by Matt Ward
THOMSON, GA – 2020 has taught us many things, not the least of which is that Christians don’t have enough guidance for how to use social media. We like to think that we can say, “Christian, just be smart with social media,” but that’s not very helpful. And it hasn’t been very effective.
There are only a few webpages that approach social media from a Christian perspective; our church thought there should be more. What follows is our draft of potential guidelines for what a Christian should consider when using social media. I’ve also included two additional lists: some of what the Bible has to say about communication, and some of what secular heavy hitters have to say about social media.
Consider these guidelines as a starting point for a discussion in your church about how to help your members engage social media. We incorporated our church’s values into these guidelines; you could easily do the same for your church.
Social media guidelines for churches
We have access to far more people in the digital world than in our physical neighborhood. We should be using our social media presence and influence to engage our world with truth, hope, and the good news of Jesus Christ. In fact, with social media, we can think of the entire world as our neighbor! Most churches have websites, good tools for disseminating information. But social media – stories, pictures, observations – connects more strongly with more people.
In using social media, we should remember two things. First, it is in the “as we go” part of our lives governed by Christ’s Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20:
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Second, social media is communication. Everything the Bible says about communication is true of digital communication. Consider James 3:9-10:
With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.
We need to treat every tweet and post and pic with the same care and consideration as our face-to-face words. But it is not always clear how we should do that! Below is a proposal of social media guidelines, organized by obligation.
But we should do it wisely
We expect every church member to pay attention to all of these guidelines because we are all, first and foremost, ambassadors for Christ. And that comes with a high expectation from God Almighty Himself. Paul summarized in Philippians 2:14-16,
Do everything without grumbling and arguing, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world, by holding firm to the word of life.
We have a high obligation to use social media with care and caution. Sadly, many Christians seem to think that God’s expectations for us as His children do not apply to our social media use! That’s simply not true.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt Ward is the associate pastor at First Baptist Church Thomson.