Dr. James Emery White Christian Blog and Commentary

Social Media Guidelines

Do you have social media guidelines for your church/staff? You should. Unfortunately, as this is such new territory for churches, few do. In the hopes that it might serve, here are ours at Mecklenburg Community Church (Meck):

1. Don't post anything that could potentially undermine your reputation or the church's reputation for Christ-like character. For example:

  • Sharing a link to a popular video that’s inappropriate
  • Liking or linking to a website that, while popular, often features sketchy content
  • Liking or following organizations that are not in keeping with biblical, Christian values
  • Posting pictures that are immodest
  • Key Idea: When you become a staff member at Meck, you are no longer a private person. As ministers, we are a reflection of the church to a watching world. When in doubt, ask a pastor.

2. Do actively engage with all of Meck’s social media accounts.

  • Share, retweet, follow and be active on all things related to Meck and its ministries.
  • When sharing, retweeting or adding to your story, be sure to include similar language to the original tweet or post.

3. Don't post anything that would potentially undermine the maturity and gravitas accompanying your staff role.

  • People will Google you, search you, find you on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook, and then make an evaluation. Does your online presence support your staff role or undermine it? Does it breed confidence in you as someone who is wise and mature?
  • Go back through your accounts from time to time and clean up things that may still be there from earlier eras that are no longer relevant or reflective of your age and staff position.
  • Have everything about your social media presence support your position in the church. This is particularly important if you are a young leader, as you may still have a "college-y" feel to your online presence that makes you seem juvenile to older adults you are attempting to lead.

4. Don't retweet from or link to any person or source you are not absolutely 100% willing to endorse—or feel Meck as a church can endorse 100%.

  • If you retweet something, you are endorsing it.
  • If you retweet an individual, your followers may be inclined to follow that person, and then they will receive an endless supply of future tweets or posts. No matter how much you may like a particular tweet or an individual, don't risk infecting others if they are not someone you respect.
  • If you cannot sign off on someone's theology, practices, ministry, lifestyle, etc., then do not retweet them or link to them in any way that may convey your tacit endorsement.

5. Don’t overdo social media. If you appear to “live” on social media, it is problematic on three fronts:

  1. To the average busy person, it sends the message that you have a lot of time on your hands and therefore are not working very hard. This undermines your leadership.
  2. You may be setting yourself up for mistakes, particularly on Twitter, as you may say things you regret or say things that prove to be untrue or premature. 
  3. You may react emotionally in ways that are inappropriate. As Scripture reminds us: “Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut” (Proverbs 10:19, NLT).

6. As much as possible, avoid personally posting about controversial issues that are culturally divisive or incendiary, e.g., various political issues or current events.

  • Instead, allow the Church and the Senior Pastor to speak to such issues, and then use those statements as you feel led to share, retweet and add to your Facebook or Instagram stories. 
  • When sharing, retweeting or adding to your story, be sure to include similar language to the original tweet or post.

7. Play well with others. Here are a few guidelines:

  • Be the aroma of Christ in whatever you post. 
  • Don’t allow yourself to be “baited” to respond and engage in controversy or argument, particularly if you sense that someone is just trolling.
  • If you see anything posted on a church social media account that is inappropriate, divisive, in poor taste, etc., please notify someone on the social media team immediately so that it can be removed.  
  • Move from social media to social interaction. Meaning, schedule time to talk in person with someone before engaging in a very public dispute online.
  • Along with grace, exercise humility. There is a thin line between using social media to make appropriate announcements, celebrate milestones, or to further your ministry, and using it to make a poster of yourself to the world.

Okay, those are ours. You can probably do a better job of creating your own and may disagree with some of ours. But the larger point is simple:

… get some guidelines.

James Emery White

About the Author

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunct professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also served as their fourth president. His latest book After “I Believe” is now available on Amazon or your favorite bookseller. To enjoy a free subscription to the Church & Culture blog, visit ChurchAndCulture.org, where you can view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on TwitterFacebook and Instagram @JamesEmeryWhite.



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