I realize that the subject of social media and the church could be a touchy one. Because the very concept of social media is still relatively new, it can sometimes be challenging to integrate those new trends, ideas, and techniques into a well-established tradition. And with social media’s prevalence with celebrities and the news media, some might think that it’s too worldly for the church to be involved in.
All of these are valid points. Just like most things in life, there’s the good, the bad, and the ugly. I believe that social media, when used properly, can empower the church. But just to cover all the bases, here I will lay out both some pros and cons of the relationship of social media and the church. Let’s start with the positives first.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are often used by churches, and to great effect – everything from sharing information quickly with a wide audience, to communicating with church members, to event planning, to advertising. These are some of the greatest strengths of social media in general.
The term “social networking” accurately describes what social media can – and perhaps should – be used for. Every church or ministry wants to reach more people with their message and mission. People all over the world can connect with your church. Fundraising or donation drives can leap to a whole new level as word of your promotion or event gets shared over and over again by people online. If pastors or other ministry leaders are active on social media, then that can offer another way for people to connect with them, and often makes them seem more approachable than they might otherwise be on a busy Sunday morning at church. People thrive on interaction and a sense of community, and social media can offer many ways to do this.
Social media often gets the moniker of being a huge time-sink, or at best a useless distraction. And it certainly can be. There’s nothing ultimately productive about looking at funny cat pictures or playing games on Facebook. More than a few people are probably guilty of checking Twitter or Pinterest during a church service. With so many voices pulling people away from the church and the truth, social media can be yet another one of those voices. If the voice of the church is loud enough on social media, then people will listen – but in today’s society, it can sometimes prove hard to be louder than the latest game craze or music video.
And then there’s the ugly. Funny memes and videos may be merely a pointless distraction, but what happens when gossips, slanders, and all manners of negative news take the forefront? Earthquakes and wars, political and religious scandals, murders and pornography, and the list goes on. While the church shouldn’t be oblivious to what’s going on in the world, many in the church might think it unwise to be so closely associated with a tool that promotes such negativity. This is an understandable sentiment. After all, if social media is full of curse words and evil tidings, why should the church encourage its members to use it?
As I mentioned in the “good” section, social media is not all negative. There’s good news to be found and positive ways that it can be used. Social media itself is not inherently bad. Facebook, Twitter, and the like are only websites that show the content that people choose to share – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The loudest voice is usually the one heard the most – and unfortunately, that voice is not always godly or uplifting.
Despite the bad and the ugly, I still believe that the positive benefits of social media outweigh the negatives. Using social media to its fullest potential and keeping the bad and the ugly to a minimum does take knowledge, wisdom, and discipline, but it can be so rewarding for everyone. There are numerous blogs, websites, and even companies that can help your church with social media best practices or with the technical side of getting a profile up and running.
Every church and ministry should decide for themselves if or how they want to use social media. Plan, research, and pray, and if you choose to venture into this digital networking world, you can learn how your church can best use social media for everything good.
Take a look at this article, also by Grace: 7 Reasons Your Church Can’t Ignore Social Media