Examining social media and our motives as pastors

Pastors and social media are sometimes a dangerous duo. I am obviously not opposed to social media, as many of you would not even see this article without it.  It can be a great way to stay connected with friends and family, as well as to inspire, inform, and equip your people. 

Although I have used media tools extensively in my pastorates, as well as my ministry to pastors in North America, there is a blurred line between connecting and overconnecting. Let’s take a minute to unblur that line by auditing our motives with three questions:

1

Are you are overexposing your ‘acts of righteousness?

I started writing this post on an airplane after my wife Janet and I spoke at a ministry marriage retreat. That event went well, yet no one posted or tagged any pictures of it on social media. Last week, I spoke at three events in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and again, no pictures or tags were to be found on the social channels I use.  

Did these events even happen if there was no evidence of it on social media? More importantly, why should I even care?

Jesus warned the religious leaders of His day, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. Otherwise, you have no reward with your Father in heaven” (Matthew 6:1 CSB).

2

Are you overconnecting to the point of not being present?

I find it ironic when older adults with Apple watches get annoyed  by younger people who stare constantly at their phones, because I experience more interruptions from watch alerts than I do phones. I am not suggesting you shut everything down. Just consider dialing back your notification settings a few notches and see if it improves your conversations and thought life. 

3

Are you overly concerned about what others think about you?

Everyone likes to be liked, but the Pharisees were putting on a show as they prayed, gave, and fasted. Preachers become posers when we go out of our way to draw the attention and applause of people. 

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding” (Matthew 6:1 MSG).

If you are interested in pastoring with a basin and a towel instead of a picture and a post, here are a few practical ways to help you connect with others better online and offline:

  • Write a note to someone who cannot help move the needle on your ministry.
  • Comment on a social media channel about something a small church pastor said or did that blessed you.
  • Practice generosity without using it as a sermon illustration.
  • Visit a nursing home without being asked or posting a picture.
  • Take a social media fast for a week and use that time to invest it in your soul.
  • Audit your time on media and social media this week.

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you discernment about your motives and methods of using media and social media in your ministry, then make whatever changes He leads you to make. 

Director of Pastoral Wellness
Mark Dance
Guidestone Financial Resources
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