CHAPTER 4: A LEADER USES SOCIAL MEDIA WISELY

According to one website, the internet has more than 4 billion users as of January 2019, out of the total global population of 7.7 billion[1].  Besides, active social media users number 3.4 billion, with each person having an average of seven social media accounts. Around 60 billion messages pass through Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp every day. Even more amazingly, Filipinos are the top users of social media in the world in 2018 with each person spending a whopping 10 hours a day on the internet[2].

 

The above statistics imply that today’s leaders cannot ignore the internet and social media. The web is a potent medium of communicating both to our people and an external audience. In the church context, social media can help the pastor keep all the members up to date on what’s happening. Having an email or messenger group can facilitate spreading announcements and sharing of news and documents. For external publics, the church website is an essential gateway for them to know what we do and stand for. For example, in our church, some members first learned of our existence through the internet.

 

Another way a leader can share his message through the internet is by uploading sermons either on the church’s website or websites dedicated to sermons such as SermonAudio.com. Our church was the first broadcaster of Tagalog sermons from the Philippines in SermonAudio. We were surprised at the number of downloads from all over the world. This number is because there are 10 million Filipinos scattered in almost all countries. For my edification, I regularly listen to sermons through the internet. I have been blessed on numerous occasions by preachers from other countries, even if I haven’t met them personally.

 

However, the internet and social media could also be a dangerous place for a naïve leader to be. While social media can facilitate the spread of uplifting messages, it can just as quickly spread inappropriate messages. We know how an impulsive email or post has damaged the reputation of a leader, not to mention his relationship with others. The leader must remember that the golden rule still applies to social media— we should do unto others what we want them to do to us. More importantly, in the words of the Lord Jesus, we should love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). The lordship of our Savior extends to the virtual world of the web.

 

One thing a leader must be wary of is the trend to debate others through social media. Such virtual debates can degenerate rapidly to name-calling and harsh words. I have heard of cases where fellow believers bully and offend each other over doctrinal issues, which are not even what may be considered major ones. It will be unseemly for a Christian leader to participate in such disorderly activity. It will water down his logos if he is not walking the talk in this area.

 

You must remember that the internet is merely a tool that can help you propagate your logos. Anything then that could muddle the logos should be avoided like the plague.

 

How then should we use social media? Below are some tips from, where else, but the internet![3]. According to churchleaders.com, some of the things to avoid are the following: don’t tweet mostly about yourself, don’t retweet only things that say good things about you or your book, your product or your brand, don’t crowd your social feeds with “check-ins” from all the glamorous places you’ve been, don’t tweet or post something in a highly emotional state or without taking time to consider whether it should be shared or not, don’t post important life news on social media before communicating to your closest friends/family in person, don’t flaunt your relationships by having public interactions on social media, don’t have awkward fights or edgy back-and-forths in public. On the other hand, here are some positive things to do using social media: promote the good, interesting, useful work of others; direct people to helpful resources that aren’t produced by you, share things you know your audience will find valuable, say thanks to people who say something nice to you or about you on social media, be positive, affirming, uplifting, earnest (rather than negative, cynical, critical, ironic), let others talk up your books, articles or products on social media, use social media to bless others: share Bible verses, affirmative quotes, use social media to enhance communities but not replace them, quickly communicate important and timely information (e.g., church’s service times), if you are a leader or respected figure, respond to local or world events with a comforting, wise voice of authority.

 

On putting up and maintaining your personal and church’s web presence, seek a competent professional to help you set up your website. Of course, the cost may be prohibitive if one gets a top web designer. One alternative is to explore working with a brother or sister in the church who may want to do this as a ministry.

 

Ideally, Christian leaders must seek to conquer the digital world in furthering his logos. As Al Mohler observed, “Leaders understand that the digital world is a real world- a world in which we are called to lead”[4].

 

Discussion Guide

1. Is your leadership benefiting from social media? How?

2. What are your weaknesses in using social media?

3. How can you improve your social media engagement?

 

Notes:

[1] https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts/ Accessed 4/5/19].

 

[2] https://www.rappler.com/technology/news/222407-philippines-online-use-2019-hootsuite-we-are-social-report  Accessed 4/5/19

 

[3] https://churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-how-tos/162435-24-social-media-dos-and-dont-s.html  Accessed 4/9/19

 

[4] Mohler, p174

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