A friend adds you to your Church’s WhatsApp Group Chat. Excited, you look forward to staying connected to other believers. Your desire is to hear what God is doing in your fellow believers’ lives.
But after a week, you feel trapped. The Church WhatsApp Group isn’t anything you expected. It’s a nuisance and spammy at best. People don’t talk about anything fruitful except recycling worn-out stupid churchy jokes, bombarding you with misquoted Bible verses and promoting false inspirational stories that keep Snopes.com in business.
And you wonder, “Is this what a church WhatsApp Group is supposed to look like?”
That WhatsApp Group was terrible. And do you know why? The admin probably didn’t know how social media works and the importance of sound theology. Technology influences the ‘how’ of our mission and not the ‘what’. Your theology will shape the ‘how’.
In this article, I would like to show you how to manage a church WhatsApp Group in a manner that promotes continued engagement, fruitful discussion and build lasting relationships.
5 Reasons African Churches Should Have A WhatsApp Group
1. People spend more time on WhatsApp than any other social network
Facebook is the most popular social network. Yet people only spend about 20 minutes per day on Facebook. Twitter users spend less than 170 minutes on the platform per month. That is less than 6 minutes per day. But WhatsApp users spend at least 3 hours per day on the messaging platform.
2. People send more messages on WhatsApp
They’re more than 1 billion people using WhatsApp messenger worldwide. Recent estimates suggest that they’re at least 49 billion messages sent via WhatsApp daily. Of which, one person sends an average of 1,200 messages per month. Therefore, most of your church members will most likely respond to a WhatsApp message than a tweet, a Facebook post or an SMS.
3. Most People in Africa Use WhatsApp
In 2015, two out of three people who have access to the internet in the Middle East and Africa claimed they also used WhatsApp. However, since most people don’t know that WhatsApp uses the internet, the number of people who use WhatsApp in Africa could be more. It’s most likely that 90% of your church friends are on WhatsApp.
4. WhatsApp is cheap
Internet data, voice calls and messaging is very expensive in most African countries. WhatsApp offers a cheaper alternative and most cellular network companies have taken advantage of that. For example, all major companies offer cheap WhatsApp bundles.
How To Manage A Successful WhatsApp Group for an African Church
A church WhatsApp Group Chat helps the group members grow effectively and fruitfully in their knowledge of Jesus Christ. I believe the goal of Christian communication is to reveal the goodness of Jesus Christ. It’s this goodness of God that leads to repentance. WhatsApp group chat offers the church that opportunity.
The WhatsApp Group admin should be able to foster an environment of spiritual growth. Above all, the members should engage in uplifting conversations. Both the admin and the members should remain sensitive to each other’s needs and continue to be attentive to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
What are the steps to manage a vibrant church WhatsApp group?
1. What is the purpose of your group?
You all know that there’s nothing more boring than being a member of a WhatsApp group that is directionless. A good WhatsApp group should have clear goals and the messages, pictures, and videos that are shared should further that goal. A church can start a WhatsApp group for single mothers, youths, prayer groups, online Bible study, etc.
2. Who should you add to your WhatsApp group chat?
Not everyone is interested in your group no matter how noble you think the idea is. It’s so frustrating to find your name added to a group without your consent. An admin or a member of the WhatsApp group should talk to prospective members about the goals of the group before adding them.
3. How do you create a WhatsApp group chat?
These are the steps you should make when creating your church’s WhatsApp group:
- Open your WhatsApp and tap the three dots on the top right in Android phones.
- Tap New Group.
- Add the participants of the group. Please, remember WhatsApp groups accommodate up to 256 members.
- Tap the green arrow on the bottom.
- Choose an appropriate name for the group. A good name should reflect the activities of the group.
- Tap the picture icon and select the WhatsApp group profile picture from your phone.
Your group is now ready for use.
4. How do you set the rules for your WhatsApp group?
People need to learn how to communicate with grace and avoid useless arguments. Your role as an admin is to ensure grace and truth prevail in all conversations. Sometimes this means correcting anyone who condemns and speaks lies. Therefore, you need to send the rules of the group to each new member.
5. How do you ensure that fruitful conversations continue daily?
Your WhatsApp group should be showing people how to follow Jesus Christ in the 21st Century in an engaging and deep manner. This requires you to facilitate deep conversations based on honesty and trustworthiness. You should encourage people to discuss and ask questions about issues that are dear to them. For example, in a WhatsApp group on prayer, you could ask people to share their struggles with prayer.
6. How do you make a dead WhatsApp group alive?
People are busy and sometimes they don’t have time to be on WhatsApp. However, if you write helpful content it will help. But you can also make a dead group alive by sending interesting messages. Here are four examples you could use.
- Ask controversial questions with the goal of helping people discover what the Bible really says. For example, should Christians pay lobola?
- Do something together. If you’re a prayer group, you can plan a meeting. Discuss what you want to do on the day.
- Post an old picture of one of the members. Pictures say a thousand words and sometimes attract a million comments.
- Conduct an Ask Me Anything. One member of the group can be invited to host the AMA while the host is asked anything about everything.
7. How do you make each member valued?
Have you ever noticed that in most church WhatsApp groups a verse posted by one person receives more comments than another’s? How did you feel when that happened? As an admin, you should ask other members to comment on some messages. And you can do this by typing @ in the WhatsApp group chat and select the people you want to comment.
8. How do you effectively use multimedia in WhatsApp?
You can send voice messages, pictures and videos on WhatsApp group chat. But a rule of thumb is always to make sure the size of your file is small. Data is expensive in Africa, you need to be considerate to other users. There’s no problem with sending a funny video in a prayer group, as long as it’s done in moderation.
9. How do you ensure good Bible interpretation flourishes in the group?
A problem common in Christian WhatsApp groups is a total disregard of the Bible while giving preeminence to their church leaders. You should encourage members of your WhatsApp group to cite verses and chapters during a discussion. If done well, a WhatsApp group can be a good place to learn how to interpret the Bible.
10. How do you add an admin to a WhatsApp group?
As your group grows and commitments mount, you might want to make other members group admins. You should choose wisely and only pick who can promote grace and truth in all conversations. Discuss the purpose and vision of the group with the candidate admin.
This is how you can add a new admin to a WhatsApp group chat.
- Open the Church WhatsApp group.
- Tap on the group name and list of members will open.
- Tap the name of the candidate admin and hold.
- Tap on the Make Group Admin.
Do you want to join a WhatsApp group chat?
I believe you and I can use WhatsApp messenger as a platform for growing in Christ. Therefore, I’m planning to start a WhatsApp group that is devoted to Bible study. This is how it will work:
Members of the group will be asked to read a passage of the Bible in a given day. As the day progresses, each member will make contributions, asking questions and reflecting on how they applied/understood the passage as the day progresses.
I’m expecting the group to be multicultural and that will help us learn from each other better. If you’re interested download WhatsApp and join this WhatsApp group.