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By Jonathan Howe

Earlier this week, Instagram added a major new feature to its platform. Even though the feature has only been active for a few days, Instagram Stories is the biggest social media development we’ve seen in 2016 since the launch of Facebook Live.

Many have complained about Instagram completely copying a feature from another platform (Snapchat), and there is a legitimate argument to be made. They have done this before when they copied the addition of short videos from Vine. But the difference is that when a feature is added into Instagram, it is often easier to use and is fully integrated into the app.

So what does this mean for churches? Many of your churches already have an Instagram account. Now you have even more opportunities to tell your story to those who follow you online. Here are a few ways to use Instagram Stories at your church.

  1. Staff surveys. Post a short video or a photo to of each staff member answering a question. Maybe they show off their favorite book. Maybe they describe how they take their coffee. Use these short bursts to help members and guests get to know your church staff better.
  2. A look behind the scenes. With Instagram Stories, you can take viewers behind the scenes of worship team practices, Lord’s Supper setup, sermon prep, and so much more. Pick an aspect of ministry each week and show your members what it takes to make things happen in the church.
  3. Prayer prompts. Use your story to highlight prayer requests or needs in your church. Prompt your followers and members to pray for others in the church and community.
  4. Sunday morning stories. Highlight aspects of your worship gatherings through an Instagram Story. Short video clips of greeters, the media team, nursery workers, Bible study teachers, and ushers would give your followers a more in-depth look at what goes on each week at your church.
  5. Event recaps. Similar to the previous item, these recaps basically give people a view of what happens at one of your church events. Whether it’s a youth function, VBS, camp, or a Disciple Now, you can use Instagram Stories to recap the event for those who can’t make it or aren’t involved in that ministry. What better way to recruit volunteers than to show them how God is moving in a specific ministry?

Instagram Stories offer churches a unique opportunity to connect with the audience they already have on the platform. How you use the feature is completely up to you, but the low-hanging fruit is there. It’s now up to you and your church to find what works best and use social media to tell the story of how God is working in your church.

Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week. Jonathan writes weekly at on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.

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