While there is an abundance of social media platforms, Facebook continues to be the single best place for churches to connect with the majority of people online. While I’m a big fan of adding Twitter and Instagram to the mix, I keep Facebook as my primary means of social evangelism at our church.
More than simply a place for your church to have a digital presence, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of a pastor’s involvement in this online community. It’s one of the easiest ways to speak into your congregation during the week, build a growing trust with your church family by inviting them into your life journey, and connect with new people who may make their way into your church.
So, if you’re a lead pastor, campus pastor, creative pastor, or really any kind of minister who would like to make the most of your time on Facebook, here are ten do’s and don’ts that will help you along the way:
1. DO Friend Members of Your Congregation
People love connecting with their pastor and this is a simple way to let your congregation know that you’re available to them. More than that, that accepted friend request from them lets you know that they trust you enough to invite you into their digital life.
2. DON’T Ride The Emotions of Your Friends
When you’re connected with your church family on Facebook, you’ll see them go through the highs and lows of life. You’ll witness their faithful times and their moments of failure. The key is to love them through all of these seasons and don’t let their posts make or break your day.
3. DO Accept Friend Requests From Nearly Everyone
When you serve as a minister, you’ll see friend requests from people you’ve never personally met. This is a good thing. Whether it’s a friend of someone in your congregation or a family member from the funeral you recently led, these are people who want to get to know you better. (Pro Tip: Check their mutual friend list to get a better idea of who you’re adding.)
4. DON’T Do It Alone
Because you’re connecting with so many people, Facebook can be a tempting place. It’s led to countless cases of infidelity and ruined a lot of marriages. Always be careful to live above reproach and keep things public as often as possible. I’d also recommend inviting someone to keep you accountable in this area. Do everything you can to not let your good be evil spoken of.
5. DO Share Encouraging Posts
Facebook gives the amazing opportunity to minister to your church family outside of Sunday. A simple quote, scripture, or kind post can be just the right thing to keep someone going on a hard day. If you gain a reputation for spreading positivity online, I can guarantee that you’ll see your influence grow.
6. DON’T Give Facebook A Piece of Your Mind
We’ve all seen it. We’ve all rolled our eyes and shook our heads. No one likes when people use Facebook as a personal soap box to rant. Don’t use your digital platform to tackle any issues, get involved in debate, or give anyone a piece of your mind. Keep it uplifting and avoid the drama. Whether big or small, in a Facebook argument, no one wins.
7. DO Share Family Milestones and Memories
This is one of the most important components of your social presence. When you share photos and snippets from your personal life, it connects with people in a greater way than you could ever imagine. It instantly makes you more human and approachable to people inside and outside your congregation.
8. DON’T Share Deep Theological Thoughts
If the goal is to be human and approachable, sharing deep theological thoughts is a quick route in the opposite direction. While it can be tempting to share that “aha moment” from the latest book you’re reading, it’s not worth it. Out of context, it’s likely that most people won’t understand and it just separates you from the community you’ve worked hard to build.
9. DO Be Quick To Offer Praise
Likes and comments are the goal of every post on Facebook and they’re very connected with the self-worth of many users. While you could write a whole sermon on the problem in that, I’d recommend spending your time using it as a method for affirmation. Be quick to comment “Great picture!” on their latest family photo. Like any post that shows them heading in the right direction. Give happy birthday wishes and offer short words of praise often.
10. DON’T Publicly Correct Anyone
When you see one of your friends going through a hard time or not making the wisest choices, feel free to offer kind words of support. However, Facebook is not a place for correction. “Calling out” someone online is guaranteed to burn bridges. No matter how good your intentions, text will always take on the emotion of the reader and add to the problem.
Do you have any other do’s or don’ts that you’d add to the list?
Kendall Conner serves as the Creative Pastor at Piedmont Chapel in Greensboro, NC. He is a graphic designer, video editor, and all-around media geek, but above all enjoys seeing lives changed. Together with his beautiful wife, Holly, they strive to use media to spread the message of Christ and equip others for ministry.