Social media is one of the greatest blessings of our time. It serves as a marketplace of ideas that allows a platform for Gospel advancement. But if we’re honest, social media can also be a platform that brings out the absolute worst in people. Such is the world we live in. And as pastors, such is the world we minister in.
Because of the negative side of social media, several times I have come close to deleting my Facebook and Twitter accounts. However, each time I’ve considered deserting social media, Christ has reminded me that he has called me to be a light in a dark world as his disciple (Matthew 5:16), and, as a pastor, to be an example to my flock (1 Peter 5:3).
10 Questions to Consider Before Posting on Social Media
As pastors, we are called to set the example for those in our charge. If we are on social media, we must own this responsibility and steward it faithfully. So, to shine the light of Christ and lead my church well, here are ten questions I try to consider as a pastor before posting anything on social media.
1. Will my words bring glory to God? “Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31b). Whatever we are about to tweet or post, will it point to God? “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus…” (Colossians 3:17a). Will our words on social media honor the name of and bring fame to Jesus? If so, go for it. If not, delete it.
2. Will my words build up the body of Christ? “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Corinthians 14:26b). All Christ-followers must build up Christ’s body. But Christ gave pastors a unique responsibility to lead in this area: “And he gave … the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11b-12). There are many ways pastors can build up Christ’s body, but our words are primary instruments in this area. Later in Ephesians 4, Paul instructs, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as it fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (4:29). Will our words build up believers or tear them down?
3. Will my words be a witness to unbelievers? “Remind them … to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people” (Titus 3:1, 2). Paul’s words were written to Titus, a young leader called to model for his people what Christlike living looked like before a watching world (Titus 2:7). As pastors, we are called to such modeling for our church. Paul said an overseer “must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:7). Is the way we engage with others on social media enough for our unbelieving friends to know we are acting with Christlikeness?
4. Am I sure the information I’m sharing is true? Fake news runs rampant on social media. Make sure what you’re sharing is actually true. When pastors share posts on social media that are not true, not only are we sinning by bearing false witness, but we are leading our flocks to do the same. A simple Google search or a visit to a fact-checking website like Snopes.com can help tremendously when testing whether a claim on social media is true, has hidden the truth, or has exaggerated the truth. If it’s not true, don’t share it. If you’re not sure whether it’s true, do your research. “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Exodus 20:16) applies just as much in front of a screen as it does face-to-face.
5. Are my words too dogmatic about a lesser important issue? I have opinions about lesser important issues in the Christian life, like homeschooling vs public schooling, the finer points of eschatology, and nuances of public policy. But I usually don’t share those opinions on social media. I realize that godly Christians can disagree over theological, political, and social issues which, although important, are not fundamental to Christianity.
As a pastor, God has given me a platform of influence. I don’t want to be dogmatic about an issue the Bible is not dogmatic about and end up leading others to do the same. If someone wants to know my opinion on a lesser important issue, I will happily engage them in a discussion, but usually face-to-face. Are our words emphatic about what God is emphatic about? In our social media engagement, are we keeping the main things the main things?
6. Am I comfortable giving an account to Jesus for my words? This question speaks for itself. Jesus said we will give account for every careless word we speak on the day of judgment (Matthew 12:36). That includes the words we speak on social media. If we knew we would appear before Christ this evening would we be comfortable posting our words on social media this morning?
7. Am I slow to speak and slow to anger? We must be slow to speak and slow to anger (James 1:19). It’s impossible to hear from God (James 1:18) and for that matter anyone else, when we have a heart full of anger and a mouth full of words. We should heed the Proverbs when tempted to speak via social media with an impulsive temper: “When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent” (Proverbs 10:19); “Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32). Would I tweet the same thing, in the same way, three days from now? Or have I become another agitating catalyst of the age of outrage?
8. Am I adequately informed about the issue I’m addressing? God has called us to be pastors, not experts in every field under the sun. We primarily give ourselves to the careful and prayerful ministry of the Word (Acts 6:4; 2 Timothy 4:1-5). God hasn’t called us to be shepherds and political analysts, infectious disease experts, research historians, or economic forecasters. We should humbly accept that we don’t know everything there is to know about everything there is to know, and therefore yield to experts who do before speaking about an issue outside our expertise.
9. Am I being a good steward of my time? Years ago, I picked up a practice from Al Mohler: I use clocks with a second hand that ticks loudly. Why? Mohler states, “I like noisy clocks in my study—clocks I can hear marking time. I can feel the passing of time in my bones, and that knowledge makes me want to be a more faithful steward of time tomorrow than I was today.” Time is short and our years in pastoral ministry are numbered. Indeed, as Mohler warns, “Faithful leaders know that time has to be protected or it will be lost. Once lost, it can never be regained.” Let’s not spend an exorbitant amount of time scrolling, posting, and tweeting things on social media that have little to do with the ministry to which God has called us.
10. Am I as engaged in my own church and community as I am with people far from me on social media? It’s easy for anyone—including pastors—to become a keyboard warrior while neglecting our own church and community. Pastors can be deceived into thinking our real ministry is to solve all the world’s problems on social media while remaining isolated from our actual ministry—our flock and community. For example, it’s not difficult to speak on social media about the evils of racism in our country, sexual abuse in our denomination, and corrupt politics in our nation. These are important, to be sure. But what have we done about racism in our own church?
It’s easy to become a titan on Twitter while remaining a coward in our own congregation. What have we done to protect the vulnerable in our own neighborhood? What have we done to hold politicians more accountable in our own town? It’s easy to be ferocious on Facebook while we remain secluded from our city. Pastor, do you know your neighbors’ names? What about your mayor? Your county commissioners? Do you know the problems your church members are facing right now? What about the name of the pastor down the road from you?
Over the last several years, the Lord has been teaching me what I call a theology of geography. I realize more each day that God placed me in a specific location around specific people at a specific time because the people in my location need me to minister to them right now. Interestingly, Jesus spent most of his ministry in the villages and towns of Galilee. While Jesus traveled beyond Galilee, he ministered within a radius of only about 100 miles.
Although social media wasn’t available in Jesus’ day, the narrow scope of his earthly ministry should at least give us pause. This isn’t to say we shouldn’t be engaged in issues on social media beyond our backyard. But it is to say that my local church and community are my primary mission fields. Pastors, let’s get a grasp on our theology of geography and let’s be far more engaged in what is happening in front of us than with what’s happening with people far from us on social media.
Pastors, Be Light
Brothers, we’ve been called to be light in the dark and examples to the flock God has entrusted to us. Let’s be careful not to become part of the darkness and lead our people astray. Let’s ask these questions before we engage on social media. Let’s shine brightly and lead faithfully on social media for the glory of our Great Shepherd.
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 Ed Stetzer, Christians in the Age of Outrage: How to Bring Our Best When the World Is at Its Worst (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale, 2018).
 Albert Mohler, The Conviction to Lead: 25 Principles for Leadership That Matters (Bloomington, MN: Bethany House, 2012), 189.
 Ibid., 187.
 Thomas V. Brisco, Holman Bible Atlas: A Complete Guide to the Expansive Geography of Biblical History (Nashville, TN: Holman Reference, 2014), 220-23.