Does Jesus tweet?
Seems like a silly question I’m sure. Yet when each of us share on social media, we are representing Christ.
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that social media is one of the largest ways people connect with others these days.
According to this recent study, more than two-thirds of all U.S. adults use social media in some capacity. And the percentage of younger adults who use it is much higher.
The reality is that many people will likely connect with both you and your church online long before they ever meet you face-to-face.
As a pastor, the way you personally use social media can have serious effects, either positive or negative.
Here’s something I saw recently:
A group of people recently held an event to advocate for increased pay and better working conditions. It was a large, state-wide event, and it had a popular hashtag on Twitter. In response to this event, one pastor, who happens to lead a small church in the same state, publicly criticized the people who chose to participate in this rally. And just like social media is made to do… people saw what he said and their comments were evidence of the unintended negative effect of his words. Long story short, their perceptions of the Church were shaped by his remarks.
This is what we need to remember: When a pastor, the leader of a local church, or any of us who are representatives of the global Church, alienates someone on social media, that same person feels alienated from the Kingdom of God.
And the issue isn’t just political. I’ve seen the same thing happen when leaders of churches publicly criticize younger generations. Criticizing any people group (age, race, vocation, etc.) is not a great strategy for reaching more people for Jesus.
In reflection, these four thoughts are important for all of us to consider:
I can’t let my political convictions stand in the way of someone finding Jesus.
We all have valuable perspective on political issues. But as soon as our convictions become more important than the humanity of the person we’re speaking with (or speaking about), we are no longer able to interact in a way that reflects Christ.
I need to understand I will lose respect and influence, especially with younger generations, when I criticize someone else for their beliefs and opinions.
Let me clarify: it’s not that we have to stay completely silent and refrain from ever expressing our opinions. In fact, I see pastors express their opinions in a respectful way all the time. However, we have to refrain from criticizing another person for holding a different opinion. Ask yourself: Will the outcome really be worth it? Will it further the Kingdom?
I have to remember that the goal is always for new people to meet Jesus.
Every church has the incredible potential to change countless lives for Jesus. But you can almost guarantee that if anyone feels personally attacked by a remark on social media made by a representative of your church, they will never walk through the doors on a Sunday morning. Let’s not lose sight of our mission.
I have to remember that social media is a powerful tool for my church.
You and I can either use social media to further the Gospel or limit it. That’s why our friends over at Fishhook post weekly examples of churches who are doing a great job on social media. The potential impact is, quite honestly, limitless. Consider: how can you maximize this tool (both personally and professionally) to creatively and effectively reach people within your community?
Philippians 2:4 reminds us of this important truth: “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” It is with this direction and this heart that we need to use social media.
Recently, Thom Rainer put out a great article titled “10 Commandments for Pastors, Politics, and Social Media”. In it he offers some good reminders for every church leader to consider. But it comes down to this for all of us:
Let’s be intentional.
Let’s care for those inside and outside our congregation.
Let’s seek God’s wisdom for when we should speak and when we should stay silent.
And let’s fight to remove all barriers to the spread of the Gospel.