Social media is both a blessing and a curse. In this post six suggestions are offered to help leaders be wise in their media consumption and engagement.
GIGO is an old axiom of computer programming that stands for Garbage In, Garbage Out. Basically, if your coding is weak (Garbage In), the program’s execution will be weak too (Garbage Out). This axiom was crafted long before social media, but it certainly applies to it, doesn’t it? It seems that social media is full of garbage and it can be quite difficult to participate in it while staying clean. But as followers of Jesus, and especially as leaders in kids ministry, we have to. We need to protect our spirit and our witness before our kids and families as well as a watching world. How can we do this? NOGIGO. No Garbage In. No Garbage Out. Here’s how that works:
NO GARBAGE IN
Consume social media intentionally. For some, the answer is to abstain from social media. That is understandable and for some it might be necessary. But while social media can certainly be quite harmful, it can also be quite helpful. Not only is it a way to stay connected, but it is a way to keep a finger on the pulse of our culture and the church as well. It’s a way to see trends that might be affecting our kids and their families. Most of us, then, should begin by deciding why we are consuming social media and keep that purpose in mind.
Consume social media wisely. One of the dangers of social media is that it can be a black hole that sucks us in and takes us to bad places we don’t want to go to. Not only is there so much ungodly content, but there is so much bickering, slander, and misinformation as well. And I am not just talking about from our culture—that last part comes from the church too. We need to be wise in how we consume social media so that we can protect our minds and hearts. That begins with monitoring the time we give to it, but also includes the content itself. While we will want to follow diverse views, we shouldn’t follow toxic accounts.
Consume social media graciously. Perhaps the greatest danger of social media is that it can easily strip a person’s humanity away. It’s easy to forget that behind every 280 character tweet is an image bearer of God. Instead, we can easily reduce people to viewpoints, and if we reject the viewpoint, we find ourselves rejecting the person as well. Social media feeds the sinful binary proposition of “us against them.” There surely is a binary “us and them” presented in Scripture—the church and the world—but notice the middle word is “and” not “against.” Ephesians 6:12 says that no other person is to be our enemy. Rather, we should love all people and desire that all come to repentance of sin. As we consume social media, we need to do so with grace and compassion, not condemnation and intolerance. We need to fight sin in our hearts and strive to think the best, not the worst, of all others.
NO GARBAGE OUT
Engage in social media intentionally. Just as we need to be wise in what we consume, we need to be wise in what we post. Before we post, we need to consider if what we are about to say is righteous, honoring, helpful, and humble. One of the dangers of social media is that it easily creates modern day Pharisees. Saying something right with the wrong heart makes it not right. Just as saying something wrong from the right heart doesn’t make it right. We need to make sure that all we post is right and that it comes from the right heart. Or else we don’t post it.
Engage in social media wisely. Another danger of social media is that it feeds the ego. It causes us to think that our perspective is critical and that everyone needs to hear every idea we have about every issue. That simply is not true. Rather, we need to be wise in not only how to engage, but when to engage and when not to engage. There are some squables that are not worth wading into. There are some subjects that are better left alone. Sometimes social media is the worst possible way to work through subjects. We need to be wise and humble to know when to abstain from clicking “post.”
Engage in social media graciously. Just as there are times when wisdom calls on us to abstain from posting, there are times when wisdom demands that we do. But even then we need to be gracious in what we post. We need to be fair to anyone we are responding to and not misrepresent them. We need to be gracious in recognizing the validity of positions that others hold that we disagree with but that can be supported from Scripture. We need to abstain from demanding that only people who agree exactly with us on every position are godly. Basically we need to remember that our goal is not to win Internet debates, but rather to be winsome servants of King Jesus displaying His fragrance among what is often the putrid stench of social media.
Brian Dembowczyk is the managing editor for The Gospel Project. He served in local church ministry for over 16 years before coming to LifeWay. Brian earned an M.Div. from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and a D.Min. from the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his family live in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.