Set a guard, O LORD, over my mouth; Keep watch over the door of my lips. – Psalm 141:3
Occasionally, someone sends us an article to comment on. 3 Ways Pastors and Church Leaders Undermine Themselves on Social Media by Ed Stetzer brings up ongoing problems in the church with social media. We’re either not using it at all or using it the wrong way.
Our observations of the church on social media:
- The pastor is not present online.
- Pastors don’t make the connection during service how biblical concepts apply to your online life.
- Church leaders aren’t treating their ministry as a “brand” and posting subjects around that ministry or “brand.”
- They aren’t posting enough.
- People hate social media, but love unfounded and unresearched email forwards.
- Preaching, not reaching.
- Hitting the share button without thinking about the consequences, like how that story will affect their readers or foster good discussion and change.
In Stetzer’s first point, he talks about pastors or church leadership that seek to make themselves a celebrity. Pastors and church leadership are role models for how we should act online. How do you show your faith online? How do you tell your story so the God-lesson comes out and it isn’t slanderous to someone else? How do you share your struggles so someone else feels comforted that they are not alone? How do you teach your congregation that social media is serving, not self-serving?
His second point is very important,
“Pastors and church leaders, you must understand: engaging in unnecessary conflict on social media, regardless of the subject or how important you think it is, ultimately damages your witness and clouds people from receiving the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Stop it. No matter how passionate you are about defending the Second Amendment, the urgency of climate change, or whatever other issue you may prefer, engaging in unnecessary conflict on social media does more damage to the Church and its proclamation of the gospel than anything else.”
Know your audience. Who are they? How did they vote? What do they believe? How can you contextualize your postings so they see you are a believer first and a Republican, Libertarian, Anarchist, or Democrat second. It’s a careful line to walk. You have a right to have your thoughts, but should you post them? If yes, and your audience already agrees with you, what minds are you actually changing by posting it? Are you engaging with your audience in public and private? Is your tone discussional or is it antagonistic? Is it well-thought out and articulated? Or is it just inflammatory? What does your social media say about you and where you put God in the hierarchy of things? Are we causing unnecessary divisions?
It’s Stetzer’s third point that is urgent: Stop posting fake news. Many Facebook sites, even those that agree with your inner narrative, are steeply biased and misconstrued either on purpose or because they like to believe only one narrative and can’t see the gray in the black and white. Becoming a sharer of false news is gossip. Forwarding emails that aren’t true, sharing stories that aren’t true and only seek to divide our nation and churches, do not speak well of a Christian. How can people believe us when we share the Good News with them if our authority in every day stories are questioned?
Read the article before you comment on this story. Tomorrow’s post has a great deal to do with today’s post.