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.