By Aaron Wilson
There’s a free service available to pastors that allows them to develop leadership skills, connect with members of the community, and survey congregational gifts.
But many church leaders aren’t using it.
I’m talking about LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network.
Even if you aren’t familiar with LinkedIn, your church members likely are. One in 4 American adults have a LinkedIn profile—slightly more than the number using Twitter. It’s quickly becoming a necessity for those who desire to advance in the workplace.
“LinkedIn is different from other social media platforms in many ways,” says Chris Martin, content strategist at Lifeway and co-creator of Lifeway Social. “But it’s a helpful tool for pastors and other ministry leaders to connect with one another to do ministry.”
Here’s a quick rundown of what it is, why you should consider using it if you work in ministry, and how you can get started in a few easy steps.
What is LinkedIn?
- It is a social networking site for professionals that launched in 2002. Microsoft acquired the site in 2016.
- It is the 22nd most visited website in the U.S. and has more than 562 million members.
- Half of Americans with a college degree are on it
- It operates much like Facebook, but for professionals. Instead of friending people, LinkedIn members add colleagues and business partners as connections.
- A profile acts as an online resume. LinkedIn members can also post articles, images, videos, and other content to a home feed that updates regularly.
- Unlike Facebook, most of the content posted on it relates to personal development and professional life. Don’t expect to see vacation photos and political memes on LinkedIn.
Why should a church leader join?
Pastors and church leaders may be hesitant to join LinkedIn, thinking vocational ministry doesn’t qualify them as a “professional.” Or they may worry having a LinkedIn profile will give church members the impression their pastor is looking to jump ship.
But it isn’t only for doctors and lawyers. And it’s not just for those seeking a new job.
LinkedIn is for anyone who recognizes the benefits of networking—a skill extremely applicable to ministry. Paul made a case for networking by listing a number of personal names in the greetings and closing remarks of his epistles—indicating he was intentional about building relationships with gospel-minded colleagues.
Here are some additional reasons you should join LinkedIn if you work in ministry.
- By joining the site, you’ll gain understanding about professional developments in the lives of many of your members. Since work is so impactful to individuals and families, this insight can provide helpful data for those shepherding a church.
- Do you struggle to find volunteers to serve at your church? LinkedIn lets users post personal skills and experience on their profiles. It also allows people to give endorsements and write recommendations for others. Surveying this information can allow church leaders to identify members who already have the talent and experience needed for specific areas of service at church.
- Many leadership skills needed in the business world also apply to vocational ministry. You can browse LinkedIn for a host of free articles on subjects such as how to make wise hires, resolve staff conflicts, and budget for growth. You can also write your own original content and publish it there.
- There may be a time when God calls you to seek bivocational work or to step away from the church or ministry you currently serve. If so, LinkedIn will be a valuable tool for you.
Many companies now allow—or require—applicants to submit a LinkedIn profile in lieu of a resume. The site saves your professional information and allows you to update it anytime—replacing the need to scrounge for an outdated résumé buried in the back of your desk drawer.
How to get started
It’s easy to get started on LinkedIn. The controls are intuitive to anyone who’s ever used Facebook or another social media site. Follow these simple steps to get set up in 30 minutes or less.
- Visit LinkedIn.com.
- Fill in your name and email address, and create a password.
- Follow the prompts to enter your zip code, most recent job title, most recent employer, and your date of birth.
- Click the camera icon on the left of the page to add your profile picture.
- Click the “Build your network” box at the top of the page and select “Find selections.”
- It will suggest people you may know. Click “Connect” next to those names. It will send them a request to add you as a connection. You can also look for people you know using the search bar at the top left of the page.
- To build your online resume, click the “Me” button at the top of the page and select “View profile.” Click the pencil icons to edit fields and enter information about yourself, including experience and education. Hit “Save” when complete.
- Visit the home page to share content and view what others are posting. Enjoy exploring!
LinkedIn: A networking necessity
Do yourself a favor and join those in your congregation already on the site. As your network grows, you’ll gain additional insight on your members to help you shepherd them through the joys and struggles of work. LinkedIn will also help you connect with other leaders, grow in personal development, and identify qualified volunteer leads in your church.
By using LinkedIn strategically, you may find the social media site dedicated to work makes your job as a church leader easier as well.