Social Business Principles Present An Opportunity For Churches

April 27, 2011

Today I have the great privilege of speaking to a group of leaders at Grace Church in Reno, Nevada. My message is simple: there is a tremendous opportunity to use the principles of good social business to do things I don’t see any other church currently doing.

A lot of churches have fancy websites, and a lot of pastors are now blogging. But I can’t find a single church that is practicing inbound marketing by using the church website as a hub from which a congregation of bloggers are connected as spokes.

I’m not going to suggest that members of the congregation create blogs about their faith; rather, I want to see them blogging about their value, what they do in their daily jobs or related roles to help others address opportunities and solve problems that matter to them. I want an accountant to blog about accounting, a plumber to blog about plumbing, a landscaper to blog about landscaping, and the stay-at-home mom or dad to blog about the joys and challenges that come with that role. I want them to develop remarkable content that earns them the privilege of being a trusted resource of information that maters to a wide spectrum of folks in the community.

My goal is that when someone searches Google for “Reno”, that Grace Church appears on the first page, above the fold. For that to happen, we have to teach Google that Grace Church is Reno. I think the only way to accomplish that is by creating an army of people that say “we are Grace Church,” via the creation of remarkable content on their own blogs that are then linked to the Grace Church hub.

I envision a page on the Grace Church website called something like “Voices of Grace” where anyone and everyone that is a partner in the congregation can create content to help anyone in the community address the opportunities and problems of daily life. People will discover that online, their communities can become global, which will give Grace Church a unique opportunity to accomplish their mission of teaching the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

What do you think? Could the principles of social business and inbound marketing radically transform the operation of any church, or am I out to lunch on this? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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Comments (14)

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  1. Bret,
    I totally agree with you….pastors have a unique opportunity to get the Word out through social media. And, being the market researcher that I am…I have stats from a study done in December 2010 about how social media can benefit groups such as churches … check out this link:


    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    But I’m after more than pastors, Sharon I’m after the flock! Thanks,Bret

  2. Hey Bret, I think that is a very interesting opportunity that you have to help them share their presence with the online world! Since religion is such a powerful topic of discussion around the world, it should provide the perfect medium to present conflicting ideas and get the conversation flowing. I’m curious to see the leadership’s reaction to your ideas! Hoping they go for it.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    It was a great time, Aaron. Very interesting discussion. Well see where it goes! Thanks, Bret

  3. Bret,

    If you are out to lunch, we’re enjoying it together.

    Great to see you taking your expertise to the local church.

    Whether a fine lunch place or community of believers the ability to know what I may expect and what you have experienced encourages me to “check it out”, too.

    Good stuff, as always,

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I appreciated the opportunity to paint a really stretch vision for them. I hope they can see the possibilities – out of my hands 🙂 Thanks, Steve! Bret

  4. Churches and their parish have golden opportunities to create stronger connections to each other because they already have a common value of faith, and an instinctual desire to help one other. I would love to see more churches dive into social media practices because once they do they are more likely to connect in person and learn more of the needs of their parishioners. I see a need for church-goers to get better at introducing themselves to the stranger sitting next to them at church. Social networking as a congregation will ultimately provide greater opportunity for each member to truly bond no better way – in the name and love of God.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Right on, KC! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as always, I value your opinion. Thanks, Bret

  5. Shandel says:

    It was a great presentation and I love your vision about the amazing things we can do with “Social Grace” – excited to be a part of the movement.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I appreciate your support. The vision is exciting, but we have a long way to go before it becomes a movement. Our role is to help, but others have to make it happen. Thanks! Bret

  6. Edward Harsh says:

    Hi Bret. I think that the principles and tools of social business are actually quite a good fit for churches looking to branch out and keep in touch with current members as well as those looking to attract new members. I know that many, many churches already have solid websites on which they post recordings and and videos (often with great production value!). As such, they’ve already got the content, but they could probably expand their ‘reach’ by more thoroughly utilizing and establishing a presence on the various tools that exist out there.
    I agree with you – a lot of potential out there.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    Lots of churches, including mine, do have GREAT content, but they are posted on static websites with no relational capacity. I think that is a big missed opportunity to draw people in to conversation and relationship. Thanks for sharing! Bret

  7. Haipin Cua says:

    Hi Bret, I’ve always considered churches as small businesses myself (or at least in the way they have to be run) and just like any business, there’s a tremendous amount of opportunity to be taken from creating a community (especially an online community for the younger generation) for church groups. These communities not can only be used for “having conversations” but also a good a way for church groups to grow their patronage.

    Bret L. Simmons Reply:

    I think that’s a fair analogy, Haipin, in fact, some are like big business! Even though they might not like to admit it, many adopt very contemporary marketing and advertising techniques common in business but adapted for their mission. I think they could do a much better job harnessing the power of social media. Thanks! Bret