For those who missed the first part of my piece on social media, posted to the site on Friday, June 7, click the following link: Diving Into Social Media and the Deadly Sins of Posting
Social Mediation Reconciliation
Among the most difficult aspect of reading posts is detecting stress, from those who post and, especially, administrators who are frustrated with repeating instructions. I can sense how some administrators can feel like a parent who says, “How many times do I have to tell you…?” (Frustration with Christians is all right. Jesus expressed the same thing. Read Luke 9:41, John 14:9)
People with Christian experience have an opportunity to help people grow.
The question is, “What do you do with the angst?”
One discipleship technique is to explain the error, especially if someone is a new groupie. Send a note offline to the violator, just as you may call a brother in small group at church, and at that time, point out the mistake and help the author change.
It is the same as Jesus’s process of reconciliation that was recorded in Matthew.
Secondly, be judicious about “banning” a user, and make every effort to restore their status. All of us sin and end up falling short.
People with Christian experience have an opportunity to help people grow. So, before blocking, ask yourself, “Would you “ban” a recent church attendee for an innocent error, that may have been a result of their misunderstanding “the rules,” especially if said person was from a different church cultural (group) background?
Also take the time to think: if the sinner asked for an explanation, would the explanation be that another leader or two had issues that were discussed among leadership, and a final decision made? And if the person did ask for forgiveness, would your response be nothing, or “you are forgiven; go and sin no more?”
While there is merit in moderating with grace, there is also much to be said for self-control, on the group page and the personal page. In fact, while guidelines might be akin to The Ten Commandments of Facebook (or, if too dense, the book of Leviticus), each Christ-follower on social media must keep in mind that pages posts are not personal.
Once spoken, these posts belong to the world, and there are ballplayers and actors whose careers have been damaged, because of years-old posts that have been used against them.
How much more are people of faith to be criticized in a world hostile to Christ?
- Does what you post on a personal page reflect well upon the kingdom of God?
- Have you read a brother’s venomous post on Wednesday and seen the brother serving in church on Sunday?
- Do any of my posts perpetuate #ToxicChristianity?
The fruit of the spirit and the armor of God are as applicable in the 21st century, as in the first. Perhaps more so. Some ideas on how to post in love, personally or in a group:
- Control, Vent, Delete: Unleash in writing if you must, then delete the post before sending. Whether it’s about politics or a church leader, as a reader, it’s sometimes uncomfortable when a post has TMI about details of the smarmy underbelly of the church.
- Take It Outside…er, Offline: Taking the previous item one a step further. Vent in a Word doc. I have accidently posted items before they were ready, by confusing the Shift and Enter keys to change paragraphs. More often, however, my typed exhalations allow me to get them out and expunge the feelings. Consider such vents modern psalms.
- Avoid Scarcasm. Yes, “Scar-casm.” Snippy, one-line responses, gifs or memes in threads when a poster is seeking help about a difficult team member, pastor or congregant. They’re intended to be witty and taken in good spirit, meant as humorous reliefs of tension. On the other hand, when such humor is directed at a person or type of group, the sarcasm can leave a scar, among the less emotionally (or spiritually) mature.
It Is Written…
Answers to many social media queries, and how Christ-followers should respond, are in scripture. We can use our social platforms as direct, educational guidelines to answers of life and ministry. Some thoughts for discussion:
- Are the group guidelines based on other Facebook rules, personal preferences, or do they include easily read biblical guidelines?
- When people need admonishment in the middle of a thread, do we include scripture to guide our tongues (fingers), or lash out from pure emotion?
- It is justifiable to end a social relationship by embracing Paul’s words to Titus to warn a person once, twice, and then disassociate (Titus 3:10)
The “failures” of being banned, have helped develop more social media discernment and self-awareness. Here are my discipleship lesson takeaways:
- Limit My Time: Don’t be consumed with social media interaction at the expense of other responsibilities. I am involved in many platforms. Schedule my interactions by the clock, an hour, to allow time for personal interactions and exercise.
- Choose Words Wisely: I discovered the phrase “my blog” was considered negative, because “blogs by nature are self-promoting.” I had no idea blogs generate money. In the words of The Animals, “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good…” I just thought they were another outlet to share resources. Now I read rules more closely. And so, as a Christ-follower, I must remember, social media is NOT… ABOUT… ME! It’s about Him.
- Employ Resources: Some groups have helped with my use of time, by enabling “self-promotion” through thematic #hashtags on particular days. Moreover, the Facebook groups are great resources for focusing my thoughts and feeding my passions to connect with other believers.
Personal Social Relationships with Christ
As it was from the start, when I was on staff and recognized social media had limitless potential to take the gospel “to all the ends of the earth,” I am more convinced of its potential to uplift and disciple Christ-followers and Christ-followers-Yet-To-Be.
My problems are irrelevant compared to the pain among servants of God that I read on the pages in which I still engage. Much of the pain is inflicted by fellow servants. The solution is to recognize that social media, like music and other art forms, has a greater purpose among Christ-followers.
Whether we realized it or not, we when agreed to follow Christ, administrate a page, or join a group, we agreed to a higher calling: To uplift the family of God and draw others to Christ.
They will know we are Christians, by our love. And our posts.
#SDG #Shalom #Selah #AndAmen