A pastor should have a social media presence. Why? Because the vast majority of people are present on social media platforms. Almost 24/7. They need a pastor too.
However, are there social media rules for a pastor’s personal presence? Should a church mandate these rules? Even when they’re not officially posting as a pastor?
Sadly, anyone who browses X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok understand that pastors (and all believers for that matter) need some guardrails.
RELATED: Check out more stories from Mark MacDonald on church communication.
Here are 5 social media rules for wisely self-analyzing a tweet before hitting the “post” button:
1. Remember social media is a public forum. If you wouldn’t say it from a town square in the middle of your community, then pause before posting. Don’t hide behind the anonymity of a social media window. If your name is on your avatar, you’re not anonymous. And if it’s not listed as your profile, question why you want anonymity. Stop arguing about theology to a mixed world of people. Most don’t care about your opinion or your theology outrage.
2. You represent God. If anyone knows you as a believer or a Christian leader, they think your posts represent your heavenly Father. Or they use your posts to shape their view of God. If you’re a Christ-Follower, then represent Him. The standard, I believe, for a pastor or ministry leader is even higher. If in doubt, don’t. And above all, be known for love. Why? Because God is love.
3. You represent the Church. Sure, there’s a valid argument that you represent your local church if you’re a pastor or church leader. But of all these social media rules, this is the most critical. If you’re a genuine Christ-Follower, then you ARE the “big C” Church. The universal group of believers who should be “making disciples wherever they go” (Matt. 28:19a). Pause before pushing “post” to see if your opinion ranks high enough to reach that standard. You’re representing the Church. They’re learning from you. You may be the only Church they know.
4. Post opinion as though it “may” be wrong. Unless it’s based on an indisputable Scripture passage. And do it with love. Stop posting opinions that divide when they don’t matter for their eternity. Social media is ultimately not about you. It’s about them. “Post” them to Jesus. It’s our responsibility.
5. Use the opportunity. The other social media rules may have you believing you shouldn’t be on social media. I don’t think so! “Go into all the world” has never been easier. Social media is a free path to travel around the world and engage with people. For many pastors, social media represents the greatest group of unbelievers who could be listening to them. Do whatever it takes to engage them. Be a solution to their needs, concerns and goals. Love them. Post Gospel-oriented content.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Mark MacDonald is a communication pastor, speaker, consultant, bestselling author, church branding strategist for BeKnownforSomething.com and Executive Director of Center for Church Communication. His book “Be Known for Something” is available at BeKnownBook.com.