Most churches have Facebook pages but few use Twitter, survey finds

The Facebook application is seen on a phone screen August 3, 2017. | Reuters/Thomas White

A new survey of Protestant senior pastors has found that most churches have set up their own Facebook pages, but not many have ventured on other social media platforms like Twitter.

The study, published by LifeWay Research on Jan. 9, revealed that 84 percent of churches have websites and another 84 percent have their own Facebook pages. Only 16 percent use Twitter, and 13 percent use Instagram. Sixty-eight percent of the churches provide Wi-Fi access to both guests and staff.

Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research, noted that Protestant churches appear to be opening up to the increasing use of technology as a way to connect with guests and worshippers alike.

"Not long ago churches' use of technology was often limited to a website that functioned like the Yellow Pages or a bulletin board. Now they see technology as a way to interact with people. Wi-Fi is just one more way to do that," he said, as reported by Baptist Press.

Among the churches that have their own websites, 99 percent use their pages to provide information to visitors, while 94 percent use the sites to inform their congregation. Seventy-one percent use their pages to recruit volunteers or let people know about their ministries, while 47 percent use the sites to let people register for events.

Thirty-six percent use their websites to allow people to give online, while 23 percent have set up a secure, online church directory.

The use of Facebook by churches have rapidly increased since 2010, when a LifeWay study found that only 47 percent had Facebook accounts. At that time, 40 percent of churches do not use any social networking tools.

The 2017 LifeWay study found that 97 percent of churches that have social media accounts use it to inform people about incoming events. Eighty-seven percent use their pages to interact with their members, while 86 percent use social media to interact with outsiders.

Eighty-four percent use their social media accounts to capture memories of church events, while 68 percent use their pages to help members interact with each other.

LifeWay also found that most churches are not afraid of adopting new technology. Only two percent said they avoid new technology, while 14 percent said they are slow when it comes to adopting new technology. Twenty-three percent of churches are proactively looking for new technology to use, while 61 percent said they do not actively search for new technology but they are open to its use.

The survey of 1,000 Protestant pastors was conducted through phone between Aug. 30 and Sept. 18, 2017. Each interview was conducted with the senior pastor, minister or priest of the church contacted by LifeWay, and their responses were weighted by region to more accurately reflect the population.