By Justin Lathrop
I’m a big fan of pastors and a big fan of social media. Put those two things together and this is what you get: A guy who is a big fan of pastors being on social media. In fact, “big fan” might even be understating it a little bit.
I believe pastors have a responsibility to be online.
Loren Cunningham, founder of the worldwide mission organization Youth With A Mission, once explained how he used the technology of his day (air travel) to reach the world with the Gospel. For us to ignore the technology of our day (social media) to do the same would be irresponsible.
I know several pastors who have been hesitant to jump online. They worry it will give too many people access to them. They are already giving so much of their time, they wonder how they can possibly do more. Not to mention, they see other pastors who are misusing their online platforms, and they wonder if it is really beneficial.
I understand the hesitations. But, I still stand by my position. Here are three very important responsibilities pastors have online.
1. Connect with your congregation
As the size of congregations grows, it is becoming increasingly difficult (and maybe impossible) for pastors to connect personally with every person or family in their church. And yet, this personal connection—the ability for people to watch you living out the Gospel in front of them—is an important part of spiritual growth.
As a pastor, you are a shepherd to your congregation. You are leading them.
Social media gives you a realistic way to do this. When you can share your life on Twitter or Facebook, it gives people the sense that they are connected to you in a meaningful way. And in a sense, they are. They can learn how to have better marriages, how to be Jesus at their workplaces, and how to lead their families as they watch you do the same.
Of course, one-on-one discipleship is still important, and each individual church will have to find a way to make that a reality. But as you lead the people who God has entrusted to you, social media is a way you can connect with more of them.
2. Take every opportunity to share the Gospel
There are people who will never step foot in the door of your church building, who will follow you on Twitter. They’ll friend you on Facebook, they’ll listen to your sermons, they’ll scroll through your Instagrams. They may not feel safe to come to church. They might fear judgement, shame, or guilt.
Maybe they aren’t sure what they think about God. But in the privacy of their own homes, they’re asking questions.
Don’t miss the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.
3. Be the picture of Christ to the world
Social media is happening, whether the church (or pastors) are on board or not. Sometime, scroll through the hashtags on Twitter and just read what people are saying. The world is on Twitter. Bad language is on Twitter. Culture is on Twitter. Politics are on Twitter. Broken people are on Twitter.
Shouldn’t we bring the picture of Jesus there as well?
I don’t know about you, but I feel a sense of responsibility toward social media. Jesus wanted us to take his message to all corners of the earth, and social media provides me with an important way to do that.
I can’t ignoring my responsibility. Can you?
Image courtesy of pastors.com