Pastors and church communicators are always striving to share the word of God as well as their church’s news with their congregation, community, and beyond. Social media’s ability to make sharing this information easy and fun is growing rapidly. There are helpful rules and best practices to live by when using social media for the Church that can inspire followers, instill confidence, keep your accounts safe and in good standing.
Here are 10 Social Media Commandments for church communicators:
#1 – Thou shalt use social media to spread the grace of God and share the Gospel.
Social media indeed has the power to change the world or at least people’s perceptions around the world. For churches, social media is a powerful tool to further share the messages of God and Jesus with people in unique and creative ways wherever they are in the world. Sharing ministry highlights, Bible verses, inspirational messages, sermon videos, uplifting music, and invitations to join in worship are all ways social media provides your church a platform to spread the word of God. Use it wisely and often.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.” Mark 16:15 (NIV)
#2 – Thou shalt not pretend social media does not matter for your church.
Many organizations, businesses, individuals, and even churches believe that social media does not truly matter. Worse, many believe it is not worth the time to invest in learning how to become a skilled social media user or that they can even learn how to be. Both are utter nonsense. The Church is to spread and share the word of God and teachings of Jesus Christ. When used appropriately, social media is the tool that does just that. Social media is not the only tool to share His message, nor should it be given too much weight, but it should be realized to be a source of modern communication that many hungry souls in need of spiritual sustenance are using to connect with God and Jesus’ messages. Again, use social media wisely, and allow your church to share and spread the Good News.
Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 (NIV)
#3 – Thou shalt not neglect your church’s social media accounts.
New and existing social media accounts need regular care and attention to keep them viable. Just as the parish is cleaned and prepared for worship services each week so too should social media accounts be kept tidy. Neglected social media accounts (or websites) are like overgrown grass and weeds in the church lawn or cobwebs in the sanctuary rafters. Online visitors should be treated to polished social media accounts that put forth the best your church has to offer. It does not have to be fancy or boastful. A simple and heartfelt post that represents your best is all that God asks for.
‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Mark 1:3 (NIV)
#4 – Thou shalt moderate all social media discussions with grace and kindness.
The Golden Rule is most powerfully respected and true with social media. How often do we all wish more social media etiquette were used these days? Your church can and should put forth its best on all platforms, especially when moderating posts and discussions via your own social media accounts. An agreed-upon policy should be created and enforced for the church communicators who manage the accounts, as well as the clergy and church members who use it. Social media is the soapbox of our day.
Carefully consider how social media may be used to represent your church, and use the Golden Rule as a guide. And remember to respond to as many posts that visitors or members share as possible. This shows that your church is engaged, responsive, and respectful of that person’s action of posting, and yes, this means when people post negative stuff as well. Your church should be prepared with a respectful response or protocol for dealing with this as well. It’s just good business, the right thing to do, and the kind of treatment you’d like to receive yourself.
So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 (NIV)
#5 – Thou shalt follow other churches, organizations, and people on social media to build relationships and community.
Social means relating to society or organizations and being gregarious. Social media was created to better connect us with one another across distances or other divides, which could be a few blocks or thousands of miles. For churches, this means connecting with members of your church and also the people and places surrounding it. Spend time each week learning about and connecting with your surrounding community members and organizations on social media to grow social connections. Yes, there is a spiritual cause to connect with the dry cleaner around the corner or they favorite restaurant your family eats at after church every Sunday. This practice provides great opportunities for outreach, cross-promotion, networking, and sharing the Good News.
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2: 3-5 (NIV)
#6 – Thou shalt post and comment regularly on your church’s social media and on others with grace and kindness.
Grace and kindness is the key to this practice of social media posting. I think it is self-explanatory to say that churches should be reaching out via social media to comment or praise others for lifting up God’s message in inspiring ways. Carefully planning, crafting, and writing social media posts is also important.
Create a rule that as a church communicator or church social media manager you will discuss your posts with at least one other person before posting. Perspective is often helpful (and needed) before presenting public content that represents your church. We all know how social media faux pas happens and how they can potentially tarnish the credibility of individuals and organizations. Even with that, your church should be out posting on your and other social media sites. It’s a healthy practice when done with purpose, kindness, and care.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.” Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
#7 – Thou shalt create, share and refresh social media content, photos, and videos regularly.
To maintain a healthy social media presence requires regular attention. Using images on social media is key to transmitting messages that words alone cannot convey. Video is also very effective on social media – provided it is quality, unique and original. Churches are fortunate to be guided by the Spirit and can rely on inspired content and messages that God is calling you to share with the world to present themselves, and sometimes it will take some human ingenuity to create a great post. Industry standards for how often and when social media should be updated vary. But in truth, in our modern information-saturated and digital world, we all crave connection – daily, weekly and monthly. Your church can find a rhythm that works for best for your social media posting.
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter 4:10 (NIV)
#8 – Thou shalt create a social media calendar, schedule, and alerts to keep your church social media presence healthy.
Finding a rhythm for posting is important and so is setting targeted goals and establishing a social media calendar. Events happen in the church on a weekly, monthly, and yearly basis. Laying out these dates on a master calendar can help church communicators see the obvious opportunities for social media posting, as well as the gaps or slow spots in the calendar where new content ideas might be needed. Also, consider prescheduling social media posts and/or using a social media scheduling app to help organize and maintain your scheduling and posting dates.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)
#9 – Thou shalt invest time each week in making adjustments or upgrades to your church’s social media policies and practices as needed.
It is a proven fact that technology moves fast, as do social trends. New apps are introduced daily, upgrades to older tech are rolled out constantly, and users make new decisions and discoveries about what tech tools are hot and which are not from moment to moment. With all of this, it is important to read, research, watch, listen, and learn about what people and industry experts are saying about technology, in general, and about church tech specifically.
These updates may also translate into new policies, procedures, or practices your church communicators or social media manager implement going forward as well.
This is also where developing relationships with other churches and keeping up with what they are doing on social media is helpful and instructive. At least once a month, just spend 30 minutes or an hour online researching the latest social media news. Time is always tight, but learning is necessary. Make the time.
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV)
#10 – Thou Shalt honor social media as a creative tool and outlet that can further share, inspire, and instill hope in others.
The fact that social media can be used to inspire the world is an amazing thing. Will your church’s posts be seen by the entire world? Probably not. And that’s not the point. The fact is that your church’s social media posts open your messages up to the world and other social media users around the world. The truth is that you are likely to get people from all over the world viewing your posts. We know that is easily possible. So what does that mean to your church? What does it mean when you realize that your social media accounts have the power to reach out and touch someone on the other side of the planet?
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NIV)
Clearly, God’s message has the power to transform. It becomes our job to share those messages in our own unique ways. Social media can magnify the glory of God. Let it. Create it. Use it as it is intended. And remember, social media should only be an extension of the messages your church is sharing in person every day or week in your worship services, classes, and events. The inspiring content shared on your church’s social media channels should reflect the inspiring work your church is doing in people’s lives on the ground. Technology is simply a tool for sharing God’s glory and amplifying it across the world.