Should Churches Block Staff Access to Facebook?

Editor's Note: Evan McBroom, a ministry communications consultant, recently shared a story with us about an event in which a church staff member who handles the office's information technology revealed he was required to block staff access to Facebook. Evan questioned the move, seeing Facebook as a potential online equivalent to in-home or hospital visitations.

"If you want to follow Jesus' command to love God and love others, then you can't block Facebook from your in-church computers and computer network," McBroom says. "Ministry leaders can absolutely love the people of your church and the people in their lives through Facebook. To block your people from Facebook is the same as saying 'people don't matter.'"

He shares more in this video:

Facebook One Another from Evan McBroom on Vimeo.

This content is designed to provide accurate and authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is published with the understanding that the publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional person should be sought. "From a Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers and Associations

Comments

Displaying 1–10 of 15 comments

robert

March 20, 2012  10:59am

no churches should not block access to fb. fb is all about the person. the same logic applies to guns; guns don't kill people, people using guns kill people. fb is not the problem, it's the people using fb that are the problem if any problem is to be had. so if someone can use fb to enhance their ministry i'm all for it. if someone finds it better to not use fb i'm all for them and their decision. our Creator made us all different so let's accept each other and go from there. i like managing by exception. so let the church members use fb and if certain ones have problems then deal with them and block their access to fb, but not the whole ministry.

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AJ Ketchum

December 14, 2010  11:30am

In May 2010 my 4 year-old son was hospitalized and subsequently died as a result of a rare disease. FaceBook was a God-send for us. We started a community page where we were able to keep everyone updated about his condition, share information about his disease, and then provide funeral details without having to make multiple difficult phone calls. This also ensured the information being passed around our church was accurate. We could update anything at any time, day or night, without waking everyone. Family, friends, and co-workers were able to check his latest prognosis without having to call us, possibly interrupting a conference with a doctor. They could also give us encouragement at the same time. His page still exists as a way for us to share memories. If certain aspects of FB are an issue (games, streaming video, chat, etc.) a church can block just those portions, much like the US military does on their networks. Aside from keeping everyone updated on developing situations, FB is a useful tool to stay connected to members who are deployed military, on missionary trips, or away from their home church for any extended period (business, college, illness, etc.).

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Evan McBroom

November 30, 2010  1:52pm

Steve - I love you your personalized your comments to YOUR church: "Blocking our ministry team's access to Facebook would be nearly as foolish as doing away with telephones or removing our sign from our building." Yes, each church must address these tools w/n their DNA. Yours says "use it"

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Steve Fridsma

November 30, 2010  1:29pm

Our demographically young church uses Facebook effectively for everything from scheduling musicians, sending out prayer requests, making announcements, and promoting events. For the band in particular, it has effectively replaced email. It is a fabulous tool as church goers can sign up to attend an event and very easily invite their other friends as well. As a result our Sunday bulletin has been reduced to one 1/2 page handout, saving work and resources. Facebook is another communication tool - a powerful one - and as a church we are in the business of messages, stories, and relationships - which is something Facebook does particularly well. It is only a waste of time if you make it into a waste of time. Blocking our ministry team's access to Facebook would be nearly as foolish as doing away with telephones or removing our sign from our building.

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Evan McBroom

November 30, 2010  9:26am

Good and robust conversation going on here. I tend to feel most aligned with Sandy's comments. I love that she takes it a step further: "responsible church leaders need to learn and teach how to handle it (Facebook) responsibly and with grace, like any other aspect of life, from alcohol to driving, or even "real" relationships!" Thanks all...and keep the conversation going.

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LB Olin

November 17, 2010  11:45am

I have a number of friends who make a positive impact for Christ with FB posts. Churches can use Facebook, like any other communication tool, for ministry and information-sharing, sometimes enabling us to access people we couldn't reach otherwise. As with any new technology, we need to learn how to maximize benefits and minimize problems. Staff/members authorized to represent the church on its FB page must be trained and supervised so that their posts stay within the church's guidelines for content, privacy, tone, etc. Staff should be held accountable for completion of their assigned duties without misusing any potentially time-wasting tool, be it FB, computer solitaire, telephone, or nail file. Use of FB by individual church members is not within a church's power to block except, I suppose, by fiat. A better plan would be for churches to train interested members how to exchange FB posts that edify, as Paul might advocate.

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Paul Mullis

November 17, 2010  6:42am

Like it or loath it, Facebook is a fact of 21st century life. It can't be opted out of. If access is blocked then you are only sending the message that your faith is not up to the job of living in the 21st century, and what message is that for a church to be giving out? Blocking it/opting out is a cop out. Instead, responsible church leaders need to learn and teach how to handle it responsibly and with grace, like any other aspect of life, from alcohol to driving, or even "real" relationships!

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Sandy

November 16, 2010  8:36pm

Face Book is an avenue for too much wasted time and also too much irrelevancy to the cause of Christ. Nothing but fluff because if you disagree with something that is posted then you are unfriended. It encourages the adoption of the idea that people do not matter all too often by blocking or unfriending them. I do not believe churches should be involved in FB at all. I have seen too much of ungodly postings by Christians that in no way could help the cause of Christ. I have totally divorced myself from taking part in this questionable activity. As Christians, we need to reach the lost and I do not see that happening on FB. Far from it in fact. It gives the world a picture of us as no different than them. How could a Christian unfriend another Christian. What kind of message does that send to the lost who need to see us as living God's love. What kind of message does it send to the Christian who needs friends in the Christian community.

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Gordon Gathright

November 16, 2010  1:59pm

While it is a problem, if you are working with students it is one of the few ways to communicate with them. Students do lots of texting and they love FB!! It is an invaluable communication tool. It can be addicting but it shouldn't be thrown out either.

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ErinB

November 16, 2010  1:19pm

We have a facebook page to connect with our members online as well as to promote upcoming activities. It has been a great tool in that respect. Our challenge was that church members who were online friends with staff members did not find it acceptable that anyone would be on facebook during "business hours" for any reason. Or they would misinterpret an expression about having a rough day as a complaint about the job. Then they would take those complaints to the pastor-parish committee. The solution was that some staff members had to "un-friend" all church members.

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