Saturday, November 29, 2014

7 Ways to Bring Advent to Social Media

Churches observe Advent in a variety of ways. Some do not talk about it much; I grew up in the church and did not know what Advent was until college. Others prepare for an all-church focus that includes sermons, small groups, video clips, songs, liturgies and more. Has your church ever considered how it might engage people in Advent via social media? With a exponentially larger audience that is daily connected to social media sites, social media provides a great opportunity for the Church to tell the Advent story this year.

Advent is my favorite season of the Christian calendar. My favorite phrase for the season is "eager expectation" as we remember the time when the world was waiting for the coming of the Messiah and we experience a world that is waiting for that Messiah's return. It is the kickoff to the Christian calendar, a time where families prepare their hearts for Christmas. I always found it to be a time to be a little more focused and intentional with my thoughts and actions, reflecting on the meaning of the season. 

So how might we tell the story of Advent in engaging ways through social media? Here are 7 ideas:

Oh more thing before we get to these ideas! Many of these ideas are content suggestions that can be used on several different social media channels. Don't forget to unsync your accounts before you start posting. While the content might be similar across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, the way you package that content should be different.

1. Join the global conversation. Advent conversations are already happening on social media from around the globe. Use the simple #advent hashtag to connect your posts to the global conversation. 

2. Make Advent local. Create your own local #hashtags to use on Twitter or Instagram to connect Advent with your own local community (e.g. #AdventInKC or #AdventInBattleCreek You might even reach out to other churches in your community to help raise awareness and reach the most people. Be sure to let your church people know you are doing this and encourage them to join the conversation.

3. Help families know how to observe Advent at home. Unlike for Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter, most families do not have long standing traditions on how to experience Advent in their homes. You can help Advent become more than just a weekly observance by pinning ideas to your church Pinterest account or posting them to Facebook. 

4. Find [or compose] good Advent songs and share them! Our world connects through music. One of my biggest frustrations in planning worship during Advent was the small number of good Advent songs out there. The good ones need shared and new ones need written. 

5. #Hashtag your sermon series and small group sessions. Does you church have a theme for all of its Advent activities? Create a #hashtag to go along with what your church is doing and encourage your congregation use it to interact with the sermon and share insights from their small groups. RT or Share posts from church members with your church accounts.

6. Teach Advent. Although some theological traditions have practiced Advent for....well, forever...many traditions have only started to observe Advent within the last few decades. Almost everyone knows why Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter, but they do not have the same understanding with Advent. Share #AdventFacts of the #HistoryofAdvent with daily or weekly posts. Either share your own quick facts or share blogs and articles from around the web (make sure to fact check though!).

7. Capture Advent and tell the story through pictures. Instagram and Facebook thrive on pictures. Capture the advent candles being lit, the decorations in the foyer or the call to worship in the bulletin and share these on social media. Invite you congregation to share their own pictures of things that remind them of Advent. Create a #hashtag to go along with the pictures to help track them.

This time of the year is busy for just about everyone and it makes it easy for people to forget about Advent between Sundays. Connecting with people throughout the week on their time through their computers or mobile devices is a great way to keep Advent at the front of everyone's minds this year.

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