Social media is a tool. It is a neutral device that can be used for good or ill depending on the person wielding it. Unfortunately, we are more often interested in the negative stories about social media: how Facebook leads to divorce, how teens use Snapchat to send inappropriate pictures, and how trolls harass people on Twitter.

Christians should not avoid using social media entirely out of fear just because some people abuse the tool. In particular, pastors and church leaders must consider what they lose when they refuse to engage with their communities in the digital space.

Here are three reasons pastors should be more active on social media:

1. Your community is on social media and you want to reach them.

First, there was the town square—the gathering place in which people met to share ideas and have community. Then, there was the shopping mall, which served a similar purpose. Today, the shopping mall is all but dead and it has been replaced by the social internet.

As a pastor or church leader, your hope is to reach your community and beyond with the good news of the gospel. Much of your community will never darken the door of your church or any other church in your area. But, you can use social media to serve them.

A perfect example of this is the recent Christian response to Hurricane Harvey in Houston via social media. I watched many pastors and church leaders use social media for the good of their community following the tragic flooding.

Don’t miss an opportunity to reach your community on social media because of how some people use it for ill.

2. Social media can be a dark place and you steward the light of the gospel.

Social media can often resemble the Tower of Babel. The various platforms serve as a way for people to gather together and makes them feel like they can do anything. Unfortunately, social media often serves as a means for people to gang up on people or movements they despise and sin against others.

Social media can truly be a dark place. But, pastors and church leaders, you are called to steward the light of the gospel according to how the Lord has called you. You don’t need to participate in every social media squabble, but you should consider how your calling to steward the good news may not be limited to the physical, local church building.

The light of the gospel is the only light bright enough to pierce the oft-overwhelming darkness of social media. Don’t forsake an opportunity to carry the gospel to the digital space. The Holy Spirit is with you there, too.

3. God has given you gifts that are to be used to serve people.

God has gifted us all in different ways. Some of us are more gifted at encouragement than others. Some of us are more gifted at teaching than others. Pastors and church leaders, because of the role you hold, you have likely been gifted in the areas of teaching and preaching, which can be used in the digital space.

Perhaps you’re a good writer and you could create a blog that would serve your local church and the people in your community. Maybe you don’t write very well, but you can record a compelling five-minute video once per week that would be an encouragement to the people in your local church and community who are on Facebook.

Pastors and church leaders: God has tasked us with using the gifts he has given us to steward the good news of the gospel. This responsibility extends to the digital space. We cannot forsake the unique opportunity we have to reach people via social media. But, it can be scary and confusing.

LifeWay Social exists to help Christians use social media with wisdom so that the gospel may be stewarded well in the digital space. Perhaps you see the need to engage on Facebook or Twitter but you are just overwhelmed and don’t know where to start.