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10 Powerful Church Statistics on Social Media Use

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Update 3/13/18: This piece has been updated with the most recently available statistics and key takeaways for each stat.

As churches grow and adapt to the era of omnipresent Wi-Fi and smartphones, social media has become one of the most effective—and necessary—ways of reaching new members.

Some church leaders are reluctant to completely welcome technology (and all of its complications) into the sanctity of their church. Learning how to effectively and comfortably use church technology and software can be a long process.

It’s more important than ever, though, for churches to utilize social media, but the percentage of those that do remains alarmingly low.

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As a church leader, you need buy-in not only from your leadership team but also from your congregation as a whole to enact church-wide change.

10 Powerful Church Statistics on Social Media

Let’s take a look at 10 statistics that illustrate just how crucial social media is to church growth, how badly churches currently utilize it, and key takeaways to help you build (or fix) your social media strategy.

1. In 2017, more than half of Bible readers used the internet (55%) or a smartphone (53%) to access biblical texts, a significant increase from 2011 (37%, 18% respectively). (Source: Barna Group)

A Barna Bible use data bar graph
Barna Bible use data

 Takeaway:  Your followers are using the internet and social media as part of their worship routine in ever-increasing numbers. You need to have an active social media presence to take advantage of that fact, since that’s where your audience is. Here’s a guide on building your church website, and one on building your church social media strategy.

2. Almost 70% of churches offer Wi-Fi for staff and guests. A 2017 LifeWay Research study found that 68% of Protestant churches offer Wi-Fi for both groups. (Source: LifeWay Research)

A bar graph showing the results of a LifeWay Wi-Fi provision survey
LifeWay Wi-Fi breakdown

 Takeaway:  If your church doesn’t offer Wi-Fi, you’re in the minority and could be driving guests away. Here’s a guide from FaithEngineer on upgrading your church’s internet situation.

3. More than 70% of nonprofit communicators consider social media one of their most important communication channels. According to Nonprofit Marketing Guide’s 2016 report, 71% of nonprofit communication professionals consider social media one of their most important channels, second only to their website (80%). (Source: Nonprofit Marketing Guide)

A breakdown of important nonprofit communication channels from Nonprofit Marketing Guide
Nonprofit Marketing Guide’s most important communication channels

 Takeaway:  If you want to successfully market your church and increase membership, social media is no longer a “nice to have” but an essential line of communication. Here are some great examples of church social media campaigns from pro church marketer Brady Shearer to get you started.

4. Almost 85% of churches use Facebook. In 2017, 84% of Protestant pastors reported that their church uses Facebook as their primary online communication tool. (Source: LifeWay Research)

A graph from LifeWay Research showing survey results regarding church communication platform use
LifeWay Research church social media use

 Takeaway:  Facebook is the king of church social media tools. If your church doesn’t have a Facebook profile set up, make that your first priority. A Facebook page doesn’t just give your members a place to interact with each other, it also gives you access to a network of active, online communities where you can get ideas and ask questions. Here are 14 great church Facebook groups to join, recommended by church communications expert Katie Allred.

5. Only about 15% of churches are using Twitter and Instagram. In 2017, only 16% of Protestant pastors surveyed reported using Twitter. Even less (13%) were on Instagram. (Source: LifeWay Research)

 Takeaway:  Just because most churches are late to the Twitter and Instagram game doesn’t mean you should be among them. According to Statista, Instagram has more than 800 million users, and Twitter had about 330 million as of the end of 2017. That’s an enormous audience to tap into. Start with this Instagram guide for churches, and this one for Twitter.

6. The average click-through-rate is 115% higher for church emails that include at least one social media link. (Source: Anthony Coppedge| Focused on Church Health)

A graph showing the CTR for church emails with and without a social media link
Source: Anthony Coppedge

 Takeaway:  This stat is a few years old, but email marketing has been around for almost 40 years so it’s still relatively young. The advice here is straightforward: email communications that include a social media link are way more effective at generating clicks from readers. Don’t leave them out!

7. Approximately 51% of churches claim that at least one staff member regularly blogs or posts on social media. According to Christian-centered digital advertising agency Buzzplant, in 2012 74% of churches did not have a paid staff member updating their church’s social media pages. (Source: Buzzplant)

 Takeaway:  Consistent posting is crucial to social media success, but this task often falls to an unpaid volunteer (especially at smaller churches). The good news is that social media posting is easy; virtually anyone can do it. Give whoever runs your social media pages some guidance, such as these church social media mistakes to avoid.

8. 54% of Christian millennials watch online videos about faith or spirituality. A 2013 Barna survey found that more than half of Christian young people watch religious videos online. Among all U.S. millennials—Christian and non-Christian—the number was 31%. (Source: Barna Group)

 Takeaway:  Cisco predicts that by 2021, 82% of all consumer internet content will be video. The number of young people watching religious videos online will only increase. To take advantage of this, incorporate video into your social media plan. Here are seven church videos you can learn from, and five tips on creating professional church videos from church media expert Jeremy Poland.

9. 62% of churches use social networking to connect with individuals outside of their congregation. While an even larger number—73% according to LifeWay Research—use social media to interact with their congregation, the majority of churches with an online presence are already using social media as a growth tool. (Source: Facts & Trends)

 Takeaway:  Social media is a lifeline to your outside community, and one you need to use if you want your church to thrive and grow. As Efrem Smith, co-lead pastor of Bayside Church, Midtown in Sacramento, said, “To stay relevant, the church must diversify.” Use tools like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to share pictures and news with your own church members, and attract new members by promoting events (use hashtags!).

10. 65% of Americans prefer an in-person preacher to a video sermon. About one third (35%) have no preference between live or video sermons, but less than 1% prefer a video sermon over a live sermon. (Source: LifeWay Research)

Church statistics on social media use: LifeWay Research live sermons vs video sermons
LifeWay Research live sermons vs. video sermons

 Takeaway:  Don’t worry, video isn’t taking over (yet). Don’t scrap your physical location for an online only campus, but consider livestreaming your services for those who are unable to attend, traveling, or deployed. Here’s a beginner’s guide to getting your church’s livestream set up. Know your congregation; run a survey to determine your church’s needs before diving in.

Your church stats?

Have you stumbled across any interesting church technology research lately? I’d love to hear about it. Share it with me on Twitter @CapterraAC, or drop it in the comments below!

For additional insight on church outreach techniques, keep an eye on Capterra’s church management blog.

Looking for Church Management software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Church Management software solutions.

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About the Author

Andrew Conrad

Andrew is a content writer for Capterra, specializing in church management and project management software. When he’s not striving for the perfect balance of information and entertainment, Andrew enjoys the great outdoors and the wide world of sports. Follow him on Twitter @CapterraAC.

Comments

Last year I developed a team, did research, presented, and promoted financial support for an AV Program install in my home church. I started with a 52% approval from the congregation and increased it to a 80%(?) approval from the congregation. My biggest opponent now uses the monitors more than her hymnal and bulletin. I have suggested a website be re-establish after our free sight was taken down. As this article suggest, finances, interest, and man hours are the biggest stumbling blocks. Our median age is 75. It helped that our Pastor has been vocal about the need for media in the church. We also have used a YouTube channel to broadcast our messages on the web with a link from our Facebook page.

[…] addition, the Capterra Church Management Blog points out, 52 percent of churches broadcast sermons online or have podcasts. Following this pairing […]

[…] Anthony Coppedge, National Catholic Register, Capterra Blog […]

[…] where social media comes in. 46.1% of churches report that social media is their most effective method of outreach. You can use your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social networking accounts to stay in […]

[…] Christian Millennials research Churches, Temples, or Synagogues online? Or that, according to Capterra,  70% of Millennials that are practicing Christians use their smartphone to do things such as use […]

I am a member of a very old, small church, in a small town. For 2-1/2 years I recorded, edited and posted our church services (message only), to YouTube (this Ministry was haulted 1-1/2 years ago by our pastor).

My observations while I was performing this service (as a non-paid volunteer), showed that very, very few people who weren’t in some way associated with our church, ever watched our videos. The few people who watched the videos were the sick & shut-in, people on vacation or people who, for whatever reason, missed church and wanted to keep up to date.

I concluded that this was a great “in-house” ministry, but not a great “outreach” one. Occasionally (about once per year), someone would move into our town and, while doing a search for a new church home, would find our videos and, apparently liking what they saw, caused them to come to our church.

Now our Pastor is wanting us to stream our services live. For a variety of reasons I disagree with this suggestion (cost, organization and concern for lack of exposure beyond our church, are just 3 of my reasons).

In regards to my belief that live streaming will only reach the same people who use to watch the 2 day old, video that we posted on YouTube – – are there any statistics that you’re aware of that would either support or dispute this belief??

Thank you for your very interesting and well researched article. I look forward to your upcoming reply.

Ted

Hi Ted! First of all, bravo on your efforts to make new technology a priority at an old church. It can definitely be an uphill battle but it’s worth the effort. I agree with your observations about YouTube (or other video service) being best used as an in-house ministry for those who can’t make it in-person. I’m not aware of any specific statistics supporting your hypothesis, but Brady Shearer over at ProChurchTools has a great resource here: https://prochurchtools.com/dont-record-your-church-services/

Be sure to check out the comments as well, because there are some good counterpoints. I think what it basically comes down to is, Is the juice worth the squeeze? Is the time and money you’re putting into live streaming reaching enough people? You’ll have to ask yourself and your leadership team what a satisfactory ratio is.

Another approach is to figure out what you’re looking to get out of this live streaming and determine if it could be accomplished in a more efficient way. For example, a podcast, or Tweeting out selected readings, etc.

I hope this helps, and good luck!

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