Social media is not going away anytime soon. For a long time, many pastors and church leaders ignored social media, labeling it as a fad or a trend that would pass as quickly as it came onto the scene. This is not the case.
So, what guidelines should pastors and church leaders consider as they plan their social media strategy? To that end, here are 10 social media commandments for pastors:
1. Thou shalt not ignore social media.
The time to ignore social media has long passed. Because it isn’t going away anytime soon, pastors and church leaders must no longer ignore social media. It can be tempting to ignore it because it can seem so overwhelming and unnecessary, but it cannot be ignored.
2. Thou shalt post encouraging content.
Social media is an incredibly dark place. Often, this discourages pastors and church leaders from participating on social media platforms. On the contrary, the darkness of social media can only be pierced by the light of the gospel. Pastors and church leaders have the opportunity (perhaps even the responsibility) to post encouraging, gospel content amidst this dark online space.
3. Thou shalt not instigate conflict.
We’ve already acknowledged that social media is a dark place. The last thing pastors and church leaders need to do is add to the darkness by instigating unnecessary conflict. Don’t wage political battles. Don’t conduct theological debates. Any conflict should be dealt with privately, not publicly. Keep your presence positive as much as possible.
4. Thou shalt focus on only a couple of social media platforms.
One of the common factors keeping pastors from engaging on social media is the sheer number of platforms available to use. Many pastors don’t use social media at all because they simply don’t know where to begin. Don’t be overwhelmed. Pick just one or two social media platforms your church attenders tend to be most actively using and focus on those.
5. Thou shalt not steal content from other people.
A wide variety of Christian content is shared on social media platforms every single day. Videos, share squares, blog posts, and other types of content abound. Do not be so desperate to share content on social media that you steal the content of another church leader, author, or pastor. Create your own.
6. Thou shalt consider buying Facebook ads for your church.
Facebook ads are the best digital advertising tool today—better than Twitter ads or any other means of digital advertising. If you church has a budget for postcards, flyers, or other print advertising materials, consider using some of that money for targeted Facebook ads, as you may find them to be more effective.
7. Thou shalt not buy social media followers.
This is one of the most common, tragic steps I have seen pastors and church leaders take on social media. Many church leaders, in an effort to look more popular or influential than they actually are, pay money to social media platforms or other third-party services to add followers to their Twitter or Facebook accounts. Please do not do this. It helps no one and makes you look desperate.
8. Thou shalt not feed the trolls.
On certain social media platforms, especially Twitter, trolls lurk around every corner, seeking to start fights and stir up all sorts of controversy. As commandment three stated, pastors and church leaders must not start conflict themselves. Along the same lines, pastors and church leaders would be wise to not “feed the trolls” or respond to mean people on the internet who are just looking to create problems.
9. Thou shalt not retweet compliments.
This is one of the most cringe-inducing faux pas pastors and church leaders make on social media. If a church member compliments you about your sermon or something else the church is doing via a social media platform, kindly respond to that person. Don’t retweet the person’s compliment. It looks tacky because it looks like you want everyone to see how awesome you are.
10. Thou shalt find a qualified volunteer to help.
Pastors should not be expected to maintain their church’s social media presence by themselves. Find a volunteer in the church who has social media experience and who can help you carry out an effective social media strategy while adhering to these basic guidelines and others.
If you’re unsure of how to proceed, Lifeway Social wants to help. God has gifted us all in different ways, and we simply want to help pastors, church leaders, and other Christian leaders use those gifts in the digital space. Learn more about Lifeway Social and how it may be a resource to you.