Welcome to Season 1 Episode 45 of the Your Church Matters podcast. In this episode I talked about something that affects almost every church–social media.
Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. And when he wanted to go across to Achaia, the brethren encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him; and when he had arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, demonstrating by the Scriptures that Jesus was the Christ. (Acts 18:24-28, New American Standard Bible)
Truths about social media
- Someone in your church is active on social media. Worldwide 1.59 billion users in 2013. Projection of 2.44 billion by 2018. Worldwide numbers of users as of August 2015:
- Facebook – 1.49 billion
- YouTube – 1 billion
- Facebook Messenger – 700 million
- Twitter – 316 million
- Skype – 300 million
- Google+ – 300 million
- Instagram – 300 million
- LinkedIn – 97 million
- Pinterest – 100 million (as of 9/18/15)
- Social media is not private. Think of it in terms of a rental property with glass walls at best. If you are paying something for the service, you get to hang some privacy curtains, but the landlord still makes the major decisions. If you are using a free service, the only control you have is by limiting what you share.
- Social media posts have a long shelf life. Unless you remove the post or disable your account, anything you have ever posted can be found and can make the rounds years later.
- Social media is morally neutral. Whether it is a great tool for good or evil depends, not on the medium, but on the user.
- Social media is not a fad and is NEVER going away. Individual platforms may come and go, but connected technology has reached a tipping point and we have passed the point of no return. The world will not be less connected than it is now.
- Churches that are not actively engaged in social media are missing one of the greatest opportunities in the history of the world to connect with unchurched people. World-changing communication/information carriers: Roman Roads, Printing Press, Telephone, Radio/Television, Internet.
Why your church needs a social media policy
- Because social media is morally neutral. Users need guidance in making good choices in what they share.
- Because the reputation of your church will be affected by what your members choose to share. Intentionality is better than recovery. Damage control is never easy or pleasant.
- Because the “like” and “share” buttons are so accessible. A social media policy might encourage the use of a personal internal “pause” button.
- Because social media should be a tool, not a weapon. Christians can be as guilty of cyber bullying as anyone else, often saying things to or about someone online that they would never say in person. Instead of taking someone aside as in Acts 18, they write a blog post or create a YouTube video to point out their “heresy.”
Possible components of a social media policy
- Strict guidelines for staff members on what is appropriate for social media posting.
- Strict guidelines for staff members on social media transparency.
- Strict guidelines for how the church name, images, logos, and ministries are presented on social media.
- Strict guidelines for who is authorized to speak ON BEHALF OF the church on social media and a clear process.
- Clear stated vision of how the church desires to use social media to fulfill their mission and vision.
- Clear and helpful guidelines to help church members use social media in an intentional, positive, Christ-honoring way.
- Resources to help church members separate wheat/chaff, discern fact/fiction, and grow in grace-filled discipleship.
Resources for this episode
The charts above are from www.statista.com
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*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music)