After studying social media at Trinity as apart of my doctoral studies for the class, Preaching & Culture, something struck me as odd, and even grieving, and that is how many pastors and ministers use Facebook (and all social media) as a means to develop “Fans” and not “Disciples.”
Now they may not call people their, “fans,” but that is often how they act towards the Body of Christ who support them. As if they are in a “celebrity” status and that it’s “beneath” them to actually respond and interact with people via social media. Maybe they think they’re too busy, yet, they’re not too busy to keep posting all their short selfie vids, little cute quotes, and documentary style updates, “Just landed, I’m about ready to preach in Houston!”
What I find really sad is that Mark Zuckerberg, with over 30 million followers to his “personal page,” actually takes time on each post to respond and chat with people. Certainly, he cannot respond to every comment, but he truly understands that once a post is made that is really only the “first half” of communication, the “second half” is to actually make time to chat with people in regards to the post. As you will be able to see if you visit his page or in my picture below, it’s not an assistant or someone “posing” as him, it is actually him. (Here is his page, https://www.facebook.com/zuck, and “no,” he is no longer a vegetarian, just in case you were wondering!)
Sadly, many Christian leaders with barely 2-5,000 “friends” cannot even “acknowledge” a prayer request, thank a person’s genuine compliment, or take the time to answer a basic question regarding the post like, “Where are you preaching in Houston?” However, they will keep posting their “one-sided” posts to keep people’s attention on them. God have mercy!
Three Things to Consider for Pastors and Christian Leaders
- If you are too busy to actually take time to interact with people via social media, stop using it because your reflection of Christ in this venue is lacking. Remember, if you’re too busy for people, you’ve lost the point of social media.
- If you like the outlet of social media but aren’t gifted in either typing or responding to people in a timely way, ask an associate to monitor your page. Remember, “delegation” applies in this setting as well.
- If you, like me, want everyone’s requests or sincere comments to be responded to, then as your social media reach grows, grow in workers to aid you. Social media is the new, “prayer line, secretary, and website” all in one and it’s definitely worth keeping up with!
Two Things to Consider for Followers of Minister’s Social Media
- If they don’t respond to your prayer requests and genuine questions within 2-3 days, know that you’re just a “fan” in a one-sided social media environment. If you’re okay with that, good. If not, hide their feeds, stop posting on their page, and focus on leaders who actually use social media to disciple and assist you.
- If you expect social media to replace human interaction than you are asking the wrong thing from the wrong the place. Use social media in regards to your spiritual life for basic needs like prayer requests, simple questions, etc. Save everything else for a “face-to-face” leader in your life.
In closing, I apologize to you, the Body of Christ, on behalf of many Christian leaders usage of social media, forgive them for they “know not what they do.” And don’t take their neglect personal, I’m sure they treat their actual members better in person at church (well, I hope they do).