Years ago, Bible study leaders discovered a new way to connect with the people in their class… the telephone! Yes, Bible study leaders discovered that they could call every single person in their class in about one evening if they wanted to. They might receive a prayer request from a group member, and then call the rest of their group to share the request. A teacher could contact absentees to see how they were doing. The telephone became a vital part of Sunday School ministry.
Today, another powerful method of communication exists. The tool is the internet and one of the fastest growing ways to contact others and stay in contact is through a social network, specifically Facebook. I am going to take few moments and encourage you to seriously consider using this tool to connect the people in your class. We will also look at some practical ways to use Facebook in your group's ministry.
How can Facebook help your class or small group? First, it provides a central point where people can go for information. Have a fellowship this Friday and a class member has forgotten what time it starts? Go to your group's Facebook page and look it up. A Facebook page can be a great place just to put information about your group.
Use Facebook to help you teach the Bible. Do you want your group to do some study or some work before this week's lesson? Put your questions or requests on your group's Facebook profile. Perhaps you want the group to follow-up on this week's study. You can post follow-up assignments on Facebook. You can post some preview information about the week's study so that your group will be better prepared. Bible memory verses can be shared with your group too.
Post discussion questions on Facebook. You might want to generate some discussion about a particular topic. Post the question and then let your class members interact with it during the week. The people in your group will not only interact with your question, they will also interact with each other's responses.
Post prayer requests. Using some reasonable restraints, you can post some prayer requests and also answered requests on Facebook. A class member who has been unemployed has found a job. He can put that answered prayer on the group's profile himself! A parent of another member that the class has been praying for made a profession of faith in Christ! That member can share this great news and answered prayer with the entire group with just one post.
Email everyone in the class at once. A feature of Facebook is the ability to email all of your members with one simple email. Reminders about the upcoming class breakfast before Sunday School can be sent, as well as other needs or reminders. The emails you send are not part of your group's public profile, so non-group members cannot see them.
Write on your wall or in your group's discussion box some encouraging notes, meaningful Bible verses, etc.
You can choose if you want your group to be open, public, or closed. Which you choose is determined by how you want to use Facebook. An open group let's anyone post on the discussion board. A public group lets others view the group's posts, but only members can write a post. A closed or private group means that only group members can view or write on the group's profile. If you want to use Facebook as an evangelism tool, obviously the private option is not the best.
Facebook is not perfect, but neither is the telephone. Facebook can be a powerful tool to help you quickly communicate with your group and also provide a way for them to network with each other. By the way, although Facebook is heavily used by young adults, research is showing that the largest growing segment of users on Facebook is women, ages 55-65!
An essential thing for you to remember: if you really want to use Facebook to help network your group, then you must make posts on it frequently and often. The more you use it and refer your group members to Facebook, the more valuable it will become.
A great e-book that you can download for free is: Facebook for Pastors. Yes, it is written to pastors but you can peruse this e-book and learn how Facebook works and also some practical ideas about how to use it.
While you're at it, add me as a Facebook friend at www.facebook.com/thebobmayfield.