How social can a youth pastor really be on social media?

Don’t Debate I am unashamedly a Calvinist. At the same time, Calvinism isn’t what defines who I am, Christ does. In Bible College I was eager for a brawl. I would droll at the opportunity to find some freshman of the Wesleyan tradition to cross my path so I could just crush everything they learned growing up. By my senior year I realized that pride was a big issue in my heart and being a good Calvinist doesn’t mean you are a jerk and should smash anyone who disagrees with you. Being a good Calvinist means you received grace you never deserved in the first place, and that grace given to you should be on display towards others. I get tagged into posts about 3 or 4 times a month of people debating theology. I love a good debate. However, Facebook comments are not the place for them. I almost always avoid these types of confrontations and encourage others to stop doing it. There is no benefit debating anyone on Facebook or Twitter. Even if you win, you still lose. Take it offline and avoid the debates, no matter the topic. Avoid Politics This is a touchy subject. I have good friends who would argue with me that politics is something that should be spoken more of by those of pastoral influence. I have learned that most people don’t know what “Separation of Church and State” really means. It doesn’t mean a pastor can’t post on twitter which candidate they like or dislike. Regardless, I don’t think it is wise for Youth Pastors to post on politics. For one, most students don’t care. Your main influence of ministry is to students. The politics most students care about is what viral video is making fun of the candidates on YouTube. So in one sense you are wasting your breath. Secondly, there is no topic I can imagine that brings more unnecessary division that politics. Most post on politics, though many are well meaning, end up being a gold mine for trolls. Have an opinion. Be involved in politics. VOTE! Keep it offline. Don’t Rant Do youth pastors get sad? Yes. Do youth pastors get pissed off? Yes. However, talking about this online is destined for your doom. Facebook and Twitter are not your emotional journals. We all have bad days. I am not trying to be insensitive to that. However, if you post your emotions online, it often doesn’t translate the way you may think it does. For many, it just looks like you are seeking attention. I have friends who are generally friendly and nice people. However, all their posts consist of what is ticking them off that day or what is making them depressed. In a world of “perceived reality is reality,” if you look constantly upset or constantly venting your issues online, it affects the way people perceive you. Talk to your friends and accountability partner about things that make you upset or sad. I am not saying be fake online and pretend everything is kittens and rainbows. However, silence adds more to your character and your perception, where constant venting and anger can ruin it. Use Discernment Are there Youth Pastors who drink beer, smoke cigars, watch rated-R movies, listen to music with parental advisory on the cover, and say the occasional non-Christian version of a cuss word? They do exist! They ride the Christian Liberty train all the way to glory. This is not a judgment on those who partake on Christian Liberties, but there needs to be wisdom in how you display them. I have friends who drink dark beers, take pictures of them and send them to me with some sort of puritan quote attached to it. They know that amongst friends, I will respond by saying, “That is a good John Owen quote” where if they put that picture on Instagram they will be swamped with questions of their integrity and their devotion to the Lord. Also, there is that anxiety of having that one non-Christian friend who follows you that may say something silly in the comments. The first reason why Youth Pastors shouldn’t post stuff like this is because we are pastors to students who for some are not developmentally ready to even understand the concept of Christian Liberties simply because most of these liberties that you would partake in, they are not even old enough to enjoy. All Christian Liberties are what they are. Liberties. So they are things we can hold with an open hand and should be able to say, “By grace I am allowed to partake in them; but at the same time, I can let go in the case of offending my brothers and sisters in Christ.”  If we have biblical views of liberties, then not posting these liberties shouldn’t be an issue either. One thing I have learned over the past couple months is that more people see what you are doing online than you think. Random people interact with me offline about what I said or did online. Your character and perception is being defined by what you do with your students every Sunday and Wednesday as well as what you are posting online. We live in a society where pastors are being criticized not by what they say behind pulpits, but what they are saying in 140 characters. Use your social networks wisely. Be transparent but be smart.

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26 Comments

  1. There's a "Christian Liberty" instagram account that is disgusting. Seriously, though, these are great tips. I'm friends with several youth pastors that make me cringe almost every time they post something because it's just not smart what they are saying.
  2. There's a "Christian Liberty" instagram account that is disgusting. Seriously, though, these are great tips. I'm friends with several youth pastors that make me cringe almost every time they post something because it's just not smart what they are saying.
  3. There's a "Christian Liberty" instagram account that is disgusting. Seriously, though, these are great tips. I'm friends with several youth pastors that make me cringe almost every time they post something because it's just not smart what they are saying.
  4. Not sure even Calvinism is a hill to die on when you are considering what/how much to share...in 140 characters, anyway...affixing that label to yourself can often off putting before you've even had the chance to get to know another or let them know you. IMHO....
    • I agree! Calvinism has too many negative connotations in many Christian circles because of bad stereotypes. In Bible college, the Calvinists who really taught me that stuff were people who were not going around calling themselves "Calvin's Commandos" they were just Christians who love the Lord and were willing to share what they believed when asked in a loving and encouraging way. I hope to model that better.
  5. Not sure even Calvinism is a hill to die on when you are considering what/how much to share...in 140 characters, anyway...affixing that label to yourself can often off putting before you've even had the chance to get to know another or let them know you. IMHO....
    • I agree! Calvinism has too many negative connotations in many Christian circles because of bad stereotypes. In Bible college, the Calvinists who really taught me that stuff were people who were not going around calling themselves "Calvin's Commandos" they were just Christians who love the Lord and were willing to share what they believed when asked in a loving and encouraging way. I hope to model that better.

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