Social media is one of the most popular ways we communicate in our society today. We use it to communicate with friends and family. Churches use it to share what’s going on. Businesses use it to talk about their products and services. But how should we, as Christian leaders, go about using social media?
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In this episode of our Communication Series, Holly and I talk about some of the risks of using social media. We also discuss how we can communicate effectively and shine the light of Jesus online. We dive into how social media is used in a negative way by Christians and how we can do things differently.
If you’ve ever struggled with whether you should use social media as a Christian at all, or if you’d like to use it more effectively, this episode is for you.
How social media is used negatively by Christians:
Social media can be used positively or negatively – it’s not inherently evil or good; how we use it and how we view it can impact how it influences us and others.
So before we go into how to use it effectively, let’s chat about some of the ways that maybe we are missing the mark as Christians.
- announce their disdain for anyone who disagrees with them.
- only post Bible verses and faith-based stuff… all day long.
- promote their business like it’s going out of style.
- get caught up in arguments on social media.
- only post the best, most positive, highlight reels.
- share “prayer requests” or other things that are actually just gossip.
- post misinformation by reposting an article that supports a belief, but may or may not actually be true.
Another caveat of using social media is that it’s really really hard to understand tone and meaning through text. It’s essential to keep in mind that we often read the words with a filter based on our own current perspective, mood, etc.
Should Christians use social media?
Here’s what we believe:
- As Christian leaders, we have a great resource at our fingertips
- People are already on social media every day
- We have the opportunity to influence others in a positive way
If you choose not to use it, that’s entirely up to you, and no judgment here. But if you do use it, let’s chat about some ways that we can use it to shine a light.
4 ways to use social media to shine the light of Jesus and communicate effectively:
Be a real person.
Act the same online as you would in real life. Share the real parts of your life, not just the highlights.
Remember people are watching.
Everything you post is an opportunity to influence someone – either for good or bad.
“What you post on social media is part of your leadership.”
Keep direct promotion to a minimum.
There’s a way to build your business as well as share your faith online without turning people off. It’s best if you can keep your personal social media profile primarily social, and weave in posts about your faith and/or about your business naturally.
Here are a few guidelines for your personal social media and business:
- Social media should be 80% personal and 20% business.
- Talk about your stuff organically, just like you would in a conversation with a friend… not a sales pitch.
- Don’t add people to your business-related group without asking them.
- Don’t beg for sales.
View social media as a ministry opportunity.
Consider how you can use your time on social media as ministry instead of just passing the time or mindlessly scrolling. Look for people who are hurting who might need encouragement.
One of our listeners, Marion Syverson, does a great job with this. (Check out her new podcast here).
“If you view social media as ministry, it might change the way you go about your posts and your commenting.”
A few suggestions:
- Look for people who need encouragement
- Pray and ask for wisdom before engaging in controversial topics
- Seek to be loving and kind in your responses
- Invite conversation rather than shut down disagreement
Here are some examples of language that is not effective when communicating on social media:
- “I can’t believe someone would agree with this…”
- “Our country is doomed with this leader…”
- “Those people don’t have a clue…”
- “I could never be friends with someone who thinks…”
Alternative language to use:
- “I’m really wrestling with this topic and trying to understand the reason for xyz. If you agree with xyz, could you let me know why?”
- “Here’s what I believe and why. If you have a different perspective, are you willing to share?”
We believe that Christian leaders have a great opportunity to use social media to lead and influence others. It’s a tool that we have at our fingertips, and if used wisely, we can make a big impact on the world around us. If used poorly, we will continue to push people away from Christ.
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Episodes and Links Mentioned:
- Alisa Childers Facebook Page
- Episode 75: Saying Hard Things, Asking Tough Questions, & Showing Hospitality with Angela Sackett
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