Social media can be one of the most effective tools you can use during the holidays to reach out to your busy church members. Many people want to participate and engage, but are being pulled in many different directions, as we all are during this time of year. Below are five helpful ways that social media can help churches connect at Christmas:

1) Use all methods to fundraise.

During December when every church wants to close its books in the black, it is time to pull out all the stops and gently and lovingly remind people to give through every social channel available. That means using your church management software to send out an email, posting links to your church giving page on your church Facebook page, tweet the giving link, texting people . . . whatever methods your people like to be communicated by, use all of them.

2) Encourage an advent countdown via social media.

Countdown to Christmas by Tweeting or Facebook posting an Advent reflection thought or Bible verse every day until Christmas. Encourage people to share these with their family and friends.

3) Minister to people in need.

Use all available technological arsenal to reach out to people in your congregation who might be in need. Send an encouraging email or text message, ask if you can pray, watch kids, take groceries, or support anyone outside the congregation who is in need. Technology is tool for outreach, but taking it a step further and connecting in- person through the meals ministry or other ministry is a great way to reach out to those who are hurting during the holidays. Additionally, updating Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ with upcoming classes, small groups, and recovery groups can be a great way to encourage care within your congregation into the New Year.

4) Ask your Facebook page members questions.

If you head over to your Facebook church page, click “question” above the section to update your status. You can simply and easily type a short survey question with answers to ask your members something that relates to Christmas like: How are you preparing for celebrating the true meaning of Christmas this year? or What are some of your Christmas traditions that help bring the reason for the season into focus? This is just one more social media tool to help people engage with your church.

5) Highlight church culture.

As the year draws to a close, it can be humbling to look back over the year and share praises on your Facebook page or through an email newsletter sent to your congregation. Include photos, videos, and slideshows, details of money raised for missions or special events–any information that would be encouraging and show how your church is grateful for God’s provision over the past year.