Social Media is here is stay. We can’t ignore it. 79% of Americans have some kind of social profile. It is something we need to utilize in communicating with the church and the world around us. However, just like any tool, it can be used for good, or it can be used to destroy.
Over the years, I have seen posts by pastors and other leaders that have made me cringe. Too often, keyboard courage allows us the ability to take risks without owning the consequences. Here are two critical things to consider every time we post something:
First, our content. Every church should have a basic Social Media Policy to regulate what is posted (see resources below). For example, never post specific prayer requests without permission. Avoid vulgarity and coarse language. Be aware of personal postings such as social drinking that may offend others.
Here’s a principle to filter every online interaction:
If you don’t feel comfortable having a post written in the church bulletin,
including another churches’ bulletin, then don’t post it.
As leaders, what we express online is more than expressing an opinion. We must be mindful of the effect we have on others. In fact, I believe that we are responsible for how our post leads others to react. We can’t dismiss that. Scripture warns us that our actions may even cause a brother or sister to stumble (Romans 14:13-23). It’s worth noting if you’re experiencing strong feelings of sadness or anger or frustration, this is not the time to post! Feel free to write the un-sent letter to process thoughts and feelings, but Social Media should not be a place for cathartic relief.
Second, our contacts. Who is reading the post? One egregious error many former pastors and staff make is posting things about their former or newfound church. This is especially damaging when they still live in the same area (although the impact can reach thousands of miles away). For example, a general invitation to a new church or new ministry can seem benign, but they forget that most of their Facebook friends attend the former church. Who are you inviting? Even praising a new church casts a shadow on the former church. What does it imply about the past church?
I remember posting a blog when Christmas landed on a Sunday. Unbeknownst to me, I had published an opinion that contradicted the new pastor at my old church. When confronted about this, I realized that I was wrong. Many of the people reading the blog were from my old church, and I had unintentionally become divisive. Yikes!
We need to remember when we post on our personal page that it’s essentially the same as posting on a church page. It’s often the same audience. With social media, there is no distinction between public and personal pages.
BEFORE YOU GO
So what other advice would you give regarding Social Media? What are some of your experiences with Social Media, both good or bad?
Here are some links from Church Tech Today to explore a Social Media Policy for you and your church:
- The Ultimate List of Social Media Policies for Churches & Ministries – via SocialChurch.co
- Social Media Policy Sample Agreement – Brotherhood Mutual
- 5 Social Media & Email Guidelines for Church Staffs – Vanderbloemen
- Creating a Social Media Policy for Your Church – AG Financial Solutions