Churches are realizing the importance of capitalizing on opportunities to share the gospel through social networking. Millions of church members have become avid users of social media; therefore, many Churches have become actively involved with social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. The medium has enabled religious organizations to function as a 24/7 church.
While a generally accepted medium for marketing activities, church leaders have been reluctant to use public social media tools for core, communications due to privacy and safety concerns. Offensive advertising messages, inappropriate content for children and recent reports of poisoned Web links are also problematic for churches. These concerns have led to the next achievement in social media called private social networks.
In response to the growing need for a safe and secure social media platform, companies like Grapevine Technologies have created a customized, private solution which helps build “true communities” for churches. Its initial product, The Vine, provides each church a walled garden which fosters communication, sharing, giving and collaboration among church leaders and members.
One pastor who uses the private social networking program says, “Our various ministry groups and small groups are also finding it easier to get their events and announcements into the whole of our community as well as finding new connections with new members and guests.”
Another added benefit to the social networking with churches and other nonprofit organizations is the ability for members to give online. In a report by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, in 2010 nearly 75% of charitable groups surveyed reported online or Internet giving. Among those reporting, 58% saw an increase in giving. Tithing to the church or donating to humanitarian causes such as the Japanese earthquake/tsunami disaster, private social networks allows for easy online giving.
Whether a church or nonprofit group decides to hook up on Facebook or Twitter, it is heaven sent that private social networks are available to help those who desire more privacy and safety.