Why are Canadian churches afraid of social media?
Okay, admittedly the question in the title assumes that churches in Canada are afraid of social media, which might not be the case.
But recently I interviewed Charles Stone for a Strategic Mission Class in Gospel Sneeze Academy. Charles is pastor of West Park Church in London, Ontario and author of the book Brain Savvy Leaders.
During the interview Charles had this to say: “Churches embracing social media may be a little slower in Canada then so in the U.S., even though Canada has some of the best internet stuff going.”
He went on to admit that he had no facts to back that up, it was purely anecdotal and that he could be wrong. But being an American - having pastored churches south of our border, and now serving on the Canadian side - might lend a bit of authority to his assessment. And, the statistics on my own website suggest the same thing.
Canadian churches and social media
Though I write almost exclusively about how Christian ministries can leverage social media for God’s Kingdom, and though my site extension is Canadian (.ca), and I am Canadian, about 55% of my readers are American with Canadian ministry leaders coming in second at 13% (though admittedly that number doesn’t take in the per-capita of my demographics).
I’ve also been across this land a few times. I attended a Bible College in Saskatchewan and served a church out there. Ministered some in Calgary and Edmonton and spent a summer interning in Nova Scotia before returning to my home here in Windsor, Ontario.
My perception is that Canadian churches are much more hesitant to embrace social media than churches in the U.S. Yet, I have not found any studies to affirm or deny those statistics.
Reasons why Canadian churches are less likely to embrace social media
I think one of the main reasons why Canadian churches are less likely to embrace social media than our American counterparts is that we have more small churches per capita with an older ministerial.
Smaller churches don’t have the resources to commit to a social media strategy and an aging ministerial is less prone to embracing the digital ministry avenue.
Another reason why Canadian churches are less likely to embrace social media than our American counterparts may have something to do with our society’s legging embrace of the digital medium as a whole.
A 2015 study was done that revealed some interesting statistics about Canadians and social media.
For example, merely 59% of Canadians use Facebook. This is shockingly low when compared to the 71% that are active on Facebook in the U.S. However, of those Canadians who have a Facebook account, they visit it on average of nine times per day. So they’re an active bunch.
Coming in at 30%, LinkedIn is the second biggest social media site for Canadians, with Twitter legging behind at 25% and Instagram at 16%.
I know that within my own church very few people are active on social media. One member recently asked where he needs to go (city hall? office building?) to sign up for Facebook and how much it costs? That example may not be normal, but it’s terrifying to think that anyone would be so out of touch with the digital space (my grandfather signed up to Facebook in his 80’s and is quite active, and the fastest growing demographic on Facebook are retirees 65 and older, so I don’t blame social media ignorance on age alone).
But let me ask you this: do you want to reach people? Do you want to be relevant in your community? Do you want to connect with and lead the younger generations? Do you want to raise up mission minded believers? Yes?
Then consider this: When we take into consideration the demographic of Canadians between the age of 16 - 26, the number of them active on social media is a whopping 80%!80% of Canadians between the ages of 16-25 are active on social media. Click To Tweet
Look around in your church and community. Look at the youth and the young adults. Almost all of them have absorbed social media into their lives.
It’s where they get their news and current events. It’s where their ideas about life and love and friendship and politics are formed. It’s where their views of God and family are truly put to the test and shaped in ways that the church - a church unplugged from the digital space - is ill-equipped to influence.
Coming of age
So whatever reason Canadian churches might have for slowly embracing this social media world, one thing is for sure - in the coming years (if it hasn’t already happened), an invisible demarcation line will form separating those churches that will have an impact in this world for God’s Kingdom (on the one side), and those that will, for all intents and purposes, cease to exist.
Social media is no longer coming of age. Not in Canada. Not in any part of the developing world. Social media has matured. And, it’s time for Canadian churches to do the same.
QUESTION: Why do you think churches in Canada are so slow to embrace social media?
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