One of the best parts of my job is working with my pastor. I’m not saying that because he’s my boss, I’m saying that because he’s constantly pushing me and everyone around him to think eternally and what kind of impact our church is having on our community.
He’s also very clear to us that nothing should stand in the way of the gospel. If something is impeding someone from coming to know Christ, then we better figure out way get rid of it. So of course for me, I look at social media through this lens.
When I look across the social media landscape, I see a lot pastors who are getting caught up in conversations, debates and issues that I believe are not driving people to the gospel. Now, I don’t think anyone intends to do this, but the nature of social media is one that allows you to easily get distracted from your true purpose.
If I was to give a list of social media distractions that cripple a pastor’s ability to share the gospel, it would be three key areas. Again, I don’t think anyone enters into social media with the goal of being distracted, but these are areas that can easily derail a pastor’s message and witness.
Below, I’ve listed those three distractions along with three observations on how to deal with these distraction to make sure that the gospel is at that heart of your social media.
Every election season we see a flurry of opinions and information thrown at us why this candidate is more worthy of a Christians’s vote than the other candidate. While, we can have healthy conversations about politics on social media, they can very easily digress into finger pointing and ad hominem attacks.
It’s understandable that Christians and especially pastors want to make a case for certain values, however if we engage in political discourse on social media, we need to understand the constraints can often impair our message.
Social media is designed to be a quick message medium. It very rarely provides context, time for reflection and the depth that is needed to have real conversations.
Remember, social media is also designed to get the best of your emotions. Headlines, images and content try to get you to quickly react without really thinking through what your responding to. This is especially true when dealing with politics.
Like politics, it’s easy to fall to the temptation to debate an atheist, someone from another denomination or a Lakers fan (okay that’s just me). Here’s the thing about debates on social media, no one wins. Sure you make feel like you’ve proved your point, but if the person your debating with is a thousand miles away, are you really going to be able to engage with in a way that is Christ-like?
Commenting on Popular Culture – Lately it seems like more and more Christians are engaging on commenting on popular culture. Yes, there’s a lot of pop culture out there that needs to be redeemed, however I’m not always sure that’s our motivation.
I’ve noticed more Christians jumping into conversations to either echo a point or provide their take on current cultural issue. While it may feel good to be a “culture warrior” and make a stand, you need to question your motivation and the lasting impact your statements are making. Like I mentioned before, social media is designed to get you to emotionally respond to a situation.
So how do you keep the gospel at the center of your social media?
Silence is Not the Option
So you may be thinking, “Darrel, are you saying that I should stay silent on issues I disagree with?”. Absolutely not. Actually, I think you should be quite vocal.
However, I believe that our engagement online should be driven by the gospel. I also believe the best way to do that is to get people engaged with the local church.
Your social media should ultimately drive people to door of your church or at least real life engagement with somebody from your church. When people meet and talk in face to face, real conversations can happen without dealing with the limits of social media.
Granted you don’t always walk away agreeing, but at least you can present the gospel in a way that provides a context that social media can’t.
Let the Sermon Provide the Context to Your Social Media
One of the ways to be vocal about the gospel on social media is through the sermon. This is done through using the sermon as the jumping off point for your social media. I often tell churches that great social media takes the sermon from Sunday and carries it throughout the week.
I’m a big proponent of this for two reasons. First, if the sermon is pointing people to the gospel, then naturally any social media from that sermon will do that same. Secondly, I think it’s the greatest content asset that church’s have.
When you think about it, the sermon is 25-45 minute teaching from God’s word that is used to help shape and guide your church. Too often, pastor’s preach a sermon only to have quickly forgotten or buried on an archive page.
Instead, social media can continue to drive the sermon throughout the week. Again, if the sermon is pointing people to the gospel, then your social media will do the same.
You’ll Have Dissenters
Yes, there will be people who publicly mock you or look to start an argument with you online. Of course, the natural inclination is to defend yourself. However, that rarely ends well.
One method that has worked for us is to ask the person who has issues with us to meet face to face. Typically, when we do this one of two things occur. One the person declines to meet in person or on the phone, which tells us there not really looking to discuss the issue any further. At this point, they usually drop the matter. Two, the really do want to discuss the issue and we set up a face to face. (Note: Majority of people, I interact fall in the first category.)
A Final Thought… This Isn’t Persecution
My pastor challenged our staff last week to be careful how we use the word “persecution”. Sure, we may not like certain aspects of culture, but to say that we’re being persecuted is an overstatement compared to Christians in the Middle East and Asia.
Instead, we’re being made to feel uncomfortable. Which isn’t really a bad thing. Maybe we’ve grown soft and we need re-evaluate how we’re approaching things.
Which brings me back the start of this post. It’s when we get uncomfortable, that we often resort to having arguments and attacking those who disagree with us. We forget to make sure that gospel is driving our social media and end up misrepresenting Christ to our culture. Personally, I think the church is better than that. Don’t you?