The 5: Guidelines for using social media

I’ve been writing a daily blog for more than eight years, and my assistant regularly tweets about that content. These thoughts below are my personal guidelines for using social media. You may differ with me at some points, and your ministry position and calling may require different kinds of posts than mine does—but I hope these guidelines are helpful to you: 

1

Build prayer for your social media efforts into your daily prayer time
We need God’s wisdom in using these efforts for his glory. Taking time to pray each day not only raises the significance of what we do to a higher level, but it also slows us down to consider again what we’ve written before we post it. Hitting the pause button to pray before posting anything is wise. 

2

Remember that whatever you put out there publicly stays out there somewhere
All of us have read reports like, “The tweet is now deleted, but …”—with the details of the tweet following the “but.” Most of us probably also know people for whom a post years ago came back to haunt them.
If something I post becomes problematic, I don’t want it to be because I was not wise with the posting in the first place. 

3

Be a witness to the gospel, not a hindrance to it
I generally ask two questions about what I post: (a) Will believers be encouraged by what I write? (2) Will this post help or hinder the work of the Great Commission? With all the negativity church leaders face today, I don’t want to add to that burden. As much as possible, I want them to love God, their neighbors, the nations, their church, and the ministry more after reading my posts.

4

If you question whether you should post something, you probably shouldn’t
I’m 61 years old, but I’m still learning to trust my gut. If I know I’ll probably second-guess posting after I’ve done it, it’s best if I do not follow through with it. I’ve occasionally wished I hadn’t posted something, but I’ve never regretted not posting something.

5

Don’t let social media become the primary base for your ministry
Again, this is my personal concern. I’m enough of an introvert that
I could easily give more attention to my online presence than to my in-person, local church-based ministry. I don’t want that to happen. Serving in the trenches should inform and strengthen my social media witness, not hurt it. 

Chuck Lawless is dean of doctoral studies and vice president of spiritual formation and ministry centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. For more from Lawless, visit chucklawless.com.

Dean of Doctoral Studies, Vice President of Spiritual Formation and Ministry Centers
Chuck Lawless
Southeastern Seminary
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