The guidelines below are ones which we require of all our pastors and staff. That said, we believe them to be wise counsel for all of our members to practice in order to exalt Christ on social media.
If You Use Social Media
Promote the church and the gospel. If there are good things going on or matters for praise, don’t hesitate to share them. Don’t be ashamed of the gospel or your church!
Share your insights and opinions. That is one way we “season the world with salt” and “let our light shine before people”. But make it clear that it is your personal opinion.
Post content that is meaningful. You can’t make disciples through small talk. Sure, create posts that are humorous, but also posts that are truthful and important.
Be mindful of your audience. Consider the age, gender, and social status of anyone who might read your content. Be appropriate for the widest audience.
Communicate as a Christian
Listen before you send. The internet invites you to broadcast your thoughts to no one in particular. That’s not biblical. Listen to what’s going on.
Ask before you assume. So many arguments happen online because people assume they know what someone else means. Take the time to clarify before you argue. We should be charitable in our dealings, and ask questions to clarify.
Verify before you repost. Just because someone you know has posted something that sounds really good doesn’t mean it’s true. Do some homework before reposting.
Be kind, courteous, and respectful. Even when we share the truth, we are to do it in love. In everything we do, we must represent and attract people to Jesus.
Care about your tone. On social media, this includes your use of capital letters and punctuation. Would you YELL at them IN PERSON???!? Similarly, sarcasm and humor are not always clear in text alone.
Always take the high road. Social media can be a cesspool of sniping. Don’t engage. If someone does you wrong, do them right in return (or don’t do anything at all).
Be a Christian first. We are citizens of a different kingdom. You are a Christian first- not a republican, democrat, Brown, or Steeler. Politics in particular are nuanced and can be divisive in ways which go beyond Christ's instruction in Scripture. The way you present yourself on social media or your life at large should always be done in a way that represents Christ well to the world.
Be Shrewd as a Serpent
Assume that everything you post and share online will become public. If you don’t want everyone to know, then don’t share it on any form of social media.
Approach controversy with caution. The Bible praises discretion. Some “points” aren’t worth it. Be knowledgeable and well-supported. Don’t be presumptuous or flippant.
Use private groups where needed. To communicate with youth, kids, recovery groups, etc., find the most private, safest method possible.
Set boundaries. Be extremely mindful of the age and gender of the person(s) with which you carry online conversations.
Set limits. Self-control applies to all things, including your social media usage. Watch the amount of time you spend consuming social media and posting it.
Don’t break news unless it’s yours. If you aren’t 100% certain that news about a person or event is supposed to be public, don’t share it.
Protect individuals and kids. Don’t say something that would put someone else in an awkward or compromised position. Don’t reveal the location of kids or teens. **Don’t post a picture of a child unless you have the parent’s expressed permission.**
Monitor activity on your accounts. People are constantly posting inappropriate items to others’ accounts; you need to take it down and block the offender immediately.
Use Common Sense
Think before you click “send.” Think about your state of mind and your motives when composing your post; reread the content. Are you sure you want to do this?
Be truthful. Don’t be lazy or misleading; do the work necessary to make sure that whatever you post is true, accurate, and clearly written.
Respect copyrights and intellectual property. Give credit where credit is due, and include links to your sources where possible.
Care enough to proofread. You don’t have to use perfect syntax, but you should always reread your post for obvious or confusing grammatical errors.
When in doubt, delete. If you’re not utterly convinced that your post is “right”, just don’t send it. It is not better to ask forgiveness; the internet is not forgiving.
If You Find Yourself in an Argument:
Shift to private communication. If at all possible, when a conversation turns into an argument, turn to some form of private messaging. It does not need to be public.
Don’t retaliate or fight fire with fire. Retaliation always leads to escalation. But a gentle answer is the Bible’s solution to an angry argument.
When you get irritated, “walk” away. Communicating while angry is a sure way to make matters worse. Stop; spend time with God; come back later.
Give the benefit of the doubt. If love bears all things, then it is a little thing for you not to assume the worst in your “opponent”. Perhaps you misread or misunderstood.
Always be willing to admit your mistakes. If you were wrong, admit it. It may not be the primary issue, but an injection of humility into an argument may calm things down.
Social Media Etiquette:
There is a wrong time to be on your phone. If your social media usage distracts you or anyone around you from what’s going on, put the phone away.
Be careful with tags. We love to tag our friends in photos and posts. Please consider whether your friend would want to be associated with that photo or post.
Don’t overshare! Oversharing wearies your friends, and it puts you at risk for identity thieves (or regular thieves when they know how long you will be out of town).
WYA (Watch your abbreviations). Use too many of them and you’ll sound like a preteen, not to mention potentially alienating anyone who doesn’t understand your shortcuts.
Everyone can see what you "like." Be cautious with your posted reactions to other posts. We can all see what you've liked and what you've tagged to read later.
Scripture's Reminders on the Way We Communicate:
Proverbs 12:18 - There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword; but the tongue of the wise brings healing.
Proverbs 15:4 - The tongue that heals is a tree of life, but a devious tongue breaks the spirit.
Proverbs 20:3 - Honor belongs to the person who ends a dispute, but any fool can get himself into a quarrel.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22 - Don’t pay attention to everything people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you, for in your heart you know that many times you yourself have cursed others.
Matthew 5:13-14 - You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.
Matthew 12:36 - I tell you that on the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak.
Matthew 28:19-20 - Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember. I am with you always, to the end of the age.
Romans 12:2 - Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Romans 14:19 - So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
1 Corinthians 8:13 - Therefore, if food causes my brother or sister to fall, I will never again eat meat, so that I won’t cause my brother or sister to fall.
Ephesians 4:25-32 - Therefore, putting away lying, speak the truth, each one to his neighbor, because we are members of one another. . . . No foul language should come from your mouth, but only what is good for building up someone in need, so that it gives grace to those who hear. And don’t grieve God’s Holy Spirit. You were sealed by him for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, anger and wrath, shouting and slander be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.
James 1:19 - My dear brothers and sisters, understand this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.
James 3:9-10 - With the tongue we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in God’s likeness. Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.
1 Peter 3:14-16 - But even if you should suffer for righteousness, you are blessed. Do not fear them or be intimidated, but in your hearts regard Christ the Lord as holy, ready at any time to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. Yet do this with gentleness and reverence, keeping a clear conscience, so that when you are accused, those who disparage your good conduct in Christ will be put to shame.
These guidelines were developed initially by Dr. Matthew Ward for the Center for Pastor Theologians here, before being contextualized for The Church at West Creek by the Elders.