When I teach or share about the dangers of social media among ministry leaders, I am often confronted with a hesitant smile, a subtle eye roll, or the polite head nod. The reasons are multitudinous, but I think that many people in ministry have an underlying fear that prevents them from deleting their social media accounts. The fear can be expressed in how they will market either their ministry or their platform to society and followers (by the way, I have another post coming on ministry platforms so subscribe to my website so you don’t miss it). The question could be asked this way, “How will I harness the power of social media to market to or communicate with others?”
This seems to be the best rebuttal in response to objections about the dangers of social media’s usage among ministry leaders–or anyone for that matter. This question was presented to me when I shared with a friend that I would like to have been considered for the President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention–I was never asked nor was I nominated nor was I even a tiny blip on their radar nor am I upset or sad about it because I believe God has me right where he wants me. Yet, the question presented was, “How are you going to communicate as an entity leader if you don’t have a personal social media account?”
Social Media for Organizations
From the outset, I stand by my decision to be completely disconnected from social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram because of their technological designs. I don’t believe that leaders of organizations need to have social media accounts to be … well, leaders. Perhaps leaders without social media accounts are the type of influencers our culture needs because their leadership is not determined by followers, likes, or attention grabbing but rather their contributions and character–sorry, I digress. Back to the issue.
While I don’t think a ministry leader needs to have a personal account, I am completely and entirely for an organization having social media outlets that are managed and run by a team of people on staff. This means that everything that is posted either to communicate or market is done on behalf of the organization. The staff and people who work for the entity are sharing and posting as representatives of the church or company. This means that they really don’t need to spend countless hours scrolling to see what their “friends” are doing. This strategy for social media also prevents anyone from being bamboozled to compromise their character–for more on this topic click here. The team speaks on behalf of the organization to market and communicate to followers the message of the organization or the church. Therefore, followers know that everything marketed and communicated is representative of that organizations stated beliefs and strategy.
The Impossible Separation of Personal and Positional
For example, you can create an account with your church’s or organization’s handle and use that to market and communicate to both your community and your followers. This also prevents personal accounts being leveraged to speak on behalf of their entity, and I think is what gets people into real serious trouble. If I post something as a pastor of Center Church on my personal account (assuming I had one), my post would be a reflection of my position. I don’t believe it is possible to separate when I am speaking as an individual or as a pastor from a personal profile because the assumption is that I am always speaking as a pastor for the church. Thus, a church account means that what is posted is a direct reflection of the church itself.
One draw back might be that these technological platforms possibly require a personal account to create an institutional handle. Two thoughts on this. First, perhaps these social media companies need to allow for this feature to be created on their platforms. Why does a user have to have a personal account to create an account for their organization? Seems like the social media ploy to increase user activity and their profits.
Second, you could have someone create an online personal profile that is never used and is only for the purpose of creating an organization’s social media handle. News flash: just because you have to create a personal account for an organization does not mean you have to use it on a personal level. My preference is that no one use social media on a personal level until we are no longer the product being sold to the highest bidder. That’s right you are the commodity and the social media illusion is that you are in control. The longer you are on their platform the more money they make–let that sink in for a moment.
Conclusion: The Possible Benefit of an Organizational Account
We need to understand that social media is one way to communicate and market in today’s digital world. Obviously, we can use these technological devices (perhaps vices) to communicate with those we are trying to reach, but we do not necessarily need these platforms for personal use. In fact, I would encourage you to drop your personal accounts like that chemistry 101 course in college because they are not benefitting your life nor ministry. Yet, having an account for your organization and church that is monitored by more than one person could be a benefit to marketing and communicating God’s mission and vision to others. A organizational account might be the solution to the answer for marketing and communicating to others, but it also protects and prevents social media from compromising the integrity and narcissism of ministry leaders who utilize it on a personal level.
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