Into All the Digital Universe – Part 2: Facebook
Hebrews 10:24 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
Last week I started discussing how I believe that we as ministers of the Word of God need to be social media savvy. Right about now, Mimi is laughing her butt off because she knows that I am the farthest from being “savvy” at social media. I am more like “introduced.” A casual handshake with social media versus my girlfriend who makes her living on social media and I consider savvy at SoMe.
The outlets that I discussed last week included Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and blogging. But those four are not the only social media outlets out there., even though they are the biggest. There is even next generation social media such as Tapestry which uses “tapping” instead of “tweeting.” I’m not going to discuss any of the new stuff because by the time I understand it, I may well be dead or at least in my old(er) age.
Today I want you to understand what makes Facebookso attractive to ministry professionals and some of the dangers that can go along with it. I’d also like to provide tips to keep you, your ministry, and your family safe from Satan’s attack as you navigate the SoMe realm.
Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
Let’s start with Facebook. I deleted my account. Being an elder in a church of a thousand or more, I hear plenty of stories about how Facebook has ruined friendships, relationships, and marriages. I believe in my heart that Facebook was one of the major causes of my marriage destructing. There are advantages and disadvantages to every tool, which Facebook is, but as long as professional ministry folk are careful and transparent in their interactions and focused on and led by the Holy Spirit, then Facebook can be of use to anyone in the ministry.
There is no doubt that Facebook is a great tool for the ministry. First, all churches should have an ACTIVE Facebook page. Make sure to create a “page” and not a “group.” What a page will do is that when someone clicks “like” on your page, the update will stream in their newsfeed. Next, create groups for each of the small group studies and the leadership of the church. This becomes a more private discussion and allows everyone to stay in 24/7 contact with each other. This is a great opportunity for accountability groups. Create events for all your events and post pictures immediately. Flyers are nice. The Sunday bulletin is nice. But most people get their event calendars from Facebook now. That is one of the primary places people go to find things to do in their personal lives. Next, tie your Facebook to your Twitter. This will then automatically tweet out your Facebook post. Facebook should be checked, minimally, daily. There are companies out there that hire professionals to watch their Facebook and Twitter sites so they don’t have to. If you are big enough to hire someone to manage it for you, I suggest that. If not, check it at least once a day. Never forget graduations, birthdays, or any other major event in peoples’ lives and make sure you post it to their wall, and make sure to use the @ to link people back to your fan page.
1 John 2:26 – I am writing these things to you about those who are trying to lead you astray.
Facebook definitely has a lot of GREAT qualities about it, but it can also be dangerous. First, if your walk with the Lord is not strong, spend time focusing there first. Facebook should never take the place of devotionals or face to face accountability time. Second, it is very easy to fall into the trap of Facebook addiction. Do not spend your life focused around your Facebook. When you are with people, be WITH them. Don’t forsake the live time you have with people so that you can update your wall. Next, Facebook can make it very easy to focus only on yourself. When we focus on ourselves, we fall into the trap of pride. That can very easily lead to a fall. Make sure that if you have a personal Facebook page that your entire family, at least your spouse, is able to access it. And please, when you are posting something, accepting a friend request, or messaging someone directly, think of how your loved ones would react if they knew you were interacting with that group or individual. Old flames and friends who do not care about your spiritual walk are going to show up in your Facebook world. Are you prepared to talk about that with your spouse? Does he/she have full transparency to your account? If not, they should. Similar challenges happen with a church page. Do not just allow one person access to the page. All leadership should be able to hold the page accountable to Scripture and basic courtesy.
There is the story about the pastor in New Jersey that ordered everyone in the church to deactivate their Facebook accounts or lose their jobs. It is understandable, I cleansed myself from Facebook. With the large amount of marriages destroyed over it, I can understand the reaction. But that is not what we are called to do, right? We are called to be IN the world, just not OF it. Make sure your walk with God is strong and that your family has access to the accounts.
John 15:19 – If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.
Now if you noticed, like my girlfriend has, that I am not on Facebook yet I am telling pastors and ministries that they should be on Facebook, you are right. When circumstances happen in our lives that affect us negatively, such as Facebook being a component in the destruction of my marriage, then it is common for a person to be a little gun shy, so to speak. The day will come when I will get back on Facebook. I’m just not there yet. I am hoping that as my relationship deepens with Mimi, that she can help me get back on to Facebook, but in a Biblical, transparent way to where it can be used as a tool in our combined ministry.
Next week I will look into Twitter a lot deeper.