I was visiting a church recently and decided to jump over to the church’s Facebook page during the service. Leadership Network helps churches with their digital presence and so I am always curious how a church is doing with their online ministry. As I was on their Facebook Live feed, I saw a church member (self-identified as so) criticizing the pastor for something unrelated to the message he was preaching. It was right there for me (and the world) to see on the live feed comment section.
I was disappointed, but not surprised. Social media has become an easy place to offer criticism these days – even of pastors and churches.
It led me to think how I would advise a church member to use social media. As a pastor, I spoke about this subject frequently. I was continually encouraging those who loved the church about their online presence – mostly because, after over 20 years of online ministry experience, I understand the power of the medium.
Perhaps I can write some things now without seeming as self-serving as when I was pastoring full-time. I’m not serving in a local church as a pastor. I am a church member, so this is a good reminder to me as well. Even more, I still love the local church, so it led to this post where I want to encourage (perhaps the word is challenge) church members – those who say they love the church – on some of their use of social media.
Here are 3 tips for using social media for a good church member:
Don’t complain about the church or pastor via Facebook.
Or any other form of social media, but the ones I see most are on Facebook.
It makes no sense to me why someone who claims to love their church would post negative reviews about the church or something the pastor has said or done on such a public platform (and there are biblical teachings which would encourage us not to do so). The whole world can see those posts. Why not send the pastor an email? This seems like it would be common sense, but apparently it is not.
I should say that most times it is better to keep the complaint to yourself if it’s only personal to you. If they didn’t play your style of music maybe they will next time, but maybe the style of music reaches someone who doesn’t yet have a relationship with Christ or the church.
Everything we think and feel doesn’t have to be communicated, “but only what is helpful for building others up.” (Eph 4:29). When you feel your complaint is merited handle it personally long before you handle it publicly.
Jesus prayed for unity in the church and that’s accomplished as we strive together as a Body to create it.
Think before you post.
For this one, I’m not talking about just the posts, which mention the church. I’m talking about EVERY POST on social media. With every post a church member makes they should realize they are representing the church – whether they intend to or not. We are part of a family. And just like what we do reflects our immediate family, what we do as members of the church reflects our church family. The potential for bad reflection (and good) is exaggerated on social media.
This should be seen as a privilege more than it is pressure. The bottom line is about a protection of our witness.
During political campaign season I always tried to remind our church of this point. For example, I don’t know of any instances where someone from another political party changed their point of view because of a social media post. I do know many examples of people who have been turned off from Christianity because of the bad witness of someone in a local church on behalf of one.
Think before you post.
Leverage influence for good.
There can be a power in social media unlike few others. Posts can go “viral” quickly. Friends of friends see the posts we place on social media. (I once saw a series of posts on Instapot recipes get dozens of interactions from people I know.)
Imagine the impact the church can have if members use their online influence for the good of the church and Kingdom. Thankfully, I have dozens of stories from my own social media where something I posted was at the right time for someone who needed a word of encouragement.
Here are a few ways you can use social media for good:
- Check into church on Sunday.
- Let people know about the events of your church.
- Give your church a “5 Star Review”.
- Brag on your pastor online.
- Share your church’s social media statuses.
Based on what you’ve posted previously about your church or pastor, would people you know want to attend the church?
Encourage people with your social media influence. May God be glorified – even through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the likes.
It’s outside of my line of work, but some of these (maybe all) might apply to your workplace as well.