Social Media Guidance
What does the Bible Say?
The Bible has a lot to say about social media when we recognise social media is a way of communicating. When we do this we can apply Biblical principles to how we use it.
The book of Proverbs is full of verses about what we say – we need to be slow to speak and edifying in our speech - Proverbs 10:11; 10:14; 10:19-21; 11:9; 12:6; 12:13-14; 13:3; 14:3; 15:2; 15:23; 17:27-28; 18:6-7; 18:21; 21:23; 26:4
The New Testament also talks a lot about speech:
- Jesus is clear that our words are important - Matthew 12:33-37
- The Bible is clear about what should come out of our mouths - Ephesians 4:29
- We should be slow to speak - James 1:19-20
- The tongue is a small part of the body but it controls us - James 3:1-12
- We must be prepared to stand for the truth of the Bible - 1 Peter 3:13-16
- There are times that it is better to speak face to face rather than use the written word - 2 John 12 and 3 John 13-14
In an age of keyboard warriors, we are to be aware that what we type is as much an overflow of our heart as what we say.
Things to think about
- Social media is a great way to easily contact people with invitations to events, or positive posts or messages to build each other up
- Social media gives a greater potential for arguing, gossip etc to reach a wider audience
- Social media allows information to travel much more quickly – whether that information is true or not
- The written word doesn't give nuance, tone or context in the same way as the spoken word and so can be easily misunderstood
- Social media is often not the best place to engage with nuanced issues because they are generally better discussed face to face where tone and context are more easily understood.
- Others may not read something you have written on social media in the way it was meant
- You may not read someone else's post/comment in the tone it was meant to be taken
- What we post is representative of Christ and of the local church we belong to
- Let's be aware of when information is sensitive and/or private – social media is available to a worldwide audience. We must be careful not to place any mission partners or congregation members in danger, or betray confidences that are to be kept within the local Church family.
- Photos and videos, as well as information, can cause safeguarding issues.
- As Christians it is imperative that we hold ourselves to a higher standard – that we do all we can to ensure that we are above reproach.
Practical steps we can take
(Please note the following are suggestions and general principles)
- Pray for wisdom in our use of social media
- Be positive towards people when you comment/post
- Only type what you would say to someone face to face
- Think about why you want to comment/post – is it for good motives?
- Don't use social media to gossip. Ask yourself is it your story to tell?
- Check if what you're typing is true before you comment or post. Make sure we post reliable posts and comments.
- If you speak out on controversial topics, do so only when you have a good knowledge of the issues involved and be very clear in what you write remembering nuance and tone are often missed on social media.
- Try to think the best of other people's motives when they comment or post – give them the benefit of the doubt. But also be wary in how you reply.
- If a church email has been sent to congregation members about a situation, don't take that as license to spread the content of the email all over social media. It is private information for the eyes of the church family.
- Seek consent before posting photos or videos of others (including children) on social media
- Don't post straight away in the heat of the moment - draft a post/reply and then put it to one side, coming back to it later to see if it is a) necessary, and b) appropriate
- Have a Christian friend who can check your social media posts to ensure you are acting in a manner that is glorifying to God, and caring for your local church
- Sometimes it may be better to be cautious and post less.
Let's try to recognise the gift that social media is to us in engaging with the world in the 21st century, but let's not be naïve in using it.