Get messy – get social!

Published 1st February 2018 by jane leadbetter

Well, let’s be honest! It is another job to do and we are all busy enough. Is social media even on your Messy Church planning sheet? So why do we consider using social media with our Messy Churches? 
I have just had a takeaway retail leaflet pushed through my door. The person posting the leaflets is now sitting on my garden wall scrolling through her mobile phone. When I last walked by the bus stop, I saw four people waiting for a bus and they were all looking at their mobile phones. When I was at the hairdressers, there were more clients scrolling through their phones than picking up a magazine that was on offer. Mobile phones are a way of life, for all ages and languages and walks of life.
In a lot of cases, Messy Churches need to advertise themselves. If we are once a month, we need to connect with our busy communities and remind them that we are active every month. You may use leaflets in schools or posters in shops or a banner outside the Messy Church venue. We have lots of suggestions in many of our helpful Maximising the Mess sheets. But if your community is more plugged in to their iPod and mobile phone, looking down rather than up, then how can we reach them through social media?
You may like to contact your denominational Communications Officer and ask for advice. He/she may have templates and training to get you going. Should you be a public Facebook page or a closed one? Who will be the admin or the editor? Do you want to do all of the posts yourself or are you inviting other people to post and share? Do you need to personally know all of the members or are you happy for aunty Margery in Australia to be a member too? 
Even when you actually find someone to manage a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account for your Messy Church, how can it become a good tool for you? What do you hope to achieve?

Let your Messy community know the date of your next Messy Church. Experiment with posting a photo and information a week before the Messy Church takes place, or the day before. Did more people look at the post when you posted it in the morning or when everyone is travelling home from work on the train?
Post information about any of the activities you may be preparing for your next Messy Church. 
Are you inviting your Messy congregation to bring a newspaper or junk boxes for an activity, or to bring a filled shoebox for the homeless in your latest social action project? Post it online!
Are you pulling out all the stops on a special meal this month? Tell your Messy congregation about your mouth-watering feast.
Can you help your Messy congregation in their discipleship by posting a short video of what the Bible story is going to be or ask for prayers or feedback? We have lots of suggestions on our Messy Church Pinterest boards.
Make any special announcements such as ‘Happy New Year!’ or the beginning of Lent and what it means.
Link up with another overseas Messy Church and swap ideas and messages.

There are lots of ways that you can use social media to benefit everyone, but it won’t all happen successfully overnight. It takes a long time. Keep posting images to keep the pages active and invite people to ‘Like’ the pages so that they receive notifications when you post anything. But it can be fun!
A couple of important things to remember: tell everyone if you have social media going; don’t just expect them to guess. Tell them on the posters, leaflets and banners. Also, get permission from your Messy Church congregation if you take any photos for social media during the Messy Church session. Don’t ever print any children’s names. You can use your Messy Church registration form to ask for parental permission. We have lots of helpful documents like this on our website.
I recommend this pocket-sized handy book about social media in churches.
Don’t forget that you can share lots from our Messy Church Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages and post them on your own Messy Church pages too! Let us know how you get on and we look forward to ‘Like’ing your new Messy Church pages!

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