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7 warnings for church leaders who use social mediacomment (1)

August 7, 2014

By Thom S. Rainer

7 warnings for church leaders who use social media

Those of you who read my blog (thomrainer.com) or listen to my podcasts know I am a strong proponent of social media. I have seen many good things take place on the various platforms available. I have seen the gospel clearly shared and embraced on social media.

But this social media is a two-edged sword. It can be used for good or great harm. And it can harm the ministries of those in Christian leadership. So whether your platform is a blog, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google Plus or many others please note these seven warnings. 

Retrievable information

1. Consider anything you say on social media to be permanent. Yes you can delete or scrub regretful things you have said on social media but, more times than not, the information can still be retrieved. And countless people take screen shots the moment they see something unwisely posted.

2. You can be misunderstood often on social media. The readers or viewers usually cannot see your body language. They do not know your humor or sarcasm. If you have any question about something you will post, do not post it.

3. Emoticons are not sufficient to soften what you have posted. In fact, emoticons are so ubiquitous now that many readers ignore them.

4. Attacks on other people’s character or positions are considered cowardly by many. The reader or the viewer typically sees the person writing the information as one who hides behind a keyboard or microphone. They wonder if the writer would have the courage to say the same things in person.

5. Too many Christian leaders are posting on social media in the heat of emotional moments. If you are angry or otherwise agitated take a 24-hour break from social media. If not you may regret it later.

6. Churches and other Christian organizations are checking the social media pages of Christian leaders. It has become more commonplace for churches and Christian organizations to do a social media background check of potential candidates. I recently conversed with a pastor who was fired from his church because of something he posted on Facebook. Remember, at the risk of being redundant, most of the words or photos or videos you have posted are permanently recorded.

Others are watching

7. The non-Christian world is watching Christians attack each other on social media. Our Christian witness is compromised again and again by our social media actions. When we say or write scathing attacks on others, non-believers see us as hypocritical, inconsistent and unworthy of emulating.

You might be surprised how many people are watching you on social media. 

And you might be surprised how many people have been hurt and angered by Christian leaders on social media. You might also be surprised how many gospel-sharing opportunities have been forfeited by unwise things posted on social media.

Be wise. Be gracious. Be kind. And be Christ-like.

Editor’s Note — Thom S. Rainer is president of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. (BP)

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Comment (1)

    Dale Smith 9/1/2014 3:29 PM

    I recently lost my sister to cancer after a very short battle. I have never experiences such a profound disappointment in my church when the only contacts came from a Text Message from the Pastor, a Facebook message from one staff member and two Facebook posts from class members. Not one call. Not one visit. Not one Card, nothing. Social Media does not replace personal ministry. Do not believe a Tweet or Facebook post will be enough. How sad that even our ministers are losing touch and the desire to do one on one ministry with a hurting world.

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