Many ministry teams now function in a distributed context and use social media as a primary tool for starting and growing their ministries. Here are 12 ways to strengthen and grow those teams:
1–Unite dispersed teams via private Facebook groups to discuss issues, share questions and life experiences, and create camaraderie prior to meeting face to face.
2–Host ongoing quarterly meet-ups with an open invitation to all members (both staff and volunteers) who are able to travel to the location. Alter the site, time of day and day of the week on occasion to accommodate others.
3–Start a hangout within your Google plus circles to provide a casual chat environment that is similar to an open house where people come and go. No need to force a topic of discussion – anyone can ask a question or share an idea, and the team will gather around to learn, share and grow together.
4–Go to a favorite hangout in your city and invite Twitter friends who happen to be in the area at the moment to join you for a meal or cup of coffee.
5–Send an email out to your volunteer team or staff and ask them which local needs they’re aware of that your team could meet. Schedule the time and place to meet up and make a difference together.
6–Do you have a group member who is geographically distant from the rest of you? Surprise him or her by sending an airline or rail ticket to spend a weekend with you.
7–Attend the same film as your friends (who are dispersed in various cities, states, or countries) at the same time. Live tweet your thoughts as it happens and invite your social network connections to chime in with their opinions, too.
8–Agree on a day each of you will perform a random act of service where you live or work. Report back to each other via Skype call or Google+ hangout to share your experiences.
9–Create a group list of phone numbers on your mobile phone so that you can send out a mass text to them if you find yourself in an emergency situation and need prayer or help. Encourage them to do the same.
10–Host a Prayer Event on Facebook. (Details in my ebook.)
11–Locate the connectors in your group and send them out to pockets of the city, state, or world where you have momentum building in your ministry. Ask the connectors to listen to the local groups’ stories and then make the intentional effort of introducing like-minded people from the various territories who’d never otherwise meet. When people with similar stories, gifts, and passions are united, an organization accelerates its growth.
12–Create a master Google document of links, resources, videos, and more your team can add to every time they come across a blog post, article, tech tool and more that would help your team connect online and relate better locally.
* Many of the public interactions your team members have online are being observed by their social networks. Over time you will find your team growing as a result of others wanting in on your vibrant community’s approach to serving together.
* Keep around 70% or more of your team’s public online interactions secular in nature, thereby allowing members’ social network connections of different faiths to participate in the conversation and gain exposure to your community. 1 to 2 of every 6 online interactions is enough to share one’s beliefs without coming on too strong.
* Prayerfully identify those on your team who are best suited to trying 3-5 of the suggestions above and see what happens!
Dana Byers is the President of BlueDoor.tv, which she co-founded with her husband in Europe in 2007. Her dream is to help teams form online churches in every country by 2020. Download Dana’s free ebook “The Art of Online Ministry”. Follow her on Twitter.