As in any practice, there are extremes. Some pastors and staff steadfastly refuse to get involved in technology, social media or blogs. On the other extreme, some ministers misuse and abuse the helpful tools and media available to them.
After nearly a decade of involvement in social media and, later, the blogosphere, I have seen the best and the worst. Allow me to share what I have learned from the best in ministry who are active in this realm:
1. Be involved in technology, social media and blogs. It is missiologically irresponsible not to be. That is where the growing mission field resides, and you need to be among them.
2. Be informal most of the time. Social media and blogs are conversations; they thus have a certain informality to them. There is a place for formal writings, but it is not here. By the way, informality and poor grammar are not synonymous.
3. Don't be too informal. We can get too relaxed and write things we regret. Being informal doesn't mean being stupid.
4. Watch your tone. Different researchers have noted that we see our own writings in social media as friendlier than readers perceive them. Harvard Business Review advocates to business and political leaders to write 30 percent friendlier than you would normally. But don't ask me how you measure friendly writings.
5. Read your writings out loud. It hardly takes any time. You will catch things you would not otherwise, and it can save you a lot of embarrassment.
6. Embrace humor, but do so cautiously. I have been told on too many occasions I am sarcastic. I mean to be humorous, but my writings can sometimes come across differently to readers. I am working on this area of improvement.
7. Avoid or, at least minimize, acronyms and emoticons. Many people don't know what those letters mean. And if you overuse some, like omg, lol or smh, you can seem like a silly teenager. This next statement is my personal peeve; many people disagree with me. I wish emoticons would be banned from usage forever!
8. Minimize bragging or humble bragging. Sometimes we just need to celebrate some big wins and big news. That's OK. We can overdo it, though. It can be especially irritating if it's humble bragging.
9. Remember: The Internet is permanent. There is no such thing as making your words disappear forever. I can assure you someone has taken a screenshot of almost every crazy or dumb thing written on the Internet. And there are a lot of smart folks who can find things you thought had been deleted. Too many ministers have forfeited or minimized their ministry future by not being wise on the Internet. And more search committees are doing social media and blog checks on candidates. Be wise with what you write or what you share through links and photos.
There is indeed a great mission field on the Internet in social media and the blogosphere. We need to be leading the way to reach and to minister to people who are there. But we need to do so graciously, wisely and with great discernment.
Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. For the original article, visit thomrainer.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.