Five Suggested Guidelines for Pastors and Church Staff on Social Media

It happened yet again. 

Church leaders fired a pastor because of his social media postings, primarily on Facebook. He even asked me for my opinion before his termination. I told him bluntly he could get fired. His posts were argumentative, political, and, at times, caustic. He didn’t listen to me. He tried to convince me he had to take a stand on these issues.

He did. And the church leadership responded as I predicted.

 The early days of social media were often informational, relational, and familial. Now many of the posts are verbal warfare. What, then, should Christian leaders do? What are some of the guidelines to follow before you make that next post? I am certainly far from infallible, but here are some lessons I have learned, mainly from my own mistakes and the mistakes of others.

1. Your interaction on social media should glorify God. The challenge with the first and obvious guideline is that many Christian leaders will argue that their snarky post is to defend the honor of God. If you have any second thoughts about your pending post, don’t do it. At the very least, get an opinion from someone you trust outside your echo chamber.

2. You rarely win arguments on social media. I can’t recall seeing an argumentative or political post where someone wins the debate. One point leads to a counterpoint. The discussion becomes more negative and more intense.

3. Remember, you are representing God and your church when you post. One church staff member wanted to offer a positive perspective on a politician to show he was open-minded. The problem is that many church members did not like that politician. The pastor had a mess on his hands.

4. Focus on offering encouragement on social media. Sadly, positive posts are such aberrations that they become outliers. Offer those encouraging outliers regularly. I typically tweet a Bible verse about once a week without comment. I am always amazed when someone tells me how God spoke to him or her through the tweeted verse.

5. Limit your time on social media. I wonder how much stronger our churches would be if the members spent as much time reading the Bible as Facebook. If you stay on social media too long, it will harm your soul. It can be a dark place. It can be a contentious place. Wake up to the Bible each morning, not your favorite social media app.

 I wrote this post to pastors and other church staff. The principles apply, however, to any church members and Christians. We are all ambassadors for Christ. And we all need to ask for every social media post, “What would Jesus write?”

 We have an opportunity to represent our Savior in godly ways on social media. A few Christians are doing so. Unfortunately, the noises of other Christians often mute the positive posts.

 It is no wonder much of the world regards us Christians so lowly.



Posted on June 7, 2021

With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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  • Wise words lent you from the Lord. Thanks.

  • Charlie Moulton says on

    Incredibly helpful!

  • Robert Brown says on

    Unfortunately, some members of congregation exposed their deeper feelings when entering into social discussions that changed others view of them. Political views were supported contrary to church views.

  • Is what I post healthy and helpful for the Gospel?

  • I left Twitter almost three years ago because of the pervasive caustic attitudes there. I rarely post on Facebook because it seems to be such a time buster. I refuse to engage in arguments about politics, church, religion,guns, well, you name it. It’s all very depressing and non productive. I find I do much better by staying in the Word than social media.

  • Sadly, I know one minister fired, and another who’s wife will get him fired because of what they thought were well intended posts. Taking a strong stance on an issue is understandable, but social media is the least effective way to actually accomplishing something. Count the cost. You’re not just losing a job, you’re losing the ability to minister to people who need to know Christ and grow in Him. Are you really willing to give that up?

  • You have the gift of wisdom. Thanks for sharing.

  • Neil Wehmas says on

    I would add to this list:
    Post less about politics, no matter your leanings. Way too many pastor friends of mine whether they are on the left or the right, that is all they post. It is scarce that you will find a post about their Christian faith. Almost every post has some political slant to it. First when Trump was elected, and even more so during the pandemic, the Trumpites and the Libertarian pastors, all they do is share political posts. Many of them with very poorly researched information. The leftist pastors have been doing this for years, but in the last four years even the more moderate pastors have started to get bad. Even as a pastor, I know that I wouldn’t recommend their churches. I’m not certain which God they are serving.

  • Bob Myers says on

    Wise counsel, Thom. Saying what needs to be said. I’m grateful for a diverse little church that makes me think before I post or respond – especially on anything remotely political.

  • I find it humorous when someone declares they are “defending God” by saying something in reply. While we should not shrink from defending our faith, I’m not sure what I can offer to God to defend God (yes, that is as presumptuous as it sounds). While I can defend the Christian faith and ethos, nothing I can offer can defend God.

    One thing I learned in my former career in the military, leaders are held to a higher standard because they are leaders. Being in a position of leadership has benefits but also carries greater responsibilities. We were cautioned, in or out of uniform we represented the U. S. Navy (my branch of service) and every action we took reflected credit or discredit on the military. If that standard applies in a secular organization how can we not expect the same level of responsibility in our sacred organization.

    I like your comment about offering encouragement. Once a person is seen as one who is encouraging connections can be made. Even when a person deals with non-believers or people of other faiths the encouragement offered by the Christian brings credit upon the faith.

    What are your thoughts about another form of social media post? I like to offer posts that inform – not just about the bible but other things I find interesting. Things like sharing pictures of different flora and fauna with names and descriptions. That provides engagement and education. I have had people comment on my “daily study of a Chinese chestnut tree” and my photographs of assassin bugs. In those practices people become more aware of nature and all of God’s creation.

  • i would like to receive the material