If you’ve been on the internet for longer than thirty-two seconds and have somehow managed to navigate to this blog post, chances are you have encountered a meme. Memes come in various forms, but are essentially funny images, videos, or pieces of text that are copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly throughout the Internet. Some recent examples include the Laurel vs. Yanny debate, yodeling Walmart kid, change my mind sign, and Tide Pod Challenge.

Memes are a great way to engage your community in a creative way and connect your message to a wider conversation and cultural moment. You can use the trendy joke as a way to switch up your content. You can promote an event, invite people to join you on Sunday morning, or just plain ol’ create engagement.

In the wake of the Laurel vs. Lonny debate, Buckhead Church of Atlanta, Georgia (@BuckheadChurch) chose to ask it’s followers on Twitter their thoughts on the matter.

Well, we’re torn, what do you hear? Yanny or Laurel?

This tweet likely took seconds to craft and received 10 comments in return.

If you’d like to give memes a try, here are a few important things to note:

Understand It

Ensure that you fully understand the meaning, interpretation and current use of the meme you choose to use. This month, a student government campaign at Western Kentucky University found themselves in a bit of hot water after their use of a Pepe the Frog meme in a sidewalk chalk drawing was deemed hate speech by a council of their peers. The meme had an innocent beginning in 2014 when it was popularized, but had since been embraced by radical groups and ruled hate speech by the Anti-Defamation League. Their lackadaisical use of the meme nearly cost them their campaign. With a little research, you can understand what you’re referencing and how it should be interpreted by the public at large. These are meant to be fun and we never want to cause controversy or weaken our church’s reputation by using a silly meme!

Keep it Relevant

Memes have an incredibly short lifespan. What is funny one day is overdone and boring the next. Make sure you’re on the front end of the trend! If you notice a meme picking up steam, think of a way to incorporate it into your content sooner rather than later. Calling something you enjoy “bae” four years ago might have been comedy gold, however in May 2018 it won’t produce the most favorable results, If you’re unsure if a meme or word is cool or not, you can easily view the terms “search interest” on Google Trends. Peaked interest can assure you that people still find this meme relevant.

Know Your Audience

You know your congregation. You know who is following your church. You know who your church is hoping to attract. Will these people find your meme use humorous or will they just be left confused? The point of church marketing is to attract, engage and inform. If your church body consists of younger people and families, it might be a fun way to continue to reach out to them. However, if you’re a more established, traditional church, these posts may fall on deaf ears. Use your best judgment!

Don’t Overdo It

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “everything is best in moderation.” Memes are no exception. Your church doesn’t need to be the class clown. We exist to tell people about Jesus, not the latest funny thing on the internet. It’s certainly a fun way to switch up your content and join the conversation at large, but you never want to give the impression that you’re trying too hard to fit into secular culture or shift the focus completely off of Jesus.

In summary, memes can be a fun way to market your church or ministry, but it’s important to use good judgment and do your research. If you’d like to keep up with the latest memes or further understand one you’ve heard of, I recommend you check out knowyourmeme.com. It’s an excellent resource with information on the origin, use of and popularity of every documented meme in internet history. Until next time, sweet memes!