Volunteers and Social Media

August means a lot of things.  STUPID high temperatures (in Arkansas, at least), almost college football, last ditch efforts at vacation, Total Recall, and the school year kicking off!  I know for some, your districts are on irregular or year long schedules, but for most of us, August is game time.  Our schedules shift from being more fluid and flexible to being structured and predictable.  Students are in class, and we venture back into the office.  As the ministry year launches, I hope you take the time to have some sort of volunteer training.

I’m looking over my training stuff and realizing I’m lacking in a specific area: social media.  Social media is a great thing, and something I encourage our leaders to be involved with.  Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or anything else (…except myspace of course), I want our volunteers appropriately connecting with students in our ministry online.

Here’s my question.  What advice do you give your volunteers regarding boundaries on social media?  Here are a couple examples of what I’m talking about…

  • Do you address whether volunteers can post pictures of alcoholic drinks?
  • Do you address whether volunteers can put up pictures of spouses/dates in inappropriate clothes (not scandalous stuff, but questionable stuff)?
  • Do you address whether volunteers can private message students of the opposite sex?
  • Do you address whether volunteers can post aggressive/attacking statuses?
  • Do you address whether volunteers can post pictures of them and their buddies smoking cigars?

As you can see, several of these issues aren’t sin issues, but they could be “above reproach” issues.  Do I think it’s wrong to drink alcohol?  No.  Do I tell my volunteers not to drink alcohol?  No. But, do I want one of my 7th grade girl’s small group leaders posting a picture on instagram of a giant martini?  No.

I’d love to be able to say, “Folks…common sense.  Know that once something is out there, it’s out there.  So think before you post.”  However, I feel like that could leave the door far too open.  That leaves so much up to personal opinions.  I’d rather be able to have firm guidelines so both sides know where they stand.

I don’t want to be legalistic, but I would also rather set some guidelines on the front end and say, “Hey, if I feel you’re flirting with or crossing a line in social media, I’ll let you know (in grace and love), and after that, if it continues, we’ll have to have a more serious discussion.”   My thought process is that with the boundaries in place on the front end, it saves hard conversations later where I have to explain expectations I thought were implied.

This is all new to me, but do you have any social media restrictions/suggestions/boundaries?  If so, what are some?  I understand a lot of this could be subjective, but I’m still curious!

And in light of the nature of this post, here’s a shameless plug.  If we’re not connected on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest, let’s fix that.

4 Comments

  1. I think another regulation should have to be with overposting. Sure, I try and post pictures from all of our youth activities, but some people go overboard, and Youth Pastors set a bad example with that. Sometimes, we need to just enjoy the moment, not try and impress others with how great of a moment we are having and they arent.
    • Definitely can see that! I think it could go both ways. I don't really take a lot of pictures, but the pictures I do take is for the students who are there to be able to see on facebook, "Oh yea that was fun!" not to blow my own horn as it were.
  2. I think another regulation should have to be with overposting. Sure, I try and post pictures from all of our youth activities, but some people go overboard, and Youth Pastors set a bad example with that. Sometimes, we need to just enjoy the moment, not try and impress others with how great of a moment we are having and they arent.
    • Definitely can see that! I think it could go both ways. I don't really take a lot of pictures, but the pictures I do take is for the students who are there to be able to see on facebook, "Oh yea that was fun!" not to blow my own horn as it were.

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