Churches Reaching Out With Pinterest

Churches Reaching Out With Pinterest

February 6, 2012 by

Whether you’re crazy about pinning or think that it’s just a fad, there’s no denying that Pinterest is a new player on the social media scene. In January it beat YouTube, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn and MySpace for percentage of total referral traffic in January, according to a Shareaholic study. One church is pioneering this new territory and has some insights to share on how churches can use Pinterest.

Jake Johnson is the publishing and content manager for Mars Hills Church, Resurgence and He oversees content strategy for all of Mars Hill’s online platforms, social, media and various marketing efforts, including their new residence on Pinterest. I had the chance to ask Jake a few questions about what inspired their move onto Pinterest and ideas they would have to offer other churches.

What sparked the idea for Mars Hill to begin using Pinterest?

Jake Johnson: We were impressed with the growth of the platform and intrigued by its visual focus, as Mars Hill has always excelled at visual mediums like design and video. Additionally, we knew the users of Pinterest were overwhelmingly female and wanted to use that opportunity to speak well to the women of Mars Hill and to women who engage with our content.

There have been a number of social media platforms we’ve wanted to explore and expand into but due to lack of resources it was put on the back burner. With the recent addition of our new social media manager, we were free to move forward with some of those plans and Pinterest was our first choice. We love that it makes sharing content interesting and the potential it creates for content to reach far.

Mars Hill traditionally seems to be more masculine in its design and communication. Was this a way of softening your image and appeal to women?

Jake: Yes, in a way. In general, we’ve made a concerted effort to soften the design to be still masculine but more approachable for women. The redesigned is a great example of that, as is Jesse Bryan, our creative director, has done an incredible job of spearheading the vision for much of our new look, which included adding in some new palette colors, a reworked logo, and a more classic design approach that relies on simplicity and grids.

Our content efforts are following the lead of the new branding direction. Pinterest is an example of that but so is featuring a lot more content on from the awesome women who are leading ministries at Mars Hill as deacons. We plan on also featuring more content by our female leaders on the Mars Hill blog.

At the end of the day, we’re simply trying to reflect the reality of life at Mars Hill.

What type of content are you pinning? And why?

Jake: Our first priority, as always, is to talk about Jesus. We view all our online efforts as evangelical ones and want to steward well the significant platform God has blessed us with to preach the gospel. As such, our first and most prominent boards are the Jesus board—which is fun because when people follow it, a message says so and so is “following Jesus”—and the Gospel board.

Additionally, we’re highlighting events, design, sermon series, music, books, and dovetailing in support of our current sermon series, Real Marriage, with content applicable for men, women, couples, singles and parents.

It’s new territory, so we’re testing stuff out to see what has traction and what doesn’t. One board we’re looking forward to launching is a typography board that will have well designed type treatments of quotes from the Bible and from sermons.

What has the response been?

Jake: It’s been good so far. Many of the boards have over 700 followers and we’re starting to see some stuff re-pinned. Some folks who are especially passionate about the platform have thanked us for jumping on.

How do you think churches could effectively use Pinterest?

Jake: Pinterest will force churches to up their game on design, as it’s such a visual platform. In order to get noticed, you have to have great photography and art. Churches that want to gain traction should start making design a significant part of their content strategy so that when there is good content to share there is a good image to pin associated with it.

Any other thoughts or comments on this… advice from what you’ve learned so far?

Things can take off fast on the platform, so it’s a great way to get the word out about posts, sermon videos and events. One lesson we’ve learned is set up your boards before launching. Otherwise you’ll overflow people’s dashboards. The first day we launched, my dashboard was awash in a sea of Mars Hill posts.

Also, though it’s a fast-growing platform, the jury is still out on how welcome brands are and you need to think about it differently than Facebook and Twitter. As I’ve mentioned, thinking visually is key.

There’s definitely space for churches to engage in this new space and it’s great to take some notes from Mars Hill’s experience and think about how your church could leverage Pinterest.

Post By:

Tim Schraeder

Tim Schraeder is the director of communications at Park Community Church in downtown Chicago. With Tim’s lead, Park is innovating new and creative ways to communicate and engage people with the message of the gospel.
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22 Responses to “Churches Reaching Out With Pinterest”

  • Angela
    February 6, 2012

    I’ve been trying this too for a couple of weeks now … great to have some more ideas :)

  • Jill
    February 6, 2012

    I think this is awesome. I’ve been using Pinterest for a project that I am doing to raise awareness for Bible translation for an unreached people group in South Asia. I post a “doodled” Bible verse on and then pin the image that I draw each day on Pinterest. I have had lots of repins and I have not seen a lot of traffic on my site from the pins. I’m hoping that some will see and go to the web site out of curiosity or by wanting more scripture for encouragement.

    I have not thought about doing this for the churches I work with, but definitely going to think about how we could incorporate and if it would be effective.

    • Randy Vaughn
      February 28, 2012

      Jill, see the website (, but having trouble finding the pins. Do you have a URL to your Pinterest wall? I love what you’re doing to promote this ministry!

  • Michael Buckingham
    February 6, 2012

    But is this a good use of Pinterest or is it the church molding it into what it wants it to be for its use. I don’t know. I’m all for the church tapping into tech, but we also need to respect the intent of the tech. Some of it seems right on, but some of it seems too much of a stretch. Much like when a company tries to overly commercialize twitter, Facebook,etc.

    I don’t know but I do like that they’re trying for sure.

  • Bobby Chandler
    February 6, 2012

    I agree with Michael. I wholeheartedly support the church tapping into tech and social media to reach the online community. But, I am a little wary of the potential of using a tool beyond its intent. If abused, it could come across as a little spammy (Twitter anyone?). Not just for churches, but for any business trying to make a presence on Pinterest.

    I will be very interested to see how it works for Mars Hill. And by the way, I’ll be following their boards on Pinterest. :)

  • Bobby Chandler
    February 6, 2012

    One more thing…Directly from Pinterest:

    “Avoid Self Promotion

    Pinterest is designed to curate and share things you love. If there is a photo or project you’re proud of, pin away! However, try not to use Pinterest purely as a tool for self-promotion.”

    • Paula
      May 30, 2012

      “Curating and sharing things you love” shows the value of Pinterest for churches. If the church makes a point of pinning things which support and express the ministry of the church, even throwing in a bit of humor, it can only help the strength of God’s body as a whole.

      As we pin, we expose all our followers to the beliefs of the church simply and lovingly put. I adore the books and music boards used by Mars Hill. I would encourage parenting/family stuff. Pinterest is a great example of iron sharpening iron in the arenas of food, party design, and creativity.

      As we share pins appropriately, the people become more and more capable.

      And they share.

      But you’re right, it shouldn’t be spammy. Genuine and real matter most.

  • Chris Reardon
    February 7, 2012

    The Story Conference has launched on Pinterest as well.
    Definitely worth checking theirs out as well. Ben Arment is great at promoting others and what they are doing, so for a conference like that it makes more sense.

  • kinsi
    February 7, 2012

    UUCA – Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta has been on pinterest for a couple of weeks. It’s definitely part of any well rounded church/congregational social media strategy. (

  • Liz Carver
    February 8, 2012

    Our church has been on interest ( and it’s been incredible!

  • kendra michelle
    February 9, 2012

    {I think it is great to make things work for the gospel and reaching people – this a a fabulous idea}

  • Meredith Gould, PhD
    February 9, 2012

    Currently fascinated by Pinterest, which appeals to the visual arts side of my brain/soul and in the process of thinking through how churches might use it to showcase things of beauty to inspire deeper engagement with God. Think: praying with icons.

  • Michael Buckingham
    February 9, 2012

    That’s the right kind of thought Meredith. Too many times we see something and can only think about how we can use it for our purpose forgetting the larger purpose of us all, deeper engagement and transformation with God. It’s about being more outward, less inward, focused.

  • Steven Fogg
    February 9, 2012

    This is really interesting. I’m loving pinterest because it appeals to the creative side of me. I also post very personal photos that I’m doing such as gardening. Yes. I’m such a thrill seeker.

    I’d be really interested to hear from Jake again in six months time to see how people are engaging with their photos.

    I wonder how Mars Hill could appeal to the creative itch that pinterest is scratching!?

  • Roberto Comparan
    February 14, 2012

    Fantastic use of the social platform! Can’t wait to see how this develops.

  • Becky
    February 14, 2012

    Definitely think it could be good for the church those also agree with staying within the purpose it was meant for..especially if you’re supposed to stay away from self-promoting. Have to think of creative ways to be the church or business on there to connect vs promote…letting other people promote you somehow. I’m not on Pinterest yet but looking forward to getting on soon and checking out ideas and strategies for staying within their limits and such.

  • Lee Ann
    March 6, 2012

    Pinterest is already being used for Spam. There are those wonderful “get a free giftcard” to (insert trendy restaurant here). Promoting the message of the gospel through creative means on Pinterest would be worth the effort.

  • tiffany
    March 6, 2012

    I think this is a fabulous idea. Resources for the church body are essential and Pinterest is a great way to communicate and encourage/build community.

  • JP
    October 2, 2015

    Great case study!

    I know some churches are using Pinterest with a more inward focus (i.e. allowing internal groups to plan and collaborate on events etc.) vs. the outward-focus here. I’d definitely be curious to hear which one is a more valuable use of the tool.

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