by Marty Duren
Do you want another free tool to connect people in your church? Consider a Facebook group — an often-overlooked tool for helping maintain community for churches, ministries or small groups. With more than a billion Facebook users worldwide — and a large number of those are in our churches — Facebook Groups can be a great way to stay in touch.
As I was typing this article, a notification came through from my church life group leader confirming our meeting tonight and who was responsible for bringing food. I did not have to answer the phone or do anything out of the ordinary to get the information. And he only had to type his message once for everyone to see the announcement.
Assuming you already have your own account on Facebook, it’s easy to create a Facebook group. Go to your Home Page. In the left column you will see a section for “Groups.” At the bottom of the list you will see a “Create Group” icon. (If not, hover over the section and the word “More” will appear. Click that.) You will be taken to the Groups Page where you will see the rectangular button that reads “+ Create Group.” Click this to create your group.
First choose a name. It is fine to be creative, but it is also fine to be simple. “The Duren Life Group” or “Shirley’s Sunday School Class” are as effective as “Fierce Freddy’s Fighting Men of Faith.” Enter the name in the proper field.
Second, invite members. They must have a Facebook account to be invited and included in the group. If anyone you want to include in your group doesn’t have a Facebook account, you (or someone else) can help them create one. Assure them they do not have to embrace all Facebook has to offer if they only want to relate to your group. The amount of information they share about themselves or how much they involve themselves on Facebook is completely their choice.
After people have accepted your invitation to join, they may invite others to join. Assuming you are the administrator, however, you have the authority to approve everyone who wants to join the group. No one can join without your OK.
Third, select the type of group you are creating. “Type” refers to privacy settings: Open, Closed or Secret.
The posts, members and description of an “Open” group can be seen by anyone on Facebook who finds it. A “Closed” group allows for the group and its members to be seen by non-members, but only members can see the content. A “Secret” group is completely unknown except to the members who can see membership and content. Its very existence is concealed from anyone outside of your group.
An “Open” group is not recommended for any group that involves students or children. These might include VBS, camps, youth activities or Sunday school. Remember, any Facebook user can view all of the content on an Open Group page. Give serious thought to even a “Closed” group for students or children since only the posting of comments is restricted to members; all pictures and posts can be seen. However, a “Secret” group protects pictures, members and comments completely from outside viewing. I recommended you choose this type of group for children and students.
The best thing about Facebook groups is they are free to use and can be expanded to any size. If members move or change groups, membership can be changed as desired.
Once you’ve created the group and invited members, begin using your Facebook group to share prayer requests, make announcements, plan a fellowship, provide discussion questions for an upcoming Bible study or share photos from your group’s mission trip.
This caution must be noted: Anything posted online can never truly be considered absolutely, without a doubt, private. Always use discretion when posting.