Throwback Thursday for Your Church

Throwback Thursday for Your Church

October 15, 2014 by

How combing through historical documents for an anniversary celebration fueled Throwback Thursday social media posts.

Before Throwback Thursday

Last year marked our church’s 40th anniversary. To celebrate this milestone, our large church of many worship venues decided to have one, unified worship service in our parking lot. Thankfully, we had a great weather and over 2,000 people turned out to celebrate God’s goodness to our church.

In preparation for this event, I combed through archived pictures, publications and records, but wasn’t able to find much useful content. Thankfully, a couple of folks at our church are excellent historians and resourced me with more than enough media (I’m sure every church has some wonderful saints like these).

I suddenly had more content than I needed. I began to ask myself what I could do with it all. Then the answer came to me: Throwback Thursday (#tbt).

“Throwback Thursday has become so popular I have staff and members bringing me items to post.”

What Is Throwback Thursday?

If you’re on social media, you’ve probably noticed your timelines flooded with old school pictures on Thursdays with the hashtag #tbt. This is a fun way to post pictures from the past and these pictures create a tremendous amount of conversation.

Nostalgia can be powerful as people jump in and comment, tag photos, share them and more.

So I thought our church would jump in and join the fun!

Throwback Thursday for Church

Along the way, we’ve posted old bulletins, staff pictureslogos, directoriesmerchandise and even glorious pictures of our senior pastor from the 1980s (don’t worry, I was able to keep my job… barely). These posts often get the most likes and comments.

“In the attics of our churches lay historical artifacts. Instead of gathering dust, why not put them to work?”

Tips & Tricks for Throwback Thursday

I’ve learned a few things along the way that have helped make Throwback Thursday work even better:

  • Crowd Source the Dates: I noticed many of the comments would disagree with the dates I listed. So instead of dating things, I now ask what year each photo is from and let the community sort it out. It’s been a fun way to create more conversation.
  • Church Change: Old photos—especially pages from your photo directory—can highlight change. Especially painful change with all those faces that are no longer in your congregation because they’ve moved on for whatever reason (left the church, moved, divorced, died, etc.). Help people process those feelings by giving some pastoral direction. One church simply gave thanks for the people who made the church what it is: “People come and go. They grow up, they move on, some sadly pass on. But we’re thankful for all the people who have made Messiah what it is today.
  • Lost in the Past: Avoid letting your congregation get lost in the past by connecting these old photos to current events and asking deeper questions. Don’t let these posts simply be nostalgia, connect them to what your church is doing today. Or make them more than filler content by asking deeper questions. If you’ve got an old Christmas photo, ask for cherished Christmas memories or how their family makes church a part of their Christmas tradition.
  • Don’t Sweat Finding Photos: Throwback Thursday has become so popular I have staff and members bringing me items to post. What a great way to get our community involved!
  • Go for Diversity: Throwback Thursday doesn’t have a set time frame. You can use pictures from any era, even last year. If you only use ancient photos you’ll be leaving out all your newer members. Throw in more recent photos. Mix it up. Old photos are fun, but you’ll likely have more familiar faces in newer photos.

Put Nostalgia to Work

As human beings, we are naturally nostalgic. People love reminiscing. So why not harness that? In the corners, closets or attics of our churches lay historical artifacts. Instead of gathering dust, why not put them to work?

Most church communicators are looking for content to post to social media. This is a proven way to engage your church.

Photo by Church at Charlotte.
Post By:

Tim Briggs

Tim Briggs is the creative media pastor at Church at Charlotte in Charlotte, N.C. When not writing or reading blogs, he likes to rock in a rocking chair.
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One Response to “Throwback Thursday for Your Church”

  • Alina
    October 27, 2014

    How do you deal with permissions when it comes to posting photos of people where their faces are recognizable?
    Currently I try to keep the #tbt photos I post more generic – like buildings, crafts and larger groups where faces are indistinguishable. Photos that we post of children require parent waivers on file.
    Do you just consider the photos useable since the people posed for a photo?

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