As I am writing this post, I just concluded a coaching call with an incredible friend and member of the Church Answers community. He was facing the uncomfortable situation where some of his church staff and church members engaged in a social media debate that did little good and, likely, a lot of harm.
He painfully imagined the non-Christian community reading the heated digital conversation. He concluded that those Christians and his church had undoubtedly seen their Christian witness damaged.
I am typically not hesitant to offer my own opinion of issues related to church life and church leadership. This time, however, I would rather for you, the readers, to shape the narrative. I am not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but I know there are some incredibly wise and godly people who read this blog.
Would you help me and the community who read this blog? Would you read each of the following questions and respond to one, a few or all?
- Should the church have a policy regarding how paid staff interact on social media? We have addressed this issue in the past at Church Answers, but I really want to get your perspective.
- If your answer to the previous question is "yes," what would be the guidelines or parameters you set? I am curious to know if you think it's all subjective, or do you think there are some clear objective guidelines that should be included?
- What guidelines or steps should you take if church members are obviously behaving poorly on social media? This question was the most difficult the pastor and I discussed. At what point, if any, do you confront church members about their misbehavior on social media?
- Do you preach or teach on this issue in any fashion at all? In other words, do the members ever hear from the leadership about how our conversations in social media are seen by the watching world? One pastor told me a large group in the community has encouraged a boycott of his church because of the social media misbehavior of two church members.
- What are the lines that cannot be crossed in social media by church members? How do you define those lines? If they are clear to the members, what do you do when they cross those lines? What are the consequences?
We live in a digital age. Some of our primary communities are found on the internet. But there seems to be something about the relative anonymity of speaking with a keyboard (or digital voice solution) that encourages us to say some things we would not say otherwise.
How do you deal with these issues? I am really seeking godly and biblical solutions. Let me hear from you.
Thom S. Rainer is the founder and CEO of Church Answers, an online community and resource for church leaders. Prior to founding Church Answers, Rainer served as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Before coming to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for 12 years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.
For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
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