If you’re a church leader, read this wisdom before you post anything on Facebook in 2020.
1. Don’t Post Updates From Your Vacation
Think twice before posting photos from your next vacation. When you’re asking members of your church to sacrificially give of their time and money, and you’re posting pictures of you and your family partying at Club Med, it doesn’t look good. There’s nothing wrong with going on vacation, in fact, it’s one of the most important things you should do as a leader and a family, but there is wisdom in enjoying it privately. Some of the people who go to your church and give regularly can’t afford to go on vacation. The same rule goes for your weekly Thursday afternoon round of golf. Don’t forget…most church members work during the week.
2. Don’t Criticize Another Church…Ever
Like something off of the Jerry Springer show, two years ago leaders and elders at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky took to Facebook to publicly sling mud at elders at Crossroads Christian Church in Evansville, Indiana in a no holds barred online brawl. That prompted other well known church leaders to jump in on the gossip and chaos on Facebook, which then led to other church members taking sides and getting in on the social media mayhem. The unfolding chaos was covered on the local television news station, rumored to be fueled by fake press releases written by staff members and one of the pastors involved rumored to have said “let’s burn this mother f—er down!” This all ended in a church split. Yes, this all really happened…let that sink in. The BIG wisdom here is to always praise publicly and criticize privately…especially if you’re an elder or church leader. What the elders at another church do is none of your business, even if they fired your pastors son-in-law. Get over it. Focus on where you are.
3. Don’t Create Mysteries
If you’re a pastor in Seattle and you suddenly post a picture of yourself checking into the Miami airport, you’ve just created a mystery. And, if you’re a church leader, creating mysteries on Facebook is never a good idea. Why are you in Miami? What are you doing there? How long will you be there? This only creates confusion and usually causes minds to jump to negative conclusions: Are you interviewing for a new job? Are you having an affair? Are you doing coke deals? Who’s paying for your trip? Wise church leaders don’t create mysteries on Facebook. If you’re in Miami for a conference, post a picture at the conference with something you learned or someone you met…not a picture of your toes in the sand. Step back and look at what you’re posting…are you creating mysteries?
4. Don’t Post Headscratchers or Deadends
Headscratchers are Facebook posts that create bad optics. If you’re a church leader, and you post a selfie of yourself in full KISS makeup, sticking your tongue out, on Halloween, that’s a headscratcher. Even if KISS is your favorite band and you’ve dressed up like them a million times before, it’s wise to leave this off of Facebook. Checking in to a restaurant on Facebook with a woman who isn’t your wife is a headscratcher. Posting a picture flying to Hawaii at the conclusion of your church’s capital campaign is a headscratcher. Sadly, these aren’t made up examples.
Deadends are posts that literally create a dead end. Examples are:
- “I won’t be checking Facebook messages from now on.”
- “We won’t be having Sunday School anymore.”
- “I won’t be in the office on Friday’s effective immediately.”
- “We will no long be having 8:30AM Sunday service.”
- “I got a new phone so don’t call my old number.”
A better post would be, “I just read the book Digital Minimalism and I’ve decided to delete Facebook messenger from my phone to keep me focused on ministry. The best way to get in touch with me is by sending me an email at email@example.com or texting or calling me at 555-555-5555. And, of course, the church’s office hours are M-F from 9AM to 4PM. Thanks everyone!”
Also, sometimes it’s best not to post anything. Does everyone need to know that you deleted Facebook Messenger? Does everyone need to know you’re not going to be in the office on Fridays? Probably not. A better place for than info might be the church’s website.
5. Don’t Post Your Sabbatical
Facebook is the last place you should be spending time on your sabbatical. Your sabbatical is a privilege, not a right. It’s not something to be dangled in front of everyone publicly. Don’t forget that 99.9% of people in your church don’t get a sabbatical. And, when you share pictures of your feet in a hammock, reading Francis Chan’s new book, you’re doing it wrong. And, if you’re on sabbatical and posting on a Sunday morning how great it is not to have to go to church, you’re definitely doing it wrong. A better option would be to fast from social media on your sabbatical and when you return, share some things you learned, something you worked on, or a renewed vision for you ministry, along with a thanks to your church for allowing you to have time away.
6. Don’t Post Reviews or Rants
No one needs to know if you hate American Airlines. No one needs to know that you’re upset there’s not a stoplight on the road you turn left on to get to church. No one needs to know your thoughts on every current event. Posting “These refs suck!” in the middle of the UK game or randomly posting “I LOVE the new Joker movie!” is a bad idea. It’s okay to have opinions, but Facebook isn’t the place for it, if you’re a church leader. See #10 on how you should post about news and current events.
7. Do Post Pictures of your Church
Your profile picture should be a picture of you, not a picture of your dog. Your cover photo should be a picture of your church, not the Guns ’N Roses concert you attended two years ago. Facebook is a great place to share pictures of your church. It’s also a great place to promote what’s happening at your church. If there’s a worship night at your church on Sunday night and you’re posting about the new Game of Thrones episode, you’re doing it wrong.
8. Do Highlight People From of Your Church
Celebrate members of your church for their accomplishments. Share posts about volunteers doing a great job. If you see a church member while you’re eating out, or at an event, snap a pic and post it on Facebook. It’s also a great place to celebrate people from your community doing cool things. Make your Facebook about others…it’s not all about you. Encouraging others on Facebook is something wise church leaders do.
9. Do Share Meaningful Family Moments
The world is full of broken families. Your Facebook is an opportunity to lead by example. Show pictures that demonstrate you loving and encouraging your spouse, children, parents, siblings, and extended family. Celebrate your family on Facebook. Share family moments on Facebook, even the sad ones. Be real. If you’re going through a health crisis, share it. If someone in your family passes away, share it. Show people what it means to be a real person. Manny Pacquio, the world champion Filipino boxer, regularly shares photos of his family going to church together. Be like Manny.
10. Do Help Church Members Navigate the Complexity of Life & Current Events
Bob Russell uses his Facebook to share links to his blog posts each week that help Christians make sense of current events. In his latest post he references how “Brandt Jean, a Christian who is mature beyond his 18 years of age, forgave the policewoman who accidentally shot and killed his beloved older brother.” Bob uses that news story to talk about Christians imitating the holiness of God. Be like Bob. Use your Facebook to help your church make sense of current events.
Things To Remember About Facebook If You’re a Church Leader:
- Leaders are held to a higher standard.
- Facebook is an extension of your ministry. It’s not your own private space.
- Be creative with ways you can use your platform to engage your church and encourage others.
- Engage in politics at your own risk.
- Be aware of the optics you’re creating with your posts.
- Facebook isn’t the place for your stream of consciousness.
- Don’t forget that people get fired everyday for what they post on Facebook. Don’t be one of them.
- Ask yourself if what you’re posting adds value to your family, church, or other people.
- Don’t answer questions no one is asking.
- When in doubt…don’t post.
- Ask someone you trust to give you honest feedback about what you post on Facebook. Give them permission to let you know if you post something that might give the wrong impression.
- Be real. Facebook should be an extension of who you really are. Nothing is more icky than someone pretending to be someone they’re not on social media.
- If you’re a church leader, you SHOULD be on Facebook. Facebook is a valuable tool for engaging your church and your community. Not being on Facebook is like disconnecting your church’s phone line or dismantling your church’s mailbox. It’s 2020, and Facebook is the primary source of communication people engage with on a daily basis.