It’s sometimes amusing–and sometimes just painful–to see how ministers use technology.
With the proliferation of social media such as Twitter and Facebook, many people in ministry devote loads of time spraying cyberspace with their words and pictures.
Used well, social media involvement can enhance ministry and help to connect with people. Used poorly, these attempts make ministers look like goons.
I enjoy following some ministry people on social media sites. Others I’ve dropped.
Here, from the perspective of a reader of your posts and tweets, are a few tips to use social media with flair and ministry effectiveness.
1. Be a real person. Drop the professional, all-put-together Christian facade. Your people need to see how an authentic believer does life. Write about your family, your foibles, your fun times, your failures. Share a full spectrum of real life–your joys, your sorrows, your doubts, your laughs.
2. Don’t be a guru. You don’t have to be the one with all the answers. Stop tweeting that endless stream of religious one-liners. Relax, the Book of Proverbs has already been written. Instead, ask some thought-provoking questions–that you don’t already know the answer to.
3. Be a friend. They don’t call it “social” media for nothing. Post stuff you’d mention in conversation with a good friend. If you desire to touch people’s lives, be in relationship with them. Interact with them. “Like” their posts. Retweet their gems.
4. Don’t be a huckster. It’s okay to sometimes mention a church event, or something you’ve written, or a product you love. But do more than build your brand. And refrain from picking a political fight–unless, of course, you really want to alienate half of your congregation.
And if you don’t really care to engage in social media, that’s just fine too. Use the time to sit face-to-face with a real person. Be social.
Guilty! Thanks for redirecting my use of social media.
Good advice. But I would also add the advice to tread carefully. Some parishioners have no sense of boundaries and like to air the church’s dirty laundry and get into congregational spats online, so you’ll need to navigate these waters very carefully and be prepared for the unexpected. Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into these types of discussions.
Dear Thom, pleased for your blessed message. Babu
Great post!! Much needed wisdom!
Oh My goodness lol, Im sorry I have seen this soo many times, I cannot help but laugh in relation to your message! 😉 Thank you for sharing! I am sharing this where I can. I am so glad to find your webspace here as well. (fyi- Found this post through “Childrens Ministry” email newsletter)
Thanks, I really grabbed a tip from this. I will need to change how I use my social media.
Excellent tips! A great way for youth ministers to stay connected with teens is through the use of texting. However, using a personal cell phone can present problems. SendTree (www.sendtree.com) is a solid and reasonably priced tool that allows for texting groups and subgroups using the web rather than a cell phone. Youth ministers can upload contacts, create subgroups, and even schedule messages ahead of time. Messages can include event reminders, cancellations/schedule changes, encouraging quotes/verses, etc.–and SendTree connects with both Facebook and Twitter.
For #1, many pastors will tell you that is an area in which to be careful. In sharing, you need to use a filter as to what and how much you share as some congregants will want to give you all kinds of unwanted advice and counsel others will pounce and see the sharing of some “foibles” or “failures” as a liability. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some real-life examples of things being shared online, sometimes in closed groups, that were used against leaders. So, you have to wade carefully in this area.
I agree, Pat. What you describe has happened to me as well. This shows the real problem with online sharing while being a pastor. You want to be authentic, you want to show your true self, but you also know that if something you say can be misconstrued, someone in your parish will do just that. I think that sharing a personal experience that has affected you spiritually might be a way of being real on the web. But yes, be careful!