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Using Facebook for Children/Youth Ministry
By: Mimi Bullock

You have a good promotion idea–one that you are sure families will love, but the day comes and goes and nada. Nobody or only a few people show up. You feel disappointed (and rightly so) but you quietly tuck away 200 goodie bags and keep going. After the event, families are disappointed and amazed that they didn't know about it (despite the many bulletin and newsletter postings).

So, where did your promotion go wrong? Perhaps you should widen the net! Social networking sites like Facebook allow kids ministries to create events, build excitement, and enjoy a harvest.

No matter what size church you belong to, you can get noticed with an effective Facebook promotion. (You don't even have to spend money!) Start by creating your event page if needed or post on your current Facebook ministry page. Work out the details and add them, too.

Some of these ideas could help bring the results you want:

Try a Countdown

Every day, post a number graphic on the event page. For example, when it's seven days away, post a photo of the number seven and write a blurb underneath. You can find tons of free graphics on Google. A blurb can sound something like: "Seven more days and Pastor Jack can't sleep, he's so excited!"

Post Updates on an Outreach

If you have a goal to gather 20 Christmas gifts for local seniors, post a daily status report. Post pictures of the items you have received or would like to receive. Post photos of the seniors your children's ministry could help.

Show Interviews with Kids

We use a fake mic and an iPhone, but it works! Catch kids after an event and ask them for an interview. It's a good idea to get on your knees to get both of you in the picture. Also, ask pointed questions like, "Wow! You looked like you were having fun. Did you have a blast?" Post the interviews and share them on your Facebook and parents page.

Pass the Kitten

"Who wants to pet sit this VIRTUAL kitten for me today?" That was the post, along with a photo of an irresistible kitten. We passed the kitten around from page to page. Every pet sitter got to give the "kitten" a name. It was a pointless promotion that built our Facebook presence. I highly recommend it!

Getting Families Connected on Facebook

Everyone has a Facebook page. I knew when my Dad, retired Navy Seal and lovable curmudgeon, created a personal Facebook account that social networking could work miracles (not literally, of course).

In a practical sense, connecting to families through a social networking site just makes sense when you operate a children's ministry. You can send reminders, make announcements and interact with families with just a few clicks. That's helpful when you want to build stronger ties and higher attendance.

These creative ideas are working for me:

The Kid of the Week

This is a program I use to reward children for demonstrating the Golden Rule. I snap a photo of the winner during kids church and poof! The child's photo appears on the kids church Facebook page and the parents' pages. I've never had parents fuss about that and they always share the picture with others.

Take Goofy Polls

Post a fun poll question like: "What's your favorite ice cream topping?" It's an online icebreaker that can help you build relationships with parents and grandparents.

Pet Costume Contests

You'd think it would be just seasonal but nope. People love putting their pets in costumes and posting pictures. We're always soliciting for pet pictures. Pets are a big part of a child's life and we want to get to know them.

Fun Fridays

Each Friday, I post a funny YouTube clip like three-minute sketch from an old Muppet Show or a Pixar Short. Always review the clip before you post it though. You can't trust everyone. On Fridays, I post a funny clip for the kids to watch their family.

Saturday Previews

Once the room is decorated and the weekly "minute to win it" games are on display, I snap a photo with my iPhone. That goes right to the Facebook page. Kids love getting a sneak peek of what's going to happen on Sunday.

Put those Facebook kids min pages to work!

Mimi Bullock writes for www.Ministry-To-Children.com, a resource started by Tony Kummer to solve children's ministry problems.

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