As Pastors, how we engage culture matters. If we are honest, one of the critical ways we engage culture today is through the use of social media. Yet in a culture where anyone can say anything at anytime, when political polarization is an understatement and passions burn like wildfires, weighing the pros and cons of our social media presence can be a really difficult task. Let me ask you this question, have you ever written a post or comment only to delete what you wrote before you hit “send”? Why?
For me, knowing what to post or when to comment can sometimes be a difficult challenge. I’ll give you a few examples. As I scrolled through Facebook recently (it could have just as easily been Twitter or another platform), here are some of the articles I came across:
• Baker can refuse to make same-sex wedding cakes, judge rules
• Kim Jong Un's sister is stealing the show at the Winter Olympics
• What Does It Mean to Be ‘Pro-Life’?
• 5 things husbands should do to become romantic
Honestly, there were probably several others that caught my eye too. Let’s be honest though, as pastors, we don’t have the bandwidth to like, share, repost, retweet, comment, or respond to comments on everything that catches our eye. I need some guidelines, some filters, in my life to help me think about when to post and comment. Below are a few filters that I try to think through when deciding what I should share and when I need to just keep scrolling.
1) Is what I’m sharing a gospel issue? Don’t get me wrong, I post about my family, friends, and fun activities. I share jokes, commentary on sports events, vacations, and conferences. However, when it comes to sharing posts where I question “Will this stir controversy or get a lot of comments that I may ‘need’ to respond to,” the following filters are helpful. The first filter is always, is this a gospel issue. If the answer is yes, then I can proceed to the next filter.
2) Does this post (or article) help the people of my church and community better understand the gospel for themselves? Not every post or article, even if it is a gospel issue, helps to advance the gospel in the lives of the people I pastor or in the community I serve. Sometimes it’s because I’ve beaten a dead horse, meaning I’ve said and shared the issue so much that those who paid attention already get it and those who disagree are ignoring me altogether. Other times it’s as simple as the post or article is muddled in communicating the gospel. Finally, other times, the article is just so long that no one is going to read it all the way through. If I am struggling to read the whole article myself, it’s probably not one I want to pass along to burden others with too. Note, you actually have to read the article yourself to know these answers!
3) Am I passionate about what is being addressed? There is rarely sense in sharing a post or article that I myself don’t feel a certain level of passion about what is being addressed. My passion will lead to compassionate responses. If I am dispassionate about the topic, I’m usually quick to look for a way out, a shut-down comment to end the discussion. That leads to my last filter.
4) Do I have the time for follow-up comments and conversation? Honestly, this is a big one for me personally. Sharing the gospel and addressing gospel issues always takes time. As much as I would love to think that my wit and intellect are so amazing that people are just going to see how simple I have made an issue and agree with me, this is rarely the case. One-liners don’t shut down arguments, they shut down conversations, meaning I have lost the right or ability to speak truth into someone’s life. If I don’t have time to thoughtfully engage in a meaningful way, I often don’t share in the first place.
So this is just some of my process when discussing and sharing “hot-topics” on social media. Do you use these? What would you add to the list?