I use Social Media a lot. I believe it is one of the greatest tools available today for individuals and churches to communicate, inform and influence people. I do not believe Social Media is a sin; I actually think its probably unwise to not be utilizing social media for ministry.
I also have a track record of getting other ministers to use Facebook and Twitter. If you’ve seen or are connected to Pastor Alex Shevchenko, George Davidiuk, Sergey Vityukov, House of Bread, City On A Hill Church, Victor Kostroub, and several other well known ministers – I helped them all start out on Facebook, and they are using it well.
Yet, I am taking a 2-week fast from Social Media.
So why fast from Social Media, if it is so great?
I need to unplug. And, while unplugged, here are some hard questions I will be asking myself, answers to which can impact or change how I continue to use Social Media. I dare you to ask yourself these 11 questions, about your social media use.
1. Do you find yourself going to Facebook and Twitter far too often when you have an extra min or two? Can that min or two be used to call someone you’ve been meaning to call, or just to read a scripture passage?
2. Do you find yourself checking Facebook or Twitter at home, when your spouse or children are beside you, and longing for a meaningful conversation?
3. Do you find yourself reading things that bring no value to you? Lets be honest, most of Facebook posts are meaningless and your time could be better spent reading great books or literature.
4. Do you find yourself going to Facebook or Twitter more often than you should, instead of taking that min or two just to pray? The Bible calls us to “pray continuously.” Does your Facebook use get you away from prayer time?
5. Do you find that your constant urge to check Facebook or Twitter interrupts your productivity? Aren’t you cheating your employer? It will usually take several minutes just to recover from giving in to the urge to check Facebook/Twitter, and get back on task.
6. Do you find yourself having an urge to post things on Facebook or Twitter that will be sure to get a lot of “likes,” a selfish attempt to please people and make people believe you are smart? Do you find yourself tempted to post certain quotes, with hopes to get people to perceive you in a certain way, because you wrote that post? Isnt that what Pharisees did, when they would stand at the street corners and pray?
Sorrowfully, there are people who create fake profiles and begin to positively like and comment on their personal profile’s pictures or posts, just to draw attention and get more comments from other users; its easy to judge such actions. But, aren’t you doing the same thing, just by cleverly choosing some of the content that you post?
7. Do you find yourself having an urge to post pictures and comments about places and events you are at, just to inform people that you are staying busy or doing good deeds?
Some of my posts that I’m questioning are “All my Saturdays are busy doing weddings,” “All my evenings are busy in church,” and “I read SO MANY books…” Is my role to impress people, or to please God? Am I doing things for the applause of man, or because of my calling and love for Jesus? Is it really impressive that all my evenings are busy in church, or is that a sign of one of my insecurities, and an indication that I’m not learning to delegate and lead in a healthy manner?
8. Do you find yourself believing a “false view of reality” just because you judge an event, a ministry, a business, or a person based on what you see of them on Facebook?
Here are some possible “false views of reality” one might experience, when relying on Social Media content:
…Everyone knows about the church conference or schedule change because we posted about it on Facebook.
…Making an assumption that someone is extremely fun, outgoing, caring, boring, influential and smart, solely based on his or her Facebook statuses and or comments.
…Everyone is becoming a Calvinist because look at all the likes that this Calvinist person is getting on Facebook. (term “Calvinist” is just an example here)
…I don’t need to call and apologize to someone for coming late or not showing up, because I posted my reasoning and explanation on Facebook, and they probably saw it (ex. my car broke down).
…This church is dying out, cause Im not seeing any Facebook posts, camp pictures, conference invites from them through social media.
…That event/camp/conference/wedding was a total dud, just because someone didn’t post the type of pictures that would make you see the “other side” of things.
…This person or ministry is no longer influential or impacting, because of the lack of fans or likes on Facebook.
…”This couple has such a great marriage based on what I see on Facebook, I as a pastor no longer need to be praying for them.”
…”I know my kids love Jesus; have you seen their Facebook “likes?””
…”That teenager would make a great friend for my son or daughter; I can tell by their Facebook posts.”
9. Do you find yourself not pressing the “like” button on a post or picture, even if the post was GREAT but was made by someone you don’t particularly like right now? Makes me think of Jesus, and how He continued to love, serve, and even empower Judas to do miracles and collect money, even though Jesus knew Judas would betray Him, and sell him for 30 pieces silver.
Im also reminded of Martin Luther King Jr.’s statement, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” Shouldn’t we judge/like a post based on content matter, not whether or not we like a person?
10. By posting often and liking people’s posts often, people will perceive that you are on Facebook all day, which is not a great reputation to have. (If you really are on Facebook all day, then that’s whole different problem). Especially as ministers, we must understand that it is not the role of the minister to like every post and picture ever posted on Social Media by all of your members and attendees; actually, its probably more damaging. Also, if you are tweeting about every conversation you have and post a picture of every person you meet with, some people will be hesitant to meet with you and open up to you, fearing that in a couple minutes, it’ll be posted about on Social Media; and that is not a reputation to have for a minister.
Also, are you in the habit of “liking” your own posts and pictures? Aren’t you automatically letting people know you like a certain picture or quote when you post it on Social Media? Is your goal to garner more likes to impress people?
11. Social Media provides a platform for quick, unfiltered, and visible-to-all criticism, which is not always healthy. Biblical correction starts out private. Social Media allows a platform for us to publically discredit and criticize someone, as well as a platform for someone to do so towards us. We must learn to hold back public criticism towards others, especially when it is so easy to do so, as well as learn to take public, unfiltered criticism of ourselves, without letting it destroy us or cause a root of bitterness inside of us.
These next two weeks, I’m dedicating time to check my heart’s motives, and pray as I ask my self these questions.
Indeed, I have received very many positive comments from people who have been blessed by a post or link I posted on Social Media in the past. And I have been blessed by many of your posts and links on Social Media. Lets not throw away the baby with the bathwater.
The question remains though: am I allowing Social Media to negatively affect my heart and steal my time? Such a question requires time and honesty to answer; I pray in the next 2 weeks, I come out with a clearer perspective, and better habits.