Three years ago Pastor Aaron R. Burke and his wife Katie were seeking God’s leading to start a new church plant in the Tampa, Florida area, with a core group of 17 people. In 2012, Burke met with various pastors and asked where they would suggest the couple start a new work.
One called South Tampa the “graveyard” of church plants, backed by a demographic study showing 87 percent of those in that area had no church affiliation. “We had a desire to start a church for unreached people in an area not saturated with churches,” Aaron says.
In 2013, the Burkes gathered supporters in a hotel, encouraging them to use social media to recruit others interested in joining a “life-giving and dynamic church.” The newcomers also jumped on Facebook and Twitter to reach the area’s uppermiddle-class movers and shakers, plus personnel from MacDill Air Force Base a couple miles away. At the launch service in September, 348 people showed up. Now the church is averaging 980 at three Sunday morning services in a renovated movie theater. Last October, Radiant recorded its 1,000th conversion.
Burke says pastors are fooling themselves if they think the public is going to search for them by traditional means. “People are online looking for hope,” Burke says. “They’re looking for someone who can connect with them. There’s a purpose for social media and that’s to reach people.” Still, once they come, a church must offer community, convert Daniel says. After a member’s sister died, 15 people came to the airport to see her off before she flew to the funeral. “All of that takes place outside the church,” Daniel says. “It’s real community, not surface stuff. Real friendships and true family.”
Other congregations are employing a similar strategy, with social media as a major tool for starting new congregations.
Source: PE News
Bible Study: Acts 1:8
PRAISE God for this example. PRAY that other churches may reach out to the unchurched using social media.