Tell me if you have heard this scenario before. A celebrity or athlete has too much to drink one night or gets upset about a situation and goes off on social media only then to delete the post later. Have you ever seen or heard about this? What happens when they delete it? Is it gone? No, because by the time that person deletes it, someone else has already grabbed a screenshot of it and reposted it all over social media . . . and it begins to trend. Ultimately, the celebrity or athlete has to then apologize for their inappropriate action.
The sad thing is, you all have heard about this because it happens quite regularly.
Well, what do you think would happen if a small group leader spouted off on social media for whatever reason like one of those celebrities or athletes? Do you think some of the students in their small group would see it? You bet, because they are always on social media.
Do you think the small group leaders’ credibility would be diminished a little? You bet. Not only would their credibility be diminished but that relationship would be changed forever.
The reality is, if you are a small group leader, you are a representative of Christ at all times, not just when you are leading your small group. That means at all times you need to model Christ, especially on social media.
How can you do that? How can you make sure you are modeling Christ at all times on social media?
A simple test would be to ask the question: “Would Jesus and my mom approve of me posting this?” For most of us, that would be a great filter. However, it doesn’t always seem to quite do the trick. That is why it is probably in your ministry and small group leader’s best interest to have a formal social media policy everyone commits to.
Some items you want to consider for a social media policy:
- Never post or be tagged in pictures where you are drinking or smoking. I am not as concerned about whether or not you drink or smoke here. But, by putting this in play for at least student ministry leaders, I never want students to be able to look at your involvement or activities at a party as a reason by which they give themselves “permission” to drink.
- Always use appropriate language.
- Never participate in an argument. Never have I seen a disagreement ever get resolved on social media. Things only seem to escalate.
- Never question your church or ministry’s actions or policies on social media.
Now, even with a policy in effect, someone is bound to mess up and post something that violates the policy. How do you handle that? You handle it the same way you would handle any other faux pas a leader might have—with grace and love in hopes that you can resolve it and come up with a way to rectify it.
The reality is, as social media continues to change and evolve, small group and ministry leaders will have a tremendous ability to reach and minister to people. However, with every good tool, there can be potential harms and dangers. Therefore, it is good to have some sort of policy in effect for your ministry leaders to protect them and your church.