Is Your Ministry Instagram-worthy?

Millennial parents and their Gen Z kids love Instagram.

There are currently over 48.2 million Millennials using Instagram.  By next year, nearly 75% of all Millennial smartphone users will be on Instagram.  And their Gen Z kids live on Instagram.

Taking pictures.  Capturing experiences.  Sharing their story.  Showing what they are eating.  Showing where they are.  Showing who they are with.  Showing what they are wearing.  That's what they do.

And organizations that want to engage them, earn their respect and capture their loyalty, must be "Instagram-worthy." 

Restaurants are learning this the hard way.  Did you know several restaurant chains are struggling because they are not connecting well with Millennial parents and their Gen Z kids?  Including restaurants like Applebee's, Olive Garden and IHOP.  Applebees is closing 60 to 80 of their locations this year - saying a big cause is a decline in Millennial customers.  IHOP is closing 30 to 40 of their locations. 

Because of the Instagram culture, some restaurant chains are seeing this and making changes to connect better with Millennials and Gen Z.  TGI Fridays and Buffalo Wild Wings are working to create an atmosphere that is more "Instagram-worthy" with more picturesque menu items and decor.  Olive Garden recently launched what they laud as an "instagram-worthy" meatball pizza Bowl.

I believe there is something the church can learn from this.  If we are going to connect with and engage today's parents and their kids, then we must also create environments that are "Instagram-worthy."  

I find it very interesting what Brad Haley, IHOP's marketing chief, recently said about the Instagram culture we now live in.
“We wanted to make sure we could deliver the food in a way we knew our guests would want it.  We spent a lot of time working on our packaging."
The takeaway for us is this:  The church has great spiritual food to offer.  There is nothing better than the life-changing truths and hope found in the Word of God.  We simply need to spend more time packaging it in a way today's young families can connect with.

You see, the Bible and its truths are timeless.  But how we present it and share it must change to be relevant to the lives of the people we are seeking to engage. 

We must be anchored to the truth...but geared for the times.  The timeless message cannot be wrapped up in or presented in 1960's packaging if we are going to reach today's Millennial parents and their Gen Z kids.

As Ted Nelson, CEO of Mechanica, said about change - "Reinvention is the key."

Many churches are still operating like it's 1960 and they are slowly declining into oblivion.  If they are going to turn things around, they must be willing to reinvent themselves.  Not the message...but how they present the message.  They are going to have to become "Instagram-worthy" if they want to see their church thrive in the days ahead.

But there is a challenge involved.  And it's this.

How do you make the needed changes to attract younger families while not alienating older generations in the process?  

Nelson went on to say this.
“You sort of have to really blow up the current model to a certain degree.  The challenge is you then risk losing boomer customers."
The same can be said in the church world.  While you must make changes to reach young families, you also have to keep older generations engaged.  Some churches do this by offering both traditional and contemporary services.  Other churches use blended worship to connect with multiple generations.

Whatever your strategy, remember that a healthy church is made up of all generations of believers. Generations coming together to worship, serve and grow together.  United by a common vision.

Look on Instagram and you'll see that sometimes Millennials and Gen Zer's will post pictures with their parents and grandparents.  They will use these posts to honor and show their love for the older members of their family.  Being "Instagram-worthy" doesn't mean you forget about older generations.  It means you honor them and involve them.

Coming back to the main point of this article.  Is your ministry "Instagram-worthy?"  Here's a simple way to find out.  Check Instagram.  Does your ministry show up in people's posts?  Check for hashtags of your ministry and events.  Are there any?

Think about ways you can create a more "Instagram-worthy" environment.  

Here are some ideas...
  • Lead the way by posting photos of the ministry on Instagram.  Photos from services, events, programs, special days, etc. 
  • Create photo spots for people at your church.  You can use backdrops, props, etc.  Change up the photo spots for the seasons and holidays.   
  • Encourage people to take pics at church and post them on Instagram.
  • Have contests where you have people post photos on Instagram for something specific at the church and give a prize to the winning photo
Being "Instagram-worthy" is a way you can spread the word about your ministry.  Most Millennial parents and their Gen Z kids are connected with hundreds (and in some cases thousands) of people through Instagram.

Become "Instagram-worthy" and you can extend your reach to Millennial parents and Gen Z kids who need the Savior your ministry represents.

Your turn.  Do you use Instagram in your ministry?  What other tips and ideas do you have for making a ministry "Instagram-worthy?"  Share your thoughts with everyone in the comment section below.