Three Questions for Christians on Social Media

How should Christians engage on social media? We have all seen the carnage. A poorly worded tweet brings confusion; a sharply worded one alienates. The Proverbs tell us much about the tongue, and many of its punchiest verses are applicable to our social media usage. As Christians, we are to bring every aspect of our lives under the Lordship of Christ, including our social media engagement.

Through our social media, we can bless or curse, build up or tear down, honor or dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ. Consider these three questions to help you navigate social media.

Question #1: To whom are you speaking?

This was a breakthrough question that I began asking myself several years ago. I use my social media platforms primarily to speak to fellow Christians. The principle I follow is one derived from years as a pastor. In short, I view my social media platform as, in a sense, a large church. I want to speak to them as I would have spoken to my literal congregation when I was a pastor. As a pastor, I encouraged, informed, and occasionally warned the sheep. Sometimes I was outright prophetic. But I was never shrill, snarky, or belittling. I spoke to them, and seek to do so now through social media, as the flock of God, fellow heirs of his grace.

Though my primary audience is Christians, I know that I reach many unbelievers as well. But, the same principles largely apply. To be unkind, ungenerous, or needlessly antagonistic, does nothing but offend and alienate. To do so repels them from Jesus and the Christian convictions we hold dear.

Question #2: What are you trying to say?

We all know that within the realm of interpretation, context is king. To rightly understand a text or a message of any type, you must consider the context. Twitter provides almost no context. Therefore, every time we tweet we are in jeopardy of being misunderstood. And it certainly does not permit nuance. It is just hard to convey much of anything complex or nuanced in a two-sentence tweet. Beware and be warned.

If our message is not clear or will likely need a follow-up clarification or qualification, then we probably ought to pass on it. Ask yourself, “What am I trying to say?” You may not be able to say it in 140 characters.

Question #3: Do you have any misgivings?

We have all paused, reread our tweet with our finger hovering over the send button, thinking should I or shouldn’t I? If you have lingering misgivings, do not send it. The types of things that give me pause are “How will this be interpreted?”, “Would I say this to their face?”, “Is this clear and able to be understood without being misunderstood?”, “Is this self-promoting, or humblebrag.” The truth of the matter is, I have regretted a few social media posts over the years. I have never regretted not sending one.

In Conclusion

I find myself in an ongoing love/hate relationship with social media. I appreciate it as a conduit to give and receive content, news updates, and to connect with ministry friends and family. I hate that I am occasionally misunderstood, that I occasionally misunderstand others, and that social media manages to take more of my time than I intended to give. Yet, I am at peace with my usage, and seek to be faithful by filtering my interactions through these three questions.


topicsSocial Media

2 Responses to “Three Questions for Christians on Social Media”

March 29, 2017 at 12:14 pm, Olumide Agboghoroma said:

Great piece on responsible and impactful use of social media. Shalom!

March 29, 2017 at 1:13 pm, Dr. Donnie Guy said:

Dr. Allen! I enjoyed your article immensely and agree that we need to be careful not to offend lost people. I found the best way to do that is to keep my opinion to myself and simply quote Scripture as Jesus did. But, when dealing with Christians, that’s another matter. I’m sure Paul was not being snarky or belittling after he had shared the truth with the Corinthians about spiritual gifts and made this statement: “If any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1Cor. 14:38) And what about the statement he made to the Galatians who were pushing circumcision? “I would they were even cut off (mutilated) which trouble you.” (Gal.5:12) When it comes to sound doctrine, we are not to take a middle-of-the-road attitude or regret confronting those who pervert the Scripture. Paul took a strong stand against such men. (1Tim.6:3-5) And note what he told Titus to do when he confronted such men: “Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith.” (Tit.1:8-14) Jesus certainly did not shrink from confronting the Pharisees when it came to the truth of Scripture, even calling them snakes and vipers on one occasion. Shrinking from the truth has never converted anyone but sharing the truth has converted many a person. Jesus said the Gospel would both attract and repel people so we are not to change it or water it down to avoid offending someone. We are to simply preach it to both the lost and the saved. Then, if they are offended, they are offended at the Word and not our opinions. May God help us to remain faithful to preaching the Word, as Paul commanded Timothy: “Preach the Word; be instant is season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” (2Tim.4:2)

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