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The Most Engaged Page on Facebook: An Interview with Mark Brown

What are the members of your page asking for?

They want prayer. They want answers to life's problems. There are constant pastoral needs. Once a month, there are issues from suicidal needs all the way to issues such as someone saying there is a girl I like at school. We hear the same things a pastor hears.

When a comment comes through that is very serious, we will ask, "Have you spoken to your pastor?" Nine times out of 10, they will say "Yes, we have."

How "engaged" do you see people getting with the Scripture? What are some stories or examples that stand out?

I post a lot of videos. I believe the future will be in videos. I use them to draw people deeper into God's Word. I do my exegesis and then place it within "what does this mean to me." It is short—5 to 10 minutes. It is called "Journey Deeper into God's Word." Someone said that our videos are like a Bible translation. This is part of my story.

We often hear someone writing, "That's exactly what I need right now" or "I'm crying as I read this." The timeliness of it is often amazing. What works is when you speak to people's need.

What are some of the areas of untapped potential you see emerging for Scripture engagement?

I think that the traditional local church is on the thread. The first thing is that people started church shopping. I believe the huge potential is for an online church experience. LifeChurch.tv has become the number two church in America in just 10 years' time. I think that is just the tip of the iceberg.

At the Bible League or Scripture Union [where Mark was once CEO], they don't want to be the church, but to serve the church. But, the church just isn't doing much of it online yet. Actually, the parachurch is better placed for it, because it isn't primarily doctrinal.

What does a person need to get in on this type of ministry via technology?

You don't even need your laptop. You can use your smartphone for this. I don't yet see a model doing this. I think people are putting the pieces together.

Henry Ford didn't invent all the pieces for the car. He brought them all together. Once the pieces come together, this could be something really exciting. When it happens, it will be like the Oprah effect. However, I think the local church will be really threatened by it.

How fast has this Facebook page grown? What was the growth timeline?

I founded the page in February, 2009. It took 18 months to get to 1 million members. It took another year to get to 2 million and another 6 months to get to 3 million. Today it is 8.6 million.

How many new members in the last month?

107,000 new.

What was the initial idea? How did you get started?

I had heard the terms "grass roots" and "viral campaigns." I wondered, "How do you do it?" There was a guy who had a Facebook page with 4,000 friends, and I was amazed at how many he had. I thought, "What if I could get 10,000?" I was amazed at this possibility. I did set an audacious goal of 1 million. But, I wasn't really serious. When it hit 1 million, I still remember the day.

What was your first scripture post on the account?

John 3:16. It should've been John 1:1.

How many people does it take to run this page? How much money?

The page, just to be clear, is now run primarily by the United Bible Society, but I am still involved. It now has 22 volunteers at any point in time with one person approving comments, and it is done in multiple languages.

What are the greatest joys you experience in manning multiple ministry Facebook pages now being read by some 30 million?

Each time someone confesses Christ and every time I read about someone finding comfort or practical help for a life issue or challenge they are facing.

What would you say to someone who wants to use technology to reach people for Christ?

People need to know that anyone can do it. Give it a go. The best way to learn is to play with it or ask a teenager. Get involved. Experiment. Don't be scared. I failed a lot along the way. Just experiment.

What are the biggest challenges you face in this effort?

Challenges? I don't see any "challenges." I just see opportunities; lots of opportunities.

 

Editor's Note: After the interview was conducted, Mr Brown contacted us to let us know that the Bible page at Facebook now belongs to the United Bible Society. Mr Brown still operates other pages with millions of followers.

9/5/2012 4:00:00 AM