Five Reasons Why Pastors Are Getting Fired Because of Their Social Media Posts

March 6, 2017

“It’s not fair I lost my job,” the pastor told me.

“My church members post a lot worse things than I do on social media. It’s a double standard.”

He’s right. It is a double standard. But it’s reality. And, with greater frequency, more pastors and church staff are losing their jobs because of what they post, particularly on Facebook and Twitter and, to some extent, their blogs.

By the way, churches will not always tell the pastor the specific reason for the firing. But, once we begin to infuriate our church members with our posts, many will find a myriad of reasons to give us the boot.

I recently recommended a pastor to another church. I think very highly of him. Indeed, the search committee chairman seemed genuinely enthused when I recommended him. He contacted me a couple of weeks later with this comment: “We can’t consider him. He’s just too snarky and sarcastic on social media.”

Of course, this pastor was not fired. But he never had a chance to be considered by another church.

So what are pastors posting on social media that is raising the ire of church members? It typically falls into one or more of these five categories:

  1. Generally combative and sarcastic comments. Do you know someone that seems always to be in debate on social media? They always want to prove their points, and they will take you on personally if you disagree with them. There are now a number of former pastors in this category.
  2. Political comments. If you make a political comment in today’s incendiary environment, you will offend someone. The persons you offend may just be the ones who push you out the church.
  3. Taking on church members. I cringe when I see church members posting critical comments against a pastor or church staff member. I cringe even more when the pastor decides to take them on in a public forum. Most readers have no idea the context of the conflict. They just see their pastor acting like a jerk.
  4. Criticizing other people. I have a friend who served as pastor of four churches. He loved criticizing well-known pastors, celebrities, Christian leaders, and others on social media. He was fired from his last church without a stated cause. I believe I know why. And he has gone three years without finding another place in ministry.
  5. Unsavory comments. A pastor or church staff member making lewd or suggestive comments on social media gains nothing, even if it’s a quote from a movie or someone else. The consequences are always negative.

This post is not about pastors losing their prophetic voices. It’s about pastors and church staff losing their ministries because of their failure to control their digital tongues.

“If anyone thinks he is religious without controlling his tongue, then his religion is useless and he deceives himself . . . (The tongue) pollutes the whole body, sets the course of life on fire, and is set on fire by hell.” (James 1:26, 3:6)

Social media is not the place to vent or to wage petty battles.

The consequences are simply too great.

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  • Don Forrest says on

    I have used fb to put some very strong feelings of my own conviction out there,but recently backed off… Reason? When you write something it’s not the same as speaking face to face. When people can’t see your face in a conversation they can easily take a different meaning out of it. Same goes for a phone conversation. Never talk critical issues unless you are face to face. It will turn out badly! And by the way, I don’t know anyone who who came to Christ because of a post. And no one ever wins an argument.
    Just a few thoughts.

  • Maybe I am a luddite or a dinosaur, or even worse a neanderthal, but why expose yourself in such a way on social media. Just don’t go there and jeopardise your ministry. On second thoughts maybe this conversation confuses me because I am English, last century and serving the community in a rural parish where we still interact with people face to face on a regular basis.

  • Applies to far more than just pastors…
    “Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats. Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.” ~ 1 Peter 3:13-16, NLT

  • (Luke 12:2-3) “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that not will be made known. What you have spoken in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the housetops. ”

    Now that is really a word of prophesy coming from Jesus.

    Sometimes people just needed their opinion heard, so instead of blaming the one who speak, we need to learn discernment ourselves.

    It is a test of our own maturity.

  • I’m a millennial (though almost a Gen Xer). I have worked as pastor. I don’t use social media. If I was interviewing a church and they insisted that I use social media, I would remove from consideration. Simply isn’t worth it in my opinion. I believe the drawbacks outweigh the benefits.

  • Pastor David Klinedinst says on

    Thanks for the wise advise. I am curious if their are any strategies for taking a stand when it is necessary. Most of our online lives fall outside of either appropriate topic and/or forum for standing for the truth. However, there will be times when “here I stand” is the appropriate response. Future post on the best way to do it would be super helpful.

  • I think the more we accept churches dismissing pastors for spurious reasons like this, the more the church will suffer declines. The church is losing men of God called to lead because some (usually older) people don’t understand how sharing view on social media works.

    I also think if this trend is allowed to continue, there will be fewer and fewer young ministers who can stay in ministry, which will be a loss to the church overall.

    When it comes to controversial topics (e.g. politics), I have actually found that people WANT to know what their pastor thinks about things. They don’t want their pastor to be a coward who is afraid to speak about anything important, and political issues are very important.

  • Thanks for a great reminder. Your posts are very practical and helpful.

  • “It is a double standard.”

    A double standard?

    “The consequences are simply too great.”

    Hopefully by consequences, you don’t only mean that one may ‘get fired’ by man.

    1 Timothy 3 1 It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. 2 An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3 not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. 4 He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity 5 (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), 6 and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. 7 And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.
    8 Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, 9 but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. 11 Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. 12 Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. 13 For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

    Titus 1 5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you, 6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion. 7 For the overseer must be above reproach as God’s steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, 8 but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.

  • Just a quick comment to pastors who want to make comments about political issues, everyone listens and reads through their own filter. What you mean to say may not be interpreted by your congregation the same way. Pastor friend of my gave a talk about helping refugees and all of a sudden half of the congregation was angry with him because they thought he meant open borders etc.

  • Warren Crosby says on

    My response to this is a good *SMH*. I’m a millennial, who’s relatively savvy on technology, yet I’ve taken steps to reduce my time spend on social media considerably. I was pretty active on Twitter and Facebook, but saw almost no value in the exchanging of ideas. My feeling is that people who take Facebook as a platform to do apologetics do not have a realistic outlook on it’s nominal influence. Debating political ideas, or doing anything else mentioned just seems silly.

    I’m preparing to become a pastor in my church, and at age 30 I haven’t used these things actively in at least 2 years. I’d rather exchange ideas the old fashioned way: at a bar, coffee shop, or my dinner table.

  • Ministers should use social media to reach the lost with the Gospel.