

Digital Ministry

Now, what about digital ministry?  This is when we move from trying to promote events or opportunities via social media and start using social media platforms, or other digital tools, to actually DO ministry online.

Here's an example that I use in my Digital Ministry Academy and Video Ministry Academy trainings for religious professionals, staff, and volunteer leaders. 

Interested in training for your professional group, conference, or denomination? Contact me for live online trainings, seminars, and keynotes.

Congregations often hold events for newcomers designed to educate and orient them.   Think about how you are presently accomplishing this task.  

We can design an event to welcome and orient newcomers that is held offline in a building or online via a Zoom meeting. In either case, it is a discrete event that we want to get people to go to.

We could use the power of social media -- that raw capacity to share and interact -- to post announcements and other content promoting this event.  Our goal? To get newcomers to attend!  That's marketing.

To use social media to actually DO ministry in this example, we can shift where the orienting is happening.  Instead of some other event, we can answer questions directly on social media.

This could take the form of posting a photo of your connections team and a prompt for people to share questions they have.

We could go a step further and have a member of the team share a video where they share a welcome, some basic information, and ask people if they have questions.

Want to go next level?   Schedule a live Q&A session online with your team.  Invite people to share questions and join you live at the scheduled time!  Answer the questions shared in advance, questions shared live, and help people get welcomed, oriented, and connected right there on social media. 

What about the value of the event NOT on social media?  Well, if you can get people there, it is great!   But more and more people want that intro level content to be available when they are doing their research BEFORE they are ready to engage with your congregation.    

Live Stream Q&A

I use Stream Yard (referral link) to live stream to multiple social media platforms at once.  For example, I'll do live ministry strategy sessions with the live broadcast going to my YouTube channel, Facebook page, Twitter account, and one or more Facebook groups.  I love having the power to be on multiple platforms live all at once!

You could schedule a live Q&A session with your team using Zoom and broadcast the video to a scheduled YouTube live video (read how to via Zoom blog).  That video player could be shared in advance across your social media channels, email, and embedded on the newcomer page of your website!

Zoom is Digital, I know...

Okay, you may be thinking "Peter, Zoom is online and it is digital so a newcomer event held on Zoom is digital ministry." You are right!   For simplicity, I didn't bring that up in the video. Moving offline newcomer events online via Zoom is a great step.  For events that are geared for people who are curious and looking for more info but not ready to attend an event, the live stream option is great.   


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