You didn’t set out to completely ruin your reputation on Facebook, it just sort of happened. You griped about waiting in line at Starbucks, dropped a few expletives about dealing with your kids at Wal-Mart, criticized your spouse for not being on time, and suddenly you find yourself wondering why people are looking at your differently at church. Did you forget that you are a pastor?
So while under normal circumstances, you’d never say these things to your congregation, somehow, it seemed appropriate to vent on Facebook. There’s your first problem right there. Facebook is like climbing on top of the Sears Tower and broadcasting your message to everyone in the U.S. (and perhaps internationally, too).
I recently came across two blog posts by Paul Steinubruek of OurChurch.com entitled: 18 Ways Pastors Can Ruin Their Reputation on Facebook. Here are the 18 ways, which I’ve morphed into “commandments,” but for the full blog post, I invite you to venture over to Paul’s excellent blog.
- Thou shalt not post something out of frustration in the heat of the moment.
- Thou shalt not criticize people.
- Thou shalt not embarrass yourself.
- Thou shalt not embarrass your family.
- Thou shalt not criticize other churches in the community.
- Thou shalt not only talk about your church.
- Thou shalt not share everything posted to the church FB page.
- Thou shalt not talk only about yourself.
- Thou shalt not act like your life is perfect.
- Thou shalt not act like you’re always “joyful in the Lord.”
- Thou shalt not act like you have all the answers.
- Thou shalt not act like you are the language/morality police.
- Thou shalt not roll out the fire and brimstone.
- Thou shalt not be overly political.
- Thou shalt not engage people in debates.
- Thou shalt not post a lot of theological stuff that’s over the head of your friends.
- Thou shalt not login once every week or two.
- Thou shalt not fail to respond.
Really, these 18 commandments apply to almost all of us, pastor or not. As I read through the list and pondered them, I’m totally guilty. I post niceties, I go days without logging in, and sometimes I even fail to reply to an FB email from a good friend . . . how are you guilty and what can you do to change your ways?
Check out our free ebooks on Facebook and other social networks to help you get up to speed.