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Is it important for pastors to be on social media platforms?
Nicolas Alford (Pastor, Grace Baptist Church of Taylors, South Carolina)
Love it or loath it, social media is here to stay, and someone said that if you’re not online you don’t really exist to a person under 30. A person’s online presence reflects their construct of how they would like to be perceived and what they value- an inestimable insight for ministry and invaluable for pastoral insight. The ability to interact online is a vital element of 21st century ministry.
Now the danger- social media can become a monster that will eat your time and sap your productivity. You can lose yourself in the image you present there and the poison pride of counting likes, views, and follows. Worst of all, social media can depersonalize interaction and lead to a vicious narcissism that actually bleeds over into the real world.
So use social media- but remember that soli deo gloria and coram deo are as valid there as anywhere else.
Samuel Barber (Pastoral Assistant, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)
This seems like a catch-22 to me. On the one hand, I would say that it is important for pastors to know the people of the congregation over which they are guardians. This will likely mean being engaged on social media platforms — for understanding and communicating with the people. On the other hand, social media platforms tend to promote large amounts of wasted time, and they tend not to promote deep thinking, biblically passionate feeling, and intimate fellowship among the saints. So, I would say, it is important for a pastor to be on social media platforms to the degree that it enables him to engage his congregation, so long as he is able to maintain his self-discipline and not grow dull and sluggish so that he become lost in our culture’s social media platforms.
Wayne Brandow (Pastor, Bible Baptist Church of Galway, New York)
Think about what Paul writes in his epistles. While in prison, he relates how he feels while there (i.e. “I may die. For me to live is Christ and to die is gain, but for your sakes I hope that I will live”). Paul often tells us who he is, what he is doing, and gives his (the Lord’s) take upon what is happening in his world. Such a personal disclosure sounds like it could be a Facebook post.
Social media is all about making connection with others. A pastor ought to be there as it is today’s marketplace where people gather. However, we need to be careful what we say. Not only our words, but our tone and our “likes” convey to others who we really are, either to the advancement or detriment of Christ’s kingdom.
Matt Foreman (Pastor, Faith Reformed Baptist Church of Media, Pennsylvania)
I think pastors need to give it serious consideration (keeping watch on themselves, lest they too be tempted!). The church, spiritual as it is, is after all a news organization. And many, many people today are getting their news and spending their time on social media. It can be a great opportunity. But it also poses many dangers lived out before a literally watching world. And I’m not sure that as Christians, we have really figured out the opportunities, limitations, and guidelines for using the platform with wisdom.
Marc Grimaldi (Pastor, Grace Reformed Baptist Church of Merrick, New York)
I think the best answer is, “It depends.”
In God’s providence, we have advanced to a time where we can impact the world at the click of some buttons. Through social media such as Facebook, blogs, emailing, sermonaudio.com… etc, our outreach can be enormous. Furthermore, by these means, we can minister to and exchange profitable communication with our local church members, as well.
That said, social media can be a drawback, if it is abused. It is important that we do not allow social media to become so preferential, that we lose the essential importance of street level, face-to-face ministry and fellowship. Factoring in the online temptations with which some may struggle, and the very successful ministries of others who simply refuse to use social media, I think each individual pastor has to personally address this matter in accordance with their own conscience before God.
Nicholas Kennicott (Pastor, Ephesus Church of Rincon, Georgia)
I believe pastors who do not use social media on some level, are missing gospel opportunities and saying something to the people they are called to shepherd, perhaps unintentionally. If I do not use the primary means most American Christians are using on a daily basis to communicate with others about their lives, I may be telling them that I do not take interest in who they are and what they do. There are certainly many dangers in the use of social media (most counseling sessions will reveal this to any pastor), and it shouldn’t be our primary means of interaction, however the advantages are significant and every pastor should seriously consider how they can be helped in communicating the truth of God’s Word to the world and taking an active role in the lives of God’s people by using this free and global resource.
Chris Marley (Pastor, Miller Valley Baptist Church of Miller Valley, Arizona)
No! Of course it isn’t. Especially blogging platforms with other pastors… wait… The fact of the matter is, we almost have to be engaged in social media to some degree. I joined the book o’faces in 2007 for the express purpose of working with teenagers in Alford’s church wherein I interned, because they would announce to the “world” things about which it would have taken months of trust-building for them to talk to me. It’s a tool, but it shouldn’t be our only one, or even primary. We cannot overlook the face-to-face meetings, real-time investments, and genuine human interaction. It’s a temptation, especially for young pastors, to assume their blogging and tweeting “work” substitutes for visitation, but it really and genuinely does not. So I would say it is important, but not as much as we make it out to be.
Osinachi Nwoko (Sovereign Grace Bible Church of Lagos, Nigeria)
IT DEPENDS! Pastors are sheep set apart by Christ for the purpose of feeding His flock (Acts 20:28). Men saddled with such a weighty responsibility must place a premium on the usage of their time. His time should be employed primarily in managing his home (1Timothy 3), building up the saints for the work of the ministry (Ephesians 4:11-14) and fulfilling the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20).
Where social media platforms can assist the pastor in fulfilling his God-given role, by all means he should make use of them; otherwise, it is advisable he steer clear. This doesn’t mean that social media platforms are sinful. The draw of most social media platforms is its ability to furnish the subscriber with a seemingly endless stream of information, much of which, it must be said, is of little or no profit. It is this addictive nature that poses a danger to the pastor who is not careful to assume control of these platforms and put them to profitable use but becomes a slave to them.
So a pastor’s use of social media depends on the pastor’s self-control and his motive for being on those platforms.
Douglas Van Dorn (Pastor, Reformed Baptist Church of Northern Colorado)
I’m not sure the question is specific enough. Yes, I think it is important for pastors to be on some form of social media. This is, after all, the dominant form of social interaction in the 21st century. To not be on any social media is to miss out on a variety of opportunities for social interaction, friendships, and apologetics. But a deeper question might be, “What are the dangers of social media?” This is a far more important question, because there are a variety of them. They can steal your time. They can steal your heart. They can tend diminish the actual humanity behind the keystrokes. Perhaps most importantly, they can take away from actual live physical interaction with other human beings. These technologies lend themselves to a kind of social Gnosticism. Christians and pastors need to think more carefully and be more discerning in how they use them.