April 6, 2019 • Lee Faler
Social media can be a blessing for pastors. Think about it. There has never been a time where it is easier to make much of the gospel with as little effort as typing a few characters on a Facebook/Twitter post. In the blink of an eye, a post that took 10 seconds to type, can go viral and reach hundreds, if not thousands of people. Never before, has a pastor had as broad of an audience, as they do now because of social media.
However, there has also never been a time in history where it is so easy for a pastor’s ministry to be irrevocably damaged than it is now, due to the power of social media. A post that took 10 seconds to type can expand a pastor’s influence, or it can bring shame on the gospel, and the pastor’s ministry. I have seen firsthand, how my own social media posts have not always been God honoring, and didn’t always serve to make much of the gospel. So how can we not waste our social media as pastors?
Realize that there is no real winner in an online debate
If you spend five minutes browsing social media you will inevitably find a debate. It will be tempting to weigh in. I would personally recommend that pastors should be very cautious about jumping in on every debate for a few reasons. First, you’re probably not going to convince the other side that they are wrong. They are just as passionate about being wrong, as you are passionate about being right. Secondly, we need to remember that one thing that Paul lists as a characteristic that disqualifies men from the ministry is being “quarrelsome”. Your intentions behind entering the debate may be God honoring, but no one knows your intentions on social media, your tone can’t be detected on social media, and it won’t be long before, whether you like it or not, you are give the appearance of being quarrelsome. Before entering an online debate ask yourself these questions
- Why do I really want to enter this debate? What are my motives? Do I want to show off my debate skills, or is the gospel under attack and it is leading me to respond?
- Is this issue really one worth me devoting my limited time to debating? Are there better things that I could be doing instead of arguing on social media?
- What kind of impression am I going to give about Christ to a lost person by entering this debate?
Chill out on clicking the “share” button.
Abraham Lincoln once said “The hard thing about social media is knowing which articles are legitimate, and which ones are not.” Okay, maybe that’s not completely accurate, but it’s about as accurate as 90% of articles floating around social media. We all can be guilty of sharing articles, or even memes on social media, without knowing their truthfulness, or validity. Many times we will share articles, or memes that are accurate in their content but aren’t necessarily beneficial to the body of Christ. Just because something is true, or just because we agree with it, doesn’t mean we have to share it. Remember that in 2019, due to social media, it is becoming easier and easier to be a false witness against our neighbor.
Ask the “glory” question
This is simple. Before posting on social media, ask yourself this question:
“Who’s glory am I seeking?”
Or to ask it another way, are we seeking to spread the glory of God, or increase our likes, retweets, or heart reactions, on social media? Whether we care to admit it or not, we tie too much worth to the amount of exposure we receive on social media. We get a rush, or feel rejected based on the type of reaction our social media posts receive. We feel worthy or unworthy based off how many Facebook likes we received. We find ourselves posting to make ourselves look big, rather than to post to point to the bigness of our God. For many of us, we need to crush the idol of social media acceptance, and replace it with a bigger picture of the glory of God.
Entrust your social media to your accountability partner
Maybe it’s another pastor on your staff. Maybe it’s a close friend. The point is that you need to open yourself up to someone who can speak into your life, and tell you when you are crossing the line on social media. You need someone who can be firm, yet gracious, and tell you when you are wasting your social media. Give them the freedom to tell you when you are not being God honoring with your social media presence.
Pastors, your social media can be one of your biggest, and best ministry tools, or it can be your downfall. Don’t waste your social media. Redeem it. Use it for the glory of God. The gospel and the glory of God is too good, for us to bring shame on it with a post that took ten seconds to write.