Rev. Marty Levesque
At the recent clergy conference in Niagara Falls, the guest speaker Nadia Bolz Weber spoke about the distrust of institutions that is prevalent among Millennials.
She proposed that the locus of authority has shifted from institutions, like the church, to individuals. As such, individual opinions and reviews can have a bigger and greater impact than any institutional message. This is why Yelp reviews, according to Nadia, are key to the Great Commission and church growth.
While I was a little distressed to learn many in the room didn’t know what Yelp was, her talk was an insightful way to consider the church’s role in a society where the Internet has democratized authority.
Gone are the days when we can control branding and messaging through advertising alone. Now anyone can leave a review of your church on social media channels or review sites such as Yelp and drive seekers to – or from – you.
This new locus of authority means that before stepping into your church, potential newcomers will Google you and read the reviews, if there are any. Having none is better than having negative reviews, but it may also indicate an inactive community and does little to encourage seekers to visit.
Who can leave a review of your church on Google, Facebook and Yelp? Anyone, including you. You are, after all, the biggest cheerleader or evangelist for your own church. Taking the few minutes to rate your church on Facebook, Google and Yelp and leaving a few comments about you like and find interesting can go a long way to encourage a seeker to take that next step and give you a try on a Sunday morning.
We no longer have to wait for the institution to provide the new marketing campaigns or billboard ads. The power to reach the locus of authority is now in your hands and on your keyboards.
Take a few minutes, write a review and live the Great Commission.
Rev. Marty Levesque is the diocesan social media officer and rector of All Saints’ in Waterloo.