Several Baptist churches use Facebook, Twitter and blogs to increase communication and fellowship among members.
Holmeswood Baptist Church in Kansas City just started its blog, according to Kate Hanch, children's minister and pastor of creative communications.
"The idea is to get different staff to post once a month," she said. Each will share thoughts about issues, theology or the church.
In addition, she tries to post to Facebook or on Twitter at least four days each week. While she believes churches should take advantage of social networking, she said people don't participate online as much as church leaders would like. They don't get much response when they post information about events, she said, but they do when they post theological thoughts.
"It's hard to get two-way…or real conversation going online," Hanch said.
Second Baptist Church in Liberty has experimented with mobilizing members through social media. Last summer church staff did not program activities. Instead, they promoted "Me, Too," a suggestion that the church "community" organize its own activities and programs and then invite people to participate in them.
"You don't need to wait on us [staff] to do something with your faith community that would nurture significant relationships…. If you have an idea, throw it out there," Second Baptist Pastor Jason Edwards said.
Organizers of a women's conference the church will sponsor have introduced Pinterest, a network to creatively share information about events with others.
Prairie Baptist Church in Prairie Village, Kan., has ventured into social media, as well. Interim pastor Stephen Jones does some blogging. Leaders use Facebook primarily to share helpful or interesting prayers.
The congregation's youth pastor is the first to utilize Twitter, and leaders are working toward being able to post video of the pastor on the church's website.
Though Holmeswood ministers see the value and potential of social networking, they are adopting it slowly and carefully. Privacy issues are of primary concern, Hanch said.
While the church uses Facebook, it uses only a personal page, rather than a fan page. Leaders make certain they have parental permission to use children's photos in any church communications, including online.
With additional reporting by Robert Dilday.