I have been asked the question hundreds of times in recent years. It’s a subject that has become relevant to today’s society concerning the ministry. Should churches use social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter? This is a loaded question bearing the reality that no matter what you say, there will be those who disagree with you. This issue does not have a shortage of extremists on both ends. There are those who disagree with using social media or any online presence for that matter, and then there are the ones who spend more time on social media than they do in the church.
Looking at both sides of the issue, we must identify a balance. In recent years I was involved with a church which stuck so close to the “old time” ways that they refused to use any online presence. There is nothing wrong with sticking to the “old time” way, but we must not forget that we live in modern times, not old times. I started a Facebook page for the church and was rebuked for doing so. I was informed by the church that they would rather shut it down than to compromise to the world’s way of doing things. That seems good in logic, but it presents a problem as that church is living what they wanted. They are one step short of shutting down and closing the doors. The logic with this has neither immediate nor long term standing. The fear of compromising has caused them to do just that. If being on social media is wrong because the world does it, then why shop where the world shops? If we refuse to do things just because the “world is doing it” then there will never be growth in the church nor will there be growth in the ministry.
On the other hand, we have the ones who spend all of their waking time burying their face in a phone, tablet, ipad, computer or any other number of electronic devices used to access the internet today. Though these can be useful in building the church or ministry, they can also become a distraction to the cause as well. I have seen churches dedicate more time and money to an online presence than they do to promote the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. If the church becomes so obsessed with their online presence that they begin to neglect the church itself, then once again we have a problem.
So is it right or is it wrong? We find the answer to this dilemma in the scriptures themselves. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 11:1, “A false balance is abomination to the Lord: but a just weight is his delight.” The online presence of a church on social media can be a great help and as well as an asset to building and growing the ministry, but it can also be a hindrance as well. There must be a balance or else the same results will be reality for both sides. It will be a dead ministry with no ambition to grow. We must be aware of the original intent of the online presence. The purpose of the ministry should be to minister the gospel. Ultimately it is all about Christ anyways. Beware that you spend so much time marketing the church that you neglect to preach Christ.
What is my opinion? I prefer to use that balance we see in Proverbs 11. I am all for preaching the old time doctrines of the Bible, but I also fully understand that we live in a digital age. Social media, like anything else in life, can be made into a sin if put ahead of the Lord. I am all for using social media to market the church and preach the gospel. We can’t expect to build a church or grow a ministry if we stay within the realms of how it was done 100 years ago. Back then they rode horses to church but I don’t see any hitching posts at any churches. There is nothing wrong with putting the church on facebook, but I do believe that there are some important guidelines that must be strictly adhered to.
First, I think the online presence should uplift Christ. Let’s face the facts. Facebook is notorious for drama. I have witnessed people deleting their accounts because they are tired of the drama. There have been many extra marital affairs due to connecting with old friends and spouses on the social network. When putting a church on social media, all posts should be in reference to the church itself or to uplift the Lord Jesus Christ. Refrain from drama. Be sure that the administrator’s are not using the site to connect with old personal friends and family. They can have a personal account for that. Limit the page to marketing the church and uplifting Christ.
Second, you should make the church visible. This seems like a given, but Facebook is absolutely full of church pages that are left to collect digital dust. If you can’t keep it up then don’t keep it at all. Make sure that you are keeping people updated with the events and happenings of the church.
Third, refrain from arguments and debates. There is a time and a place for debating and defending the scriptures, but your church’s Facebook page is not the time nor is it the appropriate place. I have witnessed the death of many churches due to unnecessary arguments and debates that should have never taken place. If you give in to the argumentative spirit then you better prepare yourself to lose a lot of your audience.
Fourth, use it to encourage God’s people. Again, Facebook is not the appropriate place for rebuking. If someone posts things contrary to what the church teaches or stands for, just delete the post and send a polite and professional PRIVATE message to the person and inform them that they are posting content to the church’s site that the church does not approve of. There is no need for a public rebuke (especially since there is a “blocking” feature). When people visit your church’s page, they should be encouraged to do more for Jesus and love God more. They should want to visit your church.
Fifth and most importantly, use the online presence of the church to preach the gospel. Just because we live in a digital age does not mean that we limit the preaching of the gospel to the church house. Use the opportunity to present the gospel. Inform your audience about the salvation of the Lord. After all, the purpose is to lead others to a life with Christ and to honor and please God. Beware that you draw more attention to the church than you do to Christ. It’s not all about the crowd, it’s all about Christ.
So is it wrong to use social media to market the church? I say no, as long as certain guidelines are strictly adhered to. Remember the balance in Proverbs 11. By all means use it to grow the ministry and reach others for the Lord, but most of all, use it to honor and glorify God. God has given us a unique opportunity today to reach millions of people at once. Social media can be used to spread the gospel. Just make sure that you’re not using it to spread the gossip!