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Using Social Media Without Losing Your Soul

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SIDEKICK social media

It happens regularly. I meet a pastor. As soon as he friends or follows me on social media, the bragging, rants, or pretending begins. I hide my new friend because I just can’t deal with it. 

Why does this matter?  The pastor’s social media use is getting in the way of his ministry.

This is still new territory for all of us. I got my first social media account 16 years ago when Facebook was just got college students, and I still feel I am trying to figure out the best way to use all of this.  I didn’t post on social media for six months earlier this year while I tried to figure out how I wanted to use social media. I started posting a few things, deleting a few, figuring out what worked for me and what didn’t work.

Here are some questions I think every pastor should answer before every post on social media.

Is it hype or reality?

Is the post boasting or presenting life better than it really is? You can post a picture of your kids playing in a leaf pile, but is it real or staged? Does this show the real life that you live or the one you want people to think you live?

We joke in our house about social media posts where moms wear flowing dresses while they carry laundry through the house. They have a professional photographer available all the time. Or Dad has a staged video session where he shows how he makes pancakes for his kids on his day off and does tricks with the eggs while he does it.

Pastors do this by only posting baptisms, amazing stories, or the high points of their ministry. If your social media only shows victory, then you are teaching your church members and other pastors that Christianity is only victory, never endurance. It is only pleasure, never suffering. That is fake Christianity.

Pastor, share your real life. Not every gory detail or anything that makes others look bad but the real stuff.

Does it make me stand out or more accessible?

Does this bring the people in your church closer to your life or make you stand out as more special? This one is hard because the big name pastors that you follow likely show their travels, conferences, dinners, etc. For the regular pastor, that is not the life of the people in your church and showing off separates you from people. 

Instead of posting what makes you better, post things that allow people to learn what you are interested in and spend time on. I’m a gardener. Our family loves board games. We go to parks and for walks a lot. When I share those things from my real life, people ask how my blueberries are doing. They tell me how they love to see us out for walks in the neighborhood. That kind of social media brings people closer to us because they live those same kinds of lives.

I was a personal trainer and love kettlebells. If I show my workouts, though, then that distances me from a lot of people. I save discussions about training and kettlebells for my personal website where people come by choice if they are interested in me or what I’m interested in. That is the difference between using social media to bring people into our lives rather than stand out.

I know a pastor whose social media makes it look like pastoring means going to baseball games and going on cruises. That is not the life of the single parent working two jobs who lives down the street from your church. Don’t distance yourself from her.

Is it helpful and full of grace right now?

What you write might be true, but is it helpful at this moment? Social media (or any speech) should not be for getting things off your chest. It shouldn't be a firehose where you share everything you think. Is this what your people need to hear at the moment?

Just because something is true doesn’t mean it will build up your church right now. Titus 2:11-12 tells us that God’s grace trains us. Your post on what dying churches look like might be true, but is it God’s grace training and bringing life to your church? Or is it condemnation and shame trying to fix other people on our schedule, rather than God’s?

Too many pastors blast their church members with truth bombs that they found somewhere online. Pastor, use your platform to help the weak and bring grace to them.

Can I explain to my kids why I am posting this?

I always ask my older kids for their permission before posting a picture of them. I did that recently and my son asked me why I wanted to post that picture. I couldn’t think of a good explanation, so I decided that I shouldn’t post it if I didn’t have a good reason.  

I think that is a good rule of thumb. If we cannot explain to someone, especially a child, what our reason and goal is, then it is not worth posting. 

Examples of good reasons:

  • I’m trying to make people laugh and bring joy to their lives.
  • I’m trying to share a verse to encourage other people to trust in God.
  • I’m trying to share a moment of joy so others can experience it too.
  • I’m trying to teach something about my hobby to others so they can use it.

Conclusion

These four questions would weed out a lot of bad pastor posts. More than that, I think it would help our ministries bring God’s grace to more people. 

What do you think?  What are other questions you ask before posting on social media?  Share your ideas below or on social media.

Through the Digital Church Network we are helping physical and digital churches better understand the discipleship process, and helping churches and church planters understand this and other decentralized mindset shifts. Joining the DCN is free and be encouraged! 

Looking for a Coach or Guide to help you with social media and other digital ministry tools, take this quick survey and connect  today. 

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About Author

Joe Radosevich
Joe Radosevich

Joe Radosevich (MDiv, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) lives with his wife and six children in Manchester, Illinois, and pastors Manchester Baptist Church.

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