Social Media, Blogging, Ministry and Work

August 18, 2010 by cloften  
Filed under Family and Parenting

Monday night was not the first time that is happened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  All it is is the most recent.  It wasn’t a public rebuke.  I don’t know if you could even consider it a rebuke per se.  More than anything it was an encouragement to be better and to be a more effective successful pastor.  Now mind you, I have been rebuked before.  I have also been just asked questions about this before.  This was somewhere in between.

The issue, and I’ve probably been asked this 5 or 6 times, has to do with blogging, ministry, social networking, etc.  If someone is a pastor or a minister, is it “work” to be on Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.?  This brings up a much broader question about what is and is not work.  If I’m out to eat with my family and someone from the church comes up and talks to us for 10-15 minutes, is that work?  If I am at home sort of watching TV, but rehearsing my intro to my sermon in my head, is that work?  Is having coffee with a guy from the church talking about sports work?  Is it only work if it’s in an office with papers and/or computer?  Some of my job can easily look like fun, does that make it “not work?”  If a pastor is going to be honest, he will often admit that this issue is a struggle.

However, we are talking about something specific–social networking.  If I am on my computer, replying to people’s emails or working on a sermon, and I click over to the Facebook (friend me here.) or Twitter (here) and talk about what I am doing, is that work or not?  If I blog about something related to church, and ask people to read it, is that work?  What if it’s a devotional?  What if it’s silliness?  What if it’s all three? Let me give you my reasoning (defense?) for why I do what I do.

I view my job as being somewhat complex and relatively nebulous (vague, undefined).  However, the goals are pretty clear.  I am to help people have a relationship with Jesus, grow in that relationship, and then help them help others have that relationship.  How one best does that is a matter of style, effectiveness, personality and a lot of factors.  I believe that I need to teach and inspire.  I also believe that the best way to do that is through relationships.  I want to know people and for them to know me.  I believe that gives me a stronger platform for teaching and influence.

Therefore during the day, I will take time out to post something about what’s going on with me and will check on what people are doing.  Sometimes it’s informational.  Sometimes it’s humorous.  Sometimes it’s an invitation to church, a ministry or to read something that I wrote on my blog.  Most of what I write on are short devotional thoughts that I hope can help people grow in their walks with God.  Short, on-line devotionals.  To me, there is little doubt that the writing of a devotional and the encouraging the reading of said devotional is “work.”  If not, then the preparation and delivery of sermons would have to be called into question.  To me that is an easy way to take a few minutes and connect with about 200 or so people and help encourage them.

FB posts and Tweets that are not of an overtly spiritual nature feel like a good thing for me to do as well.  I am connecting with people where they are–on-line.  If there were a few hundred people gathered somewhere and I went to talk to them, I would consider that productive, even if it were just to say hi.  If I then got to share a thought about God with them, all the better.  It is my desire to be with people, connect with people, be it “live,” on-line, on the phone, whichever.  To me Social Networking is a highly effective ways to do what God has called me to do as a pastor.

Now, let the debate begin.  Does this ring true to you?  Does it seem like the ramblings of a guy who likes to justify goofin’ around on the computer?  What do you think when you see a pastor that does a lot of that?

Please, let me know what you think.  My guess is there are churches our there banning FB at the church office and those that require Twitter accounts for all staff and everything in between.  What do you think?  If you want to say something that you feel would be a public rebuke, don’t sweat it.  If you want to make it anonymous, you can.  I will make sure it still ends up in the comments.  Now…go!