But it can also go wrong. One inherent characteristic of social media is that it is not a passive activity: those who have social media accounts don’t just go on the platform to see what is happening, but instead they actively engage with the platforms, sometimes causing posts to go viral. The right shares and the right audience—coupled with the topic at hand in the post—can trigger an avalanche of sharing across the internet. When that occurs, a post can gain a life of its own, sometimes providing a celebrity or leader (such as the aforementioned pastor) with infamous status.
How can you avoid a similar situation from playing out at your church—while still taking advantage of the benefits social media offers to ministries? Here are some key guiding principles as you consider your church’s social media efforts.
How to engage in safe (and smart) ways
1. Monitor what you post—and what others post about you.
If you’re in the pulpit, there is a great likelihood that your comments will find their way into someone’s social media post. As previously discussed, social media users are not passive participants or spectators in their social media worlds. They are engaged, and they post content. If you say something that evokes some emotion—good or bad—expect that, just as they react to your words live, there is a chance that someone will post the information online. We all do it: whether it’s a caption, a meme, a video, or a photo that makes us laugh or cry, we quickly hit the “like” or “share” button. With that in mind, consider anything stated or published publicly, by you or by the church, to be accessible and potentially published by others.